Wufei had long since given up trying to be around people.
A veteran of too many wars, he had tried, truly tried, to return to the way things had been before. He had been a scholar once. He had once opened his mind to knowledge, even to art and poetry. He had once been deeply in love. It was, in fact, the loss of that love that had driven him away from all else, to seek revenge, retribution for the soul that had been taken from him. At times, even now, he felt the ragged edges where Meiran's heart had joined with his and then been torn away.
So he had become a soldier, and he had fought within the machine where Meiran had breathed her last, merciless and cruel, until four others, similar to him, banded with him to bring down the men who had wanted to use the mobile suit technology to decimate the Earth and leave the colonies at war with each other, a war that would have spanned decades, even centuries.
These people, and, eventually, their families, were the only ones who would tolerate him long enough for him to return the favor. He was closer to them than any of his kin. However, Wufei would be the first to admit that it wasn't exactly a great difference.
It didn't take a detective, though Wufei had gained some skill in that field, to put together that all of those who had moved on had all been done away with in the house where Heero and Relena had lived in, had died in. He'd heard the theories, growing larger and more detailed with every new death, that the house itself was responsible. The house or something in it.
Of course, he didn't believe it.
More likely, to him, was that people entered the house, expecting something to happen, and got careless in their anxiety. Wufei shook his head. They had been important to him, yes, but none of them, himself included, had been entirely sane.
Letting himself in the house was not a problem. It was, currently, property of a realty company that still tried to sell it, but left it unlocked for any potential buyer to come in. The house's reputation had long preceded it, however. He had been the only one to do so, judging by the leaves on the porch.
The door scraped against the ground as he entered, setting Wufei's teeth on edge. He smirked to himself. Was it the sound that set his teeth on edge, or was it anticipation of the house.
He chuckled, even as he pulled the long coat around his wiry frame. The passing of years had not caused him to neglect himself the way it did with others. Another thing he and the other pilots had in common: They had remained vigilant, even after the wars had passed, even after the mobile suits had been destroyed, they had kept in shape, kept ready.
Just in case.
Even now, one of the remaining two, he carried a side arm with him at all times, so much so that it didn't even get noticed anymore. Wufei Long with a side arm was the same as anyone else with a watch. Wufei used his side arm much less often than others would even use their watch, which, with digital displays showing the time around every corner, wasn't often at all.
He walked slowly through the lower part of the house. Was it darker in here? Did he see the light dim? It had been the height of the afternoon when he'd reached the house, was the sun setting now?
Were his eyes failing him? He thought of the glasses he still carried in the inside pocket of his long coat. More and more he had to rely on them to read. A sign of age no amount of preparation or exercise could have prevented, yet he still balked at wearing those glasses for more than he absolutely had to.
The window still showed the clear, cloudless sky. Not cloudless, however, he noticed as he looked out. There was a large bank just cresting over the mountain range. It would get prematurely dark, soon, and the thought brought an unwelcome shiver up his spine. He shook it off in annoyance. There was nothing new here. He was here to remember, not to investigate.
The time for investigations were long over.
He'd come to remember. He'd come to see where his friends had, all but one, passed on without him, and wonder why nothing had yet been done, and possibly, if he could find it in his heart, let go for once in his life and move on.
Mei-lin knew, he hadn't been very successful with that concept in the past.
The clouds had come, blocking out the sun as predicted, and the house had stood empty for so long that the owners, a realty company, had bothered to turn on the electricity. It didn't disturb Wufei, not in a way that he'd admit to anyone else. He shook off another chill and walked to the stairs. They, too, were dark, darker than the living room was getting, but he no longer cared.
He walked the treads of the old staircase slowly. It didn't creak, as one might expect in an older house. Despite the wooden tread, there was only muffled noise, as if the house itself were holding its breath in anticipation of something. It was not a comforting thought.
Wufei passed the servant's room, where Relena's housemaid had lived in the year between Heero and Relena's deaths. There was nothing of interest for him there, though he remembered that the housemaid herself had been killed here as well.
He stopped in front of the master bedroom door and looked. The chill, at first an annoyance, had begun traveling up and down his back in earnest somewhere past the landing, and when he raised his hand to open the door, he could feel it was shaking. He grimaced and shot the hand to the knob, groping for it in the dark, until he found it and twisted. The door opened, and Wufei looked in surprise. Had he pushed the door open, or had it been pulled...?
He stepped in, the cloud-shaded light from outside casting grey pall over everything in the room. There was the bed, more than likely a new one, and there was the red mark on the floor, the one that had been there since Relena had died. The room was, in fact, very much the same as it had been since that night. The place was almost perfectly preserved, as if time itself were afraid to venture in.
Wufei shook his head at the poetic thought. His days as a scholar had never really left him. Like the memory of the dearly departed, it would spring up and make him wistful. But it, like her, like Mei-Lin, had long since been buried.
There, across from the bed, was the standing mirror. The dark wood frame seemed to absorb the scant light that filtered through the clouds, and the glass reflected the room almost as if it were in shades of grey. There he was, looking back through the mirror at himself, hands in the pockets of his long coat, eyes hooded against the chills that hadn't stopped dancing up and down his spine since he'd climbed the stairs.
There was a sudden shift in the mirror, one that had happened just as Wufei began to look away, and he snapped his eyes back to it, narrowing them, alert to any sudden changes. He shifted his feet to more squarely face the mirror...
The image of him didn't. Instead, a shift, like a glitch, happened, a split second of some image that wasn't the room or Wufei or anything, and then his image looked at him, directly, turning only its head.
It grinned. Wider than Wufei ever had, then wider than should have been possible. The eyes began to flow with a black substance, at first like tar, then, like a black mist, with tendrils flowing out and curling back in.
Wufei clenched his teeth, and nearly turned to charge out of the room. Then, suddenly, as the realization hit him, he relaxed.
It was tech, not spirit, that did this. The glitch in the screen made it too obvious. Someone was screwing with him. Probably the same someone who had killed his friends.
He walked to the mirror, the image now matching him movement for movement, except for the too-wide smile and black-misted eyes. Soon, they were virtual feet from each other.
Wufei slowly pulled his side arm from its holster, pulling back the hammer. He lifted it until it was inched from the mirror, pointed at his mirror images tall forehead.
The image was now acting just like a mirror should, enough that Wufei began to doubt what he'd seen before, if not for those eyes and that grin. With a smirk, he put his finger on the trigger. "A warrior doesn't fear tricks," he said, softly, and pulled the trigger.
The sound was loud, and echoed from the room, through the house, and back. Wufei's smirk slowly melted off of his face, flowing down like the blood pouring from the hole in his forehead. He twitched, once, dropping the gun, then fell, boneless. The image in the mirror smiled down at him.
Had anyone been there to see, they would have seen the image turn to the corpse's reflection, shake its head, and walk away, kicking the reflected corpse as it passed.
The body on the ground jerked once.
Through the window, a storm raged, the lightning crashing violently, thunder clapping through the valley like gunshots.