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 53: "Last Chance"

"Can you keep a secret?"

Heero looked up in confusion. "What?"

Wufei gripped his grandfather's hand tighter, staring down at the wrinkled face blankly. "Ever remember a dream out of nowhere? Days or weeks after you actually had it?"

Heero thought for a moment. "Maybe?" he hazarded. "Why?"

"I was just thinking of a dream I had right before I met a certain Guardian who turned life as I knew it upside down." Wufei flicked his lover a sideways look and a small grin.

Heero grunted.

Wufei returned his gaze to his grandfather's peaceful face, lips twitching back down into a frown. "In the dream," he murmured, "I was talking to a boy about a secret. A big secret. I was pretty young. What's strange about it is... I'm pretty sure that kid I was talking to was you."

"Another memory?"

"That's just it. I don't remember. When that blasted dragon restored my memory, I didn't get any recollection of a conversation like that. I don't remember it ever happening."

"Just a dream, then." Heero's brow was furrowed in bemusement. "Where is this going?"

"Nevermind," Wufei muttered. "It's probably nothing." He settled his grandfather's hand back on the bed gently and squared his shoulders, drawing himself together. "Now about-- OUCH!"

Heero poked him in the face again, none-too-gently. "I told you to put an ice pack on this last night."

Wufei scowled at him indignantly, swatting the hand away. "Shut up. I'm fine."

"Hilde's going to give you grief when she sees how puffy your face is."

Wufei hesitated. "...Is it really that puffy?"

"Vain, much?" Duo strolled in abruptly, grinning teasingly.

Wufei rolled his eyes. "I don't feel like explaining my wounds to every single member of the Council," he corrected. "What do you want, Maxwell?"

"Heero's right. You should definitely take care of that," Duo noted, wiggling a finger a few inches from Wufei's face. "Looks like you smashed your face into a doorjamb. Repeatedly."


Duo sobered. "Mingzhu's looking for you."

"And she sent you?" Wufei demanded incredulously. "She can barely stand you."

But Duo cocked his head and stared meaningfully at him. "Exactly."

Wufei and Heero exchanged a quick uneasy glance.

Duo grimaced. "Whatever she has to say, she doesn't want anyone else to know about it. She's waiting for you in her quarters. I'd go in there ready for an argument of epic proportions if I were you. She had on her I Am Not Happy With My Nephew look. I've seen it enough before."

"Great," Wufei muttered.


Wufei had never seen his aunt so distressed.

When he entered her quarters, she was pacing back and forth, hands clasped behind her back as she muttered to herself under her breath. She motioned impatiently for Wufei to shut the door, and leveled him with a disapproving stare the instant he obeyed.
"What happened to your face?" she snapped.

Wufei controlled his reflexive wince. "Sparring," he replied shortly, hoping she wouldn't ask for details.

But she let it drop, lifting a finger to point it at him commandingly. "You are to be completely honest with me, Fei, do you understand? You are playing with fire, and if you expect to get out of this mess, you are going to need my help."

Wufei nodded warily. She was speaking in Basic, and he wondered what she was so worked up about that she was being careful to keep anyone outside the room from understanding their conversation.

Mingzhu walked over to him slowly and looked him dead in the eye. "There is something other than friendship going on between you and that Shriebaker girl, isn't there?"

"What??" Wufei blurted, completely caught off guard. "Of course not! She's my best friend-- we don't feel that way about each other. Besides, she's... involved with someone."

Mingzhu gave a loud sigh of relief, most of the tension leaving her body. "Thank the gods," she murmured, turning away and walking slowly over to her window. "When the Dragon rejected Miss Peacecraft, I feared the worst..." She lowered her head, speaking almost to herself. "That would be two scandals I doubt we could survive."

Wufei frowned. "Two?"

