Chapter 13: "Trust"

    Wufei didn't realize he was shivering until Heero wordlessly shrugged off his own jacket and dropped it over Wufei's bare shoulders.
    He muttered a slightly embarrassed thanks-- in all the fuss, he'd almost forgotten he was wearing nothing but a pair of loose sleeping pants --and waited in the front seat, gritting his teeth against the pain, as Duo and Heero loaded Tom into the back.
    Duo settled in the back with Tom's head in his lap and the barrel of a gun to his temple, and Heero took the wheel. "I called Trowa," he informed Wufei as they pulled back onto the road. "He's doubling back and securing a safehouse for us just outside Orton. We can take care of your injury there."
    Wufei nodded, too busy concentrating on handling the pain to bother attempting conversation.
    He was exhausted from lack of sleep and the continuous adrenaline rushes he'd felt since the hotel had first been attacked. He ended up dozing off, bloodied hands clutching the bag with his few precious belongings in it. By the time Heero shook him awake, he was feeling lightheaded and his limbs seemed heavy.
    "We're here," Heero said, indicating the building behind him. Wufei blinked slowly as he took in the sight, hesitating with one foot out of the car. It looked like it had once been some sort of old grocery store; the small kind you would find in small towns. It had evidently gone out of business or moved long ago, however. The paint was peeling, the name was faded, and all the windows and doors were boarded up, most of the panels decorated with grafitti.
    Heero frowned when Wufei stumbled in his attempt to get out of the jeep.
    Duo, sliding out of the back, took one look at Wufei, and arched a brow at his partner. "Blood loss?" he guessed.
    "I stopped the bleeding," Heero said firmly. He reached out and put a finger on Wufei's cheek, pulling at the skin to force Wufei's eye to open wider as he peered into the startled boy's face intently. He grunted after a moment and lowered his hand, looking disgusted. "They must have given him something to keep him under control."
    "They drugged me?" Wufei repeated incredulously. "Don't be stupid. When would they have had the chance? And I was fine earlier."
    Heero frowned, shaking his head. Duo came up beside him, looking carefully at Wufei's eyes. He lifted a hand suddenly, flicking on a lighter. Wufei blinked, but held still as Duo peered into his eyes steadily. Finally the braided boy put his lighter away and shrugged to show his ignorance. "I don't think it's drugs," he admitted. "His reaction's slow, but his eyes still dilate ok. It's like something's slowing him down."
    "Like a drug," Heero pointed out a little sharply.
    Duo frowned thoughtfully. "I dunno. You would think it woulda slowed him down earlier, and from where I was standing, he did just fine taking out our mystery guest." He nodded towards Tom's unconscious form. "Whatever. Either way, we'd better get inside before someone spots us. You need to get that bullet out."
    Wufei managed to get about five stubborn paces away from the jeep by himself before his legs began to feel like wet noodles. In the end, he was forced to accept Heero's help, giving in with bad grace when Heero came up to his side and pulled one of Wufei's arms over his shoulder. The supporting hand that settled on his other side to balance him ended up taking up most of Wufei's flustered concentration, but they managed to reach the store door without stumbling too much.
    Heero kicked at the door once, and after a moment it creaked open, revealing Trowa's tall, familiar form. He took one look at Wufei and moved aside, holding open the door. Heero pulled Wufei into the darkened store, leading him towards the only source of real light-- an electric lantern hanging by a nail in the wall over a long countertop. Quatre was waiting for them, holding up a first aid kit and eyeing Wufei anxiously.
    "Hopefully you'll have everything you need in here. He looks horrible. Is he all right?"
    "He isn't deaf," Wufei growled, allowing Heero to help him onto the counter.
    "Sorry," Quatre said quickly, setting the kit down. "Would you like some pain killers?"
    "Yes," Wufei said firmly.
    Instead of opening the kit for the expected aspirin, however, Quatre reached into his back pocket and pulled out a slim metal case. He opened the clasp, removed one of the many green capsules from inside, and had returned it to his pocket before Wufei could get a good look at how many were in there. He offered the gel tablet to Wufei with an encouraging smile while Heero quickly and efficiently wrapped Wufeis wrist where hed torn the skin escaping his bonds.
