Lucrezia Noin was not happy
By Chyna Rose
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing. I don’t own Highlander.
Warnings: Playing fast and loose with the cannon; partially AU and ignoring both Episode Zero and Endless Waltz. In Highlander terms, this goes double. But if you absolutely need a spoiler type episode cut off, it’d have to be Revelations 6:8 – as in nothing really beyond that.
Lucretia Noin was not happy. She had been pulled out of her nice warm bed and shipped nearly halfway across Europe to bail Duo out of jail of all things. Duo, who had sworn to stay out of trouble. And to make matters worse, he had the gall to call himself innocent. Nether the less, she led a sulking Duo out to the car that the Preventers had set aside for their agents. The drive to the motel (also set aside for Preventer agents) was silent. Noin wasn’t in the mood to hear anything that Duo had to say, and Duo realized that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to push his luck with Noin after an attempt to turn on the car’s radio put him on the receiving end of a death glare that would have done Heero proud. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant drive.
After they reached the motel and had a chance to settle in for a bit, Noin looked pointedly at Duo for an explanation. Since Duo was expecting an irate dressing down from her, this took him somewhat by surprise. He was prepared for a lecture; not to have to defend himself right off the bat. The uneasy silence that had grown between them had just made itself comfortable when Duo finally broke it.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. Honest. Have I ever lied to you?”
Noin continued to look at Duo, unimpressed. He had a rap sheet over a mile long (although nothing after 197), and he was a notorious trouble maker even now. Besides, cops just don’t arrest people for no reason. He had to have done something. And knowing Duo, it could be virtually anything (except for rape or prostitution. He could find any number of willing partners, and he now had more than enough money).
“I was peacefully minding my own business at a local club when the cops busted in. They started checking IDs and hauling people out of there. I calmly showed Preventer issued ID – the one Sally gave us since we will always look underage – to the cop in charge of the bust. He took one look at it and hauled me in. He never even mentioned what I was being charged with! I mean, it’s not like I drank all that much to begin with; just a couple of beers. And anyway, the legal drinking age here’s eighteen. Luckily his boss was nice enough to call you and put me in holding instead of booking me like the cop was insisting. It should all be in the report”
“Duo, you have to be careful. You’re a very high profile person”
“I was careful. I had two beers and a ton of soda. That’s all. What do you expect me to do? Lead a boring life and not leave my apartment unless I’m at work or on a mission? You think I enjoy getting arrested? I did what I had to to survive; not because I wanted to”
“I don’t expect you to sit around doing nothing all day long. I just expect you to avoid trouble”
“I can’t be held responsible for every jerk cop with a grudge. I keep an eye on my mouth and do my best not to bait civilian authorities – unless that’s part of my mission parameters. That stuff’s under my control. But if some ass with a badge get it into his head that I deserve to be tossed in prison for life without parole simply because I exist, there’s nothing I can do about it”
Which was true. Duo’s arresting officer had had a history when it came to a certain segment of the population. It had, in fact, become noticeable by the rest of his precinct. Duo had been apologetically shoved straight into the drunk tank instead of being processed for booking. It was a temporary measure, and while no one was really happy about it (certainly not the community at large), it did work until a more permanent solution could be implemented. Unfortunately, the officer in question was too well politically connected to just fire.
Noin sighed. It was late and she didn’t feel like arguing any more.
“Just get to sleep. We leave in the morning”
Mood swings were something he was familiar with. With twenty nine sisters plus various nieces and in-laws it wasn’t hard to see why. Mood swings in guys were also familiar territory; he did spend a considerable amount of time around Duo after all. Mood swings coming from former Perfect Soldier, Heero Yuy though were a pure novelty. The former Gundam pilot was wearing a track in the carpet, cycling from anger to worry to disinterest to self-incrimination. It was actually quite interesting to watch. Heero might’ve loosened up after the war, but he was never an overly emotional man. That was left up to Duo and himself.
“Where is he?”
“Knowing Duo, he’s probably holed up in some cheap bar somewhere”
Quatre sighed, already feeling the ghost of a headache coming on. Heero growled at Wufei’s derogatory comment and resumed his worried pacing. It was going to be a long day.
They (all the former Gundam pilots with the exception of Duo) had been confined to one of the Preventer safe houses for the past couple of days, and tensions were running high. It wasn’t that the four of them were lacking room; the safe house was actually quite spacious. But as roomy and big as the safe house was, it did little to change the realties of living in close quarters. And the fact that they weren’t going to be told why they were sent to the safe house until Duo got there wasn’t helping matters. When all five of them were told to meet by Lady Une, it meant that something big was going down.
Trowa gently touched Quatre’s hand, asking a million questions without saying a word. All of the ex-pilots were close; you couldn’t fight in a war like they did without forming a deep lifelong bond. However, what Trowa and Quatre had went beyond that. It was the kind of soul deep friendship that went beyond the bonds of love. It was also beyond what many people could really comprehend. Many had mistaken them for lovers, although if they were, neither Quatre nor Trowa were saying anything.
