authors: Mel & Christy

Key:
minor scene change (from person to person at the same place, someone waking up from a dream, etc): ----------
major scene change (at another place, some time later, etc): * * * * *
flashback starting or ending: ~*~*~*~
thoughts: *Tadah!*
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>>

Rebuilding + Chapter 2

"Where should I put Mr. Maxwell, sir?" Nicklaus asked, sidling in the front door of Wufei's apartment with Duo in his arms.

"In bed, thanks," Wufei replied tiredly, limping over to the sofa and easing himself down to sit. Sally's examination had been thorough... and painful. She wasn't a sadist, so he was almost certain she hadn't done it on purpose, but it was hard not to feel resentful when his knee and the back of his head were throbbing in time to his heartbeat, and his shoulderblade was sending stabs of pain through him every time he moved.

"Here," Leah said; he opened his eyes to see her holding out a glass of water and some pills, and grimaced.

"I don't--"

"Doctor's orders," she interrupted. "Major Po said, 'Take them or else'."

"Or else what?"

"Or else she will exercise her ingenuity to make sure you regret acting like a masochistic idiot. Apparently she thinks you have a nasty tendency to undermedicate yourself."

"I'm surprised she trusted me to give Duo his pills, then," Wufei snarled.

"She also said that you look after everybody else first and best, and only neglect yourself," Leah replied, unperturbed. "Shut up and take them, Chang. I wouldn't risk annoying her."

"And of course you'll tell her if I don't," he muttered sulkily, fully aware that he sounded childish but unable to stop.

"Make my life easier, okay? Take the pills. That way I don't have to decide whether or not to turn you in."

He sighed. "Fine. Give them here."

As Leah was taking the empty glass back to the kitchen, Nicklaus came out of the bedroom. "He's still fast asleep, sir," he reported, smiling. "I've got that video disk I promised you; where would you like it?"

What-- oh. That. "Just put it next to the computer. I'll get to it later."

"If you need anything, sir, you know you can call me or Ninke or Karl and we'll take care of it."

"I'll keep that in mind, thank you. Ah... do the three of you pool your information and resources?" Wufei asked tentatively.

Nicklaus grinned. "Oh, yes sir. And it's not just the three of us; the whole family work together. Have a nice day!"

"Be seeing you, Chang," Leah said, heading for the door.

----------

"You wouldn't object to a couple of slight detours on the way back to HQ, would you, McKenzie?" Nicklaus asked casually as he buckled his seatbelt.

"That depends," she replied. "Where and why?"

"The Foreign Ministry, and the local branch of Winner Enterprises," he said, pulling another couple of video disks out of his pocket and grinning at her. "Like I told Chang, the Assink family members share all their information."

----------

Wufei levered himself painfully up off the sofa and limped across to sit in front of the vidphone, tapping in a code one-handed.

<<Winner Enterprises, Executive Switchboard-- oh, good afternoon, Mr. Chang!>> The receptionist smiled, then looked down slightly and gasped, one hand going to her mouth. <<Oh dear! Are you all right, sir?>>

"I'll live," he said wryly, glancing down at his empty sleeve and the shirt bulging over his strapped-up arm. "It's not serious, just annoying. Are Quatre and Trowa free?"

<<Mr. Barton is in a meeting with Mr. Assink, sir, but Mr. Winner is in his office,>> she said, glancing to one side, <<and... his line is free. Shall I put you through?>>

"Please."

<<Get well soon, sir!>> *click*

<<Good afternoon, Wufei,>> Quatre said cheerfully, appearing on screen. <<How are you and Duo? You saw Sally this morning, didn't you?>>

"We're fine," Wufei replied. "Duo's asleep; Sally says he's doing all right."

<<That's good, but what did she say about you?>> the blond boy asked shrewdly. <<I think she was more concerned about you than Duo on Sunday.>>

Wufei suppressed a grimace, remembering some of Sally's caustic comments as she'd looked at his x-rays. "You just love nearly getting crippled, don't you? If he'd hit you a little more to the left, he would have broken your spine, and if you put too much strain on that shoulder you could still do yourself permanent damage. Don't. "The usual. She's just annoyed because I wouldn't let her strap me down and x-ray me then."

Quatre didn't look convinced, but at least he had the good manners not to call Wufei a liar to his face. <<Well, as long as you're both getting better. Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?>>

"Actually... yes," the Chinese boy said reluctantly.

* * * * *

As Trowa stepped out of Ninke's office, he was nearly knocked down as Quatre barrelled out of his own room next door.

"Oh! Trowa!" Quatre said happily. "You've finished?"

Trowa nodded, holding up a disk. "We've worked out the last set of proposed changes to the secretarial procedures. Want to see?"

"Um, yes, but not right now. I'm going shopping, want to come?"

*blink*blink* "Shopping?"

"For Wufei and Duo!" Quatre explained, heading for the corridors. "Duo needs underwear and stuff, and they're running out of milk, and Wufei isn't in any shape to go himself even if he doesn't want to admit it, so he called me. Oh, and he also asked if I could send a maid over, to help him tidy up around the apartment and do dishes and laundry and stuff, but I figure I can do that too..." His voice faded as he turned a corner, gaining speed.

