2-18-2001

Metamorphosis
By Ricin

Disclaimer: The characters are not original and do not belong to the author. Official enough?
Warnings: Depends on how open minded you are. Contains mildly graphic content, homosexual issues. 13+2, 13+6, 13+5
Comments appreciated.
Comments: C&C of any shape, size or temperature appreciated

Metamorphosis: met-a-mor-pho-sis - (1) a process in which something changes completely into something very different (2) a process in which a young animal changes completely into something very different.

-Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Act II

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One

//

"Where are the negatives?"

There was a dull crunching sound, and Duo screamed.

"Where are they?"

Treize struggled against his own restraints, but could only watch helplessly from where he was chained, in plain sight of the proceedings, so as to "encourage" him to speak up. It was his fault. If he hadn't been injured while they were trying to escape, then…

"I don't have them!" Duo spat back, coughing up blood.
"Then who has it?"
"Come closer and I'll tell you." The man knelt down, bending close to where Duo lay in a painful heap on the ground.

Duo struggled up, the agony of his injuries visible even from Treize's vantage point.

"Didn't your momma teach you to wash behind your ears?" And he had bit the above-mentioned organ, hard. The man howled, and jumped up, leaving a good chunk of flesh behind. Duo spat it out, and made a face. They both knew there was going to be hell to pay.

His interrogator trod on his broken arm, the tip of his metal-lined boot digging into the discoloured flesh. The soldiers standing guard outside the cell winced at the resulting sound.

The man bludgeoned Duo to death with his wooden club while Treize watched, pulling against the chains until his wrists bled.

//

Treize started awake, jerking off the blanket that had covered him while he was asleep. Slowly, he began to remember what had happened. Wufei had stopped somewhere, and he had been so tired that he had fallen asleep the moment his head touched the floor. Wufei must have placed the blanket over him while he was sleeping.

Said man was sitting opposite him, cross-legged on the damp grass. He was sipping at a cup of thick black coffee, the steam curling up in lazy wisps. He was staring at Treize, and he knew that Wufei had been doing that ever since he had fallen asleep.

"Where am I?"
"Two days from the border. You'd best get your rest now. We'll have to move quickly after this."
"You're going to smuggle me past the border?"
"Yes."

Treize got up, still a little unsteady from exhaustion. He was unused to so much exertion after being confined to a small room. There were two backpacks propped up against Wufei's motorcycle. Wufei noticed the direction of Treize's gaze, and stated curtly.

"Supplies. We'll have to go through the jungle." He gestured to the dense undergrowth behind him. Treize stared. There was no way a mouse to squeeze through that, much less a full-grown human, as he was. Not to mention the motorcycle....

"What about the bike?"
"I'm abandoning it."
"But it must have cost a small fortune..."
"No matter. It isn't mine."
"The military?"
"No, I killed someone for it."

Treize fell silent. He regretted asking that question already. The nearest town was a long distance from here, and he wondered if Wufei had slept at all, buying the supplies and watching him. He looked at Wufei's uniform, which was still unwrinkled and relatively spotless, considering. No, he hadn't. No human could possibly sleep in uniform, outdoors and still keep it so clean.

Treize accepted the mug of coffee from Wufei, idly picking up a stick and poking at the smouldering ashes over which a blackened kettle swung. The same dream again. He shuddered a little. It had been real. He realized that he was picking the fading scars on his wrists unconsciously, and quit. He took a small sip at the coffee, or, as he grimaced when the liquid touched his lips, the caffeine-laden sludge that passed as coffee. He gulped the whole thing down, nonetheless. He needed the chemical rush.

Wufei poured out the rest of the hot water into the fire, putting it out with a violent hiss. He stamped on it, and cleared the mess. In less than ten minutes, there was absolutely no evidence that anyone had been there at all.

Treize hefted his own backpack, and nearly fell over. Wufei lifted his own nonchalantly and took out a knife, curved and deadly sharp. For an instant, Treize thought that he was going to kill him, but Wufei turned into the thick bush and began hacking with precise sweeps, clearing a small path for the both of them. Treize took one last look at the motorcycle, standing forlornly by the roadside, and followed.

It was dark, warm, and unbearably humid, and Treize could feel assorted muscles on various parts of his anatomy screaming for mercy. He shifted the strap of his backpack where it dug painfully into the curve of his shoulder, and steadily resented the figure in front of him. He didn't want to have to choose his freedom. Now that he had offered a way out, Treize would have to take it, and then if he survived, which he probably wouldn't, not with all the mosquitoes that were drinking his blood, he would have to think about actually going about the business of living again.

