see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Warriors + Chapter 102
"Hurry up, they're going to replay the footage!" Heero called from the
rented shuttle's passenger cabin.
Duo locked in the autopilot of the Zoroaster for L-4 and floated back
to join Heero. He was already strapped down on the leather couch in front
of the large screen vid. He pulled Duo in, keeping him in place with an
arm around his waist.
Heero had dressed up for the occasion, wanting to present a strong image.
He wore dark slacks and a crisp sapphire blue shirt under his leather
jacket. Duo, on the other hand, had angrily opted to flaunt his style.
He'd foregone makeup, but his jeans were tight and worn, his ears and
right hand heavy with jewelry. His left hand was bare except for his engagement
ring. He wore a long black leather duster Heero had given him over a black
linen shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest to highlight the wide black
leather choker he wore around his neck with the Shiva's eye pendant. The
shirt was his only concession to Heero's concerned appraisal that morning;
his original choice had been a cropped, tight, hot pink tank with the
words "BETTER THAN PUSSY" emblazoned across it in big glittery red letters.
That had been a gift from Quatre.
"I want to look like your boyfriend, not your pimp," Heero had growled,
forcibly helping him out of the offending garment. Duo had grumbled a
little, but conceded when Heero pointed out that they didn't want to play
into the hands of Quatre's relatives by showing up looking like total
He fidgeted restlessly with his pendant now as he settled in to watch
the news. Heero took his hand and held it, stroking his lover's knuckles
with his thumb to calm him. "Did you take your meds?"
"Yes, for the millionth time! Did you?"
"Of course. Let's see what's going on before you get any more upset, OK?"
The local news services had pieced together surveillance tapes from the
courthouse, various police cruisers, and the embassy. Short, rapid fire
clips showed Trowa roaring out of nowhere on a huge motorcycle to free
Quatre from the police escort at the courthouse and Quatre's leap onto
the bike. There were a few grainy shots of them ripping though city streets,
and then a very clear shot of the pair gracefully vaulting the embassy
wall. Duo laughed out loud at Trowa's parting shot to the cops as he tossed
them some tickets.
"Holy mother loving shit! He can be such an arrogant prick! Makes it even
hotter that you tapped that, huh?"
But Heero was frowning. "Quatre pushed off on his good leg when he jumped
the wall, but that's still a very strenuous series of events. I wonder
if he refractured anything?"
"The lower gravity probably helped, not to mention adrenaline. You and
I both did more with worse injuries than that, ya know." Heero gave him
a look and Duo shrugged. "OK, so we can't compare anyone to you, Super
Soldier, but I got through a lot of shit and I wasn't modified, just tough.
Kat is, too. Remember how he kept fighting, after that Catalonia bitch
skewered him on Libra? Don't worry, Heero, Kat's tough, and he's got Trowa
there to look after him."
The scene on screen changed to an interior shot at the embassy. Behind
the dapper GNN reporter, they could make out a large courtyard filled
with palm trees and flowers.
"This is Jack Cotter reporting live from the L-3 embassy here in New
Riyadh. Despite L-4 government attempts to restrict our presence here,
the ambassador, Walter Sorenson, has granted open access to the press.
In just a moment I'll be broadcasting an exclusive live interview with
former Gundam pilots and circus innovators Quatre Winner-Barton and Trowa
Barton-Winner, now cast in the role of star crossed lovers. As we reported
earlier, a colonial high court attempted to rescind Quatre's emancipation,
which in turn calls into question not only his citizenship, but also his
civil union. Sources close to the Raberba Winner family have maintained
for some time now that the Winner heir, youngest of his family, was not
mentally competent to make such legal commitments, and that he should
undergo treatment for mental illness. Earlier today, the judge attempted
to make him a ward of the court and to undergo observation to establish
once and for all his mental state.
"Winner-Barton's lawyer, Isobel Cardoza, immediately issued the following
statement on her client's behalf: I, Quatre Raberba Winner-Barton, citizen
of L-3 Colony and the Earth Sphere United Nation, declare myself a political
prisoner of the government of L-4 colony. I declare that all efforts to
detain me on L-4 are done against my will, and in direct conflict with
"Damn straight!" Duo yelled at the screen. "Where the fuck do they get
off, calling him crazy?"
Heero fended off Duo's braid, which was whipping slowly but dangerous
at his face in the zero-g of the shuttle. "He did have a breakdown."
