Title: Web of Time 1/?
By Hana-chan
Email: gohana_chan@yahoo.ca
Category: AU, yaoi, angst, occasional lemon
Pairings: 1x4 , 2x3x2 , 5xOC
Ratings: Varies. This part is R for violence
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Gundam Wing. This is for fun, not profit, so don't sue me. The story, and any characters that do not belong to GW belong to me.

thoughts ::telepathy:: *** scene change

Web of Time
Chapter 1

Wufei sat on the cliff ledge, mist from the waterfall dampening his hair and clothing as he gazed unseeing at the forest before him.

"Nataku," he sighed. "I miss you." Crossing his arms over his bent knees, he leaned his chin on his white silk sleeves. Images from the past danced through his mind. Images of his first gundam standing in the water surrounded by mist, sitting in the forest, lying in a cargo bay. Altron as he first saw her on the moon; as he last saw her when he ended her existence. He had spent so many hours at the feet of Nataku, meditating, praying, gazing upwards, in search of answers.

Another soft sigh escaped his lips. He wished he had Nataku here now because he needed guidance.

Closing his eyes, he let his mind wander. Images of Sally and the Preventers whirled and blended with those of the gundams, Treize, Mariemaia, his fellow pilots. It was a blend of happiness and hopelessness. He didn't try to focus on any one image, content to let his subconscious choose one for him.

The faces of his fellow pilots became more clear. Duo laughing triumphantly as the mangled moble suit he'd been repairing moved. Heero smiling slightly as he typed on his laptop on a park bench. Trowa in costume doing aerobatic flips on the back of a trotting white horse. Quatre sleeping with his head pillowed on his arms, hidden behind a stack of paperwork on his desk. The colours inverted, spinning into a whirlpool of blues, greys and whites before resolving into one image.

Meiran.

Wufei gasped, crushing his eyes closed to hold back the tears that suddenly threatened him. Meiran. He could see images of her face clearly - the fire in her eyes, her inner strength, the arrogance and pride, her beauty, the peace in her expression as she died in his arms. That last image, the one of peace, was the one that lingered in his mind. She had fought for justice, but had found peace in saving a field of flowers, and the knowledge that he, her husband, found her to be strong.

It was the one thing he'd never been able to do. She had proven herself worthy of his love, but he'd never proven himself worthy of hers. Thinking back over the past four years since she'd died he could see his futile struggle to prove his worth. He'd fought for her justice, he'd fought for her spirit, he'd fought for her approval, he'd fought for peace.

He'd achieved none of it.

The image of Meiran in his mind changed from peaceful to irritated, stubborn fire igniting. He could almost hear her calling him a weak baka for thinking this way. The images of the other pilots appeared around her as if to say 'what about us', and Wufei suddenly sighed in understanding. He may not be able to achieve the peace through proving himself to his wife, but perhaps he could achieve some measure of peace through his fellow pilots - no his friends.

Sighing again, he examined the mental picture of his wife. I wish you were here, Meiran, Nataku, he thought wistfully. I miss you.

Squaring his shoulders, the young man ran a hand over his face and opened his eyes, surprised to find that his face was wet with tears. It had been a long time since he had last cried.

Looking out over his haven he smiled as the late afternoon sun glittered brightly on the waterfall, creating a rainbow in the mist. Wufei noticed for the first time that the sounds of bird song filled the clearing, and down by the pool several deer grazed quietly. The close presence of nature was one of the things that had drawn him to this secluded spot during the war, but, in his preoccupation, he hadn't noticed it this trip until now. His smile broadened into a soft grin, and he slicked his loose hair back behind his ears. The Meiran as he'd last seen her would have loved this place as he did.

"I love you Meiran, Nataku," he whispered wistfully. His smile was gone, but his face had lost a measure of its hardness.

