Tomorrow night would be a full moon… Quatre was as tense as a crossbow string
and started at the littlest noise. He couldn't prevent himself from imagining
what would it be to transform, to become an animal. Would it hurt very much?
What would it change in him? Physically, would walking and running on all four
come easy? Or did it have to be learned? From Heero's descriptions, the boy
hadn't needed to, but as an human he was perfectly coordinated, so… And mentally?
Would he think like an animal as long as he was transformed, would he continue
to think as a human? He had already changed so much just this month… Did it
precipitate the changes in his already unrecognizable psyche?
He was going crazy with all these questions. He was starting to wish it were tomorrow night already, so that everything, the best and the worst, would already be over; and at the same time, he didn't want to pass the point of no return.
The young Arab threw himself on his belly on the bed and closed his eyes, wishing with all his might that he could just fall asleep, just to be able to stop thinking.
The others were trying to help him, but he was so terrified by the nearing of the deadline that their support didn't have any effect anymore. And, when you looked at it, there wasn't a single thing they could really do.
Quatre hugged his pillow hard and hid his face against it. He felt so bad, complaining and being a such a wuss, when the others needed someone strong and competent… He didn't understand why Heero hadn't rejected him for his whiny and bitchy behavior, after all being a wolf sure didn't have this effect on him!
Duo still listened to him as attentively as ever, but Quatre knew that he couldn't really understand, just sympathize… so, it wasn't of any use other than to vent his petty problems and his fears on his friend's back, and Duo sure didn't need those on top of his own. And Trowa, how could Trowa still respect him when he saw him so weak and frightened of such an inevitable thing?
And Wufei who was still missing…
His comrades in arms, his teammates, his … packmates? His friends.
Never would he have believed, the first time they all gathered together on the scientist' orders, that they could become so dear to him, so very close to him. They had been trained to operate as independent agents; most of them were independent even before the training… not even feeling the most basic social urges. Duo alone seemed to agree with him on the necessity of knowing each other in any depth, of familiarizing themselves not only with the combat methods they used, but their moods and thoughts too.
* * *
He remembered it so well… The day when he had received the order to come get Trowa who had been unable to contact his mentor and to go meet the other pilots. He was feeling so excited, nearly childishly so. He had already met Duo before but that was all.
When he asked his comrade, when they still were in the middle of their trip to the rendezvous point, Trowa admitted to having met 05 and 01 already, but apart from telling that he had invited them to the circus for a moment, refused to tell anything more.
As for Duo, he had talked about 01 when they had stayed at the Magagnac village, but it was in the period following his self-destruction… When they were believing him dead. And apart from ranting and raving on him, his stupid stubbornness and his bloody conditioning, and asking Quatre to leave him alone so that he could cry for him in private, he hadn't revealed much about the person Heero was… Quatre had felt he didn't have the right to put his nose in Duo's memories when it was obvious that Duo was trying hard to stop thinking about the dead boy he had tried to befriend.
Well, now it would be very different. Duo had to be much more happier now that he knew that 01 was alive! He and Duo could appreciate a little bit more each other's presence now that grief wasn't darkening their tentative friendship.
Quatre thought that he could become good friends with Duo. But after all, he was friendly and the American boy too, it wouldn't be hard … far less than with the others. If he believed what he had heard about the two other pilots, it wouldn't be as easy to maintain cordial relations with them.
If he believed what Duo said, but he had noticed that the boy tended toward exaggeration, 01 was a sort of automaton with inhumane strength, gifted with pitiless reflexes, without any feelings. And 05 seemed to be pretty rigid too. As for Trowa… Personally he found him pretty interesting, but he had always had a weakness for the mysterious kind. His position about the question was a little biased.
He was feeling so impatient…
* * *
Because of their timing, the golden-haired Arab and his acrobat comrade had to come straight from the circus to the rendezvous point. Trowa was walking with his backpack on a shoulder, with all of his possessions inside. Quatre found it strangely sad that apart from Heavyarms and his gun and a set of knifes, all the boy's possessions consisted in three t-shirts, a few briefs and socks, and a spare turtleneck and pair of jeans, but he knew that Trowa couldn't afford not to travel light. Still, Quatre had all of his personal things waiting for him at home. Did Trowa Barton even have something he could call a home?
