"Now hold on a minute," Duo interrupted, moving automatically to kneel by his lover's chair,
taking Heero's hands and gently pulling them away so he could look him in the eyes. "Back up a
second. What's all this about you thinking that you could've kept Wu from being hurt, Heero?
You're talking crazy talk now."
"No, Duo," Heero groaned and then looked across the room at Trowa who was reacting to this
realization even more strongly than he himself was. "Trowa and I were on assignment in Berlin
after we left that apartment. Remember? We were gone for a month and I know for a fact that
we saw Khushrenada there while we were on the inside."
On the couch, Wufei seemed lost, trying to help Trowa deal with the sudden onset of emotions
that Heero's comments had triggered, yet hearing the OZ commander's name sent a helpless
tremble through his own body and he felt control slipping away.
"Quatre? Help?" Wufei very nearly begged, reaching out for the aid that he and his beloved
both needed in that moment of crisis.
"Right away," the blond Sandrock pilot assured, joining them and pulling both Wufei and Trowa
into a warm brotherly embrace. Trying to think of something to do to help, he said, "Wait,
Trowa, please? He might be wrong, even Heero makes mistakes and maybe Wufei is wrong
about the date and…"
Anything else he might have said was cut off as the HeavyArms pilot finally spoke up, razor
sharp pain in every word, "Are you telling me that we were there when that bastard very
nearly destroyed the single most important person in my world and we did *nothing* about it?!
You mean," he tried to lunge out of the restraining arms around him, "I could've kept Fei safe
and I failed him?!? *We* failed him, Yuy! DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!!"
"Trowa! Calm down!!!" Duo commanded angrily, sensing that Heero was thinking the same
things as well and finding fault with his lack of action. "You didn't *know*, Trowa! Neither of
you did! You couldn't have helped him if you didn't even know he was there! There's nothing to
do about it now!"
Trowa still struggled, tears threatening to spill in the waves of guilt that were engulfing him,
but Quatre and Wufei held him tightly in their arms preventing him from rising.
Frightened by the powerful emotions coursing through Trowa, Wufei fought his own fear and
found the strength to try to bring him back to reality. "Tro, please, Duo's right. Calm down,
"NO!!" Trowa was lost in guilt and blame, all he wanted in that twisted moment was to
somehow punish both himself and the person who had been in command of the mission in Berlin
for failing to stop the atrocity that had been committed against the boy he loved. Anguished,
Trowa yelled, "Yuy, you fucking asshole! If you were a better leader you would've known Fei
was there! We could've stopped it! This is our own damned fault as much as it's
"No!" Wufei commanded angrily, a hint of the memory of the Warrior rising to take control of
the situation. Holding Trowa's arms in a steel-like grip and using words that the one-time
mercenary would hopefully obey, the Chinese teen growled, "Stand down, soldier!"
Shocked emerald eyes turned towards the boy who had been so fragile earlier as Trowa
struggled within himself to find a way to cope with his guilt yet found none as a vision of a
gleaming dagger, its tip dripping with his own lifeblood, presented itself to his mind's eye.
Coffee-dark eyes filled with a pain that was ruthlessly controlled as Wufei stated simply, "You
are not to blame, Trowa Barton! And neither is Heero! I went there on my own and no one --
*no one* I tell you! -- knew it but me! It's not his fault or yours!"
The reserves of strength that had been tapped to allow Wufei to interfere with the escalating
tide of potential violence from his love suddenly vanished as memories of how he'd ended up in
the situation that resulted in his being abused swept through him for the first time. Collapsing
against the boy he had been restraining, the smaller teen moaned softly, "I remember now. It's
my fault, oh gods, it's all my fault. I'm the only one to blame."
"What are you talking about, Wufei?" Quatre asked, desperate for some shred of understanding
in the midst of the horrifying confusion.
The Arabian teen could understand why Trowa would blame Heero for their failure to take
action in Germany. Part of the burden of command is being expected to know the status of
your teammates at all times during an operation. Yet, neither of them knew Wufei might have
even been in the area much less present and in danger. At the moment, though, Quatre just
hoped there was an answer that would allow them to keep the situation from spiraling out of
control worse than it already was.
Remaining on the couch with Trowa who was once again holding Wufei, Quatre looked into the
angry frightened eyes of the tallest Gundam pilot and asked, "Trowa? Do you know what he's
talking about? Do you know why Wufei says this is his fault?"
"I have no idea," the HeavyArms pilot answered hotly, raw emotions coursing through him as
he fought down his own self-destructive thoughts in favor of keeping his oath to guard and
protect his chosen love. Forcing his thoughts to follow a more useful path, Trowa spoke gently
to the boy in his arms, nearly begging, "Fei? Please, that can't possibly be true, but why would
you say it? Why are you hurting yourself like this?"