An unpleasant thought, he decided.

Wufei was exhausted as well, but he didn't let himself show it, keeping his tread painfully steady. His vision blurred, and he nearly let the knife fall from his hands. He needed sleep, and he probably wasn't going to get any until this whole thing was over.

 

// For Meiran...I must do this, for you. But if you knew how I … //

 

He checked his compass again, leaning a little on the tree next to him, hoping that Treize would not notice. They were in the right direction, at least. He looked positively haggard, bracing his backpack against the same tree, hunching a little from the weight.

"Have we made any progress?"

Wufei looked at him coldly, fingering the edge of his knife. "Hardly. We've got a lot of distance to cover. We'll break camp at nineteen hundred hours."

Treize looked at his watch, and groaned. It was only twenty minutes past eight in the morning. It was going to be a long trip. Wufei slipped his compass back, and hacked away an offending branch that was in the way. He followed closely, the jungle pressing in oppressively around them.

Two

"Don't move."
"What?"
"Don't. Move." The words came out in a hiss.

Treize stilled obediently. Except for the gradual rise and fall of his breathing, he was motionless. Wufei reached behind him, his hand inching forward with infinite slowness. Treize didn't trust Wufei, but he knew better than to defy his orders.

Or so he explained to himself.

Wufei lunged forward; flipping something off his backpack, around the same time Treize lost all patience and turned around to look. Wufei caught his movement, and stepped back, dropping the object he had been holding. It fell onto the floor and immediately clamped itself on Wufei's ankle.

Treize finally got a good look at the creature. It was a snake. He jumped.

Wufei drew out his revolver, and shook the snake off. It made to slither away, but it wasn't fast enough. He shot it once, squarely in the head. It exploded in a mist of blood and gore, splattering the both of them. Wufei swiped at his cheek, leaving behind a brilliant crimson smear. He looked around, and caught sight of a small stream nearby.

"We break camp now."

Treize paused in his worrying over Wufei's foot and heaved a sigh of relief. Standing beside Wufei, he offered his arm, which Wufei took after a moment's hesitation. Resting as little of his own weight on the taller man as he could, he limped towards a patch of bare rock nearby.

"Was it poisonous?"

Wufei shrugged, and dug into one of the pockets. He drew out a small blade.

"What are you going to do with that?"
"Force the venom out."
"With the knife?"

Wufei looked at him, knife poised above the wound. Two angry puncture wounds stood out the flushed skin of his ankle. Treize scooted closer, and examined it.

"Looks like it hit something major."
"Mm."

Wufei groped around him for a stick, found one, and placed it between his teeth, gripping it tightly.

"What are you doing?" Treize repeated.

Wufei didn't answer, not that he could with the stick in his mouth. He slashed horizontally along the bite, deep enough so that blood started dribbling down immediately. Treize's face paled a bit, then went even whiter as he repeated it twice, slashing two parallel lines above and below his first cut.

"Oh lord above…"

Wufei spat the stick out, and used the back of his knife to force more of his blood out. That done, he dipped his foot into the cold running water. The water ran red, and he drew it back out.

"You've lost a lot of blood."
" 'S okay."

Wufei was struggling to bind the injury himself.

"I'll help you." He took the bandage and antiseptic from him, and busied himself in the task before Wufei could protest.

"You're good at this."
"I've had lots of practice."

The people he had been with had a penchant for running straight into the line of fire. It was strangely reassuring to know that he hadn't forgotten this skill yet. Wufei waited till he was done, before standing up awkwardly.

"Thank you."
"No problem."

They busied themselves. Only after the fire had died down and they were both staring into the flames, did Wufei venture to speak again.

"Why did you help me?"
"I don't think I understand. Why not?"
"I'm your enemy. It would have been much better for you if I died. You know how to get there yourself."
"I love beautiful things. Why should I let one die needlessly?"
"You think I'm beautiful?"

Treize didn't reply to that. Wufei persisted.

"I killed the little bird. I might have killed your rebel friend as well."

He noticed how Treize jumped a little at that news. He must have loved Milliard Peacecraft deeply.

"I've given up fighting. The people don't want freedom anymore, they want peace."
"You have lost your zeal too quickly. Meiran would have disapproved."
"Would she approve of what you've been doing?"

Wufei clammed up. Their conversation was painful for the both of them.

