Bandai holds the rights to Gundam Wing and its characters.
This one-shot is dedicated to my friend, Astro, who writes wonderful 5xR stories. If you haven't heard of The Grass is Always Greener, you're missing out, even if you're not a huge fan of that pairing. She's a very talented writer!
I wanted to do a one-shot with 5xR, because I don't think I nailed Wufei's personality very well in my story, Anything but Ordinary. But, as sometimes happens with one-shots, I think I could use it as a prequel to a longer story. Let me know what you think.
Without further ado, I give you...
On a Dark and Stormy Night
The storm was just beginning to build power as she sat down at her desk. A soft, lonely sigh breathed from her lips, and she stared at the stacks of paperwork that she had yet to touch. I should be at home. Why am I torturing myself like this? I don't have to be here. A particularly loud thunder clap shook the building and she jumped, scowling at her own cowardice. Wouldn't he like to see me now, scared of a storm? Rain pelted the windows at her back, and she reached for her twenty-ouncer of Diet Coke, unscrewing the top and taking a delicately long swallow.
Yes, she should be at home, maybe lounging around in her pjs, reading a good mystery, but right now home held no appeal. She would rather be here, swallowed by the thousands of proposals that awaited her uniquely loving attention. Torture. That's what it was, purely and completely. Why? Because there was nothing else. No one else, either. Not since him. Not since he had left again, in search of answers that she had never been able to give. Or, at the very least, not the answers he had wanted.
He hadn't wanted her.
It still smarted, six months after the fact. She'd thought that by now she could've moved on. And she had made strides to get over him. She just hadn't connected to anyone else. Well, I guess that's not entirely true. There is someone I could definitely see getting to know better, she mused, but then scowled again. We hardly know each other. He probably wouldn't even talk to me. Frowning, she turned back to the paperwork. Nothing would get done if she continued thinking about them.
Ten minutes later, lightning sparkled hot through the heavy June air, causing her to stop writing and take notice. The storm was in its full throes now, beautiful, terrifying, and somehow erotic. She blushed at that errant thought and tried to concentrate harder. There was no point in being here, either, if she couldn't work. Thunder rattled the windows, and she shivered, hating herself for it.
A few minutes later, after a violent crash of thunder, the office lights blinked out, encasing her in sporadic lights and shadows as lightning and thunder echoed back and forth. She rubbed the sudden goose bumps on her bare arms and stood, realizing that perhaps she had been wrong in coming here tonight. Her pjs and a good mystery were sounding better and better.
Deciding to leave, she grabbed her purse and slipped her flip-flops back on, then headed for the door. As she opened it and stepped into the rapidly-warming hallway, she hoped that the power would be restored by morning. The building was insufferable without air conditioning.
She made it to the stairwell only to hear a light step behind her in the hall, and her pulse hammered hard as she stopped breathing. This was why he had always insisted she have a bodyguard. As she began to turn around, imagining all sorts of horrors gleaned from too many late-night sci-fi movies, she heard a low, strong tenor speak.
"Why are you here?"
"I could ask you the same question," she countered, relaxing with a small smile. She had to look up at him, though he wasn't as tall as the other Gundam pilots. But he didn't need height to be intimidating. His body was convincing enough. And those dark eyes... "What?"
"You should be at home," he said, and though he was admonishing her, it didn't bother her, not like when he had done it.
"You too." They stood in silence for a few moments, neither quite sure what to say. "I guess I should go." She made to turn, only to feel a light touch on her left shoulder.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, not really knowing why he was asking. It wasn't any of his business why she was here so late, and alone, to boot. But, of course, he knew the reason she was here. She didn't want to be at home, any more than he did.
She studied him though the darkness for a long moment, her heart picking up pace a little. Not that he was asking her out. And not that she wanted him to ask her out. After all, they really didn't know each other that well. But what could it hurt? "I am," she said, and thought she heard him sigh.
"I know a good place, if you're interested," he said, and there was a hint of a challenge in his voice that freckled her skin with goose bumps again.