They had decided to meet where they wouldn't attract attention: in the middle of a mall situated just between a college and a high school, a Saturday evening, when all the teenagers living close by came to roam the shops. As Duo said, where to hide a goldfish better than in a goldfish pond?
Speaking of the American pilot… Quatre could see him seated on a fountain in a corner, a dark-haired boy leaning against the wall beside him. His braid was hidden under a black cap, but Quatre could still recognize him. He dragged Trowa after him and they joined the two others.
"Is it Heero or Wufei?" the Arab asked his comrade while they were approaching.
"Heero," answered Trowa in an absent tone, preoccupied by his attempt to gain passage in the crowd.
The blond-haired boy used the time they took to join them to observe the L1 pilot. He was exactly as Duo had described him: messy hair, a slim and compact body, hard and determinate-looking. His calculating glances attracted nearly as much attention as the shout Duo gave when he saw them and jumped on Quatre, laughing.
"Oi, Q-man!! How are ya since last time, buddy?"
"Well, very well, Duo, thank you. And you?" answered the little blond, laughing, half choked by the hold the braided pilot had on his neck.
"Great, man! Heero'n me got to the fast-food before coming here, I ate enough to make my belly explode!"
Quatre laughed again, especially at the face the other boy made when he heard Duo boast about the fact that he had succeeded in dragging him to a fast-food.
Trowa and Heero had saluted each other with a discreet nod before Trowa took place at the Japanese's side against the wall. When the two laughing boys stopped fighting, they saw the two somber boys staring at them, reprobating.
"You're attracting too much attention," hissed Heero.
"You attract nearly as much stares with that serial-killer face, Hee-buddy," Duo shot back, not scared at all by the menace in the first pilot's voice. "And, shit, look 'round you, normal teens that meet their normal friends are supposed to act exuberant…"
"At this level, normality may be abnormal then," calmly answered Trowa.
Duo blinked, then, not a sore loser, burst out laughing.
"OK I'll try to calm down. "
Heero glared in a dubious way, as if he was used to these kinds of promises, then turned away to scan the crowd.
"05 is late" he grumbled.
* * *
Wufei saw the green-eyed boy he had met already turn to him and point him out to the other dark-haired boy, the one who looked so dangerous. Two eyes of a blue as intense as a laser turned to him, singling him out, and he took his time getting up from the café table he had been sitting at for the last hour. The two brown-haired boys seemed competent enough; but the slim, fragile-looking blond one and the joker with the cap didn't look like they truly were qualified for the work! Especially the joker. He had to be 02, the black-winged Gundam. Hard to believe that he could be efficient, with his attitude…
"Wufei," saluted Trowa.
"You the fifth? Hi!" chirped the boy with the black cap.
"Let's go elsewhere," he demanded, glancing with disdain at the crowd pressing them from every side. "We will take care of the introductions later on."
"We're relatively safe here."
"But we can't talk."
"… Well. Do you have a place where we can?" asked the friendly blond.
He nodded stiffly and signaled for them to follow.
* * *
This idea was ridiculous. Master O would pay. He got by fairly well without any support! Why couldn't they continue to operate as independents, giving each other a hand when they happened to be in the same area or with the same objective?
"As you probably understood already, I am Chang Wufei, pilot of the Gundam Shenlong…"
…only heir and surviving member of the late Dragon Clan, he didn't add to complete the presentation.
"I am Quatre Raberba Winner," the slim blond smiled at him.
"Connected to Winner enterprises?"
"The heir. Although not for long anymore," he sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Father threatened to disinherit me when I left… But I have the support of most of my family and the others don't know, and all the money I could ever need and then some; I am prepared to finance what you'll need."
The Chinese nodded. Winner looked to be at a disadvantage as far as pure strength went, but he hadn't come so far with being as weak as his appearance suggested, and no one could pilot a Gundam if they weren't a genius with piloting Mobile Suits. Furthermore, his connections would ease their way… if Wufei decided to stay with the group. He had to get a better idea before taking that decision, he reminded himself.
