Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5x1, others tba
Warnings: Violence, language, sex, adult situations
Spoilers: Yes, quite a lot for end of series (no EW though)
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer:Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole
host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off
of them. Not a single peanut.
Arrangement + Chapter 34
Breaking Storm, Part IV
mountain of knives and a sea of fire"
The sky was burning, but the flames were still caught in that frozen moment
of realization. He should have time to reach his destination before the
breach sucked the oxygen out of the air. There was a lot of oxygen to
suck out after all. The bike was alive beneath him, growling, and Wufei
smiled in simple exhilaration. This felt good. He hoped he and Heero could
go to the track again, once he'd fixed that breach and put out the fire.
Well, no, this fire could not be put out. But he shouldn't be here. What
was done was done. He just had to make sure that Heero, Quatre, Susan
and himself were not here when the colony finally surrendered to its fate.
None of them should die with A0206.
Terrible monsters, born of fire and chaos, tried to block his way, but
the bike dodged them, and left them behind, honking terrible threats at
his back. Wufei laughed. But then he sobered up. This was serious. He
had to pull himself together. This wasn't a game, this was life and death,
and he had to find the knot between the two and cut it.
He couldn't feel his feet as he ran up the stairs, and his panting was
distant, as if someone else was running, gasping and breathless, a few
feet behind him.
"Wufei?!" Susan stared at him as she opened her door. She was pretty in
a traditional red dress, linen with silk sleeves and front. Wufei smiled
- he thought he smiled, but his face was still numb from the searing heat
of the fire, sweat cold on his brow.
"Hi, Susan. I...can we talk? I really...really need to..."
He didn't know if he managed to finish that sentence or not. He was sitting
on a Chinese couch made of delicate dark wood, covered in thin red cushions
embroidered with dragons. Susan had brought her own furniture from her
home in Strasbourg, to make the small temporary apartment comfortable.
As Wufei watched, the embroidered dragons writhed and blew flames at him,
but they couldn't burn him; he hadn't been on the colony when it had died.
"Wufei?" Susan was before him, holding out a cup. His cup. The pretty
eggshell-grey cup. "What did you want to talk about? You can tell me anything."
"Your cups are very pretty. Are they authentic?"
Susan stared at him as if he'd gone mad. Yes, he was getting a lot of
that. Behind Susan, Meiran was looking at him a bit oddly too. He was
glad she'd hopped on to the bike as he was leaving. She would be gone
soon, he knew. He was glad she was with him as long as she could be.
"Well...yes." Susan sounded a bit annoyed, though she was hiding it well.
"Hand made in China."
"Hand made. Knew it. They're not quite identical. You can't get the paintwork
quite the same when you make them by hand. Yours has these little speckles
down one side. The side you try to never turn towards me."
Susan said nothing. Behind her, Meiran's eyes widened. "Huh! You're right!
Makes sense, like that she could tell the cups apart, and always give
you the right one! Hah, you really are a clever brat, husband." She was
"What did you use?" Wufei ignored her and concentrated on Susan.
"What do you mean, Wu-" Susan gasped and her delicate cup hit the carpeted
red floor, spilling tea in a circle. The liquid was a deep crimson splash
like spilled blood. Why did she look so frightened? Oh, right, he'd pulled
the gun from its holster.
"What did you use, Susan?"
"I- I don't- Wufei, you're not in your normal state of mind." Susan's
voice was forcing itself to be calm as she took a step back.
"No. No, I'm not. You'd certainly know all about that, wouldn't you? What
have you been giving me, Susan?" He picked up his cup with his free hand
and sniffed. "The Yulien Green Mountain tea again. Strong flavour. Is
that how you mask it when you give me a stronger dose? What's this one
supposed to do? Kill me? Or just drive me completely insane?"
Susan stared at him. No, not quite at him, he thought. What she was seeing,
only she knew.
"Sit down, Susan. You wanted me to talk. Desperately," he added, lifting
the cup towards her as proof before carefully putting it back down on
the table. "What was it you wanted me to talk about? What's driven you
to this extreme? I'm fairly sure you're an otherwise rational woman."
Susan sat down like a puppet, staring. "You don't know?" she whispered.
She sounded...amazed, and offended, and hurt.
