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!>>

Reunion + Chapter 18

It had started to snow gently as Duo parked the Blazer outside the main entrance to Preventers' HQ. As he jumped down and flicked the door shut, an agent who'd been having a quiet smoke outside quickly tossed his cigarette butt away and came forwards.

"Excuse me... sir?" he said, moving to intercept Duo as he walked towards the door. "You can't park here; it's reserved for emergency vehicles. There's a parking lot around the corner--"

"I know," Duo said coldly, brushing past him.

"Sir, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to move your car!" the agent insisted, grabbing Duo's elbow.

Duo didn't say a word. He didn't have to. He just turned his head and looked at the agent with cold, glittering eyes in a perfectly expressionless face. Slowly, he looked down at the hand on his arm; just as slowly, he looked back at the agent's face.

"...Right. Um. I'll just, ah, stop bothering you," the man said, letting go and backing away. "Okay?"

Once Duo was gone, he scrabbled frantically at his phone, breaking a nail before he managed to get it open and stab at a speed-dial button. "Security?!" he gasped, edging forwards to peer nervously through the glass doors. "That guy who just walked in, you gotta believe me, I swear, he's a killer!"

----------

<<Ma'am?>> a nervous voice came from the intercom on Une's desk. <<Mr. Maxwell is here asking to see you, and... uh... he doesn't look happy.>>

"Oh, shit," Une said. "Let him in!" she added hastily, getting up and hurrying towards the door.

"Maxwell," she said as she came up to the security desk, trying to keep worry and frustration out of her voice, "there really isn't anything you can accomplish here. Where's Chang?" At least he's wearing a coat and boots this time...

"Wufei's asleep," Duo said flatly, turning to look at her. "Where are they?"

Une froze, feeling a sudden flash of terror as she saw his face. Oh god. This isn't Maxwell... this is Shinigami.

"What... do you want with them?" she asked, surprised that her voice sounded almost normal.

"Not much." Duo's eyes glittered again as he tilted his head, considering; then a small, cold smile quirked the corner of his mouth. "I simply want to let them know how I feel about what they did. I'm not going to kill anybody," he added. "That could get Wufei in trouble."

Une hesitated for a moment. "There... is a precedent in law for allowing people affected by a crime to confront the perpertrators," she said slowly. "In the case of a violent assault, 'people affected' traditionally includes the victim's family and close friends. Normally, this would be after their trial and conviction... but then, some of them have confessed..." Coming to a decision, she nodded. "This way."

As Duo followed her down the corridor towards the elevators, the desk guard lunged for his computer, tapping in an 'all terminals' call code with one hand as he called up a video feed from the security cameras in the cell block.

----------

Back at her desk and trying to get through her paperwork, Leah resisted the urge to bang her head on the keyboard as her terminal beeped for the umpteenth time that afternoon.

What is it now? she grumbled to herself, slapping at the keyboard. I swear, if this is another idiot e-mailing me to ask 'what really happened in the carpark', I'm getting my gun...

Instead of a normal mail window, however, her screen blacked out; then large block letters appeared.

<<THIS SHOULD BE GOOD! MAXWELL LOOKS READY TO GUT SOMEONE!>>

"What the...?" Leah blinked, torn between confusion and annoyance; then the text message vanished, replaced by a security camera view of the main cell block. A couple of seconds passed before a door opened and Une led Duo in.

"Oooh. Preventers' Nastiest Home Videos. All right, I'm interested," Leah muttered, leaning closer to her screen. "Do we have sound? Yes, good... all that's missing is popcorn."

----------

"Here they are," Une said calmly, stopping in front of two adjoining cells.

"Which is Anders?"

"That one." She pointed. "The one with black hair and the severely bruised face. McKenzie was rather enthusiastic about subduing him."

"I want medical treatment," Anders wheezed, wincing as his bruised throat protested. "It's my right. The painkillers I got aren't doing shit."

"You're giving your prisoners painkillers now?" Duo asked in a detached voice. "That's new."

Une winced slightly and cleared her throat. "Whatever I may have done in the past," she said carefully, "the Preventers do follow international humanitarian guidelines for the treatment of prisoners. Mr. Anders has had his broken nose set, and none of his other injuries require attention."

"Pity," Duo commented. "All right, which of you got into this because you actually believed this moron when he told you Chang Wufei was beating me?"

As two or three of the prisoners glanced at each other and slowly raised their hands, Anders lunged forwards and grabbed at the bars. "I don't have to stand here and take shit from you!" he rasped. "I haven't admitted a thing, and I'm innocent until proven guilty. I--"

Duo's hand shot through the bars and grabbed his collar, yanking him forward against them. Anders abruptly found himself entirely too close to a pair of coldly glittering violet eyes.

"You'll damn well stand there and take whatever I choose to hand out, asshole," an icy cold voice told him, then those eyes were looking past him at the other prisoners. "Well? I'm waiting."