"Who didn't? But he's OK now, and he was fine at the end of the war, when
he got emancipated. He was saner than any of the rest of us, except maybe
Trowa. This is so goddamn fucked up!"
"Hold on. There they are."
The vid showed Quatre and Trowa in a tastefully appointed, very modern
reception room. Quatre was lying on a white leather chaise, still impeccably
dressed in his suit and tie, but his right leg was incased in an orange
pressure splint. He looked pale and a little glassy-eyed. Trowa was a
grim black clad presence beside him. On a sofa nearby sat three young,
impeccably dressed women who had to be some of Quatre's sisters. They
all had the same pale blond hair, blue eyes, and gentle, attractive features.
"Kat told me once that he was the only natural born in the family," Duo
remarked, staring at them. "Looks like Mommy and Daddy used the same recipe
for the test tube babies. Pretty, though. Good thing for Kat Tro isn't
into girls. Man, 03 doesn't look too happy, does he?"
"Hn." Heero could care less about the sisters. His attention was focused
on Quatre. "He did hurt himself. He appears to have been given pain medication,
The reporter took a chair beside the chaise and the camera zoomed in on
the five of them.
"I'm here with Quatre and Trowa, as well as three of Quatre's sisters
who were not involved in the competency hearing. This is Maia, Jasmine,
and Qualla. Thanks for speaking with us. I know this is a difficult time
for all of you. First of all, Quatre, what happened to your leg?"
"Well, as you know, I was seriously hurt in early December when a bomb
went off at our home in New Orleans," Quatre replied, lucid but a little
dazed. "I've been undergoing rapid heal therapies of various sorts, including
regen, and it's been going well, but I'm afraid I wasn't quite up to the
kind of activity it took for us to get here. I refractured it coming down
off the wall outside."
"I'm holding the L-4 government responsible for this," Trowa said, his
voice soft but deadly. "He was forced here by the most frivolous of lawsuits,
and then illegally detained, forcing the strategic extraction you witnessed."
"And you didn't want to go through legal channels, Trowa? It was rather
"Fuck that!" Duo muttered, twisting his braid.
Trowa sneered, too. "'Legal channels' put him in jeopardy in the first
place, trumped up charges that lured him back so his relatives could have
him committed. It had to be here, of course. No other court in the Earth
sphere would have handed down such an egregious ruling. Quatre was shanghaied,
and I had no reason to imagine that legal forces here would be of any
help. As soon as the judge handed down that ruling, he was forcibly taken
away. He was not allowed to communicate with me or anyone else, and his
lawyer was not allowed to accompany him. I had no choice but to believe
that Quatre would be held in secret, with no way for anyone to act as
advocate for him. I could not allow that to happen."
"Was that your assessment of the situation, Quatre?"
"Absolutely. Homosexuality is still classed as a mental illness here.
Treatments for it include electroshock and hormone therapy, mind altering
drugs, harsh aversion techniques, and other highly controversial methods.
I very much feared I might not be the same person when I emerged from
all that, especially since the only people who would have any say over
the treatment I would be given would be the very people who had me locked
up in the first place. As Gundam pilots, Trowa and I were both trained
to make quick situation assessments, and to act on them. Fortunately Trowa
was able to extract me before I disappeared."
"Did either of you have any inkling that this could be a possible outcome
of the hearing?"
"I was personally assured that it was going to be nothing more than an
advisory hearing," Quatre replied, and a wounded look came into those
big blue eyes. "Compulsory custody was never mentioned. However, I had
every reason to believe that this was the outcome my uncle and sister
were trying for, and so Trowa and I did have a contingency plan in place.
It's a good thing, too, or I wouldn't be talking with you right now, I'm
sure. My lawyer and some of my sisters are already assessing what criminal
charges I can bring against them and the L-4 government, under ESUN and
"I have been an L-3 citizen since '96. The court here is playing very
dirty and underhanded tricks. In order to overturn my emancipation and
marriage, not to mention my change of citizenship, they first have to
prove me incompetent, and to do that they had to lock me up with L-4 doctors
who would play along. Nowhere else in the Earth Sphere Union would anyone
try to make that claim. I will fight this as hard as any battle during
the war. My life is on the line here, together with everything Trowa and
I have built together. We're supposed to be in New York right now, setting
up the new Circus Della Notte performances there. We're already in the
red, thanks to the bombing. This delay is costing us thousands as we sit
"We will be suing for damages," Trowa put in. "We have every intention
of making this as costly and embarrassing as possible for everyone who
has taken part in this farce."