"I can make an educated guess but I'd rather you tell me instead." Wufei
was tired. He wanted to cut the crap and go to sleep, possibly forever.
"Why have you been systematically giving me some hallucinogen ever since
we started this case together?"
She licked her lips, eyes flickering to his then at the cup, then towards
the door, as if judging her chances of talking her way out of this. Wufei
sighed and continued to talk, voice calm and precise, making sure she
realized she couldn't get him to doubt his own conclusions. He wanted
the truth from her, now.
"You've been building up the dosage like a professional. Small to start
with, and mainly before I left in the evening, so the worst effects were
while I was asleep, in the form of nightmares. Then you increased the
dosage." Susan seemed to sink lower in the chair at every carefully measured
sentence, eyes widening. "It's when the Wen family tried to bury the investigation
that you started really hitting me with the high doses. That's when I
actually started hallucinating. Why? That wasn't my fault, Susan-"
"Justice." The word was bitten off. "And it was for nothing, wasn't it.
You still feel no guilt. You don't even know why!"
Wufei stared at her owlishly. "Guilt? I have a lot of guilt. And regrets,
and problems, and feelings twisted up inside. I've been meeting a lot
of them up close and personal these past four weeks, since we started
our investigation. Which guilt in particular did you-"
"My name is Wu Shu Shen."
"So that is your real name? I
"My father was Wu Bo Rong "
"You said you came from another cluster in L5." Wufei suddenly felt a
bit stupid; her father was Master Li's right hand man and Wufei had met
him frequently from the moment of his marriage to Meiran until the end
of his colony. Had he met Susan before?! He'd never paid much attention
to the women surrounding the men of his clan. And he'd pretty much kept
to himself, like the stuck-up unsocial brat he was.
"The place I told you I came from, is where I finished my studies in law.
But I grew up with your wife, Chang Wu Fei," Susan's voice was the lawyer's
again. She was making her case against him. Wufei vaguely wondered if
she'd forgotten about his gun. He was having a hard time remembering it
himself. "When my mother died, and my father was busy with Master Li's
work, Meiran's grandmother raised me. Meiran and I were friends."
Wufei glanced at Meiran, but her eyes were closed, as if listening attentively,
and she showed no signs of being affected.
"When she died...because of you...I-...my father decided to send me away.
I was..." Susan's mouth worked helplessly, as the charges of accusation
against him suddenly became personal. "I was grieving. He was afraid I
would dishonour him by attacking you. I had several years ahead on my
studies; he sent me to finish my barrister studies on another colony.
So I wasn't there. I wasn't there when you destroyed him and our home."
Wufei sighed. "Susan- Shu Shen. You already know what happened. I-"
"You should have surrendered!" Susan was still perfectly controlled, her
voice the majestic ringing voice of a prosecutor reducing an alibi to
shreds. Her eyes were blind. "Master Li hit the button and died, those
men made him do it, the ones I spent months hunting, and they are all
dead, but you! You are alive, Chang Wu Fei, when you were the one they
were looking for. You're alive, and well, and working for Treize's aide,
Une, and you show no guilt. No
guilt at all. I was there when you gave your testimony. You were sad.
Regretful. But you were not guilty!"
"...so you decided to ask Une for my help in your investigation. And give
my demons a little helping hand." Wufei shook his head, and that made
him dizzy. The dragons he was sitting on were gnawing at his flesh. The
cup on the table had a small snake swimming in the tea, and things were
scurrying just out of sight, and running over his hands when he wasn't
looking, making his fingers twitch. He had to finish this quickly. "What
did you give me, Susan?"
"Something I paid a lot of money for, almost a year ago." Susan waved
a hand dismissively. "Some tool the OZ interrogators formulated. You can
find small amounts on the black market. I knew I'd need something like
this sooner or later. I knew that someone, somewhere, would not feel the
full horror of what they'd done, and I wanted them to. I...very much...wanted
them to..." Susan's eyes suddenly focused on him, maybe for the first
time. He thought she looked lost, briefly. This was supposed to be the
culmination of a year of working for her ideal of justice. A calm, exhausted
seventeen-year-old probably did not measure up to the huge, faceless Evil
she'd been hunting down for months now. Reality never measured up to people's
obsessions. It was much more complex, too. And sometimes it pointed guns
"... Woman... you wanted my conscience to torture me for our home's destruction,
but I have so many... I made so many mistakes, I have killed so many people,
done so many things that I can never hope to compensate for even if I
died ten times over... "
He stopped talking. What was the point? For him, the end of A0206 had
been one blow among others from fate and his enemies. One more failure,
one more guilt, one more thing he desperately wished he could change.