Trembling and feeling terribly overwhelmed by some of the visions his memories were providing
him, Wufei allowed himself to say what he saw in his mind much as he had done earlier that
"I went there without telling Master O or anyone else," he took a shuddering breath and tried
to slow his racing heartbeat, but couldn't. "I wanted to face Khushrenada again, defeat him in
a duel, regain my honor, but I failed. Dear gods, how I *failed*!!"
Thickness filled Wufei's throat as the tears returned and the painful admissions continued.
"I got there at twilight and evaded the guards, climbing into his office through a window, but
once I was inside, before I could find him, someone hit me," he shook his head, whether to
negate the memory or to show confusion was unclear. "I must've blacked out, because the
next thing I knew, I woke up, and then I realized…" Wufei's voice trailed away as the images
clarified further, suddenly replacing reality with the tortured past.
He moaned softly in remembered pain and his words shifted as if it were all happening for the
first time once more, "I'm naked and tied to a bed. Who did this to me? Who put me here? My
head is pounding, I can't think straight, but he's here! Oh, gods *no*! He's coming towards me
and… Please, no! Stop, please, *no*… NO!!!!"
The memories he had recalled earlier suddenly merged seamlessly with the new recollections
and Wufei felt the world start to slide away again, his mind protecting him the only way it
knew how at this point as he slumped against Trowa and Quatre in a boneless semi-conscious
"WUFEI!!!" Duo shouted, leaving Heero's side and rushing to join the others in a desperate
effort to keep his friend from vanishing into the void once more.
Cut to the core by this newest information, Trowa's eyes went wide and then slid closed,
tears rising without any effort being made to stop them as he gathered what seemed like the
tiny bit of control he had left to try to help the one he loved.
Pulling Wufei's trembling body as closely as possible, Trowa begged softly, "Please, dragon,
don't do this to yourself anymore, I beg you! Just forget all of it, forget the past! Please, stop
"Don't," Heero interjected with infinite pain, wishing for once he could avoid the onus of
leadership, but refusing to take the easy way out. "Don't encourage him to go back to
repressing the memories, Trowa. Wufei has to face them or he'll never heal."
Fury-filled emerald eyes flew wide as Trowa growled through his tears, "Shut the fuck up, Yuy!
I have *no* intention of listening to you at this point, failure! He's killing himself here and it's
our fault, too! So just shut the fuck up!!!"
"Stop it!" Quatre shouted, the shared agony too much for the little blond any longer. "We can't
help Wufei by fighting with each other! Both of you, just stop, please!"
"Everybody calm down!" Duo urged, kneeling on the floor in front of the trio on the couch and
placing a reassuring hand on Wufei's trembling back.
In a voice that was surprisingly controlled, the braided teen said quietly, "It's gonna be okay,
Tro. Don't worry about Heero right now, just pay attention to Wufei. He's still with us, aren't
you, babe? Hang in there, Wu, we're all here with you, don't slip away."
"…i'm trying…" A voice barely above a whisper unexpectedly answered, agony dripping from
every syllable, "…but it's so hard…"
Deep wracking sobs displaced the Chinese boy's words, though, as the memories continued
their merciless assault. Wufei was expending a tremendous amount of energy on trying to stay
with them mentally, but it was tiring him, leaving his already tenuous thought processes even
more open and at risk.
"I know," the American teen soothed, pushing some of the oriental boy's loose black hair out of
the way so he could look more closely at his face. "You're doing great, though, babe, just
hang on a little longer. Do it for Trowa, okay?"
"…tro… wa…?" Wufei asked in a tremulous voice, "…is something wrong with him, duo?"
Forcing himself to open tear-swollen eyes, Wufei gazed into equally damp green eyes and the
pain seemed to shift focus as he reached out a shaking hand and asked in a frightened tone,
"Angel? What's wrong, Tro?"
Lost in his own sorrow, Trowa answered honestly, "Everything's wrong, koi. You're hurting so
badly and I don't know how to help and, oh god, Wufei, I'm so afraid you'll leave me again!"
"Don't be," His love answered with an exhausted sigh even as his hand slipped down to rest on
Trowa's shoulder. "I'd never leave you, angel..."
There was a slight catch in Wufei's voice as a slow wave of new tears found their way into his
eyes and he added too softly to be heard, "at least, i'll never leave if i can help it…"
Red-rimmed onyx eyes slid shut once more as the last of the morning's tears were shed and
the exhaustion began to claim Wufei.
Duo nodded slowly, recognizing that it was only slumber that was drawing Wufei away from
them this time, and he moved to reassure them all, saying, "Rest now, Wu. Go ahead and sleep
for awhile, babe. We'll be here when you wake up."