"Trowa Barton," deadpanned said Trowa for Duo's benefice, the boy being the only one he had never met face to face.
"Barton family?" asked Wufei, lifting an eyebrow.
From what he knew, the Barton family, apart from some dissident branches, was highly involved with Romafeller in politic games, but was playing double game against the Earth. There were the ones who would have set in motion the "true" operation Meteor, the one which aimed at using the Gundams to kill here and there and sow the fear of the Colonies in the minds of the Earthlings instead of fighting only against OZ. Wufei knew that well, his father and the head of his clan had had for habit to have meetings with them on the business of the L5 Colony cluster.
Listening to closed doors was not polite. But it kept him highly informed.
"No. Just a codename."
"Like Heero then," noticed the longhaired boy, playing with his cap. "I am Duo Maxwell."
"Is that your true name?" asked Wufei, frowning. "You should forget it, like Yuy and Barton. It's stupid to use it. Especially when you don't have the protection of a rich or influent family to back you up…"
"That's not a problem" answered Duo with a strange smile. "There are so many Maxwells around anyway… and the good one is dead. Anyway, I chose this name myself. You can search for years in all the databases you'll find. Officially, Duo Maxwell does not exist."
The four boys stared at him, surprised.
"But you have to have met people, didn't you?" asked Quatre, astonished. "And if they pressured them?"
"You'll never get your hands on anything concerning my origins. Even the rare information you can have about my younger years wouldn't be of any use. And the only people I have now are the Professor G and Howard's friends, and they're already in the resistance, so…"
"How do you mean, they wouldn't be of any use?"
Duo briefly grimaced, then gave them a big grin, too big to be credible, and lifted his cap. His braid escaped from the cap's confines and unrolled along his back, balancing with the momentum.
"They all dead anyway. No one else to lose " he chirped in a falsely jovial voice.
Wufei started as if he had been hit. So, he didn't have anyone either… How did he do to still smile then? To look joyful? How had he done not to sink in bitterness and avenging rage? He was stronger than Wufei, morally, to have succeeded in that. That boy was much more remarkable than what he had thought at first glance.
Maybe he could teach him things… Every one of them could teach him things on inner strength, in a way. Trowa and his stoicism before a trial, Heero and his unstoppable will, even Quatre with his wish to fight anyway, to dirty himself, even if he knew that he wasn't really made for it and had to his disposal every occasion in the world to forget the war in a golden cocoon…
They were all so strong, each in their own way…
Wufei didn't know if he could get on well with them. But to fight by their side… that was something he would feel honored to.
* * *
Wufei woke up knowing that he finally remembered something important, that at last, he knew who he was…
…and then he opened his eyes, and the memory evaporated like a cloud, fraying faster and faster with the tightening of his grip on it.
"NO!!!" he roared, throwing his pillow against the opposite wall.
He had been so close to remembering, he felt it, he knew it! Why had it disappeared? For a moment, he had known…
The bedside table was on the verge of following the pillow when he realized that he was losing control of his frustration. He put the table back with care, breathing hard, his need to break something still as present.
It couldn't last. He needed answers, or he would go insane with frustration! He needed to do something…
And since he didn't remember by himself…
He would go ask Treize. The man knew. He would ask him to tell him.
* * * * * *
"Treize… I'd like to have a talk with you."
The General pushed back the plans he was studying and turned toward the young man standing at his door. Wufei was leaning on one of the sides, a crutch under his opposite arm, and was worrying a shorter black strand between his fingers, nervously. He had the intimidated look of the little boy that doesn't want to bother his father while he's working but would still like a little bit of attention. Treize authorized himself to find him adorable for a few seconds.
"Of course… Come in."
He obeyed, and hesitated for a few seconds before regaining that fiery little flame in his eyes that had once been a raging inferno, before it had been totally blown out. His chin high, he walked to a chair in front of the general's desk and sat down, not waiting for permission like he would have been doing only yesterday.
"I have… questions to ask."
