Chapter 14: "Whispers of the Past"

    Wufei's mind was churning after what had occured at the safehouse.
    He'd dressed quickly in a change of clothes from his bag, they'd loaded Tom and Heero into the jeep, and were on their way into Orton, Trowa and Quatre leading the way. For once Duo was quiet, leaving Wufei to his thoughts.
    Questions filled his mind, and he bit his tongue to prevent them slipping out. What was the use? They had already made it clear they wouldn't answer any of his questions. Like it or not, he was going to have to wait until they reached their destination before he could be satisfied.
    He glanced up at where Heero was slumped in the passenger seat, having fallen asleep almost immediately after leaving the safehouse. The "cure" had taken more out of him than he'd admitted outloud. Wufei could tell Duo was concerned by his unusual silence and the tight grip he had on the wheel.
    Wufei felt guilty about Heero's condition. After all, he'd been the one to push Heero into showing him the cure in the first place. Now not only was there Heero's well-being to be concerned about, but it was obvious the other three were a little on edge because one of their men was temporarily out of action. If there was another attack, it meant fighting without Heero.
    I don't need him, Wufei thought stubbornly, glaring down at Tom's unconscious form for distraction. I can take care of myself. Besides, Heero was one of his kidnappers. His personal health shouldn't concern Wufei.
    He should have known Duo couldn't stay silent for long. They'd been driving only half an hour, following the tail light of Trowa's motorcycle, when the incorrigible boy attempted to strike up a conversation with his sole conscious passenger. "Sorry 'bout what I said earlier," he said with a quirky grin and a glance at Wufei in the rearview mirror. "If it embarrassed you, I mean. I'm not exactly Mr. Rogers when I get woken up. You guys just fight so much, it's like... yanno, like those movies where the heroinne and the hero bicker constantly, then end up all kissy kissy."
    Wufei stared at the back of Duo's head. In all the action, he'd completely forgotten about Duo's grumpy comment that, while it had startled him at the time, had been immediately washed away by the attack.
    "Just shag and get it over with."
    That's what he'd said. Hearing the reason behind that jibe, Wufei flushed with indignant anger and embarrassment. It wasn't a comment he wanted to think about just yet. It was too discomforting. Unbidden, a memory of just half an hour before entered his mind. He felt his face heating up even more. While at the time, he hadn't had a chance to consider his reaction to Heero's "cure" because of the overwhelming sensation of the energy, in retrospect, it was a rather embarrassing mental image. Put together with Duo's comment, the thought of him arching like that in Heero's hold-- even if it had been for a legitimate reason --made him squirm with mortification. "Where did you develop your sense of humor?" he demanded irritably in an attempt to hide his turmoil. "The gutter?"
    "Yes, actually," Duo responded, sounding amused.
    Wufei blinked, caught off guard by the smooth answer.
    Duo's eyes flicked towards his in the mirror again briefly before returning to the road. "I'll let you in on a little secret," he offered, grinning. "I wasn't exactly s'posed to be one of your Guardians."
    "Guardians? You mean that's what the four of you are called," Wufei guessed. He frowned. "Heero said you'd all been chosen before you were born. Some kind of blood contracts with the families. Assuming all of this isn't complete bullshit," he ammended quickly.
    Duo flashed another grin. "Well, yeah. See, it wasn't supposed to be me, though. Everyone was picked real careful. I mean, look at Quatre's family. His little talent was an extra bonus."
    Wufei's eyes narrowed as he recalled when Duo had first gone over each of their particular talents, just before they'd left on their trip. He'd mentioned Quatre having something other than money to contribute to the group, but had shied away from an explanation, saying only that it was something personal and he would have to ask Quatre himself about it. Wufei made a mental note to do so. Then Duo's words sank in fully, and he balked. "Quatre's fami-- wait. Winner. As in the Winners??"
    "Bingo," Duo chuckled. "His pop was the president of Winner Corp. Quatre would've taken over if not for this little contract. As it is, he still got loads of cash when his father passed away."
