Chapter 21
"Where is Wufei?"

      Trowa turned to lift a brow inquiringly at the smiling attendant.
      "This is the last boarding call for L3."
      Trowa nodded, and as the girl hurried off, he returned his gaze to the security gate on the far side of the launch pad. He checked his watch. 0800 on the dot.
      Heero was never late.
      Trowa hesitated before leaning over to pick up his duffel bag. He straightened slowly, casting one last look towards the gate. Well, Heero had made his choice, and Trowa wasn't about to dig himself a deeper hole by tracking him down again and trying to apologize any more. He must have really hurt the other boy when he'd left. That, or Relena Peacecraft had far more to offer him than an emotionally challenged ex-mercenary. With heavy feet and a carefully constructed mask of indifference, he turned and headed for the steps leading up to the entrance of the shuttle.
      The friendly attendant took his ticket and punched a hole in it, handing it back with a bright, "Enjoy your flight, sir."
      Trowa nodded briefly, barely glancing at her, and ducked through the entrance.
      "Hold the shuttle!"
      Trowa hesitated, craning his head to see what all the commotion was about, still half inside the door.
      One of the security guards came jogging up, puffing from his efforts, waving his arms at the startled stewardess. "Hold the shuttle," he called again. "One more passenger."
      Trowa's eyes skipped over the guard's head, and he drew in a sharp breath as his gaze lit on the long figure emerging from the security checkpoint with unhurried steps. Over the length of the launch pad, their eyes met, and Trowa was unable to keep a small smile of relief at bay; because Heero had a small bag slung over his shoulder, in which no doubt packed were his few belongings in life.
      Trowa turned from the door and waited on the top step as his partner approached. Heero got his card punched and stopped on the step below Trowa. By now the other boy had managed to control his expression, and met the hard gaze with a calm one of his own.
      "I wasn't sure you were coming-" he started to say.
      Heero reached out and wrapped strong fingers behind Trowa's neck, pulling his face down. Their foreheads bumped lightly, and Trowa forgot to breathe for a moment as he met the other pilot's intense stare at such close range.
      "No more running away," Heero said so quietly his voice was nearly drowned out by the shuttle's boosters starting up. The security guard was sputtering and the cheerful attendant was fighting a grin, but Trowa, for once, was blind to his surroundings, caught in the depths of cobalt eyes. Heero was giving him a promise.. and an order. There would be no more running away-- for either of them. Trowa allowed himself a brief smile in reply.
      "Ninmu ryoukai," he teased, and decided that Heero's rare, fleeting smile was worth the wait.