    "He might have been drugged," Heero warned, beginning to unwrap the makeshift bandage from Wufei's arm. "His reactions are slow, and he seems to have difficulty moving his limbs."
    Quatre blinked, looking more closely at Wufei. After a moment, the confusion on his face was washed away by sudden comprehension. "Heero told us you'd been taken by the Suits," he said. "And they took you to more of their people. Tell me, did any of them... you know, ask for some kind of proof that you were who they said you were?"
    Wufei peered at the blond suspiciously. "Yes," he muttered.
    "Ah." Quatre glanced at Heero and smiled reassuringly. "It's OK, it's not drugs. He can still take something for the pain." He nodded at the pill in Wufei's hand. "That'll work faster and better than any over the counter painkillers we might find. And seeing as we have no anesthetics, I think you're going to need it." He handed over bottled water, then retreated to where Trowa and Duo were waiting close to the door.
    Wufei swallowed the pill and watched as Heero finished unwrapping the bloodied shirt from his arm and began wiping the blood off with gauze. Steeling himself for the pain he knew was coming, he glanced towards the other three in an attempt to distract himself.
    They were speaking quietly, but if he strained his ears, he could catch some of what they were saying.
    "..what I thought," Duo was muttering, glaring at the floor and crossing his arms over his chest anxiously. "Lucky they didn't realize what they were doing, or he'd be in a lot worse shape."
    "No, they weren't any real threat," Quatre reassured the other boy. "Be thankful for that much. There are other people, however, that we need to be careful of. I hadn't even considered this. I thought he had to be.."
    "Of age," Trowa finished grimly. "We all did. We'll just have to keep a closer eye on him."
    "If someone who knows what they're doing tries something... someone with bad intentions..." Duo shook his head, looking grave. "My guess is he'll be dealing with more than slowed reflexes."
    "Try comatose," Quatre said quietly.
    "Wait-- I thought it can be fixed," Duo said eagerly. "Yanno, if--"
    "He doesn't even know what it is, Duo," Quatre pointed out gently. "And it's not our place to explain it. Besides, it would require trust. Unquestionable trust. He doesn't have that yet."
    Duo snorted, and Wufei's attention was pulled roughly from the conversation as Heero's grip on his arm tightened and he began to probe carefully at the wound with a pair of thin tweezers.
    Wufei hissed in a sharp breath and struggled not to tense his arm too much, gritting his teeth and staring at the ceiling to avoid watching the process. He was afraid seeing Heero jiggling that piece of metal in his skin would make him tense up unconsciously and make it harder for the other boy to retrieve the bullet.
    What the hell were Duo and Quatre talking about? he wondered in a desperate attempt to put his concentration elsewhere. They knew why he was feeling lightheaded and heavy-limbed, but whatever the reason-- and the cure --they didn't think it necessary to enlighten him. He was beginning to get more than frustrated with their refusal to let him in on what the hell was going on lately. He knew Heero had to have heard them, as well, so he took out his irritation on him.
    "So you're all going to just let me deal with whatever this is instead of fixing it?" he demanded from behind clenched teeth.
    Heero didn't even look up, his tool still probing carefully. "It won't kill you," he said unsympathetically. "The effects should wear off within an hour or two."
    "And what happens if we run into another little surprise five miles from here?" Wufei snapped. "What are you going to do, stuff me in the glove compartment until it's all clear? I don't think so, Yuy. I'm not going to just sit by if something happens. I need to be able to fight." He glared fiercely down at Heero's bowed head. "If you know how to cure me of whatever this is, then do it." He finished off his command with a sharp gasp of shocked pain as Heero made a sudden motion with his hand.
    Heero straightened, holding up his tweezers to show off the bullet clasped firmly at the end. "Got it," he said simply, and dropped it onto the pile of used guaze. He set the bloodied tweezers aside and began cleaning the wound.
    "Answer me, Yuy," Wufei growled.
    "We're almost to Orton," Heero pointed out stubbornly, reaching for fresh bandages. "They won't dare attack us so soon after what happened. By the time we reach the space port, you'll feel normal again. What's the point? I can't tell you why you feel weak anyway."
    "At this point I don't care," Wufei shot back. "But I refuse to have to be half-carried, and I need a clear head."
