authors: Mel &
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: ~*~*~*~
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>>
+ Chapter 3
"Are you sure you're
ok? You look like you're in pain. Do you need some painkillers or something?"
"I said I'm fine, Quatre!" Wufei snapped. Dammit,
you have the worst timing, sometimes.
Duo flinched, drawing into himself slightly, and Wufei swore mentally
as he realised how angry he'd sounded. "Really, I'm okay," he
muttered, reaching out to tentatively stroke Duo's back. "I just
jostled my shoulder when I moved. It'll stop hurting in a minute."
As Quatre bustled around rearranging the cushions to support Wufei better,
Trowa poked his head out of the kitchen. "Have you had lunch yet?"
"No," Wufei admitted. "We didn't have much breakfast, either.
Sally Po was cracking the whip over her minions to get us in for our checkups,
so we didn't have time to grab more than a slice of toast."
Duo's stomach gurgled audibly, and he blushed.
"I'd say it's worn off," Trowa said, a tiny smile twitching
at the corner of his mouth. "The washing won't be ready to go in
the dryers for a while yet; I'll make some lunch."
Hearing that, Quatre planted himself in the computer chair. "I'm
not even going to think about volunteering to help," he announced.
"I know my limitations."
Except when it comes to washing machines and doing the dishes, Wufei
thought, suppressing a grin.
"Oh, I was going to tell you about the nice lady we met in the laundry.
Mrs. P," the blond boy said. "She and her husband live in apartment
31, and they'd both be more than willing to help out any time you need
a hand. She seemed to know you, Wufei...?"
"We've never met... or at least we've never been introduced. We got
a note from her once, though, in a basket of laundry I'd left downstairs.
What's her full name?" Wufei asked. "'P' can't be all of it!"
"Gwennol Pa-- Pta-- Ta--"
"Ptaschiniski," Trowa supplied from the kitchen.
"Thank you," Quatre groaned. "I don't often have
trouble with names, but I can see why Mrs. Pa-- Pat-- I can see why Mrs.
P tells people to call her Mrs. P."
Wufei couldn't help grinning. "It does seem to be the simplest way
around the problem, yes."
* * * * *
"Marie doesn't have a chance of winning," Relena said,
smiling at Heero and Georg. "She's suing for wrongful dismissal,
but we've got plenty of evidence to show that I had every right
to fire her."
"What's she asking for?" Heero asked curiously.
Relena picked up the documents in front of her and flicked through them.
"Dismissed without notice, hmm, blameless record of service, ha...
here we are. She wants a written apology stating that her dismissal was
entirely unwarranted, and fifty million credits to compensate her for
'mental pain and suffering and the damage to her reputation'."
"She wants what?!" Georg yelped. "That's ridiculous!
I don't believe her lawyer is going along with this!"
"The usual tactic is that you ask for a lot more than you
expect to receive," she pointed out. "And, apparently, being
fired by the Queen of the World does a lot of damage to your reputation,"
she added, sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
"She was the one who publicised it!" he sputtered indignantly.
"Nobody would have ever known about it if she hadn't spread
it around! There sure as hell weren't any leaks from this office-- beg
Relena blinked, one finger touching her mouth as an idea occurred to her.
"Hmm... can we prove the press didn't get their information
"Sure." Georg nodded thoughtfully. "Subpoena the reporters
who broke the story and ask them where they got their leads. Most of the
news services are sympathetic to us; they'll tell the truth."
"Excellent." She smirked. "Any damage to her reputation
is therefore entirely her own fault."
The intercom on Relena's desk buzzed quietly, and she pressed a button.
< < Are you free for a moment, Miss Relena? > >
"We're not discussing anything that can't wait. What is it?"
Karl chuckled. < < My brother Nicklaus just dropped off a video
disk that I think you really want to watch. > >
"Oh? Bring it in, Karl; we can play it right away."
Karl walked in a moment later, grinning from ear to ear. "From what
Nicklaus told me, you might want to put this up on the wall screen,"
he said, handing Relena an unlabelled disk. She raised an eyebrow at him
as she slid it into her computer.
"Oh? What exactly is this?"
The grin widened. "A little incident at Preventers headquarters,
involving people you'll recognize. Nicklaus felt that you should be...
informed. Maybe you should just watch..."