"You love your sister very much, don't you?"
"What does it matter? She's dead. And I was too weak to protect her." The last sentence was filled with so much self-loathing it poisoned the air.

"She always wanted to look for you, and your friend…"

"Duo." It still hurt to mention his name. He would instantly be surrounded with the memory of his touch, his gaze, his laughter…too many things.

"Duo, to repay this debt. Even when she was dying, she made me promise."
"It isn't necessary."
"Yes, it is. The both of you were the only people in my whole life, who did something for me and Meiran without asking for anything in return."
"If you say so…why do you look at me like that all the time?"

Treize was feeling uneasy from the onyx gaze that locked onto him. It reminded him too much of Milliard, when he thought Treize wasn't looking.

"I don't know. It hurts to look at you, but in a good way."
"It hurts?"

Treize became acutely aware of his uncomfortable position. He couldn't force himself to quit staring at him, mouth drier than the Sahara. He wanted him. Not wanted, needed, his own body screamed to his feebly resisting mind. He wanted to know how it would feel like to possess this young man, to know what he tasted like.

To get to know him in the closest way possible.

He craved contact, especially after having abstained from almost all forms of touch for half a dozen years. The broodingly handsome person sitting opposite him staring at him, and his pants for that matter, wasn't helping. Wufei stood up, and moved close to him, hand rubbing insistently against his cloth-covered erection.

"I can give you some relief if you want…"

Treize groaned, and let his body take over.

It had never been quieter in his whole life, or more intense. When he awoke, Wufei was still lying spooned up beside him, though he was awake. Those eyes again.

"Where did you learn to move like that?"
"On the streets. I ran away from the orphanage and turned tricks."
"Turned tricks?"
"I whored myself." Wufei explained patiently, "So I could scrape together some money to buy a fake I.D. to join the army. Then I whored myself to my superiors."

That explained his rank, Treize thought, considering his youth.

"And all this to find me?"

Wufei nodded, looking away. His body snuggled closer to Treize's for warmth.

"It kept me alive."

Treize pulled him close, so that Wufei had to face him, and spoke,

"I'm glad it did. You're a godsend."

It was then, lying in the grass with his arms around the other man, their naked, sticky bodies pressed close together for heat, and something else indefinable by either, that Treize gave his heart for the third and final time.

They continued their journey long after the sun had risen, the mosquitoes making an unwelcome appearance. It was as arduous as before, but this time there was a lot more interruptions, and a lot less conversation between the both of them. The slightest touch, a look, anything, would set them off. Sometimes he took Wufei, other times he was the one being taken, hard and rough against any available surface, be it horizontal or not. They could instinctively sense each other's need, and screwed each other till both reeked of their shared musk.

Wufei tasted of honey and brine and coconut, sweet salty and creamy all at the same time. Treize found himself hungering for that potent combination. A growing addiction, perhaps.

On the third day, around evening, due to multiple delays, they reached the border. It was pathetic for a militant nation, only a length of barbed wire fence with one checkpoint, which they were obviously not passing. Soldiers and guard dogs patrolled it periodically.

Wufei took out a pair of wire cutters, and made short work of the fence.

"I need you to trust me. Will you give me that?"
"Why?"

He watched as Wufei radioed the guard at the checkpoint about an escaped prisoner, and loaded his bullets into the gun.

"Why are you doing this?" His voice echoed with betrayal.

Wufei squeezed off three shots into the air in rapid succession. If the soldiers didn't know their location, they would now.

Wufei turned and pointed the gun at him.

"I asked you to trust me."

He shot his left shoulder, dropping the gun with shaking hands when it was done, teeth ground together so hard Treize could hear them gnashing against each other.

"Do you think they would believe me if I told them I had lost you like that?"

Treize was still staring at Wufei's shoulder with horrid fascination. To point a gun and squeeze off a trigger like that for him…He moved towards the tear in the fence

"Tell me you love me." Treize said urgently, poised to enter, to make his escape. "Tell me you love me and I'll go."

Wufei stood behind him, clutching his bleeding left shoulder with his right hand, trying to staunch the flow of blood. He face was getting paler by the second, but it bled completely white at that sentence. The wild baying of the guard dogs could be heard in the distance, followed by the heavy, wet thuds of boots striking muddy ground. They had been found.

"Go! Are you insane?" Wufei hissed, voice edged with pain and fatigue.

