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The manor house, as it turned out, was more like a bloody estate.

Wufei had expected something large, just not the sort of thing with its own forest and a river winding through it.

Mariemaia loved it and promptly fell into the bloody river, so of course he had to go in and fetch her out again.

Also, there were in fact swans.

He had thought Treize had been joking or that Duo had been insane, but perhaps it had been yes and no for both of them. There was no pool, but there was a pond and a river and roses and woods. Everything in the manor itself seemed to be stone walls and wooden buttresses with the electrics of the place retrofitted in creatively. The kitchen was the most heavily renovated space, possibly followed by the bathrooms, and then Mariemaia's bedroom. There were clean but abandoned buildings that he knew immediately would become workshops, and a vacant stable.

The funniest part was that Treize didn't consider it a monstrosity, which made him wonder what property was nearby that he found unacceptably large and unlivable.

Probably best not to contemplate it.

He'd seen pictures, of course, of the old places his clan once owned, and they had been rather larger than that to which he was accustomed to the colony, but even so, they wouldn't have been meant for three people and an appalling amount of servants. He wasn't even sure when that would be a thing. Treize simultaneously acted as if the place needed a cook, three maids, a butler, and assorted whatever, and he also couldn't be bothered to hire them.

Then again, he hadn't been the same since the afternoon that he had watched the videos.

Wufei shouldn't have allowed it, and yet there wasn't really such a thing as not 'allowing' Treize a thing he was bent on doing. Wufei had experienced that quite sharply in Luxembourg, and every time it seemed to be a terrible decision that Treize was making. He wasn't sure what compelled the man. He'd been very compelled to leave Lake Victoria, though, immediately; had stopped talking to Sally, seemed more interested in putting on a show of good health for Mariemaia, and had generally seemed less... relaxed, less genuine.

Clearly a time was going to come in which he'd have to pin Treize down and make him talk, but he didn't think they were there yet. There were other things to arrange, such as physical therapy and getting groceries delivered, and that was just the start. Mariemaia needed clothing, Treize needed it as well, and he clearly wasn't in any shape to manage it on his own. He was, however, standing on the back patio unsupported, watching Mariemaia make faces at the fish in the raised koi pond. They had apparently survived some level of abandonment, which made Wufei suspect they craved the food Mariemaia was tossing them less than they craved daring but unlucky mice or frogs.

There was something at the core of him that went liquid and soft watching it. It was a little disgusting and entirely pleasant and he wondered if he should be worried about himself. "Well, you look like you're having quite a good time."

"Wufei!" Mariemaia's face brightened. "Look at Father! He's been standing with me for the longest time, and the fish are happy to be fed. They'll come up and nibble on your fingers if you put them just at the water's edge, see? And it tickles!"

Yes, definitely disgusting, god help him. "It does? Are you sure they don't bite?"

"Their teeth are down in their throats so it's quite safe," Treize noted, glancing over at Wufei, and seeming to relax his posture a little, though Wufei couldn't tell if it were forced or natural. He hoped it was natural because Treize's hands folded behind his back went a little more slack. "I'm sorry, the gardens are so relaxing. I know there are other things I need to do."

Wufei automatically shook his head. "What's there to do? I mean, at some point, we'll have to go out and find clothing for both of you, probably shortly. Otherwise, you'll be washing clothes every other day, because I don't mind cooking, but I stop short at laundry."

Mariemaia leaned over and scattered another handful of fish food across the surface of the water. "That's all right, I'm sure Father must be quite good at laundry."

He quirked a smile, looking between them both with a slowly softening expression. "I know you're pulling my leg, but proper wear and maintenance of uniform is up there with learning to shoot. I'm actually capable of laundry." He looked sideways at Wufei. "But perhaps we should go into town tomorrow morning and make it easier."

The little shrug of Mariemaia's shoulders was something of an apology. "Sorry, Wufei, I didn't get it right. But we got what we needed!"

Reaching out, he ruffled the short strands of her hair. "We did. We'll make him go shopping with us so that it isn't the same pajama sets and random terrible denims." Glancing over at Treize, he raised an eyebrow. "Plus we'll need to figure out something about your school in another month or so. Uniforms and the like, hm?"

"I like my terrible denims." That was what happened when Noin took a child shopping, and clearly she did like them.

"I'll call the school... damn, it's Friday. Monday then. I can't believe you're both conspiring against me." He tsked, and reached out with his right hand to rub lightly at the back of Wufei's shoulder blade. "We should make a list of everything that needs to be done. I think feeding the fish and swans is a chore for you, Mariemaia."

Wufei nodded. "At least until you're off to school, then. And I meant your father's terrible denims, actually." They would have to talk about whatever it was at some point. Not that Wufei was at all uncertain about what the whatever was; he'd seen what Treize looked like when he'd come back to the hospital room, a nervous wreck, the fingers on his left hand twitching and moving, his right hand massaging it, his eyes not settling on Wufei but instead dancing over him and coming back again and again.

"You'll have to be seen in public with me in them tomorrow," he noted wryly, still idly rubbing Wufei's shoulder. He continued to be idly affectionate and had been growing more so since they'd arrived in the manor, so it wasn't something there that had changed. He wasn't even sure what it would be when he finally got Treize to talk about it or how to overcome it. He could see the spikes of anxiety, maybe all internally driven. It was worrisome in the extreme, but there was quite literally nothing that he could do about it except keep going until Treize either told him about it or fell all to pieces. He sincerely hoped it wouldn't be the latter but knew it was more likely to be.

"I want skirts," Mariemaia said. "With shorts underneath." Well, at least now they knew from whence the uniform oddity had come.

Someone really had let a small child take a hand in the uniform design. Treize chuckled a little. "Skirts. And? You had to leave a lot of things behind, and we're hoping to get them back with the return of the next diplomatic mission, but. Books, toys, perhaps something fun?"

"Oh, yes, please! May I have magnets?"

Wufei could only imagine what fresh hell that would end up being. "Clothes first, for both of you lunatics. Then books, then toys." He cast a glance at Treize. "And only one of you is allowed magnets at a time." As if that edict would stand.

As if he even meant it. Treize gave a snort of laughter, and very faintly used Wufei to steady himself as he turned slightly. "Expect collusion, Wufei. Expect collusion. If you don't mind, I'm going to go inside and sit for a moment."

"I'll go check the library to decide what we should get," Mariemaia decided and romped off, probably to get sidetracked somewhere along the way. She seemed to be a much happier child now that she was off of L3.

"So." Wufei tilted his head, looked at him. "Obviously you aren't all right. But you know you can talk to me, yes?"

His expression didn't change, not even a flicker, but Wufei felt an unsteadiness in the hand against his shoulder. "Yes. I... Tonight. I'd like to try to do a few things that I haven't been doing, first. Sort the..." He made a vague gesture to the double doors behind them with his left hand, as if it encompassed the mess of it all.

Maybe it did.

"All right." He hadn't the faintest clue of what it actually meant. It was a bit headache-inducing. "I'll try to make a list of the things that need doing. Might run to the grocers for a few things."

That would be an adventure, and the first time he'd gotten a good long look at the local population. See what they'd be dealing with there in the long term. Something he'd said made Treize's expression soften again, just a little. "Put horse tranquilizers on the grocery list for me. No, why don't we work on the list together."

"Sounds like the sort of thing we'd enjoy." It didn't at all, because if they were actually both all right, they'd probably be tinkering in one of the outbuildings. Still, maybe he'd get a fair indication of which direction he should be going in order to try and help. It was obviously wearing on Treize, and if he found it exhausting from the outside, he couldn't imagine how exhausting Treize found it.

"It's right up there with estate management," Treize agreed, pulling a smirk. He was still mostly steady walking and through the doors that led to the garden was a nice sitting area that wasn't too fussy. They could work there.

"Wildly boring and utterly necessary, you mean?" Horse tranquilizers, honestly. "I can probably finish setting up the physical therapy room, as well."