Treize imperceptibly frowned. It could be bad. Honestly, the boy interested him very much, he liked him, but he was a potential long-fuse bomb. As long as the members of Romafeller were convinced that the pilot couldn't be of any use in that state, Wufei was safe; especially since no less than seven different psychiatrists had established that he wasn't pretending at all and that brutalizing him would only bury deeper the memories they were looking for. As long as he didn't let him escape, Kushrenada had the right to treat him like he wanted. They had permitted that without protesting too much, smirking, despising, in front of what they called his "domestic rebel".
If he remembered what he had been … Treize would have no choice but to treat him like an enemy. In other words… Imprisonment and brutal interrogations. He had too much respect for his previous adversary, the fiery and proud dragon, and had become too attached to the calm young man he was at the moment to permit it. If it implied that he had to prevent him from getting his memory back, he would do it. It was better than having to torture him.
"You knew me before…"
"A little, yes…"
"A little? I thought… " blurted Wufei, disconcerted.
"We met once in person before that," sighed Treize, remembering their sword fight. "But we had heard lots about each other."
'and how much we did' he added mentally.
"So why wasn't I returned to my family after my accident? … I suppose I have a family … ? "
Treize discretely bit his lips. What could he say?
"I don't know your family." 'it was probably atomized in the destruction of your colony, along with the rest of your clan… '
Wufei was ready to ask yet another question, but Treize cut him with a hand gesture.
"Wufei, the doctors said that it was better for you to remember by yourself than to have our memories forced on you," he lied without shame. "They're by nature not the same as yours. I know you would like to know… to remember … But I cannot help you. I would like to, but… For your own good, it is better that you don't know … by me," he added, hoping that Wufei had not noticed the hesitation.
"Oh…" sighed the boy, disappointed and annoyed. "But can I ask about some other things?"
"What are you thinking about?"
"I don't really remember the political context … and … The soldiers in the halls, your title of general… Are we at war? Tell me about it."
Treize sighed again and kept himself from tearing out his hair. How was he supposed to protect him if he kept putting himself in danger? He could not decently protect him from himself, not without at least explaining to the sharp-minded boy why he was doing that … But he knew that under all of his apparent softness, the boy still had an enormous will. He would want to know anyway, even with the risks.
"I don't think it would be good for you … Really I don't think…"
"Do you want me to ever remember?" spat the boy, unknowingly hitting the nail on the head. For the first time in weeks, he sounded exactly like the old Chang Wufei. "You never leave me in a situation where I could provoke a return of my memories… If you never tell me anything, how will I find a trigger?! Nothing will ever change! Do you really want me to stay like that forever, not knowing who the hell I am?" he asked, jumping on his feet.
He was gaining back more and more of the previous boy's will and aggression, even if most of the time he was still calm and reserved. Now Treize could recognize the steel strong resolve of his adversary … And his intelligence had not disappeared with his memory. He would not be long now before putting the clues together.
"Treize-san, please…" pleaded the boy, offering him what he recognized as a last chance to admit to the truth.
Kushrenada searched for words for several seconds, then shook his head no, softly, not daring to look at him.
Wufei waited for the man to speak, then understanding that he would not, stalked up without looking back, struggling with all his might not to limp.
He waited until he was in the shelter of his little garden arbor to let his face show the depth of his hurt.
He had trusted in Treize, a nearly blind trust … But the man refused to tell him anything. Did he really want to help him? Were his intentions toward him as pure as Wufei had first thought? Maybe, maybe he had lied all along; and how would the boy know, since he was forced to take everything he said as Gospel truth?
He was caught in a sudden panic attack. His name, the only thing linking him, as he believed, to his past… Was his name truly Chang Wufei?
The face greeting him every morning in the mirror stayed the face of a stranger.
* * *
Treize tried to concentrate on his work, but it didn't work. His eyes always came back to the crutch the boy had forgotten against the chair. Finally, he abandoned his work and got up. Taking the crutch in hand, he began to hunt the boy.