His mind had been ripped apart this past month by his weaknesses, his
hidden feelings, his guilt, and that had only been one ghost among others.
For Susan, though, it had been the murder of her father and the destruction
of her home and family, the single most traumatic event that had derailed
her life and sent her on this quest for a culprit. He wondered if it had
fastened on him only because all the other possible targets were dead.
Words were useless between them. They were not now, or ever, talking about
the same thing.
He couldn't even be angry at her. In fact, he'd rather liked her, admired
her. And she was even more lost than he was. No, the demons he'd faced
these past four weeks had been of his own making, she had merely been
instrumental in their apparition.
"Just tell me what you gave me, Susan." Wufei asked heavily. "I need to-"
A pounding on the door made them both jump. Wufei's finger tightened instinctively
on the trigger - had the fire started again? The breach continued to open?
No, he needed more time!
"Miss Wu! Miss Wu!"
More pounding. "Miss Wu, are you in? It's Agent Yuy! Chang's bike is out
front, have you seen him?!"
"Help!" Susan screamed and leapt back to duck behind the kitchen counter.
Wufei could have shot her twice before she got to cover, but there was
really not much point. She wasn't dangerous.
A huge crash from the front door, and then Heero burst into the small
living room, gun drawn.
Gun! Wufei was crouching by the couch, pointing his own weapon towards
the threat before his mind could react.
Blue eyes wide, gun trained on Wufei instinctively -
Was this Heero? Or one more nightmare
to torture him!
One more dream - Heero - four weeks - nightmares - violence, passion-
"Chang. Put down that gun." Heero's eyes were wide with alarm but his
voice was perfectly neutral.
- companion, rival-
"You don't understand...it's her fault-"
- partner, torturer -
"She's been -"
- a source of help, warmth, scorn, contempt, pain and pleasure, in nightmare
"Chang, you're not rational. Put the gun down, now!"
Heero was aiming at his shoulder, Wufei realized. Just like Heero, not
to take the easy way out, even at the risk of his own life. A normal person,
faced with a raving and very dangerous armed lunatic, would have nailed
Wufei in the chest or head already.
Icy realization trickled down his spine, knotted in his gut. This...this
was the real Heero? Wufei was aiming at- but the Luger wouldn't move.
Couldn't move. Wufei's overstressed body and mind were not letting him-
"Heero...get out of the way..." Wufei whispered, desperately.
No, no, no...but his finger tightened on the trigger. Whatever was left
of his rational mind was screaming at him to put down his weapon; was
begging Heero to fire, chest shot, and save himself - but the dragons
had crawled under Wufei's skin, and were pulling his muscles like the
strings of a puppet. Too many nightmares, he couldn't tell what was real,
what was a dream, he just, he just wanted it to stop-
His world had narrowed down to Heero and the barrel of his weapon- the
flames had winked out, he was no longer standing in his colony under a
breach, there was just him and Heero - Real? Dream? -...but he was still
aware enough to sense Susan dart from behind the counter and run towards
Wufei's finger tensed even more, the trigger creaked - I can't let her
go - I can't shoot Heero - I can't-
"Just a minute, Miss Wu." That voice- familiar-
There was a squeak and Susan stumbled back into his line of sight, nearly
bumping into Heero.
"Heero, put away your weapon." Quatre. That was Quatre. He sounded calm,
Heero's eyes narrowed, raking Wufei's face, his stance, judging how likely
Wufei was to shoot if he removed the means of retaliation. Wufei, snared
by too many conflicting thoughts and emotions, just stared back, unable
to move, to do anything except wait for his partner to act first.
"Heero. Now." Definitely Quatre. It was the gentle order of someone who
didn't expect people to obey him because he dominated the situation, or
wanted to, but only because he was right, and he didn't always like it.