"Sure. Lead the way," she responded, smiling a little as he stepped past her, his right arm bumping her left one. Her skin flamed where it had touched his, and she felt the sudden urge to know him better, maybe better than she knew anyone else. He held the door for her, then waited until she was through before starting down the stairs. So he has a chivalrous side, she thought, and found that she liked that. She also found that she didn't find him annoying when he would slow down for her to catch up.
It was blowing rain when they reached the main doors, and she shuddered as thunder moved the ground beneath her feet. He glanced at her, and now she could see how intense his obsidian eyes were, how tan his skin had gotten already, how his coal ponytail swayed at his powerful shoulders.
"A little," she admitted, wondering if that made her weak to him. She knew how much he detested weakness, in any shape or form. But he said nothing derogatory, and she felt a little bit more relaxed.
"Here." Then after his softly-spoken word he was putting the black hooded sweatshirt he'd been wearing around her slender shoulders. "I don't need it."
"Because you never get cold?" The question slipped out to her instant mortification, and when she dared look up at him, his eyes were striking heat. But then a small smile played at the corner of his attractive mouth.
"Not in warm rain," he said, then gestured toward a black 300 sedan parked at the curb. "Come on." He opened the passenger door for her, and she could see he was still amused by her outspokenness. She blushed, hating it, hating that he was making her feel like this.
He was a good driver, handling the car with ease and skill on the slippery city streets. He had turned the music down, but not before she caught a faint stir of something operatic in nature. Interesting. He's a very interesting person, I think. When he pulled up to a curb she was almost sorry, for she enjoyed watching him from the corner of one gentian eye.
The place was quiet and dark, lit with long-burning candles and a few well-placed oil lamps. "Power's out here, too," he said, and she was amazed yet again by how soft his normally strong tenor could be when he chose it to be. She nodded and settled into the booth across from him, and busied herself for a moment looking around. It gave him a chance to watch her.
Her honey-blonde hair was damp from the rain, and hung over her left shoulder in a pale, shimmering waterfall. She was resting her chin in the palm of her right hand, her gentian eyes glancing around the room in frank curiosity. His countenance softened a little, and his heart raced as he observed her. What was so special about her? He had never paid any heed to her before tonight. And maybe that was the allure: they were virtually strangers.
"It's beautiful, Wufei," she said, her voice soft, as she turned her violet-blue eyes on him. He smiled then, a full-teeth smile, and she almost gasped. He was handsome – she'd always thought that, but when he smiled...she felt weak and had to look away for a moment, yet was instantly drawn back to his face.
"I'm glad you like it, Relena." He glanced up at the waiter and ordered two cups of tea. She smiled when he seemed to realize he had ordered for her, and looked quickly at her.
"That's fine," she assured him. He nodded and picked up a menu, perusing the items, although she was sure he knew exactly what he was getting. She glanced through the menu as well, a slight frown on her face. "What do you recommend?" she finally asked.
He shrugged his right shoulder. "Depends on what you like."
"Hmm." She could see he wouldn't be any help, but she did decide by the time the waiter came back. She watched him go, then turned all her attention to the darkly-tanned man across from her. In truth, she knew his skin was actually more of an olive tone, but the hours he spent in the sun had bronzed it, making his dark eyes and hair a vivid contrast.
"So." Wufei stared at her, almost smiling. He couldn't believe he was here with Relena Darlian. No one would probably believe it. He wasn't even sure he did.
Relena raised a slender eyebrow. "Yes?"
"Why were you working so late?" he asked, taking a sip of his tea, his obsidian orbs never leaving her face. She looked down for a quick moment, biting her lip. He felt a small tug of concern but said nothing. He didn't know her well enough to be concerned.
Relena knew she could lie, but what would be the point? And Wufei wasn't the type of guy she could tell just anything to, either. She knew that much about him. "I didn't want to be at home."
The sadness in her voice shocked him and his eyes narrowed slightly. "Why not? You must be tired," he said, his tone slightly argumentative, making her flinch and look away. Wufei sighed. "I'm sorry. I just don't get why—"
"Because it's still too hard," Relena softly interrupted. She swallowed hard and reached out to run her slim fingers over her silverware. "I don't like being there that much anymore."
