GW500: Letters From Home

In the end, he does it because he is afraid.

Fear is not something that Wufei will ever admit to himself. But in the dark of the night, when he stares up at the ceiling and wonders what has become of the others, he feels it scraping at his back and gnawing in his belly. He is afraid. He is afraid of life, afraid of change, afraid of the unknown.

It is easy, the stinking, humid night whispers to him, so easy to decide to die. The air vent in his room rattles like a paltry salary in a metal bank box. Death is firm, and immovable. Death doesn't change. You knew, always knew, that you'd go out in your beloved little blaze of glory, and death would fold you in her sweet arms, and tell you that you were a brave warrior. That your life meant something, that you left your starry impression across the sky in a line of wreckage and radiation bursts, and now you can rest as long as you like.

The air system rattles and laughs at his insomnia. Coward, it says, in the voice he has mentally given it. Stupid little coward, incapable of dying, too afraid of change, betrayer of every ideal you espoused when you stood with your fellow soldiers at the end of the war.

Its voice sounds like his, breathy and ragged with hatred.

Wufei gives up on sleeping, as he does every night, and peels the strange, pseudo-cotton sheets away from his skin. The damp of sweat does nothing to cool him, only makes him sick and sticky. He walks across the rough metal deck and sits on a metal chair in front of a bare metal table. There are only three pieces of furniture in his spartan room, and he is lucky to have those. It is only a waiting room, even if the wait translates to months of anticipation, waiting for the signal to pass on to his men, his recruits, the believers he had fed with honey-tongued lies.

A small stack of papers sits on the corner of the desk, square and neat. Though he has these papers memorized by now, he still pulls them in front of him, and sorts them with trembling hands. They are as musty and stinking as the rest of the room, now, but he imagines them infused with the surroundings of those that sent them.

From Quatre, dry and hot to the touch, baking sun and incense - "Dear Wufei, things are well here. When will you come visit? It's nearly time for me to return to the corporate headquarters, but I'd like to show you the oasis before I leave..."

From Duo, the chaotic ring of a thousand people talking, car horns, frying hamburgers and refinery fumes - "Hey man, you have got to see the newest Bo Lee movie. The kung fu's fucking awesome - hey, do you still twitch every time I write 'fucking?' Anyway, I so want to see it again, and you’ve gotta come along..."

From Trowa, popcorn and cotton candy, laughing children and the smell of lions - "Quatre has been asking after you. I told him that I would attempt a letter by my own means. It's been so long since we've spoken…"

And from Heero, gun powder and a grim stare that transfers even to paper - "Where are you?" Three simple words.

Wufei wants to hate them, and Heero most of all. Weren't they all the same? Didn't they face the same battles and dangers? How is it they can embrace the change, move on, find new lives, and he can't? What makes them stronger, somehow better than the last of the dragons?

But he knows, in the same place he feels the fear he won't admit, that his hatred for his fellows is only the hatred he feels toward himself. And instead of savagely destroying the letters as he tells himself he should want to, he squares the corners again and returns them to their place on the table. He stares at the wall, imagining all of things that were written.

He still sits there, the skin of his legs stuck to the metal chair, when his radio finally crackles to life. An order is given. An order is acknowledged.

Slowly, like he is pulling on a new skin, he dresses in the uniform. He has never worn it before. But the order to move has been given, and he can clothe himself in its assurance. It smells strange, almost plastic, and the starch is rough against his skin. These are all sensations he is grateful for; he clothes his mind in the same uniform, putting it in a new skin, and happily shuts out the fear and doubt with that armor.

Wufei smiles as he steps out into a world that he no longer must fear. This time, he will succeed.