Chapter 45: "History of a Boy"

"Hanging with losers again, I see."

Wufei turned to make a face at the older boy who had just entered the dojo. "What do you want?" Heero dropped his defensive stance and turned to watch in silence. The braided boy before him reluctantly lowered his upraised fists, but continued to bounce impatiently on the balls of his feet.

Zhao sneered and stepped inside, stretching his arms over his head. "I came here to practice, obviously. Little kids like you shouldn't be in here without supervision."

"Master Ping's asleep," Wufei snapped. "I can practice in here if I wanna."

"With that?" Zhao sneered openly at the skinny kid in black. "I can't believe your father even let that gutter rat step foot on this colony. You should have left him in the mud you found him in." He shouldered an unresisting Heero out of the way and stood glaring down at Duo, using his superior height to his advantage. "He even have a name?"

The boy cocked his head curiously and stared up at Zhao. He began chattering in a foreign tongue.

Zhao's lip curled in disgust. "Listen to that! That's not even Basic!"

"Leave 'im alone, Zhao," Wufei commanded.

"How the heck do you talk to this little runt?" Zhao demanded, circling the braided boy slowly. "I'll bet he doesn't know any Mandarin." He smiled pleasantly. "You're a dirty little fleabag."

The boy in black smiled back hesitantly.

"He can speak Basic," Wufei insisted huffily, putting his hands on his hips. "He did when we found 'im. Of course he doesn't speak Mandarin. And quit makin' fun of him!"

"Why? It's not like he understands." Zhao reached out and picked up the end of the tangled braid between finger and thumb as if handling a dead rat. "Ugh! You could at least make him chop his hair. He looks like a girl."

The boy twitched his head, jerking his braid free. He rattled off something unintelligable.

Wufei shook his head in defeat. "I dunno what that is. Gran'father said he thinks it's English."

"Don't be stupid," Zhao snorted. "That language is dead. No one's spoken it for almost a hundred years. The only words of it that survived were put into Basic. Tell him to cut it out."

"You do it," Wufei retorted. "You know Basic."

"Maxwell," Heero spoke up quietly but sternly.

"What kinda name is that?" Zhao laughed.

"I told ya, call me Duo," the skinny kid said instantly in Basic, making a face at Heero.

"What are you doin' here, runt?" Zhao asked in Basic, making the words slow and loud.

Duo stared at him, nonplussed. "Your Basic must really suck if you hafta say it that slow," he noted.

Wufei smirked. Heero sighed. Zhao looked annoyed.

"You shouldn't even BE here, runt," he growled. "You're beneath me, so don't talk to me like that."

"Beneath you?" Duo started laughing as if something funny had been said.

Zhao offered Wufei a disgusted look. "He's completely crazy and wild," he declared in Mandarin. "What the heck is he still doing here? Everyone knows your mother only let him come here cuz she felt sorry for him."

Wufei grinned, relishing the chance to shock the older boy. "Haven't you heard? Gran'father says he's gonna be the new Guardian."

"What?!" Zhao actually recoiled. "THIS bag of bones? I don't believe you."

Wufei shrugged. "Gran'father talked to him for a long time, an' he says he's here to..." he cut himself off, amusement melting.

"What? Replace Hua?"

Wufei frowned uncomfortably, looking away.

Zhao approached him slowly, expression one of disgust. "You're the reason she's dead, you know," he said quietly. "And now you're going to dishonor her memory by replacing her with this scum--"

Heero stepped forward, speaking for the first time. "It wasn't Wufei's fault," he insisted angrily. "He--"

"Shut up," Zhao interrupted sharply. "And stop calling him 'Wufei'. It IS his fault..." he turned his glare back on Wufei. "And he knows it."

"It was not," Heero argued. "He was fine. No one told her to go after him. I was there."

"She was doing her job!" Zhao shouted, whirling to face Heero. "If Fei hadn't been so stupid and pulled that stunt, she wouldn't be dead right now! You're his Primary. You should have talked him out of it!"

