By TJ Dragonblade
see chapter 1 for warnings, dislcaimer
NOTES: Citrus ahead, folks! Sappy, sappy citrus...after a little more angsty-ness, of course...

Lost & Found + Chapter 4

Wufei led his companion around the main building to the Preventers garage and up to a large, sleek black bike. Duo's eyes widened in admiration.

"This is yours?" he marveled. "Nice taste, 'Fei."

"Thank you." Wufei donned his jacket again, having nowhere else to put it, and swung gracefully onto the bike. He tossed the lone helmet to Duo. "Put it on," he said shortly, and backed the motorcycle out of its parking space. Starting the engine, he jerked his head over his shoulder, indicating the rear seat. Duo climbed up behind him. "Hold on," Wufei commanded, barely audible above the solid purr of the engine; and then they were off.

Duo held on, fighting the urge to wrap himself around the other youth, warming to the feel of Wufei's body so close to his and feeling guilty for enjoying it as much as he did. But he couldn't help it, really. His feelings for his estranged Chinese friend had bubbled up stronger than ever, setting his blood to a gentle simmer and making him long once more for the chance to make things different between them.

At least the pain he'd lived with the past four years had faded. And who knew what might happen tonight...?

Naah. Best not even to dream about it. Besides, he was currently close enough that Wufei could easily notice if he became aroused. Probably not a real good idea. He concentrated instead on matching Wufei's movements as the boy veered confidently through the nighttime traffic, leaning into turns and balancing the bike.

All too quickly the ride was over; they reached the hotel, parked, and dismounted. And now Duo led his companion through the plush lobby and up to the fifth-floor and his roomy, comfortable suite. Keying the door open, he waved Wufei inside.

"Have a seat," he offered, flopping onto the short couch himself. Wufei removed his jacket and laid it over the sofa's arm as he sat on the other end in a rather more dignified manner.

"So," Duo said, not quite sure where to pick up.

"So." Wufei sat back, folding one leg comfortably beneath him. "How long have you been out 'seeing the world'?"

Duo shrugged. "Six, seven months, somethin' like that. It's been fun, y'know? Just kinda hoppin' from city to city, seein' all the major sites. I went to New York first, 'cause it seemed like as good a place to start as any. Went to Boston, went to Vermont, went to Connecticut...I may hafta go back sometime when it's summer. Saw a lotta snow...which was nice in a way..."

"It is summertime now," Wufei pointed out. "If I were you, I would have come here in the winter."

"Yeah, well...yeah. If I was doin' it over, so would I."

~But then you may not have run into me...~ Wufei's thought surged up unbidden; he had no way of knowing that Duo was thinking precisely the same thing as the other continued.

"I went to Montreal, and Detroit, and Chicago; and Jersey, and Philadelphia--Pittsburgh, too. I've been to Washington, and Graceland, and DisneyWorld, and Mardi Gras--I tell ya, 'Fei, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one hell of a party..."

"So I hear." Wufei shifted slightly. "And you plan to continue this way for how long?" He sounded...almost envious.

Duo shrugged. "Long as it takes. 'Till I get tired of it. Which probably won't be for awhile. I'm enjoyin' myself, y'know?"

Wufei's smile was wistful. "It sounds delightful. Would that I could be so carefree." He shook his head and changed the subject. "What of the others? I allowed myself to fall out of contact long ago and have yet to find the courage to mend that error."

There was that bitterness back in his voice once more; Duo again felt a pang of sadness for his friend. "I dunno, lately," he answered. "I've been pretty much incommunicado since I left the colony. But before that? Whatcha wanna know?"

Wufei smiled again, this time with a touch of humor. "Have Winner and Barton gotten married yet?"

Duo grinned. "Nope. They actually split up." He kicked off his shoes, stretching lazily.

Wufei's eyes widened. "You must be joking," he said incredulously, which only made Duo's grin all the brighter.

"Dead serious, 'Fei. They didnít need each other so much after the wars, it turns out. They're closer than ever; they're just..." He shrugged. "Not a couple anymore. In fact, Trowa and Heero got together about a year ago. And last I heard Quatre had started seeing Abdul."

"I see." Wufei shook his head. "Unbelievable."

Duo nodded. "Uh huh. Relena...I don't know that she's dating anyone, 'cause her job keeps her so busy. And Zechs and Noin are still together...probably engaged by now. Or not--who knows with those two?"

