Warnings: This-- like 99.9% of my fics --is a shounen ai fanfic. As in boy luv. With a possible lemon in the future. If you have zero tolerance for that, then am-scray. And it's a Wufei-centric fic, for anybody that for some reason despises that character.
And now that that's out of the way, for the rest of you... This is an AU fic. It's set in the future, yeah, with space travel and all that jazz. But the GW storyline has been tossed carelessly out the window. I'm just playing w/ the characters. Usually I'm not one for AU fics, but this idea seized me and wouldn't leave me alone ><; This fic also contains foul language, violence, and other such things. Oh, and possibly character bashing. (in other words, I hope you're not a big Relena or Treize fan, cuz I'm sure as hell not)
Chapter 1: "The Stranger"
"Can you keep a secret?"
Wufei stared stubbornly into a pair of curious blue eyes, fists set firmly on the ground. It was vital, somehow. He knew that much. This was a big secret, bigger than the time he'd broken his grandmother's vase and hidden the pieces under the porch.
"Can you keep a secret?" he demanded once more, his tiny voice sounding loud in the big empty room. There was another little boy sitting crosslegged in front of him. He clenched some sort of stick-- a toy? --in one small fist. Wufei couldn't make out much of the boy's face, except for his eyes. They were blue, the same blue as the scales of the dragon on... on...
It wasn't important.
The secret was important. No one must find out. Not grandmother, not his cousins, and certainly not her. No, definitely not her. She'd tattle. She'd run to her mother, or his grandmother, and then he was really gonna get it. Master would bend him over a knee and beat some good sense into him.
"Yes," the boy said simply.
"You tell, and I'll.. I'll..." Wufei held up a fist threateningly.
The little boy didn't look frightened. It was a little infuriating. He cocked his head and frowned a little. "I won't tell," he repeated. His voice was firm, reassuring. Wufei felt better. He put his fist down and leaned forward to put his mouth close to the other boy's ear. He had to push his hair out of the way as he did so, which was... strange. Why was his hair down? He started to whisper, but a voice came out of nowhere, booming against the walls, angry and loud. A grown-up voice.
Caught! Master had caught them and now they were in big trouble because...
Wufei frowned, struggling to hold onto something. The room shifted slightly, the boy's blue eyes flickered from view for an instant.
Wufei sat up so fast he nearly tumbled from his seat.
A few people giggled. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and stared a little wildly up at the man towering over his desk, face like a stormcloud.
"Having a nice nap, Mr. Chang?" he demanded coolly.
Already the dream was being snatched away by reality, and the harder he tried to remember it, the quicker it faded. He stared up at his teacher in dawning horror and embarrassment.
He'd fallen asleep in class. Of all the asinine things to do...
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Molly Lyons and her friends snickering, and scowled to hide his embarrasment.
"If you find my lesson so dull," Mr. Sanders growled, "perhaps you should drop the class."
"No, sir," Wufei muttered, glaring at his fists clenched on the desk.
"Detention, Mr. Chang," Mr. Sanders snapped, striding back up to the front of the classroom. "Meet with me after school, and we'll find something to keep your eyes open."
Wufei mumbled vague assent and retrieved his reading glasses from where they'd fallen on the desk at his abrupt wakening. He ignored the giggling girls and settled the glasses back on his nose, pulling his book closer. For a moment he tried to recall his dream, but it was gone, possibly for good. Pushing it from his mind, he concentrated on the lesson.
"Good one, Wufei."
Wufei offered his friend a brief scowl as he led the way towards the personal containment room (1). "It was an accident," he said stiffly.
Hilde offered him a hopeless little grin. "Up late studying again, huh? Geez, man, you need a social life bad. There's more to life than grades and books, you know. You're already the number one student; take a break every now and then."
Wufei gave her a deadpan look. "And you're number three," he reminded her crisply. "Don't tell me you don't study every night."
"Well, yeah..." She scratched her head a little sheepishly. "It's just that I know how to manage my time better. I study for two hours right after I get home, and that gives me until bedtime to goof off."
"Goof off," Wufei repeated a little scornfully.
Hilde made as if to smack his arm, then thought better of it. "C'mon, relax! I'm the one trying to get to the military academy, not you. We graduate next year-- that's crunch time. You should relax a little this year. Your brain's going to melt if you study from the time school gets out until your mother forces you to go to bed."
"You should take your education more seriously," Wufei sniffed, opening the containment room door for her.