Reaching for his sword, the Chinese teen was surprised to find it wasn't there. Stupid baka, he thought to himself. I must have forgotten it in the cave. Shaking his head he slowly stood, rearranging his hair once again. If it had still been a time of war, he'd probably be dead right now for his carelessness. Shrugging he stepped towards to the edge and, stooping gracefully to get a handhold, he swung his legs over and began to climb to the base of the cliff. He dropped the last few feet to the ground, damp white clothing fluttering about him.

The deer had moved on and sighed in contentment. Something was still missing from his life, but it wasn't as all-consuming now. What was the phrase in that book of Maxwell's? he mused. Ah, right. 'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.' Perhaps it is finally my time, my season.

Walking up to the falls, he stepped into a deeper shadow beside them, into a narrow tunnel in the rock. It was wide enough to give him enough freedom to swing his sword, but not enough for someone to get past him if he were to stand his ground. It was also low enough that he could almost stand at his full height, which wasn't much as he'd only grown a few inches since the war. The tunnel would be inconvenient for anyone taller than five and a half feet tall for they would have to stoop to enter. Smiling slightly he walked through the twisting tunnel as it took a sharp jog to the left and another to the right before opening into a much larger area.

The main cave itself was one of Wufei's favorite places. The kerosene lantern he'd lit earlier still burned brightly at the back of the room where it hung from a peg in the wall, illuminating the uneven circle of the floor. The domed ceiling arched twenty feet above him, while the floor itself was approximately ten feet in diameter. To his left was a plastic coated metal trunk that held his spare clothing, bedding, cot, and other necessary household items such as soap that he wanted to keep from the hungry mouths of rodents. To his right was another plastic coated trunk filled with cooking essentials including cooking and eating utensils, and, when he spent a prolonged period of time here, food as well. There was also a large water barrel that was currently empty.

The back of the cave was where he'd located his 'kitchen'. There was a fairly large crack in the back wall that lead almost vertically up to the top of the cliff. He used it as a natural chimney for his cook fire, the dense foliage above the upper opening dispersing the smoke to keep his location secret. The chimney could also be used as an escape route if necessary, though the climber would be forced to inch his way slowly and carefully to the top. All in all, it made for an excellent safehouse or peaceful retreat from the world.

Sighing, he glanced at the cave fondly. He'd spent a month here during the war, and had used it as a safehouse on numerous other occasions. After the war he'd used it as a place to meditate and retreat from the world. He hadn't been here for months though - not since he'd destroyed Nataku. Closing his eyes, he recalled then dismissed the images of his gundam. She had been more than just a mobile suit to him, and he still felt guilty for destroying her.

The pilot shook his head and chuckled when he realized how often he'd been doing that lately; that and sighing. I am going to have to find some other way to silently express myself, he thought in amusement. Making his way to the 'bedroom', Wufei picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulders before picking up his sword. Carefully he drew it from its scabbard, curved blade glinting in the lantern light. The blade had been in his family for generations, and was now one of the few things left of the once proud Dragon Clan. Resheathing the sword, he buckled the swordbelt around his waist, hand resting on the hilt, before walking towards the lantern. Taking one last look around the cave he turned the light off and quickly made his way to the tunnel entrance where a vague gray glow could barely be seen.

The Gundam pilot winced slightly in the sunlight, breeze playing teasingly with his now dry hair. I should have tied it back again, he thought. In some way though, he was glad to have it tangling in his face even as it irritated him, because he hadn't worn it loose since his wife had died. He stopped himself before he could sigh, and smiled slightly. It was time to get back to his life.

Walking silently out of habit, the young man made his way towards the forest, rippling pool and stream to his right. There were many game trails leading to and from his haven, caused both by large animals such as deer, and smaller animals such as rabbits and foxes. He knew where all of them were, which ones crossed which trails, and how many of them could allow a human to pass along them. He'd made a point of exploring the area over the past three years, and even though it was peacetime he made a point of entering and leaving along a different game trail each time. Habits of stealth were hard to break.

