see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Warriors + Chapter 56
It was just past eleven p.m.
when Tomas entered the library. He was alone.
"No sign of him?"
"I'm sorry, sir, I checked every airline and shuttle company. It does
not appear that Captain Chang booked a flight here today."
Zechs sighed and closed his book. "Thank you. Check again tomorrow. And
be certain I'm up before you leave. The doctor and prosthesis technicians
will be here at nine."
"Very good, sir."
Zechs looked around the empty room and sighed again. Abandoning his books,
he walked down to the den and switched on the television to catch the
day's news. His announcement had made quite a splash. The various networks
had replayed outtakes of it continually, particularly the clips in which
he renounced his title and outted himself. It amused him that there were
people outside Sanque that gave a shit what he did or who he screwed.
The notoriety had put a crimp in the chances to do the latter. He could
really use a warm body right now, but something beyond mere security concerns
held him back. He turned the sound to a low murmur and lay back in the
chair, idly stroking himself. It had been nearly two weeks since he and
Wufei had taken that last ill-fated trip to Le Fleur. That was a long
time for a man like him, a fucking eternity. Or rather, a fuckless eternity.
His hand stroked harder over the growing hardness between his legs, recalling
of what it had been like to have Wufei trembling against him as they'd
kissed, the hard ridge of the boy's arousal pressed to Zech's thigh. A
low groan escaped his lips even as he felt an aching emptiness growing
in his heart.
It wasn't only wanting to touch him again, to hold him and discover once
and for all what that perfect china doll little body really wanted. He
missed the conversation. He missed having a sparring opponent who could
challenge him. The security guard who was filling in was far too deferential.
Chang would never give in to him. Not on the practice floor.
But in the bedroom?
/Come back to me, little Chang./
As if summoned, Wufei suddenly was before him on the television screen.
He was being interviewed with Winner and Barton by some CNN woman, no
doubt about the show. The background was dark but he could make out what
appeared to be banks of black and silver seating, and the edge of a stage.
Wufei was shown in profile at the moment, and Zechs saw with a guilty
pang that he looked terrible. He was worn, too pale, and clearly not pleased
at the attention he was drawing. The shot showed him from the chest up.
He had on a dark green silk shirt, his hair pulled back in that severe
braid again. Zechs fumbled for the control and adjusted the volume, but
now Winner was saying something about being glad to have his friend there
with him. Had Wufei decided to stay in New Orleans? Zechs's heart sank,
seeing the way Wufei hung back now, staring down at his feet. He looked
beaten, broken, the way he had right before he'd confessed his feelings
with that first tear-stained kiss.
The segment ended and he turned it off. Perhaps he'd overplayed his hand,
If it hadn't been for his early appointment the next day, he might have
gone to Le Fleur anyway, and damn the risk.
Wufei felt like he was caught in a bad dream. It had been impossible to
book a flight to Sanque until the evening following Zechs's message, and
now he had far too much time on his hands to talk himself out of going
at all. Duo and Heero still weren't back yet, and Trowa had to spend the
day at the circus, refitting some equipment. Quatre picked up on his panic,
of course, and insisted on staying home with him.
They did their respective exercises together in a downstairs room converted
to a gym. As he went through his katas, Wufei tried not to stare at Quatre
at his yoga. Had he been that flexible during the war? At the moment he
was lying on his shoulders, knees touching the floor behind his head.
He seemed perfectly at ease in that pose, his own crotch practically in
If Quatre was naked, he could have. . .
Wufei refused to finish that thought. Redoubling his own efforts, he critiqued
his own form in the mirrors that lined the walls. Movement distracted
him, however, and he looked over his reflection's shoulder in time to
see Quatre stretch out on his back, plant hands and feet securely, and
arch his body up in an inverted U, the bones of his pelvis and ribs standing
out clearly through his bare skin and tight shorts. Wufei looked away
again, but now in his mind's eye he was seeing Quatre and Trowa's supple
bodies entwined on that stage, touching and sliding against each other's
bare skin as if they were the only people in that darkened tent.