"You take it seriously enough for both of us," Hilde pointed out dryly, leading the way to their boxes. "You should take Relena's example. She's got great grades, but she's still super popular. 'Course," she added with a roll of the eyes, "that could be because her daddy's the frigging Senator. But look, if you would just be a little nicer to people..."
"I don't have time to socialize with the idiots who attend this school," Wufei cut her off impatiently as he found his box and entered the code into the keypad. "We graduate next year, as you said; I'll never see any of these people again. So what's the point?"
Hilde glanced at him sideways, rummaging through her own box for her math book. "You still serious about it?" she asked, a little more subdued. "I mean... yeah, it's a great opportunity and all, but..."
Wufei tugged out his notebook and slammed his box shut, flicking her a brief, quelling glare. "I've never told you what a stupid idea it is to join the military," he growled. "So keep your opinion to yourself."
Hilde frowned at him. "I really don't understand you sometimes," she said in exasperation. "You know all this nifty kung-fu stuff, but you don't like violence. You're a walking contradiction!"
"Violence is for protecting the weak," Wufei said shortly, turning on his heel. "Any other reason than that is just an excuse for the feeble-minded to gain superiority over their fellow man."
"Stop it," Hilde groaned, jogging to catch up with him. "You sound like you're preaching to a congregation or something. Look, I know you have this bad opinion of the military..." she lowered her voice, looking at the ground a little uncomfortably. "I don't blame you. Your mom told me it's because of war that you became an orphan. But don't you think you're being a little narrow-minded? There's good guys in a war, too, you know. The ones that beat up the bad guys."
"There are no 'good' or 'bad' guys in war," Wufei cut her off, fighting back the rush of anger and loss the mention of his real family brought on. "Just two different groups with two different viewpoints, both convinced they're in the right."
Hilde squinted at him. "Oh, I know what this is about," she said in a accusing voice. "I saw it on the news the other day-- that colony got caught in the crossfire during a skirmish. Look, I know it's terrible, but there were enemy soldiers hiding out in the colony. Besides, there weren't too many casualties.."
Wufei gritted his teeth. He remembered the broadcast clearly; the excited reporter babbling details while in the background civilians wailed and screamed, trying to dig their dead out of the rubble. In the end, it had been the rapid leak of oxygen from the blast that had killed so many, rather than the actual hit. Twenty lives lost, just because they'd been sheltering a handful of soldiers. "I don't want to talk about this anymore, Hilde. Drop it."
Hilde knew him well enough to tell when she was touching a nerve. She fell silent and continued down the hall with him towards their math class.
Four thirty that afternoon found Wufei alone in Mr. Sander's classroom, a broom in one hand, a bottle of window cleaner in the other. He looked around at the dirt tracks on the floor from where students had scuffed their shoes, at the dust on the windowsill, and grimaced at the thought of the gum probably decorating the underside of every desk.
Some teachers cut Wufei slack because he was the number one student at Peacecraft High. Mr. Sanders, however, had a firm dislike for favoritism. It seemed sometimes that he went out of his way to humiliate Wufei in class, just to prove that he wasn't anything special. It got wearisome, but Wufei needed the class credit, so whenever Sanders went off on one of his scathing rants, he bit his tongue and tried to keep his face blank.
Muttering under his breath, he set the broom aside and dug a rag out of the bucket at his feet. He moved over to the windows and sprayed window cleaner on them, rubbing the rag vigorously across the surface. He wanted to get this ridiculous task over with as soon as possible. It was cutting into his study time, and he was already having enough trouble with French class. He could flow from Terran to the Mandarin his foster mother had insisted on teaching him with no problem, but when it came to French, he felt like a dunce. He could always ask the gardener for assistance, but he despised asking for help.
It was nearly winter, and the sun was setting earlier than usual with the changing climate. A shaft of sunlight through the glass caught him in the face, and he turned his head aside quickly, blinking to clear his vision as dots danced in front of his face, his eyes smarting with tears at the sudden brightness.
As he stared down onto the school grounds, waiting for his eyes to adjust, he caught a movement by one of the trees shading the main path. He squinted, trying to make out the figure. There shouldn't be any students left... Everyone had gone home. Maybe it was someone from the football team, but they should all be out back.
It was a boy, he realized. He looked Wufei's age, but he wasn't wearing the school uniform, and Wufei didn't recognize him. He was standing just under the tree, one hand resting against its trunk, face mostly hidden from view because of the angle and his mussy dark hair. Was he someone's older brother, waiting for practice to let out? Or just a passerby?