One of the guards he had assigned to his surveillance indicated his current position. He knew that Wufei would not like knowing that he was under surveillance, but he couldn't just let him wander as he wanted in the base. A random thing could awaken his memories and then, instead of a lost boy, they would have a spy infiltrated in the heart of their deepest secrets.
As he had thought, Wufei was at the farthest end of the garden, under his favorite arbor.
Treize froze the second he caught sight of him.
Sitting on a bench covered in light wood, Wufei had bent a knee under his chin, and his unbound hair dancing in the light breeze was covering, by locks, parts of his exotic profile. Eyes lowered, somber, he was contemplating a withering rose that he was turning around between his fingers. A petal escaped and he caught it to stare at it pensively.
Treize hesitated for a few minutes about bothering him. The boy was breathtakingly, exotically beautiful. If he had been even only a few years older, Kushrenada wouldn't have hesitated long before courting him; but even if he was mature for his age, it didn't make him truly older.
‘he is too young… ‘ he reminded himself with effort.
‘and much too beautiful'
* * *
Wufei contemplated the petal in his hand before crushing it in an access of anger. The desire of breaking something in a fit of rage was getting stronger. He felt hurt. He needed to hurt another to get rid of the suffering.
/eyes on me/
He whirled around. A few meters away, Treize was staring at him, one hand against a tree trunk. Wufei snorted with disdain before turning his back on him, bending his two legs under his chin. He could watch to his heart's content, Wufei didn't care anymore.
The boy didn't seem to have heard at all.
The Asian boy began to gently brush against the rose petals with the tip of a finger, then, as Treize was stepping forward, crushed the bloom in his fist. He let the crushed petals rain on the side, lazily.
The General bit his lower lip. It didn't look promising…
"I came to give you back your crutch. Your leg will never heal if you don't use it…" he chided gently.
"My head will never heal either if you don't give me something to lean on," the young man lashed back dryly, forgetting his decision not to talk to him for a verbal spar.
Treize fell silent. Wufei didn't look at him, turning his head to stare at the bushes on the other side, examining the roses intermingling on the shafts.
"Not nearly as sorry as me," the Chinese snarled back in an acidic tone.
Against his own decision, he briefly turned around to glance at Treize. He refused to lower his eyes when he met the man's, and it was the other who was the first to look away, to the roses bushes.
Wufei was ready to explode. He had enough of being lead in circles!! He wanted answers, damn it! He would walk to Treize and demand them, and no matter if the man liked it or not, no matter how good he was with the little verbal plays politicians had made an art form of, Wufei would extort them anyway, and to hell with all his little secrets!
In the roses and the lilacs' strong scent, the man stood out draped in deep blue against the field of flowers behind him, white flowers and field so green, so green, toward the horizon
/like her, like her, fields so green, white flowers, so beautiful a landscape, so beautiful, her too in her midnight blue spacesuit, her white-as-the-blooms ribbons in her hair, white stained with red which stands out against all this white
white is the color of the Dead but it's so beautiful, it shouldn't be…
she doesn't laugh, mocking, she doesn't shout, furious, she's just here, she rests, tranquil, a small smile on her lips. his warrior clad in blue surrounded by white the gold band at her finger just like his own. she looks at him without saying anything, she just smiles, and he sits down, embarrassed. she never looked at him like that before, with affection, with happiness. he doesn't want her to tell him to leave, but she doesn't say a thing, she just puts her head on his shoulder, in acceptance, and he stays unmoving, not daring to breathe, as if she was a wild bird, a raven as black as her hair.
it smells of flowers, her hair, rose and lilacs, it tickles his cheek, but if he moves, the bird will fly away, he doesn't want that, it's the first time he succeeds in attracting it.
and then, out of habit, the movement slightly mocking, slightly haughty, regret, the moment can't last eternally. he shrugs to drive away the bird
who falls on the ground
a quiet little smile on the lips
he calls, nothing moves
he shakes, her head rolls, her smile seems so soothed, so quiet, so tender,
not a breath
Chang Wufei collapsed at the General's feet, scratching his temples bloody, screaming and screaming again a name so deeply engraved in his mind that it defined him more than his own.
[Psycho-analysis sessions] [First night of the Moon]