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 36

As soon as the coffee was ready, everyone gathered in the living room once more.

Looking over the rim of his coffee mug at his friends, Wufei felt a tremble of nervousness as he realized that they had unconsciously arranged themselves in the same way that they had been sitting that morning. Some of the horrifying memories of the assault in Berlin attempted to reassert control as he recalled the powerful flashbacks he'd suffered through, but he forced them back with a concerted effort.

Trowa was seated next to him on the couch and noticed his love's apparent distress, automatically wrapping a warm and reassuring arm around Wufei's shoulders and asking quietly, "Are you all right, Fei-kun?"

"I will be, angel," the smaller boy sighed and leaned his head against Trowa's shoulder for support, obsidian eyes sliding shut as he concentrated on the physical contact he shared with the present instead of the hazy relationship he had with the past. "I fear that my thoughts are not as easily controlled as they once were."

The HeavyArms pilot sighed sadly as he asked, "Are the memories bothering you? Do you need to talk about them? The others are here, should we discus that with them?"

"No," Wufei shook his head slightly without lifting it from its cozy resting place. "There is nothing new coming forth and I would hate to spoil the announcement that Heero and Duo were planning to make. I shall be all right as long as you stay beside me. Please, say nothing of this to the others."

Trowa was not pleased by this, but agreed, "Okay, but only if you promise to tell me if that changes. If there's more bad news, I want to know so we can cope with it immediately." In truth, he was displeased that Wufei wanted to try to suppress his feelings again, but he respected the other boy's right to chose when and if to speak with their friends about the more painful matters that plagued him.

"You worry too much," the Chinese boy almost smiled. A feeling of warmth displaced some of the chilling sorrow as he added earnestly, "And I am eternally grateful that you do, angel."

Biting back a remark that he had failed Wufei far too many times already and that he didn't deserve his blind faith, Trowa turned his attention to where Heero was pulling out the laptop and booting it up. As the Japanese teen prepared to speak, Trowa forced himself to focus on matters beyond those that had held his attention so thoroughly in the last few days with considerable difficulty.

Uncertain how to begin, Heero looked at Duo and silently asked the natural-born speaker to open the discussion for him. To his dismay, the braided boy shook his head and winked, encouraging him to overcome the residual hesitancy to speak that was far less of a problem for the Wing pilot now than it had been before the team had become so close.

After clearing his throat, Heero addressed his comrades, saying, "The good news that's been mentioned on and off all evening is something that I've been working on with Doctor J for some time. I have no idea how best to say this, so allow me to just introduce you to your future home, Xanadu."

Each of the three members of the team that hadn't heard anything about the project looked bewildered and confused, yet hopeful. Before they could ask any questions, Heero turned the laptop so that they could all see the image on the screen.

Barely suppressing a giggle, Quatre remarked, "It looks like a potato, Heero."

Peering at the image more closely, Wufei shook his head and remarked in amazement, "No, it looks like an asteroid, Quatre."

Emerald eyes had narrowed in concentration then blinked in astonishment as Trowa asked, "Is that a space station built to resemble an asteroid? We're going to be living in space? All five of us? Together? How did this happen, Heero?"

The slender youth could scarcely allow himself to believe that his own concerns from earlier in the day about finding a way to stay with Wufei were being answered so easily. Trowa had been disappointed so many times in his life, he found that this serendipitous turn of events was almost too good to believe.

Pleased with the reactions, other than the non sequitur from the blond, of course, Duo finally stepped in and took over the explanations. "Yes, Tro, you could call Xanadu a space station, but one of a very unique nature. You and Wu are both right, it *does* look like an asteroid, that's what it's supposed to look like to help conceal it since we're planning to stay there permanently and it would be best if we go undetected as much as possible."

The looks of hope followed by concern this statement received caused the braided boy to hurry to add, "It wont stay in just one spot in space, though, that'd make us sitting ducks. It will be relocated within various debris fields around Earth over time. Plus, thanks to a new projection technology that G came up with, its outer appearance will change over time to render it even harder to spot by our enemies."

With a grin, he ended with, "And, Q-Ball? Don't tell Howard that you think it looks like a potato! He's already calling it the 'Great Space Tater' and driving everybody there nuts!"

"Howard's there?" Quatre asked with a smile, he'd only met the Hawaiian shirt-loving old salvager once, but he rather liked the man's laid back attitude and pleasant personality.

"Sure enough." Duo's grin broadened as he added, "He designed the whole damned thing, I kinda think he'd *better* be there!"

"Wait a moment, Duo," Wufei interjected, a touch of uncertainty in his voice. "Could you perhaps tell us more about how and why this was built? While I find the idea of a permanent base of operations to be extremely desirable, I find all of this a bit overwhelming at the moment, maybe if I knew more it would be more conceivable for me."

The Deathscythe pilot nodded reassuringly and proceeded to explain to all of them the background of the facility. He went on to mention some of the resources that would be at their disposal on the base plus some of the personnel involved along with the areas that needed to be completed before it was fully functional, easing most of Wufei's concerns.

