AUTHORS: Mel & Christy (and their muses)
WARNINGS: Language? Violence! 'They Might Be Giants' songs! Collateral Damage!
PAIRINGS: 1x2, 3x4, 5x?
DISCLAIMER: They still aren't ours. We tried theft, but the security systems were too good. Wufei was slightly injured during the making of this fic, and Duo got a concussion, but they got better. (And Trowa just brushed his bangs back into order.) No money is being made from this fic, and if there was we'd just spend it on more tapes, so that's OK.

Demon of Justice + Chapter 10
Hello, Princess

Sitting in Nataku's cockpit, Wufei seethed, struggling to bring himself back under control.

I nearly killed the little idiot, he thought, feeling again the rush of fear and horror that had run through him when he'd seen Jarad run out under Nataku's feet. I've caused civilian casualties before, in pursuit of a mission goal. Not deliberately; it's been the result of poor advance intelligence, or my failure to take something into account when planning, or sheer bad luck that took a battle into the wrong area. I'm sure... I know, I've killed children.

Never one I knew. And certainly never because they trusted me too much...

Shaking himself angrily, he scrubbed one hand over his face and reached out for the controls.

Jarad was not hurt, and I'm sure his mother will make sure he never does anything like that again. He doesn't need me yelling at him again, so I'd better stay in here until I've calmed down!

Switching to Nataku's self-diagnostic programs, he began working his way through a full check of the Gundam's systems.

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"Any problems while I was gone?" Uthmar asked quietly, back turned to Yithar's armsmen. The half-elf lord himself hadn't yet re-emerged from the hut he'd taken cover in when Nataku came into view.

Gunnar grinned at the Champion, but there was an angry glint in his light-yellow eyes. "That Purple Lord pissbag wanted the boy handed over to him for 'proper punishment'. I headed him off," he continued as Uthmar swore viciously, "by hinting that taking action against Jarad would count as a formal repudiation of the militant orders' legal code -- well, actually, I did more than hint. I, ah, hope that's not a problem..."

"It's probably the best thing you could have done, Gunnar," the Champion muttered, grimacing. "I certainly can't come up with a better idea! That overdressed little prick is cautious of us, but what he's really scared of is upsetting his high-class relatives in Bortalik. Getting them into a serious conflict with the militant orders would definitely do that."

"He's scared of them, too, m'lord," Gunnar said softly, tipping his head slightly towards Nataku's brooding figure.

"Yes, but that doesn't help much," Uthmar replied sourly. "After all, the Order of Torframos is here to protect him from the big bad demon threat."

"And the little worse demon?" his second asked mildly, semi-permanent grin widening; Uthmar nearly choked suppressing his laughter.

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Wufei stared incredulously at the neat block of text on his screen.

"This is ridiculous," he whispered, hitting a key combination to clear that set of test results and start the diagnostic program again. "Ridiculous. I've been forced to accept a lot over the last few days, but this--" He fell silent, watching the screen as it flicked through screens of text and diagrams too fast to follow.

I have some sort of link to Nataku, yes. I can draw strength from it, and I now heal ludicrously fast, yes. I can sense damage to Nataku's systems as if it happened to my own body, all right, yes!

But Gundanium armour just does not regenerate!

The test summary blinked onto his screen again as if to contradict that thought.

ARMOUR 94%
SENSORS 100%
MOBILITY 100%
AMMUNITION 47%
**RESUPPLY**
WEAPONS 99.5%
COMPUTERS 100%
- HARDWARE 100%
- SOFTWARE 100%
NAVIGATION 22%
**LOCAL MAPPING BEGUN**
**NO BEACONS FOUND**
**NO LANDMARKS RECOGNISED**
**PLEASE INPUT LOCAL MAPS**

The armour was at 89 percent the last time I ran a full diagnostic. 89! That was only three or four days ago. Almost half of the damage has repaired itself! And-- Wufei pulled up the previous test report out of Nataku's maintenance records and scowled at it. --I thought so. Weapons were only at 99 percent; I couldn't quite fix that joint in the right arm. That's mending itself, too...

I suppose it's a small remnant of normality that the ammunition stores aren't refilling themselves. Yet.

Wufei blanked the screen and sat back, rubbing at his temples. This is giving me a headache. Every time I think I've seen all the weirdness this world can throw at me, something else happens! It's a lot easier to accept two moons and multiple non-human races and even the existence of magic than it is to accept some of that magic happening to Nataku and myself!

Duo would think this was 'cool'.

Wufei glanced sideways at the storage compartment holding Duo's bagful of CDs and smiled, a little sadly. I'd give a lot to have Duo here now. He wouldn't let a little thing like several major laws of physics being broken bother him... he'd love Jarad... and I can just imagine how he'd react to the other people around here. "Shit, Wu-man, this guy's even bigger than Rashid! I didn't think that was possible!" "Ah, piss off, ya pointy-eared pipsqueak!" "Man, you guys are short. So, where'd ya park Snow White?"

Wufei chuckled softly, getting up and hitting the control to open Nataku's hatch. He'd be in his element. And it wouldn't even bother me if he insisted on keeping up the idiot facade... well, not much, anyway.

I know what he's really like.

* * * * *

Quatre carefully pulled the door to Wufei's room shut and tiptoed away. "Duo's still asleep," he reported to Trowa as they started downstairs, "but Heero isn't in there. Probably out in the hangar tweaking Wing's systems," he added in an uncharacteristically sour voice.

Trowa sniffed the air, frowning slightly. "I'm not so sure... that doesn't smell like motor oil."