As Wufei stared, the boy suddenly looked up-- right at him.
His eyes were blue.
Wufei caught himself staring back, caught off guard, as the boy gazed up at him with an impassive face, his blue eyes strange in a face faintly Asian.
Then the boy turned away abruptly and disappeared down the path. Wufei realized he was still staring at the tree, and shook his head with a small frown. For a fleeting moment he thought he could almost grasp the dream he'd had earlier... then it was gone again.
A glance towards the clock quickly banished all thoughts of the strange boy. Cursing in Mandarin, he began cleaning again in earnest. He still had studying to do when he got home.
By the time he got home, it was already after five, and the sun was slowly sinking towards the horizon.
He opened the gate and wheeled his moped towards the garage, lifting a hand in silent greeting when the young gardener glanced up from where he was busy weeding the vegetable patch.
Wufei set his bike in the garage and trudged into the house through the side door, back pack slung over his shoulder. His mother looked up from the stove where she was stirring something in a pot. "You're late," she observed, eyes drifing from him to the clock over the counter. "Study group?"
Wufei grunted an unintelligable answer and left the kitchen before she could demand clarification. He trudged upstairs, his fingers faintly aching from prying the gum from under the desks with a screwdriver. He dumped his bag on the bed and pulled out his books, setting them on the desk. He hesitated before sitting down, staring with unfocused eyes at his pencil case. He felt strangely out of it, as if he hadn't completely awoken from his earlier nap. He let his eyes drift aimlessly around the room, taking in its familiarity with an odd comfort: the simple beige bedsheets; the white curtains; the desk where he did his homework; his bookshelf, filled with autobiographies, study guides, and history books; the simple lamp on his bedside table. The only decoration was the small ragged blanket nailed to his wall, riddled with burn marks, the edges frayed away by flames, dirt, and time. He found his gaze lingering on it-- this one link to his past. It was the blanket he'd been wrapped in when his mother had found him on the porch twelve years ago, shivering and unconscious. His eyes traced the faded design in the center of the blanket: some sort of Eastern dragon winding its way around a wooden sword. He'd long ago translated the Chinese symbols at the dragon's feet: "Honor comes not in the strength to wield the sword, but in the strength it takes to defend the weak." The simple if somewhat archaic words were what he based all his beliefs on. He was convinced it had been given to him by his parents. Perhaps just to keep him warm. Or maybe to someday help him find his roots. But he'd looked up the phrase and the dragon online countless times, with no results.
His eyes curved up along the dragon's tail, following the path of its sinuous body all the way to the bared fangs. The color of the design had faded with age, but one could still tell it had once been a brilliant blue hue, like the sky right before twilight.
Wufei felt a frown twitch at his mouth. For a moment he remembered the strange boy in the schoolyard, gazing up at him solemnly with eyes the color of the sky.
His mother's voice from the kitchen broke him out of his idle contemplations. "Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes! Will you ask Trowa if he's eating with us tonight?"
Wufei shook his head to clear it and obediently set downstairs to find the gardener. He found him outside, collecting the tools of his trade and tossing them into a wheelbarrow. Wufei watched for a moment in silence; he'd offered to help a few times in the past, but Trowa insisted on doing his job alone. In the time he'd worked for Wufei's mother, the two boys-- though separated in age by only a year --had exchanged few words. Trowa was a taciturn boy by nature, and Wufei respected his obvious wish to be left alone.
He'd shown up at the door two years ago, shortly after the beginning of the war between earth and some colonist rebels, looking for work. Wufei's mother, who had always had a bleeding heart for strays, had willingly given him the job of tending to her expansive vegetable and flower gardens. Sometimes he would eat with them, other nights he would simply go to whatever home he had.
Trowa finished putting his tools in the wheelbarrow and turned to Wufei, tugging off his working gloves and arching a brow over his one visible green eye in question. His haphazard bangs fell sideways, covering half his face. Along with his normally emotionless expression, it made him seem somehow like a man with secrets.
"Dinner," Wufei grunted, jerking a thumb towards the house.
Trowa nodded slightly, eyes drifting towards the garage. "No exercises today?" he asked quietly, tone inflectionless.
Wufei blinked. He couldn't remember Trowa ever asking him a question not pertaining to his work, and even that had been rare. His eyes skipped towards the garage as well, where he did his workouts with body and sword. He almost ignored the question, but something stopped him. It was strange that Trowa should ask him such a thing; Trowa had stopped to watch him do his kata a few times in the past, but only for a few moments before going about his work. Still, he'd never thought Trowa cared one way or the other.
