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 19

Sitting in the living room, Duo Maxwell was lost in thought, entirely ignoring both Heero and Quatre who seemed to be doing some soul-searching of their own.

//That was so damned weird when Wu started talking like a little kid or something.//

Duo puzzled through the words his friend had said and tried to compare them with what he and Heero had already learned about the Chinese boy's past.

//Hmm, he didn't even mention that duel with Khushrenada and that's always been a big deal to him, I wonder why it was left out? And that shit about being called a lizard and then a dragon, what the hell was *that* all about?//

The meter-long braid twitched like a snake as Duo shook his head angrily.

//I may not ever understand this fully, but I'm getting the feeling that Wu's soul is tied up like a puzzle knot trapped within a labyrinth and only Tro's got even half a shot at setting it free and straightening it out. I just hope we don't lose Tro in the process, too, if it turns out that he can't help Wu. Even I'm starting to wonder if there's much hope left for the poor kid.//

Moving to stand and look out a window, Duo chastised himself for his defeatist attitude.

//Now hold your horses, Maxwell! Since when do *you* give up on a challenge? Keep your chin up like Sister Helen always taught ya and stay optimistic! We rallied through that shit Q caused as a team and we can get through this even better as a family. Be confident! Yeah, that's it, confidence in yourself and your "brothers" is all it takes.//

The Deathscythe pilot glanced at Quatre with a puzzled look, noticing that the other boy seemed upset even more now than he had been previously. Going over to take a seat near him, his final thought to himself was simply a reminder of sorts that applied to everything they were facing at this point.

//Well, that and more open communication for a change! Let's see what's bugging my little blond buddy over here.//

"What's up, Q-Ball?" Duo asked, confident smile in place and doing his best to be reassuring. "What's on your mind?"

Quatre glanced back at the closed door that lead into the kitchen then turned worried aquamarine eyes towards his friends. "I'm worried, Duo. Wufei didn't seem to be able to handle the fact that we're concerned about his possibly being suicidal, how in space can we expect him to cope with us asking if he was raped?"

"I honestly don't know," Duo answered and then turned an accusing look on his lover before he commented acidly, "Ya know, Heero, that was a damned stupid way to bring that up in the first place. You know that, right, baka?"

Heero rolled his eyes in annoyance, "Of course I know that now, Duo, it was pretty damned clear, wasn't it? The big thing, though," his voice dropped as the topic became more intense, "is how do we get him to open up without shutting down again?"

"I wish I knew," Duo offered apologetically. "You're right, we can't get through this if Wu goes into zombie-mode each time things get painful."

Heero nodded before stating flatly, "We *are* going to see to it that Wufei tells us the full truth about this before the end of the day if at all possible. It's past time to deal with the rape issue as well as why he fell apart when I said the word 'suicide'."

Quatre spoke up finally, asking, "It's not as if that isn't a word we don't hear all the time, Heero, what with our work being called the 'actions of obviously suicidal maniacs' by the media. What was it about the way you said it that made him act like that? Or was it something that it made him think about? I'm starting to think we're only scratching the surface on this stuff, Wufei's so damned deep at times."

"What 'stuff', Quatre?" Trowa asked quietly, leading a more composed Wufei into the room. He walked towards a large over-stuffed chair, sat down, and pulled the smaller boy down into his lap, creating an almost reassuringly familiar sight by this point. The Chinese teen looked as if he might try to get up and go sit somewhere else, but Trowa wrapped his arms around him, effectively trapping Wufei, who relaxed against him, dark eyes closed in a semblance of peace that failed to hide the pain that was trying to return.

"Um," Quatre's eyes darted first to Duo and then Heero before he looked at Trowa and answered simply, "All the stuff that's been going on, Trowa. We were just talking about how we all need to talk things over and get a lot of questions answered."

"I see," Trowa answered, his tone not indicating whether he agreed or not.