Too distracted to continue with his workout, Wufei withdrew quietly and
went out to sit in the garden. The sun was out again this afternoon, warm
on his face and shoulders. He settled cross-legged on the worn brick paving
at the foot of a towering palm and let his gaze settle on the sparkling
cascade of the fountain. A few sparrows hopped around in the undergrowth
and perched on the wrought iron table, seeking crumbs left over from lunch.
He sought the inner stillness he'd found here yesterday, but could not
escape the image of the other two writhing together. If they touched each
other like that in public, with an audience, what must they do in private?
The thought sent a mingled jolt of embarrassment and arousal through him,
and he felt himself going hard under his loose workout pants. He tried
to school his thoughts again, and instead found himself picturing Heero
and Duo sleeping so peacefully together on his living room couch.
Any doubts he still harbored regarding Sally's "G-factor" theory paled
in comparison to the feelings he was having right now. Perhaps it was
true. Perhaps homosexuality was something hardwired in his psyche that
he'd simply successfully repressed until now. But if that were true, why
did the thought of touching another man terrify him so? And if it did,
then why didn't he simply take Zechs at his word and stay away? A few
taps on a keyboard would cancel the flight to Sanque. He could return
to L-4 in peace.
And then what?
He jumped slightly when Quatre sat down beside him and pulled his legs
into the lotus position. He looked so at ease like that, legs crossed,
feet resting on the tops of his thighs. The midday light glinted on the
metallic silver nail polish and the gold ring though his nipple. That,
and the tattoos on Quatre's shoulders and belly made him look wild, magical;
like some strange little spirit dwelling in this sheltered place. He caught
Wufei staring again and smiled. Wufei forced his gaze back to the fountain,
but he could feel Quatre studying him.
"I think we should talk."
Wufei closed his eyes, hoping Quatre would take the hint and go away.
"Are you sure you want Zechs?"
Wufei's shoulders sagged. "I wish I knew. I want to see him again. I have
to talk to him. But I don't know if--That is . . ." God, this was agonizing,
and if this had been anyone else but sweet, gentle Quatre, he couldn't
have pushed himself to stammer out, "How--how can you do it, you and Bart--
"Love each other?"
Wufei shook his head. "No, the other. The physical." He couldn't go on.
His heart felt like it was trying to climb right out of his chest through
Quatre only chuckled. "Making love and loving him are the same thing."
"Love," Wufei murmured.
"It is love, with Trowa." Quatre rubbed at the sole of one foot. "You
know I've fucked a lot of strangers, Wufei, just for the sex. The acts
may be the same, but it's different when you love the person you're touching.
Either way, though, whether you love them or just really need the sex,
you have to listen to your heart. Deep down inside, you'll know what you
want, if you really do want it. And there are so many different
"Thank you," Wufei said, hastily fending off a sex ed lecture. He wasn't
ready for that.
"How much do you actually know, about what men can do together?"
Wufei kept his gaze on the fountain, a renewed spike of panic leaving
him unwilling and unable to carry this topic any further.
"Maybe you should call him, Wufei."
He shook his head. The look on Zechs's face as he'd asked him not to wouldn't
allow him to go against the request. Damn it! Why did the man have such
a hold on him?
"Could you, that is-- Could you read me? See what's in my heart, the way
you do with the others?"
"You want me to?
Wufei hesitated, then nodded.
Quatre didn't touch him, as he'd expected, just went very still for a
moment, then let out a pained little gasp. "I'm sorry, Wufei. It's too
strong. I can't be in your head right now. All I can tell you is that
you have to let your heart guide you in this, and your body. I don't think
you trust either very much, though."
Neither his heart not his body was giving Wufei any clear answers during
the long, long flight from New Orleans to Paris that night. He could have
rented a plane or a shuttle, but he didn't trust himself piloting in his
current exhausted state of mind, and even if the others had been back
to help him, he didn't think he could bear all those hours of having to
keep up a front.