"You just want to get me on a treadmill." He sat down unsteadily, and grabbed a pen and paper from a side table; eventually, he supposed there would be random datapads in every corner like there had been in Luxembourg, but the pens and pads of paper seemed to be there from a previous occupation of the house. "Therapy room, Wufei. Finding staff..." He sighed.

"Just someone to come in and dust and keep things tidy a couple of times a week, I should think. Maybe someone to cook or put together things we can toss in the oven. I mean, there's an entire floor that I find it highly unlikely we'll be using." The place had nooks and crannies and mad windows that were probably going to mean the winter would be freezing because why would anyone try replacing them? They were beautiful.

"Mariemaia can take up roller hockey. You could take up roller hockey. We could turn the whole thing into a fencing area." He looked relieved, and wrote down Wufei's suggestion. "I'll make a few phone calls. I don't want anyone else living here. This is... peaceful the way it is."

"Roller hockey." Whatever that was, it sounded like the kind of thing that ended with broken limbs and was therefore a great deal of fun. "We could always have one of the rooms converted into something kinky," he teased. "After all, Mariemaia will be away at school." He didn't much mean it but there was a gleam in Treize's eye that he had quite missed.

"I think..." He wrote something else down on the to do list, but Wufei wasn't sure what. "It can be a day school, and I think I'd rather have her come home every day until she's comfortable here." He was making a thoughtful face but his eyes were looking a bit livelier. "I need to see about getting her into therapy, as well."

Well, yes. If anyone needed therapy, all of them did. Wufei less than the other two. His colony had always planned for the worst case scenario, so they'd had him in... he didn't know what to call it. Preventative therapy? In Case of Catastrophe, Don't Break This Glass therapy? He had a feeling that Treize and Mariemaia would prove to be made of similar stuff and would be the sort of thing that would make any normal therapist weep. "I'll make some calls around about that. There's a school locally that might have better answers about what's available." They mostly dealt with children who'd suffered trauma or had developmental delays, he was fairly certain that he had heard as much.

He'd do the legwork on that. Treize was still looking too intensely thoughtful, and he slouched slightly in the chair. "She was there to see me every other day or so. The entire time. No matter what they were doing." His jaw clenched.

And that was a fresh horror to contemplate. "She's a good girl," Wufei agreed, watching him carefully.

"She is." Treize's jaw remained tense, but he was at least still talking. "I don't know what seeing that does to a child."

That was one way to look at it, never mind how it impacted the person who'd been the target of it. Sometimes he wondered about Treize's... well, everything. Sense of self. Utter inability to put himself first even when he needed to do as much. "I don't know about quite a lot of things, but that's all right. We'll find a proper therapist." For everyone. Treize included, and he'd have that fight when he came to it. "What do you want for supper? Might not run to the grocers, might just pick up something." He had a bad feeling about leaving Treize alone for very long.

There wasn't any particular reason, but Treize felt on edge, and he wanted to be there if, when, he finally broke down. "We could scandalize the village and order pizza."

There was no stopping the way his mouth curved in amusement. "Well, I'm sure we'll survive the scandal. What else should we put on the list? I've tossed most of the cleaning supplies we might need in with the shopping." Someone had been in before them to clean things, but the third floor was dust all over. That would take some doing.

Possibly a team of skilled renovators, at some later date. "Some sort of personal chef to leave food so you don't have to cook, maid service, you're going to call that school you mentioned and I'm grateful you've already been thinking about this. Oh occasional groundskeeper, I'll arrange that. Physical therapy room, I'm afraid to ask what that entails..." He made a couple more notes on the paper. "Tomorrow we get clothes and other necessities, because I would kill for a datapad right now. Doing things the old way is harder."

"I know, it's terrible, we've been forced to spend so much time together. All in the same room, all with our own books. The horror." Anyone who objected to modern life was preposterous. "Might as well call the room we're setting up for physical therapy a home gym. It isn't as though we shouldn't have done something like eventually anyway."

"Yes. Can't run outside every day in England unless masochism is involved. Time I got back into the habit." It was sensible and it softened what was very much a reality; that Treize still had a long recovery ahead of him. His left hand twitched at the wrist while he tilted his head back to look up to the roof of the cavernous sitting area they were in. In the last few days he'd stopped trying to use it to hold anything he didn't want to drop for anything other than transitory actions. "Wufei, I. There are things I want to discuss with you, only I do need you to promise you won't go back to L3."

Reaching across, Wufei caught his hand, began rubbing the wrist and his fingers. "I promise that I won't go back to L3." That didn't mean he couldn't make other arrangements.

Treize was a savvy man, even when he was being escorted out of a conference hall at gunpoint. He would be able to parse the loopholes and not comment on them because it gave him plausible deniability. "They damaged the structural template the nanites were working to. No amount of physical therapy is going to stop that until I can retrain them to a repair standard of normal."

Wufei's thumb carefully rubbed at his palm. "I want to work on your nanite programming. I already talked to Sally about getting the necessary data work devices." He was sick at the core, though, nauseated just a bit at the thought of what they must have done. What Treize must have seen and suffered.

“I might... be ahead of you. I have a shipment of equipment and materials arriving later this week." And possibly only so slowly because he didn't want to draw attention to it. "But I would be honored if you would help. I can't... think of a solution that doesn't involve..." He stopped looking at the ceiling, and looked at Wufei's hand on his instead, and quite abruptly stood up and moved to sit beside him on the sofa, rather than the chair he'd been in.

"No, we won't involve that. Neither of us is stupid, to say the least. We'll figure it out." Because if it came down to it, Wufei thought he'd stab anyone who suggested it right through the center with his sword.

The pen and paper had been abandoned on the coffee table, but it was fine. "Yes, there has to be a way to retrain them non-behaviorally." He turned his hand against Wufei's, clutched his fingers. "I can't feel this hand unless I'm looking at it. I don't know if it's phantom sensation I'm feeling when I am looking. I don't know how to describe any of it."

"You don't have to describe it. Just keep doing the best you can to make it through the day." He allowed his fingers to lock between Treize's. "We'll figure it out. You know Mariemaia isn't the only one who needs therapy, yes?"

Treize flexed his fingers, and then leaned in to kiss Wufei, an easy soft press against his mouth. "Yes." Whether he would fight him when the time came or not, that was another question.

Probably would.

That was all right. "Okay." So long as he'd admit it once, Wufei would manage when the time came. The kiss, though. Well. It was hard to resist that, and so he kissed him again, nose rubbing against Treize's cheek soothingly.

It wasn't quite easy and playful, but it felt good. Treize shifted, leaning over Wufei more and pressing him against the back of the sofa while he kissed him back, right hand sliding over Wufei's side and down to his hip.

"That's gross," Mariemaia advised from the doorway, causing both of them to jump. She didn't look as though she found it disgusting. Mostly she looked as if she found it amusing.

"Kissing isn't gross, kissing is a thing people do," Wufei advised, and pecked Treize on the mouth again, sweet and easy.

Treize inhaled slowly, and moved carefully out of his somewhat predatory position on the sofa. That was a damn shame, but they could pick it up again in bed. In a proper bed. "What would you like on your pizza?"

Her eyes lit up as she came further inside and sat in the chair Treize had abandoned. "Natto!"

Wufei shrugged. "Sounds good to me. Treize?"

"Heathens. With sausage, too, then." He didn't stand up quite yet, and Wufei decided he could dial for it on the house phone. Treize had honestly already done his part for physical therapy for the day. If he managed to walk to the kitchen to eat and then up the stairs at the end of the night, it was nigh on miraculous.

With another quick peck on Treize's cheek, he rose and went to make the call.


Dinner had been a reminder to Wufei why he was there, what he wanted. It was... easy was the wrong word, but it didn't require any mental effort and that icy feeling was ebbing back. Treize persisted in trying to eat pizza with a knife and fork, and showed Mariemaia how to hold it. They both gave up after a few bites, and used their hands as Wufei considered normal people might, but every once in a while she would pick up her fork and turn it over and clearly she was going to take to mimicking her father's manners.

He was going to have to teach both of them to use chopsticks when it was appropriate.