Heero was standing in the kitchen, scowling at an old, grease-spotted cookbook as he stirred something in a large bowl. The coffeemaker was burbling on the bench as it finished brewing a large potful, and a surprising range of foodstuffs were lined up on the bench waiting to be cooked or served.

"...Heero? What are you doing?" Quatre asked tentatively.

The Japanese pilot shot a brief glare at them from under his bangs, then turned back to the cookbook. "Cooking," he said flatly.

"Cooking what?!" I didn't know Heero could cook! Quatre thought incredulously. Every time he's prepared a meal that I know of, it's been something pre-packaged that he could just heat up...

"Breakfast," Heero snapped, in a tone of voice designed to end the conversation then and there.

It didn't work.

"Bacon, tomatoes, corn fritters," Trowa mused, examining the food on the bench. "Coffee, orange juice, Fruit Loops, eggs--" he glanced at the cookbook "--and blueberry pancakes. All Duo's favourites. What are you going to do if he doesn't come down for breakfast?"

"I'll take a tray up to him." Heero slammed the mixing bowl down on the bench and grabbed the frying pan.

"What if he doesn't wake up before it's all gone cold?"

"I'll. Make. More."

"Excellent idea," Trowa said blandly, turning away to hide the smirk. "Carry on."

Before Heero could decide whether or not to hit him with the frying pan, the doorbell rang. Differences abruptly forgotten, the three pilots looked at each other speculatively.

"Who knows we're here?" Trowa asked.

"Only the doctors," Heero said grimly, "and they wouldn't send anyone without warning us first. I checked my mail this morning..."

Trowa nodded. "So did we. No messages."

"It could just be Mormons," Quatre pointed out.

"At seven A.M.?"

"Rude Mormons, then. Or Jehovah's Witnesses."

"Quatre, we're fifteen miles out of town!"

"Jehovah's Witnesses who are desperate to meet their monthly quota of sinners harangued?"

"Will somebody answer the door?!" Heero growled, belatedly putting down the frying pan and pulling out his gun as the doorbell rang again. "I don't care if it's Jehovah's Witnesses, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen, or an OZ assault team that hasn't heard about the surrender yet, just answer the damn door before they wake Duo up!"

Sidling to one of the front windows, Trowa peered cautiously out through a crack in the blinds, then slumped, gently thumping his forehead with one palm. "Ah. Of course. Why didn't we think of that?"

"Who is it?" Heero asked tensely.

"There's a pink limousine parked out front."

Heero groaned and turned back towards the kitchen. "I've changed my mind. Don't answer the door."

Quatre sighed. "If we don't, she'll just stay there ringing the bell until she does wake Duo up." The doorbell rang for the third time. "See?"

"Fine! Whatever!" Heero waved one hand dismissively as he vanished through the kitchen door. "Do whatever you like, just keep her away from me and keep her away from Duo. Deal with her yourselves. I'm going to make breakfast before the pancake batter curdles."

"*sigh* Let her in, Trowa."

Trowa yanked the door open, to reveal Relena Dorlian-Peacecraft standing on the porch, one hand raised to push the doorbell again; she blinked in mild surprise, then smiled. "Trowa! It's so good to see you again, especially now. May I come in?"

"How'd you find us?" he asked bluntly, not moving aside.

"Actually, it was quite easy this time," she said calmly. "I didn't even need help with the research. Things were going 'boom' in this general vicinity a few days ago, and this property is publicly listed as part of the Winner Estate."

Trowa rolled his eyes and stepped aside. "Come in. Quatre! We have to talk about hiding in your family's properties..."

"Good morning, Relena," Quatre said politely, ignoring Trowa's comment for now. "To what do we owe the honour of this visit?"

"Well, I'm sure you've heard about OZ's surrender," she said, putting her purse down on a chair, "but it's official now. Lady Une signed the formal articles late last night, and we're proceeding with general disarmament and securing all the OZ bases and weapons stores."

"'We'?"

"The new peacetime administration." Relena blushed slightly. "About the only good thing OZ did was the unification of Earth under one government; an interim cabinet has been formed from the leaders of several resistance groups and the surviving heads of countries OZ took over, and... well, they offered me the post of Vice-Foreign Minister, and I've accepted. There'll be a general election as soon as possible, of course, so I don't know how long I'll be in this position--"

"That's wonderful, Relena!" Quatre said happily, clasping her hands in his. "I'm sure you'll be re-elected, too, don't worry."

The blush deepened. "Well, that depends on whether or not the people of Earth decide they want a seventeen-year-old girl helping to rule them! I'll certainly do my best for however long I hold the post, though." She quickly shifted topics, looking around. "Is everyone here? I particularly wanted to talk to all of you; I'm going to need good advice now, more than ever before, and I couldn't think of anyone whose opinions I'd value more. Apart from my mother, of course, but some of the policy decisions we've got to make very soon are military in nature, and she's got even less experience in that area than I do..."

Quatre and Trowa blinked at each other, bemused; they were both thinking the same thing. Relena wants our advice? On military matters? She's not going to automatically argue for Total Pacifism?!

"Ah. Well, in that case," Quatre started hesitantly, "I think--"

"Heero's in the kitchen," Trowa said, pointing at the door. "Want some coffee?"

"Oh, that would be lovely," Relena said quickly, dropping Quatre's hands and heading in that direction. "I had a late night and a very early morning, and-- Heero~! Have you been well? I--"

The closing door cut off her voice.

"We could have arranged it so Heero had some warning," Quatre said reproachfully.

"He knew she was in the house. If he really wanted to avoid her, he should have gone out the window."

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[cont]