The reporter turned to Quatre's sisters. "Jasmine, I believe you speak
for the part of the family filing a countersuit on Quatre's behalf?"
"That is correct," the blonde woman in the middle replied. "Quatre has
made every effort to reconcile with the rest of the family, even going
so far as to offer up his shares of WEI. This is clearly a vendetta against
him, because of his unconventional relationship with Trowa."
"But you have no problem with that relationship?"
"What one wishes for a loved one, and what makes them truly happy are
not always the same thing. Trowa Barton has proven himself to be a good
and honorable young man. We bear him no ill will. He and Quatre have made
a good life together."
"We grew alarmed for Quatre's safety when we learned that we would not
be allowed to testify on his behalf at today's hearing," Maia added. "We
also believe we have substantial evidence of judiciary impropriety in
the proceedings. We are fully prepared to pursue any avenue necessary,
and, I might add, we have very deep pockets and good connections to do
"That sounds almost like a threat, Ms. Winner."
Maia demurred charmingly, even while her eyes went hard. "We are not vindictive,
just committed to protecting our only brother."
"Wow, you can tell she's related to him. She's going Zero on their asses!"
Duo noted happily.
The interview wrapped up and then Wufei appeared on the screen, speaking
live with a GNN affiliate in Sanque.
"I am outraged," he said, looking exactly that. "Quatre Winner-Barton
is not only perfectly sane, but one of the kindest, most honorable, and
most generous people I have ever met. The same is true of his husband,
Trowa. I cannot believe that this level of bigotry still exists in the
Earth Sphere. It is shameful!"
"You yourself are gay, are you not, Captain Chang?" the interviewer asked.
Wufei favored him with a withering look. "All the Gundam pilots are, as
you well know, as well as many other suit pilots. It was a factor in our
selection, a strength. To see Quatre treated in this--this medieval fashion,
after all he's done, both as a pilot and a private citizen? It's beyond
me to understand."
"Man, he's come a long way, hasn't he?" said Duo. "He just looked that
guy in the eye and said, "yeah, I'm gay" like he wanted him to try and
make something out of it. Fuck, I wish he had. I bet 05 would have decked
"I'm not sure that would have helped." The coverage had gone back to a
rehash of the dramatic motorcycle escape. Heero found the remote and killed
the sound. "I'm glad that all of Quatre's family is not all like Fatima
and this uncle. Quatre's family is very important to him. It would hurt
him terribly to be estranged from all of them."
Duo squeezed his hand. "Good thing for you I'm not jealous. You really
love him, don't you?"
Heero hugged him close. "No more than you do, and considering what happened
"Yeah, yeah, I know. I just don't see you going all warm and fuzzy like
this over Tro, that's all."
Heero shrugged. "I love Trowa, too. It's just different with him and me.
I can't explain it. But you're still--"
Duo stopped him with a kiss. "I know, baby."
Heero felt all of Duo's pent up tension in that kiss, and knew it had
nothing to do with the Tokyo event. He and Heero were both fiercely protective
of their friends, and frustrated at being so helpless for the next few
hours do to anything to help them. Duo was really wound up. He was tired
and stressed from not sleeping; his body was tense all over and he was
currently strangling his braid. Heero rescued it and captured Duo's hand,
studying his profile carefully. Duo's eyes were hard, his jaw working
as he clenched his teeth. "What's our ETA?"
"Three and a half hours, or thereabouts. I'm still waiting on the touchdown
OK from New Riyadh Shuttle port, though. They may not let us in."
"Oh, I think they will." Heero pulled Duo into his lap and reached for
his belt buckle. "Three hours is a long time with nothing to do, and we
haven't slept in over forty eight hours. I think we could both benefit
from some stress relief and a nap."
Duo gave him an incredulous look and tried to twist away. "Now? No, Heero,
we should be monitoring the news or--I don't know! Something!"
Heero held him fast. "Wufei assured me everything is going according to
plan on their end. There's nothing to be gained by torturing yourself,
Duo. I need you clear when we get there. You need to relax."