There had been more reading after dinner, a discussion of putting more rugs on the very cold floor, and why tapestries had been so very popular when the manor had been built (cold, again. Everything in England was cold.). Mariemaia had gone to the library and found a picture book of moats and oil traps and the architecture of castles, and thank god she had gotten tired not long after that, but he could see her head was full of ideas about finding trap doors or things in the manor.

At the very least, they wouldn't run out of things to entertain themselves with anytime soon. Maybe they'd find a priest hole. She would undoubtedly find that quite exciting. Wufei might, too, for that matter. History was interesting and fun when he didn't have to worry about his killing of Treize popping up to overwhelm him.

It had been a constant intrusive thought for the first six months, and reality, the news, everything reinforced it for him. Yet there Treize was, alive and standing at the master bedroom's ensuite sink in just pajama bottoms, brushing his teeth. Not at all a thing anyone had discussed 'His Excellency' doing, no, it had been speeches and battles and victories and losses.

No one ever imagined him standing there flossing his teeth.

No one but Wufei, in any case, and strangely enough, it had been one of the things he'd dreamed of, afterwards; Treize, sleepy and brushing his teeth and mumbling plans for Epyon that made absolutely no sense thanks to the fact that Wufei really was not a morning person. Oh, he still woke at an ungodly early hour, he just didn't make sense for nearly forty minutes after the fact.

They stood companionably enough, Wufei brushing while Treize flossed, and the world seemed so strangely right. Particularly since after Treize was done, he washed his hands and leaned in to slide an arm around Wufei's waist, watching Wufei's face in the mirror. "Thank you for putting up with this."

Leaning down a bit, Wufei spat into the sink before shoving his toothbrush back into his mouth. "What's there to put up with?" He sounded muffled and slightly ridiculous, but Treize's arm tightened around him anyway.

It felt good, familiar, like in another month or two Treize might try to pick him up just because he could. Wufei didn't think it would end in either of them anywhere except the floor, but he liked the idea. "Sometimes I just... can't. I struggle to manage it. If I were dealing with me, I'd be tempted to put a pillow over my head."

"Preventative therapy," Wufei advised, rinsing out his toothbrush and then leaning down to cup his hand under the water and rinse his mouth. When he stood up, Treize's head was tilted to the side. He shrugged. "Colony knew things would probably go to hell and I'd be... what was left. Inevitability. So, therapy before trauma. And," he admitted, "therapy after trauma. It was maybe less helpful than I'd hoped." Because he'd woken more often than he'd like to think of imagining Treize screaming as he died.

Which was funny, because he'd been quiet on that video Wufei had received, and thinking about it made him shiver. Treize stepped in closer, arm still warm and comfortable around him. "No, I think it was very effective. Your family was wise to do that for you." And maybe it would soften his attitude to therapy, knowing Wufei had done it and worked and worked at it.

Or maybe he'd be impossible because Treize wouldn't be Treize if he weren't.

"We'll find someone you'll like," he said simply. "And someone Mariemaia will like." His right hand met Treize's on his waist. "It's time for bed. Come on."

"Past time for bed." He tucked the light off, and went with Wufei. There was an odd relief to be in the same bed again; something about it made it seem more real for Wufei, the way the mattress sagged a little beneath them both, and Treize gave a relieved noise at not having to be upright. "Hmm, you're gorgeous."

"Mmmm, I know." It was obnoxious, but he couldn't help smiling. "Fortunately, so are you." He curled into him, on his side, looking across at him. Even in the dark, he could feel him and he knew he was there.

Touch was sometimes more real than sight. Treize embraced him loosely, comfortably, hands smoothing slowly along Wufei's spine. "I'm vain enough not to argue that out of false humbleness."

"Well, it would be false," Wufei declared. "It would in fact be preposterous." One hand settled against Treize's chest, and they shifted until he had his left ear against it as well.

He could feel the slight rise in Treize's heartbeat when the other man tilted his head and pressed a kiss against his hair. Which would have been fine, but his heart rate kept creeping up, a slow, steady rise. Wufei kept his hand on his chest, thumb rubbing, and waited quietly, because he'd had a feeling that Treize was reaching the edge of what he could handle. Wufei was just surprised that it hadn't happened sooner.

He didn't know everything that was going on in Treize's head. It was a busy place, and while he could guess, he could infer, he could never be entirely certain. The few things Treize had said that afternoon had been a hint, a suggestion of what was going on in his head. Mariemaia had told Wufei back on X18999 that they had hurt her father. Tortured him, and at the time he'd taken it for general knowledge, not quite what Treize had seen on the data feed. Wufei didn't want to start guessing what else he'd seen on the video. The fingers on his back stretched, smoothed, tensed as if it would help at all, and then he felt Treize choke on a breath before holding it.

"Hey. Hey." Wufei shifted, got Treize in his arms and pulled him closer, pulled him in tight, got his face against his shoulder and felt the wetness there. "Shhh. Shhh, it's all right. It's all right. It's all right." To cry about it, to be angry, to feel whatever he felt about it.

The clutch against him grew more desperate, shakier, and Treize muffled an anguished noise against Wufei's shoulder, something like a low howl as he started to sob wretchedly. It was hard to say what had finally tipped him over the edge; it might have been worry for Mariemaia, it might have been the anger for himself that he never seemed to let out.

Either way, it was better for him, better that he let it go, better that he cry it out. Carefully, he stroked Treize's head and his shoulders, held him and let him weep, whispered soft shushes, murmured quiet encouragement. It was the best he could do at the moment, soothe him and pet him and allow him the time to let loose some of the horror that had undoubtedly wrapped him in its grasp and held him tight since the day he saw what had been done to him.

He calmed down eventually. It might not even have been that long, but it felt like a painful eternity as Treize held tight to him and fought for control, hiccoughing and then laughing and then dissolving into tears again before he finally wiped at his eyes with shaking fingers, breath still hitching occasionally in the otherwise silent room.

Wufei's thumb rubbed gently at Treize's shoulder. "Let me know when you're ready. I'll go fetch a cool flannel and a glass of water." Probably tissues and something for the oncoming headache, as well. It would help keep it at bay. Anyone who cried quite like that was due one, Wufei knew.

He gave an unsteady half laugh, chest still shivering a little, and inhaled unevenly. "You, you were right."

"I'm always right," Wufei told him, shifting to kiss Treize's temple, fingers moving to stroke his hair. "Ask anyone."

"Arrogant." Treize nuzzled into him, turned his head to kiss Wufei's fingers. "But correct. Don't feel like I'm in my own body sometimes. Watching it made it worse."

"Hmmm." Yes, well. No surprise there. He might have promised not to go back, but he knew who to call. "All right. That's good information to know so that we can get the right therapist, I think."

"Seeking one therapist. Must specialize in surrealism and fear of painkillers," Treize mumbled against Wufei's hand, like it was an advertisement. "Background interest in Salvador Dali paintings, Picasso and rape recommended." His chest hitched again, but he seemed to be calming down.

Wufei kissed his temple again. "It's all right. We'll find the right one. For Mariemaia, too. And you won't ever see it again, I'll... I'll make arrangements."

He shook his head, even as he brought his own right hand up to wipe at his eyes. "No. Classified is fine. When we're dead and gone some historian sifting the ashes can be scandalized and confused."

There was no stopping the laugh that burbled up. "History nerd." It wasn't as if he had a foot to stand upon. There were so many records that he still held for whoever wanted to know about the Dragon Clan of L5.

It finally got a quiet chuckle out of him that wasn't entirely edged with hysteria, and he nodded, moving his hand to pet loosely at Wufei's hair. "Yes. Absolutely. The record must be kept whole. I saw enough."

"I'm sorry you did." And he was, that was infinitely true. "There are things in the world that it's better never to know. If I could go back and stop you, I would."

He drew his right leg up, half winding himself around Wufei. It was maybe time for that water. "You might eventually train me to sensibility. But perhaps not."