"Um, Wufei?" Duo asked hesitantly, "I was wondering about something and maybe you wont mind me asking, but where's your katana? I don't remember seeing it lately."

Wufei's eyes slid closed briefly with a sense of sadness that he had no intention of sharing. The ancient blade was not currently in his possession due to the fact that he had felt entirely unworthy of it recently, but he felt this was a detail that no one else needed to know.

Finding the strength to answer only because he felt Trowa's supportive arms around him, onyx eyes opened once more and he said, "My family's blade is secure in ShenLong's cockpit, Duo, along with my other weapons. Why do you ask?"

Duo shrugged and thought rapidly to avoid lying and then decided that the surface truth was sometimes the best way to cover for deeper concerns, "I noticed you didn't have it with you lately. I'm sure that your injuries are keeping you from doing your katas anyway, but it occurred to me that it was unusual for you to not to have it with you all the time. Hope you don't mind me being a little concerned and all."

In point of fact, the mention that all of the oriental pilot's weapons were located several miles away where the five mobile suits were stored was most welcome news to the American youth.

Heero had been quite right in his assessment of the situation as being a potential powder keg for violence. As Duo gave it a bit more thought, however, he realized that even though Wufei was not armed all the rest of them were and it was not at all difficult to imagine the smallest member of the team locating and using a handgun if nothing else. Worse, the kitchen alone held more than enough sharp knives that could be pressed into service should Wufei become entirely unreasonable and Duo felt hopefulness about the sword being far away fall to tatters and he sank into an unpleasant frame of mind for a moment.

Unaware that Duo was finding new fears to worry over, a half-smile glimmered briefly on Wufei's lips. He still couldn't believe his good fortune that his friends even noticed such small details, but before he could feel happy about it, the darkness of the morning returned and the Chinese teen only nodded before dropping his eyes to his clasped hands and he fell silent once more.

Trowa watched the brief exchange between his love and the braided boy with mixed emotions. He felt glad that Duo cared enough to have asked yet guilt also arose as he realized that he hadn't even noticed that the sword had been missing from Wufei's side. Mentally railing at himself for being not only a fool but a blind one at that, Trowa tried valiantly to recover the sense of hope he'd found mere moments before in the kitchen.

//What kind of idiot lets such a small thing distract him after pledging his heart like that, Nanashi?//

A purely mental snort of self-derogatory laughter passed through Trowa's awareness.

//Hmph. What a romantic way to promise to love someone for the rest of your life, too! Sitting on a linoleum floor of all things. You sounded like you were getting married or something and yet you couldn't at least have done that outside where the waves might have provided a touch of the lasting memories that ought to go along with it? If you ever get around to *really* asking him to spend his life with you, make sure that it happens somewhere that doesn't smell like a Starbucks, why don't you?//

A temporary flight of fancy into a better future for himself and the boy he adored helped immensely, though, and the HeavyArms pilot finally turned his attention back to the boy who sat in his lap. Wufei looked worried for reasons he was unclear on and had remained silent after Duo's questions about the katana. With renewed confidence, the emerald-eyed teen said, "Fei, we've got some questions for you and once we start, we're all going to stay put until they're answered. However, I think it might be more appropriate to talk this over after you get dressed."

A slight smirk crossed Trowa's lips as he looked at the Sandrock pilot, saying, "I'd suggest the same to you, Quatre. It's a little hard to talk about serious matters with a guy wearing pink and green paisley pajamas."

Blushing a little, Quatre smiled back, grateful for the break in the tension. "I can see how that might be a problem, Trowa, but with everything that was going on, I kinda forgot." He stood up and then asked, "Um, is there time enough for me to grab a shower, Heero? I feel kinda gross after all that running around in these."

Relaxing as things took a temporary detour that seemed to be much needed, the Wing pilot shrugged, "Sure, Q-Ball, go ahead and get yourself cleaned up. We'll meet back here in an hour or so, all right, team?"