Even Heero obeyed the quiet certainty of that voice. He slowly lowered
the barrel of his gun - despite everything it had still only been pointing
at Wufei's shoulder - and took a step back, ready to dodge if Wufei fired
"Here, Heero, hold her." Quatre propelled Susan, who'd been trying to
move around him again, at Heero, who caught her wrist instinctively, and
placed himself between her and Wufei's weapon. No, no Heero, she's not
worth it, not worth risking your life, neither of us are...
"Wufei?" Quatre's voice was gentle; he was moving towards Wufei slowly
but without any hesitation. Heero hissed in alarm but Wufei only blinked.
Quatre...Quatre hadn't appeared in too many of his dreams. Was this real?
"Wufei, please give me the gun. Heero, put yours down on the counter.
Oh, thanks." Wufei had reversed his grip on the Luger to hand it to Quatre
by the barrel. Winner was, on the balance of probability, most likely
not a dream, and as such, it would be a good deal safer to give him the
gun than wave it around. Especially if Heero was real too. Dream Heero's
reactions were completely up to whatever Wufei's sick mind decided, but
the real Heero had been trained to react a certain way to irrational people
waving weapons around. It'd be a pity to get shot now; he'd only just
recovered from his car accident.
Heero was staring at the Luger in Quatre's hands, then at Wufei, then
back at the Luger again. There was an expression on his face that Wufei
had never seen before. It looked like he'd been shot, and for a terrified
instant Wufei thought he saw blood on Heero's chest and an overwhelming
horror made him shake. He looked quickly at Quatre again. No, his friend
didn't look upset, and Quatre would certainly be a bit more perturbed
if Wufei had killed Heero. Wufei snuck another glance at his partner who
still looked dazed, but the blood was gone. Heero's Glock was pointing
down at the floor, dangling forgotten from his hand.
Susan was twisting in Heero's grip. "Let me go! He's gone insane! He came
here, threatened me! Said a lot of crazy things-"
"She's been putting something in my tea," Wufei interrupted dully. "She
wouldn't tell me what, though. She said it was some drug OZ had developed
for interrogations. Yes, I think there's some in there," Wufei added as
he noticed Quatre glance down at the cup on the table. "She's been hitting
me with high doses lately, particularly this afternoon. I was about to
stop working with her. She would no longer have an opportunity to-"
"He's insane! You're not going to believe him?!" Susan was doing a great
imitation of a hysterical, frightened and very innocent woman who'd been
assaulted by an armed maniac. Wufei, who knew her, thought it was a very
unlikely thing for her to pretend to be, but Quatre and Heero didn't know
her that well.
On the other hand, they did know Wufei, and neither of them was stupid.
They were both staring thoughtfully at the cup on the table. Susan's scream
of unfeigned agony brought everyone's attention back to her. Heero was
squeezing her wrist so hard her hand had gone white, red welts beneath
"Heero." Quatre's voice was reproving, though he looked a bit dazed. Heero
glanced down at his own hand as if startled by what it was doing, and
eased up, though he kept a firm grip on her.
"We need to-" Heero started to say something, but he also gestured with
his other hand in Wufei's direction - the hand holding the gun. Wufei
fell back like a hound at bay, fear strangling him again, a dozen Heeros
in a dozen dreams threatening him, hurting him, lashing him with words,
or shooting him out of hand. Heero froze, and then carefully put the gun
on the counter, sliding it out of Susan's reach. The woman was whimpering,
her face white, trying to pull her wrist from his grasp; his fingers had
"Heero." Quatre was a core of reason in the insanity and noise, most of
which was thundering in between Wufei's ears. "I'll take care of Wufei.
You watch the suspect and call in a team. A forensics team," Quatre added,
looking pointedly at the cup on the table. "Don't worry, I'm not taking
him to a hospital. I doubt they can cope. I'll go to Ops, Sally should
still be there. Is that okay, Wufei?"
It sounded reasonable. Wufei glanced around. Meiran was sitting at the
kitchen counter, watching Susan and Heero. She glanced up briefly and
nodded. It'd be okay. Wufei really needed to go see Sally, and Meiran
would watch over Heero and make sure Susan didn't try to trick him. Wufei
was starting to come down from whatever drug high he was on; he was aware
that a lot of what he'd seen this evening was a hallucination. The flames
had all gone, and nothing looked burnt. But Meiran was real. She was dead,
he knew that. But in his culture, the ghosts of loved ones had the power
to protect their family, and his heart told him this was the truth. He
gave her a smile of pure gratitude and Meiran grinned back and made shooing
gestures. Wufei let Quatre lead him from the small, temporary apartment
where Susan's hate had stewed.