"Almost certainly not, but I quite like you the way you are, you know." He kissed him again. "Let me up, I need to fetch a cloth and some water for you." Never mind the fact that he didn't want to move.

The bed was comfortable and luxurious, and so was Treize. He let Wufei go, hand lingering a little, and shifted to rearrange the pillows with some vague semblance of dignity. It allowed him to roll up and stroll to the en suite, dig around for a flannel and the tablets, fill the glass by the sink and bring it back. "Here. Take these." He kept hold of the flannel while Treize took the pills obediently enough and drank down the entirety of the glass.

"Thank you." He handed the empty glass back, and sagged a little in the bed. By the light of the bathroom, he looked exhausted, but relieved at the same time, eyes swollen, face blotchy, mouth twitching a little in a smile. "Ah, that was?" He started to chuckle rather than finish the sentence.

"Acetaminophen, why?" Wufei stared at him blankly and then opened his mouth with horror. "What hurts, what's...?"

"Nothing, nothing hurts. I think it's okay." He kept chuckling to himself, or at himself, Wufei couldn't tell, as he leaned to pull at the bedding. "I really think it's okay. Come back to bed."

"All right." That easy, but he took the glass and the cloth, rinsed out the latter and refilled the former, before turning out the light and heading back to the bed. He put the glass on Treize's side and crawled over him to get back into the bed because he felt like being ridiculous. It had been a ridiculous sort of night, and he liked the way Treize gave him a drowsy sort of clutch on his way to getting comfortable on his own side of the bed. If they didn't get up early the next morning to tackle the to do list, it didn't matter at all.


"All right, what are the rules?"

"Don't get out of arm's reach or I won't be allowed out of the house until I'm thirty," Mariemaia dutifully replied, rolling her eyes. At least it was good to know that she was absolutely going to pick up every bad habit either of them had. Hopefully she would end up with Wufei's preference for liquors instead of Treize's, which was wine rather than liquor. It was almost a shame, but the house had been left with an excellently stocked wine cellar, and a completely decimated liquor cabinet, which made him wonder if it was currently residing with the new ESUN president.

He'd have to have stock shipped from Luxembourg when he remembered to do it. "She has to be allowed out of the house before she's thirty or she'll dig a tunnel and ruin the foundation of the manor," Treize countered.

Bath was gorgeous, even the frivolous number of shops, and hopefully if they walked too far he wouldn't completely make an idiot of himself.

"I'll risk it," Wufei decided, and he'd probably have reached out to ruffle her hair if she hadn't spent ten minutes before they left the house carefully putting it in order. There had been an issue with some sort of bobby pin, he thought. Not that he would know what to do with it to save his life, but after nine of those minutes, Wufei had made an annoyed sound, taken it away from her, and promptly did something that made both of them quite happy.

"I'll be careful not to take out the koi pond," Mariemaia promised, and she grinned at both of them.

He was the last person to discourage those antics, so he nodded approvingly. "Let's... start by finding you clothes." Normal clothes, not school uniform things; that could be worried about later. After Wufei called that school he had mentioned, once again proving that Wufei made a more responsible father than he did. That was perfectly all right, he had always thought he would be better at being the benign and yet slightly drunk uncle, anyway. He was fairly certain that he'd had some ridiculously similar notion before now, actually.

"Yes!" That excitement would doubtless disappear before they'd even figured out what size she wore in everything.

Hopefully there wouldn't be any crying. Wufei targeted a large department store which seemed like a fine, low pain place to start, and they headed for the oh Christ that was a lot of glitter and bright colors section. He was walking slower than either of them, but he was managing, and Mariemaia for all her excitement was mindful of her speed.

"What's your favorite color?" Wufei asked, and Treize could tell that he was thinking something along the lines of what he was thinking.

"Orange." There wasn't even any thought given to it, and he could tell that Wufei was thinking about how it would clash with her hair. "All right, we can find orange." Ah, he was a brave man because he strolled into the monstrosity of neon colors and started sorting through racks with a grim-faced determination.

"Can I help you, gentlemen?" Ah. Thank god. Someone who would know more about what they were doing.

"Yes, please." He flashed a smile and went for his most charming expression at the young woman with the Stockman's name tag on her chest. "Alma. My daughter needs a new wardrobe and it's... overwhelming."

"I can see where it would be. Do you know her size, or...?"

"Wufei, look at this one!" Which got all of their attention, although Wufei was prompt in responding. The look of suffering on his face at that shade of orange was almost as delightful.

Treize compresses his mouth slightly. "Perhaps an eight or a nine?" He'd checked tags surreptitiously while Wufei had been more focused on herding cats. "She's small for her age."

Alma nodded. "Then we'll try on a few things and see how it goes, yes?" That seemed an acceptable answer, because Wufei was already holding a dress that was orange and yellow and there seemed to be glitter involved somehow.

Well, she'd probably slide into the little river again or get it messy, so it was fine. "Yes, that would be... immensely helpful." The salesperson started toward Wufei and Mariemaia, and Treize followed after a moment, hips stiff from having dared to stand still, and watching Mariemaia find pants in an awkward burnt orange corduroy.

"Help," Wufei bemoaned, looking at him as if it were true suffering. "Help."

He was trying not to laugh, particularly as Mariemaia had decided that Wufei was going to hold each and every item she grabbed. She probably knew her own size, Treize hoped. "Help is on the way."

"Thank god." He did sound truly fervent, that much was incredibly true. "I don't know what I'm doing."

Mariemaia laughed and picked up something else. "But you were doing a very good job of pretending, I think."

"Wufei is a much better pretender than I am." At least that item was a t-shirt, and then a button down thing with ruffles. Fantastic, neither of them were orange, that was an excellent start, but it unfortunately wasn't a trend.

Alma was helping her, and that did seem to be working out quite well, he thought. She'd at least managed to introduce blue and red and a few darker colors, so possibly they wouldn't have their eyes seared out anytime soon.

He leaned into Wufei a little, watching with fascinating and completely unwilling to inject a word of suggestion other than encouragement because he hadn't worn anything other than military uniforms and the odd suit or tuxedo in ever. "I'm in over my head."

"We're both in over our heads," Wufei muttered. "Because there are definitely other things we're going to need to address that I've only thought about in this moment and I am terrified."

"Oh, it gets better, does it?" Treize asked, and didn't press further because he was going to allow himself to be blissfully unaware for a few more moments. "You carry terror well."

"I made it through a war," Wufei muttered. "This? I'm questioning if I can survive a nine year old girl. She needs more than just clothes, she needs... shoes and underwear and who do we ask about her first bra, or, oh, god, that day she wakes up and wonders why she's bleeding there and--"

Treize tskd quietly, and bumped Wufei's shoulder gently with his own. "Delegation. We'll call Lucrezia. We'll find books about it and leave them out."

"Oh, thank god." Just hearing the words seemed to be more than sufficient because Wufei went a little loose next to him. "I was panicking about it. And, well, first dates, or..."

"That's a few years off. And more books." Everything could be solved, or at least informed and turned into a conversation piece with a properly placed book, when one was in a house full of readers.

"Everything unfortunately came to a pinprick hole of terror," Wufei advised, nodding thoughtfully as he kept an eye on Mariemaia. She was more than an arm's length away but still close enough that either of them could grab hold of her if necessary. In case someone decided that she would be an easy way to get at one of them.

He didn't think anyone had recognized them, but given how everything had been going, he was staying on his toes. One had to be prepared for the worst case scenario. "No, I still think I can solve everything with books." The woman seemed to be leading Mariemaia toward a dressing room, and he nudged Wufei and started to follow.

"Doubtless it can be. Books and therapy, let's call that our new answer to life, the universe, and everything. And no smart answers about forty-two."

It took more time than Treize could have imagined, but he was feeling peaceful, and there were chairs outside of the dressing room to sit in and Mariemaia making complaining or pleased noises from her dressing room. The saleswoman was still helping, which told Treize she was going to get a commission, which was going to be delightful for her when Mariemaia was done. It was easy to let his mind go blank, take in the tempo of the place, other people coming and going, keeping up a scan around them.