"Yes, she's--" Mingzhu cut herself off, glancing at him over her shoulder. She looked oddly uncomfortable. "Never mind. It's not important. It's just... those eyes..." She gave herself a little shake, regaining her cool demeanor. "Well if she isn't the cause, we must figure out why the Dragon refused to accept Miss Peacecraft. Perhaps you were just nervous. When we try again--"

Wufei struggled with his conscience for a moment, then lifted his hand slightly to catch her attention. "Hilde isn't an issue," he muttered. "But... I think I know why Relena was rejected."

Mingzhu arched a thin brow, lips pursing in displeasure. "Oh?"

"There is something other than friendship between... myself and my Primary Guardian," Wufei admitted slowly, watching carefully for her reaction.

Her eye twitched once, but other than that, she expressed no shock. "Yuy? I should have known," she grumbled, startling him. She reached up and rubbed at her face roughly. "And how long has this been going on? A day? A few days?" There was an edge of desperate hope to her voice.

"Since we left Earth," Wufei said quietly.

"And you are telling me this now?" Mingzhu sounded as if she was speaking through clenched teeth. Wufei wasn't sure; her hand was still covering her face, though her fingers looked more like claws at the moment.

"You asked me for the truth," he pointed out a tad defensively.

"...I did, at that." Mingzhu lowered her hand and took a deep breath. "I'm almost afraid to ask... but since the Dragon rejected your chosen bride, I'm assuming this.. 'situation' with Yuy is more than something purely physical?"

Wufei could feel his ears burning, but kept his tone firm. "Yes."

She cursed softly in Mandarin, glancing at him sharply. "This is not a good thing, nephew," she murmured. "Do you even realize what this could do to the Clans, much less your personal image?"

Wufei flushed in a mix of shame and irritation at her tone. "I'm aware of the consequences.." he started.

"I'm not sure you are," Mingzhu cut him off. "You are demonstraing an appalling lack of sense and a stark disregard for the well-being of your people. You are no longer 'Wufei', a simple student who can do what he wishes. What you do, the choices you make, has an effect on the whole colony." She shook her head slowly, holding his gaze. "This cannot continue, Fei. Having a mistress is one thing; as long as an heir is produced and it is kept quiet, people will look the other way. But to let it get to the point where the Dragon won't even accept your bride is dangerous."

Wufei's eyes narrowed. "Why did she?" he demanded.

Minzhu arched a brow in question.

"Why, exactly, did the Dragon reject Relena? The way my Mark reacted..."

Mingzhu's eyes shied away, and she winced slightly. "Even I cannot tell you for sure," she admitted grudgingly. "I have never heard of such a thing happening. Unless..." she looked back at him quickly. "Your Mark-- has Yuy ever touched it before?"

"Of course." Wufei frowned. "He used it to channel energy before. And..." he faltered, thinking of the way Heero's hand tended to brush against the Mark in moments of passion-- and the unexpected pleasure the touch brought out. He wasn't about to share such an intimate fact with his aunt.

Mingzhu tapped a smooth nail against the windowsill, pursing her lips in displeasure. "Your Mark was just beginning to mature when Yuy found you. It's possible that because he was one of the first people to use it and has perhaps been the one to come in contact with it most often, that the Dragon senses that some sort of link has already been established-- and that it's obviously not with Miss Peacecraft. Has she ever touched your Mark before?"

Wufei balked, embarrassed despite himself at the thought of Relena's hands on his lower back. "Of course not!"

Mingzhu stared at him for a long moment. "What happened to your face?" she repeated quietly.

"I told you, sparring."

She shook her head slightly. "If you and Yuy are really as close as you claim, I find it hard to believe he would willingly do you so much harm," she pointed out. "And since he is the only one of your Guardians I can even see having the skill to be able to beat you that badly..."

Wufei winced. "It was nothing," he muttered. "I was sparring with Zhao and things got.. a little out of hand. It just means I obviously need to practice more."