Five hands were raised.

Duo glanced at the other prisoners. "That would make you three the bastards who went after my 'Fei because you were jealous. Like this dickless idiot," he added, tugging at Anders' collar and pulling him harder against the bars.

"We aren't admitting anything," Anders wheezed, starting to panic as he shoved against the bars but couldn't push himself away. How strong is this guy?! "It looked like he was abusing you! The evidence was there if you looked for it!"

"And so was all the evidence that he wasn't," Duo said almost gently, letting up the pressure for an instant and then yanking his 'toy' back against the bars; Anders whimpered as the jolt jarred his broken nose. "You don't have to admit anything, stupid. You came right out and said why you were after my 'Fei. You hate him because he's smarter than you, and better than you, and he outranks you, and he's paid more, and even though he doesn't try to make friends people like him more than you... does that about cover it?"

"I never said that!"

"But it's what you meant. 'Mr. Perfect, the Preventers poster boy'," Duo quoted mercilessly. "He's all that and he's only eighteen, I bet that's what really burns you up. I guess it never occurred to you that maybe he worked to get to where he is.

"As for you idiots..." Duo looked scornfully at the five who'd raised their hands earlier. "If you'd bothered to check the facts instead of swallowing this prick's story in one gulp, you would have found out it was a lie pretty quickly. Never mind that Chang Wufei hadn't seen me since the end of the war. Our identities aren't that much of a secret, what with all the ex-OZ people who know about us.

"You've got to admit," he went on, grinning coldly, "it would take a real moron to believe that a Gundam pilot would stick around to be beaten. Even by another Gundam pilot."

"Gundam... pilot...?" somebody whispered.

----------

"Yes!" Nicklaus hissed softly, grinning maniacally as he watched on his terminal. "We thought so. Score one for Assink family intelligence work!"

----------

Leah paused with her mug halfway to her mouth, eyebrows lifting. "Well. There's something to think about..."

----------

"If I had my Deathscythe here," Duo purred into the sudden horrified silence, putting his face right up by Anders', "I would stomp you like the goddamned piece of shit bug you are."

Anders whimpered, pushing desperately at the bars as he closed his eyes, trying to shut out the sight of that coldly furious gaze... but he couldn't shut out the voice.

"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."

Duo's hand opened, and Anders slid helplessly down the bars, landing with a squelch; he burst into humiliated tears as he realised that he'd wet himself without realising it.

"That goes for you three as well," Duo continued. "I couldn't care less about you five; stupidity at your level tends to weed itself out of the gene pool, anyway."

With one last glance at Anders sniveling on the floor, Duo turned and stalked out.

----------

All over the building, grinning Preventers saved the video file to their private folders.

----------

Duo was barely out the door when he sagged, clutching at the wall for support as he began to tremble.

"Maxwell?!" Une grabbed his arm.

"I'll be okay in a minute," he whispered. "I'll be fine. I just... just need a moment--" His knees gave way as he started coughing, and Une wrapped her arm around his waist to hold him up. About to call for help, she was immensely relieved when she looked up and saw Sally running down the corridor towards them.

"Sally? How'd you know?" Une asked incredulously as Sally skidded to a halt and reached for Duo.

"Thank the busybody who patched the security cameras into the main computer net," Sally muttered as she eased Duo down to sit on the floor. "I knew he couldn't keep that up for long. I don't suppose you brought your inhaler, Duo? No? Here... two puffs, not one..." She picked up his wrist and felt for his pulse, checking his temperature with the back of her other hand as she waited for his breathing to settle.

"Fast pulse, mild fever, shaking..." she muttered. "Duo? How do you feel?"

"Tired," he whispered, leaning his head against the wall and closing his eyes.

"I'm not surprised! You must have been running on adrenalin ever since you found out Wufei was hurt. You have no reserves, Duo, you can't push yourself like this without consequences. You'll trigger another relapse before you're even over the last one!"

"I had to," he insisted, opening his eyes briefly. "They hurt my 'Fei..."

Sally and Une exchanged a significant look over Duo's head, then smirked at each other. "I understand perfectly," Une said, smoothing his bangs back from his forehead.

"I have to go home," he said, sitting up away from the wall. "If he wakes up before I get back, he'll worry."

"Oh no, not just yet," Sally said quickly, gently pushing him back. "Give it a few more minutes; I want your heart rate and breathing a little closer to normal before you get up. And you're not driving yourself home!"

"I'll call Zechs and Noin." Une pulled out her phone, settling against the wall next to Duo. "Zechs can drive you home, and Noin can follow in her car to bring him back here. Is that acceptable?" she asked, glancing from Duo to Sally and back.

"It's fine by me," Sally said, still holding Duo's wrist. "Duo?"

He shrugged. "Whatever. So long as I get home."