The dogs were within sight, foaming saliva flying madly from their slavering jowls. They were out for blood, and could smell its coppery tang in the air. This only served to whet their appetite.

"I won't go until you say it."

Time froze. An eternity passed.

"You know I'll lie if I have to."

// If it will get you to go… //

"Then say it."
"I do. Love you."

Those four words burned him with fierce happiness and agony at the same time, spurring him into action. He dove past the fence, clothes ripping on the jagged edges, and ducked into the undergrowth of the other side, just in time to watch Wufei collapse against the fence in a dead faint. The dogs were way ahead of their masters, and pounced on him, uncaring of whether he was friend or foe.

He didn't stay to watch.

Three

Someone was shaking him, hard. Treize woke up, body slick with sweat and something else.

"Treize, wake up. You're having a nightmare again."

He sat up, not bothering to hide his condition. Felt rather than saw Anne take it in and her sad little sigh, whistling through his hair. He had made it clear from the start that she was not to probe when he was like that, and she had listened to him.

"You'd better take a shower. Breakfast is waiting on the table."

He nodded in assent, eyes still squeezed shut. He didn't want to wake up. Seemed that all he did was dream, get up, paint, drink more than was good for him and then sleep again. His works were gaining popularity in the country he had sought political asylum in and he had met Anne at one of his exhibitions. They had been married slightly over a year.

After the shower, Treize felt vaguely human again, and sat himself at the chair, stabbing at his food while Anne watched him like a hawk. She knew from previous experience that if she didn't watch his every bite, he would wander off again and paint.

He was mopping up the last of his food when she spoke.

"You called their names again."

Treize wondered briefly if Anne was a masochist, marrying him even though she knew he would never give up his ghosts. He didn't love her, but she loved him enough to share him with his psychosis, his memories. One became foolish when in love, he surmised

He had done some pretty stupid things himself.

"Who?" The shard of ice in Anne's heart dug in a little deeper.
"I couldn't tell. You were crying, I think."

They didn't share the same bed. He was too afraid that he might call out a name other than hers while they had sex when he wasn't fully conscious.

The doorbell rang. Someone was at the gate. Probably one of the neighbours or something. They enjoyed company, and Anne was forever dragging him out to meet Mr-and-Mrs Something or the other.

"I'll get it." Anne rose, and he squeezed her hand once, gratefully.

When she came back, her face had a shadow over it. "It's for you." She said with forced lightness. Treize suddenly felt a strong sense of foreboding.

"Who is it?"
"I don't know. He said it was urgent."
"You want to come along?"
"No, you need your privacy."

Times like these, he wished he could find within himself the capacity to love her, but he couldn't.

He saw the motorcycle first, before his eyes fell on Wufei. He stood behind his fence, not daring to come out, while Wufei tiptoed awkwardly outside on the step.

"You're alive."
"Not for long. There's a price on my head…who is she?"

It took a long time for Trey to force the words out.

"My wife."

Something curled up and died within Wufei's breast.

"She's beautiful. I hope she makes you happy."
"She does."

 

// I'm lying. //

 

"When's the baby due?"
"Month after next." So he had noticed that Anne was pregnant. "It's a girl. Our first."
"The little one's lucky." Wufei reiterated quietly, "To have a father like you."

Treize reached through the gaps between the fence. His hand grasped Wufei's, clinging tightly onto his wrist. His fingers were freezing cold, as if all his vitality had been sapped away. He still wasn't eating enough.

"I don't love her, Wufei."

There was a plea hidden somewhere in there.

Wufei plucked Treize's fingers away from him gently, one by one.

"Sometimes that's the best way."

He pressed a gentle, lingering kiss on the second joints of Treize's fingers, communicating through the touch of his lips on Treize's skin all that he wouldn't-couldn't say, not when there was a woman waiting in the house for Treize, her womb swelling ripe and full with his unborn child. His breath warmed Treize, just a little bit, but it was enough to break the spell. He drew his hand back.

Wufei stepped off, and stumbled, footing unsteady. He regained his balance. His face was a little flushed. Treize laughed a little, and made shooing motions with his hand, but his voice was bleak.

"Go. Now. Don't let me see another person I love die in front of me."

 

// You love me? //

 

Wufei nodded, and looked up, tipping an invisible hat to salute Anne, who was peering anxiously at the two of them from within the house. He jumped onto his motorcycle and rode off.

