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 34

After almost an hour of quietly cuddling together, both Trowa and Wufei felt that they were overdue in returning to the group and they finally got out of bed again.

Taking a few minutes to brush out his hair and change into jeans and a tank top that weren't wrinkled from laying in bed, Wufei found himself feeling substantially stronger and more capable of facing the challenges that confronted them. The long period of recovery from the numerous injuries received during Quatre's assault had left Wufei in an emotionally weakened state, but it was nothing compared to the devastating effects of the flashbacks he'd suffered after their arrival at the coast. However, with Trowa's unfailing support, the proud Chinese youth was beginning to experience a rebirth of confidence, something that was only accentuated by this interlude of peace.

Wufei's physical recovery from the beating he'd received from the Sandrock pilot had been a slow one, but his ribs had finally healed well enough that he left the Ace bandage off as he prepared to journey back into the company of his friends. It would be a fairly long time before he was healthy enough to return to his usual routine of the physically demanding regimen of katas and exercise that his martial arts training required, unfortunately. The Chinese teen was, however, content to have made the progress that he had and found he felt somewhat more positive about everything than even he had expected.

With a small chuckle, Wufei commented, "You do realize that we have spent far more time in bed since we arrived here than out if it, Tro." He snorted softly in amusement before adding very quietly, "I thought only people on their honeymoons did that sort of thing."

In the middle of pulling on a fresh shirt, Trowa missed the softly spoken second comment and only responded to the initial remark, saying, "That may be true, love, but don't you think we're entitled to it? It's not as if we wanted to go through all this hell right now, but I'm glad we were somewhere safe and quiet while we did."

For once, Wufei successfully clamped down on the automatic fear the ill-advised words had triggered and he forced a smile, sad and barely there, but a smile nonetheless. "This is regrettable but true, angel. However, instead of staying up here complaining about it, why not go down and find out what has occurred without us?" He shrugged his shoulders and added offhandedly, "Who knows, maybe Heero finally unwound enough to try his hand at fishing or something?"

Glancing over from where he was combing his hair, Trowa asked in confusion, "Oh? Is that a secret passion of our Japanese friend that I didn't know anything about?"

"I doubt it," Wufei shrugged again, pleased that his ribs failed to protest the action. "It just struck me as a truly bizarre concept, nothing more. Of course, Duo doing a little pointless fishing would seem natural and Quatre trying it would undoubtedly be humorous, but Heero? I seriously doubt that would ever happen."

Trowa chuckled and nodded before stepping close to draw Wufei into a warm and comforting embrace. With great tenderness, the taller boy placed one gentle hand under the shorter one's chin and lifted it upwards, allowing them to gaze into each other's eyes for a moment before leaning down to place a sweet, lingering kiss on the full inviting lips that called to his soul. The Chinese youth wrapped both arms around the emerald-eyed teen's waist and sighed softly into the kiss, coffee-dark eyes sliding shut in pleasure as he focused exclusively on what the two of them were sharing.

The couple stood this way for several long minutes happily lost on a cloud of subdued passion, yet when the kiss broke, Trowa turned away with a slight blush.

"What is it?" Wufei asked, placing his hand against Trowa's cheek and turning him back so that they were face to face once more. "Is something bothering you, Tro?"

"Nothing's bothering me, Fei," Trowa admitted slowly, wishing he could prolong the moment yet knowing they really did need to go back downstairs. "It's just that, well, you're so beautiful and I wish that I could just hold you in my arms forever, that's all."

Wufei felt his knees weaken slightly. Trowa's words of undying love brought a strong reaction from him and the oriental boy noticed that his heart was beating a bit faster, too.

With a deep breath and a dazzling smile, Wufei rose up onto his tiptoes and kissed the taller teen again before pulling away, saying, "You are most wondrously attractive as well, angel. If we had no other obligations, there would be nowhere else that I would rather be than in your embrace. However, for now we must rejoin our friends." It was his turn to act shy, though, as he glanced down and then back up with the same bright smile, asking, "But I am sure that we will be able to indulge our weakness for hugs and kisses later, if you like?"

Trowa nodded happily, "Yes, I'd like that very much, koi." He stole a final kiss then reached for the doorknob adding, "I'll be looking forward to it!"