The air outside felt good, though something weighed on his shoulders.
It was the look Heero gave him as Wufei let Quatre lead him away. Confused.
Maybe even slightly...hurt? Of course, Heero wouldn't know that Wufei
had left Meiran to watch over him; he hadn't deserted his partner wilfully.
But Wufei really needed to go see Sally and get his head straight again...shit,
he'd made quite a mess of things.
"No one blames you," Quatre whispered - he was driving quickly, casually
burning red lights with a few muttered curses in Arabic towards the reckless
drivers getting in his way. Wufei blinked, and realized with some relief
that he had a seatbelt on and that he was clinging to the car door's armrest.
He didn't remember climbing into the car. "I blame myself. I should- we
should have realized. We knew you weren't in your right state of mind
but we never thought-"
"Well, neither did I, and I was the one there. I should have recognized
the symptoms. And the questions she kept asking...even some of the questions
towards the suspects were probably aimed at me. Stupid," Wufei sighed,
closing his eyes. "I'm sorry, I've been very stupid."
"Yes," Sally muttered, looking both scared and furious.
Wufei blinked. He was sitting bare-chested in the Ops clinic, and Sally
was writing things down on a clipboard as if she wanted to stab it.
"So you were saying...dry mouth? Nausea? Dizziness? Increased respiration
and heart rate?" Sally looked at him closely then grimaced. "A tendency
to lose time?"
"I thought they were dreams," he muttered.
"They probably would seem like it to start with, when she was giving you
the occasional light dose, but any fool knows that violent nightmares,
insomnia and night-time sweats for over a week should prompt an immediate
trip to a doctor," Sally ground out. She was also grinding the pen against
the clipboard. Quatre moved forward to gently touch her hand and she turned
and stomped away.
"I think she's mad at me," Wufei whispered. "I was going to see her tomorrow.
Or when I got back from-...I forget."
"Don't worry about it, she'll get over it." Quatre smiled. He looked worried
too, but he hid it better than Sally.
"Do you know what Susan used yet?"
"No, but I guess we'll find out," Sally grumbled, approaching with a syringe.
She swabbed Wufei's arm a bit more roughly than necessary, but she was
gentle as she slipped the needle in and collected some blood into several
little tubes. Quatre was right at Wufei's side. Probably in case he became
violent, Wufei realized, trying to feel offended. He had better control
"Quatre? Did I- did I really point a gun at Heero, or was that also in
my head?" Wufei's voice was shaking.
"Well..." Quatre glanced at Sally, who shrugged, eyes sad.
"I did, didn't I? Fuck. He's going to be furious."
"I think worried is more accurate," Quatre sighed. "He knows you were
not in your right mind, Wufei."
"Hee- I mean, Yuy, he's not really affected by drugs, he won't understand-"
Wufei's breath was starting to hiss through his lungs, he was sweating
and shaking. Sally looked at him sharply.
"Yes, well, you never saw him under the Zero system the first time he
used it," Quatre snorted. "I was at the other end of his big-ass gun that
time, and let me tell you he's a lot scarier than even you are."
"Yes, but he beat it on his own..." Wufei's throat was so dry, it hurt.
"I kind of helped him," Quatre drawled, crossing his arms over his chest.
Wufei thought absently that the words and the gesture seemed to belong
more to Duo than to a normally poised Quatre. It triggered a memory of
some very strange dreams he'd had, about Quatre, and Trowa, and Duo. Wufei
frowned, and shook his head. And nearly fell off the examination table.
Quatre steadied him.
"I should have realized...my own subconscious did. It was trying to tell
me about Susan for awhile now, I think. Too bad it didn't speak up a bit
more clearly," Wufei muttered.
"There, I sent those off." Sally came back, wiping her hands on a paper
"Can you tell what Susan used from my blood samples?"
"No. We'll wait for forensics to search her apartment. I'm guessing I
know. A distant relative of ketamine, developed for interrogations, normally
at the doses she gave you at the end. The suspect does his own interrogation."
