Categories > Anime/Manga > Gundam Wing > Hold Your Light

Chapter 17

by evilkat 1 review

Can Duo help Trowa and Heero in the aftermath of a mission gone wrong? Post EW.

Category: Gundam Wing - Rating: R - Genres: Angst - Characters: Duo, Heero, Trowa - Warnings: [!] [R] [V] - Published: 2006-04-28 - Updated: 2006-04-29 - 6185 words

Hold Your Light- Chapter 17


But I'd trade it all
For just a little
Piece of mind

"Pushit" -Tool


I take the last drag off my cigarette and stab it into the sand to extinguish it. There is a steadily growing collection of spent butts sticking out of the dirt at my side, like someone buried a psychedelic sea urchin there. I finished my last pack an hour or so ago and am well into the next one. I know I shouldn't be smoking this much. I know I should really be quitting, but I can't. This is the only thing I have right now that is keeping me from completely losing it and walking away for good. How am I supposed to deal with all this?

I can't deal with it. That's the only answer I've come up with so far. If I could, I wouldn't be sitting here on my ass watching the tide roll in. I just needed to get out of that house before I said something I would regret. It's bad enough I was having a confessional with Heero in the kitchen. But Trowa was right, he is looking to me for all the answers and I don't have a clue as to what I can say to help him. Where is the person I can go to for all the answers? Who do I get to lean on when dealing with this shit gets to be too much?

"Why me?" I ask the rolling waves crashing into the surf. Why do I have to be the one that has to deal with this? I'm not qualified to deal with my own problems, let alone someone else's. I'm nineteen years old and I feel like I've lived a lifetime's worth of pain. Is it ever going to get better? I sigh heavily and punch my fist into the sand. I know I'm feeling sorry for myself. Compared to what Heero and Trowa must be going through, I can't complain. But I'm so torn between staying here and helping them and hunting down those bastards behind all this and delivering some justice, Shinigami style. The thought of those motherfuckers roasting in the fire of a carefully controlled explosion puts an evil grin on my face. Or maybe I'll take them out one at a time. Sneak into their homes, catch them off guard and stick a knife in their windpipes real slow, and cut out their internal organs in alphabetical order...make them hurt. Maybe not today, but I will find them and they'll pay for hurting Trowa...they all will pay.

A mother with three children in tow walks up the dune towards the parking lot. She pauses momentarily when she sees me directly in her path and then ushers her children closer and steers them around me. Yeah, I probably do look like a scary, punk kid right now. Can't say that I blame her for not wanting to be anywhere near me. I wouldn't want to be near me, either. The sun is going down and the last of the beachgoers are heading home. Wish I could say that that's where I want to be heading too, but I can't. Now that I've been out for a few hours, it's that much harder to force myself to go back and face those two. What if I keep doing the wrong thing? I'll just be making it worse instead of better. I feel so powerless, and it makes me angry that there is nothing I can do. Why did Heero tell me to escape to the roof? Why didn't we stick together? I could have helped them...I could have stopped it from happening. Fucking idiot! Why?

I bury my face into my knees and curl into a tight ball. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to cry. My eyes start burning. I squeeze them shut as tight as I can to prevent the tears. Why does this keep happening to me? Why is it that all the people I've given two shits about in this life end up dead or hurt while I can do nothing but watch it happen? A sob breaks free from my chest and that unleashes a torrent of hitched breaths, teetering on the edge of outright bawling. It's a good thing it's just the seagulls and me left on this part of the beach. It would be quite awkward to have witnesses to my second breakdown since this whole mess happened.

All that blood. When I first burst into that room, I thought for sure that Trowa was dead. He was so pale and still in Heero's arms...and all that blood. Not again. I remember thinking that. Please God, not again. Don't take another one away from me. It's all so vivid still and I seriously doubt I'll ever be able to forget. The overwhelming metallic smell of blood was enough to make me gag, the gore under Heero's nails...I remember what the body looked like. Heero had clawed his fucking throat out and ripped open his chest cavity with his bare hands. Like an animal. And then to be holding Trowa so gently, it was surreal. I scrub the tears away with the back of my hands and inhale a deep, shaky breath.

