DISCLAIMER: I do not own Gundam Wing, or its characters. I just love playing with them.
That Which Mends
Pairings: 2x1x2, past 2xOC, 5xOC, 3x4
Warnings for Overall Series: Angst, Violence, Sap, Lemons/Limes
Betaed by ShenLong Deb *hugs*
Archives: http://www.gundam-wing-diaries.150m.com/gw/SkyLark/gwSkyLark.htm and http://www.mizunoamy.bravepages.com/skylark/skylarkfics.html
[Sheltered, you better keep the wolf back from the door
He wanders ever closer every night
And how he waits, baying for blood
I promised you everything would be fine
-Lyrics to 'Wolf' performed by Mumford and Sons']
Wufei's heart was pounding so hard in his chest when he sat before the board of federal directors that that his chest hurt. Swallowing hard as his dark eyes ran over the line of men and women across from him, he felt a bead of sweat roll down into the collar of his green Preventers uniform shirt.
'Come on, pull yourself together, Chang,' he told himself. If he was going to have any chance of defending himself when it came to his statement and answering whatever questions were about to be thrown at him, he needed to keep himself calm.
Folding his hands together on the table, the Moderator began, "Agent Wolf, after hearing the testimonies of your teammates, my colleagues and I decided that there was no need to hear any more and got right to our deliberation. And we have come to a unanimous decision over whether or not to reinstate you."
His jaw dropping, the Chinese agent stammered, "O-oh." Just like that, the bottom of his stomach fell out in realizing that he wouldn't have the opportunity to defend himself. Instead, his superiors were ready to send him to the slaughter.
The graying Moderator kept his face trained in a blank mask as he stated, "I am not going to deny to you that we came into this with a preconceived plan to have your badge stripped and send you on your way for what became of Agent Talon. Her death should have been prevented and we needed to make an example of your actions to the other divisions in not only this office but nationwide."
Biting his lip, Wufei nodded and his head lowered in preparation for the official word that he was relieved of his duties. Years of working tirelessly for his position were about to be for naught. But in the end, he did have it coming. Meiran was gone because of him. There was no one else at fault and he would have to live with that for the rest of his life.
"However," the man before him continued, "after hearing some very... compelling arguments from Agent Rock, the professionals who investigated the scene and one very brave witness that we were surprised to hear from, we have all come to the conclusion that this is not as black-and-white as we had thought. Yes, Miss Long's shooting shouldn't have happened, but you are not the one to shoulder all of the blame."
Onyx eyes widening, Chang's head snapped upright. "Sir?" he managed in a small breath, unable to trust that he had heard the overseeing officer correctly.
With a small smile on his lips, the Moderator decreed, "Agent Wolf, you are hereby reinstated with our blessings and gratitude for your service with the Preventers. It is also our hope that you would accept our offer for you to stay on as their team leader, seeing what an incredible job you have done in that role since the team's conception." At either side of him, his cohorts grinned and bowed their heads.
Shell-shocked, Wufei's jaw fell open as the wind rushed out of his lungs. "I-I..." Shaking his head to pull his thoughts and composure back together, he straightened himself in his chair and rolled his shoulders back. "Thank you," he replied with another firm nod. "I humbly accept that honor."
"Very good," the middle-aged superior smiled. "This hearing is adjourned. We will have the documents of your reassignment signed and forwarded to headquarters within the hour." That said, he and the other directors closed their note folders and climbed to their feet to see themselves out of the room without another word.
Blinking at the wall ahead of him, Wolf sat in his chair for a couple of stunned minutes when he suddenly noticed that he was alone in the board room. All but jumping to his feet, he adjusted his tie and hurried through the opened doors to reunite with his friends.
Half way down the hall, the Moderator was the only director who stayed behind to shake hands with Lady Une. As he came within earshot, Chang overheard the tall man praise quietly, "You have a hell of a team, Commander. At first, the need for another federal division seemed unnecessary, but your agents have proved otherwise by exceeding any expectation. You should be very proud of them."
Their hands falling back to their sides, Middie's eyes misted over and her lips tugged up into a warm smile. "Thank you. And I am," she murmured sincerely.
At that, her supervisor smirked and gave Wufei a wink. "Keep up the good work, young man," the Moderator said with a pat on the shoulder while he walked past the Preventer on his way to the elevators.
Swallowing hard, Agent Wolf breathed, "Yes, sir." With the reality of his staying setting in, his own eyes began to water when they locked with the Commander's.