Nearly two hours later the room was filled with the optimism and hope that had been sorely lacking lately for the five Gundam pilots.

Xanadu would provide them with not only housing on a regular basis, it would also include a fully-functional repair hangar that could easily allow all five Gundams to be kept in top condition once the personnel roster at the station had been fleshed out more fully. Duo had explained that while Howard had many contacts for supplies and construction crews that would work in secrecy to build the new facility, he didn't have enough qualified individuals lined up yet to fulfill Xanadu's potential in a variety of areas including equipment maintenance.

"I might be able to help with that," Quatre smiled as they were discussing the need for experienced mobile suit technicians.

"Who do you have in mind, Quatre?" Heero asked with interest.

Part of the reason for opening discussions about Xanadu before it was ready for them was to see if the other pilots might be able to help them identify personnel for a variety of positions that remained unfilled. For anyone to be chosen for a position at the new base, they needed to have a personal commitment to the peace efforts of the movement. They also needed an unblemished security rating, there was too much invested in the new station to risk it on unknown personnel.

Quatre hesitated, afraid that he might get everyone's hopes up for nothing, but then said, "Well, Rasid and the Maganacs got driven out of their home in the desert some months back when OZ went into the town and blew the place up. They've been living like nomads since then and I think they might be as interested in a permanent home as we are."

"I remember that," Duo said with a nod, memories of flowers and dancing girls popping into his head. "That was really shitty of OZ to do that to them, but I thought that Rasid and the boys were all staying at one of your mansions these days, Q? Did that change?"

"Yes and no, Duo," the Arabian teen answered with a frown. "They do that when I tell them that Sandrock or one of the other Gundams needs work, but for the most part Rasid keeps them in the desert away from civilians so there won't be another huge loss like what happened at their village."

"That makes sense." Duo shrugged, then asked, "How soon do you think you might be able to find out if they're interested? Howard's been going nuts trying to line up a team for that and if they're out there with their own mobile suits, that might answer our security needs, too."

"Won't that increase our need for housing, as well?" Trowa asked quietly, he'd been keeping track of the number of people that would be stationed at the new base and he was beginning to be concerned that they were planning on too many people to insure secrecy over time.

"Not really, Trowa," Heero remarked, drawing up the schematics for Xanadu on the laptop. "We'd been planning on separate security and technical personnel, roughly a total of sixty men and women were estimated for the two areas put together. There's only forty Maganacs, so there's plenty of room at this point. Why are you worried about that aspect of things?"

Frowning, the emerald-eyed pilot commented, "It seems to me that part of the reason that you and I have so little trouble infiltrating most OZ locations is that they are so large that the staff doesn't even recognize one another. If Xanadu is to be kept secure, it would seem wise to avoid making the same mistake."

"Point taken," the Japanese teen nodded. "However, this is something that's already been addressed and if we recruit an entire army that has known each other for years, we'd be even better off than we are now. For that matter, almost all of the staff we have already are personal acquaintances of Howard or Doctor J and completely trustworthy since both of them will be stationed there, too."

Wufei asked an obvious question, "What of the other scientists, Heero? What is their role in this drastic change? Master O was not fond of my sharing living quarters with the four of you here on Earth, he might have a problem with me taking up permanent residency with you in space."

The ShenLong pilot paused and almost chuckled at this before adding confidently, "Not as if that would stop me, because it won't. Nothing is going to prevent me from taking advantage of an opportunity as marvelous as this is. A chance to live with all of you without the dangers of moving on a regular basis to unknown and poorly protected safehouses is far more than I ever dared hope for."

"My thoughts as well, koi," Trowa remarked happily, clasping Wufei's hand in his own.

While the personnel issue had bothered the former mercenary, the very idea that he would be able to live full-time with Wufei and the other three pilots appealed to him greatly. He was also intrigued by the briefly mentioned references about the new station's medical facilities. Trowa fervently hoped that these resources might help alleviate some of the cloud of depression that he expected would continue to swirl around Wufei's soul as he dealt with the consequences of the last few days' recollections.

In answer to Wufei's question, Heero commented confidently, "Actually, Wufei, that shouldn't be a problem at all. They all agreed to our having a permanent base about six months ago when Howard's team began construction. Granted, that was before he was keeping you isolated from us, but I doubt he'd interfere at this point even though I haven't read anything specifically about him in any of J's messages in quite some time."

"Good," Wufei nodded as he slipped one arm possessively through Trowa's, earning him an encouraging smile from the taller teen. "Then I won't have to argue with Master O about it. That is a relief, he can be a bit difficult to deal with at times."

Duo snorted in annoyance, "They *all* can be that, Wu! But you've never seen 'difficult to deal with' until you're stuck in the same room with G and J when they're arguing! Geez, worse than wet hens, those two!"