After the whole Marimaia incident, Heero vowed that he would never kill again, and up until now, he hasn't. He came back every time with zero kills. Given the nature of most of our missions, I didn't think it was possible, but he managed it. The fact that this mission was enough to make him break such a precious vow is not only frightening on many levels, but it's also sad, really sad that he was forced to do it. And he did it with such over-the-top violence. Now, from the mission report and his own account, the general, the one who had actually raped Trowa, was killed by spinal cord separation at the base of his skull. Heero snapped his neck, he told me that himself. But there were no other signs of violence. He told me that the Doctor taunted him the whole time, telling him horrible things about happened to Trowa in the past. But what could have been said that would make Heero lose it and damn near tear the bastard limb from limb? Is he really unstable? The bruises on my arms give a sympathetic ache.

Fuck, I just want to crawl under my covers and hide away from the world right now. Let the professionals handle this. I'm no expert. I'll be as supportive as I can, but I'm going to have to back off for my own sanity. I guess it was wrong of me to push Trowa so hard. Damn it! I don't want to admit that Heero was right. Stuff like this just goes to his head. I can totally see that I-told-you-so look on his face. Despite the melancholy mood, I smile with genuine fondness in my heart. These guys are the closest friends I've had since Solo.

Well, I suppose I shouldn't be delaying the inevitable any longer. The sun is almost down and I have to go home eventually. I stand up and brush the sand off the seat of my jeans. With one last look to the brilliant orange-red sky and the rolling waves, I turn to walk back to the parking lot. Off in the distance I see headlights coming in my direction. Well, I'm leaving. No need for them to come all the way over and bother me. As the car approaches, I notice it's not the make and model of the usual patrol cars. It kind of looks like- Wait! It can't be. Holy shit! It is.

I shake my head from side to side, laughing as Wufei pulls the sedan into the spot next to my truck.

"So, I'm about to walk out of my office," the Chinese boy tells me as he slams the car door shut and begins to walk towards me. His tie is loosened and his button-down shirt is rumpled. There are even a few strands of hair that have come loose from that tiny rat-tail and fall around his face. I can't remember the last time I've seen him so unkempt. "The only thing I have on my mind is going home, taking a shower, and eating my first decent meal in nearly forty-eight hours. I have my keys in hand and I'm literally at the threshold when my phone rings. I don't want to answer it, but something, some voice in the back of my head tells me that I should. So I pick it up. It's Heero."

He stops a few paces in front of me and I give him a guilty half-smile. He doesn't look amused. My eyes go down to our feet.

"He sounded...concerned," he continues. "He tells me that I need to come down here to Parking Field 8, close to the West Bath House, and make sure you're alright."

I'm a little surprised that Heero remembered my favorite beach spot. I only managed to drag the two of them down here once. Trowa was very nervous the entire time, constantly looking around. That, in turn, put Heero on edge. And believe me, two soldiers in ready-mode is enough to take all the fun out of anyone's day. Trowa refused to take off his shirt because of the scars on his back. Of course he didn't want it to seem like that was the reason, but I knew. We had been sleeping together for almost two months and had had sex about four times at that point. He had to know that I knew about them. Did he not want Heero to see them? In all the time that they spent together during the Eve Wars, there had to be a time when he saw him shirtless or when Trowa wasn't wearing one of those stupid turtleneck sweaters. His clown costume was sleeveless, wasn't it? Maybe the tension between the two of them goes back to the wars. Well, if there was tension, they had kept it hidden from everyone quite well all this time. I hadn't thought of that and part of me wishes I didn't just think of it now. I'm so tired of all this, I really am. "Look, Wufei, I'm sorry he made you come all the way down here. I-"

He raises his hand to signal me to shut up. "Are you alright?"