Wufei offered approval or disapproval on any given outfit, and he seemed to have a fair grasp on Mariemaia's sense of style because she made no particular protest; that or she was accustomed to someone telling her what she could or could not wear. It could go either way, he expected. By the time they were done, they had a frankly appalling number of bags which did include everything from underpants to ruffled socks to tights and then some.

"Can we have them delivered, do you think?" Wufei muttered, eyeing them.

"Could we, actually, have them delivered somewhere?" Treize asked, waiting for the woman behind the counter to tell him the final tally.

For the amount of money she told him, he was fairly certain that it would be a possibility. "Of course, sir. Will you be needing anything else?"

Wufei considered the matter, glancing around them. "If you wouldn't mind giving us directions to the mens' section?"

"Not at all. It's upstairs, on the left. Let's just finish this transaction, and set up the delivery." Treize knew what Wufei had been trying to do -- get out, pay once, be identified once, but he was no match for a retail worker eyeing a commission, which made Treize smile to himself as he waved the no contact chip over the payment terminal.

"That's fine. That's associated with the correct address."

"Of course, sir. Is there a particular time you'd like the delivery to be made?"

"Tomorrow morning," Wufei advised. "Is that acceptable?"

She nodded, and by the time they made it loose, they were all a little tired.

"I'm hungry," Mariemaia said, and perhaps it was a little whiny at the edges.

Treize gestured with an eyebrow at Wufei. "We can finish after lunch, then. We'll find a cafe." Sit outside, enjoy the dim strange British sun and mildly warm, comfortable weather. Shorten the rest of the list if they decided on it because they had taken care of the most urgent issue. His hips were starting to ache, and sitting down sounded like a brilliant idea.

That seemed to be more than sufficient reason for them to wander free from the store and down the sidewalk outside of it. Things settled in eventually and after a while, Wufei pointed at a sandwich shop and they decided that was sufficient for them to stop and eat. The bread was crunchy outside and soft inside, tomatoes and avocados and spinach in with turkey and mustard, sides of soup that made Wufei hum a little with enjoyment.

Treize was mostly grateful for a chair that he could slouch in, a badly over-processed cup of coffee, and the open sky overhead. There was foot traffic going past them at a leisurely pace. It wasn't too crowded, just enough to make it feel... normal.

Humanity had survived everything they had thrown at them, and humanity was shopping. "It's a lovely day to be out."

"Yes, Father." Mariemaia had a fizzy lemon drink, and she was sipping from it, her feet swinging back and forth beneath her chair because they didn't reach the sidewalk. "Is it always this cool here?"

"It's very different after living on colony, isn't it?" Wufei raised his cup to his mouth. "Even on my colony, the temperature was much more well-regulated than Earth temperatures. And ours was dying. Insofar as the upkeep was more than could be done without rebuilding everything."

"It's early summer here," Treize pointed out, pushing a foot against the ground to unslouch slightly, coffee cup cradled idly in both hands. "Which is unfortunate, I suppose but it does get warmer. And rains more. I hadn't thought of that, you'll get to experience seasons."

There was something sweet about the excitement on her face. "Oh, rain? Real rain, not scheduled or, or just light mist in the air?"

"Real rain," Wufei promised. "I would like to pretend that it was disappointing, but it never actually is. It's always different, and the first time it does, we'll go play in it, hm?"

"Rain, that's nothing. Wait until snow." Snow was excellent until it started to really stick, and then by February one began to wonder if there would ever be green on the ground again, if that was their new fate forever, ice and snow and wind. "And high summer, which only seems to last for a week here."

Mariemaia's eyes were wide. "Snow?"

"Snow," Wufei told her, and leaned forward as if to say something else when he was interrupted by someone calling his name.

Treize turned his head sharply to look toward the voice, and immediately recognized Pilot 04 and Pilot 03.

Oh, that wasn't a coincidence at all, and there was still a part of him that saw Gundam Pilot and expected something dramatic and dangerous. "It's so good to see you, Wufei!" Pilot 04 seemed overly warm, effusive, smiling too widely to be trusted. "You look well!"

He wasn't at all surprised when Wufei took the hand that was offered, but he was surprised when he ended up being pulled into some sort of ritualized clasp. "It's good to see you, Quatre. You, too, Trowa."

"I thought he was Triton?" Mariemaia's expression was confused as she spoke in an undertone to Treize.

"It's… complicated," he murmured, watching the three of them.

Pilot 03, Trowa, waved a hand much less effusively than Quatre. Then again, Trowa had seen all of them recently. "Twice in the same year. Shocking."

"Twice in one lifetime is shocking," Treize announced, staring at Pilot 04 and trying to place him. He'd seen him somewhere, society something, business something? Colony negotiations, in the background somewhere, he was sure of it. How many of the pilots had been their colony's very best and brightest, like Wufei, then? "Would you like to sit and join us?"

"Oh, well..." Quatre began, as if he thought it impolite to interrupt their family lunch. It was quite obvious to anyone with eyes that was what it was. Trowa seemed to have no such compunction and promptly shifted another seat to their table and motioned Quatre to sit. "Thank you," he offered politely as another chair joined them. "We're so sorry to interrupt, but I haven't seen Wufei since... hm, was it that last meeting with the commander with the terrible hair? You remember the one."

"I do, unfortunately, remember the one," Wufei replied, picking up his spoon and delving into his soup. "I'm not certain that I was aware anyone could have a toupee that quite so resembled a large rodent."

Mariemaia scooted her chair a little closer to Wufei, which was amusing for Treize as he took a careful sip of his coffee. Wufei was clearly her protector in her mind, and that was good; he hoped it stayed that way. "What brings you both to Bath?" He could guess, but it was perhaps a little early to assume someone had discovered he was alive and already put an assassination plan into place, wasn't it? Then again, he hadn't had the energy or effort to see which way he was falling in the historical record -- brilliant dictator, war criminal, or perhaps his favorite phrase product of his time.

"Oh, we live about an hour to the south, tiny village near Blandford Forum called Mallory Intrinsica," Quatre replied. "So we're quite close and we come here to shop sometimes."

Trowa, flicking through a datapad, glanced up. "President Catalonia thought someone should be close by considering the press release." Well. That was blunt and to the point, but....

"Haven't been paying attention, and the manor's network isn't built out yet," he said blithely, setting his coffee cup on the edge of the table. He'd been focused on existing and trying to get past being in constant pain, which was still present, and the jarring pile of things and feelings and memories he wasn't going to deal with except when it was completely dark and he could relax into Wufei's arms and let go.

"Can I see it?"

Quatre blinked, eyes round and wide. "Ah, it went out on datastream nearly... What, four days ago?" He looked straight at Wufei, who had the temerity to blush.

Blush!

He cleared his throat. "Give it a day or so, would you? I had the tabloid version printed and framed. I thought it would amuse you."

Four days ago, and perhaps he was passing quite well at looking better than he was. That was good, in a way. "Haven't been on the datastreams." He looked at Trowa, who shrugged, and flicked through his screen before handing it over to Treize's outstretched right hand. The formal ESUN statement and a subtitled clip of an interview with Dorothy, some media outlet she had no doubt pre-approved "catching" her off guard with a question.

The ESUN statement was crisp and carefully worded. General Treize Khushrenada, organizer of Operation Daybreak, the overthrow of the United Earth Sphere Alliance, and the leader of the short lived World Nation during the Eve Wars, has been discovered alive on one of our partner Colonies. Colony officials have worked closely with ESUN representatives to repatriate General Khushrenada to Earth, where he remains under close medical supervision.

It said everything and nothing all at once, so they were probably there to make sure no one assaulted him or kidnapped him to try and head their own coup or anything in between.

Wufei cleared his throat. "In any case, no one actually knows exactly where we are, and the security system was upgraded before we arrived. Just in case." That would probably explain why Wufei's sword was still in the bedroom, as well.