Wufei paused on the threshold between clearing and forest, savoring what was likely to be his last visit here for a long time. The sun was glistening off of the waterfall, creating a faint rainbow over the pool. He would miss this place. Turning he stepped into the shade, feeling the same shiver he always felt, as if he was stepping from the sacred to the mundane. It was the sense he got every time he'd left the peace and security of the haven for the pain and uncertainty of the war. Sentimental fool, he accused himself in amusement, knowing he'd feel the same regardless of what he told himself.

Traveling the game trail to and from the nearest town was something he'd done often enough that he didn't need to focus on the details of his surroundings on a conscious level. He let his instinct guide him as he focused his thoughts elsewhere. He'd planned on spending much of the day reading and practicing his forms, and had ended up spending little time doing either. Now, however, he planned on getting back to the town as soon as possible, then traveling out of China and back to Preventer headquarters as soon as he could. After that he planned on locating the other pilots for a reunion of sorts. Winner would be easy to find, if not contact, and would be enthusiastic for any excuse to get the five of them together again. Yuy and Barton would probably look at him impassively and grunt 'hn' or something of the like. Maxwell, however, would likely have to pick his jaw up off the floor at the thought of Wufei arranging a get together for them. The Chinese teen paused, savoring the image of the longhaired teen shocked speechless at the thought of 'stick-up-his-ass-justice-boy' planning a social event.

That pause saved his life.

The pilot dropped to the ground, staring at the arrow protruding from the tree where he would have been, had he not stopped in thought. Silly baka saved my life he thought irrelevantly. Warrior instincts activated, the youth leapt up, yanked the arrow from the tree, and dropped to the earth again. A brief examination of the arrow showed it to be a wooden shaft belonging to a longbow. It had a barbed metal head, and blood red fletching. More primitive than mine, but a nasty war arrow regardless, he mused clinically before sliding the weapon into the elastic strapping of his backpack.

Getting into a defensive crouch, the pilot considered his options. He was currently hidden by the undergrowth, so he could move stealthily, but not run without making himself more visible. He glanced at his watch. It was almost an hour long walk to the town, but it was only ten minute walk to his cave. If he made it back to his cave, then he could defend it and himself for quite some time. As a last resort he could climb his chimney. That in mind he began to backtrack.

The archer was now on his right side somewhere, and he moved cautiously, dropping easily into the stealth mode he'd used so much during the war. His instincts warned him to duck again and he cursed mentally as another arrow impaled itself above him in a tree.

On the right side of the trail.

Kisama, he thought. They're on both sides of the trail. Darting upwards he jerked the arrow from the tree and dropped to the narrow trail again. This one was much the same as the first, except that it was fletched in inky green feathers. The different fletching may have been meaningless, but for some reason he doubted it.

Sliding the second arrow in with the first, Wufei fought the urge to run towards his cave. He knew that a moving target was more difficult to hit, but it would also leave more of him exposed above the undergrowth. For once he cursed the color of his silks - mourning white would draw the eye long after the sun set.

Shrugging in resignation, the Chinese boy crept warily along the path, sword drawn and battle-ready. He scanned the surrounding forest for signs of his attackers, either in the form of archers or skirmishers. Several arrows arched above him, but they were much less accurate than the first two, and judging from their trajectory, they were random shots. Harrying fire, he thought. Either there were many archers, or the two had a lot of arrows to waste. It was definitely a coward's way to fight.

Continuing his retreat, Wufei was suddenly startled when the breeze stopped. The leaves quieted completely, and the air was breathlessly still. Dropping into a crouch, he looked around, trying to find the source of the unnatural stillness. On the trail before him there appeared a pinpoint of red light, and his eyes widened in shock as it began to expand in pulsating waves. There was a sudden rush of wind towards the strange light. His hair whipped around his face as he glanced around for an escape route as he watched red tendrils of light snake out from the center point and form a pulsing ring of red and black energy. The boy could feel the negative energy radiating from it as it sharpened, giving the impression of rippled glass.

The rest of the path vanished from behind the -- portal -- for lack of a better word. Instead a larger clearing was shown. A figure leapt thorough the "glass", and rolled to his feet with a feral grin on his face.

The former pilot gasped in shock. The new soldier was not human.