Duo sat stiffly in his arms, looking ready to argue, but Heero tightened
his grip on him, making it clear that he wasn't going anywhere. It worked.
Duo relaxed slightly and kicked off his boots, sending them slowly spinning
across the cabin. "Stress release? As in some zero g nookie?"
"Unless you'd rather be spanked."
Duo looked mildly tempted, but shook his head, giving Heero a sly, sidelong
look. "I take it I'm not the only one who'd stressed?"
"Well, it has been several days since we've had time to think about it,"
Heero reminded him, slipping a hand into Duo's now open fly and easing
the erection out to stroke it. "I can't even remember what color your
toenails are painted today."
Floating above Heero's lap now, Duo wiggled out of his jeans and yanked
off his socks, showing off the tawny gold nails in question. Quatre had
painted a purple lightening bolt on each big toe, too.
"Very nice," Heero said, grabbing a foot and letting Duo float free of
his lap as he kissed his toes. "I don't want to show up with semen floating
everywhere, so I hope you're in the mood to swallow."
Duo licked his lips and leered at Heero, braid coiling sinuously around
his head as he unbuttoned his shirt and let it float away, leaving him
in nothing but his choker and jewelry. "And just when am I not?
With a low growl, Heero unbuckled his seatbelt and discarded his own clothing.
Floating above the leather couch, cradled in the nothingness of space,
they held each other close and sucked each other off.
The sex was very good and had the desired effect. Heero strapped them
down together in a bunk and set the alarm for an hour. Duo was already
asleep, and Heero soon followed. When they woke up again, he felt more
relaxed and clear headed than he had in twenty-four hours, and Duo looked
"What are you grinning about?" Duo asked as they retrieved their floating
clothing. Getting dressed in zero g had its challenges, particularly if
you weren't tethered down. Duo was currently struggling into his pants
Heero shrugged, already in mission mode. "I'm glad we didn't oversleep.
You better brush your teeth."
They were cleared to land, but a squad of airport security and local police
met them as they emerged from the pressurized gangway into the main reception
area, barring their way.
They weren't the only ones, however. Wufei had alerted the local media
of their arrival, and word had spread. A huge crowd, many of them close
to Heero's age or younger, had assembled behind the police line. There
were lots of signs. Some weren't too welcoming, but others had slogans
like "Free Quatre!", "Leave the G-Boys Alone!", and "End Sexual Discrimination
A police captain came forward to meet them, backed up by a dozen armed
men. It looked like they were expecting trouble. "I'm sorry, but you'll
have to return to your shuttle, gentlemen."
"Why?" Heero asked, icy calm. "We are ESUN citizens and we've broken no
"You've been designated as political undesirables."
"Undesirables? Since when?" Duo demanded, loud enough for the nearby reporters
to hear. "In case you've forgotten, we fought to save your sorry asses,
not so long ago. Are you telling me you guys are turning your backs on
us again? What is this, 195? We're just here to support our friends, who
are being illegally detained here, and we ain't budging until we see for
ourselves that they're all right!"
The crowd was eating it up, along with the press. A cheer went up in support
of Duo's words. Then someone there started chanting "Libra! Libra! Libra!"
Others took up the rallying cry, trying to surge forward and break the
police line. It might have turned ugly then, if a large force of Preventers
in riot gear hadn't shown up, with Sally Po and Une herself in the lead.
The agents fanned out, reinforcing the police line, but Sally and Une
strode over and took on the police chief.
"Just what the hell is going on here, Captain?" Une demanded, in full
hard assed bitch mode, Duo was glad for once to see. "Why are these men
"I have orders--" the man began, but she cut him off at the knees.
"They are here under ESUN auspices, as part of a special Preventer investigation
into the unlawful incarceration of Quatre Winner-Barton. You will release
them at once! That order comes down directly from Relena Peacecraft, and
I believe that overrides your previous orders, does it not?"
The cop looked ready to chew glass, but he backed off. Duo gave Sally
a wink as he and Heero fell in with them.
The crowd cheered again and parted for them to leave. Dark vans were waiting
and took them directly to the embassy.
"So we're Preventers again?"
Heero said, sitting next to Une.
"You're whatever Relena says you are, I guess," Una replied with a dour
frown. "If this keeps up, I'm going to put you back on active duty."
"Over my dead body," Duo growled.