Only Trowa detected the answering nod which he felt against his chest as Wufei released his
hard-earned awareness and drifted into a thankfully dreamless sleep. Cradling him, Trowa, too,
allowed his eyes to slide shut as if in dismissal of the other boys in the room.
"Let me help you get him upstairs, Trowa," Heero offered, stepping closer to the tableau on
"No," Trowa sighed, shaking his head wearily even as he tried to get to his feet, "I'll do it. He's
As the tall teen stumbled under the combined weight of himself and his beloved, Heero moved
quickly to lift Wufei into his own arms, cradling the too-light form easily in his powerful arms,
even as Duo helped Trowa remain on his feet.
Striding purposefully towards the stairs, Heero said simply, "No, we're *all* responsible for him,
Trowa. Remember that. Call us a team or a family, either way, we're in this together."
Trowa leaned on Duo for a moment longer and then straightened and followed up the stairs,
stubbornly refusing further offers of aid. Arriving at the bedroom on the third floor, he looked in
and saw Heero laying a light blanket over Wufei's body, a sad look on the Japanese teen's face
as he brushed a fingertip over the pink scar tissue on his cheek.
Staying in the doorway for a moment to observe, Trowa heard Heero say quietly, "You're
pretty amazing, Wufei. I don't think many people could've done what you just did, facing it
that way. But if it's true that I could've stopped that bastard, then this *is* my fault, too.
Trowa's right, and I'm sorry."
"We're both sorry, Heero," Trowa stated sadly, moving into the room and sitting down next to
Wufei, protectively placing a hand on his shoulder and being rewarded with a soft sigh from
the sleeping boy. "We can deal with that issue later, though, it's time to move forward now.
It's time to find solutions that won't leave Fei unable to function the way these 'talks' seem to
Heero shook his head regretfully, "There's no way to know what else he's going to remember,
Trowa, and I don't know any other way to go about it."
"That's true," Trowa sighed defeatedly. "But maybe we can find a way to make it easier on
him? Keep the memories from over-powering him, maybe?"
"I don't know how we'd do that," Heero admitted. "But I'll talk to Duo and Quatre about it,
maybe they've got some ideas we can use. Why don't you stay here and rest with him for
now, though, Trowa? I think you both need some downtime."
"I planned to do that," Trowa yawned and stretched out on the bed beside his love. "We'll see
everyone later, Heero."
The Wing pilot merely nodded his agreement as he closed the door and went back downstairs
to rejoin the others, hoping they might not only have solutions to the problem but that they
might also have some insights on the tragic truth that had just been uncovered.
Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.
End Notes for Parts 27-29:
Hmm, well, my being gone didn't make the angst level drop, now did it?
Actually, I was checking my notes and the rough draft for this part was
written over a month ago anyway, so eating all that fudge wouldn't have
spared the team any of this pain in the first place. Poor Gundam
pilots, stuck with me for a writer, ne?
As for the Kleenex warnings, um, they probably weren't needed after all, ne?
I'm just a little hyper-sensitive to them right now thanks to feeling
frustrated by Real Life and lack of opportunity to get Book 4 started yet.
But even if they benefited a single reader, I'll consider them as worthwhile.
[folds flags and saves them for later]
Now, as to tonight's dedications: There are four people to whom this posting
run is dedicated.
The first three were my traveling companions to the great "North Coast" of
the US, my brother and my two kids, the infamous yet adorable Chibis! We had
a good time even if we spent too much time in the car driving from Detroit to
Mackinaw City and back, but it did give us a chance to kick fic ideas around.
I think we came up with things for "Weiss Kreuz", "Cowboy Bebop", "Trigun",
*and* "Gundam Wing", so I'm in trouble from too many fic ideas and not enough
time. Um, anyone need a plotline?
The fourth person to whom this is dedicated can be none other than the light
of my late-night hours and co-conspirator in all things Gundam, Ryoko. My
kitten is so patient with me and if there was time to knock out a stand-alone
piece of (5x3) citrus for no reason other than to dedicate it to her, I'd do
it in a heartbeat. But as it is, she's as anxious for this monster fic to get
finished as I am and I hope she'll accept this as a temporary substitute for
I hope to get around to going through my mail soon and if the thunderstorms
leave me alone later there will be a return of the "Hall of Fame" tomorrow
since I heard Wufei muttering again about how dishonorable I am not to thank
my C&C-friends publicly. Gee, I wonder if he wants me to get out the disco
ball for that?
[said disco ball rolls out from wherever the Chinese boy was polishing it and
I hear a growled "Kisama!" and wonder if he means me or it, but decide to
protect my hairy llama-hide by using it soon]
Ah me. If that last line of silliness didn't help drive away the Kleenex
flags, I don't know what will. For now, be well, drive safely, and remember
that tropical storms can kill just as easily as hurricanes and if you live
where Tropical Storm Barry is headed, batten down the hatches and be careful!