Chapter 7: "Topsy Turvy"
Wufei was in a foul mood the next day. Hilde took one look at his face when she met him at the school gate, and was careful to tread softly around him.
Even Heero seemed to sense that Wufei's mood was dangerous. He caught one of Wufei's dark glares full in the face and avoided eye contact the rest of the morning. Wufei was content to ignore the other boy frostily all through French, but he was tired of being put off. He was going to get answers, and he didn't care how.
He waited until lunch time, lingering near the front doors with arms crossed as he waited for his prey to approach. Hilde was eating with her girl friends, and he'd just spotted Maxwell being berated in the hallway by a teacher, so he judged this was as good a time as any.
He didn't have long to wait. Heero came out soon, eyes automatically skipping towards the bench Wufei usually sat at. He jumped slightly when Wufei stepped out of the shade of the building and right into his path.
"We need to talk," Wufei said shortly before Heero could get a word out. "Right now."
"No we don't," Heero replied quite calmly.
Wufei arched a brow, then leaned in so that they were practically nose to nose. It was an effort to keep his voice level and his fists to himself. "You are going to answer my questions, Heero Yuy. Otherwise I'm going to go to the Peacecraft brat and tell her everything that happened last week. I noticed someone painted over the laser burn on the wall. But if you don't think she won't be at least a little suspicious after I spill the beans, you're sadly mistaken."
Heero stared back at him stonily for a moment, then gave a single, reluctant nod.
"Glad you see it my way," Wufei snapped. "Gym, Yuy. Now." He marched off, not bothering to look back and see if the other student was following.
He led the way in silence to the gym, but the basketball team was practicing on the court. After a slight hesitation, he strode in boldly anyway, and marched into the empty boy's locker room. Heero followed slowly, eyes flicking about to make sure they were alone.
Wufei picked up the large trash bin by the sinks and, ignoring Heero's curious look, carried it over to the door. He dropped it in front of the door to block it and prevent any sudden interruptions, then turned to glare at Heero, arms crossed imperiously over his chest. "Start talking," he commanded.
Heero looked at him for a long moment, face carefully smooth. He looked around again, stalling, reaching up to run his hand through his hair. Wufei took it to be an unconscious gesture, and wondered if it was an impatient one or a nervous habit. "Talk," he repeated slowly. "About what?"
"Don't give me that," Wufei snarled. "You obviously know what's going on. You know who those men were, don't you? And what they wanted."
"What makes you think I know that?"
"Do I look like an idiot to you, Yuy?" Wufei asked incredulously. "After you showed up in the middle of it and all the cryptic little things you said, how could you not know? You and Maxwell are in on this, whatever it is." He paused, watching Heero's face carefully for a reaction. "And Quatre?"
Either he'd been wrong, or Heero was better at controlling his expressions than most people. He continued to stare blankly at Wufei, unresponsive to the name.
"What did they want?" Wufei demanded in a low, angry voice. "Why were they after me?"
"I thought that much was obvious," Heero pointed out a bit dryly.
"You mean they wanted to kill me," Wufei guessed, feeling a chill go down his spine. "Why? I don't even know them. What did I do to them?"
"Nothing," Heero said quietly. "You aren't guilty of anything. They're not after you."
"They hell they aren't--" Wufei started to say hotly.
"They're after... what you are," Heero corrected himself, glaring at the floor, hands on his hips. He seemed to be struggling to figure out just what to tell the other boy. "Who you are."
"You're not making any fucking sense, Yuy," Wufei informed him scathingly.
"You don't remember them, do you?" Heero asked bluntly. "Your family."
Wufei opened and closed his mouth, caught completely off guard. He lowered his arms and stared at Heero. "My.. family?"
"Your real family."
"How would you know anything about my family?" Wufei demanded harshly.
"Do you or don't you?" Heero snapped.
"Of course I don't!" Wufei shouted, slamming the side of his fist into a locker and glaring furiously at Heero. "I don't even remember where I come from! How the hell do you know about--"
"Do you remember her?" Heero asked, a little quieter.
"Her? Her who?" Wufei cried in exasperation. Even as he said it, though, something in his mind sharpened, as if... as if he did know who Heero was talking about. Or rather, as if he should. He blinked, shaking his head quickly to clear his mind. "I don't remember anything," he said grudgingly. "Nothing before my foster mother adopted me."
Heero stared at him intently for a moment, then said suddenly, "You didn't get it. She didn't tell you."
"What?" Wufei glared at him irritably.
"The message." Heero's eyes narrowed. "You don't know anything."
"What message?!" Wufei shoutd. "Nothing you're saying makes any sense! Who are you?!"
Heero strode towards him abruptly, and Wufei fell back a step, jerking up his fists. "Don't you dare--"
"Wufei." Heero was right in his personal space, his face grim and intense. "You're going to have to trust me. Or they're going to kill you."