    Wufei shook his head in astonishment. To think that a son from such a wealthy and influential family was traveling with him. Or rather, working for him, in an obscure way.
    "Trowa's family had mucho influence, too, though not always in the most legal of circles." Duo hesitated, scratching his nose. "Let's just say, ah... his family was real close-knit, and got respect from lots of people."
    Wufei arched a brow. "Are you implying Trowa's family is some kind of mafia?" he demanded incredulously. He wondered briefly if that was the reason behind Trowa's carefully controlled mask. Someone with that background would have to have perfected a poker face at a young age.
    "If he asks, you didn't hear it from me," Duo snorted. "But yeah, mafia. That's a good enough word for it."
    "And Heero?" Wufei pressed, glancing at the slumbering figure up front.
    Duo hesitated, also looking across at his friend. His face softened, and he blew a quiet sigh. "Heero's... a bit more complicated. Though basically he's from a line of the military-inclined. Family of soldiers and warriors and all that jazz, I guess you could say. An obvious pick for Primary Guardian."
    "But not you," Wufei finished the unspoken comment.
    "...Yeah." Duo's grin was back, but he was tapping at the wheel distractedly with his thumbs. "I wasn't really included in their little plans. I'm a, ah, replacement."
    Wufei frowned. "Someone else had your position?"
    "Yeah." Duo's mood turned somber. "They died. A long time ago. It's a long story. Anyway, they obviously needed a replacement. It was gonna be someone from your Clan. That's how it was supposed to be." His eyes flicked towards Wufei in the mirror once more. "You changed that," he mused softly.
    Wufei's frown deepened. "Me?"
    "If it wasn't for you, I'd probably still be in a gutter somewhere, or picking pockets," Duo admitted with a dry smile. "Still can't believe they took me in. Made me one of 'em. 'Specially at such a late age. But hey, they did, and here I am."
    Wufei shook his head in annoyed confusion. "What did I have to do with it? You're leaving things out, aren't you?"
    "Well, there are some things I'm not supposed to talk about with you," Duo admitted, squirming a little. "Better to just skip over things than have to invent reasons behind all of it, right?"
    Wufei peered at him suspiciously. "Quatre said once you never lie," he stated flatly. "Is that true?"
    Duo's eyes twinkled. "If it wasn't, how would you know?" he teased. At Wufei's scowl, he just laughed. "Guess you'll just hafta trust me, Wu-man."
    Wufei scowled darkly. "Don't call me that." He hesitated, then asked gruffly, "Is he going to be all right?"
    "Who, Heero? Yeah, don't worry about him," Duo snorted. "Man of steel. He'll be back to his old anal self in no time. He's just tired, that's all. He's always been fast at recovering. And his immune system is unreal. He just needs some sleep. He's still human, even if he doesn't always act like it."
    Wufei noticed Duo's thumbs tapping nervously on the wheel again as he said this, and wondered at it. "You two seem close," he noted casually.
    "Yeah." Duo flashed a grin. "Best buds. Opposites attract and all that."
    Wufei blinked at the statement. "Oh. So... you two..." he trailed off uncomfortably. Well, the two of them did seem very close...
    "What?" Duo twisted in his seat a little to stare at Wufei. "Whoa, whoa, wait a minute," he sputtered hastily. "It ain't like that. I ain't no-- Well, look, I like girls, got it? Me an' Heero are just best friends, all right? That chick friend of yours is more my type." He smiled confidently. "Cute an' plucky."
    Wufei rolled his eyes, settling back in his seat. "Stay away from her, Maxwell," he said flatly.
    "Anyway, even if Heero was, um, that way, trust me, I am sooo not his type," Duo chortled, ignoring Wufei's warning. "I think he likes 'em like I do-- spunky."
    Wufei rolled his eyes. "Like Relena?" he guessed, frowning at the mental image.