* * * * *

As he slept, Wufei slowly slid down against his pillows, gradually putting more pressure on his cracked shoulderblade; finally, a stab of pain made it through the painkillers, waking him up. Wincing, he struggled up into a seated position, then looked blearily around at the empty lounge room.

I fell asleep? Damn...

I guess Duo went to bed. I don't hear him moving around.

Carefully, Wufei pulled the quilt back and swung his legs off the couch, moving as quietly as possible.

I hope he's sleeping okay... I'll just go check.

* * * * *

Sally leaned back in the visitors' chair in Une's office, smirking. "I see you noticed the 'my 'Fei' comment," she said, reaching out to tap the dangling tiki and make it spin.

"It was pretty hard to miss," Une smirked back. "He said it three times while he was terrorising the prisoners, too."

"So he did! I almost forgot... I think I was distracted by wondering exactly how long he could keep up that intensity before he fell over." Sally considered for a moment, then chuckled. "Of course, that means everybody on duty today probably noticed it too."

"I should probably have a word with whoever did that," Une muttered darkly.

"And then there was 'I have to go home'," Sally pointed out happily. "Whether Duo realises it or not, part of him has decided where he belongs."

"Yes... I think--"

Une's vidphone beeped.

"Une speaking-- Chang?"

<<Une, Duo's gone! The keys are gone, the Blazer's gone, he sneaked out while I was asleep -- he shouldn't be out, he's still sick, I don't know where he is-->>

"Chang, calm down," Une said firmly. "He was here, he terrorised the prisoners, he's on his way home. He's fine. Zechs and Noin are bringing him back."

<<...he's okay?>>

Sally leaned over until she could see the screen. "He'll be pretty tired when he gets back -- he wore himself out getting here and putting the fear of Shinigami into Anders and his friends -- but he should recover with no problems."

<<Are you sure?>> Wufei looked very young suddenly, wide-eyed and worried, hair coming out of his ponytail.

"Yes. I'm sure."

Une checked her watch. "They should be there any minute now."

<<Thank you!>> *click!*

"Poor Chang," Une said, shaking her head. "He doesn't have a chance."

* * * * *

Wufei was halfway to the window when there was a quiet knock on the door and Noin opened it. "Chang? You awake?" she called softly, looking around.

"Where is he?!"

"...you're awake. Zechs is bringing him up; he fell asleep in the car on the way back."

"He's fine, just tired," Zechs said softly, appearing behind her with Duo in his arms. "He put on quite a show; remind me to e-mail you a copy when you get back to work. Where do you want him?"

----------

Duo drifted slowly awake, vaguely aware that someone was stroking his hair.

Une...?

"I have to go home," he mumbled. "'Fei's gonna worry..."

"You're home, Duo," Wufei's voice said softly.

"Whu-- 'Fei? I'm sorry!" Duo blurted out, jerking up onto his elbows. Oh, shit, he thought, blinking up at the Chinese boy. I sneaked out -- I took the Blazer -- he's gonna be so mad!

Duo's eyes widened as Wufei leaned forwards, wrapped his good arm around his shoulders, and pulled him close. "Please don't scare me like that," he whispered, pressing his face into Duo's hair.

...he's shaking! Duo thought, winding his arms tentatively around Wufei's waist. "'Fei... I'm sorry, but I had to," he said quietly. "They hurt you."

"You shouldn't endanger yourself for me," Wufei said. "I'm not worth it."

"Don't say that! Don't ever say that," Duo retorted, pulling back slightly to glare up into Wufei's surprised face. "It's not true."

Pulling away, Duo got up and stalked into the kitchen to make dinner.

----------

After dinner, Duo dragged Wufei's futon out of its cupboard and started setting it up on the lounge room floor.

"Duo, I can do that in a minute," Wufei protested. "You should be going to bed, not--"

"I'm not going to bed until I've seen you comfortable," Duo snapped, glaring briefly at him before stalking off to get a pillow. With surprising speed, Wufei was tucked into bed; Duo presented him with a couple of pills and a glass of water, then vanished into the bedroom, turning off the light on the way.

Wufei lay there for quite a while, studying the patterns of light on the ceiling as cars went past outside and going over the day's events in his mind. I can't go in too early, he thought eventually, listening for any sound from the bedroom. Duo's tired, so he might go to sleep quickly... but he's upset, so he might stay awake...

A soft sound caught his attention, and he started struggling out from under the covers. He went to sleep right away and I waited too long, he berated himself as he heard another quiet sob.

Carefully easing himself down beside Duo, Wufei winced as the braided boy clutched at him. Ow. Bruises! he thought ruefully, awkwardly reaching around with his free arm to shift one of Duo's hands. It's a good thing Anders didn't break my left shoulderblade; I'd have to get between Duo and the wall if I wanted to lie on my right side and still hold him, and I don't think I could manage that with one arm tied to my chest...

Eventually, without meaning to, Wufei fell asleep.

~*~*~*~

[cont]