"Stop shouting," Duo cut in loudly in Basic. "Your voice is really annoying."

"What was that?" Zhao offered him a narrow gaze. "You want me to beat some respect into you, pipsqueak?"

Duo offered a careless little smile. "You can try," he taunted in perfect Mandarin.

Zhao gaped at him, then turned to offer Wufei an accusing look. "I thought you said he couldn't speak Mandarin."

Wufei shook his head helplessly, just as surprised.

"Gimmie my stick, Heero," Duo commanded in Basic, never taking his eyes off Zhao.

Heero reached up and grasped the strangely carved stick hanging from around his neck. "No, Duo," he said firmly. "You know what Lord Chang said."

"Give it to me, willya? I hafta teach this jerk some manners."


Duo flicked him an impatient glare. "Give it! It's mine!"

Wufei looked at Heero quizzically. "His? What's he talking about?"

Heero was still staring Duo down. "It's not yours anymore," he insisted quietly. "Lord Chang said it was too dangerous to--"

Zhao seized his opportunity and slammed a fist into Duo's stomach.


Once upon a time there was a strong noble family, and they were blessed with a son.

The people of Colony 05 rejoiced at the birth of the new heir, and lavished the family with gifts and blessings. On his first birthday, he was given the Mark, and presented at the temple and later to the great jade dragon, so that he might be recognized as one of their line.

And something happened that had not occurred for many generations.

The Mark gave off a light, and all who witnessed it knew the truth. There was great celebration in L5 then, for this was a true heir, a direct blood link to their oldest legends.

The order was given to those families who had given their promises many uncounted years ago. And from these four families, a child apiece was given.

The Winner family, despite their lofty position, was held bound by honor and duty, and with great reluctance and sadness swore to give up their only son once he was old enough to be trained.

The ruthless leader of a great mercenary band, who cared more for money than he did his own flesh and blood, replaced his solemn-faced baby boy with an older sister.

The great warriors who had made their home on L1 offered the only male they had with blood connections to them, though the boy's parents no longer lived. This boy, with his serious blue eyes and stern mouth, was the first to arrive on L5 to meet his future Lord.

And the fourth was one of their own, a child of the reknowned Chang warriors, a cousin to the heir himself. They had no sons of the correct age, but they had a daughter to offer. And as she grew and proved herself a promising fighter, she was gradually accepted.

These childrens' names were Quatre Winner, Trowa Barton, Heero Yuy, and Chang Hua. From the day they were strong enough to lift a weapon or swing a fist, they were taught to become fantastic warriors and superior bodyguards. Their loyalty to the young Chang heir was drilled into them daily.

And because these things had to be arranged, had to be set in stone to ensure the future, a daughter of another Clan was promised as well:

Long Meilan, the young bride-to-be.

But all of this was not something a little boy needed to know.

He was told only what he could understand at his age. The boy he saw as his closest friend, the one who trained in the dojo with him, raced with him, helped him pull off pranks, the boy he made blanket tents with, was a 'Primary Guardian'. This meant he would protect Fei no matter what. When he grew up, he would be glad he had made such a good friend, because in this man's hands he would place his life. There was even a solemn ceremony held when both boys were nearly four, and the Primary was given a strange rod to wear around his neck.

This was all very interesting and noble-sounding, but they were only little boys, and tended to forget the future and pay attention only to the present. And his mother and nurse, who spoiled him fearfully, allowed him to act his age, because he would have no time for such a carefree life when he matured.

And so Fei spent his youth fighting, playing, running, jumping, and shouting, with Hua and the sharp-eyed Heero Yuy as his playmates, and thus spent a relatively happy childhood that was only interrupted for schooling and physical training.

He was four when Hua died.

A prank was mistaken for reality, and in attempting to be grown-up, to do her duty, she lost her life.

It was an accident. Everyone knew this, but it was still a great loss. The heir was to have four Guardians, and now he was down to three. This caused quite a stir until on a random trip to L2, Fei had a run-in with an older boy with an impudent mouth and a tangled braid.