    "Ah.. no." Duo winced. "I think she's a little too frilly and..." he paused, searching for the right word, "girly, and... y'know. The kind of girl that needs protecting all the time."
    "I would think he'd like that," Wufei stated dryly.
    "Nah." Duo smirked at him in the mirror. "He has more respect for people that can take care of themselves. But no, Relena hasn't got a chance in hell. Besides, he...." he shifted, avoiding eye contact in the rearview mirror. "Well, I think he lost his heart to someone a long time ago. Just doesn't realize it yet," he added in an amused mutter. He shrugged, smile back in place. "But that's Heero for ya. Not the most in-touch with his emotions."
    Wufei was a little surprised at Duo's admittance. "I didn't know he had someone waiting for him back... well, wherever you idiots come from."
    "I didn't say that," Duo said hastily. "I said he lost his heart to someone a long time ago. Don't mean either of 'em know that."
    Wufei frowned at him. "Then no relationship," he translated.
    "Nope." Duo shrugged carelessly. "Why so interested?" he asked, grinning over his shoulder.
    Wufei offered him a dark look. "I'm not," he snapped, knowing even as he said so that it was a lame retort.
    Duo just laughed and fell silent. Wufei turned his attention on the passing scenery, chin in his palm as he struggled to digest the information while ignoring the irritation it all invoked in him at the same time.
    Abruptly Duo looked at him in the mirror again, face serious. "Look, I might as well tell you now. You can't be around when we question the Suit."
    Wufei looked from the man slumped in the seat beside him to Duo with surprise and growing anger. "Why not?"
    "You know why not," Duo said firmly. "There's things you're not supposed to know yet. And it's not because we think you can't handle it, or we're just leading you by the nose. We have orders. And we got 'em for a reason. The more you know, the more danger you're in. And it's best to hear it from people other than us, anyway. People you'd trust. This guy will know things about you you ain't supposed to hear yet. So let us do the questioning. We'll tell you the bits you need to know." He noted Wufei's dark look and sighed. "Yeah, I know it's a pain in the ass. But we don't got a choice, and neither do you. So you'll just have to put up with it for a few more days."
    "I know something," Wufei snapped. "They were going to take me to Treize."
    Duo's eyes widened, and he shot Wufei a quick look. "Shit. They let that slip, huh? Guess they thought we'd never catch up with you in time." He blew a loud sigh. "No use trying to hide that, then. Yeah, Kushrenada's behind the Suits. Can't really tell you why, though. Partly cuz I don't think I understand it completely myself. Heero knows, though."
    "He said they'd talked," Wufei put in. "Him and Treize."
    "Yeah. Kushrenada's a real gentleman," Duo said dryly. "Even if the goons under him usually aren't. Before we came to your school, Heero went and had a little chat with him; to tell him to stand down, I guess. Obviously he didn't listen. Whatever they talked about, Heero didn't say much about it. He wasn't a happy camper when he came back, though. Something about the guy really pisses him off. Don't worry, he won't let these guys get their hands on you again if he can help it. Whatever they talked about, he doesn't want you ending up in the General's clutches."
    "I still don't see why Kushrenada himself would be interested in me," Wufei growled.
    Duo shifted a little uncomfortably before admitting, "I have a few guesses, but yeah, it does seem kind of weird. I mean, I see the interest, but not why he's going to so much trouble to haul you in. Why not just wait until you know everything, then ask for an audience or something? Who knows? But it's almost as if he doesn't want you to get where we're going."
    "Or he wants to talk to me before I'm influenced by your employer," Wufei mused in sudden suspicion. Again he began to wonder if his current companions were on the right side. The only thing keeping him from trying to find a way to Kushrenada was the behavior of his men and his newly acknowledged trust in Heero. He didn't think Heero would intentionally put him in any harm. Still, he wouldn't leave Treize out as an option. Better to keep that to himself, however.
