Rebuilding + Chapter 3 (cont)

* * * * *

Quatre clicked off the video and turned to Ninke. "Now talk."

"Certainly," he said calmly. "Ah... how much research have you done into my family?"

"Heero did some," Trowa put in dryly. "Obviously not enough."

Ninke smirked. "We can make allowances for the fact that you've all been distracted... and, of course, we have been covering our tracks."

"And where would those tracks lead?" Quatre asked.

"My family ran an intelligence network all through the war-- ran, hell, we were the network. We still are, too; my grandmother Matilde saw no reason to relax just because the war ended."

"Who were you working for?"

Ninke's smile widened. "The doctors."

Trowa's eyes narrowed slightly. "A little proof before this goes any further might be a good idea. Codenames, perhaps? Passwords?"

"Did you know the codenames the doctors used for their informants, or are we going to have to put this on hold while you get confirmation?"

"We knew the regular informants."

"Oh, then this won't be a problem. We were the Yggdrasil ring. My grandmother is very interested in mythology, and Yggdrasil seemed appropriate... since it's regarded as the Tree of Knowledge. Personally, I was Yggdrasil 2."

Quatre's jaw dropped. "You reported to Instructor H?"

"That was me," Ninke nodded. "We didn't actually confirm that you were pilot 04 until after the war was over and I'd started working for WEI. I had the worst time keeping my face straight at work for weeks..."

"So who reported to Doktor S?" Trowa asked.

"Yggdrasil 5, my brothers Janne and Joost. They work as a unit. You haven't met them yet," Ninke added.

"How many siblings do you have? --No, don't answer that. I'm sure I'll find out eventually," Trowa muttered, rubbing at his forehead. "I have only one more question before we start going into the details of all this."

"Yes, sir?"

"Why are you revealing this now?"

Ninke leaned back in his chair and folded his hands across his stomach. "Well, as I said, the Assink family intelligence network is still very much operational, and we have decided to place it at the disposal of you, the other Gundam pilots and Miss Relena. Er, that is, Grandmother Matilde decided and we all said 'yes' when she brought it up. Theoretically, we all vote on this sort of question, but her ideas always win. Please don't tell her I said that."

Quatre reached over to his desk and typed a code into the vidphone without looking.

< < Yes? > >

"Heero, you and Relena should really get over here. We have to discuss the Assinks. Oh, and bring Karl..."

* * * * *

Karl grimaced slightly. "My brother and his wonderful sense of timing. He could at least have waited until everyone had had time to properly enjoy the video."

"...So you were expecting whatever this is?" Relena asked, slightly suspicious.

"I wasn't expecting this quite so soon, Miss Relena, but yes. Er... can we discuss this after we reach the Winner residence? It will save us going over all the details twice. I'll gladly explain everything then."

Heero raised an eyebrow at Relena, who considered for a moment, then nodded; he turned back to the vidphone and nodded to Quatre. "We'll be there shortly."

* * * * *

Duo and Wufei had moved to the sofa, since there was not room for two in the computer chair, and arranged themselves as comfortably as possible. Wufei had his good arm wrapped around Duo's shoulders and his face pressed into Duo's hair; Duo had dragged his afghan rug over their laps, then wrapped his arms around Wufei's waist and nestled against his chest.

Any thoughts of 'giving Duo up for his own good' had been driven completely out of Wufei's head.

He honestly does love me. He isn't staying with me because he thinks he's got nowhere else to go, or because he thinks he owes me something. He wouldn't go Shinigami for me if that was all I meant to him...

Maybe there is someone out there who'd be better for Duo than me... but if Duo doesn't want them, they're not getting him!

Wufei closed his eyes and nuzzled briefly into Duo's hair, pulling him closer and breathing in his scent, then pulled back far enough to speak. "You know, Quatre has incredibly bad timing sometimes," he said softly, voice slightly husky with nervousness. "Do... do you want to try again?"

He felt Duo swallow, tensing, then the braided boy shifted against him, looking up into his eyes. "Well," Duo whispered, "Quatre's not here now..."

"True," Wufei whispered back, hand sliding up to caress the back of Duo's neck as he leaned down.

Duo's lips tasted sweet.

Their first kiss, eight months earlier, had been passionate and hungry, and they'd plunged straight from no relationship at all to --nearly-- sleeping together. This time was very different. After the horrendous misunderstandings and emotional torture they'd gone through after the party, neither was willing to push matters beyond the first step... at least not yet.

The first moments were awkward and clumsy, bumping noses, with both teens tense and a little afraid of doing the wrong thing, fearful that something would happen to ruin the moment. Seconds ticked by without anything going wrong, however, and they started to relax. Lips softened and parted; greatly daring, Wufei traced the curve of Duo's lips with the tip of his tongue, and felt a flickering touch in response.