Heero nudged Duo's knee with his own and gave him a warning look. "What's
"No change so far," Sally told them. "Quatre is safe for now. The L-4
government doesn't have the authority to pull him out, unless they want
to spark a real incident, but they're standing by the ruling. So far it's
a political stalemate."
"Has Relena made a statement yet?" asked Heero.
"No, she wanted to wait until we're in place. But our orders are to get
them both out with no violence."
"Kinda ironic, isn't it?" said Duo.
"How so?" asked Une.
"Well, Relena's not exactly gay friendly, but now she's got to pull strings
to protect their rights."
"That's not the real issue here. L-4 has been a thorn in the side since
the formation of the ESUN. When their laws conflict with ESUN policy,
they claim they're being oppressed."
"This kind of thing happens a lot?"
"Often enough. It's a rich, powerful colony, and their trade is important
to the Earth sphere economy. The Winner Corporation is a big part of that
economy. This could be a real mess."
"Quatre doesn't want any part of it. He just wants to be free to live
his own life."
"Well, if he was some little nobody, that might not be such a problem,
but he's not. Now we have to sort this out without causing a major incident."
A huge crowd had gathered around the embassy and the police were out in
full riot gear. In addition to those either supporting or condemning Quatre,
Duo saw signs calling for L-4 independence from the ESUN. This group appeared
to be the largest, and jeered the Preventer vans as they approached the
embassy gates. Bricks and stones were thrown, several of them smashing
into the windshield of the van Duo and the others were in.
"Fuck, this is serious!" Duo exclaimed, wishing he were armed.
Une glared out at the crowd. "The agitators for colonial independence
are clearly seizing on this incident for their own ends."
They got inside the walls safely and the gates swung shut against the
surging crowd. The reporters were waiting in force, and the question shouting
was deafening as they emerged from the van.
"This is totally fucked up!" Duo shouted before Heero could stop him.
He wasn't out of control, though, just outraged.
"Are you and Heero here to get him out?" a reported asked.
"We are here to support our friends," Heero interjected. "As you can see,
the Preventers are involved, to make sure that this proceeds lawfully
and without violence. Duo and I will do whatever we can to assist, but
as I said, we are here mostly to support our friends. Quatre is hurt.
He needs to go home, receive proper medical care, and rest. The sooner
that happens, the better."
"We are not leaving without our friends," Duo stated, standing shoulder
to shoulder with Heero.
Trowa met them at the front entry. His hair was over his eyes and his
expression was guarded, but he touched them both on the arm and murmured,
"Thanks for getting here so fast. Things really went to hell in a big
"You were great!" said Duo, throwing an arm around his friend's waist
in full view of the photographers.
"It was a simple mission."
"Quatre hurt his leg, though," said Heero.
"Not during the escape. We were already on the ground here when he tripped
over a sprinkler head in the garden and twisted his leg. It's only a hairline
fracture, but he's really depressed about the setback to his recovery.
He'll be glad to see you guys, though."
He led them to the room where Quatre was resting. Trowa had remained grim
and distant in front of the reporters and Une, but as soon as he'd gotten
his friends into the room where Quatre was sleeping and shut everyone
else out for a moment's privacy, he let Heero pull him into a brief hug.
"How are you holding up, 03?" Heero whispered, stroking his hair.
"Fine. Better now that you guys are here." He hugged Heero, then went
to Quatre, who was asleep on the chaise. The others followed.
Duo leaned down and kissed Quatre softly on the forehead. Quatre's eyes
fluttered open and he smiled.
"Hey, Q-ball. How's it hanging?"
"I'm a bit dopey, I'm afraid. I messed up my leg. So stupid!"
"Yeah. Tro told us. Lousy luck."
Quatre shook his head and rubbed at his eyes. "Just when I thought I was
going to be able to perform again, too!"
Trowa settled beside him and put an arm around his husband's shoulders.
His touch was gentle, but here was murder in his eyes as he looked up
at his friends. "I want to hurt them. Hurt them bad. This is so fucked!"
"You got that right. We're going to get you out of here, one way or another,"
Duo assured him.
There was a tap at the door just then. Une and Sally joined them and quickly
debriefed them all.
"Aside from your escape here, you've done nothing illegal," Une said.
"That's good. You were wise not to use violence of any sort. As far as
the world press is concerned, your actions were justified. I've spoken
with Relena and she agrees."
"I've prepared a report on the G-factor," Sally told them. "I just need
your permission to use it."