I sigh wearily and lean back against the front grill of my truck. "Yeah...I guess."

He gives me a disparaging once-over. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"

No, absolutely not. "Who said anything happened? I just wanted some time by myself. Things have been a little...tense lately."

Wufei and I have never been what you would call close. Comrades, yes. Would I trust him to have my back in a fight? You beat your sweet ass I would. But we were never the type to kick back and drink a few beers after work. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that he drinks. Might be against his religion or something. Well, if you wanted to get technical, I really shouldn't be drinking either since I'm underage, but most places look the other way when I wave my Preventers badge in their face. And sometimes it's nice to be around other people in a social type of situation. I'm not a loner like my two housemates, content to stay home on a Friday night reading a book or creating the latest and greatest encryption code. I'm a people person.

"I don't doubt that," he replies with a soft snort, but then his features soften with worry. "Are they...I mean, have they...?" Wufei pauses momentarily to gather his thoughts. "How are they? Heero sounded so..."

"Lost?" I supply for his uncharacteristic loss of words.

He nods slowly. "Yeah. It's not a tone I'm familiar with when dealing with him. I must say that I was completely caught off guard by it. That and the fact that he never asks for help unless it's something impossible were the motivating factors that got me here. I figured something major must be going on. So, what happened, Duo? Why did he call me and not come himself?"

I shrug my shoulders. "I guess he wanted to give me some time to be alone."

"Then he should have trusted you to come back in a reasonable amount of time. That doesn't explain why he felt someone should check on you. You weren't going to do something like hurt yourself, were you?"

My eyes go wide and I whip my head up to look him in the eye. "What? No! I just...I just couldn't take it anymore, so I got out of there for a little while."

"Couldn't take what, Duo?"

Oh no, I'm not falling for that one. It will take more than that to get me to open up, Agent Chang. I roll my eyes at him. "Look, I'm fine. I'm not about to off myself or anything, so you can stop worrying, okay? Go home, get something to eat, and do whatever it is that you were planning. I was just about to go home now anyway." I walk around him to get into my truck and he turns in place to watch me, but doesn't make a move to stop me. No, he does something completely unexpected. When I open the door and slide behind the wheel, he scurries around the front of the pickup and jumps into the passenger seat. I grip the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white.

"Go home, Wufei," I say without looking at him.


"Yes. Go home. You can tell Heero that you did your civic duty and checked up on me."

"I'm still not going to leave."

I snap my head to look at him. "Look, do I have to forcibly remove you from this vehicle?"

He snorts condescendingly and crosses his arms over his chest. "You can try."

My brain processes the challenge within a nanosecond and reacts. The switchblade is out of its hiding place in my left boot and in my hand, ready. Now, I have no real intent here, just a little show of force, but with the speed of a hummingbird's wings, Wufei has me in a joint lock that shoots pain up to my shoulder. I swear I didn't even see him move. My fingers go numb and my grip falters. The knife drops to the seat, bounces once, and then falls to the floor with a dull thud.

"What the hell is the matter with you, Duo?" he yells.

I try to wrench my hand free, but he twists my wrist harder, putting more strain on my elbow. Any more pressure and it'll dislocate. I grit my teeth against the pain and look up into his intense black eyes and narrow my own. This battle of wills is far from over.

"Don't even think about it," he snaps, digging his thumb in once more and jerking my body forward to keep me off balance. I continue to thrash about; trying to roll myself in the direction he's bending my arm. A yell of frustration escapes my lips and I kick out my legs to push off the driver's side door and throw my full body weight into him. For a moment it works. Wufei falls back against the side of the car with a grunt, but when I try and free my arm, he renews his hold. Frantically, I keep pulling, trying to get away from him. I feel panicked all of a sudden; a fluttering in my chest makes my breath become short. A flashback. No, a memory. So distant and faded like an old photograph at first and then suddenly alive in full Technicolor glory. Of hands. Hands restraining, holding me back, keeping me from something.