Three months later, to everyone's shock, Fei's grandfather convinced the Lord Chang-- Fei's father --to accept the strange boy as the new Guardian.

And when he was five, Fei's mother sat him down and explained his future to him in a way she thought such a young boy would understand.

"One day when you're big and strong, you'll be the Lord of L5 like your father is now," she promised him proudly. "You'll protect your people and make sure no one ever tries to hurt them. You'll make sure there is justice, and that none of your people go hungry or mistreated by their neighbor's hand. And one day you'll have a mommy and a little boy, and you'll teach your own little boy everything that we're teaching you."

This all sounded very grand and important to Fei, except for the part about having a family of his own. That was when his mother told him about Meilan, who he must meet because one day they would be married-- and he liked that even less.

He threw tantrums and pouted and refused to see her, and this went on for days. He was spoiled, so he paid no heed to his mother's words, and his father was either too busy or cared nothing for the fits-- because, he pointed out, it didn't matter whether he liked it or not. He was going to meet the girl and that was that.

He wouldn't. Fei was quite firm about this.

In the end it was his Primary Guardian who finally badgered, guilted, and wrestled it into him, and Fei was forced to sulkily obey.

The leaders of the Long and Chang families had been friends for three generations, but the Longs' Clan lived on earth. They had married outside of their own race many times, but Meilan was supposed to one hundred percent Chinese. The promise of visiting the little jewel of a planet was the biggest reason Fei finally agreed to go.

And it was worth it. Everything was real and different. The sun so much brighter than the false lights on his colony, and warmer as well. The grass so much softer, the birds, trees, and bugs plentiful. It was a dream come true for two little boys who had never known anything but the emptiness of space and the artificial landscapes of the colonies. Even Master Ping was lenient and allowed breaks from his usual grueling martial arts teachings.

Heero and Fei spent their days there playing outdoors from sun-up to sun-down, racing through the fields, catching minnows in the creek, and playing hide and seek in the orchard. Anything to avoid doing what they had come to earth to do.

Eventually his father had had enough of it, and he arranged the meeting himself. He left his son at the designated spot and left him there to get to know his betrothed, while he himself went in search of the girl's father. And so Chang Fei and Long Meilan met for the very first time one late afternoon on a hill. He found her waiting for him under a tree, nervous and bold at the same time, her little hand gripping a low branch for support, but her expression stubborn.

She was very cute and very very annoying because she didn't let Fei push her around. Fei told Heero she was a nasty little girl, but thought maybe when he grew up he would be happy she was his.

The families were content. For the next two days the parents of both children exchanged smiles over their heads. This was a couple who had promise. The girl took no crap from her future husband, but was quite willing to insert herself into the boys' games. She would grow up to be strong and beautiful and fair, and Fei would be very happy with her. Even if, for the moment, he was positive she had cooties.

Fei would have loftily ignored her during the trip if he could have, but he had Heero badgering him on one end and Uncle Shen on the other. The man wasn't really his uncle, but he was a childhood friend of Fei's father. He was funny and friendly and had no problems carrying two boys around on his back for a pony ride or helping to set up forts of made out of fire wood. He was the one grown-up Fei liked and respected as much as he did his Primary, so when Uncle Shen asked him to be nicer to Meilan, he made a half-hearted effort.

Still, the freedom of spending their days in the open air was worth it as far as Fei was concerned. It seemed nothing, not even a bossy girl, could ruin the trip.

And then men who claimed to work for the earth's government came up the hill one day in a dark car, and with them were men in uniform from the army.

Fei was told to stay outside and play, but he hovered close by the door with Meilan and Heero and tried to eavesdrop. They didn't understand what was going on or what was being said, but soon the voices rose into shouts. The three children scattered just in time; a moment later the doors slammed open and the visitors stormed out angrily. The only one to hang back was a man with a kind face. Fei's father stepped out and spoke with him shortly. The man called himself Senator Peacecraft, and he seemed upset that things had gone so badly, and he insisted that all he wanted was peace. Fei's father seemed to respect him somewhat, and they didn't yell at each other when the Senator left with one last apology.