He waited for her to go on, but she faltered, and she looked so frail, so lost, that before he could analyze his motive, he was reaching out and covering her hand with his own. Relena startled, her eyes darting to his, but she left her hand beneath the comforting weight of his. "Because of Heero, right?" Wufei asked in a gentle tone, and she nodded, struggling to hide a sudden pool of tears.
"Yes," she whispered, trying to collect herself. She couldn't cry, not here, not with him watching. She was sure he already thought she was weak. He thought all women were weak, according to his Preventer partner.
Wufei's hand tightened over hers, surprising her yet again. "I'm sorry," he told her, and there was a lot of hard emotional force behind his two simple words, driving them into Relena's heart. She took a deep breath, her body starting to tremble from both her melancholy and weariness. She was tired of pretending nothing was wrong, of keeping up false pretenses.
"Thank you, Wufei," she said, and he saw the glimmer of tears deep in her eyes, and he felt an intense fury ride over him, a fury directed at his former Gundam comrade, Heero Yuy. How could he have left her, knowing how she felt about him? Wufei knew how powerful the love of a woman could be; his Meiran had been beautiful, intelligent, and strong, and he had desired only to be with her.
And yet Yuy had walked away, had told Relena he felt nothing, or at least, not enough to keep him there. Wufei found it hard to believe, since Heero had stayed faithfully by her after the incident with Mariemaia, always protecting her and watching over her. Apparently, the man had needed more.
"Wufei?" He looked at her, and his chest tightened at the pain in her pretty eyes.
Relena glanced around them, noting that they were pretty much alone. She could hear the storm outside, the thunder battering away at the midnight sky, and shivered. She realized that she really didn't want to be alone tonight. "Why did you bring me here tonight?" she asked, and there was a wariness in her voice that he found somehow offensive, though he knew she hadn't meant to sound like that. It was only natural for her to be wary of his motives.
"You were alone. I was alone. So why not?"
She raised a delicate eyebrow. "But you like being alone, don't you?" At least, she'd always thought he did. He never came to any of the Preventer social functions.
Wufei scowled, his face darkening. He knew his reputation for being solitary was wide-spread. And he had never done anything to disprove it, but that didn't necessarily mean he enjoyed it. He just didn't care for most social situations. They tended to irritate him.
"Wufei?" Relena waited expectantly.
She certainly wasn't one to back down. "People have given me that stigma," he finally told her, and there was a hard tone to his tenor.
"So it's not true? But I never see you out with anyone," Relena argued, not even quite aware that she was being argumentative.
Wufei's dark eyes snapped and his temper started to chafe under the tight restraint he exercised over it. "Most people annoy me. Why should I want to spend any time with them?" he asked and grabbed his tea cup. The waiter intervened then, setting their plates down and vanishing as a particularly loud rumble above made Relena jump.
"You can't spend your entire life alone, Wufei. It isn't healthy. Humans are social—"
"Where did it get you? You of all people should know that humans betray one another, hurt one another," he snapped, his fists balling on the table top. There was such fire in his eyes that she felt a small tingle of – well, it wasn't exactly fear, but uneasiness.
"But you can't just turn away from everyone. That's just plain cowardice," Relena said, holding her breath, waiting for the explosion she knew would come. But if he could say things that were meant to deliberately hurt her, then she could say something to make him mad.
Wufei's eyes widened in disbelief. She didn't. She didn't just call me... "A coward? What would you know about that? I put my life on the line every single day, woman, for people like you! While you preach about pacifism and warm fluffy ideas of nonsense, I'm protecting you! I am not a coward!"
"Nonsense? Nonsense!" Relena's voice had risen and her cheeks flushed a soft rosy red as her ire began to build against his words. "Pacifism is not nonsense! Because of peace you don't have to fight—"
"Not fight? Don't you really know what goes on, Relena? You think we aren't fighting to keep your ideals alive?" His voice had lowered but was shaking as he tried to control it. Why had he brought her here? She was only proving his point for him.
Relena forced herself to calm down. She was a politician, a peace-keeper. She couldn't let Wufei get her so upset. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten angry at you. I just think you're cheating yourself out of something really great if you don't ever let anyone close to you, that's all." Her face had grown softer as she spoke, her violet-blue eyes warming with a sober sweetness that pricked his heart.
