Author: Honor A. De'Mandoren
See chapter 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Common Sense + Chapter Six
Nuts and Bolts

To err is human. To really screw things up you need a computer.


I said criminally stupid, but I was far off the mark. These guys are so stupid that they should be nominated for Darwin Awards. I mean, they might be brilliant enough to graduate from Harvard and hack into Heero's mainframe, and yadda, yadda, but do you know what they had to protect their personal laptops?


Zilch, zip, nadda. A basic 'user login' screen. That's it. For the love of Mike, I use that program to pick my teeth with!

It took a pathetic five minutes with each person to completely copy over their hard drive over. I didn't even bother to wait until night to sneak in, just popped in during lunch. Why try to hide? I had complete control over the cameras after all.

Zechs blinked at me in surprise when I walked back into our room twenty minutes later. "You're done already?"

"Yup. You would not believe how easy it was. It makes me almost sorry for the idiots." I sat down at my laptop and loaded the ghost versions over, then sent it in a tight beam mail to Heero. He was the computer expert, not I. He could sit there and whittle away at all that data until he found the electronic trail we needed to prove who did what.

I couldn't help but tinker with it a bit, though. I opened up the ghost drives and did a quick peek at the email systems, and a few of the more invasive programs. Christopher Nottingham had definitely been hacking something, but I couldn't see any proof that it had been the Preventer's main frame. Hm.

David Churchill, on the other hand, had definitely been in there. Can you believe that the info he'd hacked was *still* saved to his hard drive? I mean, COME ON! How stupid can you get?! You delete that kind of stuff before you turn off your computer, before you take a breath or anything!

Victoria Wooten was a little smarter--the info wasn't saved to her hard drive, but she hadn't bothered to cover her tracks either. I rolled my eyes heaven wards. "Zechs."

"Hm?" His eyes were trained on his computer. Probably updating Une again.

"Christopher Nottingham and Victoria Wooten. We have 'em dead in the water."

His head snapped up and around at that. "You're serious?"

"Dead serious. They didn't bother to cover their tracks, it's obvious that these two were in there."

"Damn. And Churchill?"

I shook my head. "I didn't see anything, but I wasn't very thorough in looking either. He's been hacking something, that much I could tell. I just didn't recognize the handle. Heero will be able to tell us."

"Ah. About that..." he gave his computer a glance before giving me a wry smile. "Lady Une just emailed me. Heero and Wufei are on their way."

...Heero and Wufei. The two that were the most paranoid and protective of 'family' were coming. Awwwww....*nuts*. "Couldn't she have sent Quatre instead of one of them?! At least Quatre will listen before shooting!"

"It's not going to be that bad," Zechs soothed.

Yes, it was. "When do they arrive?"

"Late. Their plane should land at nine."

I glanced at the clock. It was one now. Hm...eight hours for some steamy sex sounded about right. I started idly tugging at the top of my shirt, letting the buttons slip open. "Well, looks like we have some down time."

Zechs's eyes were glued to my fingers, and the bit of skin showing. His tongue flickered out to moisten his lips. "...did you lock the door?"

"Mm-hm." I crooked a finger at him.

I've never seen a human being move so fast in my life. He's not called the 'Lightning Count' for nothing.


Life is strange. Really strange. Only life would deal you with the strange conundrum of wanting to run away from two of your best friends.

I sat contemplating this great mystery as Zechs and I waited in the airport for Heero and Wufei. I wasn't as worried about Wuffels as I was worried about 'Ro. 'Fei actually had a good grasp on being objective. (Translation: he asks questions before shooting.)

Heero was another matter entirely. I know for a fact that he views Zechs as a rival, and can't really think of him as an 'ally'. And if Heero Yuy doesn't think of someone as an ally, he sure as hell isn't going to trust them with one of his 'family'.


Why me?

"Heads up, lover," Zechs murmured with hidden amusement. "They're here."

Awwwww...*nuts*. I sprang out of my chair, looking around until I spotted them coming from the terminal. A part of me was actually happy to see them, which is why my body took over and had me running right toward them, then slinging them both into a bear hug. "Hi guys!"

Wufei sighed and put up with me, Heero just grunted before shouldering me off. One of these days, many years from now, I will condition them to hug back--it might take some major personality surgery, but my goal will be realized. "So, good flight, bad flight or did you just sleep through it?"

"Good flight," Wufei answered calmly. "If you discount Heero's dark mutterings."

I was afraid of that.

Speaking of Heero, he was giving Zechs a nasty glare. Then that glare switched over to me. "We need to talk."

"You need to chill," I retorted. "And I know what your hand is wrapped around, Heero, and you can just put that gun right back in its holster. Geez, didn't anyone teach you not to bring weapons through an airport?"

Wufei pinned a glare on him too. "Put it away, Heero. Sally will murder you if you shoot another agent, justified or not. I'm not doing any paperwork on a 'friendly fire' incident."

Grudgingly he did so but was one unhappy camper about it. His glare at Zechs could have melted gundanium. Why, *why* did Une have to send Heero out here and not someone rational?

I might as well start dealing with it. "Well chilicans, let's get your bags and go back to the hotel, shall we?"

"We have our bags," Wufei corrected while hefting the duffle in his hands. "Let's go."

Shoulda figured.

Zechs wisely stayed at my side without speaking a word the entire trip out to the car. He and Heero were exchanging loaded glares, however, over my head. This was not a pleasant experience. I made Heero drive just so he couldn't glare at anyone during the trip to the hotel.