"So they returned to the Preventers when terra-forming Mars was set back?"

"Yup. And Sally and Auda got married last year."

A faint, self-satisfied smile graced Wufei's features. "I told her his interest was more than simple friendship." He shifted position again, leaning forward ever so slightly. "And yet I cannot seem to find the happiness for myself that I see so easily in others."

"No luck in matters of the heart, eh, Wufei?" Duo's tone was sympathetic.

Wufei shook his head; the distinctly unhappy expression was back on his face. "None. I last had a brief affair with a co-worker in Honolulu; he turned out to be a most unpleasant individual. I put a stop to it; he took it badly and began sleeping with the boss. Shortly thereafter, I was 'mysteriously' demoted and transferred yet again. I have not attempted a relationship since."

Duo was floored. That was very nearly the last sort of thing he expected to hear from Wufei, of all people. "How long ago was this?" he asked, still processing the idea of Wufei with a jilted, vindictive boyfriend.

"Approximately twenty-five months."

"And that's how you ended up here?"

"No." Wufei made a face, and Duo did his best to ignore the fact that the boy looked awfully cute with his nose scrunched up like that. "From there I was sent to Singapore, then Beijing, then Canberra, then Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Athens, Dublin, Cairo, St Louis, Vancouver, Seattle, and then here."

Duo's eyes widened. "Damn, 'Fei, they sent you everywhere!"

Wufei laughed; and this time it was a brittle, bitter sound. "And that is only after Hawaii. I was in Tokyo and Hong Kong and Brussels and New York and Anchorage and Moscow and Sydney and New Delhi and half a dozen colonies before that."

"Why'd they shift you around so much?"

"I grew to be a thorn in their collective side, it seems. I failed to adapt to their 'friendly' image, to fit nicely into their new ideals."

"So they made that dumbass policy change and you got shafted."

"Yes." Wufei practically spat the word. "Though it is not as though it has all been undeserved. I've hardly been able to do anything right in years."

"What are you talking about?" Duo sounded almost indignant on his behalf.

That was a nice thought; Wufei dismissed it, not wanting to engage in fruitless acts of self-delusion. There was no reason to think that Duo really gave a damn what he thought of himself.

Except...except that Duo had always been the one to reach out to him, to try to draw him into whatever group there was, to...befriend him. Duo had always cared, freely and openly, about everyone; chances were that fact had not changed any more than the American himself. That thought was comforting, somehow, and encouraged Wufei to explain himself.

"I am a failure, Maxwell," he stated flatly. "I have made nothing but mistakes since I came out of boarding school."

"How can you say that, 'Fei?" Duo was leaning forward aggressively, everything about his tone, his stance challenging Wufei's opinion of himself. "You were--are--one of us. You helped end the war, for chrissakes! And god knows how much shit you've kept from happening as a Preventer!"

"Not much," Wufei snarled. "They let me do nothing! I live on site that they might keep a shorter leash on me--I am bound to screw up otherwise! And the war--I should never have been involved in the first place. But I let my wife die, and I had to do something! And yet everything I did--I was not fast enough, good enough, strong enough! If I had not tried to take Nataku's place, that war would have been over much sooner! And how can you say I helped to end it when I tried to restart it the year after??" He dropped his head into his hands, feeling utterly defeated. "I am useless, Maxwell. I always have been."

Duo's hands closed around his, tugging them gently away from his face as he looked up again, startled. Lilac eyes bored directly into his. "You are not useless, Wufei," Duo said firmly, his voice soft yet forceful.

"But I am," Wufei said stupidly, caught completely off-guard by the intensity of that stare. It affected him in ways he didn't want to think about, creating a soft ache somewhere deep in his chest that he couldn't dismiss. There was such caring in those amethyst depths, such raw sympathy and unbridled...love?

~Dear god, he cares for me,~ Wufei realized abruptly. ~I am more than his friend...how did I miss seeing this four years ago?~

He sat, numb in the face of this sudden revelation, Duo's hands tightening around his as the boy continued speaking, vehemently disputing the notion that Wufei could be a failure.