As the door swung open, almond-shaped eyes widened appreciatively before Wufei commented, "What is that wonderful aroma?"

Glancing back at his partner, the ShenLong pilot was surprised to see the other boy smiling wistfully before Trowa said with a happy sigh, "Unless I miss my guess, Duo's made that marvelous spaghetti again that I can't resist."

The two of them began to walk towards the stairs and Wufei asked, "Spaghetti, Tro? Is that a specialty of your colony?" Making a mental note to get the recipe from their friend if this was a dish that the too-slender teen would actually eat without complaint or avoidance, Wufei almost missed the revealing answer to his question.

"Actually, no, it's not," Trowa commented, his thoughts cast back in time, "But it's something that I remember eating that a friend of mine in the mercenary group used to cook. The guy's name was Ralph and he was a fair amount older than me, but he was pretty much the first person to ever give a damn about me."

Trowa chuckled softly at the reminiscences of days long past, and he continued without even being asked. "At first, I hated the fact that he paid so much attention to me, I preferred to be invisible, but he insisted. One day, Ralph tried to help me find some new clothes and was shocked to find out what size I wore. That's when he decided I was too thin and he planned to change that. I didn't care much for the standard camp cooking so he decided to start fixing meals for not only me but some of the other kids, too. His spaghetti was my favorite."

Wufei had listened to all of this and then asked quietly, "Why did this 'Ralph' person show a special interest in you, Tro? I mean, you were very young at the time, were you not?" A ghost of fear touched Wufei's heart, was it possible he wasn't the only one with a broken sexual past to recover from? He sincerely hoped not, but he knew that Trowa kept many secrets and he desperately hoped there would be time to ferret some of them out soon.

With another fond smile, Trowa nodded, "Yes, I was only eight or nine at the time, but I found out later that Ralph had a little brother who died when their colony was destroyed and that I bore an uncanny resemblance to him. I think caring for me was his way of keeping his brother's memory alive and it was the first time I remember feeling like someone really cared about me as a person instead of as a soldier."

"I see," Wufei remarked with a relieved smile of his own. This was only good news and his worries fell away easily, as he added, "It sounds like Ralph was a good man, angel. What happened to him?"

Trowa frowned slightly at this and shook his head, "I don't really know. He left that group after coming into conflict with one of the commanding officers over how we kids were being treated. A little while later, I left, too, and eventually ended up as a mechanic helping to build HeavyArms. That was where I met the original Trowa Barton and then took his name when he died. I haven't heard from Ralph or anyone in that group since then, but they only knew me as 'Nanashi' and would probably be shocked to see me now."

When Trowa stopped his unusually long narrative to laugh slightly, Wufei paused and looked at him before he found his hand caught in Trowa's and brought to the other boy's lips for a brief kiss. The unexpected gesture wiped away the Chinese boy's concerns over the remark about possible mistreatment of the children in the group of mercenaries and he asked instead, "Why would this shock them, Tro? You *are* still a soldier, after all."

Green eyes twinkling merrily, Trowa responded with surprising levity, "Mercenaries like we were don't usually end up in posh beach houses with stunning young men sharing their lives, my dragon. I dare say my lot in life is far superior to anything I might've expected back then."

"Oh, really now?" Wufei blushed slightly at the unexpected praise then teased gently, "So you are saying that you are happy now, love?"

"I guess so," Trowa admitted almost hesitantly, then amended it with a look of puzzlement and the statement, "I'm not happy about *everything* in my life, that's for damned sure, but overall, yes, I guess I am at that."

The taller teen seemed totally surprised by his own statement but the more he thought about it, the more truth it seemed to hold even as they continued down the stairs.

"Good, see to it that you remember that then." Wufei stated seriously, then added with a heavy sigh, "And remind me that I can feel that way sooner or later, too. I do not honestly recall feeling that way consistently since my colony was destroyed. But after having you beside me these past weeks, I find that I am closer to happiness than I have been in a long time. If only…" his voice died away a bit as he came to a complete stop on the stairs, mentally fighting down the demons of memory that threatened to tear what little joy he had found in those moments of closeness with Trowa away from him again.

Moving without hesitation or fear, Trowa stepped to the riser beneath where Wufei stood and took both bronze hands into his own cream-colored ones, pledging quietly, "You'll be happy again someday, love, trust me. I'll see to it that happens for us both, okay?"