"Hallucinations, the suspect's hidden guilt and feelings dragged to the
fore. Confusion, heightened aggression, and a release of the suspect's
inhibitions, making it more likely he'll just come right out with what
he's thinking instead of hiding it. It's a very effective tool. If the
suspect doesn't give the interrogators what they need during his waking
nightmares, his resistance is broken fairly quickly anyway, from stress
and sleep deprivation, and then he's docile to questioning once the drug
"Why did you take my blood?" Wufei stared at her, feeling the shape of
something she was leaving unsaid.
Sally licked her lips, and then explained softly: "Used for any length
of time...that kind of drug causes organ damage. I sent your blood off
for chemical analysis. We'll look for the kind of breakdown proteins that
signals injury to certain parts of the body."
"This drug was developed late in the war, and I don't know its effects
"Which parts, Sally?"
"I don't know," she whispered. "But liver and/or kidneys would be my first
guess. Maybe your stomach, I'll check you for ulcers in a couple of days,
you might have lesions. Heart, lungs, from stress..."
"Brain? How is this likely to affect me long-term?"
"Neurologically, there should be no long-term damage or dependency. As
for the psyche...Normally...it can be pretty bad. It is torture, after
all." Sally looked him right in the eye. "But you're a strong man, Chang
Wufei. You didn't break, and I think your mind is fundamentally okay.
I think you can beat the after effects too. Which are likely to include
more nightmares as your sleep patterns reassert themselves, as well as
the consequences of any trauma: depression, stress, black-outs, paranoia,
sleep disorders, delocalized pain, the works. I am going to have to prescribe
complete rest for a month, no stress - don't
say it, Chang!" Sally shouted as Wufei started to protest. "After
your lapse in judgement in not coming to me at the first full-blown hallucination,
I could pull your badge!" Wufei subsided quickly.
"Right," Sally humphed. "Make that three weeks, and then we'll do an evaluation.
We'll also see what the blood samples say, too. And you need sleep. I'll
give you something to knock you out for the next twelve hours, no dreams
guaranteed. Your body needs to recuperate, as well as your mind. Then
we'll see. Quatre, can you and Heero stay with him? He needs to be watched.
You pilots have odd reactions to drugs. If he starts to show signs of
having hallucinations, or sleepwalking or anything, you have to wake him
"No problem," Quatre's hand was warm on Wufei's bare shoulder, pushing
him gently off the table. Wufei allowed Sally to help him on with his
shirt and jacket, and then he staggered to the door.
A night without nightmares. Sounded like an impossible dream, really.
He wasn't worried about organ damage. He knew his body well. It was stressed,
but he didn't think it had been injured beyond repair. His mind was solid.
He'd been trained to resist this sort of thing, and Susan's efforts had
been mild compared to a full-blown session courtesy of OZ. He'd work on
Sally to get out on the field as soon as possible. He wanted to put all
this out of his mind. He wanted to be fighting side by side with Heero
Back to normal. Heero would probably be angry at him - stupid not to have
recognized the symptoms of the drug, he had had plenty of clues. And he'd
ended up pointing a gun at Heero, after spending a month biting his head
off when Heero was only - only trying to help.
At least Wufei had not said anything in his delirium; he could tell that
much from Heero's reactions to date. Wufei hadn't said anything that might
make Heero reconsider their arrangement. Not mentioned the dreams where
Heero had been his companion and friend, instead of his partner and rival,
and how those had hurt worse than the nightmares because of the moment
he woke up...
"Forensics should confirm what Susan used," Quatre muttered, sliding Wufei's
jacket off. They were back already? Oh yes, he remembered Quatre walking
behind him as he climbed the stairs, ready to steady him if he needed
it. "They'll make sure we have all the evidence we need."
"Evidence for what? I'm not prosecuting her," Wufei told him dully.
The holster Quatre had removed from Wufei's shoulder tumbled numbly from
his hands. "What?!"
"...it's not...entirely her fault. She...it's so hard, Quatre. What we
did this past month. Looking for justice but not being able to apply-"
"Wufei, you had nothing to do with your colony's destruction!" Quatre
stared at him. Wufei looked away, troubled, and fumbled his shirt off.
"...That's not entirely true. If I'd surrendered-"
Two hands caught him by the shoulders, straightening him from the slump
he'd not even noticed. "Wufei, do not blame yourself!"