Superficially, the warrior had a human appearance, but it had dull gray skin, long blood red hair, and crimson armor that was so dark it looked almost black. It wore a crest on its chest that looked like a stylized demon to Wufei's eye.

"Well, Princeling," it said in a deep voice. "You aren't too impressive when you aren't hiding at your sanctuary are you? Quite small really; but you can't hide now - you belong to us."

Wufei readied himself for battle, but hesitated when the creature stepped aside and another one emerged. Looking through the "glass" the former Gundam pilot saw four more identical creatures. He cursed silently. There's no way I can fight all six of them on this narrow trail, especially not with the archers, he thought. Retreat was his only option.

Turning, Wufei ran back the way he'd just come. The creatures seemed startled, but gave chase a moment later. Trying to keep low, the pilot scanned the right side of the path for a small game trail he remembered. Spotting it, he dove onto it, crawling quickly under the brambles, sword reversed between his knees to keep it out of the way. He was grateful for his small size - the creatures would have difficulty following him. Emerging on a parallel trail, the boy headed back towards the cave, trying to puzzle out what was going on.

"Catch him, fools," shouted the first creature. "Hurry before he hides his presence again."

Hide my presence? he thought in confusion as he picked up his pace. I've only been at my haven. Actually, he was almost at said clearing when the air stilled again.

"K'so," he muttered, looking for the tell tale point of red light. The rush of air hit his back, tangling is loose hair in his face. His dark eyes widened as he saw the portal opening up between himself and his safety zone. Dodging past the partially formed portal he felt an electric tingle race up left arm, numbing it slightly, as he touched the green light. Green light? he asked himself as the portal snapped into completion and another gray-skinned creature emerged. Part of his mind noticed that this one looked almost identical to the last one with the exception being green hair and armor rather than red.

Ignoring caution, Wufei began to run full out towards his haven. He had the odd impression that the color theme was more of an indication of different factions than some odd personal preference.

"He's heading for the barrier," shouted someone behind him. "Send a portal there."

Fear streaked through the dark haired young man as he emerged next to the stream and kept running. Arrows were arching around him and he could see the green portal forming beside the stream just before it widened into the pool. He was going to have to fight his way to safety. The pilot wondered what else could go wrong.

A red portal began to open two feet away from the green one, effectively cutting off all access to the clearing other than that small two-foot gap. He couldn't even risk crossing the stream because then he'd be on the wrong side of the falls to reach his cave.

Trying to analyze the situation, he found he didn't like the odds. There were "green" creatures behind him, and soon there'd be green and red ones ahead of him. Cursing, fate he prepared himself for death.

Well, if I have to die, I'm taking as many of them with me as I can. With that thought he stopped suddenly and jumped to the side, whipping his sword out and decapitating the startled creature behind him. He hated using such low tactics, but he was seriously outnumbered, and had little choice. Wading into the fight, he quickly found himself using every ounce of his skill just to stay alive, barely anticipating their moves in time to counter them. So much for the reunion, he thought irrelevantly. Duo will be disappointed.

"They've got the Princeling," someone shouted. There was a howl of rage from somewhere in the mele, and the Chinese youth paused in astonishment as attention was taken away from him. Using his new advantage, he took the offensive, trying to incapacitate as many of his foes so that he could make his escape.
He cleared a space between the rival groups and saw his chance to make a break for the gap between portals. He was going to have to be very careful not to hit the energy field - he didn't need his arms going numb now. Running at full speed, he held his blade in both hands before him in preparation for his leap and his rolled landing.

He felt the electric tingle as he neared the portals, stronger now with the power of two. He was unprepared however for the searing pain he felt as his sword blade touched the green portal and the hilt touched the red one. Energy arched through him as the portal ring was severed and tendrils of light began to lash around. The wind reached storm intensity as the light made contact with his body, wrapping painfully around him.

Feeling as if he was being ripped apart, he screamed. Both light and pain flared to a blinding intensity before mercifully fading to unfeeling black.
TBC