Quatre smiled up at him, but before he could say anything, a car pulled up into the driveway. In a moment all four of the ex-pilots were looking out the window. And as soon as the engine cut off, Duo was out of the car and storming into the safe house in a foul mood. Wufei opened his mouth to levy his usual insult, but one look from Duo shut him up. Duo was simply Not In The Mood.
Duo was followed by an equally pissed off and road weary Noin. Again Wufei would have normally said something, but he had not come this far without developing a highly honed survival instincts.
“Hello, nice to see you too Heero” Duo said with a snort. Hew as just not in the mood to deal with Heero’s head games. And if that meant that they ended up in a knock down drag out fight, than so be it. Hell, a fight just might lighten up his mood. Even if he would have to sit through lectures from Quatre and Wufei about it.
“Where were you”
Duo just sneered at Heero in answer and went to head up to his room. Heero glared at Duo and stepped in front of him; arms crossed over his chest.
“I’ll ask you again. Where. Were. You”
“What are you ? My mother?”
“Yuy! Maxwell! Stand down” the voice was met with an instant compliance. Both men took a step back and out of each other’s faces. Duo unclenched his fist, and relaxed his arm from its punch ready state. Peace time or not, Lady Une was not a woman to cross. In the time after the war, she had quickly risen to a position of power as the head of the Preventers. There were those who wondered how such a warlike woman, who had done many underhanded things during the war (or at least was rumored to) as the right hand of General Trieze Kushrenada, could be considered fit to run a peace keeping organization dedicated to ending war once and for all. Their speculations ran the gamut from government conspiracies to sexual acts that defied a few natural laws like the laws of physics. The truth was that Lady Une simply was the best for the post. She had no secret political agenda (despite rumors to the contrary), the balls to do whatever was necessary – even if it meant someone dying, and the militaristic attitude to keep the organization running smoothly. So what if most, if not all, of the recruits were scared shitless (mostly because of the rampant rumors running around the ranks); she got the job done.
“I bet you are all wondering why I called you here today” Lady Une began. Duo and Heero quickly sat down, giving the situation all the seriousness it required. Their earlier argument was forgotten in the face of what was an obvious briefing.
“Now what I’m about to tell you doesn’t leave this room. If word about this was to get out, there would be utter chaos and a good chance that the peace you worked so hard to achieve would be shattered. Since I know that none of you wishes to see that happen – especially after the amount of effort you put in to achieving the peace – I trust that you will keep quiet on this matter. His Excellency, General Trieze Kushrenada is alive and well”
“Impossible! I killed him myself. There is now way he could have survived the destruction of his suit”
“I realize that Chang. And I do not claim to even begin to understand how he survived, nor where he had been between then and now. It still does not deny the fact that he is alive”
“How do you know that it is him and not some imposter?”
“If he is an imposter, then we’ve got major problems. His voice print, fingerprints, retinal scans, facial features, and blood type all match what we have on file for His Excellency. In addition to that, both I and Zechs Merquise have personally interrogated him, as we were both closest to His Excellency during the war. He has said things that no imposter would have a way of knowing. There can be no doubt; he is General Trieze Kushrenada”
“What’s being done in regard to him?”
“Good question. For now he’s being held in a safe house under protective custody until such time as we feel that it would be safe to reveal his existence”
“So the Great General got kicked out of hell and dumped on your doorstep. What’s this got to do with us?” Duo’s question might have been said in his usual flippant manner, but the seriousness was easily seen. All the ex-pilots had tensed up. It was a subtle tension; the way their eyes hardened ever so slightly and how they shifted where they sat so that they could snap into action at a moments notice. It was clear that these boys (who weren’t really boys and probably hadn’t been for a long time) were ready to fight. Une had to handle this carefully. For all their sakes.
“I was just getting to that. I need you to assist Zechs Merquise in guarding His Excellency. The job is too big for a single agent to handle, and there is no one else I can trust with the sensitive nature of this matter. There are plenty of people who would pay a lot of money for this information – and not all of them are in the media.”
“What about our lives? Some of us have responsibilities that we need to take care of.”
“I’m afraid that you are going to have to make alternate arrangements. The mission comes first. And, Mr. Winner, I’m sure that your sisters and the Meganacs can handle the Board of Directors. If not, there is always the threat of a full investigation and audit. I doubt the directors would appreciate someone going over their lives and finances with a fine toothed comb.”
“This is all about the Cult Incident isn’t it. You’re spooked and trying to hide us away.”
“Don’t tell me you’re still believing that.”
“But it’s true! We all died that day. I know we did.”
“I’m sorry Duo, but I have to agree with Wufei on this. There is a logical explanation; we just don’t know what it is yet. People just don’t come back from the dead.”
“And yet we’re being sent off to baby sit the formerly dead Treize Kushrenada.”
“Obviously he was not as dead as we had thought. This is real life and not one of your stupid sci-fi shows.”
“Enough!” Une said, cutting short the fight that was starting to erupt. The ex-pilots stopped and turned their attention on her; not exactly meek, but not openly defiant “I suggest that you take the rest of today to pack and make whatever arrangements that you need to. You leave tomorrow at oh eight hundred sharp. Zechs Merquise will go over what you need to know when you get there. I trust that you will all behave. You have your orders.”