Sitting on the oceanfront deck, the Gundam pilots drank coffee and some of them silently
considered how to confront the terror of Wufei's reawakening memories.
For his own part, though, the Chinese teen spent most of his time trying to distract himself by
watching people walking along the waterline, the children gathering shells and the adults
calling out to them not to get too far ahead. He smiled a soft whimsical smile and tucked some
of his loose hair behind one ear as he watched a young blond girl dashing through the surf
chasing a black Labrador puppy, both of them getting soaking wet even as the girl's laughter
reached his ears.
"What's so interesting, Fei-kun?" Trowa asked, glancing at the beach in curiosity."That girl
over there," the oriental boy answered, nodding his head towards the beach even as the child
lunged at her puppy and fell into the water with a squeal of joy. "She seems so happy and
content, simply chasing her dog with no worries in the world. I think that maybe it is for people
like her that we fight, ne?"
"Yes," Heero nodded, his own eyes clouded over briefly by memories of a different blond girl
and her puppy, both dead due to his own error, a mistake he had been unable to forgive until
Duo entered his life.
The braided boy had been the only person able to convince him that sometimes bad things
simply happened and there was nothing to do but pick up the pieces and go forward.
Remembering Duo's wisdom helped Heero gain perspective on the current situation and he
added, "We fight to protect their happiness, Wufei, but we fight to protect our own as well."
"Oh?" Wufei looked at him, puzzled by the comment, "What do you mean by that, Heero?"
"I mean that we have the right to be happy, too, Wufei," Heero watched the other boy's
reactions as he spoke, hints of protectiveness entering his voice as he made a promise to
those around him. "Even though we'll never be able to claim to be as innocent as she seems to
be, we can still try to find happiness and to protect it once we have it. We'll all help you fight
for the happiness you two found, to get it back, and to keep it safe."
Wufei contemplated Heero's words and turned to look at Trowa who looked back at him, a
mixture of hope and fear on his face. Neither said a word, though, temporarily lost in each
Breaking the silence, Duo asked with a frown, "Something on your mind, Heero? That's a bit
much for you to say and it's kinda weird."
All eyes turned towards the Wing pilot who nodded solemnly, "Yes, there's quite a lot on my
mind, Duo, but a lot of it isn't anything I want to go into right now. Mostly, I guess, I want us
to try to find solutions to the things that Trowa and Wufei are facing. I want to know that
they're going to be okay if we get separated after our 'vacation' here ends in a few days."
"I appreciate the concern, Heero," Trowa said with a sad smile, "But how can we do that in
such a short amount of time? Where do we even begin?"
"We begin with the truth and the facts," Heero stated firmly as the conversation took a
sudden turn towards the darkness and Wufei shuddered slightly.
Noting the apparent distress on the ShenLong pilot's face, Quatre interceded, "Before we go
into that, guys, might I suggest that we go back inside? I think a more, um, quiet environment
His true concerns had nothing to do with the cries of the seagulls overhead or the sound of
the waves. Quatre was recalling the worries that Duo had had the previous day about Wufei
trying to run from them rather than talk. While he doubted that the Chinese boy would do that
by choice, he supposed the fight or flight mechanism might kick in and they would have a
difficult time catching him on the open sand of the broad beach.
"Good idea," Trowa nodded and stood, offering his hand to a now nervous Wufei, encouraging
him to boldly go forward to face the pain, knowing that doing so together was the only answer
to their troubles.
"Couldn't this wait a little longer?" Wufei asked unhappily yet obediently taking Trowa's hand
and following him inside despite his fears.
A regretful smile was on Duo's face as he reached out to gently touch his shoulder. Shaking his
head, the Deathscythe pilot told him, "No, Wu, letting it wait won't make it any easier to face,
but we *can* try to go slow, okay? Maybe just talk for a little while and then take a break for
lunch later? Think you can do that for us, babe?"
Nervous, Wufei glanced away and bit at a fingernail distractedly, a bad habit he'd yet to
notice he'd fallen into when he wished he didn't have to face something.
"I'll try," The soft promise didn't come until after Trowa drew the smaller teen down onto the
couch, sitting close by, arms loosely encircling him. "Just go slowly, all right?"
"Sure thing," Duo said reassuringly then turned his attention to Heero as the remaining boys
each found a seat. "Well? The floor is yours, Heero, what did you want to ask first?"
Cobalt-blue eyes seemed to narrow slightly as Heero tried to estimate the smallest pilot's
ability to handle the memories that any questions at all about the rape might bring up.
Deciding there was no real way to tell, but that they needed to start somewhere, he took a
breath and allowed his face to relax into a more neutral expression and said, "Before I ask
anything, let me say this. Wufei, I know this won't be easy and I'm sorry, but you've got to try
to let us help you, all right? If it gets to be too much, say so. Stop us before it goes too far if
you must, but keep in mind that we'll just have to start over again later if we do."
"You sound like you're threatening him," Quatre said with a touch of anger in his voice. "That's
not necessary, Heero."
"I'm not threatening him," the leader of the group looked at the blond teen dispassionately.
"This is merely a simple statement of fact up front, Quatre. I'm not any happier about this than
anyone else, but we do what must be done or we'll never get through this."
"I understand," Wufei stated as firmly as he could even as Quatre was about to complain again
about the situation. "Really, Quatre, it's okay. Heero's right, we need to do this."