Hunched by the window in coach class, dressed in the cheap clothes Duo
had bought him on L-4, Foo Dogs cap pulled low over his face, he could
ignore the concerned glances from the matronly woman in the seat next
to him and wallow in his own misery to his heart's content.
In Paris the plane touched down in the middle of a November storm. He
watched with rising dismay as the departure boards filled up with "delayed"
notices, which soon turned to "indefinite delay" as the heavy rains turned
Jet lagged, overwrought, and bone weary, he wandered the concourses all
night, his little backpack dragging at his shoulder. The reflection that
glanced back at him in shop windows looked like a sullen teen runaway.
The gendarmes must have taken him for one, too, because he had to stop
and show his ticket. He saw the man's eyebrow arch a bit as he saw the
name, but it was clear from the dismissive look that followed that the
man had decided that there must be more than one Chang Wufei in the world.
He bought a stale croissant at a kiosk, then slumped in the hard seat
at a departure gate, watching the sleet run down the windows. He should
have gone home first, and packed a proper suitcase with decent clothes,
rather than arriving like a refuge with the few odds and ends Heero had
packed for him. Never mind that he owned nothing of the sort of clothing
Zechs preferred to see him in.
At one point he found himself standing at the end of the concourse leading
to the shuttle port. It was still a simple matter to change his mind,
go home, try to trick himself into believing he was the same person he'd
been before he'd met Zechs Merquise. Before he knew anything of G-factors
or gay clubs or what it felt like to have those long pale fingers stroke
his neck, or a single strong arm tight around his waist. Such thoughts
brought on a renewed rush of panic. He wanted to be the person he'd been,
before Zechs Merquise had awakened that entirely unlooked for facet of
himself. It would be so much easier to turn away, step back, and pretend
that none of it had happened. That it didn't matter. That he didn't want
/How much do you actually know, about what men can do together?/
Just enough to be scared to death, he thought, disgusted with himself.
The shuttle port beckoned.
But morning found him among the crowd of angry, tired travelers at the
gate for the flight to Sanque. When boarding finally began just after
noon, his fears welled again, dark and keen. He forced himself down the
gangway. He buckled himself in and refused to even look up from his clenched
hands until the cabin was sealed and they were taxiing down the runway.
Worn out by all the endlessly circling doubts, he dozed fitfully, then
woke to stare out at the cloudscape below. He would rent a car at the
airport. He would go to the estate and speak with Zechs. He owed him that
much. After that, it was anybody's guess. But if he had a car he could
escape if he needed to.
He nibbled at the in-flight meal and passed on the headphones for whatever
inane movie they were showing. Glancing at the screen now and then, however,
he deduced that it was some romantic comedy in which a red-haired girl
with a too-wide mouth pursued a hapless young Indian man though the usual
mishaps and misdirection, until they inevitably ended up in each other's
arms in the middle of a rain-washed street, kissing madly.
Wufei slouched deeper into his seat and gazed out the window again. How
could people watch such tripe? He'd never kissed Sally like that. His
body had never told him that's what he wanted, even when they'd been in
the middle of having sex.
But one unwanted touch from Zechs and his entire body caught fire.
Another moment of weakness, and he was kissing him on that windswept boardwalk,
in full view of whatever cameraman had stalked them.
/But what if that had only been circumstance, the shock of the moment?/
his inner doubter fretted.
By the time he cleared customs at King Willem International, more than
forty-eight hours had passed since he'd seen Zechs's message. Had he decided
that Wufei wasn't coming? Would he think it was cowardice?
He straggled dully out from the customs booth and into the men's room.
He used the toilet, and then stared at himself in the long mirror over
the sinks. He hadn't slept properly since the night before last. He hadn't
bathed or brushed his teeth since he'd left New Orleans. His hair was
straggling out from the braid and his clothes smelled stale. Wandering
back onto the concourse in search of a car rental agency, he wondered
if he should just get a hotel room instead and go tomorrow.
He'd almost made up his mind to do exactly that when a familiar looking
middle-aged man approached him. He was wearing a dark suit under his topcoat
and had a newspaper under his arm.