    "Good point," Duo was saying. "But it just makes him seem more fishy to me." He sighed, giving a little shrug. "Oh, well. Doesn't matter. He's not getting ahold of you if we can help it. And in a few days you'll be practically untouchable, and all your questions will be answered. So just sit tight until then."
    Wufei barely heard him, his narrowed gaze focused thoughtfully on the unconscious Suit by his side.
    He nearly jumped out of his skin at the loud retort that broke the tense silence a moment later. He had his dirk halfway out of his bag, heart thundering, before Duo's curses broke through the rush of adrenaline.
    Not gunfire, he realized with relief, wincing as Duo steered the jeep haphazardly towards the side of the road. Flat tire.
    Heero had jolted awake at the noise like a startled cat, and was looking around with a wild look in his dilated eyes, gun already in hand.
    "Chill, Heero," Duo grumbled as he managed to maneuver the jeep onto the shoulder. "Just a flat. You're damn lucky you got a mechanic in the car." He shut off the engine, still muttering curses, and climbed out to check the damage.
    Wufei let his dirk drop back into his bag and eyed Heero a little warily, unwilling to startle the boy while he had a firearm in hand. As Heero slowly realized what was going on and relaxed a little, it became painfully obvious that he was still exhausted.
    Wufei opened his door with a sigh. "Go back to sleep," he said shortly. "I'll help Maxwell."
    Heero turned slightly unfocused eyes on him, frowning. "...He'd rather you didn't," he pointed out after a moment. "He can probably fix it faster without your help."
    Wufei rolled his eyes and got out anyway. He scowled as Heero slowly slid out of the passenger seat. "What part of 'go back to sleep' escaped you?" he demanded.
    Heero ignored him, leaning against the side of the jeep and rubbing a hand roughly over his face in an attempt to focus as he watched Duo remove the blown tire. Wufei turned his back on them both and walked a little into the grass to stretch his legs, twisting side to side a few times to pop his back. He reached back to tighten his short ponytail as he gazed unseeing down the mostly empty road, thoughts drifting back to his encounter with the Suits.
    It was a pity Yin had escaped. He would have taken great pleasure in taking her as hostage. Uppity bitch. He glowered darkly as he carefully ran searching fingers over his ribs. They were still bruised from her stilletos. And that gray-eyed man... he'd seemed to have some authority. He shook his head in disbelief. To think they worked for Treize Kushrenada himself... He wouldn't have guessed in a million years that the "hero of earth" was the one behind the Suits, and in some ways the lynch pin behind the complete and total upheavel of life as he knew it.
    Heero had wandered over to him, blinking a little owlishly as he, too, looked up and down the road. He ran calloused fingers through unruly hair, succeeding only in messing it up more. Wufei observed him out of the corner of his eye, a little amused despite himself at this chance to see the other boy so out of it. A moment later he felt guilty for his amusement. It was his fault Heero was so worn out in the first place. Er-- tired. Exhausted-- out of it-- Wufei angrily cut off his train of thought, feeling his ears redden.
    Heero caught him watching him and gave him a challenging look. "What?"
    "Nothing," Wufei muttered, looking away with a quick scowl. "You look like you're about to pass out on your feet. Why don't you quit being so stubborn and get some sleep?"
    "I'll sleep when we're on the road again," Heero said firmly, eyes scanning the road again.
    Wufei looked pointedly at the gun still clutched in his hand. "That your safety blanket or something?" Heero offered a blank look. "Your piece, Yuy," Wufei said impatiently, then immediately regretted his choice of words when he caught Duo snickering out of the corner of his eye. "Your gun," he snapped, furious that his ears were feeling hot again.
    Heero arched a brow at him. Wufei was too surprised that he'd caught the accidental innuendo to act offended. "I'm not about to let Kushrenada's Suits surprise us again," he explained. "Besides, it's on safe. Why, does it make you nervous?" He lifted the handgun slightly for Wufei to inspect.
    Wufei gave the gun a disdainful look. "Soldiers carry guns," he pointed out.
