authors: Mel & Christy

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!>>

Reunion + Chapter 17

"Pargan, go straight into the carpark and look for Wufei's four wheel drive," Relena instructed, leaning forwards. "We're running late, so he's probably leaving now; we might just catch him."

"Certainly, Miss Relena," the old man said.

"I'm sorry," Quatre said meekly.

"One of the variants of Murphy's Law states that something always comes up when you want to leave work early," she said calmly, smiling at him and Trowa. "It's not the end of the world if we don't get there in time."

"That's a nice change," Heero muttered.

"Besides, I'm sure these gifts are fine. You said the Manguanacs would be able to deliver them tomorrow, so I take it Rashid's back? You seem healthy..."

"Oh, you heard about that, did you?" Quatre winced.

She giggled. "Your Ninke told my Karl."

Trowa smiled slightly. "I don't think we have to worry about miscommunication between our offices ever again, especially if Karl's as good as Ninke at information gathering."

"I checked up on the family," Heero said, smirking. "You've got Ninke; we've got Karl; the Preventers have Nicklaus and Nils. Their father and the oldest brother, Erik, are ex-Alliance intelligence with spotless records. Erik is now Dean and head of psychology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Their grandmother Matilde is the president of the university, and their sister Sigrid is an associate professor at Delt University of Technology. Shall I go on? There are more siblings, and I haven't even gotten into the cousins yet..."

"Can we hire the whole family?" Relena asked, semi-seriously. "Quatre, have I thanked you recently for recommending Karl?"

"Fifteen minutes ago," Quatre said dryly, checking his watch. "By the way, getting back to Christmas presents... Ninke brought one in today from Matilde Assink, addressed to 'that nice Maxwell boy'."

"Is there anything that family doesn't know about?" Trowa asked.

"No," Heero said, straight-faced.

"Miss Relena?" Pargan said politely as he turned the wheel to guide the limo into the parking lot. "I see Mr. Chang's vehicle, still here-- ah! Sirs? There's trouble!"

Heero took one glance through the windscreen and snapped out, "Pargan, get us there!"

"Yes, sir!" The limo accelerated, throwing up snow in a brief rooster-tail effect as the wheels spun; Pargan guided it expertly between cars, then made a quick turn and hit the brakes, skidding sideways to an abrupt stop only meters away from the scuffle.

"Relena, stay here--" Heero said quickly as he opened the door, glancing towards her; he blinked as she pushed straight past him and ran for the fight. Trowa and Quatre were already out the other side of the car; he swore and followed. "K'so! Relena, stay back--"

Three men had Wufei down on the ground and were kicking at him; one was holding a tyre iron, and Heero mentally marked him as the primary target. Another man was being dragged away, leaving a trail of blood and yelling incoherently. Several more were standing around or edging towards the building, looking worried.

"Either do the right thing or leave!" Relena yelled at the ditherers, swinging her handbag at the head of the man dragging Ivan away. She followed this totally unscientific attack up with a perfectly executed kick to the back of his knee. "Don't just stand there!"

"Nice kick," Quatre commented, taking the man down with one punch as he yelled in pain and started to turn.

"Heero's been teaching me self-defense, just in case. I pay attention," she said absently, starting towards Wufei's attackers with a determined expression.

"This isn't a self-defense situation!" Quatre pointed out, grabbing her arm. "Besides, I don't think they need our help..."

As Heero charged towards the man with the tyre iron, noting thankfully that Quatre was backing Relena up and could be relied upon to get her out of danger, his target was suddenly tackled from the side by a red-haired woman in Preventers' uniform. Body-slamming Anders into the side of the Blazer, Leah growled and chopped at his wrist, making him yelp and drop his weapon.

"You are such-- a waste-- of space--" she snarled, getting a good-sized handful of his hair and slamming his head into the metal with each emphasised word; then she stepped back, grabbed the wrist in the cast, and used it to throw him over her shoulder and face-down onto the bonnet of the next car in line.

"Did that hurt?" she asked sweetly as he gasped for air. "I hope so!" She casually draped one arm across the back of his neck and leaned, pushing his Adam's apple down onto the corner of the bonnet. He started to make choking noises and kick; she smiled. "If you flap, I'll lean harder," she informed him cheerfully.

Deprived of his initial target, Heero made short work of one of the others as Trowa took care of the last one; then armed Preventers started running around the corner of the building, Une stalking along at the head of the group.

"You thought you were in trouble when I hit you, Anders? Now you're in trouble," Leah said gleefully. Anders choked out a couple of swear words and started struggling again; she sighed, shaking her head, and leaned on him. "I warned you..."

"All right, what's going on here?" Une snapped, hands on hips. "I want an explanation, and-- Chang?!"

Quatre looked up from where he was crouched by Ivan. "Could someone call Sally and ask her to bring some medical staff?" he enquired politely. "I don't know how much Wufei's hurt, and this one's arm is badly broken."

"Is Chang okay?" Ivan asked anxiously, struggling to sit up. "I'm sorry, ma'am. I screwed up... I tried to help, after I worked out what was really going on, but... is he okay?"