Wufei shifted slightly as Duo pressed against him, silently cursing the bandages that stopped him from holding the braided boy in both arms. He settled for cupping Duo's cheek in one hand as he dropped light kisses on forehead, closed eyes, cheekbone, chin... then he returned to Duo's mouth, gently biting at his bottom lip.

"'Fei..."

The vidphone rang.

Wufei groaned softly, pressing his forehead against Duo's. "There is a god in charge of moments like this; he frequently directs Quatre's actions. I believe he's called 'Murphy'," he said, torn between disgust and laughter.

"I'll get it," Duo muttered, starting to pull away.

"No," Wufei said firmly, tugging him back down on to the sofa.

"But you were limping--"

"I didn't mean I was going to get it," the Chinese boy explained, gently stroking Duo's cheek. "We are going to ignore it. They can leave a message, and I'll call them back later... if I feel like it." Smiling, he leaned forward and kissed Duo again, then pulled back a fraction. "This is more important," he whispered, breath tickling the braided boy's lips.

The phone rang a few more times as they settled back against each other, then cut off; there was a beep, and Wufei's recorded voice brusquely informed the caller that they would have to leave a message.

< < Oh, bother, > > Quatre's voice said. They broke off their embrace and blinked at each other for a moment; then Duo started to giggle helplessly, and Wufei covered his eyes and moaned.

< < Um... I guess you guys are having a nap, or a shower, or something. Could you call back as soon as you get this message? It's pretty important; we need your input. We're at home, not WEI. > >

*click*

"I guess you should call him," Duo said, still giggling. He didn't let go, however.

"I suppose so," Wufei agreed, reluctantly. "... In a minute," he added leaning in for another kiss.

* * * * *

Arif opened the study door and bowed. "Master Quatre? Master Heero, Miss Relena and another Mr. Assink are here." He stepped back and bowed the visitors in.

Quatre stopped pacing. "Oh, good! Come in, Heero, Relena... Karl... We're just waiting for Wufei to--"

*ring*ring*

Quatre dived for the vidphone as everyone settled themselves in front of the desk, in visual range. "Hello-- Wufei, good timing!"

Wufei raised an eyebrow at the group of people, frowning slightly. < < This had better be good, Quatre. > >

"Oh, it is, Wufei," the blond replied. "Our Assink decided to reveal some very interesting information this afternoon."

< < If you're referring to the video disk from HQ, I've already got it. > >

Behind Quatre's back, Karl raised an eyebrow at his older brother and mouthed 'our Assink?'. Ninke just shrugged.

"No, this is something different... though that was impressive. Is Duo there? He should hear this, too."

< < He's listening, > > Wufei replied, glancing off to his right. < < Go ahead. > >

"The Assink family was the Yggdrasil Ring."

On screen, Wufei's eyebrows rose; Relena looked slightly confused. Heero blinked and looked accusingly at Karl.

"I didn't do much," Karl said, a little defensively. "I was still in university... admittedly, I associated with a lot of OZ officers' children, and reported what I heard to Grandmother Matilde. But I didn't even get a number."

Ninke rolled his eyes. "Are you still upset over that? Sigrid didn't get one either! And Janne and Joost shared theirs."

"They're twins," Karl sniffed. "They like it that way."

"Anyway," Quatre said pointedly, "it appears that Grandmother Matilde decided it was time to come clean... and offer their services to us."

The two Assinks winced at his phrasing. "We voted on it," Karl muttered. "Sort of..."

"What are we talking about?" Relena asked plaintively. "What's the Yggdrasil Ring?"

Heero smirked, still eyeing Karl. "Only the most reliable set of informants the Doctors ever had."

Wufei nodded. < < They were actually partly responsible for us beginning to work together, > > he said. < < They gave all the Doctors the same information sometimes, so quite often two or three of us would turn up at the same target. It's how we met... and then it became obvious that it made sense to coordinate with each other. > >

Trowa nodded at Ninke. "Thanks."

"Coincidentally," Quatre put in, gesturing to Ninke, "our Assink was the one who reported to Instructor H. Janne and Joost passed information to Doktor S."

"Who did J get?" Heero asked.

"Our father Kerstan," Ninke said. "Nicklaus reported to Doctor G, and his twin, Nils, to Master O."

"There are two sets of twins in your family?" Relena asked, blinking in mild surprise.

< < Nicklaus? > > Duo's voice came from the vidphone, though he remained out of sight. < < Why is that name familiar? > >

< < You've met him, > > Wufei replied, looking off-screen, a small smile twitching at his mouth. < < This morning. After you flashed McKenzie, he helped you get dressed. Then you fell asleep on him. You were in 'zombie mode', so I'm not surprised you don't remember. > >

Karl's eyes widened as Quatre blushed and Trowa chuckled. "Nicklaus didn't mention that when he dropped off the video disk," he quietly complained to Ninke.

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