"It wasn't so great for you, was it? He left you." He saw her flinch and hated that he had hurt her, on purpose, but he wanted to know why she believed in people so much.
Relena was surprised to find no tears threatening to encroach in her eyes. She swallowed and said softly, "Yes, he did leave. And that hurt. It still does. But I really think it was best for Heero to go. I couldn't give him what he wanted and needed. If he can find it, whatever it is, with someone else, then I'm happy for him."
If it had been anyone else, Wufei wouldn't have believed a word of it. But Relena was so intently serious, and so honest with her emotions, that he knew she spoke the truth. And that was refreshing for him. He dealt all the time with people who would lie to his face just to get what they wanted, and here was a woman who had given away what she wanted, just for Heero's sake.
"But what about you? What about what you want?" Wufei asked, pinning her down with steely obsidian orbs.
Relena sighed and sipped her tea. Yes, what about her? What exactly did she want? "I want to be happy. I want to find someone to share my life with, someone who loves me as much as I do them," she said quietly. "That sounds pretty trite, doesn't it? Coming from the Vice Foreign Minister? I mean, my goals should be loftier than that."
"Why? Why should they have to be? You're just an ordinary woman." Wufei knew his statement hadn't sat too well when her gentian eyes narrowed slightly. "What I mean is, love isn't trite, Relena. At least, it shouldn't be."
She marveled at his switch in attitude and demeanor. "Have you ever been in love before?" she asked softly, hoping she wasn't opening old wounds.
"Once." Wufei saw in his mind's eye his first wife, beautiful and fiery and uncompromising. "I was married once, before the war. Her name was Meiran."
"Oh. I-I never knew that." Relena couldn't quite hide her shock. "What happened?"
"She was killed." His voice had gone flat and dry. "I told her she was too weak to fight, that battles were for men, but she...it was a long time ago." He finished his tea, but had no appetite for the food.
"I'm so sorry," Relena whispered, tears clouding her eyes.
"Don't be. Like I said, it was a long time ago." He checked his watch, started waving the waiter over. "I need to be going. Can you get a cab alright?"
"Um, yes." Was he really going to leave her here, all alone?
Wufei gave the man a credit card, waving off Relena's protests. "I have the money." He looked down at his hands, strong and lean, like the rest of his body, and wondered what to say next. It meant a great deal to him that he had told her about Meiran – he'd never told anyone, not even Sally. But, just how much did it mean? Did Relena sense how much trust he had just put into her? And what was he expecting in return?
Relena didn't want him to go. Or if he went, she wanted to go, too. There was so much about him that she hadn't known, so much more that she realized she wanted to know. But he hadn't offered to take her home, or to visit anymore. He just wanted to leave.
Just like Heero.
The waiter brought back the receipt and card, and Wufei tucked both into his wallet before standing. He wasn't sure he really wanted to go, but there wasn't much else to say. "You're sure you can get home okay?" She shouldn't have been out without a bodyguard, so maybe he should take her home—
"I'll be fine. I know my way around." Relena finished her tea and smiled up at him. "Thank you for dinner."
"You're welcome." He turned and started walking away, putting distance between them, distance so his mind could clear. She obviously didn't need anyone, let alone him. Besides, they barely knew each other. They weren't even what one would call friends, really. It was better to just leave and forget about her. Forget that, for a small amount of time, he had felt very close to her, even though they'd argued. And he hadn't minded that. He left the restaurant and got into his 300 and drove away.
Part of her wanted him to come back. And say what, Relena? He likes you? He felt connected to you? She shook her head in a mocking manner and got to her feet, realizing then that she still had his sweatshirt. A small thrill spiked her stomach, wondering if he'd remember that she had it. She pulled it on, reveling in the softness of the black material, and drinking in the spicy scent that was definitely and uniquely Wufei's.
She stepped to the curb to call a cab, and smiled. Tonight, for the first time in six months, she hadn't felt alone. Maybe home wouldn't be quite so intimidating now.
A/N: So there you have it. I hope I've kept Wufei more IC this time around. Please review this for me. He's my second favorite character of the G-boys (struggling for the first spot), and getting him right means a great deal to me. Thanks – RedLion2