    "And you have something against soldiers," Heero recalled, face darkening. He lowered his gun.
    Wufei frowned at the grass at his feet, fingering his bruised ribs absently. Duo had said, he remembered belatedly, that Heero was from a family of "soldiers and warriors". "I have something against war," he corrected quietly. "Soldiers just happen to fight in them."
    Heero's expression smoothed out. "Because of your family," he guessed.
    Wufei flicked him a narrow sideways glance. "My foster mother said something along those lines," he admitted gruffly. "That I was orphaned in the war. So yes. I have a personal reason for not liking war."
    "Hn." Heero seemed to hesitate, then slipped his gun into the back of his pants. He looked Wufei up and down critically. "At least it worked," he pointed out.
    It took WUfei a minute to figure out what he was talking about. He frowned back. "Yes, but you neglected to tell me what it would do to you."
    Heero shrugged, looking unconcerned. "It's just--"
    "Exhaustion," Wufei finished. "Hence the 'get some sleep' conversation."
    Heero quirked a brow again, the faintest suggestion of a smile shadowing his mouth. "I thought we didn't have 'conversations'."
    "Argument, then," Wufei grumbled, unable to meet Heero's amused eyes.
    Heero snorted, turning his attention back to the road.
    Muttering under his breath, Wufei reached up to tighten his ponytail again out of habit, turning his attention on Duo, who was replacing the blown tire quickly and efficiently.
    "You wear it up."
    Wufei looked back at Heero, noting the almost nostalgic look on his face. "So? It gets in my way if I keep it down."
    "Why not cut it?"
    Wufei shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. "My foster mother preferred I kept it long. Some family tradition of hers, I assume. It was longer, but it was too much trouble to take of, so I cut it."
    Heero reached out, capturing the ponytail between his fingers and inspecting it. "How long is it when it's down?"
    Wufei held still, watching Heero warily out of the corner of his eye. "I don't know. Shoulder-length, I guess. It's only let down when I shower."
    Heero looked at him steadily for a long moment. "You used to wear it down when you were little," he said at last. "You weren't old enough to tie it back." He smirked slightly. "You complained about it a lot. You thought you were mature enough at five to wear it up like the men." He dropped Wufei's hair and returned his tired eyes to the road.
    Wufei mulled that over for a moment, reaching up to toy with his hair. "You never told me about yourself," he pointed out abruptly.
    Heero blinked at him.
    Wufei arched a brow pointedly. "Don't piss Maxwell off, even though he laughs a lot," he relayed. "Barton's family is part of the mafia. And Winner is-- or was, anyway --the heir to Winner Corp. Maxwell mentioned that you were from a family of soldiers or something, but that's all I know about you." He paused. "That, and you're a bossy, overbearing robot."
    Heero was too tired to drag up more than a watered down version of his usually dark scowl. "To quote you, 'there's nothing much to tell'."
    "Please." Wufei rolled his eyes. "You said we grew up together, but I don't remember you. Fill in the blanks or I'll have Maxwell write your biography. That should be an interesting read."
    Heero winced ever so slightly. He scanned the road with his eyes, obviously thinking it over. Finally he gave a small shrug. "I don't talk about myself."
    "Then talk about yourself in the past tense," Wufei said curtly.
    Heero looked puzzled for a moment, then seemed to get it. He gave a quiet snort and turned his eyes skyward, digging through his mind for memories no longer at Wufei's disposal. "You said you had a dream about Zhao."
    "Yeah, but I don't remember what he looked like or who he was," Wufei admitted. "Just the name. And..." he frowned. "He was older than me, I think."
    Heero nodded. "By about four years," he confirmed. "Usually the older children in your Clan didn't spar with the younger ones. But you and Zhao had.." he offered Wufei a wry look, "a personal grudge."
    Heero shook his head slightly, frowning in thought. "Something foolish. I don't remember what started it. But you were always playing pranks on each other to make each other look bad in front of the rest of the Clan."
    "Stupid kid stuff," Wufei translated.
