A/N: Takes place during the GW series, around the middle of the time the five pilots are basing at Peacemillion. Possibly right after Relena arrives on Libra and right before Hilde's escape with the data.
"The night is long, I cannot sleep.
The shining Moon gleams in my eyes.
I thought I heard someone call my name
In vain, I answer the empty air."
Yue-fu: Zi Ye Songs, Southern Dynasties
Space to him was only a place where people came to create wrongdoings. Evil reigned here, and the creatures called humans were the sole source for it. But that was why he had come, wasn't it? To destroy that which would cause more suffering for the select few who had at least tried to not tarnish the cleanliness of outer space with their infecting lack of perfection?
The citizens of the Colonies had seen enough injustice. And Chang Wufei had made his decision months ago.
Having graduated from boarding school as early as fourteen, there were those in L5 that had believed he would grow up to be a high-ranking scholar…find the cure for cancer, engineer and colonize a completely new part of the universe, locate a second sun, etc. It was never supposed that he would join the warrior class like most of the people in their cluster.
But, as history had shown and was showing now, beliefs were often destroyed to be replaced by harsh reality. Wufei's bright mind was not working to cure any people but to kill them. He had joined the warrior class after all, though his talents were being used in the cockpit of a massacre machine known as the Gundam Altron rather than a dojo. And he was not quite grown up.
At the same time, it was this very Gundam that provided him most of his solace in the midst of the hating world's vicious whirling. The days he had not fought a battle – and there were few of them – he would stay up late and read, but the book had no soul with which to comfort him. The restricting harness that kept him secure in the pilot's seat did, as odd as the notion sounded.
As tradition dictated, the first time he had set eyes on Long Meilan had been the day of his marriage to her. He had heard of the Long clan all through his early childhood, and he had even attended school with a couple of their younger sons. But it was the older granddaughter of the clan that had been spoken of so highly for her combat skills. Wufei had never given her more than a passing thought, and it had usually contained principles on how women were not meant for fighting.
It had come as a well-hidden surprise that he would become the husband of this very female who was not a woman at all. She had been just a girl, the same age as him, and she had been one of the most stubborn, arrogant humans he had ever known beside himself.
Wufei's first visual impression of her had come across as it was meant to; she was lovely in her ceremonial robes and bridal makeup, but the disdainful, rejecting words she had speared him with at the end of the wedding were enough to make him forget the initial pleasure felt by seeing her face. When he had proven her wrong about his supposed lack of strength, Meilan had accepted only conclusion that justice was nonexistent…she had not accepted him.
And with her death, a peaceful passing among tall grass and wildflowers, she had succeeded in proving him wrong. There was such a thing as justice; her death had been full of anything but that virtue, and he felt even now that because of that missing honor, she resided here with him in this mobile suit. This Gundam he called Nataku.
The beeping of a left-hand consul alerts the pilot known as 05 to the fact that he is approaching Peace Million. He had gone out scouting the enemy territory with Trowa, but the spaceship's Libra's round-the-clock defense was as thick as ever. Milliardo Peacecraft had no intention of letting his guard down, and there was a certain amount of respect Wufei held for him because of that.
As opposed to Heero Yuy, who was waiting for Wufei the instant he emerged from Nataku's cockpit upon settling in the Peacemillion hangar. Well, "waiting" was probably not the correct word for it. Judging by the open cooling ventilator units and the ajar door of Wing Zero's cockpit, Heero was most likely performing adjustments to his own mobile suit because he highly disliked the idea of anyone else doing it for him.
Stepping out, Wufei unbuttoned the neck of the confining black spacesuit as Heero set down the wrench he held and stood up. Both men stretched until there were two satisfying spinal cracks. A few nearby mechanics winced.
"Nothing has changed," called Trowa in a brief report from nearby. After Heero's understanding nod, the tallest of the pilots launched himself from Heavyarms' horizontal door and floated down on the hangar's low gravity. Wufei predicted he was on a quest for some dinner and wanted to do the same soon.
Taking the initiative, "What is it, Yuy?" asked the Chinese pilot.
