Everyone's together again...ah...warm fuzzies.  But what's that looking on the horizon?  Evil Relena, off starboard bow!  Oh, and a bit of Quatre and Wufei arguing.  They're still cute.  I just love them together!

by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 6

I lean back into the surprisingly comfortable seat, and sigh. There was enough lunch for fifteen people, and Quatre fluttered around like a nervous hostess, insisting that we all try this dish or the other. As a consequence, I'm stuffed.

I make an instinctive perusal of the room, checking for exits, possible points of attack, objects and areas to be utilized as cover. I force myself to relax. It's unlikely that we're going to be attacked in the middle of Quatre's mansion.

Glancing around at my companions, I allow myself a small smile. I didn't want to come back, really, but it's good to all be together again. I didn't realize, while concentrating so much on Trowa and Duo, how much I missed Quatre and Wufei.

Duo and Wufei are standing by a small table, arguing. Some things never change. But the argument is without heat, and, as Duo throws his arm out in an exuberant gesture, making some irrefutable point or another, I'm sure, Wufei just shakes his head, grinning in amused exasperation.

My eyes drift to the other pair. Quatre and Trowa are seated on the room's long sofa, bodies turned in toward each other. Quatre is talking earnestly, and, as he speaks, his hand comes to rest on Trowa's knee. Trowa smiles gently down at the blond, and I feel a sharp twinge of jealousy that I'm unable to repress shoot through me. I look away from them quickly, ashamed of the feeling, and my eyes meet Wufei's calm, dark gaze. He smiles slightly at me, wryly both acknowledging the emotion and silently admitting that he shares it with me.

Quatre and Trowa. There's no reason to be jealous of them. Whatever they had has been over for a long time. It ended barely a year after the Eve Wars, a good two years before Duo and Trowa got together.

But noone knows, really, except the two of them, why it ended, what happened to precipitate the break. It didn't break the friendship though - just looking at them together, you can see that Trowa and Quatre still share…something. Something more than friendship, more even than the inexplicable bond that holds all five of us together. There's still…something…that holds them together.

Their reciprocal closeness is impossible to miss. It has been shown again and again that Quatre is one of the few people in the world - sometimes the only person - to whom Trowa will go for help - he was the first person Trowa went to when he discovered me and Duo, and it was Quatre whom Trowa begged to keep himself and all of us safe when he returned, dying, from captivity. And gentle, peaceable Quatre will do anything to defend Trowa - Duo has told me of their time on Barton's colony, and of Quatre's unsettling eagerness to cause Barton suffering that in some way paralleled the suffering that he had caused Trowa. They aren't ‘together' anymore, not in a physical or sexual sense…but somehow, they seem to have a bond that is at least as pervasive and enduring as that sort of relationship.

And, somehow, sometimes, that bond excludes the rest of us. I guess we feel it because they're the only ones of we five who have a ‘best friend' outside of our romantic groupings. The rest of us can't really relate, can only understand dimly that somehow we're missing something.

But, I acknowledge, watching as Trowa actually laughs at something Quatre says, seeing the skin around his green eyes crinkle in amusement, I would never wish it away. I'm glad that they have it. It just leaves me feeling a little…wistful. A bit…envious, I guess.

"Maxwell! Baka! How old are you? Shouldn't you be housebroken by now?"

Wufei's irritated bark breaks my concentration, and I turn my attention to him. He's scowling at Duo, whose contrite expressions of apology are marred somewhat by his constant giggling.

"Sorry, Wu…I guess I forgot I was holding the glass," Duo manages to say between spasms of laughter.

Wufei glares at Duo as he runs a hand down the front of his formerly pristine white shirt, trying to brush the moisture off of it. He's largely unsuccessful - the shirt clings to his chest, molding itself to the muscles underneath. An empty water glass dangles from Duo's hand, playing eloquent, if silent, witness to what happened. A full glass of water in Duo's hand, one of Duo's enthusiastic gestures…equals one wet Wufei.