"No, 'Fei, you're not," Duo repeated, unable to sit listening idly as the one he loved more than anything viciously belittled himself. "War is a fucked up thing. No one blames you for that Dekim Barton crap--we all understand what you were trying to do. Maybe you did make mistakes--everyone did. Hell, Heero killed the good guys, Q-ball went off his rocker and blew up a resource satellite and a colony, and Zechs tried to blow up the planet, remember? But you did plenty of good, too. Sally told me how she met you--if you hadn't been there, 'Fei, she and everyone she was fighting with would have died. Me n' Quatre would be dead if you hadn't showed up that time in Singapore. I'da gone stir crazy and probably take my own life in that cell on the moon if you hadn't been in there with me. But you were just so calm, so level-headed and logical about the whole thing--I had to be rational, too, so you wouldn't think me some weak useless idiot of a Gundam pilot who'd freak out and lose it every time his life was threatened. And I couldn't've escaped in a partially-finished Deathscythe without you backing me up. You single-handedly disarmed seven colonies--that made post-war adaptations all the easier. And you were the one to bring Heero his buster rifle so he could blow up that last piece of Libra--you're responsible for saving the earth, really."

"You are too kind, Duo," Wufei replied softly, the warmth in his face having as much to do with the American's words as it did with the fact that Duo was still holding his hands. "Yuy saved the earth, not me. And do not forget--I destroyed my entire home colony."

"Did you push the button, or make the decision, or plant the explosives? No, 'Fei, you didn't. You can't blame yourself for other people's choices and the atrocities of war. It's not your fault."

"But had I not gone back--"

"Don't do this to yourself, 'Fei." There was raw pleading in Duo's face now, in his eyes, in his voice. His hands tightened around Wufei's. "Don't second guess; don't get caught up in what-ifs and if-onlys and should-haves and might-have-beens. You'll go absolutely crazy--believe me, I know. You're not a bad person and you deserve so much better than where you ended up."

Wufei could feel his defenses crumbling under the earnestness in that beautiful face.

"Please, listen to me Wufei. I've never even heard you laugh before tonight, I don't think, and it kills me to realize that. I just...I don't want you to be miserable anymore. What can I do to make you happy again?"

~Touch me. Kiss me. Hold me. Take me for your own and promise that you will never leave...~ Wufei's thoughts were running away with him. "I was never 'happy', Maxwell," he answered aloud, realizing even as he said it that it wasn't entirely true.

He had been happy, once, when he had opened himself to Duo's friendship with no thought of jealousy, of envy, of regret, of anything but cherishing whatever sort of relationship he could have with the boy. For that short time, his life had been just a little bit brighter.

"Maybe not, but you weren't always so bitter, so buried by the weight of other people's shit. Underneath you're still the same proud, passionate, confident Wufei I fell in love with years ago, I know you are--you just have to find yourself aga--" Duo stopped short, abruptly realizing what he'd let slip in his fervor. His eyes widened, a distinct 'oh, shit' look washing over his face, and he let go rather suddenly of the other youth's hands.

Wufei could resist no longer.

"I lied," he said quietly, sharply honed reflexes allowing him to catch Duo's hands as they withdrew. ~He thinks I would not want him,~ he realized, aching with regret that he had ever given the beautiful American such an impression.

"What?" Duo was still doing a fair imitation of a deer caught in headlights as Wufei's gaze dropped to their joined hands.

"When I told you I was jealous...it was not entirely because I thought you had someone to love. It was primarily because...because that someone was not me."

Reality clattered to a halt around Duo; he could only stare, not daring to breathe, as Wufei continued his confession.

"I loved you, Duo, more than you could possibly imagine." His gaze lifted again, and Duo found himself reeling from the intensity of emotion roiling in those black eyes. "I still love you. Nothing could make me happier than seeing you again has done."

Duo didn't move, warmed to the quick by Wufei's words. "Really?" he breathed; and immediately winced at how lame that sounded. But Wufei only nodded, once, the truth plain to be read in his sincere expression.

"Really," he said softly, the tiniest hint of a genuine smile twisting at his mouth again.

Slowly, Duo reached out, fingertips tracing the curve of Wufei's face wonderingly, thumb brushing lightly over the fullness of his lips. "Oh, 'Fei," he sighed, unable to think of anything more intelligent to say, hand coming to rest against the side of Wufei's slender neck. Helplessly, almost uncertainly, he drew the other youth forward; encountering no resistance, he tilted his head and slowly leaned in himself until his mouth touched Wufei's.

And nothing had ever felt so perfect in either of their lives before.

[cont]