"Do you think that will do any good?" asked Heero. "It's common knowledge
that we're gay."
"I don't know, but I'm ready to throw anything at these narrow minded
bastards." Sally's blue eyes were snapping with anger. "For Quatre, of
all people, to be subjected to this! It's maddening."
A uniformed Preventer knocked and came in. "It's time, Commander."
There was a large television in the room and Trowa turned it on.
Relena stood at a podium in front of a large ESUN flag. She smiled
at the reporters in the audience, but ignored the barrage of questions.
They quieted and she looked up into the camera. "By now I'm sure you have
all been following the situation on L-4. Quatre Raberba Winner-Barton
and his domestic partner, Trowa Barton-Winner, have taken refuse in the
L-3 embassy, after a court ruling that sought to overturn several important
legal events. The most serious of these is the challenge to the ESUN ruling
which gave Quatre emancipated minor status after the war. It was the belief
of the council and myself at the time that Quatre, and all the Gundam
pilots, could not reasonably be considered minors, after their service
and experiences during the war. In light of their dedication, it was the
least we could do. Based on this ruling, Quatre chose to enter a civil
union, and to change his citizenship, all his right under ESUN law.
"The government and courts of L-4 have chosen to flout ESUN law, claiming
that a colony has the right to deny an ESUN citizen his basic rights under
ESUN law. I have met with the council and it was the unanimous opinion
that this is in direct opposition to the spirit of the Earth Sphere United
Nations, and sets a dangerous precedent. The Earth Sphere was established
specifically to end the conflict created by individual governments. While
we respect the individuality of each country and colony, in issues of
basic human rights, ESUN law must take precedence. Therefore, it is the
ruling of the ESUN human rights court that Quatre Winner-Barton's emancipation,
and all legal actions after that event, be upheld and maintained. He is
to be allowed to leave L-4 at once. If the colonial government or court
refuses to release him, they will face heavy sanctions. I have authorized
Commander Lady Une and the Preventers to conduct him safely back to Earth."
She paused, letting the photographers capture her look of sad dismay.
"On a personal note, I would like to add that in my opinion, Quatre has
been very badly abused. He has been a true friend, not only to me, but
to the entire Earth Sphere. I am most distressed that members of his own
family would choose to treat him in this ignoble fashion. Are we so quick
to forget his sacrifices, and the terrible hardships he endured to protect
the very colony that has now sought to take away his freedom? Is it right
that he and Trowa should be treated like children, or criminals, and deprived
of the very rights they fought to protect for the rest of us? This cannot
be allowed. We must be willing to embrace the differences between us,
rather than letting them divide us."
"Way to go, 'lena!" Duo crowed.
Heero nodded. "That couldn't have been easy for her, considering how she
feels about our sexuality."
"This wasn't about that," Une told him. "This is about the law, and the
sovereignty of the ESUN. If L-4 is allowed to override ESUN rulings like
this, then it opens the door to every other nation who wants to reassert
their national policy. The ESUN is too new to allow it. However, I do
think she's beginning to get used to the idea that you're all gay. You
can probably thank Zechs for that. He's made it very clear that if she
forces him to choose between her and Wufei, she will lose. I have it on
good authority that the Sanque Parliament is planning to uphold their
marriage without sanction."
"That's good news," said Quatre. "That's all been hard enough on Wufei,
without an entire government opposing his happiness."
Trowa kissed him. "And you'd know, meli. I'm going to get you out of here
and we are never setting foot on this fucking tin can again."
"They're not all against us," Quatre reminded him, leaning against Trowa's
chest. "You saw the signs this morning. There are a lot of lovers just
like us here, who want freedom, and people who are tired of the old ways.
I think this will do them all some good."
"You are too kind hearted sometimes, mio amore," Trowa murmured, still
too angry to think in those terms.
Things were quiet for a while, then the L-3 ambassador and Quatre's sisters
came in to join them.
"I have mixed news, I'm afraid," Ambassador Sorenson told Quatre. "The
L-4 government has agreed to uphold your emancipation and let you leave.
However, your sister and uncle have invoked a clause in the WEI corporate
charter. Only citizens of L-4 can hold controlling shares of the company.
By maintaining your off colony citizenship, you are relinquishing your
rights in the company. Because this is corporate law, there is little
ESUN can do to prevent it. It is legal under the corporate charter."