Wufei gaped at him. "Why should I trust you?" he finally asked in a harsh undertone. "I don't even know who you really are or what you're doing here."
"I'm on your side," Heero said firmly. "I've always been on your side. You just don't remember."
Wufei blinked. Remember? No-- was Heero actually suggesting they'd known each other..? No. Impossible. He'd only been six when his mother had found him. Heero was trying to confuse him, fill his head with lies. He opened his mouth, but before he could even figure out how to respond to that, someone tried to open the door, and the trashbin banged loudly. Wufei jumped, and Heero tensed, eyes darting to the door.
"It's the damn basketball team," Wufei started to growl. Heero ignored him. He seized Wufei's arm and dragged him bodily towards the showers. Wufei was too startled at first to react. He got over it quickly, though, and immediately tried to tear his arm free. "Unhand me, Yuy," he snarled. "Get your damn paws off me before I break your damn--"
"Quiet," Heero interrupted shortly. He hauled a struggling Wufei into the shower room and pushed him into one of the stalls before yanking all the curtains on the stalls shut.
"Yuy!" Wufei hissed, incensed. "What the hell do you think you're--"
"I said quiet," Heero snapped. He stepped into the stall, jerked the curtain closed behind them, and shoved him against the wall.
Wufei suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that the shower stall was only designed to hold one person at once, and was much too small to accompany the sudden entrance of two teenage boys. He was flattened against the tiled wall, with Heero practically pressed up against him, one hand flat on the wall by his head, the other holding the curtain open a crack as he peered out into the room. Wufei stood frozen, heart banging in his ears as he stared dumbly at Heero's ear and where the hair was cut short at the back of his neck. He smelled faintly like some kind of spice; his shampoo or his deoderant, most likely.
It wasn't an unpleasant scent.
Wufei twisted his head away hastily and swallowed hard, glaring at the other boy. "Yuy," he muttered darkly, "in about five seconds, I'm going to kick your ass all over this goddamn locker room."
"Quiet," Heero repeated in a murmur, still peering through the curtain.
Curious despite himself, Wufei turned his eye toward the crack.
He'd expected a lot of noise; the basketball team should have come in talking loudly, goofing around, and digging through their lockers. But it was relatively quiet. He could hear some movement, but it sounded more like one or two people rather than a full team of high school athletes. He began to wonder uneasily if Heero's paranoid reaction hadn't been so foolhardy after all.
Someone stepped into the shower room, and Heero carefully let go of the curtain. The arm by Wufei's head tensed, muscles bunching up in preparation for a fight. Wufei found himself holding his breath, heart thumping loudly as he stared at the curtain, waiting for whoever it was out there to suddenly march up and pull the curtain aside. Was it one of the men in suits? Those boys from yesterday? For a moment he considered pushing past Heero and confronting the mysterious stranger, but then he remembered the laser guns, and stayed where he was.
"Well?" a voice called sharply from the lockers.
"...No one," the man in the shower room responded finally, voice much too deep to be a high school boy's.
Wufei strained his ears, listening as the footsteps receded, the door creaked open, and then slammed shut. He and Heero remained frozen, waiting to make sure there were no other sounds.
After several agonizing moments, it seemed the coast was clear. Wufei let out a slow breath, and looked at Heero accusingly. "This is all your fault," he muttered.
Heero chose that exact moment to turn his head, and their noses bumped.
Wufei jumped, pressing himself more firmly against the wall, and Heero jerked his head back, a flash of surprise flitting across his face for a brief moment. Wufei stared back at him tensely, his heart somewhere in his throat and his face uncomfortably warm.
What the fuck is wrong with you?? his mind screeched in horror.
Wufei gave Heero a firm shove; Heero, caught off guard, stumbled back into the opposite wall. "Haven't you ever heard of personal space, Yuy?" Wufei demanded hotly, hoping to god his face wasn't as red as it felt. "Back off!"
"..Sorry," Heero muttered, glancing towards the curtain again. He hesitated, then pulled it back and looked around carefully. "I think they're gone."
"They," Wufei repeated, stepping out and giving Heero a wide birth. "You never explained who 'they' were," he said pointedly.
The door banged open once more, and Wufei whirled towards the shower room entrance, half expecting to see the boys from the other day come bursting in. Heero's hand was already clamping on his shoulder, jerking him back into the stall--
Loud laughter, crude comments, and slamming locker doors announced the arrival of the basketball team. Wufei gave a huff of mingled relief and annoyance, and twisted away from Heero's grip. "I told you not to touch me," he reminded the other boy angrily. "You're not my goddamn bodyguard."
Heero stared at him and didn't answer.