"...what if she was right. She was fighting for Justice after all. Maybe
I'm the one who's wrong. Maybe I should feel much guiltier for-"
"Wufei," Quatre took a deep breath, and released it slowly. "Wufei, if
she wanted to prosecute someone for destroying a colony she had a much
better person to attack than you." Quatre's eyes were direct, not hiding
the pain there. "She failed, Wufei. I know that we ask these people -
the War Crimes Committee investigators - we ask them the impossible. We
ask them to look into the depths of horror and remain detached, impartial.
Fair. We ask them to uphold an impossibly high standard and they accept.
They are greater heroes than the five of us ever were. We fought to end
a war. They fight - put their sanities on the line - so that it never
happens again. And they get little, if no, recognition for it.
"But Susan failed." Quatre's voice was intense, though he spoke softly.
"I am the last person on Earth or in space who can blame her; I made pretty
much the same mistake. But that means nothing. That we asked her to do
something so hard, that she suffered so much...we each have to stand by
our own actions in the end. She was supposed to stand for Justice, and
she fell into personal revenge."
"...I think I may have pushed her," Wufei whispered. Was Susan right?
Did he deserve to have a life, especially this one he'd chosen and enjoyed,
when so many of his clan had died? When Meiran had died? And how about
his own quest for justice...hadn't that been only revenge...?
"No. You didn't. I think she fell long before she met you. And if it hadn't
been you, it would have been someone else. That's why it was revenge,
Wufei: she just wanted blood. Anyone's." Quatre was whispering. His hands
were warm on Wufei's bare shoulders, pressing the skin, bringing him back
to reality. Quatre leaned forward until he was murmuring directly into
Wufei's ears; his words for Wufei alone. "You know, in your heart, that
she was wrong. I'm just as torn up inside as you, Wufei. I feel just as
unworthy to judge her as you feel. But there is a line between justice
and revenge and she crossed it.
"Let her go, Wufei. Come back to us, and let her go."
Come back to...us?
Wufei teetered on the brink of something. An abyss in his mind, like the
one into which Susan had tumbled.
He held back. But the lifeline holding him fast felt so tenuous. Come
back to us...who was 'us'?
Wufei barely felt Quatre take off the rest of his clothes and guide him
towards his bed.
"Here you go." Quatre smoothed the covers over him.
Wufei turned onto his stomach and sunk his cheek in the pillow.
"You can go now, Winner," he muttered.
"I won't let you crash without someone to watch your back, even if it
wasn't Sally's orders." Quatre smiled down at him. "I'll stick around
a few minutes. Heero should be following us, he can take over."
"No. He'll be at the crime scene, taking charge. Or following through
with the arrest," Wufei corrected him absently, his eyes drifting shut.
"Oh, I'm sure he'll be along. I don't think you quite appreciate how bad
you look, Wufei. You gave us quite the scare. I think he'll want to be
sure you're okay."
Wufei laughed, a little wisp of a chuckle, opening his eyes again. "He
won't be home for hours, Winner." He smiled at Quatre's sudden frown.
"Trust me...I know."
I know...back to normal...back to silence...but it hurts...
Quatre undid the thong holding his hair bound, and he eased if from the
crunch it had set in with his fingers, in a gesture Heero would never
"So tired..." Wufei whispered, the words slipping from his lips of their
"Rest. The medication Sally gave you should knock you out. No dreams."
Quatre's voice was soft, but his eyes were wary as if realizing the words
might not have had an obvious interpretation. "You okay?"
Quatre frowned. His fingers dropped from Wufei's hair to rub his temple,
soothe his brow. Wufei blinked but his vision kept blurring and gods he
couldn't stop talking.
"It's so hard...I don't want to fail him but I'm so weak sometimes."
Quatre's fingers froze on his skin. Wufei hated himself for the way he
ached for that gentle touch.
"You're not weak, Wufei. Come on, you're the toughest man I know." Quatre's
mouth twisted into what might have been an attempt at an encouraging grin.
"You resisted weeks of torture, you arrested your interrogator yourself...And
I don't know anybody else who can keep up with-" blue eyes widened.
He knew. He understood. Well...it was Quatre. Wufei felt too tired to
be afraid, or ashamed. And this was Quatre...this was the person who had
taught a hard-headed L5 warrior the crucial difference between pity and
compassion. It was okay to talk to Quatre.
