Disclaimers: I don't own any of the Gundam Wing Universe. I'm not making any money off this story. It's written out of love, so please don't sue me.

Written: May-July, 2001
Overall Rating: NC-17
Overall Pairings: (3+5) (1x2/2x1) (?x5)NCS
Category: DARK Angst Yaoi/Shonen ai Friendship Rape-Memories Sap Lime AU-OOC
Enigma Story Categories: G-Boys High Adventure! & Gundam Nightmares
Warnings: DARK, angst, yaoi/shonen ai, friendship, remembrance of non-consensual sex, sap, lime, language, violence, fear, AU-OOC

Notes: The hidden gifts that Wufei discovered brought him a sense of joy at the time, but now shadows of a dark and painful past return and his world begins to shatter. Can Trowa find the strength to truly love him unconditionally and somehow keep the Chinese teen from being irrevocably destroyed?


Unconditional Gifts
Part 13

On the third floor, a trio of Gundam pilots wrestled with a door that seemed uniquely uncooperative.

"What's this damned thing's problem?" Duo snarled as their fourth attempt to rehang it failed.

"It hates us," Quatre asserted, sucking the blood out of a scrape on one hand. He'd tried unsuccessfully to keep the recalcitrant hunk of wood in place even as it was falling loose and failed. The Arabian pilot needed to stop the bleeding, but he wasn't willing to abandon his friends simply to go find a bandage.

"Hmm," Trowa mumbled thoughtfully as he looked at the problem from a new perspective. "Are you sure it was hung properly in the first place, Duo? These brackets don't look like they match up correctly from here."

"I dunno," Duo shrugged, then looked closer. "Well, shit! You're right, Tro. These look like they wouldn't match unless you forced them into alignment with a screwdriver."

"That's what I was thinking, too," Trowa nodded, then looked at his former roommate curiously. Quatre looked more like a young child sucking on his bloodied knuckle than a dangerous terrorist and Trowa felt obligated to ask, "Wasn't it hard to get the pins out, Quatre? As misaligned as this must've been, that should have been almost impossible."

Quatre shrugged and dropped his hand from his mouth to remark, "No, it wasn't too hard at all, Trowa. Um, at least, I don't remember it being hard."

Duo snorted softly and turned towards his blond friend with a grin, "Come to think of it, I'm guessing that it woulda been easy for you even if it was stuck, Q-Ball! You were all fired up about protecting Wu and I'll bet the adrenaline was pumping, right?"

Blushing at the praise, Quatre shrugged again, "Well, yeah, Duo, maybe that was it. But I wasn't any more 'fired up' about it than you were! We were all worried about him." He noticed the look of confusion on Trowa's face and added, "Trowa, don't look so surprised, please. Didn't you realize that we care about both of you? Whatever happened in the past and is going to happen in the future, we're in this together."

As Trowa fumbled for words, Duo finished propping the door against the wall then turned to look at him. "I give up on the door, guys, but I don't give up on my friends." He took a breath and then commented, "Tro, I wanted you to come up here so I could ask you something and now seems like a good time to do just that."

"What is it, Duo?" Trowa asked, grateful for the distraction that kept him from addressing Quatre's comments. The quiet words the Arabian teen had spoken had unnerved him somewhat and Trowa incorrectly assumed it would be easier to deal with Duo's questions than those thoughts.

"What's going on between you and Wu, Tro?" Duo asked, standing in front of the taller teen and looking at him with open concern. "Every time he'd come near you tonight, it seemed like you'd flinch. What's up with that?"

Swallowing hard, Trowa fumbled for words and then answered quietly, "It's wrong for me to touch him, Duo. I hurt him when I touched him this morning and I haven't apologized enough for it. Until I do, well, I haven't got the right, that's all."

"That's bullshit!" Duo responded angrily.

"No, I..." Trowa was disagreeing and shaking his head when Duo erupted.

"That's total and complete BULLSHIT!!!" The American insisted in frustration and gesticulated wildly. "He fucking needs you, man! Not from across the room or anything like that, Wu needs you there, touching him, holding him, convincing him that life IS worth living or we'll lose him permanently! Damn it all, Trowa, can't you see that his whole life has been built on keeping secret whatever the hell is going on and when it becomes obvious that the secret is out and we all know, he's apt to go way too close to the edge!"

Emerald eyes narrowed dangerously as what Duo was saying sank in more fully, "You can't possibly mean you think Fei's potentially suicidal, Duo! He's not like that."

"What makes you so sure?" Duo demanded in return. "I think it's entirely possible! Wu's need to protect his honor runs pretty damned deep and this is gonna tear that entire thing to shreds. We've come close to losing him to what I considered fairly suicidal stunts at the time and he's never had a burden like this to cope with before."

Trowa clamped down on the inner voice that wanted to deny this was even possible and he asked, "Are you sure? I mean, that he could kill himself over this?"

"Wouldn't you?" A quiet voice asked from behind him as Quatre spoke up for the first time after the conversation had become heated. "I know that it's hard for a rape victim to cope when they're open about it, but by concealing this, Wufei must be in even greater pain."