"Trouble will find us eventually. And then it will get bored." He watched the video clip play of a reporter jumping out and asking if General Khushrenada would be facing charges for the coup, as Dorothy walked from one meeting in the headquarters complex to another. She reminded the reporter of the laws that had been passed, waiving prosecution on all sides for crimes committed in good faith service of their current government during the Eve Wars, and that her government would of course pursue any egregious claims placed against the General.

He handed the datapad back to Trowa.

"Are you implying that we're boring?" Yes. Yes, he was, and Wufei knew it.

Mariemaia's feet were still swinging, shoe occasionally banging against the leg of her chair. "I'm not, but both of you are old and that automatically makes you boring."

He picked at a crumb on his plate, and then resumed holding his coffee cup, slouching down slightly again to relieve the pain in his hips. The damn shame of it was that he was always going to remember why they hurt so badly, and he had no one to blame for it but himself, his nanites, and his terrible aim when he'd thrown himself and Tallgeese II at Wufei. And one crazed doctor who enjoyed using retractors to watch the healing in real time.

"At this point I'd rather be boring than sentenced, so yes, we're boring." And given that he'd just spent money tied to his identity, well, they would know that the missing general was in the United Kingdom quickly.

That seemed a sobering thought because his daughter stopped moving quite so much and bit her lip. "They won't, will they, Father?"

Quatre was the one who answered, quickly. "I shouldn't think so. After all, they haven't charged either me or Wufei, and we were just as much a part of the war as anyone else." Treize could tell that he was thinking about the time he had blown up an entire colony and the incident at Victoria.

Victoria had simply been war. They hadn't had the patrols they'd needed. They'd been lax, relaxed, and that was their fault, being easy prey. "They won't. I think we'll mostly have to deal with bored reporters until something more interesting happens in the world."

"Give it a week and they'll be bored of setting up camp at the gatehouse." At a guess, that would be why they had hired people who were setting up cameras and more surveillance equipment on the grounds while they were out shopping.

Quatre gave Wufei some kind of knowing look. "You should come to dinner some time. It would be nice to have visitors while we stay here, pretend we're normal people." The snort from Pilot 03 was spot on, in Treize's opinion. Wufei raised an eyebrow and Quatre flushed. "He objects to the amount of silverware I consider necessary for an informal dinner."

"Maybe in a month or so," Wufei offered. "We've still got rehab work to do for a bit, so by then I expect it would be a nice break."

"He'll probably need to escape by then," Treize smiled agreeingly. He wondered what Gundam Pilots talked about; probably the same bullshit any soldier talked about once they were all together and had sufficiently let down their guards. Mariemaia was a little quiet, looking at both Quatre and Trowa.

The pilot’s answering smile was blinding. "Excellent! Then I'll contact you with the details and see who else we might want to scrounge up, if you like. I doubt you'll want to be introduced to the local vicar, but he is remarkably good at whist."

"I beat Father at solitaire," Mariemaia volunteered, picking at the remaining crust of her sandwich. "A lot."

"That's because you're a budding card sharp." He halfway wished Zechs could have met her, because he'd always been a complete cheat at card games, which had driven Treize to billiards in pure defense of his honor in the barracks.

Wufei ate the last bite of his sandwich before leaning back in his chair. "We should go on and finish up our shopping, I think." Before the reporters figured out where they were. Hopefully the reporters would have wandered off by the time Quatre invited them to dinner.

How strange the world was. Dinner with Gundam pilots. He never would have thought to see the day. Was that what peace meant when it happened?

He finished his coffee casually, gathering the effort to stand up, and move again. "Clothes for me, I think, and a couple of datapads for the house, hmn, Wufei?"

"One or two." The answer was as dry and arid as the desert. "Or eight. For the study alone."

Mariemaia's eyes went wide. "Why do we need so many?"

He couldn't help but laugh, knowing that both of the other pilots were still there, watching. "Terrible habit of just leaving one in every room. They're networked, and if I remember something I want to look up or work on, why waste time trying to remember where it is? One of my lieutenant colonels was obsessively bothered by it."

Wufei raised one hand, palm up, as if to say, See? See what he's like?

It was a bit surprising when green eyes slid to the side to look at Quatre, eyebrows raising, and Quatre flushed. "Ah... um...."

"See? It's not that strange." The young, oh, dammit, the young Winner Heir, Zayeed's son, that's who he was, no, that probably wasn't the best example to use as not-strange, but it was too late to take it back.

There seemed to be some agreement that passed between Trowa and Wufei, quiet acknowledgment of something. Possibly that Treize and Quatre were both similarly insane, who could say? "In any case. We'll see you in a few weeks."

Treize lifted one hand in a goodbye, and inclined his head slightly. "It was good to meet you, Quatre Winner."

"And you as well, Treize Khushrenada." His wave was met with a matching one. "Until we meet again, may safety be your companion."

The two pilots left, while Treize considered next steps. Perhaps for the moment, his best next steps would be not to try to do anything at all. "So, have you had your own datapad before, Mariemaia?" he asked while getting himself positioned just so in the chair so he could stand up without too many twinges.

Ah, yes. That eye roll again. They needed to stop doing that. "Don't be silly, Father." She was up, and she held out her hand imperiously as Wufei returned the chairs to their proper places. "Of course I had my own."

He took the imperious little hand, once he was upright and taking a moment to stand still. "Good. Couldn't be quite sure without asking." After all, Dekim had been controlling her food, so why not her information access?

"She mostly used it for reading, I think. The occasional game." Ah, so. Probably well-controlled information, then. That was at an end, in Treize's opinion. Most likely Wufei would agree with him. "Clothing first, then electronics?"

"Yes, I think so." That could be the answer to half of Wufei's fears while they'd been shopping earlier, right there -- free unfettered access to the world, and all the questions she would no doubt have.

Back to the store, then, and on to another after that. By the time they made it home, Treize was reasonably certain that he would want a nap more than he'd ever imagined he could. He was very glad that Wufei had decided, rather imperiously, to be the driver, because he didn't have the stamina for it yet. But they had the basics, and with datapads scattered all over the house, acquiring other basics would be so much easier.

It would be a successful day if they could manage to get everything done, and so they started forward, Treize setting forth with utter determination that he was going to make it through before the tyranny of his recovering body demanded rest once again.


The bed was perfectly, comfortably warm, and when he turned his head there was hair against his face. He wasn't sure at what point in the night Wufei had pressed against his back, warm and loose and comfortable, because exhaustion had taken Treize right into sleep, but now they were pressed together, a little sweaty, maybe, and Wufei had an arm wrapped loosely over his waist.

The light filtering in from the window was grey and barely there, so it would probably rain today. It would give them plenty of excuses to stay in bed or to get up and start setting up datapads for future use. Treize was fairly certain he knew which he preferred, and Wufei's soft breath against the nape of his neck made him hum slightly, enjoying the feel of it.

He used a knee to press backward just slightly, moving his right hand to trace along Wufei's arm, sliding over the back of his hand to pull him closer. That was perfect just as it was, yes, Wufei alive and comfortable and pressed against him. He hadn't ever expected to have that again, after the war, after ZERO had stopped showing him a future.

After he'd intended to die, but then hadn't.

"Hmmmm." Sleepy noises, inquiring, yes, but not actually there and present yet. Given the opportunity, Wufei wasn't an early riser, or even a remarkably coherent one. It usually took a couple of cups of coffee before a reasonable conversation was possible. "'m no'... hmmm."

He closed his eyes again, mentally cataloguing his body and where Wufei was pressed against it. It was a more pleasant inventory than his usual one. Wufei's hand was loose, and his dick was soft and pressed against one of Treize's ass cheeks, and there was Wufei's other arm awkwardly jammed up against his back, all still warm and lovely. He stroked his fingers over the back of Wufei's hand, slow, steady, then brought that hand up to his mouth to kiss his fingers.

It gained him another hum, and Wufei shifted, sighing. "'s early." By his standards, not by Treize. His fingers moved back toward Treize's lips, though, so obviously it wasn't unwanted, the way that he pressed his lips to them again. "I like that."

He shifted a shoulder to bring the duvet up a little higher, and gently turned Wufei's hand over to kiss his palm. "I missed you. I missed this."