Raising the eyebrow even further, she waved him to a chair and clicked
* * * * *
Ninke looked up with a smile as Trowa and Quatre walked into Quatre's
outer office. "Welcome back, Mr. Winner, Mr. Barton. Did you have
a good--" He nearly choked, eyes widening as he registered Quatre's
appearance. "Mr. Winner, what happened?"
Quatre beamed happily at him. "I cleaned the bathroom!"
"I... see," Ninke said quietly, blinking at his boss.
Trowa was his usual calm, neat self. Quatre... Quatre was smiling, eyes
sparkling with the sort of innocent joy usually seen on a child's face
after they've been given an ice cream. And he was dripping. His
shirt sleeves were soaked from the elbows down, his slacks were sodden
from mid-thigh to ankle, and at some point, water had splashed generously
across his torso. His face was smudged, his fingers were wrinkled, his
hair was sticking up on end, and he looked happier than Ninke had ever
seen him before.
"I take it that the bathroom-cleaning was a success?" Ninke
"Oh, yes," Quatre answered. "And Duo actually talked to
us, which is great. He didn't say much, but it's a vast improvement
over being glared at or ignored."
"I understand perfectly," the Dutch man murmured, smile returning.
"Shall I call the house and have some clothes sent over for you to
Glancing down at himself, Quatre chuckled a bit sheepishly. "Er,
no. We just came back to pick up a few things and check our messages before
going home. Is there anything that has to be handled now?"
Ninke considered. "Hm... some questions have come up about the revised
procedures, but that can wait until tomorrow. The company lawyers sent
over an update on the pending case against Taarnby, but they don't require
an answer; a couple of rumours have made it into the press, and I added
the articles to the package. You can take it home to read if you want
to see it right away."
"We certainly do," Trowa said, taking the folder Ninke
held out. "Thanks."
"And then there's this," Ninke said, holding up a video
disk and smirking.
Quatre looked up from trying to squeeze some of the water out of his sleeve
into a potted plant and blinked. "That's an extremely worrying
expression," he said slowly, straightening up. "It reminds me
of the sort of look Duo used to get just before someone walked into one
of his practical jokes." Or just before the bombs went off,
he added, privately. "Ninke, what have you done?"
"I haven't done anything, Mr. Winner," his assistant
said virtuously. "My brother Nicklaus brought it over. It's got some...
interesting information on it, that he thought you might like to
see. He thought I might like to see it, too, but I managed to restrain
myself until you got back."
"Self sacrifice like that deserves a reward," Trowa said,
plucking the disk out of Ninke's fingers and checking for a label. "Don't
you think so, Quatre?"
"Oh, definitely," the blond boy agreed, eyeing the disk speculatively.
"Ninke, why don't you join us for dinner? Then we can all
watch this. Unless you've made other plans, of course."
Ninke snorted, grinning. "Two weeks ago you abruptly turned my life
upside-down, sir. My head's still spinning, and I don't intend to make
any plans until it stops."
* * * * *
Wufei carefully lowered himself to sit in front of his computer, clinging
to the desk with his good hand until he was sure the chair wouldn't go
shooting out from underneath him on its casters. Once settled and reasonably
secure, he propped his forehead in his palm and closed his eyes, waiting
for the throbbing in his shoulder to die down.
Gods, I'm tired, he thought blearily. I was so tense
the whole time Trowa and Quatre were here... Duo reacted surprisingly
well, but I kept thinking something would happen to drive him back into
his shell. I nearly did it myself, snapping at Quatre. And every
time I turned around I bumped my shoulder... and then Trowa went downstairs
to dry the laundry and Quatre locked himself in the bathroom to clean
it. It sounded like he was destroying everything in there!
Glancing over towards the (intact and pristine) bathroom, he managed the
ghost of a smile. It turned out he was just destroying his clothes.
It made Duo laugh again, too. Rubbing at his eyes, he straightened
up carefully and switched on his computer. I can think of nothing I'd
like better than to join Duo for a nap, but he'd feel me wince every time
I moved, and I don't want to worry him. I told him I was going to check
my mail, so I'd better do it...
