DISCLAIMER: I don't own GW. Wish I did, really, I do...
WARNINGS: For mild violence, language, a bit of mild Fei-torture, and some not so mild m/m/m lemony bits. AU so far as the Endless Waltz, and has some OOC-ness.
SUMMARY: After the wars, all the Gundam pilots are paired up except Wufei, who takes a mission he doesn't expect to come back from. Rated NC-17 for violence, very mild torture and lemony goodness...
A/N: This story is the very first fanfic I ever wrote. The chapters are ridiculously short, it's a bit silly, and there are plot holes you could drive a Buick through. Still, it is my firstborn and my precious. So treat it gently. It has been re-beta'ed and adjusted accordingly.
CHAPTER ONE: Alone
Wufei leaned his forehead against the window in his office and stared out at the familiar view with unseeing eyes. He'd finished his last report ten minutes ago, but an overdeveloped sense of duty wouldn't let him leave work early - he had thirteen minutes to go.
Why am I always left alone?
He could hear coworkers down the hall, laughing, chattering and calling goodbyes to each other as they prepared for the weekend. He sighed softly, lifted his head and let it bang gently against the glass. He had the next day off, but wasn't looking forward to it. What was there to look forward to, an empty apartment? A sparse dinner for one? Books he'd already read, a flickering television that had never been able to hold his interest?
I can always do katas until I collapse.
He sighed again, the sound faint and lost in the empty building. He lifted his head and let it bang harder this time. The glass was cool and smooth against his skin, turning opaque where his breath touched it. He raised a finger and traced the Chinese symbol for 'one' on the foggy surface.
He let his thoughts drift back to the war, not flinching away from those memories like he usually did. He remembered himself as he'd been then, solitary by desire, harsh and unforgiving to the others who surrounded him - he smiled bitterly. It was no wonder they'd left him alone. Who really wanted to deal with rants about justice and honor mingled with sarcasm and long periods of strict silence? The other four pilots had gotten along much better with each other, and Duo and Quatre had managed to get along relatively well with him, although Duo often came near driving him insane. Heero and Trowa he'd silently respected, keeping his words and actions strictly formal when he was around them. He'd wrapped himself in thoughts of vengeance over Meiran, vengeance multiplied to infinity when L5 was destroyed. He'd used it all as an excuse to keep himself aloof from the others, fearful, somewhere deep inside, of getting close and losing them, too. Still...
Still, it was a surprise.
It was a vast surprise, when, after they'd joined the Preventers - reluctant or cheerful as their personalities dictated - after they'd joined, the others had suddenly paired off. Heero and Duo, Quatre and Trowa. Leaving him astonished, stunned.
Alone, when the war was over and his thirst for revenge had been subdued. When he was ready to let someone in, and was cautiously opening his doors to the only four people in the universe he thought would understand him. Then they were couples, with no real room for a fifth wheel.
Oh, they'd included him in their lives. Asked him to dinner, coerced him into going to movies, plays, on special outings. He'd been paired with all of them, individually and together, on several missions. But there was a barrier now, even stronger than the barriers he'd put between them during the war. They were together, had someone special - someone who made them smile when they saw them, someone whose hand they grasped without thought... He'd begun to carefully excuse himself from their invitations. Had by back ways and schemes got himself assigned to solo missions. His gentle extraction from their lives had been so subtle he didn't think they'd noticed it. It hurt to be around them.
It hurt more, when they didn't realize I was gone.
He'd been 'temporarily' assigned here, away from headquarters, at this little outpost on L4. He'd been here almost eight months, had gotten a few emails in the first two months but they'd tapered off. Heero and Trowa's first, then Duo's, then die-hard Quatre's. He'd been careful to reply only to every third one, so it was no more than he expected. He had to get permanently away from the agony of seeing them so happy, wanting to be happy for them but feeling so jealous. Especially of...
No. Don't think about them...
He lifted his head for the hardest bang yet.
He turned sharply, saw his commanding officer framed in the doorway.
Major Hernbeck looked down his long, thin nose at the young man standing near the window. He'd been none too pleased when a Gundam pilot had been assigned here, expecting a glory hog. What he'd been given had turned out to be a stellar Preventer, with an unrivaled mission success rate and a habit of disappearing into the wallpaper. Chang obeyed his orders to the letter, until he went on missions. Then all his careful plans, designed to catch the eyes of the higher-ups and get him out of this rathole, were completely ignored as Chang Wufei did what he felt was right to finish out his missions.
Hernbeck had begun his revenge with mild disciplinary actions, demerits, extra work, fewer days off. He'd stepped it up to notes of insubordination in Chang's permanent record, careful to squirrel away the reports the young man filled out in detail into some dusty filing room. His version of what happened was what his superiors saw. His version was what was keeping this - boy - here. Hernbeck considered that the worst punishment ever, and was reduced to despising Wufei when he didn't seem to mind. Lately his punishments had been back-to-back missions, constant meetings and demands for reports to be completed scarcely after he'd ordered them written.
"Sir?" Wufei asked again, his voice low and tired. Hernbeck sneered at him, trying to let his expression show his contempt for the short, slim figure who dared to prompt him.
"Mission, Chang. You leave in two hours." He dropped a file on the desk and walked from the room. Normally he'd let a subordinate deliver that, but when he'd realized Chang was still here he couldn't resist. That mission was going to be absolute hell, and he sniggered to himself, wishing he could have waited around to see the boy's reaction.
Wufei reached out a slender hand and opened the plain folder. Velvet dark eyes widened as he read the mission details, and Hernbeck would have been sadly disappointed if he had stayed. A rare and lovely smile flitted across the strained young face.
Thank you, gods. Thank you, Nataku.
This mission would probably kill him.