      Trowa was able to behave himself on the flight by occupying himself with thoughts of Wufei. Where could the boy be hiding? Would he even listen? What if he'd found a new life-- or partner --and was no longer interested in either of them?
      Heero, who had the enviable ability to focus on one thing and one thing only, had no such compunctions. Four hours into the flight, when the stewardess had disappeared to catch a quick nap, and the handful of other passengers had dozed off, he seemed to decide he'd waited long enough.
      Trowa jumped when a warm hand covered his knee and the shoulder by his pressed closer. Blinking in the dim light, he turned his head to look at his companion and almost bumped noses. Heero didn't bother to speak. Before Trowa could so much as lift an amused brow, Heero's hungry mouth was on his, and the hand slid abruptly from his knee to his inner thigh, making him arch into the touch and grunt against the insistant lips crushed against his own.
      Gods, he'd missed this. The sudden roar of lust and want that rose in him almost startled him. To touch, to be touched... Trowa had never been one for pyhsical contact. He preferred to keep people at arm's length, letting none inside his personal bubble unless absolutely necessary. Catherine had been the first to really touch him without it bothering him. He'd stiffened the first time Duo had thrown a friendly arm around his shoulder, the first time Quatre had gotten too close, but he'd gotten used to it. But to be touched like this, in a way he thought he would never be able to enjoy...
      And he knew he wouldn't, had it been anybody else. He couldn't imagine letting anybody else invade his personal space so thoroughly, coming onto him so roughly. There were only two men on the face of the earth or in the depths of space that he trusted enough to allow them to do so. He knew them, in a way, like he knew his own Gundam. He knew their limits as well as his own. He knew what they wanted, but he knew they would never force it, that they would stop if he so much as turned his head aside. That was what made it so acceptable.
      That, and the fact that despite his first misgivings, he wanted it as well. He wanted them to touch him, because he in turn wanted to touch them.
      But, he allowed with a small amused smile against Heero's mouth, this was neither the time nor place for this sort of thing, as much as he wished the circumstances were otherwise. He clasped the hand on his thigh and gave it a light squeeze of warning, pulling his head back slightly. Heero glared at him in mild frustration, but didn't push it. He retreated, dropping his hand onto the armrest and leaning his head back against his seat. Trowa watched him for a moment before leaning over to steal a quick kiss.
      "First," he murmured low enough that only the other pilot could hear, "we find Wufei."
      Heero nodded his understanding, though when he caught the taller boy's gaze, Trowa could read both the longing and the satisfaction in them. Heero didn't regret his choice to follow Trowa, and for that the green-eyed pilot was secretly relieved. He would never have forgiven himself if he'd taken Heero from a life or an opportunity that he deserved. His thoughts flashed back briefly to the scene he'd interrupted the night before... Relena leaning over the table earnestly, reaching for Heero's hand, and the trapped look on his face. He didn't allow himself the frown that threatened to break free as he leaned back in his own chair and gazed outside at the stars around them. He had never felt jealousy before, but thinking of that girl reaching for Heero with love in her eyes and possessiveness in her body language...
      Good riddance.