Treize touched two fingers to his lips and blew gently in his direction, but only after he was sure Wufei wouldn't be able to see it. He went back to his wife and child, opening the door and kissing Anne thoroughly on her mouth. He bounded up the stairs to his studio, where he burned all his art materials.

He never painted again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

End
Metamorphosis: met-a-mor-pho-sis - (1) a process in which something changes completely into something very different (2) a process in which a young animal changes completely into something very different.

-Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Act II

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One

//

"Where are the negatives?"

There was a dull crunching sound, and Duo screamed.

"Where are they?"

Treize struggled against his own restraints, but could only watch helplessly from where he was chained, in plain sight of the proceedings, so as to "encourage" him to speak up. It was his fault. If he hadn't been injured while they were trying to escape, then…

"I don't have them!" Duo spat back, coughing up blood.
"Then who has it?"
"Come closer and I'll tell you." The man knelt down, bending close to where Duo lay in a painful heap on the ground.

Duo struggled up, the agony of his injuries visible even from Treize's vantage point.

"Didn't your momma teach you to wash behind your ears?" And he had bit the above-mentioned organ, hard. The man howled, and jumped up, leaving a good chunk of flesh behind. Duo spat it out, and made a face. They both knew there was going to be hell to pay.

His interrogator trod on his broken arm, the tip of his metal-lined boot digging into the discoloured flesh. The soldiers standing guard outside the cell winced at the resulting sound.

The man bludgeoned Duo to death with his wooden club while Treize watched, pulling against the chains until his wrists bled.

//

Treize started awake, jerking off the blanket that had covered him while he was asleep. Slowly, he began to remember what had happened. Wufei had stopped somewhere, and he had been so tired that he had fallen asleep the moment his head touched the floor. Wufei must have placed the blanket over him while he was sleeping.

Said man was sitting opposite him, cross-legged on the damp grass. He was sipping at a cup of thick black coffee, the steam curling up in lazy wisps. He was staring at Treize, and he knew that Wufei had been doing that ever since he had fallen asleep.

"Where am I?"

"Two days from the border. You'd best get your rest now. We'll have to move quickly after this."

"You're going to smuggle me past the border?"

"Yes."

Treize got up, still a little unsteady from exhaustion. He was unused to so much exertion after being confined to a small room. There were two backpacks propped up against Wufei's motorcycle. Wufei noticed the direction of Treize's gaze, and stated curtly.

"Supplies. We'll have to go through the jungle." He gestured to the dense undergrowth behind him. Treize stared. There was no way a mouse to squeeze through that, much less a full-grown human, as he was. Not to mention the motorcycle....

"What about the bike?"

"I'm abandoning it."

"But it must have cost a small fortune..."

"No matter. It isn't mine."

"The military?"

"No, I killed someone for it."

Treize fell silent. He regretted asking that question already. The nearest town was a long distance from here, and he wondered if Wufei had slept at all, buying the supplies and watching him. He looked at Wufei's uniform, which was still unwrinkled and relatively spotless, considering. No, he hadn't. No human could possibly sleep in uniform, outdoors and still keep it so clean.

Treize accepted the mug of coffee from Wufei, idly picking up a stick and poking at the smouldering ashes over which a blackened kettle swung. The same dream again. He shuddered a little. It had been real. He realized that he was picking the fading scars on his wrists unconsciously, and quit. He took a small sip at the coffee, or, as he grimaced when the liquid touched his lips, the caffeine-laden sludge that passed as coffee. He gulped the whole thing down, nonetheless. He needed the chemical rush.

Wufei poured out the rest of the hot water into the fire, putting it out with a violent hiss. He stamped on it, and cleared the mess. In less than ten minutes, there was absolutely no evidence that anyone had been there at all.

Treize hefted his own backpack, and nearly fell over. Wufei lifted his own nonchalantly and took out a knife, curved and deadly sharp. For an instant, Treize thought that he was going to kill him, but Wufei turned into the thick bush and began hacking with precise sweeps, clearing a small path for the both of them. Treize took one last look at the motorcycle, standing forlornly by the roadside, and followed.

It was dark, warm, and unbearably humid, and Treize could feel assorted muscles on various parts of his anatomy screaming for mercy. He shifted the strap of his backpack where it dug painfully into the curve of his shoulder, and steadily resented the figure in front of him. He didn't want to have to choose his freedom. Now that he had offered a way out, Treize would have to take it, and then if he survived, which he probably wouldn't, not with all the mosquitoes that were drinking his blood, he would have to think about actually going about the business of living again.