I run my hand over my mouth, trying to hide my smile. Duo's still laughing, though he's trying to control himself and look properly apologetic. A sound from the other side of the room distracts me, and I see Quatre isn't any more successful than Duo at hiding his amusement - he's biting his lip, but bursts of laughter keep escaping. Even Trowa is grinning.

"I'm glad you find this amusing," Wufei growls to his lover. "I notice you aren't volunteering to get near the human waterfall."

Quatre whoops with laughter, rising from the couch to go pat his irate lover on the back. "It's just as well, Wufei," he manages. "Laundry day isn't until the end of the week - now you'll be sure you won't run out of clean clothes."

Now Quatre and Duo are both laughing like lunatics. I smile, feeling my tension level, which has been steadily mounting since we got the summons to return from the island, slowly begin to decrease. It's good to be together again.

Several minutes later, a still-damp Wufei is comfortably seated in the room's biggest armchair, positioned right next to mine. Duo flopped down on the couch beside Trowa, and Quatre has resumed his place on Trowa's other side.

We all sit in companionable silence for a few moments. Then, Duo sighs.

"Well, now that we're all comfy…" he begins reluctantly, "what's up?"

Two simple words, but they alter the entire atmosphere of the room. We all become suddenly watchful, and guarded.

Quatre sighs softly. "I'm sorry we called you back," he says unhappily, gazing at his hands. "We didn't want to bother you…"

"It's my fault," Wufei interrupts. "Quatre didn't want to bother you, but I insisted. He…"

"There's no ‘fault' here," Trowa says softly. "You needed us, so you called us. We're glad you did."

Duo turns his head and smiles at him, and I relax again. Trowa's right. It's good that our friends know that they can call on us.

"So, what's been going on here?" Duo asks again, breaking the somewhat less strained silence.

Wufei shakes his head. "Nothing good," he says bluntly. He turns and looks at me. "Most of the problems revolve around Relena," he tells me.

I nod slowly, forcing myself to hold back an almost-instinctive wince at the sound of her name. "She's been hampering the reorganization?" I ask.

Wufei snorts. "Hampering? She's been a one-woman blockade," he corrects, his irritation obvious.

Quatre jumps in, obviously trying to give some cohesion to the story. "Wufei and I are both on the World Council now," he tells us, nodding at our raised eyebrows. "I represent all the L4 colonies that are primarily owned by the Winner conglomerate, and Wufei represents three L5 colonies that made up the cluster that his home colony revolved in." He hesitates for a moment before continuing. "Because of our positions in the Council, we've been drawn into conflict with Relena."

"No," I correct, shaking my head. "You're in conflict with Relena because of me." Silence meets my words - obviously even diplomatic Quatre can't figure out a way to reassure me that this situation isn't my fault without lying. I sigh and push myself to my feet, moving to stand behind the chair I was sitting in. I think much better when I'm standing up.

"It's no wonder she's angry," I concede wryly. "After all, I did kind of leave without a word."

"There was a little matter of a war you were fighting," Duo reminds me fiercely, clenching his fists. "She can't think of anyone but herself. She never has. She…"

"To be fair," I interrupt, "the war was over fourteen months ago. I could have come back then and finished things, or sent her a letter, or something. But I didn't. I disappeared. And I'm not sorry about that," I finish significantly, looking from Duo to Trowa. They can't be allowed to think that I regret or feel guilt for the time I spent with them. "But I can see where she might be mad."

"She's mad all right," Wufei inserts. "In more ways than one."

"Wufei, stop that," Quatre frowns. "She's not…"

"I'm serious, Quatre," Wufei insists, and it's obvious that they've had this argument before. "To a certain type of megalomaniac, being thwarted in that way seriously rocks their perception of themselves, equally affecting their perception of reality. This imbalance manifests, causing…"

"'Scuse me," Duo interrupts, waving his hands. "What are you talking about?"

"Nothing," Quatre says flatly.

"Relena," Wufei says at the same time.

Duo sighs in exaggerated patience. "What about Relena?" he asks.

"I think that she's mentally unbalanced," Wufei says calmly.

"You mean, like crazy?" Duo asks.

Wufei nods.