"Stop it, Duo! Just stop it."

And to my surprise, I do.

"It's not me you're angry with," he says softer and loosens his hold. When I don't make any further attempts, he lets go completely.

I slink back to my side of the car, ashamed at my actions. What the fuck is wrong with me? I just attacked a close friend, and for what?

"God, I'm sorry, Wufei. I...I..."

I have no explanation for my actions, at least, none that will satisfy either of us. Wufei bends down to retrieve my blade off the floor. Without looking at me, he folds it and sticks it into the pocket of his pants.

"You ready to tell me what happened?" he asks, giving me a sidelong glance. I slump in my seat.

No, I'm so unbelievably not ready to tell him anything. How can I try to make him understand what has me completely baffled? But after I take a deep breath, the words start pouring out of my mouth and I tell him everything. I tell him about the mission, where we went wrong, Trowa's panic attacks and general attitude since coming home, Heero's confusion and anger issues, and my own feelings of helplessness. I start rambling on about my childhood and why I can understand what Trowa must be feeling. It sounds incoherent to my own ears, but Wufei remains quiet and listens to me unload. I end up telling him about the non-relationship I had going on with Trowa before I can stop myself.

When I finally come up for air, some time later, the sun is almost completely gone and I feel drained of all energy. Man, I need a drink. I have the worst cottonmouth. I shyly look over to my right. Wufei looks...well, considering everything I just told him, he looks like he's taking it pretty well.

"I had no idea," he whispers, eyes widened.

"About anything in particular or all of it?"

"That you were..." Wufei trails off looking thoroughly embarrassed.

"Gay?" I answer for him. He shrinks into the seat a little more. "Out of everything I just said that was the one thing you focused on?"

"No!" he quickly admonishes, turning towards me. "I didn't mean it like that. I mean, yeah it's a little shocking. I thought you had something going on with Hilde or did at one point."

"Well, we kind of did for a little while, but it didn't work out the way either of us wanted it to. So, we split ways. I still see her once in a while, but not like the way it was. We're just friends now." I look down at my lap. "The thing with Trowa is more...complicated."

Boy is that the biggest understatement of the year. But it's the truth. My breakup with Hilde was nothing like this. She was looking for a different type of relationship than I was. It wasn't like she was trying to force me into marriage or anything, but she wanted something out of me that I just couldn't, or wouldn't, give. So, after we had the same fight a thousand times about my issues, I decided it was best if I sold her my half of the salvage business and moved on. But seeing her now isn't the same anymore, and that makes me a little sad. She was a really good friend, but when she looks at me now it's with different eyes.

"I see," Wufei comments blandly and shifts in his seat a bit. "But doesn't that make you bisexual?"

"I guess it does," I say through a dry laugh.

He pauses for a moment, seemingly thinking hard about something. I can tell the subject matter is making him very uncomfortable. Though, if I were in his shoes I suppose it would be a kick in the head to find out that your teammates were sleeping with each other. I watch as he brings his hand up to his face and presses his thumb and middle finger into either side of his temple. It's the first time I notice just how exhausted he looks.

"You just get back from that Europa 3 mission?" I ask.

He shakes his head slowly. "No, got back from that the day before yesterday," he answers, letting his hand drop away from his face.

"What time?"

Wufei gives me a confused look. "I delivered my report to Une at 14:30 hours, why?"

"I'm just curious about why you didn't bother to check on us. The search and rescue team was back at HQ by 12:00."

He takes a second to process that statement before narrowing those obsidian eyes at me. "What exactly are you trying to imply, Maxwell?"

I shrug. "Nothing...just thought you would've gone to see them by now."

Bingo. He makes this quick, choking noise in an aborted attempt give an excuse, but I know the real reason. I jam my hand into the pocket of my jeans and pull out the pack of cigarettes.