    Heero nodded. "Once you put ground chili in his green tea," he said with a faint smile. "A lot of it. He almost choked. To get back at you, he stole all of your sashes while you were asleep." At Wufei's incredulous look, he explained, "The sashes that held your robe closed. Your Master would have taken a switch to you if you'd wandered around with your robes flapping open."
    "Master?" Wufei repeated. "He was in the dream, too."
    Heero nodded. "Your... trainer, I guess you could call him. In martial arts."
    "So did he?" Wufei's mouth quirked in a dry smile. "Take a switch to me, I mean."
    "Oh. No; you ended up using--" he hesitated. "Something of mine."
    Wufei's brows lifted. "I'm having a hard time imagining you in a robe," he admitted, amused at the idea.
    Heero snorted. "Not likely," he admitted dryly. He hesitated, then admitted at last, "I wore something around my neck with a leather strap; you used that."
    Wufei cocked his head, frowning. "Something? A charm? Don't tell me some little girl gave you a lock of hair or something." He thought suddenly of his conversation with Duo and fell silent.
    But Heero only looked at him blankly. "Wha-- No." He frowned. "It was something given to me when I was chosen as your Primary Guardian."
    Wufei stared. "That's one of the longest, most honest sentences you've managed to spew out about the past," he pointed out.
    "Yo!" They both turned at Duo's shout. He offered them a big grin and a thumb's up. "Ready to roll. Let's get moving, you two. We still got a ways to go."
    "Now sleep," Wufei said firmly, giving Heero a hard look.
    "Yes, Mom," Heero intoned in a rare moment of sarcasm as they headed for the jeep once more.
    "Har har."


    "Don't touch him, Master Chang!"
    Wufei shrugged off the restraining hand irritably and ducked past the legs blocking his way. He stopped and stared at the filthy form flattened against the wall, wild-eyed and pale. Filthy long hair, cakes of dirt, and the look of a trapped animal... yet despite the swords at his throat, his mouth was twisted in a grimace of defiance, not fear.
    "Stop it," Wufei snapped, annoyed. He glared at the men flanking him, and they slowly lowered their blades.
    He turned his attention back on the street urchin in front of him, eyes narrowing. "Give it back."
    The skinny child shot him a quick, wary look, dirty hands clutching the coin purse he'd procurred.
    Wufei held out a demanding hand. "Give it back," he snapped, growing impatient. His initial shock and admiration at the boy's gall and quick moves was quickly deteriating. Heero was at his side in the next moment, staring hard at the cornered urchin. "Give it back to him," he said coldly.
    The boy with the braid laughed.
    Wufei was too startled to say anything.
    Heero, obviously deciding nothing could be solved with words, stepped forward and tried to snatch the bag back.
    Two seconds later Heero was flat on his back, looking dazed and more than a little shocked. Wufei felt his mouth open in surprise. The boy had hit Heero-- almost too fast to see.
    The swords were raised again, and Heero quickly scrambled to his feet. His expression was hard to read-- angry, but also wary. It was rare anyone his age caught him off guard.
    Wufei looked from one boy to the other and suddenly burst out laughing. "Fine," he said abruptly. "Keep the money." At the urchin's startled look, Wufei smirked and added honestly, "You earned it."
    The boy gaped at him for a long moment, then abruptly grinned. "Damn right," he said proudly. Flicking his ragged braid over his shoulder, he dashed off down the nearest alley.


    Wufei jolted awake and looked around quickly. He hadn't even realized he'd dozed off. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, feeling a twinge of excitement as the faint memory of his dream drifted around his mind. Another one he remembered-- was he finally starting to get his memories back? And that boy...
    He looked up at the driver's seat, where Duo was humming along to the radio as he drove along at a wild speed, still following the motorcycle. Had that boy been...?
    He shook his head and decided to keep the dream to himself. It was unlikely Duo would admit to it anyway; he'd find a way to change the conversation somehow.