As his computer hummed quietly and the screen flickered to life, Wufei
spotted an unlabelled video disk lying next to the mouse pad. Hm? Oh,
that's right-- Assink said this would explain why he and McKenzie knew
that Duo and I were Gundam pilots. Frowning slightly, Wufei fed it
into the computer's drive; after a slight struggle with the mouse, he
managed to open a window to check its contents.
Let's see... one video file, named-- His eyes widened. "'Death
* * * * *
< < You'll damn well stand there and take whatever I choose
to hand out, asshole, > > Duo said icily on screen.
Relena nearly bounced out of her chair. "Ooooh! Ooh, oh that's
wonderful!" she squeaked, hands clasped under her chin. "Oh,
oh, did you see Anders's face?! This is perfect-- I want
to see that look on Marie's face!"
Georg and Karl were leaning forward in their chairs, grinning, but Heero
sat back behind Relena and watched with a painful lump in his throat.
< < --went after my 'Fei because you were jealous-- >
Swallowing, Heero closed his eyes.
I gave him up to Wufei. I let him go. He's not mine any more, I've
accepted that... but it hurts...
He never wanted to have to be Shinigami again. I wanted to protect
him from that. I haven't protected him from anything. I've just
made things worse. I don't know if I can ever make it up to him.
Where do I start?
* * * * *
Quatre had one hand pressed to his mouth as he watched, eyes wide. "Oh,
no," he moaned softly. "He didn't want-- after the war
he told me, he was so glad he'd never have to wear that mask again.
And just look at him!"
"I am looking," Trowa grinned.
< < --said why you were after my 'Fei-- > >
"Ha! He said it again!" Trowa's grin widened, and a wobbly smile
appeared on Quatre's face.
"It's awfully sweet, actually," he said wistfully. "I was
starting to worry that maybe they'd lost their chance to be happy together...
but, Trowa, it's not good for Duo, slipping back into that old
The European boy shook his head. "I think it is. You told me to look
at him; well, you look. He's not apathetic or depressed, is he?
He's got something he cares about, enough to make him willing to
be Shinigami again for a moment. And he's admitted it. He didn't 'slip'
into that old role, he dived. Head first."
"Pilot 02 from L2, isn't he?" Ninke commented casually. "Pilot
of Gundam Deathscythe, also known as Shinigami; master of destruction
and practical-joking thorn in OZ's collective backside..."
Trowa and Quatre swivelled in their chairs to look at him, eyes wide,
and he smiled calmly back at them.
"Good looking young man, isn't he?"
Trowa's eyes narrowed. "All right, talk."
"After we've seen the rest of the video!" Quatre insisted, diving
for the screen controller to rewind a bit.
* * * * *
Wufei stared at the computer screen, transfixed by the sight of Duo-as-Shinigami
terrorising a bunch of prisoners. He'd seen it before, of course. Nothing
new there... except for the fact that this time, Duo was doing
it for him.
He said "my 'Fei".
He didn't want to be Shinigami ever again... but he did it. For me.
Because they hurt me. And afterwards, he was worried that I'd be upset
with him for sneaking out... but he wasn't upset that he'd been Shinigami
again. He must have decided that... it was worth it.
I was worth it.
"My 'Fei". Twice.
He does love me!
< < The God of death is in the building, Anders, and he is looking
right at you. You're going to get a nice long prison sentence,
and when you come out, you are going to find a hole and pull it in after
you. Aren't you? Because if I ever see you again, I will not be happy.
Nobody touches my 'Fei. > >
A soft noise behind him, an intake of breath, pulled Wufei's attention
away from the screen. Duo was standing in the doorway watching him, eyes
wide and uncertain.
There was a long pause before Duo spoke; he shifted from one foot to the
other, flicked a glance at the computer screen and away, licked his lips...
"Are you mad?"
"No." Wufei shook his head. "I'm not mad."
"I couldn't let them get away with it," Duo said awkwardly,
hands fidgeting with his cross. "I mean, I knew they weren't going
to get away with it, exactly, but it wasn't enough. I wanted to
do something, not just leave them to Une and the police... though leaving
them to Une wouldn't be particularly merciful--"
"It's okay," Wufei said softly. "I... I'd feel the same
way, if it was you they'd hurt."
Wufei held out his hand, and waited for Duo's decision.
* * * * *