"I'm aware of that, and I expected as much," Quatre replied, resigned.
"It's not fair!" said Duo. "They still get to push you out!"
"It's all right, Duo. I expected as much, and I'm OK with it. I'd already
offered to give up my shares, anyway. But it's also in the charter rules
that my shares be distributed equally to the other members of the family.
That will keep things even. Fatima and my uncle are no more in control
of the company than they were before."
"That will change, if I have my way," said Jasmine. "This has played out
terribly for the company in the press. Stock prices for WEI are plummeting.
Many people don't want to do business with a company that discriminates
on this level. I think that will give me the leverage I need to push Fatima
"You do whatever you want. I'm just glad to be out of it. And this means
they can't pursue any of those absurd criminal charges against Trowa,
"What charges?" asked Duo.
"It doesn't matter."
"Fraud," Trowa told him. "Statutory rape. Contributing to the delinquency
of a minor."
Duo sputtered, beyond words.
"These charges cannot be pursued, can they?" Heero asked, looking to Une.
"It was all predicated on Quatre's competency and L-3 statutes regarding
the age of consent. That's all moot now."
"It's still a matter of public record, though," Trowa murmured.
"Forget it, love," Quatre told him firmly.
"The charter requires that you be paid fair market value for your shares,"
Maia reminded him. "You will still be very well off." Quatre started to
object, but she held up a hand. "No, you will take the money. It is yours
by right. Father would want you to have it. I know you will do good things
Quatre sighed, then smiled up at Trowa. "Looks like we won't have to move
back to that smelly little L-3 trailer, after all."
Trowa kissed him. "No danger of that. The New York show is sold out, even
with the delays, and London and Paris still want us, not to mention L-2
and L-3. We may have to add show dates to all of them. And of course,
we have our strong silent partner." He smiled over at Heero. "We're going
to be fine."
"The press is asking for a statement," the ambassador said.
Quatre groaned and sagged against Trowa. "I'm so tired! Can we just let
one in, please? That guy, Cotter, he's OK. You guys can do most of the
Une touched a hand to the small com earphone she was wearing. "Excuse
me, will you? I need to check security."
The GNN reporter and his cameraman were summoned, and Quatre endured the
quick set up with poorly concealed weariness.
Cotter gave the lead in, then turned to Quatre, now sitting up, but still
leaning on Trowa. Heero and Quatre sat beside them. Quatre's sister Jasmine
sat on his other side, on hand on his shoulder.
"You must all be very relieved at the outcome," Cotter said.
"We are, Jack," Trowa replied. "Quatre and I are very grateful to Relena
Peacecraft and the ESUN council for doing the right thing."
"Quatre, I see you were hurt in the escape. How are you doing?"
"I'm very tired and my leg hurts," Quatre replied, and then stopped as
his voice threatened to break. Trowa tightened an arm around him as he
fought for control and Jasmine stroked his hair. Quatre blinked hard,
fighting tears. "This has been very difficult. Very difficult. I am so
glad to have the support of some of my sisters, and my friends. I am glad
that ESUN law has come down on the side of human rights over tradition
bound bigotry. All I want now is to go home and get back to work. There's
an old circus saying: the show must go on. And it will. Oh, and one other
thing." He took Trowa's hand and his sisters, holding them tightly in
his lap. "I've been thinking about this for a while now, and all that's
happened today has made up my mind. From now on, I'll be going by the
name Barton, my married name. I mean no disrespect to my family but the
Winner name has too much pain attached to it now. Besides--" he managed
a smile. "The whole Winner-Barton, Barton-Winner business was just too
cumbersome. This will be easier for everyone, including you journalists.
And now, if you don't mind, I want to go home."
Cotter thanked them all and left.
As soon as he was gone, Trowa turned to Quatre. "Meli, are you sure that's
what you want? At least Winner was a real name, yours by right. Barton
is just a name I stole!"
"You've always been Trowa Barton to me," Quatre told him, still holding
his hand and his sister's. "Jasmine, I hope you're not hurt. But you and
Qualla both took your husband's names when you got married. I just wanted
to do the same."
Jasmine kissed him again. "You will always be our little brother Quatre,
no matter what your last name is. Nothing will change that. You have my
blessing, at least."
"And ours, my darling," Qualla assured him. "But Trowa, you must try and
take better care of him! First a bomb, and now this! We thought such times
were past for you two."