Mingzhu expelled a loud, irritated breath. "That boy," she grumbled. Then the tightness around her eyes softened a bit. "It's because of Hui." It wasn't exactly a question, but Wufei nodded anyway. She looked away, gazing out the window. "It hit him hard-- her death. I had hoped as he grew older he would look at it rationally and realize that it was just an awful accident." She glanced at him sideways. "They were betrothed, you know. The marriage had been arranged between their parents when they were very young." Wufei stared at her in surprise, but her eyes had already slipped back to the window. "She wanted nothing to do with him; she was too caught up in her duties as a Guardian, and she was of course very young. But from what I remember, he was quite fond of her." She gave herself a little shake, voice firm once more. "I will have a talk with him. He should know better than to--"

"No," Wufei said quickly. Guilt was gnawing at his gut. Suddenly Zhao's hostility made a lot more sense. "Obviously he's been holding a grudge this long, and he needed to vent it somehow. I'll talk to him myself after he calms down."

She nodded, stern once more. "And as for Yuy..." she hesitated. "Who else knows?" He could hear the strain in her voice.

"Only the other Guardians-- and Hilde, of course."

"Miss Peacecraft is unaware?"

"Yes, so far as I know." Wufei looked away. "She has no idea why the Dragon rejected her; she probably thinks I did it on purpose."

"Good. It's better if she doesn't know." Her voice turned commanding. "But I want you to put an end to whatever it is between you and Yuy. This cannot go on, Fei. It will only make things more difficult for all of us in the end-- you most especially."

Wufei opened his mouth to argue, but she had turned her back on him and was walking over to her desk. "I have contacted Ling. Some of our men will meet her halfway and escort her to Yeong. She is eager to see you again, and is looking forward to meeting your future bride."

Wufei's heart thumped. In all the excitement and rush, he had almost forgotten about his mother's imminent arrival. He'd put in the request for her to be contacted, and now that he knew she was on her way, he realized how much he had missed her and how desperately he craved her advice. Would she be proud of him? Was this the future she'd always wanted for him? Her last words to him before Trowa had taken him away rang in his head. "They'll talk to you about destiny. Make your own destiny, Wufei."

"Gu ma," he said quietly.

Mingzhu turned to look at him in mild surprise.

Wufei felt his neck growing warm, but he curled his hands into fists at his sides and made himself hold her gaze. There were a hundred things he wanted to say tumbling in his mind, but all that came out was, "No one has to know." Inwardly he flinched, hating the desperate, frustrated edge to his voice.

Mingzhu's face was expressionless. She knew he was talking about Heero again. "Everyone will," she stated.

It might have been a warning, but it sounded just a little too much like a threat. Wufei took a deep breath and wrestled with his anger. In the end, he decided to let it drop. It was useless to argue, and it made him uncomfortable to talk about it anyway. He would bide his time and wait for the right moment to bring it up again. And if she still was as thick-headed about his personal relationships...

Well, like he'd said...

No one had to know about it.

Mingzhu had already turned away again. "The Council meeting is in half an hour. Be sure you're ready."

Wufei nodded, but he was barely listening. He was thinking of the one person he might be able to get answers from.

Even if she wasn't technically a 'person'.


The guards that watched the heavy double doors seemed mildly surprised when he demanded entrance to the protected room, but they let him pass without challenge.

The doors boomed shut behind him, leaving him in thick darkness, and he hastily lit the lantern his grandfather had used. His hair was standing on end, but he clenched his teeth and refused to acknowledge his own nervousness. Nezha could be cryptic, but she was also the only one who seemed willing to dole out at least some of the secrets about his muddled past.

The lantern barely brightened up the space around him, and he held it high as he crossed the bare room in quick, determined strides.

He stopped in front of the towering jade statue and gazed up into the narrowed eyes, studying the length and sharpness of the many teeth. He hesitated, unsure. She had always been the one to initiate conversation. Perhaps if he touched her again...

Shifting the lantern to his left hand, he placed his right palm against the cold stone, staring at the intricite detail of the carved scales. "Nezha." He spoke softly, but his voice echoed faintly in the large room. "I need to talk to you." He waited a moment, but when there was no response, he continued a bit more firmly, "It's about Relena. And my Mark."