The next day, it was time to return home. There was a brief, sullen goodbye between Fei and Meilan. They separated with name-calling, because each knew they would miss the other, and neither was willing to admit it. Heero thought it was stupid. The grown-ups just smiled at each other.

"She'll come and visit you another time, Wufei," his mother assured him, using the nickname she and Heero had given him. "Don't be sad. Remember, it's time to meet the rest of your Guardians. Aside from Duo, you haven't seen the others in a long time. They'll be waiting for us when we get back."

Sacred duty or no, that meant more children to play with, so while he hated leaving the beautiful planet, at least he had new playmates to look forward to.

Quatre Winner turned out to be a friendly boy, but he also tended to ruin some of the more questionable pranks with his tattling. He did it to keep anyone from potentially getting hurt, or seeing Fei get into more trouble, but to a six-year-old boy, it was just "telling", plain and simple. But usually he was fun to play with.

Trowa... not so much. He was quiet and reserved, and didn't smile very often. He would tag along because Quatre wanted him to, but Fei didn't quite get him.

And Duo was back, still full of mischief and wide grins. Together the five of them got into quite a bit of trouble-- and a lot of fun --during the two week visit. Then the three of them had to leave to go back to their training on other colonies. But at least, his parents said with satisfaction, Wufei knew them now. It was good to base loyalty off of trust and friendship from the very beginning.

Fei didn't fully understand everything, and he wasn't interested in the importance of his future, but he was happy and healthy and Heero was always there when Zhao said mean things or he needed someone to play with.

And as his mother had promised, Meilan did come to visit.

And then something terrible happened.

They came out of nowhere, and the colony was caught completely unawares. Fei was in the dojo training with Master Ping while Heero took a breather by the wall, when explosions rocked the building. Screams followed, and thick smoke rushed across the gardens and in through the open doors of the dojo.

Master Ping didn't panic. He quickly sent Heero as a runner to find out what was going on. Then he seized Fei by the arm and rushed him out the back. For a long time everything was confusion and terror. There were people running everywhere, shouting and screaming, there was fire and smoke and the sounds of gunfire. People kept crying that their Lord had been slain in his own throne room.

"They're talking about Father!" Fei tried to wrench free as he was dragged across the grounds. "We have to go back!"

"No, Fei," Ping said harshly, hauling him along. "Let the grown-ups take care of this. We need to get you out of here."

His mother intercepted them, three guards rushing in her wake. Without a word, she scooped Fei up and ran, with Ping and the guards drawing swords against strange men in uniform who tried to ambush them. Jostled in his mother's arms, Fei felt the tears on her cheek and grew more frightened.

Fei's mother was heading for the launch pad where the emergency shuttles were already being fired up. They were cut off by four more uniformed men. Without breaking stride, she turned and ran to the nearest building. Inside, she put down her son and took him by the hand, urging him to keep quiet. The building was on fire, and falling apart, but the men were coming in, so they hurried silently down the hall and into a room. Securing the door behind her, she pushed Fei into a corner and began attacking a shuttered window with a chair.

Fei huddled in his corner, coughing as smoke seeped in under the door, thick and dark, making it hard to see.

Then the door crashed open, and he shouted for his mother.

Someone stepped inside, but the smoke made it hard to see. But he was wearing a uniform like the armed men outside, so Wufei scuttled along the wall to get away. His mother threw herself in front of him and stood with arms spread, begging for mercy.

Fei recognized the sound of a sword being pulled from its sheath and his blood went cold.

His mother turned her head towards him in one last desperate plea. "RUN!" Then she threw herself bodily at their attacker, hoping to tackle him.

The man stepped forward quickly and swept upwards with his sword, thin and long.

Blood spattered across the wall and hit Fei in the face, and his legs turned to jelly. He collapsed, fingernails digging into the floorboards, and stared blankly as his mother's body hit the ground heavily, unmoving.