    Heero finished his work and stepped back a pace, finally meeting Wufei's stubborn glare. Abruptly he leaned into Wufei's personal space, hands gripping the counter edge on either side of Wufei's hips. Wufei jumped, staring wildly into Heero's narrowed eyes.
    "This is why not," Heero said in clipped words.
    Wufei blinked. "What?"
    "Trust," Heero said simply. "The 'cure' takes trust. And you don't trust any of us. We're just your captors, right?" He retreated, looking dismissively away and wiping his hands off on an extra piece of dressing.
    Wufei opened and closed his mouth, glaring helplessly at the other boy for a moment. Heero was right. He didn't trust them. He had no idea where they were taking him. He especially didn't trust Duo, who seemed a little too close to psychotic sometimes for Wufei's comfort. And Quatre was constantly giving half-truths, while Trowa had lied to him for two years. Why should he trust Heero any more than he trusted the rest of them?
    Heero finished packing up the kit and glanced at him briefly. "Rest for a little while. Don't move the arm much or fool with the bandage. We'll leave in a half hour."
    Wufei swallowed back his pride and glowered at the other boy. "Who's Zhao?" he muttered, voice low and sullen.
    Heero had been turning away, but froze at Wufei's words. He turned slowly back to stare at him, eyes a little wider than normal. "What?"
    "Zhao," Wufei repeated impatiently, forcing himself to keep his scowl trained on Heero rather than at his own fists in his lap. "Punk kid, uses dirty tricks, few years older than me. That Zhao. Who the hell is he?"
    Heero stepped towards him slowly, as if afraid any sudden movements might wipe Wufei's mind clear again. He studied Wufei's face intently. "You're remembering," he guessed quietly.
    "I had a dream," Wufei corrected. "That's all. I usually don't remember them, but this one stuck." He shrugged. "It wasn't much. I was fighting this kid, whoever he was. He used a dirty trick. And..." he flicked Heero a wary sideways look. "You were there," he finally admitted grudgingly.
    Heero blinked in surprise.
    Wufei glanced over towards the door, but Duo and the others had moved further away to hold a private discussion, and didn't seem to notice Heero's reaction or Wufei's words. "I'm just saying," he muttered a little sullenly, "maybe you were telling at least some truth. Saying we were kids together. And it felt like we were.... friends. When we were kids. So..." he forced himself to meet Heero's eyes, still frowning slightly. "I suppose for the time being, there's no reason not to trust you. But only so far."
    "So far?" Heero repeated, cocking his head slightly.
    "I trust you," Wufei admitted gruffly, "not to hurt me. That's about as far as I'm willing to go."
    Heero stared at him in silence for a long moment. Wufei was about to squirm under the scrutiny when Heero said at last in a subdued tone, "....that's enough. For now, anyway." He hesitated, then his expression grew resolute. His tone turned crisp and commanding once more. "Fine. I'll take care of what's slowing you down. But don't ask me what's doing it or why this fixes it. It's--"
    "Not your place to tell," Wufei finished, rolling his eyes at the repetitiveness of it all. "Fine, whatever. Just do it already."
    Heero nodded and set the kit aside, hesitating for just a moment before stepping right in front of Wufei and reaching an arm behind him. Wufei jumped at the close proximity, then jumped again when he felt a hesitant touch on his bare back under the jacket still draped over his shoulders.
    Heero froze, meeting Wufei's wild stare calmly. "This is part of why it requires trust," he explained.
    Wufei nodded once, forcing the tension out of his body, even as he felt his face begin to slowly rise in temperature. Trust indeed, he snorted internally. That explained something, at least. If a stranger had tried getting in his face like this, and touching--
    He stiffened in surprise as he realized just what Heero was doing. The fingers on his back were moving lower, searching for...
    For the tattoo on his back.
    The "Mark", as Duo and the Suits had called it. It was what the Suits had used to confirm he was who they thought he was. What the hell did a tattoo have to do with all of this? he wondered in confusion as he stared warily at Heero's calm face a few inches from his own. His cheeks were really starting to burn, the lower Heero's hand went. He fought the impulse to jerk away. "Cure" or "Mark" or whatever this bullshit be damned, it didn't excuse the fact that no one was supposed to just touch someone's lower back like this! It was indecent--
    Wufei was about to sputter a protest, knowing Heero had to notice how red his face was by now, but suddenly the fingers on his back reached the tattoo.