Quatre smiled at the time frame, it gave him enough time to make some tea before the shower and he went back into the kitchen to get a cup, leaving the other four alone in the living room.

"Sure," Trowa stated for both himself and the boy who stood obediently by his side, nervously nibbling at a fingernail. "I'll be keeping an eye on Fei and we'll meet you back down here."

"Um, angel?" Wufei spoke up shyly, "I need a shower, too. You are not planning to 'keep an eye on me' there, are you?"

Flushing slightly as a rather graphic and inappropriate image ran through his mind, Trowa shook his head slowly then remarked in a sweet tone that eliminated any of the hentai overtones involved, "Only if you need me to, koi. I hope that I can trust you to handle that yourself, but I will be waiting for you in our room to make sure you don't vanish again."

"Oh," Wufei nodded, relieved as he promised, "I will not do that, you have my word on it."

"Good enough for me," Duo spoke up as he stood and walked over to the black-haired teen and looked him in the eye. "You be real careful to keep that promise, Wu. And make sure you do whatever it is that you mysterious Chinese-types do to find the truth so we can all get a few things straightened out soon, all right?"

"Nani?" Wufei asked, puzzled and still emotionally raw from the events in the kitchen.

Duo shook his head as he realized he'd come too close to reopening the gates of hell for the other boy. With a smile, he reached out to pull Wufei into a quick hug and then ran his hands through the other teen's hair, mussing it playfully, before saying, "Aw, you're too cute, Wu-Wu! Go get your shower and forget I said anything, it didn't make much sense anyway."

Trying to rise to the overly obvious bait, Wufei snorted in a half-hearted manner and began to comment as dryly as he could, "Maxwell, my name is 'Wufei', not 'Wu-Wu' or...."

Unable to maintain the false humorous mood, Wufei allowed his voice to trail off and he glanced at Trowa, wordlessly begging for rescue from the situation, something he never would have needed if he had been truly himself at the time.

The taller teen nodded, then said simply, "We'll be back."

Without allowing further pointless discussion, Trowa followed Wufei back up to the third floor and kept his promises to all concerned, keeping a reasonable watch over the boy who held his heart.

Life in the beach house was strangely normal for the hour that followed as showers were taken, clothes changed, and even the laptop was booted up long enough for a message from Heero to go out asking Doctor J for an update on Project Xanadu. Even though the dream of team unity had been set aside in favor of simple team survival, as leader, Heero felt he had an obligation to continue to pursue a better future for them all and Xanadu was their best hope for that.

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

End Notes fo Parts 17-19:

Ah me. This is just the start of another day of pain for our fearless five, but it certainly started rather spectacularly, ne? I'll bet you thought I couldn't get even a modified chase scene like that one into this fic, didn't you?

Anyway, all fun and games aside, I'll do my best to get more of this fic from Hell ready to post for Monday night. Who knows? With a touch of luck *and* cooperation from Real Life, I might get a chance to go back and read the kind C&C's that arrived for the last posting run from a week ago before the next posting run since I haven't had time to go find them yet. If I do, here's hoping the "Hall of Fame" returns then, but in the meantime thanks in advance for the notes of encouragement.

For a dedication of this posting run, well, I think the honors go to Ryoko for unfailing love and support. No other woman has ever had to tolerate as much nonsense from me as she had and I will be eternally grateful to her for all that she's done for me!

Right now, however, I think I'll go try to figure out how much I've missed from YahooGroups during the last week. I've got this sinking sensation that it is the hundreds of e-mails I was expecting when I got home from the trip that weren't here and it looks like it's going to be a long night. The good news, though, came courtesy of my kitten who forwarded a note that we might get the situation rectified before too awfully long. I guess they got tired of hearing us all complain, ne?

Be well and I'll hope to entertain you more tomorrow as we discover the memories that Wufei has hidden from not only his friends but himself as well!

on to part 20

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