An unpleasant thought, he decided.

Wufei was exhausted as well, but he didn't let himself show it, keeping his tread painfully steady. His vision blurred, and he nearly let the knife fall from his hands. He needed sleep, and he probably wasn't going to get any until this whole thing was over.

 

// For Meiran...I must do this, for you. But if you knew how I … //

 

He checked his compass again, leaning a little on the tree next to him, hoping that Treize would not notice. They were in the right direction, at least. He looked positively haggard, bracing his backpack against the same tree, hunching a little from the weight.

"Have we made any progress?"

Wufei looked at him coldly, fingering the edge of his knife. "Hardly. We've got a lot of distance to cover. We'll break camp at nineteen hundred hours."

Treize looked at his watch, and groaned. It was only twenty minutes past eight in the morning. It was going to be a long trip. Wufei slipped his compass back, and hacked away an offending branch that was in the way. He followed closely, the jungle pressing in oppressively around them.

Two

"Don't move."

"What?"

"Don't. Move." The words came out in a hiss.

Treize stilled obediently. Except for the gradual rise and fall of his breathing, he was motionless. Wufei reached behind him, his hand inching forward with infinite slowness. Treize didn't trust Wufei, but he knew better than to defy his orders.

Or so he explained to himself.

Wufei lunged forward; flipping something off his backpack, around the same time Treize lost all patience and turned around to look. Wufei caught his movement, and stepped back, dropping the object he had been holding. It fell onto the floor and immediately clamped itself on Wufei's ankle.

Treize finally got a good look at the creature. It was a snake. He jumped.

Wufei drew out his revolver, and shook the snake off. It made to slither away, but it wasn't fast enough. He shot it once, squarely in the head. It exploded in a mist of blood and gore, splattering the both of them. Wufei swiped at his cheek, leaving behind a brilliant crimson smear. He looked around, and caught sight of a small stream nearby.

"We break camp now."

Treize paused in his worrying over Wufei's foot and heaved a sigh of relief. Standing beside Wufei, he offered his arm, which Wufei took after a moment's hesitation. Resting as little of his own weight on the taller man as he could, he limped towards a patch of bare rock nearby.

"Was it poisonous?"

Wufei shrugged, and dug into one of the pockets. He drew out a small blade.

"What are you going to do with that?"

"Force the venom out."

"With the knife?"

Wufei looked at him, knife poised above the wound. Two angry puncture wounds stood out the flushed skin of his ankle. Treize scooted closer, and examined it.

"Looks like it hit something major."

"Mm."

Wufei groped around him for a stick, found one, and placed it between his teeth, gripping it tightly.

"What are you doing?" Treize repeated.

Wufei didn't answer, not that he could with the stick in his mouth. He slashed horizontally along the bite, deep enough so that blood started dribbling down immediately. Treize's face paled a bit, then went even whiter as he repeated it twice, slashing two parallel lines above and below his first cut.

"Oh lord above…"

Wufei spat the stick out, and used the back of his knife to force more of his blood out. That done, he dipped his foot into the cold running water. The water ran red, and he drew it back out.

"You've lost a lot of blood."

" 'S okay."

Wufei was struggling to bind the injury himself.

"I'll help you." He took the bandage and antiseptic from him, and busied himself in the task before Wufei could protest.

"You're good at this."

"I've had lots of practice."

The people he had been with had a penchant for running straight into the line of fire. It was strangely reassuring to know that he hadn't forgotten this skill yet. Wufei waited till he was done, before standing up awkwardly.

"Thank you."

"No problem."

They busied themselves. Only after the fire had died down and they were both staring into the flames, did Wufei venture to speak again.

"Why did you help me?"

"I don't think I understand. Why not?"

"I'm your enemy. It would have been much better for you if I died. You know how to get there yourself."

"I love beautiful things. Why should I let one die needlessly?"

"You think I'm beautiful?"

Treize didn't reply to that. Wufei persisted.

"I killed the little bird. I might have killed your rebel friend as well."

He noticed how Treize jumped a little at that news. He must have loved Milliard Peacecraft deeply.

"I've given up fighting. The people don't want freedom anymore, they want peace."

"You have lost your zeal too quickly. Meiran would have disapproved."

"Would she approve of what you've been doing?"

Wufei clammed up. Their conversation was painful for the both of them.

"You love your sister very much, don't you?"

"What does it matter? She's dead. And I was too weak to protect her." The last sentence was filled with so much self-loathing it poisoned the air.