"I will, I promise," Trowa said, giving her a genuine, unguarded smile.
"I'll spend the rest of my life doing exactly that."
"Quatre Barton, eh?" said Duo. "Yeah, that'll be easier to say. And it
suits you, especially since it looks like you two are still married all
legal and tight."
"Until death do us part," said Quatre. "Now can I please get out
of here before anyone changes their minds?"
Une came in again with an armed escort and she looked unhappy again. "There
may be trouble. The pro-colony factions aren't very happy with the ESUN
ruling. The protests are growing all over the city. I've called for a
chopper. I don't want to chance getting caught in a crowd on the street.
"I see," said Heero. "Duo and I came unarmed, but I think it might be
better if you provided us with weapons."
"And me," said Trowa. That deadly look was back in those green eyes.
Une provided them each with a pistol and a small automatic rifle and they
acted as close escort as Quatre was carried up to the helipad on the roof
on a stretcher.
They lifted off without incident, but looking down, Duo could see the
crowd gather thickly outside the embassy, and the scuffles that were already
breaking out there with police.
The shuttle port was mobbed. The chopper set down inside the security
fence on the private strip where the Preventer shuttle was docked.
"What in the world is going on?" Quatre asked, trying to sit up.
"It's all right, meli. We're almost there."
They were within sight of the gangway when an explosion rocked the docking
bay and a ball of flame blossomed from the side of the huge armored shuttle.
The concussion threw them all off their feet.
The Gundam pilots were the first on their feet, closing in tightly around
Quatre with weapons drawn.
"What the hell happened?" growled Trowa, shielding Quatre with his own
Une listened to her earpiece, face darkening ominously. "God damn it!
It was only a shoulder mount rocket, and the shooter was taken down, but
the shuttle is disabled. I'm sorry, Quatre, but it looks like you're going
to have to wait."
"No fucking way!" Trowa exclaimed angrily.
"That's probably just what they want," said Duo. "Look, Heero and I came
up in a fast shuttle. I can get us out of here. You just get us over to
"Is your ship armed?" asked Une.
"Armed? No, of course not. It's a civilian charter. But I can out fly
any pursuit. Just watch me!"
"It's too risky."
"It is more risky to remain here," said Heero. "If they could get a rocket
launcher through port security and get close enough to a Preventer ship
to hit it, then I think we should not underestimate their intentions toward
Quatre. He is not safe here." He brought his weapon up, not pointing directly
at Une, but the message was clear. "With all due respect, Commander, I
think we are better prepared to protect him than you are. We are taking
him out of here, with or without your help."
"Get that weapon out of my face, Yuy. Of course we'll help you. Come on!"
The Preventer squad kept close around them as they ran down the shuttle
port concourse to the private shuttle bay where they'd left the Zoroaster.
A smaller contingent of protesters had gathered outside the airlock. Duo
and Trowa fired warning shots over their heads and they scattered, screaming.
With Heero in the lead, they hurried Quatre into the prep area. Heero
and Duo went ahead and swept the shuttle for potential sabotage, but it
appeared that the terrorists had overlooked their ship, concentrating
their efforts on the Preventer's arrival.
Une helped get Quatre safely on board and Trowa strapped him into the
bunk. "I wish I could offer you an armed escort in space. Are you sure
you'll be all right?"
"Hey, it's me flying, right?" Duo scoffed.
"We'll be fine," Heero said. "Now get the hell out and make sure we have
security on the ground in New Orleans. We'll need an armored transport,
and security forces standing by at New Orleans general. I want a 24-hour
guard on the house, too. Can you give us that?"
"Yes. You'll have everything you need. Now you better dust off. Good luck,
boys. We'll talk about you and Duo coming to work for me later."
Heero saw her out and sealed the hatch. "Not too fucking likely," he growled.
"Get us out of here, 02," said Trowa, strapping into the seat closest
Heero took the co pilot's chair as Duo powered up and blasted off. They
met no resistance as they left the colony bay, but he flew like a madman
anyway, taking evasive action just in case. Within minutes the colony
was far behind them. He remained at the controls as Heero unstrapped and
floated back to check on the others.
"How are you doing, Mr. Barton?"
"Just fine," two voices answered as one.
[chap. 101] [chap. 103]
[back to pyrzm's fic]