    They stopped at the first shabby-looking gas station they came across once they'd entered Orton.
    Heero had come to quickly, and seemed alert as ever. He helped Duo haul Tom out of the back of the jeep while Quatre and Trowa filled their bike up with gas.
    Wufei felt very much the outsider as he sat in the jeep alone, watching the four of them half carry, half drag the semi-conscious Tom to the dumpsters in the back of the store.
    Grumbling to himself, Wufei decided he could at least be useful enough to nab some drinks for them all and make sure the cashier didn't try to go out back. He shouldered his bag and entered the warm little store, glancing from the pimpled teenager sweeping by the bathrooms to the bored-looking woman at the counter. There were only three other customers; a young couple giggling as they perused the snack isle, and a man in a sharp looking suit, fingers spread against the glass of the refridgerated aisle as he considered his drink options. Wufei flicked a look at him and arched a brow. Old money? A celebrity? Someone big in Orton, no doubt, if the flustered cashier's stare was anything to go off of.
    Wufei ignored the man as he opened one of the sliding doors and selected a few fruit juices. Coffee, he remembered at the last minute, thinking it might shut Duo up. He headed for the coffee machines up front. Behind him, the man finally made a decision and made his way over to the counter. Wufei found himself staring at the coffee machine blankly. The damned thing offered five different coffee flavors. How was he supposed to know if Duo preferred Hazelnut or Irish Cream? He chose one at random and filled the biggest styrofoam cup available.
    Turning back towards the counter, attention on his coffee, he nearly collided with the man in the tailored suit.
    Wufei managed to jerk back and avoid a collision, but the older man demonstrated his own reflexes by seizing Wufei's wrist, holding the coffee level before it could spill all over the front of his immaculate cream colored suit.
    "Sorry," Wufei muttered, pulling his hand free.
    The man looked more amused than anything. "That's all right," he murmured in a cultured voice, stepping aside to make room.
    Wufei flicked him a sideways look as he scooted past and headed for the counter.
    Something about the man tugged at his mind, insisting he'd seen that face before: sharp, refined features, slick auburn hair, penetrating blue eyes...
    But his mind was drawing a blank. He paid for his things and left the gas station.
    Parked outside was a stretch limo.
    Wufei froze, bottled water lifted halfway to his mouth. His heart kicked up several notches.
    The Suits-- they'd caught up already??
    There was a step behind him, and then the tall blue-eyed man was at his side. "Don't be alarmed," he murmured, eyes on the limo, hands clasped behind his back. "I merely want to talk."
    Wufei looked up at him sharply-- and realized he'd seen that aristocratic face countless times on the news.
    Treize Kushrenada had found him at last.
    Piercing blue eyes caught his own gaze, and Wufei felt an irrational twinge of annoyance as he was forced to tilt back his head. The man was a good two heads taller than him, and sturdily built. He looked as if he could handle himself in a fight, but would never lower himself to join in one in the first place.
    "I'm not here to drag you off against your will," Treize was saying in his rich voice. "Reports have reached me of how you've been treated, and I decided it was best to search for you in person so you could see I only want to talk."
    Wufei's eyes narrowed. This, he realized, might be his only chance to get another piece of the puzzle that was his life; another side of the story. "They call you an honorable man," he said in a steely tone. "If I go with you, will you prove all those people wrong?"
    Treize offered a benign smile. "I will not hold you or harm you, if that's what you're asking," he pledged. "Come with me, and we'll talk. Then you may go if you wish."
    Wufei hesitated, sending a quick look towards the jeep. The others hadn't returned; they were still questioning Tom. Wufei squared his shoulders and met Treize's gaze resolutely.
    "Very well," he agreed gruffly. "Just let me leave a note on the windshield for..." he hesitated.
    Treize's lips curved in a slow, amused smile. "For your kidnappers?" he finished.
    Wufei scowled and stalked towards the jeep, tugging a pen from his pocket. "Let's just get this over with."

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