"She always wanted to look for you, and your friend…"

"Duo." It still hurt to mention his name. He would instantly be surrounded with the memory of his touch, his gaze, his laughter…too many things.

"Duo, to repay this debt. Even when she was dying, she made me promise."

"It isn't necessary."

"Yes, it is. The both of you were the only people in my whole life, who did something for me and Meiran without asking for anything in return."

"If you say so…why do you look at me like that all the time?"

Treize was feeling uneasy from the onyx gaze that locked onto him. It reminded him too much of Milliard, when he thought Treize wasn't looking.

"I don't know. It hurts to look at you, but in a good way."

"It hurts?"

Treize became acutely aware of his uncomfortable position. He couldn't force himself to quit staring at him, mouth drier than the Sahara. He wanted him. Not wanted, needed, his own body screamed to his feebly resisting mind. He wanted to know how it would feel like to possess this young man, to know what he tasted like.

To get to know him in the closest way possible.

He craved contact, especially after having abstained from almost all forms of touch for half a dozen years. The broodingly handsome person sitting opposite him staring at him, and his pants for that matter, wasn't helping. Wufei stood up, and moved close to him, hand rubbing insistently against his cloth-covered erection.

"I can give you some relief if you want…"

Treize groaned, and let his body take over.

It had never been quieter in his whole life, or more intense. When he awoke, Wufei was still lying spooned up beside him, though he was awake. Those eyes again.

"Where did you learn to move like that?"

"On the streets. I ran away from the orphanage and turned tricks."

"Turned tricks?"

"I whored myself." Wufei explained patiently, "So I could scrape together some money to buy a fake I.D. to join the army. Then I whored myself to my superiors."

That explained his rank, Treize thought, considering his youth.

"And all this to find me?"

Wufei nodded, looking away. His body snuggled closer to Treize's for warmth.

"It kept me alive."

Treize pulled him close, so that Wufei had to face him, and spoke,

"I'm glad it did. You're a godsend."

It was then, lying in the grass with his arms around the other man, their naked, sticky bodies pressed close together for heat, and something else indefinable by either, that Treize gave his heart for the third and final time.

They continued their journey long after the sun had risen, the mosquitoes making an unwelcome appearance. It was as arduous as before, but this time there was a lot more interruptions, and a lot less conversation between the both of them. The slightest touch, a look, anything, would set them off. Sometimes he took Wufei, other times he was the one being taken, hard and rough against any available surface, be it horizontal or not. They could instinctively sense each other's need, and screwed each other till both reeked of their shared musk.

Wufei tasted of honey and brine and coconut, sweet salty and creamy all at the same time. Treize found himself hungering for that potent combination. A growing addiction, perhaps.

On the third day, around evening, due to multiple delays, they reached the border. It was pathetic for a militant nation, only a length of barbed wire fence with one checkpoint, which they were obviously not passing. Soldiers and guard dogs patrolled it periodically.

Wufei took out a pair of wire cutters, and made short work of the fence.

"I need you to trust me. Will you give me that?"

"Why?"

He watched as Wufei radioed the guard at the checkpoint about an escaped prisoner, and loaded his bullets into the gun.

"Why are you doing this?" His voice echoed with betrayal.

Wufei squeezed off three shots into the air in rapid succession. If the soldiers didn't know their location, they would now.

Wufei turned and pointed the gun at him.

"I asked you to trust me."

He shot his left shoulder, dropping the gun with shaking hands when it was done, teeth ground together so hard Treize could hear them gnashing against each other.

"Do you think they would believe me if I told them I had lost you like that?"

Treize was still staring at Wufei's shoulder with horrid fascination. To point a gun and squeeze off a trigger like that for him…He moved towards the tear in the fence

"Tell me you love me." Treize said urgently, poised to enter, to make his escape. "Tell me you love me and I'll go."

Wufei stood behind him, clutching his bleeding left shoulder with his right hand, trying to staunch the flow of blood. He face was getting paler by the second, but it bled completely white at that sentence. The wild baying of the guard dogs could be heard in the distance, followed by the heavy, wet thuds of boots striking muddy ground. They had been found.

"Go! Are you insane?" Wufei hissed, voice edged with pain and fatigue.

The dogs were within sight, foaming saliva flying madly from their slavering jowls. They were out for blood, and could smell its coppery tang in the air. This only served to whet their appetite.

"I won't go until you say it."

Time froze. An eternity passed.