      If Wufei was on L3, he was doing a damn good job at hiding from them.
      They spent a day and a half scouring the colony before moving on to L1 and L2.
      Finally Heero had a stroke of genius and suggested they visit Colony 087, known for its prestigious universities. They reached the colony on the sixth day of their search, exhausted and a little frustrated, and made a quick visit to one of the largest universities there before looking for a hotel. Wufei's name was not on the roster, nor did anyone seem familiar with his description. So the two partners retired to a cheap hotel, discouraged. Heero's mood was getting darker with each failure, and Trowa was beginning to think Wufei didn't want to be found.
      They spent all morning of the next day going from school to school, with no luck. Heero's brows remained furrowed, a scowl fixed permanently in place as his frustration worsened. Trowa decided to find a comfortable spot for lunch to let the other boy cool down before continuing the search. There were still three more universities to check out.
      The small diner Trowa chose was one popular to the students; it was close to three different universities, and relatively cheap. The menu was simple: mostly consisting of burgers, pizza, and hot wings. When they arrived, the place was so packed Trowa considered finding another place.
      But with all those students, maybe oen of them had at least heard Wufei's name mentioned. So he led Heero to one of the few empty tables by a wall and took a seat, glancing around as he reached for the menu.
      Heero didn't even bother to look at the food. He was sitting rigidly, arms crossed over his chest, back set firmly to the wall as his eyes roamed the room. A harried-looking waitress in a short skirt had just bustled up, pen poised over a brightly-colored notepad to take down their order, when Heero gave a little start, barely visible. Trowa quickly followed his partner's stare, and took in a quick breath. On the other side of the diner was a group of students, chattering and laughing loudly around a few tables pushed together. About half of them looked of Asian descent. And one of them, with his back turned to the two ex-pilots, had his hair pulled up in a tight, restricting tail...
      Heero was already out of his seat, and Trowa was right behind him, giving no notice to the confused waitress. Trowa started to murmur a protest as Heero reached the group, already knowing how straight-forward his partner could be. Heero ignored him, and seized the dark-haired boy's shoulder, roughly turning him round to face them.
      "Hey, what the--?"
      Heero took his hand away quickly, giving a startled blink before frowning in irritation. Behind him, Trowa gave an inaudible sigh of disappointment.
      It wasn't Wufei. It was just another Asian kid who had pulled his hair up to keep it off his neck in the almost oppressive warmth of the diner. And his face was much too narrow and-- though Trowa barely acknowledged the thought --not nearly as good looking. The boy was looking pretty miffed. "What's the big idea?" he demanded loudly. "You wanna fight?"
      Some of the other students at the table stirred, the mood changing quickly to one of anger. Heero's eyes narrowed, and Trowa quickly put a hand on his shoulder to keep him still, eyes skipping instinctively to the one person who wasn't speaking or moving, but merely watching them both with hooded eyes.
      It wasn't a kid, it was a young man. Early twenties, maybe. Trowa guessed by his suit and the briefcase by his chair that he wasn't a student, but a professor. The man caught him looking, and stared back. Trowa noted with silence the way those dark eyes skipped quickly from him to Heero in a swift up-and-down sweep. The glance was too quick for Trowa to decide if it was a look that had something to do with base interest, or if they were being sized up for a possible fight. "May we help you?" the professor asked in a polite drawl.
      "Our apologies," Trowa said quietly before Heero could speak. "We thought this boy was someone else."
      Heero ignored the silent order to be quiet. "We're looking for someone," he said shortly, looking sharply around the table. "Does anyone here have a Chang in his class?"
      Several of the students laughed. At Heero's blank glare, one of the girls took a little pity on him and gave him an amused smile. "Honey, do you have any idea what a popular name 'Chang' is? There's got to be at least half a dozen or so enrolled in the school with that name."
      Trowa cursed internally. It had never occured to him that Wufei's family name might be as common in his race as the name "Smith" might be to an American. This could make their search a little more difficult.
      Trowa started to ask which school they were from; he and Heero would have to get their hands on a roster at some point and check each and every Chang. But one of the students was already talking, waving a hand towards his professor airily.
      "Hell, even Professor Ling has 'Changs' in his family."
      Trowa wasn't really interested, but when he opened his mouth to talk, he was interrupted once more.
      "Like your cousin, right?" one of the girls asked the teacher, nibbling on a french fry longingly. "He was cute. I still think it's weird he had to leave like that."
      "Family trouble," the professor said shortly, scowling unconsciously as he stirred his coffee with his fork. "Couldn't be helped."
      Heero nudged Trowa, and the taller pilot nodded reluctantly. He asked a student which university they attended, thanked him politely, and returned with Heero to their table. Neither one of them mentioned the niggling thought at the back of both their minds.
      How were they going to find him if Wufei was under a fake name?