Trowa stood frozen for a moment, mind racing as he considered Quatre, and household chores, and tried to make the two pictures overlap; then he shoved the disk in to Ninke's hand and bolted after his lover.

----------

"Quatre, I don't think Duo needs those leather pants."

"But they'd look so good on him!"

"They're hardly convalescent clothes. Besides, he needs to gain a lot of weight. If they fit him now, they won't fit him once he's better; and if they don't fit him now, why buy them?"

"...Later, then."

"*sigh* Yes, Quatre."

After Quatre had raided a couple more stores with the same efficiency and intensity he'd displayed raiding OZ bases during the war, Trowa was eyeing the growing number of bags with trepidation.

"Exactly what did Wufei ask you to get, Quatre?"

"Socks and underwear," Quatre replied absently, holding up two sweatshirts and comparing the colours. "But Duo needs a lot more than that."

I'm glad this notion didn't hit him when we were looking for Duo's Christmas present, Trowa thought privately. ...Actually, it probably did, but he would have resisted because he wouldn't have wanted to embarrass Wufei and Duo with a huge present. Now he's been asked to shop for Duo, and he's just... expanding on his orders.

Quatre dropped both sweatshirts on the counter, on top of the pile of other sweatshirts, and headed for the T-shirt racks. "Do you think he'd like this one?" he asked, holding up a shirt that read 'Welcome to Hell! Now GO HOME'.

"Quatre," Trowa said cautiously, "I don't think he really needs all--"

"Yes he does," Quatre interrupted, quiet but intense. "He's got nothing, Trowa. I can't make all the bad things in his past go away, and I can't just snap my fingers and have him forgive us, but I can get him this stuff. And maybe he'll get mad at me, but if he does I'll apologise. I'm not going to leave him with nothing to wear except Wufei's workout clothes just because he might yell at me. I'll be glad if he yells at me, actually, it'll be better than being ignored..."

There was a slight pause; then Trowa smiled. "He likes band T-shirts too, you know."

* * * * *

"Ooh! They're new..."

"Where?"

"Over there." The glasses-wearing cashier jerked her chin towards the ranks of shopping trolleys.

"Oh, wow. That blond guy is cute!"

"I like the tall one myself; he looks like the strong, silent type."

"Good! We won't have to fight over them!" They exchanged smirks.

----------

"What food did Wufei say they needed?"

"Milk, bread and eggs, but--"

"--you're sure they need more than that, all right." Trowa rolled his eyes, but pushed the trolley into the first aisle without further protest.

----------

"C'mere, quick, you've got to see this!" Giggling, the shorter cashier led her friend to the end of an aisle and peered down it.

The blond boy was darting ahead of the trolley, grabbing things off the shelves, chattering at top speed as he did so.

"--and I know Duo likes these, remember when he ate a whole packet by himself? Oh, these are good--"

As packets and cans tumbled into the trolley, the taller boy calmly examined them... and put half of them back while his friend's back was turned.

"Juice," he said calmly. "Duo likes orange mango."

"That's right, and apple peach too..."

As they came to the end of the aisle, the two cashiers turned around and tried to look busy. The one with glasses started to straighten the magazines at the end of a checkout aisle, then jumped and emitted a sort of strangled squeak as she caught sight of a face on one of the glossy covers.

"Excuse me," a cheerful voice said behind her. "What aisle is fruit juice in?"

"Ah! I, um, er, I-- aisle six!" she blurted out, spinning around with the magazine clutched behind her back. "Six, yes. Um."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," the blond apologised.

Nooooooooo, really, you can startle me any time, honest... "Um, that's okay. Really. No problem."

"What's got into you?" her friend hissed, popping out of the next aisle as the two boys moved away. "He spoke to you and you totally blew it! You've squashed that magazine, too."

"I don't care, I'm going to buy it anyway," she said, flattening it out hurriedly. "He's Quatre Winner!"

"What?!"

"Look, here, they've got an article on the Solar System's most eligible bachelors, and he's in it! He's on the cover!"

"He's available," her friend pointed out, grabbing the magazine and flipping through it. "Here he is... Quatre Raberba Winner, CEO of Winner Enterprises... yeesh, he's only eighteen!"

"Right age for us," the other girl said happily, reading over her shoulder. "And... oh, bugger!"

"What?! What?!"

"Read that paragraph," she said mournfully, pointing. "Next to the picture of his tall friend."

"Hmmm... 'unfailingly polite', yadda yadda, 'dress sense', yadda... oh. 'Unfortunately, most society maidens have stopped trying to ensnare Mr. Winner, because it seems that his constant companion Trowa Barton is more than just a friend'."

They both sighed.

"First it was cute-and-Chinese, and his friend with the gorgeous hair and eyes," the shorter girl said glumly. "Now these two. All the best guys are gay and taken!"

"Back to watching, I guess," her friend agreed sadly.

* * * * *

[cont]