Glistening onyx eyes gazed at him and Wufei nodded slowly as he pushed the tears and pain away once more, saying simply, "All right, angel. In the meantime, I shall try to keep better control of my emotions, too." The slight catch in his voice the only evidence of his sudden battle with his feelings of sorrow as a flashback tried to surface and he suppressed it with some effort.

"Please don't, koi," Trowa said quietly and brushed a gentle hand across the recovering cheek, saddened as always by the scar tissue yet finding some hope in the signs of healing that were present. "Never feel like you have to hide it from me, Fei. I want to help any way that I can, and unless I know what you're feeling, I wont know what to do."

Wufei sighed deeply and nodded slowly, "I shall try, Tro, but it will be hard. I find that my thoughts are still jumbled and my mind fills with images that confuse and frighten me at the strangest moments."

"I know," the slender teen gazed at him and then squeezed his hands reassuringly. "That's why I need to know what you're feeling and thinking, love. We will keep the more difficult issues aside for discussion when we are with the rest of our 'family', but if I can at least know when you need to be reminded of what we have together then maybe I can help more."

A tender smile rewarded Trowa's loving words as Wufei nodded his agreement yet again. "Very well, angel. If you truly wish to be burdened with such a responsibility, then so be it."

"You're not a burden, love," Trowa answered softly and ran a hand through Wufei's loose hair appreciatively, "I'm sure that none of the guys would agree with that opinion either. We all care about you and will see to it that you're able to get through this, okay?"

In a small voice filled with hope, the oriental boy answered, "All right. We shall do what we can to overcome this together then." His mood lightened slightly as he added, "Perhaps someday this war will end and we can find a place to live together and truly find the happiness we both crave."

Trowa smiled and kissed Wufei's lips briefly before whispering, "I'm counting on it, dragon." As a rosy flush crept up bronze cheeks, he added gently, "But for now, why don't we go find out if I'm right about that spaghetti? I'm actually hungry for a change."

"You are?" Wufei asked in surprise, suddenly realizing that his own stomach was growling and he chuckled quietly, "Apparently, so am I. A quiet, non-eventful meal with Duo, Heero, and Quatre would be nice, would it not?"

As they turned to make their way off the stairs and into the empty living room, Trowa commented, "Yes, that would be very nice. But I wonder where everyone is?"

Both boys looked around and took note of the dining table set with china and silver obviously in anticipation of a sumptuous feast, yet without the presence of their three companions it made them all the more eager to find their friends. Time alone as a couple had been rewarding but now the embattled pair needed the strength that only the five Gundam pilots together could provide.

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

End Notes for Parts 33 and 34:

Ah, another installment draws to a close and I find myself pleased that even walking down the stairs, Trowa and Wufei find important things to talk about. Not that I recommend that people stand around on staircases professing their love or discussing possible past pain, but it worked here so there you have it.

Time for a few thank you's and then I'm going to close up Angst Theatre until tomorrow. For now, though, here's the evening's stroll down the "Hall of Fame". Despite last night's pieces being Tro-Fei-free, I got plenty of kind words from my friends including: Azzie, Danielle (who caught a terribly huge piece of foreshadowing and I'm thrilled since I meant every word of that one!), Jan, Hana-chan, Rubious, Ashkara, SkyLark, Oni-chan, and Trixie!!!! Thanks also go to my ever adorable kitten, Ryoko, of course! She inspired my using Ralph here and in case you don't recognize him, he's in the manga "Blind Target" where he's drawn to look a hell of a lot like a slightly older Heero Yuy. Gee, could they be related in some secret fashion? I certainly wont add that wrinkle to "Gifts Arc", but it's rather intriguing to consider!

By the way, there are only two more posting runs until this Book of the "Gifts Arc" is finished. Yeah, 38 parts was a lot and it only covered three fic-reality days, but there was just so much going on in that beach house! I'm very grateful to the readers for keeping track of the timeframe on this and I hope that Book 4 will be more action packed and the time of day wont be as much of a symbolic issue there as it was here. Um, you did notice that mornings at the beach house were usually disastrous, didn't you? I thought so.

Anyway, thanks again for dropping by and I'll see you tomorrow with the inside scoop on what was once referred to as "Project Xanadu"!

on to part 35

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