Feeling foolish, he took his hand from the statue and stepped back. He gritted his teeth in frustration. "What aren't you telling me?" he demanded loudly. "Why do I keep seeing things that aren't really there? You, the old geezer dying, that man in the hallway.." he trailed off, confused as his breath caught slightly at the mention of the scarred apparition he had glimpsed in the hall.

There was the briefest touch of a breeze upon his face, almost like a sigh. Belatedly he remembered there were no windows in the room. He looked up quickly at the sound of a deep-throated chuckle.

The woman he'd seen on his birthday was sitting calmly atop the statue's head, legs crossed daringly to show a flash of pale skin as she smiled down at him coyly. Her mouth never opened, but her voice whispered in his ear, slightly sibilant and mocking.

~More questions, little Lord?~

Wufei's grip on the lantern tightened as he stared up at her. "What's happening to me?" he asked harshly. "I thought you told me everything. But I still don't understand this Mark. Or why I'm seeing... hallucinations of people no one else can see. And the other night... that wasn't me talking to you."

~It was,~ she countered, sounding even more amused.

"No it wasn't!" Wufei glared up at her. "Stop playing mind games with me, whoever you are! Tell me what the hell is going on!"

~It was you,~ she repeated. ~A long time ago.~

Wufei felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. "What are you talking about?"

She tossed her hair back imperiously. ~You did me a favor once, long ago. In return, I offered to watch over your people. But like all men, you could not be easily satisfied. You wanted yet another favor.~

"Ruyi," Wufei breathed, remembering the strange conversation from his birthday.

She smiled at him again, but it seemed mocking. ~I don't do favors for free, boy. And you actually managed to keep up your end of the bargain. You have brought it back with you.~

"I never promised you anything," Wufei protested.

She seemed unconcerned at his denial. ~You did. Long ago. It took you many lives, but you found it. Only to have it taken away again when you were forced to flee space in this life. And I, in turn, have been good on my word.~

Wufei swallowed hard. "This life?" he repeated. He shuddered suddenly. "Reincarnation?"

She tilted her head. ~Your other selves did not take so long to figure it out. Especially once they started catching glimpses of their past lives, as you have.~

"Bullshit," Wufei spat. "I don't believe in reincarnation. When you're dead, that's it. There's nothing else."

~For some, yes. But we made a deal. I lost something, you lost something. You swore to bring me back my treasure if I would reunite you with yours.~

Wufei's heart thumped. "My treasure?" he repeated.

~You have crossed paths once or twice, but I made sure it was brief.~ She smiled coldly. ~No use giving you want you desired until I had what I wanted. But I have it now. So I have allowed you have what is yours. What you asked for. What you lost.~

"Stop talking in riddles!" Wufei shouted. "What treasure? What did I lose? You're not making any--"

~What else do all men desire besides gold?~ she interrupted, a laugh riding under her quiet voice. ~What do you hold precious to you? But let me remind you that this is your last chance. I have given you what you desired; it is not my fault if you lose him again.~

Wufei's eyes widened in disbelief.

~However,~ she murmured, eyes narrowing before he could speak, ~you have also brought that which I do not want. It has probably been his plan all along to somehow find his way back to me. You had best make sure you keep a tight leash on that damnable monkey. If he gets loose again, do not expect me to clean up the mess.~

A hesitant knock at the door made Wufei jump, and he turned quickly.

The guards were not foolish enough to open the door, and the muffled voice sounded apologetic through the thick wood. "Forgive me, Lord Chang, but the Council meeting..?"

Wufei struggled to keep his tone calm. "I'll be there in a minute." He glanced back towards the dragon again, but the woman had vanished without a trace, as if she had never been there at all.

Author's Notes: ;____; omfg please forgive me for ignoring this fic for so long.
Finally, tho, some tidbits of explanations. Even if they aren't 100% clear, yet.
Also, thanks to those on LJ who helped me when I was in a pinch. You know who you are <33

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