"How would you know about that, Quatre?" Trowa asked, a chill of fear for his Arabian friend racing down his spine and reflecting in his eyes.

Recognizing the look as the same one that Heero and Duo had shown earlier during a similar discussion, Quatre shook his head and answered quickly, "No, it never happened to me, Trowa, but one of my sisters was attacked when I was younger. It was date rape and horrible, but she never tried to conceal it. When my family brought in counselors for us all, we talked about the different ways victims and their families cope and the psychologist made it quite clear that for those who hide the crime, there's often a terrible mixture of guilt, shame, and self-blame. No one ever asks to be raped or deserves it, but hiding it makes recovery so much harder."

Sad violet eyes watched both boys as they spoke and Duo wondered again how it had been so easy to misjudge Quatre over a single random act of violence two weeks previously. Trowa, however, seemed lost in thought, nodding his head in understanding while Quatre had spoken and remaining silent afterwards.

"That's the same thing Heero said, Tro," Duo offered finally. "That and the fact that usually when a victim hides it there's a fairly deep level of denial to get through before the pain can really be addressed. Like heart surgery, you have to cut through quite a bit before you can hope to improve things."

"I wonder if he'll even let us try?" Trowa remarked sadly, recalling the strange transition to the old patterns of near aloofness he'd detected in his love earlier in the evening.

Duo frowned then answered simply, "Wu reached out to you tonight, didn't he? As long as he's open enough for that, I think we still have a shot at this."

"And if he stops?" Quatre asked warily, "What do we do if Wufei turns away from Trowa? From all of us? We couldn't stop him if he wanted to leave here and I'm not sure we have the right to force him to face this if he doesn't want to."

Crossing his arms over his chest angrily, Duo shook his head. "You're wrong, Q, dead wrong. We're not going to let Wu leave, and we're not going to let him face all this alone. Like you told Heero, we're a family and as such we'll see him through this."

"'Family'?" Trowa asked in curiosity. "What're you two talking about?"

The blond teen sighed and glanced at his hand noting that the bleeding had stopped of its own accord. Looking back up he answered simply, "Trowa, we've been through too much to not be a 'family' in my opinion. We've saved each others' lives often enough, but that's not what matters. At this point, we're talking about saving someone's soul and frankly that makes me feel pretty damned close to all four of you guys. I feel as if we're brothers on some cosmic level. Does that answer your question?"

Trowa smiled and nodded, "Yes, it does. I've felt that way lately, but I never found the words to say it quite so eloquently."

"Yeah," Duo commented as he, too, relaxed a bit, "who woulda guessed that Q-Ball here was such a poet?"

"Agreed," Trowa looked as if he had arrived at a decision of some sort and then added, "So, we're to be a family now and get through this challenge together one way or the other, right?"

"Right," both Quatre and Duo stated simultaneously, smiling at the sense of unity they shared at that moment of time.

"All right then, first things first," Trowa commented as he turned to walk back to the stairs, confidence at least partially restored. "I think there's someone I need to talk to or at least be there for right now, if you'll excuse me?"

Duo watched as the slender teen walked away then he turned towards Quatre with a smirk, "Guess we let the door project wait and go find you a Band-Aid then, 'baby bro'."

Groaning, Quatre complained, "My sisters have called me that all my life, Duo, don't you start, too, please!" But he followed the other boy down the stairs obediently just the same.

"All right," the braided teen smirked, then added, "I'll stick with 'Q-Ball' if ya like, but let's take care of your hand just the same."

"That works for me," the blond smiled.

For the first time, Quatre realized that his comment to Heero earlier in the day might hold greater ramifications than even he had suspected, but he was hopeful it might give the group some of the strength that would be needed to reclaim the joy that had once been theirs.

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

End Notes for Parts 11-13:

Hmm, well? Was the slight reduction in angst helpful? Did it ease some of the tension in your mind? Did you worry a little about my remark in the intro that Quatre was going to bleed and did you think that it would be because of Trowa since he did it before? Gee, it could've been a bad-ass shark out in the ocean and our little Arabian pilot went swimming then Jaws showed up and took a bite out of him sending them all rushing to the hospital and…

[stops and grins helplessly at yet another angst idea that really deserves a fic, then forces himself back to the topic he meant to be talking about here]

Hmm, I just noticed something. So far, in the "Gifts Arc", Quatre has hit Wufei, Trowa has hit Quatre, and in Part 9, Heero hit Trowa. That means that Duo and Heero haven't been hit by anyone--yet--and that Wufei and Duo haven't done anything violent--yet. I wonder if that means something?

Now, on a more serious note, tonight's entire posting run is dedicated to one young woman who needs some love and support as she prepares to move to a new city filled with opportunity and unknowns. My darling Flower Child, SkyLark, from the [1x2x1ML] deserves a round of applause for having the courage to go forward in search of a better future and all those at the Casa de Llama wish her nothing but the best! Not all families are related by blood, as the Gundam Boys know, and I hope that you consider us your family, too, SkyLark!

Well, gang, that's it for tonight. Some silly stuff, some serious, and all in all more plot than you know what to do with, ne? Look for some important news in the intro note tomorrow night! Ja ne!

on to part 14

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