"Duo, it's not what you think," he tells me as he watches me light up. "I thought you were quitting."

I take a long drag and then blow the smoke out the open window because I'm a considerate guy. It takes a concerted effort to not let that last remark rile me, but I swear to god, the next person that makes a comment about me smoking is going to get smacked in the mouth.

"I did," I tell him blandly, "but I've come to the conclusion that if I quit now I might go ape-shit and think that drinking a bottle of ammonia is a good idea. So, for now, I'm on the fast-track to lung cancer." I bring the cigarette up to my mouth with dramatic flair and take a drag to punctuate that statement.

"You're not going to kill yourself."

The confidence in Wufei's voice makes me throw my head back in laughter. "Oh? And you're so certain of this?" This time I purposely blow the smoke in his direction. He coughs a few times and glowers at me through the haze.

"Yes, I am. You may 'run and hide' but you'll never leave a friend in need." I stare at him in disbelief. Wufei fidgets uncomfortably for a moment before adding, "And put that disgusting thing out. Unlike you, I enjoy my lungs very much."

"Alright, alright," I acquiesce and take a final drag before tossing the butt out the window. I'm feeling this irrational anger boiling in my stomach. You know the kind I'm talking about. It's the kind that makes you do and say stupid things without putting too much thought behind it.

"So what's the reason why you've been avoiding us? I can pretty much guess why everyone else is, but I want to hear your reason." It's after the words leave my lips that I realize that I'm pissed off at the man sitting next to me and I'm not entirely sure I know the reason why.

Wufei clicks his tongue loudly. "God, you're dense sometimes," he retorts to my semi-insult. "Is that what you think of me? Do you really think I would do that?"

I give him another shrug. "Didn't see you around guess I figured you weren't there. But now you tell me that you were. So, I guess I'm wondering why I was alone with Trowa the whole time. Why I was the one keeping him calm so that he could be sedated and didn't try to kill the doctors that were attempting to put him back together."

Oh, he looks pissed. His jaw is clenched and his fingers are fisted onto the hem of his Preventer-issue khaki pants. I can't wait to hear the condescending lecture I've just brought on myself.

"Duo," he begins calmly, but very restrained. "I told you, it's not what you think. If I could have been there, I would've been."

"Fuck that! If you really wanted to be there then you would have been...if not for Trowa, then for me. I could have used some support." The last part comes out as a breathy whisper and the sheer desperation in it embarrasses me. I scrub the heels of my palms into my eyes as the tears begin to burn their way to the surface once again. Not here. I can't lose it in front of Wufei. But what the fuck could have been more important than coming to see his two friends who had just been put through twenty-four hours of hell?

"I'm sorry, Duo," he says softly. I look over at him. He has his head down, staring at his hands. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you...or them, but..." He drifts off for a moment and then sighs tiredly. "When I got back to HQ, Une was waiting for me. She filled me in on what happened and then asked me for a favor."

I watch as his face contorts into a grimace. It's not his usual, or should I say, familiar scowl. No, this look speaks of pain, and I'm not talking about the physical kind. What the hell did that crazy bitch ask him to do? And for him to be this tight-lipped about it, it must be bad. The butterflies are slam-dancing inside my stomach.

"She asked me to review the footage taken from the surveillance cameras. All fourteen hours of it. I had to extract any part that might further the investigation."

He looks up at me then, eyes watering, and I can do nothing but stare back. Wufei saw it all. He knows what really happened in that room. And I'd be lying if I said that didn't bother me, but sitting here, looking at the toll it's obviously taken on the man next to me, makes me a little scared.

"Duo, we've seen a lot in our short lives, haven't we?" I nod slowly. "Never in my life have I seen such...such despicable cruelty." He stops speaking, shaking his head in refusal.

I want to ask. The logical part of me is agreeing with my more morbid side and they both want to know what happened down to every last, gruesome detail.

"Don't ask because I'm not going to tell you," he says just as I was about to open my mouth. When did he become psychic?