"Captain Chang, sir! So glad to see you've arrived at last. Mr. Peacecraft
sent me to meet you."
"Tomas, isn't it?" It was Zechs's valet.
"Yes, sir. Allow me to take your bag. The parking garage is just out this
Despite all his recent resolve, he found himself following the man without
"I trust you had a good journey, sir?"
"Not really," Wufei replied. "How did he know what flight I was coming
The man gave him a slight, polite smile. "He didn't, sir. He had me watch
Wufei let this sink in as Tomas ushered into the back seat of a vintage
Rolls Royce and drove him to the estate. Slumped back against the soft
leather seat, he felt a strange little ache in his chest as familiar landmarks
swept past. The sun was setting over the storm washed sea. It would be
The strange feeling grew stronger, the closer they got to the estate.
By the time they drove in through the ornate gates his heart was pounding
again, worse than when Quatre had tried to discuss sex with him. What
had Quatre said? Trust his heart and his body? He'd have to unravel the
wildly divergent signals he was getting from both to even begin to take
The gray weather seemed to have tracked him from France. Cold rain pelted
down as he crossed the drive and climbed the marble stairs.
Tomas checked his watch. "Mr. Peacecraft is probably in the library at
this hour. Perhaps you would like to go say hello, while I put your things
in your room. Shall I order dinner for you, Captain?"
Wufei shook his head. "No thank you. I ate on the plane." The truth was
he was so tense he didn't think he could swallow a raisin.
He walked down the familiar corridors, his steps silenced by the thick
carpets underfoot. That, coupled with exhaustion, made the whole situation
feel unreal, as if he were going to wake up at any moment and find himself
somewhere else. It was strange; he hadn't dreamt of the house the whole
time he was gone.
The library door stood open. He paused, almost surprised to find Zechs
sitting in his usual chair, intent on a sheaf of papers balanced on his
knee. He looked very serious, perhaps even sad, chin propped on his hand.
He had on jeans tonight, and a dark cable knit sweater. It looked like
he'd been out riding, thought Wufei. He felt like a ghost, an invisible
presence granted a fleeting moment to visit a place he'd once existed.
There had been moments when he'd actually even felt happy here.
The feeling lasted only an instant. Zechs looked up and gave him a brilliant
smile. The papers scattered across the carpet as he stood to welcome him.
"Wufei! I'm so glad you're back."
The husky timbre of that voice, and the joy of that colored it propelled
Wufei across the room to meet him half way, and to allow himself to be
gathered into outstretched arms.
He pulled back a little and looked down at the left arm wrapped around
his waist. Except for the leather glove covering the hand, it looked exactly
like the real arm.
Zechs grinned. "You couldn't have picked a better day to return. I have
two arms again, but it seemed rather pointless, without you here to hold."
The ridiculously romantic declaration nearly unmanned Wufei. His throat
went tight and he let his head fall forward to rest against Zechs's chest
and sighed as those arms tightened around him again. His hands were trapped
between them, pressed to Zechs's chest, but not to push him away. Wufei
stifled a groan against the back of one hand as he felt Zechs pull the
tie from his braid and comb his hair free with his fingers. He wanted
to melt into the soft wool under his cheek, lose himself in the familiar
good scent of the man holding him.
The completeness of that surrender shocked him and he forced himself to
pull back, only to have his face gently cupped between Zech's strong hands,
one warm and bare against his skin, the other cooler and sheathed in the
softest leather he'd ever felt. Beautiful brilliant blue eyes searched
his, alive with nothing but friendly concern. Zechs's right hand stole
down to Wufei's chest to touch the white jade pendant that still hung
there around his neck under the cheap white shirt. He stroked Wufei's
throat and smiled again as he felt him tremble under the caress.
"You're worn out, Wufei. These past few weeks have been so difficult for
you. I'm very sorry."
Wufei looked away and shrugged, not trusting his wildly veering emotions.
"It was a long flight. There was a storm, in Paris. I couldn't sleep.