Heero answered steadily, waiting just the right amount of seconds before replying. "I did an upgraded back round check on you. I didn't know that it was your personal Colony that was destroyed two months ago."
Something flinched inside of him, but Wufei himself remained stock-still. "Yes," he answered calmly. "What of it?"
He knew better than to expect any form of condolences from Heero Yuy and was right in that case. Heero's eyes narrowed only slightly, but the concentration in them was enough to make him wary. "I discovered that you were actually the single heir to the clan residing on that Colony. The clan Long. Don't worry," the Japanese youth added before Wufei could react, "I haven't spoken of it to the others."
Wufei nodded. "Thank you then. Why did you feel the need to investigate me?" he demanded shortly, some annoyance entering his tone.
"Your results with the Zero System interested me. The data leftover pointed out a particularly high level of stress and some range of insecurity. It take much to find out why." Heero turned away and lifted the wrench again, but he glanced back over his shoulder. "I've never had connections like that, so I don't know what your individual feelings about that incident are. But I understand…rethinking," he said after a pause, as though he could not summon the word he really wanted to use. "And reevaluating your position. You must have had to do that."
Almond-shaped eyes sharpened. "If you're concerned about how I'll perform on the battlefield, I believe that I've—"
"I'm not," interrupted Heero. "But I made another discovery."
Wufei knew before the pilot 01 could even utter it.
"You were only named the Long clan's heir because you were betrothed to the eldest child in our generation. And you married her last year." Here Heero paused with the wrench's revolving in the cooling vents being the only available noise. Wufei did not claim to understand this long-trained boy's idea of tact, but he certainly didn't agree with it if it was going to keep him waiting like this. "She didn't die in the Colony incident."
It wasn't a question, but Wufei answered anyway. "No. Our Colony was attacked with the Earth Sphere Alliance, General Catalonia's squadron, little more than fifteen months ago. My wife has been dead for long than a year." Dead, he wanted to say, but not gone. "What are you getting at, Heero?"
"I need to know if you will end up being detrimental at any point whatsoever."
Anger flared. "You just said that you weren't concerned—"
"Would you aim a gun at a woman? At any given time, if she proved to be a nuisance to the mission, would you be willingly able to fire at her?"
Pause crept over Wufei – he didn't like to think of it as hesitation. "That's an easy question for you, I imagine, Yuy. Maxwell's big mouth has told us more than once how you repeated aimed at Relena Peacecraft, and since you didn't kill her, she turned out to be a pretty good distraction for Romafeller with the Sanq Kingdom."
Heero said nothing for a moment. His Prussian blue eyes gleamed as he sized up the other fifteen-year-old. "I wasn't asking about me, Wufei. And I didn't mean Relena, either."
"Who do you mean?" asked Wufei, lost now.
"Dorothy Catalonia, Libra's strategist, for example. Could you shoot her?"
Wufei snorted. "After all the trouble she's caused us? It would only be too easy."
Yuy stared for a moment, the very image of a perfect, undistracted soldier. A second later, he nodded once. It was a curt movement, but it held understanding. "I accept that."
"Good." Feeling sure all of his fellow Gundam pilot's doubt had been unclouded, Wufei moved away from Wing Zero.
"And you aren't ever bothered by the girl Meilan's memory?"
Wufei froze right before he was going to jump down from Altron's cockpit. He straightened his body to his full height, and it was his turn to stare. "I remember her as a husband remembers a wife. I talk to her…to Nataku…in the night. During dreams, during battles, but in the night. That is the only time I ever really felt that I could know her."
He felt Heero's eyes on him as he left. The other boy undoubtedly wondered if he was nearing the insanity point, but Wufei knew from his time with the Zero System that he wasn't quite there yet. Maybe in a year or two. And as far as it mattered to him, Heero had every right to believe he was crazy. He believed the same thing about Yuy and the rest of the pilots anyway.
But in truth, it was Meilan herself that, rather than driving him mad, kept him from it. She kept him alive with her spirit inside the Altron.
She kept Wufei going on.