Author: We Who Torture G-Boys! Er, hang on... that could be just about anyone. Mel & Christy, then.
Category: AU, Drama, Romance
Pairings: 5x2, 1xR, 3x4
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Yaoi, language, angst
Disclaimer: No money, no ownie, no sue!
Feedback: Yes, please.

Key:
minor scene change (from person to person at the same place, etc): ----------
major scene change (at another place, some time later, etc): * * * * *
flashback or dream starting or ending: ~*~*~*~
thoughts (and the occasional sound effect): *Tadah!*
some more sound effects (little ones!): -tadah!-
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>>

Rebuilding + Chapter 13

Because both Relena and Quatre were people of above-average intelligence, they had enough sense to stay out of Duo's way when the vidphone rang. The afghan went flying as he bolted up off the couch to answer it, and Quatre was left frowning in mild annoyance at the spreading tea stain on the knee of his slacks.

"'Fei?!" Duo gasped, skidding to a halt and hitting the 'accept' button simultaneously.

< < What would you have done if it had been someone else? > > Wufei asked, not quite managing to keep his voice cool and amused as he saw Duo.

"Given them the finger and hung up," Duo replied without thinking, eyes darting back and forth as he made a quick visual check of the bits of Wufei that he could see on the screen. "Everything go okay?"

< < Yes... no serious injuries on our side, no civilians hurt, and none of the smugglers got away. I'm sorry I couldn't call you before now-- > >

"Ah, it's okay," Duo shrugged, starting to calm down and feeling a bit embarrassed about the way he'd answered the call. "I understand. At least you got a good connection this time!"

< < Yes, well, most of this station's equipment problems have miraculously vanished now that the smugglers have been taken out of the picture, > > Wufei said dryly, glancing sideways and smirking at somebody off screen. < < It's amazing, really. > >

< < Hallelujah, praise the Lord! > > a laughing voice replied offscreen. < < I call upon the miraculous powers of Je-sus to heal this approach radar... would you look at that? It worked! A-MEN! > > Wufei snorted, suppressing a grin as he looked back at Duo. < < I think the current feeling of revolutionary fervor has gone to a few people's heads, but at least it's an improvement on their previous state of morale. > >

"Er... right," Duo said uncertainly, slightly confused and trying not to show it. "Um... so... is there much left to take care of?" When are you coming back?!

< < Lord, drive out the demons of interference that have taken up residence in this transmitter-- > >

< < Sheesh, Brian, just retune it already! > >

< < Another couple of days' worth, I think, > > Wufei sighed, smile vanishing. < < It's more important than ever to establish a permanent Preventers office here; there are at least two more ships in the smuggling ring, and we have to prevent any sort of reprisals against the station. > >

"Fair enough." Duo managed a smile, hoping his disappointment didn't show on his face. "It wouldn't exactly be a good idea to save them from part of the problem, then leave them wide open for the rest of it."

< < Exactly. Noin should be arriving with a half-squad of space Tauruses within the next few hours-- they couldn't come earlier, since it's rather hard to disguise a regular mobile suit transport-- and they'll be providing an area defense until the level of the threat goes down a lot. We might see if we can negotiate for a permanent suit presence here, too, as well as the office, > > Wufei mused, suddenly looking thoughtful. < < It would certainly cut our response time to problems in other high-orbit stations... but I can leave that to whoever is put in charge of the new office, > > he said decisively. < < I'll write Lady Une a memo on the subject after I get home! > >

< < Agent Chang, should we-- oh, sorry, sir, I didn't see that you were busy, > > a man's voice said off-screen.

< < I'll be with you in a minute, > > Wufei said quickly, glancing up, then he looked back at Duo. < < Duty calls, > > he said dryly, < < but now that the comms here work properly, I can call you whenever I get a break. I'll stay in touch, okay? > >

"Sure. Let me know when you'll be coming back," Duo said softly, lifting one hand to brush his fingertips lightly across the screen. "And look after yourself."

< < You, too. I'll talk to you tomorrow. > >

Duo sat back and sighed, looking sadly at the blank screen; then he abruptly jerked upright, his expression changing to horrified. "Oh, jeez, I'm sorry!" he blurted out, twisting around to look at Quatre and Relena. "I should've asked 'Fei about Trowa and H-Heero, maybe call them to the vidphone so you guys could talk to them," he said miserably, the slight stutter over Heero's name going almost unnoticed. "I'm sure he'd have thought of it himself, if he'd known you were here!"

"They'll call us themselves when they get a moment," Quatre said reasonably, sitting back down with a fresh cup of tea. "I'm sure Wufei would have let you know if anything serious had happened to either of them, so I'm not worried. Besides, that was your call."

"Yes, so don't brood over it," Relena agreed, smiling. "Now that you know the plan worked, are you hungry again?"

"Er... kind of," Duo admitted.

"Good! In that case, I'll--" Her mobile phone rang, and she snatched it up and quickly checked the screen. "Er, I'll take my call in the other room, and let Quatre get your plate out of the kitchen!"

* * * * *

< < Heero? > >

A faint smile curved Heero's mouth as Relena answered, but he kept his voice as flat and expressionless as possible. "It would have been more efficient to let Chang pass on the message that I'm fine, but I didn't think you would appreciate it."

< < I most certainly would not! > > Unable to hold her offended tone, Relena giggled. < < And you'd probably say you were fine after something grisly happened to you-- in fact, I know you would. Are you 'fine' by my standards or yours? > >

"Hn. Two stitches at most, no bruises."