"You were very confusing," Wufei muttered against his shoulder. "Then. Before. Everything with you felt... hmmm. Inevitable."

"Wasn't it inevitable?" He slowly kissed across Wufei's palm, still feeling muzzy at the edges. "Give me time, I can be very confusing again, if you like. Or perhaps this time I can tell you what's going on instead."

"Latter one, please," Wufei muttered, and then perhaps they drifted off again or perhaps they didn't. It was nice, lying there, and eventually Treize shifted a bit, getting comfortable on his back, and Wufei gave a cracking yawn, spreading himself out with a knee over Treize's right thigh, his hand still clasping Treize's hand on his chest.

The rub of skin on skin and flex of muscle through soft fabric was perfect. Treize flexed his fingers, and shifted his shoulders deeper into the bed. He was mostly sure Wufei was asleep again, years of sleep to be caught up on, Treize guessed, but he made a perfect, soothing blanket weight on half of his body.

Eventually, he seemed to be more wakeful, and he began petting Treize, for lack of a better word. His thumb rubbed gently over skin, breathing steady, soft. "You awake?"

"Mmm, yes." He couldn't even protest the petting, because Wufei's idle exploring hands felt good on his chest. "Yes. This is a nice way to wake up."

"Mhm." More mornings like this one would be quite lovely. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the press release. I didn't want you worrying. Also," he added, and Treize was sure that he wasn't misinterpreting that hint of mischief, "I truly did get the most ridiculous headline and article framed."

"You'll have to show me. I've been in the public spotlight before, though. Often. It isn't worrying." He brought Wufei's hand up to his mouth again. "I suspect you value your privacy more than I value mine."

"My clan wasn't as large as some. Everyone knew everyone else so there weren't really any paparazzi style... whatevers," Wufei told him. "In any case. The most incredible headline so far has decided that you're some sort of intersex hybrid cyborg and that you are currently pregnant with our second child, the first having been conceived during the Eve Wars, carried to term and then artificially aged to appear much older."

"That would be a nicer explanation for why my pelvis hates me," he declared after a snort of laughter. "What shit paper put that one out?

"Daily Examiner, I think? It was one of the British ones. The New Canadian ones were also all in for cyborg, but I'm the one carrying. Do any of them actually know how anatomy works? I have questions." That thumb kept up its caress, and he was unsurprised when Wufei shifted, kissed his shoulder.

Why cyborg? He had enough dissonance and disconnection on a good day, and it was a bit of a jarring thought. But Wufei was moving, easing over him more, and it was a perfect distraction. "Hmn, I have questions, too, but since we won't be talking with them, I suppose you'll just have to help me prove to myself that I'm not a cyborg."

"I think we can manage that." Because Wufei was easy, graceful and athletic and if anyone ever once suggested to Treize that he was debauching him, Wufei would most likely correct them in the errors of their beliefs. He liked imaginative sex, and he wasn't shy about it, either. "Tell me what you want this morning."

"Hmn." What did he want? He was low key horny, warm and muzzy with it, and Wufei was gorgeous as he pushed himself up on one hand. "I'd like you to fuck me."

"Okay." He was also pretty versatile. He liked being on bottom, loved Treize's cock, but he also liked rocking into him, watching him fall to pieces with pleasure, so that acceptance was easy enough, just like the way he rolled over to rummage in the nightstand drawer.

He just needed a little more time to get his legs working with him, so he could properly fuck Wufei into oblivion. "Trying to make sure everything else we haven't already tested still works," he drawled.

"Everything important still does," Wufei assured him, rolling over again and dropping the bottle of lube up by the pillow before straddling his hips and leaning down to kiss him, morning breath and all.

He didn't mind the morning breath at all, enjoying the press of mouth against his as he reached up to cup the back of Wufei's head, his shoulder. "Flatterer."

"'s true," Wufei assured him, leaning down to press lips against his stubbled jaw and then moving further down to his throat. "Your brain works. That's the part I like best, you conniving... mmm."

He groaned quietly, tipping his head back and running his hands down Wufei's back as far as he could reach. His fingers tangled in dark hair as he felt Wufei move lower. "Have to up my game, then." That earned him a vague hum of sound from the mouth tracing the wing of a collar bone, soft and sweet and tender, lazy sort of pleasure. It made him shiver softly, stretching his left leg out because everything suddenly ached in the best way, right down to his balls. "Hmn, that's new..."

"Hm?" When Wufei looked up at him, it was hazy, his hands rubbing down Treize's sides before he found a nipple, tongue lapping at it before giving a suckle, no tugging pressure, just pleasure, hot and light enough that it was nothing except wonderful.

Oh, that was good, that was so good, and he squirmed, groaned softly in encouragement. "Yes, yes, please..." His mind was spinning, trying to work it out, and he needed not to think for a moment instead and just feel Wufei's touch.

"You taste good. Little salty," Wufei murmured when he came up for breath, kissing his way across to find the other nipple. The hands at his sides were stroking, no, over his hips and his upper thighs, gently urging him to move them as he slid between, their cocks lining up for a moment as Wufei shifted upwards again to kiss the point of his chin.

He exhaled hard, arched up against Wufei to better feel the rub of cock against cock, while Wufei got comfortable between his legs. Treize lost track of his own hands in there, roaming over Wufei's shoulders and upper arms, pressing at him. Everything felt good, from the mouth that seemed to have decided to make itself familiar with every inch of his skin to the thumb rubbing at the hollow of one hip. Wufei was slow as he made his way down, down, down, and then he shifted his legs to make way for Wufei's shoulders, and his mouth was hot and wet and tight with suction.

The anticipation was half of it, of being strung tight with want by the time Wufei's mouth closed on his dick. He kept his hands in Wufei's hair lightly, threading through the strands and trying to concentrate. "Please, oh fuck..." Oh, fuck, because it was too much for his mouth, but his hand stroking gently below was more than enough, and Wufei was good at it. He knew just what Treize liked, just how to do it, and he pushed his hips up to it just a little. Just enough, and it felt so good, one hand on his cock, the other arm wrapped around his right thigh, hand rubbing at his hip. It was close and intimate and pure and filthy and he loved it.

He was careful not to thrust too far, to rock slowly and just enjoy it, bask in the contact and the way that Wufei stroked at his dick and his hip. "Oh, god, your mouth..."

With a last long slow suck, Wufei pulled off. His voice rasped as he kissed the inside of Treize's thigh. "How do you want to come?"

The muscles twitched beneath Wufei's mouth, Wufei's hand still wrapped around his cock just perfect. "With you in me." Because he hadn't had that in too long; both a handful of weeks and years at the same time.

"You sure?" That was just teasing, Wufei pressing a soft kiss at his tip, one hand waving in the general direction of the lube already. "Give me the... yes, thanks." Thanks, and he flicked the top open, slicked his fingers, and then went down on Treize again.

Hot, slick and slurping at him, and he let himself move a little, distracted until he felt the slip of slick fingers between his asscheeks. Treize spread his legs a little more, invitational, trying to stay relaxed. "Very sure." It only took a moment for fingers to be where he wanted them, one rubbing and pressing and teasing as Wufei's mouth sucked at him, made him shudder with pleasure, and then it was inside and Treize made a sound because he couldn't have stopped it if he had wanted.

Slick, hot, aching, and maybe too much sensation, everything felt like too much but too good at the same time. "Please, please..." And then one became two, and that was even better, his dick aching fiercely, and two became three, and Wufei was moaning around him, giving him so much, and he wanted to come apart, wanted to come then and there, but he also wanted to wait, wanted to feel him, deep and thrusting, so he got his hand in Wufei's hair and tugged, pulled him up. His lips were swollen, and the sun must have peeked out from behind the clouds, because the room lit up a bit, enough for him to see the hazy expression of need, the way he clearly wanted just as much as Treize did.

"Now. Please." Because he wanted badly to be fucked by Wufei, and Wufei wanted it badly, and why not? "I want you to fuck me." He pulled at him, moved a hand down to Wufei's hip, and shifted his hips to pull at Wufei with one leg.