    He knew because an instant later something hit him like a freight train.
    It was as if he'd been plugged into something-- or something missing had been plugged into him. He arched, a gasp torn from his lungs as a current of what felt like pure energy shot through him, leaving him tingling from his toes to the roots of his hair. He couldn't see, he couldn't move, he could only feel. Dimly he was aware of another hand pressed between his shoulder blades, holding him steady, and his own hands clutching at something solid to keep from being swept away.
    The sensation frightened him for the first few heartbeats, it was so strong. Then it just... was. It wasn't quite pain, but not pleasure, either. It was energy.
    And then, abruptly, it was over.
    The hand on his lower back disappeared, and he was so startled he almost fell off the counter.
    The hand between his shoulders helped, and he blinked rapidly to clear his vision, staring stupefied at the flustered face in front of him. He was breathing as if he'd run a race-- but he'd never felt more refreshed, more alive. Belatedly he realized his hands were clutching Heero's shoulders, and dropped them hastily, still breathing hard. Heero dropped his own hand and stepped out of Wufei's personal space. He was panting, too-- but he looked as if he was winded, exhausted. As if...
    As if his energy had transferred to Wufei.
    Wufei shook his head sharply to clear away the last crackling bits off it still dancing along his nerves, and slid down from the counter. "What was that?" he demanded breathlessly.
    "Exactly what it felt like," Heero admitted a little wearily. "Energy. And don't ask me how that worked. I already said I wouldn't explain it."
    Wufei shivered slightly. Whatever it had been, he understood more fully now why it required trust. While the... transfer or whatever it had been had lasted, he'd been powerless to move, much less defend himself. He'd been, for lack of a better term, at Heero's mercy for those few moments it had taken to "cure" whatever had made him weak.
    He looked back at Heero, and realized belatedly that Heero was flushed and avoiding eye contact.
    Well, of course, he thought firmly. He looks like he's about to collapse. He's probably red-faced with the effort of just standing up. A surge of guilt rose up to shoulder aside his previous elation at being healed. His cure had come at a cost.
    He grabbed Heero's arm just in time to steady him. The other three raced over, visibly startled by what had taken place.
    "Heero, are you insane??" Duo demanded in exasperated concern, grabbing Heero's other arm to help support him.
    "You know you're not supposed to do that without supervision," Quatre scolded. "You could have drained yourself completely!"
    Wufei looked at Heero in alarm. He hadn't realized what Heero had risked in healing him.
    Heero, however, looked typically unconcerned, if winded. "It worked, didn't it?" he asked with a careless shrug.
    Trowa shook his head disapprovingly. "It was too much," he pointed out. "Now you're the one that's useless."
    "Hey, ease off," Duo said sharply. "You know Heero, he recovers fast from no matter what you throw at him. He'll be fine, just give him a few minutes."
    Trowa made no reply, turning his attention instead on Wufei, expression pensive.
    Wufei ignored him, concentrating on Heero. Heero could have killed himself trying to help him. He felt like kicking himself for demanding such a task. "Idiot," he growled, grip tightening on Heero's arm. "Why didn't you tell me?"
    Heero shrugged again. "Never tried it before," he pointed out. "I didn't know."
    "You were warned," Trowa reminded him. "You were told doing that could be dangerous."
    Heero shook his head, unconcerned. "It worked," he said simply. "It doesn't matter what might or might not have happened."
    "Idiot," Wufei snarled again, frustrated at Heero's obvious disregard for the threat to his own life.
    Duo looked quickly at him, then returned his attention to Heero. "Never mind. We've stayed here long enough, and it looks like you're all patched up. I'll drive, Heero can rest up front. You keep tabs on Tommy boy in the back."
    Wufei had almost forgotten about their prisoner. "He's still unconscious?" he asked in surprise.
    "I slipped him a little something to make sure he'll stay out for a few more hours," Duo admitted with a wink. "We'll deal with him when we get to Orton. We have time to kill before we catch our flight anyway." The malicious smile he offered after that made Wufei almost feel sorry for Tom.

Back to GW fanfics