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 most of Episode Zero
Duo blinked in the early morning light as he climbed out of the car, followed quickly by the others. They all still felt a bit uneasy about what was going on; there were too many unanswered questions surrounding this whole thing for them to be comfortable. Unknowns were dangerous in their (former) line of work after all. Still, there was nothing that they could do about it – orders were orders. Best to bite the proverbial bullet and get this over with.
Duo figured that it might as well be him, and took the plunge. He was completely unsurprised when Zechs opened the door before he could actually knock. Somehow, somewhere despite being on opposite sides throughout the war, Zechs had been granted that same sort of strong kinship that all the former pilots had with each other. That strange bond formed out of shared camaraderie and blood that allowed one to know instinctively when the other was near and where they were in relation. That let one know without a shadow of a doubt that someone had their back no matter the odds and if they were going to dine in hell, they wouldn’t be the only one at the table. It went beyond friendship and brotherhood, beyond watching each other’s backs and the closeness of a unit forged on the battle field. Beyond words even. And yet there it was, and with one who used to be their enemy; on who’d tried his hardest to kill them all. Of course now, Zechs was a comrade and coworker, and being able to feel Zechs like they did each other was an asset. No matter how strange it was. Once, he might have been the enemy, but now… now he might (one day) be a friend. And with that thought, Duo let himself be ushered into the grand mansion that had once served as a palatial prison with the others.
Zechs led them to a well appointed but still comfortable sitting room. It didn’t take long for everyone to silently seat themselves. Duo virtually flung himself down onto a couch, letting his legs swing up to land on the coffee table, only to have Heero smack his legs off it. The answering glare Duo shot Heero had no real heat; the whole thing between them being little more than for show. The old masks and habits were hard to break in what felt like enemy territory.
“Thank you all for coming.” Zechs said formally as he clasped the back of the couch he was standing behind.
“Like we had a choice.” Duo muttered with a snort.
“I am sure Maxwell, that if any of you truly did not wish to be here, you would not be. I seem to recall that you in particular were quite skilled in getting out of places where you had no wish to be.
“Now then. Before you meet with Trieze, there are a few ground rules that need to be set down. As Lady Une has no doubt informed you, due to the … highly charged… nature of this assignment you are effectively being cut off from the outside world at large. Unfortunately in addition to the communications black out – and trust me when I say that I am just as displeased with this as you will no doubt be – you will be effectively restricted to this estate and grounds. While I know that you all are professionals, and would not do anything to jeopardize the mission, your very presence here is suspect. After all, what business would Gundam pilots have at the home of the former head of Oz. Lady Une has arranged for you to have whatever you wish – within reason, and you will be fully compensated for the inconvenience when this assignment is over.
“Aside from that, the rest of the rules mostly follow the general standards of civility and communal living; no trying to kill anyone else, respect others’ personal space and property, keep both common and personal areas relatively clean, talk out disputes before the situation degenerates into open warfare, try to keep collateral damage to a minimum… Nothing I am sure, that you have not dealt with before.”
Zechs’ pronouncement was met with silence. Just as he predicted, the former pilots were beyond Not Happy with the announcement of their virtual house arrest. Duo in particular looked ready to explode; out of all of them, he had always reacted the worst to enforced confinement. Still, there was nothing to be done about it. Real or fake, Trieze Kushrenada was too tempting a target for those who wanted to restart the war for their own gain. They all understood this, and they all had fought too hard (sacrificed too much) for this peace to see it collapse. But just because they understood, didn’t mean that they had to like it.
It was into this tense silence that stretched taught between the former enemies turned uneasy allies that Trieze stepped. And it was Trieze Kushrenada; no matter how improbable and fanciful it seemed, they knew down to the very marrow of their bones without a shadow of a doubt about it. The truth of it was plainly written on their down pale faces.
Wu Fei was on his feet before the intent to move registered, his eyes never leaving Trieze. “But… but… but… How? How is this even possible? No one can survive a suit explosion like that in space; if the initial explosion doesn’t kill you, then the vacuum of space will – and I know that I breached Tallgeese II’s cockpit and you were not wearing a space suit at the time. How is it that you managed to survive?!”
“To be honest, I myself am unsure how I survived that battle. I remember that final battle; losing to you in Altron, the pain as electricity from my damaged suit coursed through my body. My next memory is of waking up on a Sweeper ship nearly three years later. There is nothing to account for the time in between, not even the vague nagging of a memory that you know you have forgotten.” Trieze replied, equally as mystified as everyone else.
“Impossible! The dead simply do not return to life.” Wu Fei pointed out. There was the bares hint of pain in his voice; his clan, his wife… if only they had been granted the gift given the man who, though not directly causing it, had at least had a hand in their deaths.
Duo snorted derisively, earning a glare from Wu Fei and Heero. “Considering what happened to us on that last mission…”
“Duo,” Quatre began, slightly exasperated that Duo was bringing that up again “we’ve been over this. It was a close call, certainly, but we didn’t die; immortality only exists in stories.”
“Then what about him?” Duo angrily asked, pointing at Trieze “He died, and he somehow managed to get better. So why couldn’t it happen to us?”
“Pardon the interruption,” Zechs interjected. It was clear that the argument was a large bone of contention between them, and it didn’t look like the issue was going to be resolved anytime soon. It would complicate things greatly seeing as they would only have each other’s company for the foreseeable future and it was hard enough dealing with such close quarters as it was without adding other potentially explosive issues into the mix. Still, while their argument wouldn’t – couldn’t – be ended, it could be put on hold; for the moment “but perhaps you would like a tour of the house. After all, it will be your home for a while.”
Mission accomplished; subject dropped – for now. Later… well, that was later. For now they’d play along. Pretend that Zechs’ request wasn’t the order it really was. So under the guise of guests receiving their host’s hospitality, they went off to explore the confines of their gilded cage.