Wufei glanced towards the locker room, then back at Heero, but the chance to get answers was gone. He would have to try again later. "This isn't over, Yuy," he promised ominously. Then he stomped into the locker room, ignoring the startled looks of the athletes, and stormed out of the gym in high dungeon.
Heero found Duo on a run-down basketball court a few blocks from the school later that evening. He leaned against the wire fence, arms crossed over his chest, and watched without really seeing as his old friend wandered around the court, dribbling a ball and occassionally shooting hoops.
Duo, though quite aware that Heero was there, didn't speak right away. He recognized that brooding look; when Heero was ready to talk, he would talk. Until then, any attempts at conversation would only be met by distracted grunts. He practiced his aim with the basketball for another fifteen minutes. Just when he thought his patience would snap, Heero finally spoke up.
"The situation is beginning to get out of control."
Duo caught the ball as it rebounded, and turned to face his friend, flipping his braid over his shoulder with one hand and tucking the ball under his other arm. "Oh?" he queried politely.
Heero was scowling at the asphalt as if it had done him some great injury. "They showed up in a store by his house last night. And today I think they were at the school again. In the gymnasium."
Duo wiped sweat off his upper lip and blew a loud sigh. "Yeah... Guess we gotta face facts. The longer he's in the dark and the longer he stays here, the more danger he's in. I thought we'd taken care of 'em all, but I guess we shoulda known better. And you remember their pig-headedness. They're not gonna give up so easy."
"I know that."
"We're gonna have to tell her."
"..Yes." Heero finally looked at him, face grim.
"I'll make the call," Duo said after a moment. "You go home and get things ready." He smirked. "You might wanna find some battle armor or something. I have a feeling by this time tomorrow, Wufei's gonna be mad enough to kill. And one guess who his primary target will be." He waggled his eyebrows encouragingly.
Heero winced ever so slightly.
Duo, with a short laugh, went back to playing ball.
Wufei had gone straight to his room after school with a muttered greeting to his mother, and promptly thrown himself into his studies.
An hour later, he realized he'd been reading the same paragraph over and over without absorbing a single word. His mind kept wandering back to that scene in the boy's locker room. Those men that had shown up-- were they part of the same strange gang that had accosted him at school? Or more men in suits? He puzzled over this, and went over his strange conversation with Heero until it made his head hurt, trying to figure out if he'd missed any vital clues in the vague hints the other boy had been reluctantly dropping like crumbs from a very large cake.
He stared blankly at the book in front of him, chewing distractedly at his pencil, and remembered with painful clarity the oppressive closeness of Heero Yuy in that shower stall. The way he had practically leaned into him, the way his dark hair was cut short in the back, ragged in the front. The smell of his soap or deoderant or whatever the hell it was.
His constant nibbling on the soft wood of the pencil proved too much for the slim instrument; his canine snapped a splinter off and pricked him in the cheek, jerking him back to reality. He nursed the tiny wound with his tongue and cursed himself throroughly and silently in Mandarin, feeling his face flush. What the hell was he doing, thinking about that? And why should it make him feel so embarrassed, anyway?
While Wufei had never bothered to explore his sexuality to any extent, having never had the time or interest to get involved with anyone, male or female, it had still never really occured to him to explore the possibility that he might be... He shook his head sharply, feeling a pang of shame and anger.
No. He was no Bruce Thompson. He'd just been embarrassed because... Well, because no one had invaded his personal space like that before unless they were trying to goad him into a fight. Yes. That must be it. It had caught him off guard, that was all.
And of course all that staring that day in the park was simply to see if you could take him in a fight, a dry little voice in the back of his mind said.
I wasn't staring! he told himself fiercely.
He tossed his pencil down in disgust. He was acting like a complete child. Or worse-- a woman. This was getting him nowhere. Pushing himself from his chair, he quickly changed into his nightwear. All he needed was a good night's sleep. That would clear his head of these ridiculous notions. He switched off the light and climbed into bed, glaring stubbornly at the ceiling and waiting for sleep to come.
He tossed and turned most of the night, mind too busy for him to rest. When he finally did sleep, he had more strange dreams that he couldn't quite comprehend.
And when he awoke, his mother was standing over his bed, face a mask of conflicting emotions.
"We need to talk," she said quietly.
Wufei's eyes darted towards the clock by his bed. Four in the morning. He sat up slowly, blinking the sleep from his eyes and peering up at his foster mother with growing unease.
"Mom," he croaked, voice still sluggish with sleep. "What.."
"We don't have much time," she interrupted breathlessly, eyes darting towards the window, then towards the bedroom door. "I need you to just do what I ask and listen to what I have to say to you. Get up and put on some warm clothes."
Wufei stared up at her, uncomprehending.
"Now, Wufei," she said, voice strained.