      Wufei turned at the familiar voice, lowering his binoculars to frown questioningly at the woman picking her way up the ladder towards him. He hopped down from the edge of the roof and let the binoculars drop against his chest from the string around his neck.
      Sally Po lifted a thermos, grinning as she came near. "Thought you could use something warm," she said with a nod towards the slowly darkening sky.
      Wufei accepted the wrapped thermos when she handed it to him, and unscrewed the cap, giving the contents a suspicious sniff.
      Sally looked amused. "It's not coffee," she reassured him. "I managed to dig up some ginger tea in a shop. Thought you might like it."
      He grunted his thanks and poured some of the steaming liquid into the lid.
      "Are you sure you're fine with these twelve hour shifts?" she asked dubiously, leaning her back against the roof's edge. "Peters or even Johnson could take over for a little while, you know. You could probably use the sleep."
      "I'm fine," he said shortly, not even glancing her way as he took a sip of the tea. He had to stop himself from making a face. He considered asking how much money she had wasted on this crud-- it certainly didn't taste like ginger tea to him. Then he decided he didn't want the contents of the cup all over his face.
      Sally shrugged in defeat. "Have it your way. Just don't take it out on me when you pass out from exhaustion."
      Wufei ignored her, not bothering to tell her he'd sometimes stayed up twenty-four hours on a mission during the war. He didn't enjoy it, but he could do it.
      "You'll never believe what I found in my Inbox a couple hours ago," Sally said conversationally, hiking herself up onto the roof's edge and peering down at the streets below for a moment.
      Wufei grunted, only half listening as he lifted his binoculars again and peered thoughtfully into the seventh-story window of the building across from his. Still not home.
      Sally arched a brow at him. "Duo Maxwell."
      Wufei lowered the binoculars a little to peer at her in disbelief. Sally gave a wry grin. "I would like to know," she said with false cheerfulness, "how that bad-mouthed runt managed to figure out how to get in contact with me-- through what was supposed to be a secret e-mail account --and also managed to manuever himself around the filters I had set up to keep out spies."
      Wufei rolled his eyes. "What did he want?" he asked, returning his attention to the window once more.
      Sally cocked her head. "He was looking for you, actually."
      Wufei went still for a moment, but didn't look her way. "I haven't talked to him since the end of the war," he said shortly.
      "He said someone's looking for you," Sally continued. "A 'mutual friend'. Wanted to know if I'd seen you. I haven't replied to him... yet."
      Wufei was still looking at the window, but he wasn't really seeing it. His lips tightened. Mutual friend... Masaka. He couldn't mean Heero or Trowa, could he? Why would they look for him?
      "What do you want me to tell him?" Sally asked, watching him intently.
      "..." Wufei lowered the binoculars long enough to take another sip of the disgusting "tea" before returning his attention to the window, putting the subject out of his mind. "Delete the e-mail," he snapped.
      Sally watched him in silence for a long moment with a little frown on her face. Finally she shrugged and hopped off the ledge. "Suit yourself." She gestured to the building under observation. "Is he back, yet?"
      "No. I'll call when he shows up," Wufei said shortly without looking up.
      "Suit yourself. I'm going to catch a few Z's. Warren's my replacement-- call him if anything happens." She waved over her shoulder as she left.
      Wufei didn't even look up. His gaze remained fixed on the window as he tried unsucessfully to push all thoughts of his two partners from his mind. From a room below, someone was blaring music and singing along badly. The faint sound of a shower running did nothing to drown out the song; a few rooms away someone started shouting at the singer to turn his shit off. Wufei's ear twitched, but he refused to let it distract him.
      "Only when I stop to think about it.."
      Why would they try to contact him? Had Heero been looking for him ever since he left? Why? To berate him? Surely not to.. bring him back.
      "I hate everything about you.
      Why do I love you?"

      Wufei frowned slightly, shifting uncomfortably as he tried to block out the music, unable to keep his mind from running along its track.
      Whatever the reasoning behind Heero's search, Wufei wasn't going to be stupid enough to drop a hint to his whereabouts. He wasn't sure what he would do if he found himself suddenly confronted with the other boy. He might listen to what he had to say...
      On the other hand, he might just deck him one and save them both a lot of trouble.
      "Every time we lie awake
      After every hit we take
      All the feelings that I get
      But I haven't missed you yet."

      Wufei jerked the binoculars from his face with a growl. He leaned over the roof slightly to glare down at the open window where the music and the horrible sounds of the singer in the shower were coming from. The muffled but steady banging of the irate neighbor was barely audible over the noise.
      Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the flicker of a light going on. He straightened quickly, pressing the binoculars to his face once more. After a moment a fierce grin twitched at his lips, all thoughts of his once-partner washed away.
      He reached for the radio by his elbow. "Target sighted."

Author's Note: What I said in the notes at the beginning of the fic holds true-- Endless Waltz never happened, and there's no such thing as Preventers. That's not what Wufei's a part of. It'll be explained later.
On a side note... sorry this took so long to get up. ^^;; I'd finished like.. a third of it quite awhile ago when my muses suddenly went ffft! ..I had no desire to write anything. Pissed me off, since I'd been working on a 1x2 as well (kinda miss that couple XD). So I went on a drawing binge for awhile. @_@; The crap's updated @
(Plus I always slow down near the end of a fic.) Anywho, sorry the chapter's so short, and not sure when the next one will be out.. ^.^;; ja

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 22
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