"Why?" I ask him, indignant that he would only tell me enough to pique my curiosity. He should know me better than that. "You read Heero's statement, and now having seen everything yourself, you know the wall of bullshit I'm up against. So, why won't you tell me what really happened? Tell me why Trowa can barely look Heero in the eye? And when he does...boy, you would think he had heat-vision. But all that aside, I think I deserve to know."

"Then you'll have to break into Une's office and steal it yourself, because I'm not going to tell you. That was the reason she picked me; she knew I would be discrete. And because I care about Heero and Trowa, I will not dishonor them by divulging what I've seen. If they want you to know, then they will have to be the ones to tell you."

Great, just fucking great. Is the whole world conspiring to keep me out of the loop?

"What was left out of Heero's report, Wufei?" I demand.

He narrows his eyes at me. "Like I said, I'm telling you that. But I will say this," he quickly adds before I can respond. "What happened in that room is something that altered both of them, probably for good. Whatever may have been between them before is...damaged now."

"No shit, Sherlock. Of course this is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. You don't get raped and wake up a few months later and find that everything is miraculously all better. And you don't watch your best friend get raped in front of you and not carry that with you forever."

Wufei slouches into the seat a little more. "I know that."

"Then you should also know that Trowa was tortured by those same fucks when he was just a kid." It's funny, I hear myself use the word kid, like I'm some old man, and like what happened to Trowa was so long ago. I'm barely an adult myself, but there are days where I feel positively ancient. Today is definitely one of those days.

"Yeah, I know that too."

"So, then what the fuck am I supposed to do?!" Okay, so I'm yelling now. I'm also itching for another cigarette in the worst way. Why won't anyone tell me what happened?

Wufei starts a bit at the volume of my voice. He wants to get angry with me in the worst way. I can tell, but he's obviously holding back. "I don't know. I'm sorry that this has all been dumped in your lap, Duo."

Do my ears deceive me? Was that an apology? He fidgeting in his seat again and I bite my tongue against making a joke at his expense.

"After seeing what happened to them," he continues. "Une thought it was best that the situation be handled as discretely as possible. As soon as Trowa was given medical clearance, we had him discharged without the formal deposition and psych evaluation. I didn't agree with that decision, but she insisted that she wanted him to have a few days before the inquisition showed up. Remember those papers you signed at the hospital?"

I have to stop and backtrack my thoughts. Papers...yeah, I remember signing Trowa's discharge papers. There was a shit-load of them and I was completely exhausted. Thanks to all the immunizations and endurance boosters we Gundam pilots were given, Trowa was burning through the sedatives at a rate the doctors couldn't keep up with. He would wake every two hours, disoriented and violent. After he punched a nurse in the face and nearly broke all the fingers on the doctor's left hand, it was decided that he should be restrained. It almost killed me to see him tied to the bed like that, but it was best for everyone. I sat up with him the entire night trying to soothe him while he whimpered and moaned in fevered, restless sleep. By the next morning, I was barely functioning.

"Yeah, I remember. Why?" I answer cautiously.

"I guess you didn't look at them too closely."

Of course I didn't look at them closely. I was lucky I could still write my name at that point. I had the doctor in my ear going over Trowa's medication, warning signs I should watch for from the concussion. After ten minutes of don't let him lie flat on his back, make sure not to get the sutures wet, change the dressing twice a day, watch for inflammation, infection, dizziness, nausea, fever, confusion, try to keep him immobile, don't let him lay all his body weight on his broken ribs, and so on, my head was spinning by the end of it. I could have signed my soul over to the devil and wouldn't have known it.

Wufei pauses a moment to rub at his tired eyes before continuing. "You signed a MP-008." When I stare at him dumbly, he adds, "Military Protocol...section 008? Seriously, how did you graduate the academy?"

"My charming wit and dashing looks," I say dryly.