The fire was hungry, and creeping into the room, licking at the walls and making the beams in the ceiling crack alarmingly. The man hesitated, then turned and rushed out. Fei couldn't move. He crouched against the wall and stared unblinkingly at his mother's huddled form, unable to make his brain work.

Moments later Heero found him. Shouting and pulling, he managed to get him on his feet and out the door. Outside, Fei could hear his nurse calling frantically for him.

Heero pulled harder on his arm. "WUFEI! We need to--"

The fire was hungry-- too hungry. The ceiling groaned and collapsed atop them both. Something heavy struck Fei across the head, and he went down. Everything went black.


Wufei sought solace without even meaning to, going instinctively to the person he knew and trusted the most.

He wandered aimlessly around the dark palace in a daze until he found her, heading to her room with a dreamy smile on her face. She greeted him cheerfully, but her smile disappeared when she saw the look on his face.

"Wufei?" Hilde hesitated, glancing over his shoulder at the guards who were following him silently, probably unnoticed by their dazed charge. "Is everything all right?"

Wufei shrugged slightly, staring off into space. "Not really."

Hilde reached out and took his elbow in a gentle grip, steering him towards his room. The instant they were inside she sat him on the wide bed and settled herself beside him. "What happened?"

Wufei snorted in dark amusement, still not meeting her eyes. "I don't think you'd believe me if I told you," he admitted.

Hilde folded her arms across her chest. "Try me."

So Wufei took a deep breath and tried. He told her about his conversation with his grandfather, and about the strange jade dragon. He told her how merely touching it had seemed to blast away whatever barrier had stood between himself and his memories.

"I remember everything," he murmured, staring at his fists clenched on his knees. "My family, my home... the fire..." He closed his eyes, teeth clenched. "I remember the day Milliardo's rogue men attacked the colony and destroyed it. My parents, Meilan, Master Ping... so many people died."

"Wufei..." Hilde reached out and placed her hand atop one of his, her eyes sad.

"Grandfather thinks a blow I took to the head during the attack is what caused me to lose my memories in the first place," Wufei said quietly. "I got away in a shuttle, but it was shot down during the flight, and everyone had to abandon ship. The escape pod I was in malfunctioned, and I ended up on earth. One of my uncles was in the pod with me, but he was injured. My foster mother was the only family he knew that was nearby, so that's where he took me. She used to tell me she just found me on her doorstep, and I believed her because I don't remember anything from that day. But Grandfather said my uncle took me there and begged her to take care of me. He died in the hospital a couple days later."

"Oh my god." Hilde's grip on his hand tightened.

"It took her almost three years to finally get in contact with the Clan, but they were afraid what would happen to me if people found out I was still alive, so they decided I would stay there and they would come for me when I was older." He laughed shortly. It was an ugly sound. "All my life I've been trying to find the answers, and now that I have them, I wish I didn't."

"Oh, Wufei..." Hilde scooted closer and wrapped him in a comforting hug. "I'm so sorry."

Wufei barely seemed to notice. He was staring off into space, hands limp in his lap. "And there are still things that don't make any sense," he said hoarsely. "This Mark... I don't understand what that statue was trying to show me. It was like... this Mark makes me a part of it. A part of the dragon."

Hilde frowned slightly, puzzled. "What does that mean?"

"I don't know." Wufei pulled away. "Something impossible. I don't want to talk about it until I've figured it out." He rubbed his face roughly with both hands, then froze. Slowly he lowered his hands and turned a grave look on his old friend. "Hilde. It told me something else."

"What?" She reached out and tucked a stray lock of hair behind his ear.

Wufei reached out and caught her wrist, forcing her to meet his eyes.

"It told me... that not everything is what it seems to be. And that Duo can't be trusted."

Author's Notes: Ok, fiiiinally this fic is running its last laps. ^^;; This won't be some 60-chapter thing, so don't panic o_o;

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