The calm slipped a little as Wufei's voice dropped and he added quietly, "It's just, well, it's just
going to be hard, that's all."
"I know," Heero said apologetically, noting with some relief that Trowa had already pulled Wufei
closer to him, offering silent support and love. "Let's start with the simplest facts, then. Wufei,
can you tell us how long ago the assault took place?"
Swallowing hard, Wufei seemed to search his mind for a moment and then he shook his head.
"I'm not sure, there's a lot of holes in my memory about the whole thing. I think I must still be
blocking some of it out."
"It's okay, koi, take your time," Trowa urged gently, stroking the dark eyed boy's back and
then offering, "Tell us what you do recall around that point in time, maybe we can help you
figure it out without pushing it too much?"
"All right," Wufei smiled at him gratefully. "I remember a mission before it happened where I
needed to transmit some data to Duo about a major modification to the Leo guidance system,
do you remember that one, Duo?"
"Yeah, I do." The violet-eyed boy nodded then said, "That was about five months ago, Wufei,
the time we stayed at that apartment we just left a couple days ago. I remember sitting by
the window recoding all the data you sent me for the docs. Five months, give or take a week."
Wufei was nodding, "All right, then it was less than five months, that gives us a starting point.
Let me think," a slight shudder ran through him as he forced himself to think past the pain to a
time closer to the present.
Onyx eyes seemed lost and Trowa was about to interrupt when Wufei finally asked, "How long
ago was that mission of yours when you took several pieces of shrapnel in your back, koi?" He
looked at Trowa and felt more clear-headed as he added, "The time I came to check on you
and you seemed so surprised to see me."
"'Seemed' surprised?" Trowa nearly chuckled, "I was *shocked*! I had no idea that you even
knew where we were much less that I was hurt. Quatre and I were in Italy and that would've
been three months ago. You showed up out of nowhere, talked to me for all of five minutes
and then vanished again. I had no idea what you were even doing there in the first place and
now you tell me you were there to 'check on' me?"
A slight blush crept up Wufei's cheeks and he glanced away, before he remarked, "You didn't
really think that I came all that way just to ask about the status of your mobile suit, did you,
Quatre stifled a giggle at this, he'd never even heard that Wufei had visited their hiding place
in Milan, but the almost teasing comments sounded so pleasantly normal he was glad to hear
"Well, yes," Trowa answered, embarrassed that he'd been so clueless at the time, but he'd
also been heavily drugged for the pain and not much made sense at the time. "But now I know
better, and I thank you for your concern. But was that before or after it happened, dragon? I
honestly don't remember many details from that whole thing other than feeling like death
The happiness faded out of Wufei's eyes as he sighed sadly, "It was after, angel. I remember
how hard it had been to find the strength to even talk to you, I was disoriented for awhile and
did not know why, obviously. But when the communiqué from Doktor S to Master O came
through to me by accident saying that you had been badly injured, I could not stay away."
"I *do* remember being very glad to have seen you," Trowa offered with a tiny smile.
Even though he was pleased to see them talking so easily, Duo finally interrupted, saying, "So,
we've got it narrowed down to being between three and five months ago, Wu, does that help
you pinpoint it?"
"Yes, it does," Wufei frowned and then looked up, black eyes wide and voice nearly breathless
as he gasped, "Wait, I think I might know, do we have a calendar?"
"I've got one in my wallet," Quatre offered, pulling it out and handing the small card to Wufei.
The Chinese teen studied it briefly, mumbling vaguely recalled mission assignments to himself
as he gazed at it before he exclaimed, almost relieved to have an answer, "Four and a half
months ago! It happened four and a half months ago, I am almost certain of it! But why was
that important, Heero? Why did you need to know?"
Frowning, Heero looked back at him and said, "Isn't it obvious, Wufei? If you truly didn't know
how long ago you were, um, well, injured, how could any of us be sure where to begin?"
Heero carefully avoided stating it more clearly, not wanting to trigger any unnecessary pain
since they were making progress, but feeling he owed the smaller teen a better explanation.
"You see, Wufei, there's some things we can't hope to do for you, but helping you put this into
perspective is something we *can* do. And getting a point in time and a place will be a start.
I'm assuming that you don't recall where this happened either, but I have no idea how to help
you narrow that down."
Visibly paling, Wufei shook his head and seemed to fold in on himself, letting Trowa's strength
support him as he answered, "Actually, Heero, that's something that I *do* remember,
unfortunately. It happened in Germany, at the OZ headquarters in Berlin."
"Are you sure?" Heero suddenly asked in a dark and agonized voice. "Are you absolutely sure
about that, Wufei? The time and place, you're certain?"
Focused on keeping Wufei safely nestled in his arms, Trowa missed what Heero said and then
he turned his head, asking, "What is it, Heero? What's wrong?"
"Oh, gods," Heero shook his head and looked back at him, eyes haunted as he admitted, "We
were there when it happened, Trowa."
"We what?!?" Trowa demanded turning wild eyes on his friend knowing that the Japanese teen
would never lie about this, but he was confused and had no idea what he was getting at.
"We could've stopped it and we didn't even know Wufei was there," Heero finally answered,
voice tortured as he dropped his head into his hands, the guilt washing off of him almost
palpable to the others gathered there.
Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.