"She's always been crazy," Duo tells him flatly. "How can you tell the difference?"

"Her behavior has been erratic," Wufei says calmly. "She's…"

"Why don't we back up a little here," Trowa suggests calmly. It's his first contribution to this discussion, and everyone turns to look at him. "Tell us what she's done, then tell us what you think this shows."

"He means, examine the facts before you go and share your armchair psychology with us," Quatre explains sweetly to Wufei.

I blink. I don't know that I've ever heard Quatre be so…snotty. I look at Wufei to gauge his reaction, and am amazed to see him just grinning back at the blond. He winks at Quatre, who sighs in irritation and wriggles back into the corner of the sofa, ostentatiously turning his back on Wufei.

It seems that Duo, Trowa and I aren't the only ones who've been getting more comfortable in our relationship over the past year.

"The debate has come down to a question of how the Preventers should be run - as an autonomous organization separate from any individual sovereign state, or as a satellite division of one nation or groups of nations. Relena, of course, has come down on the latter side - she believes that the Preventers should have a head commander who is also a head of state, and who would be guided and assisted by a council of their own choosing," Wufei begins concisely. "Of course, she thinks that she should be that head commander," he continues, ignoring Duo's snort of derision. "She's used all the influence she has accrued since the Gundam Wars, citing her lineage, her experience in the wars, her pacifism and her public appeal to gain the support of slightly more than one-quarter of the World Council."

"On the other side, is a member of the World Council from the American nation named Thomas Dufasion," Quatre tells us, taking up the narrative. "He thinks that the Preventers shouldn't have too firm an attachment to any nation, since they're supposed to exist to preserve the peaceful state of the whole world. He has a lot of credibility due to his military background. He was a member of the Earth Alliance forces, and when OZ took over he spent most of the rest of the war with rebellion forces, taking part in guerilla attacks aimed at destroying OZ." I nod. OZ met with a lot more resistance than they ever let on. Much of their attention in that war was focused on ensuring that they held onto their power base on Earth.

"After the war," Quatre continues, "he joined the Preventers and was with them during the Eve Wars. Since he's actually been a member of the Preventers, he's been able to speak with a great deal of knowledge about them, and has worked out a plan to ensure that they continue to operate independently. The World Council would choose the leader of the force, based on recommendations from within the Preventers themselves and from a standing committee within the World Council that would monitor Preventer operations. Dufasion also has slightly over one-quarter of the World Council on his side," Quatre finishes.

"What about the rest of the Council?" Trowa asks, frowning. "It's been a year. Why are so many still undecided?"

"That's where my remarks about Relena's erratic behavior come in," Wufei answers, picking up the conversation again. "As long as I've known her, Relena has been a master at manipulating public perception. She has a genius for knowing how to present herself and her ideas to gain maximum general acceptance. But lately…" Wufei trails off, shaking his dark head.

"She certainly has not been as…smooth…as she usually is," Quatre concedes. "Her methods have lacked the finesse she usually shows."

"How do you mean?" Duo demands, frowning, his gaze moving from Quatre's face to Wufei's.

"She hasn't garnered the support that she usually does because her methods have been so…personal and vicious," Wufei tells us, his voice troubled.

"Personal?" I question intently.

Wufei looks at me. "She's been very outspoken about the people that oppose her - questioning their motives, their abilities - even dragging in their personal lives and actions to try to denigrate them in the eyes of the Council and the general public."

"For example, she's dragged up Une's role in OZ. She even made many pointed and public references to her illness in the war, questioning outright whether Une was mentally fit to hold any position of responsibility." Quatre hesitates, then turns to Trowa. "She tried to have Une's custody of Mariemaya revoked," he tells him softly.

Trowa's only outward reaction to this is a slight tightening of his lips, but I see how the expression in his eyes hardens. Trowa, though he doesn't discuss it, is very fond of Mariemaya. Before we went to the island, Quatre and Wufei were given verbal messages to convey from us to various people - Une, Relena, Catherine, - but only Mariemaya got a letter, written and sealed by Trowa, to be delivered into her hands. I don't know what was in the letter. I never asked.