"After dinner," he found himself saying. Which would probably turn out to be a lie, he admitted internally. He still had to study.
Trowa nodded again and began pushing the wheelbarrow towards the garage. "I'll eat at home," he said over his shoulder.
Wufei nodded in acknowledgement and returned to the house, still frowning slightly.
First a bizarre dream he couldn't quite remember, then detention, then the strange boy in yard, now Trowa's strange talkativeness.
Hopefully things would be back to normal tomorrow.
Wufei didn't like changes from routine.
It was as he was hurrying down the hall the next morning for his French class that it happened.
He was fumbling through his notebook for his homework, not watching where he was going, and rammed headlong into another student coming around the corner. Papers and books flew everywhere, and some people in the crowded hall glanced his way to stare or snicker at his clumsiness.
Irritated, Wufei knelt hastily to gather his things before they got trampled in the morning rush, muttering a quick apology.
The student he'd run into crouched down and began helping, scooping the papers together in a pile in silence. Wufei, a little surprised that a curse wasn't forthcoming-- or even that the other boy hadn't just kept on going --glanced up as he reached out for the proferred papers.
Blue eyes set in a stony face met his, and he froze, mouth opening slightly in surprise, hand still extended for the papers.
It was him-- the boy from the schoolyard.
Except now he was wearing the school uniform, and Wufei was close enough to get a good look at him. He recognized that shade of blue right off the bat, and then there was the unruly hair. He'd thought it was black yesterday, but it was actually dark brown. And yes, he'd been right, there was the faintest hint of Asian ancestry in the lines of the other boy's face. He was good looking, but there was something about the almost stern look on his face that made Wufei a little wary.
He realized he was staring-- and the boy was staring back at him patiently --and quickly jerked his gaze down, practically snatching the papers away. "Thanks," he mumbled, rising to his feet. The boy rose also, still looking at him in that increasingly irritating way of his; as if he was a damn hall monitor or something.
"I'm new," he said shortly. His voice was slightly accented, as if Terran wasn't his native tongue. It was clipped and brusque, though, almost like... Wufei frowned internally, trying to pin down that expression and voice. It reminded him of something, though he couldn't quite figure out what.
He's talking to you, stupid, his brain hissed. Quit looking at him like a bug in a jar! He blinked and let his face fall back into its customary arrogant expression. "So I gathered," he said drolly. "And I'm about to be late."
The other boy didn't seem disturbed by the infamous Chang attitude. He held up a scrap of paper, and Wufei looked at it blankly before realizing it was a schedule. "Where is Thibault's class?" he demanded.
Wufei glanced at him quickly. It just figured. "You have French?" he asked, hearing the note of frayed impatience in his own voice.
"Yes." The boy kept staring at him, as if expecting... something.
Suddenly Wufei realized what it was about the other boy's bearing and attitude that seemed so familiar. He was acting like those soldiers Hilde liked to associate herself with. Acting as if he'd just stepped off the shuttle from a deployment to space. Wufei kept his lip from curling in distaste just in time. Another military junky. Just great. Hilde was going to love this. He muttered under his breath before giving in with bad grace. "I have him," he said shortly. "I'll show you."
As Wufei led the way down the crowded hall towards the classroom, the boy said abruptly, "Heero Yuy."
Wufei looked at him with a small frown, mind still caught up in disgusted military thoughts. It took him a moment to realize he'd just learned the stranger's name. "Chang Wufei," he reciprocated grudgingly.
The boy-- Heero --was studying his face minutely, as if expecting a different response. When Wufei only stared back belligerently, he looked away dismissively. Wufei ground his teeth as he proceeded the other boy into the class. Good lord, it was as if he was supposed to know the boy's name or something, the way Heero had looked at him. Maybe he thought he was a big-shot wherever he'd come from. Maybe Hilde knew him, but if he was expecting Wufei to be impressed at the mere mention of his name, he had another think coming.
Wufei ignored the boy, leaving him at the front of the classroom and finding his seat. He pulled his homework out of his notebook, buried his nose in his French book, and ignored the teacher when he introduced Heero to the rest of the students.
He could feel those blue eyes on him the entire time.
(1)Personal Containment Room- instead of lockers. A room with designated safe boxes where students keep their belongings. Remember, this is the future. I'm just gonna be taking liberties w/ how things are in schools. =p
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