< < Really? I'm disappointed... I thought I'd learned my lessons better than that. > >

"Ah. Well. My mistake. The eye is nicely black, but I don't have any new bruises. How's yours?"

< < Starting to turn interesting colours around the edges, > > Relena reported, giggling again. < < We're taking daily photos for posterity. Quatre was horrified, at first, until I convinced him I thought it was funny. It's going to take some serious makeup to hide this when I go back to work! > >

"I want to see those pictures, you know. I'm missing an historic event." Heero paused for a moment, clearing his throat. "How... how's Duo?"

< < He's doing fine, > > Relena told him, voice warm and reassuring. < < He was fairly stressed when he knew Wufei was in danger and he couldn't do anything to help, but now that they've been able to talk, he'll be just fine. > >

"Good." He swallowed, closing his eyes for a second, and then took a deep, steadying breath. "Tell Quatre he'll be getting his call sometime in the next hour; Trowa's on the comm to Lady Une making our preliminary report, so he's been slightly delayed. I cunningly assigned myself to the squad in charge of clean up, so I have nothing to do until we make rendezvous with the smugglers' ship and go aboard to arrest them."

< < And of course the fact the clean up squad is the most likely one to encounter resistance had nothing to do with your decision, > > she said dryly.

"Hn."

< < Ah, well. I knew you had these macho chivalrous tendencies well before I manoeuvered you into sort of proposing, and I still went through with it. Try not to get shot again, all right? > >

"Hn."

< < Remember what Dr. Po said she'd do the next time you got shot? > >

"What-- oh. Yes. She threatened to use me as a teaching dummy for the clumsiest students she could find," he snorted.

< < The clumsiest female students, > > Relena reminded him gently. < < Plus she'd insist on you wearing a patient gown, and she'd hide all of the ones that weren't three sizes too small. And if that didn't make you squirm, she'd tell them you were a bonafide hero and encourage them to develop crushes on you. > >

"...True," Heero said slowly, sounding a little more concerned. "I'll be careful."

< < Good, because I wouldn't rescue you from their clutches. Do your best to come back to me in one piece, all right? > > she said, voice softening. < < I love you. > >

"I love you too," he said softly, watching out the viewport as the Preventer's shuttle eased closer to the smugglers' ship. "I'll call you again tomorrow."

He pushed a button to end the call, then hit another key, taking his communicator out of satellite phone mode and connecting it back to the local tactical network. "Communications check," he said brusquely, leaving his helmet open for the moment, but starting the last systems check on his armoured spacesuit. "Everyone reading me?"

The rest of the squad nodded or raised their hands, and he smiled thinly. "Good. Everybody make sure that your inertial trackers are switched on, too. Do not get lost, do not get cut off from your teammates, and watch your backs! If I'm not allowed to get shot, nobody else is either."

* * * * *

< < ...so most of them seemed too stunned to put up any sort of effective resistance, > > Heero said, coming to the end of his report. < < The few that weren't had had enough time to realise that they didn't have a chance, and surrendered immediately. They seemed to think it would increase their chances of getting lenient sentences, > > he added sarcastically. < < I don't think so. > >

"Not after the sort of threats they were using to keep the station personnel in line," Wufei agreed grimly.

< < Has Trowa talked to you yet? > >

"About what?" Wufei frowned, startled by the abrupt change of subject. "I haven't spoken to him since before you went out to arrest the ship's crew."

< < He commed me about fifteen minutes ago, after he finished talking to Lady Une, > > Heero said evasively. < < I'd advise you to start packing. > > He cut the connection before Wufei could ask any more questions.

Wufei took the comm away from his ear and stared at it as if he could somehow decipher the reason why Heero was acting strangely by looking at its keypad or speaker. "Why would I need to pack now?" he muttered, puzzled. "We're not going to be finished here until the first agents arrive for their tour of duty..."

"There you are," Trowa said, leaning in the door. "How much stuff do you need to pack?"

"What are you and Yui going on about?" the Chinese Preventer asked, exasperated. "We're going to be here for at least a couple of days yet!"

"We are. You aren't," Trowa explained succinctly. "Lady Une's orders were very explicit. The Manguanacs are leaving now, and she wants you on that shuttle with them. Go directly home, do not pass Preventers' HQ, do not collect any files to work on during the two days she is ordering you to take off. She wants your report on her desk at 9 AM Thursday, and specifically told me to tell you that she doesn't want to set eyes on you before then."

"But-- the negotiations for the office--" Wufei sputtered.

"Are over. They've signed the agreement. Heero and I can handle any details that need adjustment, and we can comm Une if we have to. Pack."

"I'm already packed," Wufei said numbly, giving in to the inevitable and waving vaguely towards the suitcase propped against the wall behind him. "It was part of the cover story, for the smugglers' benefit, and I haven't had time to unpack again... but I told Duo I wouldn't be home for two days!" he added, turning towards the vidphone.

"Then he'll get a pleasant surprise when you arrive," Trowa said cheerfully, scooping up the suitcase with one hand and grabbing Wufei's good arm with the other. "The Manguanacs have already delayed their departure to let you get aboard; they'll miss their re-entry window if you make them wait much longer. You don't have time to make a call."

"But I had time to pack?" Wufei asked wryly as he was towed out the door. "Goodbye, Ms. Anderson."

"Goodbye-- and thank you!" she called after them.

"If it was going to take more than five minutes for you to pack, I was going to shove you onto the shuttle without your luggage and post it to you later," Trowa informed him. "My instructions are to get you home to Duo. Everything else is secondary."

* * * * *

[cont]