He'd never seen his mother so obviously upset. He pushed back his covers, and she left hastily, shutting the door behind her. Wufei's heart was starting to beat hard with nerves and confusion, and he dressed quickly, yanking on his jeans and pulling a gray sweater over the white tee-shirt he'd worn to bed. Since she'd told him to dress warmly, he assumed that meant they were going somewhere, so he stuffed his wallet and keys in his pockets and snatched up the cell phone he saved for emergencies before heading downstairs.
His mother was waiting in the living room, fidgeting nervously by the armchair. She hadn't bothered to turn on any of the lights, and when he reached for the light switch, she shook her head sharply.
"What's going on?" he asked slowly and suspiciously, hesitating in the doorway.
In answer, his mother turned to the chair and picked up his backpack from where it had been sitting on the floor. She held it out to him. "Here," she said, voice hushed and scared. She was speaking in Mandarin. "Take this, and wait here."
Wufei entered the room and took the bag from her uncertainly. She hurried into the kitchen, and he quickly opened his bag and peered inside. It was hard to see in the dark, but whatever was in his bag, it wasn't school books. He felt around inside; clothes. And a few other things. He was fully awake now, his heart beginning to thump in his ears. He padded hastily after his mother, and froze in the kitchen entrance.
She was standing on tiptoe, tugging with her fingertips at a brick in the wall above the stove. The stone came loose with a grating sound, and she set it aside on the counter before reaching her hand into the crevice in the wall. She tugged out a paper-wrapped bundle and turned, holding it out towards her adopted son. In the moonlight coming through the kitchen window, she looked pale and scared.
"Mom." Wufei ignored the package and went over to see her better. "What the hell is going on? What's the matter with--"
"Hush," she snapped, voice shaking slightly. "I told you, we don't have much time." She pressed the narrow bundle into his hand. "Put that in your bag, under everything else. Don't lose it."
Wufei stared down at the bundle and the bag and swallowed hard. "We're leaving," he guessed dully. "In the middle of the night." He looked at her sharply. "What are we running from, Mom? Do you know what's been going on?" he asked in sudden suspicion.
"Not...we," she corrected quietly, eyes downcast.
Wufei could only look at her blankly. A part of him knew what it was she was telling him, but the rest of him didn't want to hear or believe it.
"Listen to me, Wufei," she whispered urgently, eyes flicking fearfully towards the window as she leaned forward and seized his arms tightly. "They found you. I knew I couldn't keep you hidden forever, but I'd hoped... It doesn't matter. They found you, and it's only a matter of time before they make a move."
"They already have," Wufei interrupted sharply. "Who the hell are they, Mom?"
His mother blanched. "They have?" she repeated in a frantic whisper. She looked back at the window, eyes scanning the dark grounds outside frantically. "Then we have less time than I thought. They could come to the house any moment; he won't be able to keep them back by himself."
"He? He who?" Wufei demanded, baffled and frustrated. This was just another bizarre dream, he thought dazedly. In a moment he would wake up and forget it all.
"You have to trust them, Wufei," she whispered earnestly, looking into his eyes. "You have to. It's why they're here. And if they're here, then it means things are about to get bad fast. We thought just one would be enough. But if they all came, then.." she swallowed hard, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.
"Trust them?" Wufei repeated incredulously. "They tried to kill me!"
"Wha-- No. Not them."
"Then who?? What are you talking about?" Wufei burst out angrily.
She didn't seem to hear him. "You have to remember," she whispered frantically. "At first I.. I didn't want you to. I knew how much it would hurt you. But if you don't at least remember them-- remember him --they won't be able to help you."
"We don't have time," she interrupted, pushing him towards the front door. "You have to go now. They can explain things to you."
"Wh-" He grabbed the doorframe as she threw open the front door and tried to shove him through it. "Mom-!"
She hesitated, then wrapped him in a tight bear hug that startled and embarrassed him. "Things were laid out a long time ago," she murmured in his ear. "But I'm your mother now, even if I wasn't supposed to be. They'll tell you how it's supposed to be. But as your mother, I want it to be different for you."
If this was a dream, Wufei thought dazedly, staring over his foster mother's shoulder at the dark house, it was swiftly turning into a nightmare.
"They'll talk to you about destiny," she whispered in his ear. "Make your own destiny, Wufei." She pushed him suddenly, and he stumbled backwards, out into the night. He had one last glimpse of her tearstained face, pale and drawn with fear and sorrow, then the door slammed shut in his face.
He was too numb, his emotions and thoughts in complete chaos, to notice he wasn't alone on the porch.
A hand on his shoulder made him start violently, and he whirled around to stare in disbelief at the calm-faced boy standing behind him.
"Come on," Trowa said quietly. "We have to go now."
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