I spent the drive filling the two in on the bit of progress we had made since the last official update. Heero confirmed what I already knew--we had one suspect and two confirmed idiots. I was relieved to hear that he had a solid line of electronic evidence, enough to take them to trial.

This mutual exchange of information lasted until we were in the hotel room, door closed behind us. Then someone threw a hidden switch and we were suddenly discussing my love life.

"Just how did this happen?" Heero growled at me. "And why *him*?"

I batted my eyelashes at him and answered sweetly, "To answer both questions--because he's damn sexy."

Wufei sighed, looking martyred and ready to just strangle us both to put us out of his misery. "Quatre mentioned that you were together, and a little of how it happened. The only thing he was sure of was that this was a permanent relationship."

That last held a question to it, and I nodded firmly. "Yes."

Zechs finally decided to say something, and came close enough to slide an arm around my waist and tug me back against his body. (And yes, I absolutely adore it when he holds me like this so I snuggled right in making kittenish noises of pleasure.) "This is very permanent," he confirmed in that low voice of his. "Heero, as much as we've been rivals in the past, this is one thing that I'm *not* going to fight with you about. I've already won this battle."

Heero's scowl went scary. "I'm not convinced you can make him happy. And what about Relena?"

"What about her?" Zechs retaliated.

"She's your family," he challenged. "And she doesn't like the fact that you are with Duo."

"And you think I'll give him up to please her?" Zechs shook his head, clearly exasperated. "Heero, don't be stupid. If you were in my shoes, would *you* choose Relena over Duo?"

Wufei snorted. "Say yes to that, Heero, and I'm finding you a shrink."

He clammed up, apparently at a loss of what to say or think, and not happy about it. Great. That means it was up to me. I pulled away from Zechs, giving him a silent look that asked for a little privacy. He nodded in return, retreating into the bedroom. I was infinitely glad we had a suite at that moment. When the door closed behind him, I looked Heero dead in the eye. "What's the problem?"

All of his anger faltered and finally fell heavily at his feet. " you really love him?"

"Yes, Heero, I really do," I answered gently.

He deflated even more, eyes glued to the floor. "Then you'll move in with him."

"..." Oh. Ack. I shot Wufei a desperate look, hoping I wasn't connecting all the dots into the right pattern.

Wufei had a worried frown on his face that wasn't reassuring. " must realize that we are all going to find someone to love, someone that we will spend the rest of our lives with."

"...I know." His voice was so small I could barely hear him. "But I didn't think it would be this soon."

Kriminately! During all of this, it never really hit me that I would eventually (probably sooner than later) move in with Zechs. It was a natural step in a relationship. Well...actually, he might be moving in with me considering his insane stalker sister.

Quatre had bought this huge house for all of us to live in, partly because of Heero. We'd all planned on staying in the same city just because we didn't want to lose track of each other, but we hadn't considered staying in the same house until Quatre had secretly taken each of us aside and explained that he was worried about Heero. Our paranoid friend had been floundering in this sudden peace, and trying to get accustomed to living on his own during the upheaval had been too much strain. We'd agreed easily to living together for his benefit...and now, only six months after the war had ended, Heero was facing the possibility again of losing one of his 'family' and didn't know how to handle it.

Aw shit.

Acting on sheer impulse I glomped him. "Stay here," I ordered sternly. Like the Tazmanian Devil I was through the bedroom door, shutting it quickly behind me. "Zechs, we gotta talk living arrangements real fast."

He had been in the process of doing something on his laptop but paused at my abrupt entrance. "Uh?"

"Look, I'm not sure how much you know about all of us, so I'll explain real quick. We all decided to live in the same house because Heero didn't want to lose any of us and he was having a hard enough time trying to adjust to peace so we just had Quatre buy us a house and we all moved in together but we never discussed what might happen in the future and that's why Heero's balking because he assumes that because we're lovers I'm going to move back out and into a place somewhere with you and he really isn't prepared for that eventuality and that's why he's so upset so how do you feel about just moving into my room at home?"

It took a second for Zechs to drag his jaw back into place. "Did you even breathe saying all that?"

"Zechs!" I whined. "Just answer the freakin' question!"

"Duo, of course I'll move in with you," he answered in exasperation. "Our only other choice is the Sanc Palace--"

"Over my cold rotting corpse," I denied vehemently.

"--or some apartment or house that Relena can descend upon any time she wants. At least at your house we'll have back-up when we need it. Besides..." a small, rueful smile quirked his lips "I'd like to be counted as one of your number."

I glomped him too, just because he was so sweet and irresistible. He hugged me back hard, something I truly enjoyed. "Cool. So come tell him that."

Zechs followed me back out of the door, meeting Heero's bewildered stare with a rueful smile. "Heero, there is no way in hell that I'm going to ask Duo to move into Sanc Palace, and I'm not really willing to find our own place just yet. Relena will invade it constantly, not giving us any peace. Duo wants me to move in with all of you--can you agree to that?"

For the first time in my life, I saw Heero smile. A full-blown, honest to freakin' god smile. "Hai," he whispered. Then as an afterthought he added, "But if you don't treat him right, I'm still breaking every bone in your body."

Wufei rolled his eyes. "And that's only after Duo's extracted his revenge out of you."

Zechs shrugged, untroubled by these observations. "I'll never give him reason to be upset with me, so I don't have anything to worry about. Is there anything else we need to discuss, or are we done counting coup for the evening?"

They exchanged glances, then shook their heads almost simultaneously.

"Good!" I beamed at them. "So who's ordering in dinner? I'm starving."

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