"Mhmm." Sort of a chuckle, sort of a hum, and he made his way up to place a pecking kiss on Treize's mouth before he shifted, got settled between his thighs, pulled the right one a bit more firmly up around his hip. He held himself up on one hand and moved his cock into place with the other. "Ready?" His breath was a little shaky with need.

"Yes. Very ready, please." He flexed his leg, pulling Wufei just a little closer to goad him on. That seemed to be enough to get Wufei to move, pushing in so slowly, watching him every second of it.

"God, you're beautiful like this." Treize always thought the same thing about Wufei, and it would be funny if he weren't being filled up with dick in a delicious lazy morning way. He felt beautiful, maybe, but mostly he just felt adored. Carefully adored. Wufei paid attention to the oddest, most unimportant things that were terribly important. He lifted his hips, flexed, pressed himself onto Wufei because he wanted him badly, and Wufei would give him what he wanted, no questions asked.

Each shift of hip, of thigh, was meant to increase how amazing he felt, how they both felt, and Wufei dropped his sweaty forehead against Treize's shoulder for a moment, then turned and kissed his collarbone before he shifted himself, getting up on his knees and carefully positioning Treize before he flexed his hips and pushed just so, earning an open mouthed gasp. "Fuck," Wufei whispered. "Oh god."

"Oh yes..." Yes, yes, and his hands clung to Wufei's sides. He felt stretched and needy, and his dick bobbed between their bodies while Wufei started to thrust harder.

Everything felt so good, and he brought his left leg up to urge him on, right foot a little higher, and fuck, fuck, he was going to come, and the angle shifted so that everything was suddenly blindingly overwhelming. Perfect, perfect, and one, two more strokes pushed him over the edge, balls tight and dick twitching. He felt colors, white and blue and Wufei was fucking into him furiously while he tried to keep moving, muscles locking up.

By the time he came back to himself, Wufei was just slumping down on top of him, shivering with the force of his orgasm, hands stroking everywhere he could reach. "Hi."

He wrapped his arms tight around Wufei, enjoying the feeling of him right there, the weight and the pressure. "Could get used to that as a wake up." He pressed his cheek against the side of Wufei's head, exhaling in a shudder. "You are a treasure."

Wufei laughed and pulled out carefully to roll over and sprawl out on his side of the bed. "Pretty sure we're both keepers. How's your hip feeling?"

"Well tended to. Sore but..." He took a moment to find the word he was looking for. "Connected." The edge of his mouth tugged up a little as he leaned over to kiss Wufei. "Shower?"

He made a sound of agreement against Treize's mouth and rolled out, stretching and reaching high. "I'll start the water heating up." Because it did take forever for some reason, probably related to the fact that the building was well over a thousand years old, and the water heater was probably pushing forty.

"Thanks." He shifted, eased himself up to standing, and stretched, enjoying that feeling for a long moment before he walked toward the window to open the curtains to see if there was any hope at all of real sun that day.

Possibly he should have considered the fact that they had gone shopping yesterday, that there had been a press release. By the time he thought to glance out toward the gates, it was too late.

The camera flashes had begun.

He closed the curtains almost immediately, knowing full well it was too late but that stepping back from the window would make it worse because the casing of the window was high enough to hide that he was completely naked. It wasn't even the first time he'd been photographed in a compromising position, and he had never had an inclination to try to pay someone off or suppress such an item. If they were out there then they were out there. The less interest he showed personally in the matter, the quicker it always seemed to go away whether it was an awkward photograph at a military event, or a diplomatic event that happened to catch a flash of his temper. "Wufei, I'm going to call the local police. There seems to be a gathering on the other side of the gate."

"A gathering?" Wufei frowned and walked out of the bathroom, heading for the window. "What kind of gathering?"

"Don't open it." He moved to put himself between Wufei and the window with the closed curtain. "I just made that mistake. It's cameramen."

"Already? How did... Never mind. Never mind. I don't need to know, do I?" One hand reached up and ruffled through his hair. "What the hell? Don't they have anything better to do?"

"No. We are unfortunately the most interesting game for the moment." He moved to sit back down on the bed and picked up the phone to dial.

The curtained window did seem to be a draw even though Treize had told him not to open it. He didn't, just snuck over to it and very gently twitched the drapery enough so that he could peek out. The most they would probably get was a glimpse of him but it was still more than he would have liked. "Vultures," Wufei declared in a seething sort of hiss. "We're going to need better security."

"We'll have it," Treize said with a shrug. He'd take care of it that day because it was pressing and immediate. He had also wisely dialed the non-emergency number and asked to talk to the desk sergeant about a problem with trespassers on private property.

He owned the land that stretched out past the gate, the idiots.

"You seem to be taking this quite calmly." And Wufei didn't like it at all, but the Gundam pilots had been less well known than he was and had expected to be covert. They had never expected to face the sort of thing that was waiting for them outside. "Should we go check on Mariemaia?"

"Once we're dressed. I am taking this calmly; they'll get bored. It's best to ignore them." He knew they'd get bored only once they stopped hiding there at the manor and he started showing up at boring diplomatic and government events in support of whatever Dorothy wanted, and then the heat would fade entirely. And she would of course organize that he give an interview to some boring long read journalist after giving him some talking points and that would be the nail in the coffin.

It was the not knowing that was fun for the media at the moment.

"It's a little unnerving. To be honest. I knew it was coming, I suppose. Knowing and knowing are unfortunately very different." That scowl said he wasn't happy about it, either.

"Yes, I suppose they are." The officer came on the line, and Treize quickly gave the address, stated he was the homeowner, and that there were about twenty photographers and some assorted other crew out there as well as what looked like a local news van on his property.

By the time he finished, Wufei had twitched the drapes back into position and strolled back into the bathroom, probably stepping into the shower. Treize was a bit worried about how he might be taking it, to be honest. Still, there was nothing to do but walk in there and talk about it, so he pushed open the door and found Wufei in the shower already washing.

"I'd have waited for you, but I really do want to go check on her."

"I understand. She'll have to learn to deal with it, too. It's..." He'd been himself, himself the whole time and all those years, but he'd overthrown the government. He'd been dictator of the world. His Excellency. He'd been Heero Yuy's nephew, and the whole Khushrenada family was old money, old money and new scandals. "Something that comes with the territory. We'll make a plan, get the datapads up, I'll contact Dorothy's public affairs lead."

Turning, Wufei pulled him into the shower with him. "So you're all right. I just... It's ridiculous to ask, I know. Not the way I wanted this morning to end up. I just fucked the tension out of you."

"Yes, and you did an excellent job of it," he said, turning slightly so he could talk and let the water hit his back. "I'm fine. It's not ridiculous to ask. What do I care if someone wants a picture of me out with my family? What boring funny lives they must lead if that's what they're looking for." He was much more concerned about the people who wanted him dead or wanted to help him somehow, and positioning him as part of the establishment government would do a great deal to ease that away. He was much more worried about the people who might come near Wufei or Mariemaia.

Something about that seemed to drop the tension in Wufei significantly. "Hmm, out with your family, huh? I like that. I didn't think that I'd really have one of those, exactly. Not once mine was gone."

He leaned in, kissed Wufei's wet cheek, and moved back, comfortable with the lingering and delaying Wufei leaving the shower for just a moment more. "You have one here as long as you want it. I promise."

Yeah, he was definitely melting. "You're not going to be able to get rid of me if you say things like that." Leaning up, he pressed a kiss against Treize's lips. He could tell he'd managed to brush his teeth somewhere in there, the faint scent of mint lingering. "Wash my hair. Then I'll go check on her."

"Delighted to." He got the shampoo off the corner shelf, and took his time massaging it into Wufei's scalp, lathering him up. The police would probably take fifteen or twenty minutes to get there. He could be dressed and still upright by then, and no officer he talked to needed to guess that he'd been completely fucked out as a good morning greeting.

It wasn't a bad way to start a day, on the balance.