"You know I'll lie if I have to."

// If it will get you to go… //

"Then say it."

"I do. Love you."

Those four words burned him with fierce happiness and agony at the same time, spurring him into action. He dove past the fence, clothes ripping on the jagged edges, and ducked into the undergrowth of the other side, just in time to watch Wufei collapse against the fence in a dead faint. The dogs were way ahead of their masters, and pounced on him, uncaring of whether he was friend or foe.

He didn't stay to watch.

Three

Someone was shaking him, hard. Treize woke up, body slick with sweat and something else.

"Treize, wake up. You're having a nightmare again."

He sat up, not bothering to hide his condition. Felt rather than saw Anne take it in and her sad little sigh, whistling through his hair. He had made it clear from the start that she was not to probe when he was like that, and she had listened to him.

"You'd better take a shower. Breakfast is waiting on the table."

He nodded in assent, eyes still squeezed shut. He didn't want to wake up. Seemed that all he did was dream, get up, paint, drink more than was good for him and then sleep again. His works were gaining popularity in the country he had sought political asylum in and he had met Anne at one of his exhibitions. They had been married slightly over a year.

After the shower, Treize felt vaguely human again, and sat himself at the chair, stabbing at his food while Anne watched him like a hawk. She knew from previous experience that if she didn't watch his every bite, he would wander off again and paint.

He was mopping up the last of his food when she spoke.

"You called their names again."

Treize wondered briefly if Anne was a masochist, marrying him even though she knew he would never give up his ghosts. He didn't love her, but she loved him enough to share him with his psychosis, his memories. One became foolish when in love, he surmised

He had done some pretty stupid things himself.

"Who?" The shard of ice in Anne's heart dug in a little deeper.

"I couldn't tell. You were crying, I think."

They didn't share the same bed. He was too afraid that he might call out a name other than hers while they had sex when he wasn't fully conscious.

The doorbell rang. Someone was at the gate. Probably one of the neighbours or something. They enjoyed company, and Anne was forever dragging him out to meet Mr-and-Mrs Something or the other.

"I'll get it." Anne rose, and he squeezed her hand once, gratefully.

When she came back, her face had a shadow over it. "It's for you." She said with forced lightness. Treize suddenly felt a strong sense of foreboding.

"Who is it?"

"I don't know. He said it was urgent."

"You want to come along?"

"No, you need your privacy."

Times like these, he wished he could find within himself the capacity to love her, but he couldn't.

He saw the motorcycle first, before his eyes fell on Wufei. He stood behind his fence, not daring to come out, while Wufei tiptoed awkwardly outside on the step.

"You're alive."

"Not for long. There's a price on my head…who is she?"

It took a long time for Trey to force the words out.

"My wife."

Something curled up and died within Wufei's breast.

"She's beautiful. I hope she makes you happy."

"She does."

 

// I'm lying. //

 

"When's the baby due?"

"Month after next." So he had noticed that Anne was pregnant. "It's a girl. Our first."

"The little one's lucky." Wufei reiterated quietly, "To have a father like you."

Treize reached through the gaps between the fence. His hand grasped Wufei's, clinging tightly onto his wrist. His fingers were freezing cold, as if all his vitality had been sapped away. He still wasn't eating enough.

"I don't love her, Wufei."

There was a plea hidden somewhere in there.

Wufei plucked Treize's fingers away from him gently, one by one.

"Sometimes that's the best way."

He pressed a gentle, lingering kiss on the second joints of Treize's fingers, communicating through the touch of his lips on Treize's skin all that he wouldn't-couldn't say, not when there was a woman waiting in the house for Treize, her womb swelling ripe and full with his unborn child. His breath warmed Treize, just a little bit, but it was enough to break the spell. He drew his hand back.

Wufei stepped off, and stumbled, footing unsteady. He regained his balance. His face was a little flushed. Treize laughed a little, and made shooing motions with his hand, but his voice was bleak.

"Go. Now. Don't let me see another person I love die in front of me."

 

// You love me? //

 

Wufei nodded, and looked up, tipping an invisible hat to salute Anne, who was peering anxiously at the two of them from within the house. He jumped onto his motorcycle and rode off.

Treize touched two fingers to his lips and blew gently in his direction, but only after he was sure Wufei wouldn't be able to see it. He went back to his wife and child, opening the door and kissing Anne thoroughly on her mouth. He bounded up the stairs to his studio, where he burned all his art materials.

He never painted again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

End