Wufei rolls his eyes. "You agreed to take full responsibility for Trowa pending his deposition and until Internal Affairs finish their investigation."

"I did what?"

The Chinese man exhales loudly in frustration. "The only reason he was allowed to leave the hospital without a formal debriefing and psychiatric evaluation was to place him under house arrest and into your custody with the stipulation that you would monitor him for any suspicious activity."

"Suspicious activity? I'm not spying on my friends, Wufei. If this is Une's idea of helping, then you can tell her to shove it. I'll resign before I turn snitch."

"No, no, that's not what she means," he quickly corrects. "Basically, all you have to do is keep tabs on where he is which, given his injuries, won't be hard to do and make sure he shows up for his official debriefing Monday morning. Think you can handle that?"

It's not a question of whether or not I can handle it. It's a question of why the hell am I the one who has to bear this all by myself? Despite my lingering anger, I still tell Wufei that it's not a problem. I'll make sure Trowa's gets there. If I didn't do it, then who would? I'm sure Une could appoint one of the cadets for this duty, but that's not an option. We're a family, and this situation will be handled without any outsiders.

"Look, 'Fei, it's getting late. Why don't you head home?"

He gives me an assessing look before inquiring, "You sure you're okay now?"

"Yeah, it's just that this is a lot to handle, ya know?" He gives me a nod and I know that he isn't just humoring me. This is a tough pill for everyone to swallow.

The passenger side door opens with a creak and Wufei slips from the seat. My eyes follow him as he walks around the front of my tuck and over to my window. "I know I'm not the easiest person to talk to, but if you need anything...anything at all, please call on me."

I respond with the conditioned I will, but I'm not sure how comfortable I feel about it. I don't know about Trowa, but Heero and Wufei get along well. Perhaps getting the two of them to spend some time together and out of the house might be good. I'll have to feel Heero out about that later. And as much as I know I can't possibly deal with all this on my own, the thought of asking for help makes my stomach tighten. Guess it's a pride thing. I give a slight dip of my head to acknowledge Wufei's offer and watch as he walks over to his car.

"Oh, I almost forgot this," the black-haired man says suddenly. He reaches into his pocket to retrieve my switchblade and casually tosses it over to me. I catch it one-handed.

I roll the blade in-between my fingers, so familiar with its weight and feel. I flick it open and then snap it closed. Man, I've had this knife forever. I bring up to my face for closer inspection. Most of the black lacquer has chipped off and it has its share of scratches, but the blade is still razor-sharp. I make sure to keep it like that...always. It was Solo's. He gave it to me a few months before he died. Guess he felt I was old enough. I remember the way he pulled it out of thin air, like a magician. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Well, at least until I learned all about slight-of-hand.

/Here, kid, I want you to have this. Remember what I've taught you. Always run away if you can. But if there ever comes a time where you can't, then you'll have this. Only use it as a last resort when there is no other way. You got that, kid? Don't just go pulling a knife on someone because you think you're hot shit. I'll show you how to use it and then, maybe...if you're lucky, you'll be hot shit like me./

I still remember that cocky grin of his. He was a good friend to me long before I could truly appreciate what that meant exactly. I hear Wufei's engine cut on and I look down at the knife and then back over to my comrade.

"Hey, Wufei!" I call out to him. He looks over at me, a little startled. "That engine sounds like it's idling a little rough. When was the last time you had a tune-up?"

"It's been a while. I've been too busy," he answers and I can see the inquiry as to why written on his face. But then it dawns on him. "What time should I bring it over tomorrow?"

I smile. That's my boy. "Anytime in the afternoon, my friend. We'll be there."

He gives me a wave and then pulls out of the parking spot. I wait until the car is out of sight before starting up my truck. I can't say coming down here made me feel any better, but I did manage to sort things out a little. Maybe in time Trowa or Heero will feel comfortable telling me everything about what happened to them. And if not, maybe I'll figure out a way to deal with that. With a last breath of salty ocean air, I point my truck home.

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