"Petrov, isn't it?" Une asked, shooting a glance at him as she moved towards Wufei. "I'll want a statement later."

"Yes, ma'am," he said miserably.

Trowa pushed his prisoner into the arms of one of the security squad and knelt down, running his hands gently over Wufei's head and spine before trying to move him. "There's no obvious vertebrae damage," he reported, "but he's got one hell of a lump coming up on the back of his head. I think I saw the kick that did it, too," he muttered darkly, glaring at Anders.

Leah smiled coldly at Trowa and put on a fraction more pressure.

"McKenzie, do let the prisoner breathe," Une requested. "We might want him alive for questioning."

"Yes... ma'am," Leah sighed, reluctantly backing off and letting the security squad take him.

Wufei moaned slightly as Trowa started easing him out of his tight protective curl, opening his eyes and blinking dazedly. "Nnh... Trowa?"

"Stay still and wait for Sally," Trowa ordered, carefully tipping Wufei's head up and checking his pupils. "Are you cold?"

"No." Wufei winced, licking blood off his top lip and feeling carefully at the back of his head. "Where's my coat?"

"Here, take mine," Heero broke in, starting to pull it off.

"No!" Wufei insisted. "There's something in the pocket... I need my coat!"

"Would this be it, Master Chang?" Pargan asked, stepping carefully over the legs of one of the ambushers (who was currently face-down on the snowy concrete, being cuffed and searched for weapons).

"Thank you," Wufei muttered, struggling to sit up; then he gasped and swayed as he automatically reached for it with his right arm. "Zao gao[1]... bad move," he hissed through clenched teeth, then reached out with his left arm and pulled the coat onto his knees.

"Wufei, please! Stay still until Sally can examine you!" Relena exclaimed, reaching out but unsure where she could touch him without doing damage. He ignored her, rummaging one-handed through the coat pockets.

"Where is it... ah!" He pulled Une's present out, shaking it gently, then looked anxiously up at her. "I don't hear anything rattling, but... is this fragile?"

"Not very," Une said dryly, rolling her eyes as she took it from him. "Now will you lie down and be quiet?"

"No. I'm going home."

"You are not!" Sally snapped, stalking towards him. "Geir, you handle that one," she said, waving one of her assistants towards Ivan. "If it's as bad as it looks, take him to the emergency room. I'll handle Macho Man here. Wufei, you are staying right there until we get you on a stretcher, and then you are going nowhere except into my examining room!"

"I'm going home." Wufei glared at her. "Duo will worry if I'm late."

"This is true," Sally admitted, crouching down and peering intently at his eyes, "but you're still staying here. We'll phone Duo and tell him you've been delayed."

"That won't work," he growled, batting her hand away as she pulled a penlight out of her pocket. "If you tell him the truth," he continued, starting to pull his legs underneath him, "he'll panic, and probably start walking here. If you -- nh! -- lie to him, he'll never trust you again. Trowa, give me a hand here, would you?"

"Trowa, don't you dare. Wufei, every time you move you look grey, and you're starting to sweat--"

"I wouldn't if someone would just help," he muttered.

"--I am going to examine you whether you want it or not!"

"Once you get me home, to Duo, you can examine me all you like. I'll cooperate," he said, leaning heavily on his left arm and closing his eyes briefly. "Otherwise, you'd better have a dart gun handy, because the only way you're getting me inside without a fight is unconscious. Am I making my position clear?"

"Perfectly," Une said, cutting Sally off before she could argue. "Sally, he's coherent, his eyes are tracking and he's arguing logically; I'd say he's fit to go home."

"You're supposed to be on my side," Sally said accusingly.

"I'm on Maxwell's side at the moment," Une replied calmly, picking up Wufei's coat and tucking her present back into a pocket.

"Which arm can I use to help you up by?" Heero asked Wufei.

"All right, we take Chang home and examine him there!" Sally yelled, throwing her hands up. "However! If you are showing any signs of concussion, or I find anything that I can't properly treat at your apartment, we're all coming straight back here, Duo included! This is not negotiable!"

"Your conditions are accepted," Wufei said, carefully inching up onto his feet with Heero and Trowa's help, wincing as he put weight on his right knee.

"If it weren't for Duo's sake, I wouldn't agree," Sally muttered.

"If it weren't for Duo's sake, I wouldn't ask," Wufei replied, just as quietly.

* * * * *

Duo twisted his braid in his hands, eyes wide as he stared out the window.

He's late. 'Fei's late. He said he'd be back by half past twelve and it's already quarter to one... where is he?! Is he all right?!

He leaned forward eagerly, one hand pressed to the cold glass, as the Blazer came slowly down the street. There he is! He's here, he's back, he's okay... huh? What's going on? A white limousine was following the Blazer, and turned smoothly into the carpark after it.

That's not 'Fei, Duo thought suddenly, watching as the Blazer seemed to hesitate in the carpark before moving into an empty space. 'Fei's not driving. He always goes straight into that spot, his spot... Unconsciously, he twisted another loop of his braid around his hand, pulling until his scalp hurt.