I . . ." He trailed off again, not knowing what he wanted to say or do,
now that he was here, only that those fingers felt as good as he'd remembered
against his skin. "I'm very tired."
Zechs pulled him close again, stroking his hair, his back, his shoulders.
Wufei trembled harder against him, and his face grew warm. "Poor little
Chang. Go take a hot shower and get into some clean nightclothes. I'll
come and check on you in a while, and then you must sleep."
Wufei nodded, and reluctantly left those sheltering arms. He could feel
his body tingling all the way back to his room.
It was looked just as it had when he'd occupied it as Zechs's bodyguard;
it was a guest room, he realized, not servants' quarters. He hadn't appreciated
that fact before. He opened a dresser drawer, looking for his sweats and
a shirt, and discovered that the clothing Zechs had bought for him was
all neatly folded away there, together with a few other pairs of pants
and some sweaters and shirts he did not recognize. He lifted out the black
sweater and held it a moment, stroking the silky wool, remembering Zechs
touching him through it. He went to the closet and found the black cashmere
coat hanging there, with the Chinese silk shirt he'd gone dancing in that
night. It was all there, as if this really was his room and he did belong
He stood under the hot water in the shower for a long time. He was so
tired he could let himself remember all the desperate washing and jerking
off he'd done in here with hardly a twinge of guilt. Is that what Quatre
had meant, that his body knew what it needed?
He dried his hair and pulled on sweats and a black tee shirt, then wandered
back out into the bedroom, half expecting to find Zechs there. He wasn't.
Wufei sprawled across the bed, and all the stress and strain of the past
weeks seemed to crash in on him, leaving him limp and numb. He'd survived
it all and here he was, right back where it all began. The room was chilly
but he was too tired to get under the covers. Closing his eyes, he told
himself he would rest just for a little while, then go and talk to Zechs.
The feeling of the mattress shifting woke him sometime later. The room
was dark except for the glow of several thick white candles someone had
put on the dresser. Zechs was sitting on the edge of the bed beside him,
stroking the hair back from Wufei's face. He sleepily turned his face
into that touch and gazed up at the man. His fear was still there, lurking
just below the surface of his thoughts, but so was the knowledge that
he could not have made any other decision than the one that had brought
him here. Zechs had on pajama pants under his open robe. The fair skin
of his bare chest caught the candle light like ivory, the lean muscle
accented with shadow. Wufei had never seen anyone more handsome in his
"You're cold, Wufei," Zechs whispered, and helped him under the sheets
and down coverlet. When Wufei was settled back against the pillows he
stroked his cheek again, the fingers finding their way once again to the
jade pendant. "I saw you on television today. You were being interviewed
with Winner, and you were wearing this. I was very glad to see it on you
still. Why, Wufei? Why did you keep it?"
Wufei blinked, trying hard to stay awake. "It was a gift. From you." Beyond
that he couldn't explain, only that he hadn't been able to part with it.
He heard Zechs chuckle softly, then the bed shifted again as he stood
to go. Without thinking, Wufei reached out for him.
/You can sleep with us if you like./
"Sleep here, if you want." Had he really said that out loud?
He must have, because Zechs lifted the covers and slid in beside him.
Wufei's fuddled brain hadn't really gotten beyond the offer; perhaps he'd
only been echoing what Trowa had said to him. He wasn't even certain what
Zechs thought he was being offered. Before he could panic, however, he
felt those arms go around him again, settling his head on Zech's broad
chest, and Zechs softly stroked his back, nothing more. Lost on the pleasure
of that touch, Wufei curled closer against him, hand tucked under his
cheek. He could feel Zechs's heart beating under his fingertips, and the
easy rise and fall of his breathing.
It felt so good to be held like this!
His eyes drifted shut again and he felt Zechs press a chaste kiss to his
forehead, and another to his lips. "Good night, little Chang. And welcome
Home. Somewhere in the back of his mind, alarm bells went off, but he
was too tired to do anything but surrender to the warmth enveloping him
and go to sleep in the arms of the man who probably wanted to be his lover.
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