"I try to keep up with him. To become more like him but- I...I'm sorry."
His vision blurred even more but his eyes were dry, of course. All the
drugs in the world couldn't rip that much control from him; he had the
best master on Earth and in space in that regard. "It's so hard sometimes.
I don't want to let him down, to burden him with my needs, but I...these
past weeks I wanted...I needed...he'd be disgusted with me if he knew
I was so weak, that I wanted more from him than he already gives me but
I really wanted a- a f-friend to talk to-"
Quatre's eyes were narrowed, and bright as he crouched beside the bed.
His face was firm. "No, you didn't."
Wufei tried to focus. "Huh?"
"I was here. I was your friend. So was Susan, or at least you thought
so. You reached out to us, a bit. You didn't want him to be your friend,
you wanted him to be your lover."
Wufei shied away from the touch on his cheek and the word. That word was
forbidden. "N-no. We-we don't have that. That's not- I knew you wouldn't
"You may be right about that." Quatre nodded. His voice was neutral but
his eyes were sad.
"We just share- we- we just relieve tension. It's not-...we're partners.
"I'm so tired..." He was drifting, eyes nearly closed. "I'm too tired
to fight anymore...to...I...it can't be like that. It's not...it's not
what we have. He chose me because I understood that. Because we could
be partners and - and screw each other and not get any feelings involved.
"Wufei..." Quatre looked like he was fighting himself. He licked his lips
and then said, tentatively: "Maybe you should consider-"
"No!" Wufei jerked his head from the pillow and glared, though Quatre's
image was blurred and his sentence far from finished. "No, he's - he makes
me the best warrior I could ever be. I- I was only half-alive before-
before coming to Brussels. I will not throw that away-"
"This is killing you." Quatre's voice was carefully dispassionate, neither
condemning nor pitying, and for that Wufei was thankful, though the words
"Wrong, Winner, it's my failings that are killing me." His head sank back
into the pillow.
"Wufei, you're not making sense," Quatre whispered, then added in a mutter:
"I think you stopped making sense a while back."
"...will become stronger. I'll get over this. Don't need it. Won't break
us apart. I can live-"
"Without tenderness? Affection? Understanding? Someone on your side instead
of being some kind of perpetual...rival or something? Can you really live
like that, for long? Can you even call that living?" Quatre struck like
a true swordsman, a blade of unwanted words slicing into every aspect
of Wufei's pain.
"I...he understands me...when we're in battle. We understand each other.
We have an arrangement."
"I just need to be stronger. He does it. He doesn't need anything. Well,
anything like that. But he does need me to work with him, watch his back.
To be his partner. I'm the only one he trusts with that." Wufei smiled
with tired pride. He had that. And it was everything that mattered. It
was up to him to keep it. "I just need to be more like him, focus on -"
Quatre suddenly started - his fingers tightened on Wufei's neck briefly
- and he glanced quickly over his shoulder. Without a word he got up and
Wufei stared blindly at the suddenly empty space. He heard the door to
his room close firmly, but he couldn't even turn his head to look. It
didn't make sense, to think that Quatre had left. Actually, the thought
of Quatre marching out in disgust at Wufei's stupid outpouring was just
too alien to his comprehension.
Then Quatre was at his bedside again, kneeling. He was flushed, and his
eyes were bright with something that looked like anger, but when he caught
Wufei's glance the expression disappeared to be replaced by one of quiet
compassion. He leaned his chin on his folded hands on the edge of the
bed, face a few inches from Wufei's.
"Look... " He was whispering. It felt strangely comforting. "... you need
to sleep. We'll talk about this tomorrow."
Wufei smiled sadly. "No, we won't," he whispered back.
Quatre's eyes dulled with pain. "Wufei... I... I'll always be here for
you if you-"
Wufei held his gaze, the smile, then slowly turned his head on the pillow
and dropped off into unconsciousness. He felt, just as he let go, Quatre's
hand slip into his. His presence, his touch, more than Sally's pill, would
keep the monsters at bay. He wouldn't have asked Quatre to do that, but
he didn't have to.
He wanted that from Heero like a piece was missing from his chest.
And here, finally, worn down to the bone...he was no longer so sure he
could live without it anymore.
[chap. 33] [chap. 35] [back
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