The braided boy stood and stretched, then flashed a big grin at the smallest pilot before saying, "How about we give all this a chance to sink in and go ahead and get that cake out? I could go for a celebratory slice, how about you, Wu?"

Wufei smiled shyly at his boisterous friend and nodded, "Hai, I think that some cake would be marvelous, Duo." He glanced at Trowa who seemed reluctant to let go of his hand and cocked his head before asking, "Is something wrong, angel?"

"No, I guess not," the emerald-eyed youth answered quietly, "It's just that this much good news all at once makes me nervous. Is it even possible that our future can go from being so dark to being so bright without paying for it somehow?"

Duo frowned, "Tro? What's on your mind, buddy? This is *definitely* good news and it's legit, why are you so down about it?"

The HeavyArms pilot shook his head and then forced a half-hearted smile, "I'm not sure, Duo. I guess it's just that these last three days have made me more skeptical of such sudden shifts from bad to good. My life finally seemed to be improving and then it all went to hell and I'm more than a little afraid that will happen again, I suppose."

Squeezing their clasped hands gently, Wufei brought the taller teen's attention back to himself and he offered, "Angel? Please, give this a chance, koi. I, too, am somewhat disturbed by vague feelings of disquiet, but if Heero and Duo are confident that this will benefit us, then I think we should give it a chance."

"You're right as always, dragon." Trowa smiled before adding more playfully, "I think that Duo still wants to get that cake out that you were so excited about, Fei. Or did you change your mind and decide you didn't want any after all?"

"Me?" Wufei asked in mock-disbelief, trying to lighten the mood even though he still felt uneasy. "Not want cake, Tro? Surely you jest!" He rose to his feet and stepped towards Duo a soft smile on his face as he pushed a wayward tendril of black hair over one ear, earning him an adoring smile from his lover who remained on the couch alone.

Duo chuckled and suppressed a desire to quote the infamous line about a man not being called "Shirley" from the wonderfully bad old movie "Airplane" even as he accompanied the Chinese boy into the kitchen to retrieve the much discussed dessert.

Quatre and Heero both smiled at their friends' attempts at humor, realizing that Trowa and Wufei both would need a considerable amount of time to fully recover their faith in a more positive future. It had been a difficult period in the lives of this unique family, and if anyone deserved the hope of safety and the promise of peace that Xanadu represented, it was those two and the other three pilots knew it all too well.

The group would spend a few more hours discussing the dramatic changes that having a permanent base of operations would cause in their lives, eating devil's food cake, and relaxing in the warmth of a promising future.

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

End Notes for Parts 35 and 36:

Well? Did that finally answer the question of what is Xanadu and are you surprised?

Not since the ill-fated undersea base at Atlantis from "Ninmu shippai" have I gone ahead and let myself answer one of the single most glaring problems I have with the series in a major piece of fanfiction. What was "glaring" enough in there to get on my nerves so badly? Um, I may not be a military strategist, but it always seemed to me that if Operation Meteor was originally a concerted effort by the five scientists, why the heck didn't they get their operatives to meet up and work together once they made it to Earth? Furthermore, what was up with always putting the guys in relatively impossible to secure locations like boarding schools? Yes, most writers, myself included, like to put them in various random apartments, cabins, farmhouses, etc, and call them "safehouses", but that wasn't present in the series to any great extent. Anything other than a school was invariably one of Quatre's places or, strangely enough, OZ facilities like the one on the moon.

My answer to both issues has been a long-term interest in seeing them in a relatively remote location that they could use as a home and a base of operations. I envision a place with most of the services that they would undoubtedly need and people to support them much as they get at the end of the series onboard Howard's "Peacemillion".

[pauses and takes a breath, shocked at himself for ranting the way Wufei might on the same topic]

Forgive me for carrying on like that, but I've thought about it a lot and this is my chance to build a place for the G-Boys and then populate it with known characters all of whom have their own agendas and needs. Before anyone asks, yes, the team *will* be going to Xanadu before too awfully long and when they get there they just might find a serpent in their new Eden but I'm not sure yet. There's definitely going to be some problems to work out, some unexpected tragedies to face, and 'Angst In Space' on board the "Great Space Tater", so stay tuned to "Gifts Arc" for more on Xanadu. Oh, and the name for the place will be explained tomorrow night as you get the final answer to the collectible questions, too.

[stops rambling, gets out the disco ball, starts it spinning, and says "arigatou"]

Almost all of theses posting runs have been quietly dedicated to the folks who send me kind words of encouragement and this installment is no different. For tonight's walk down the "Hall of Fame", thank you's go out to: AJ from NZ (who has been missed terribly! welcome back), Wild Child (waves at new friend), Azzie, Rubious, Jan, SkyLark, Danielle, Nazarri, Trixie, and, of course, Ryoko who has archived this monstrosity over at Sweet&Sweet, the darling Tro-Fei shrine that I love so very much! Check it out at: [ sweet & sweet ], you'll be glad you did!

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