Lady Une giggled, closing the gap between them to wrap her arms around her team leader right about the time he thought his legs were going to give out. "I knew it would work out for you, Wufei," she whispered. "You should have been there to hear the others. They were all brilliant and unwavering in their support of you."
Holding onto his shoulders as she pulled back, the Commander asked softly, "Now, are you alright with all of this?"
"Yea... as far as being reinstated goes," Chang answered as quietly with a laugh in his voice and a wipe of his eyes.
It was the most honest answer he could give. When it came to shouldering the guilt of having killed Meiran... well, he wasn't at all sure he could ever be alright with that. Understanding, Middie smiled sadly and gave him a small nod while rubbing his back.
The rest of the team rushed in from the waiting area, their faces anxious as they looked to the pair as they were unsure how to translate their tears. "So, what happened?" Trowa pressed, peering from one face to the other in worry.
Squaring his shoulders, Wufei snickered to his crew, "I am sorry to inform that you're all going to have to put up with me for a while longer."
Instantly, his fellow Preventers cried and cheered in elation as Anna gasped and shouted, "Oh thank God!" She threw herself forward to throw her arms around her boyfriend's neck. The moment he pulled her close, her nerves fell apart and she sobbed against his shoulder.
Holding a kiss against her temple, Chang buried his nose into her hand and closed his eyes to enjoy the moment before he peered to the rest of his teammates. "I don't know how to thank all of you enough for whatever it was you had said to the directors," he muttered, his voice thick with emotions that were still very raw.
"No thanks needed," Quatre grinned. Moving in for a one-armed hug once his friend was freed, he said. "We just spoke the truth. I'm just glad that they listened."
Duo folded his arms across his chest, shrugging, "I wasn't nervous at all... especially since we have a little extra help today." He stepped aside and made a gesture to the young woman standing behind him to come forward.
His onyx eyes growing with a gasp, Wolf murmured in disbelief, "Tasha."
Nodding, the slight young woman giggled as she was scooped up into a fierce embrace that she gladly returned while she was spun around amidst the chuckles of the others standing by. Carefully lowering her back down to the ground, Wufei held her hands in his. "My God, I hardly recognized you," he beamed. "You look amazing."
Just when she had gotten over her tears, Middie was waving at her eyes again over the touching reunion. The fact that every one of her agents took the time to know the names and faces of the charges that they had saved over the years was only further testament to the incredible, selfless individuals that they were.
"It is because I am happy... and safe... thanks to all of you," Ryzhov replied slowly in her thick Russian accent. Resting a hand on her chest, she said, "I was honored to be here to speak on behalf of all de girls you helped save that night." With a glance at Maxwell, she smiled, "I was happy when Duo called me to tell me about dis trial. Being here was least I could do. I wouldn't not have missed it." Scythe responded with a wink and a smirk to her.
Caught off guard by the braided agent's going out of his way to do such a thing for him, Wufei's mouth fell open as he looked to the violet eyes that turned to him. Huffing out a surprised laugh, the team leader grinned, "Thank you, Maxwell." Anna's smile spread as far as it could go as she nodded enthusiastically to her former lover.
Waving a hand in the air, Duo insisted, "Bah, it was no biggie. Any of you would have done the same for me." He draped an arm around the beautiful Russian, suggesting, "Now what do you all say we blow this popsicle stand for dinner and some celebratory drinks? We have some catching up to do with this pretty thing, here." Tasha ducked her head shyly, but was undoubtedly excited by the prospect of spending some time with her rescuers.
Lady Une chuckled, "Best idea I've heard all day, Scythe." Raising a hand, she declared, "And I'm buying. We're not sparing any expense tonight." Hooking one of her arms through Ryzhov's, she led the way to the elevators as she ordered, "Let's go."
Holding onto Anna's hand, Wufei watched the rest of their pack fill the first lift that came and called, "We'll take the next one down."
Once the elevator closed to the rest of the team, Wolf quickly faced his partner to claim her lips in a scorching kiss. Wide-eyed for a heartbeat, Fire moaned and clung onto him as her eyelids closed in her returning the kiss with everything in her while she was lifted off her feet by the arms wrapped around her waist.
Parting to catch their breaths, the happy couple hung onto one another for a long embrace before Chang set his girlfriend back down and pressed his forehead against hers. "I needed that. God, I'm so glad that's over," he sighed tiredly.
"Me, too," Downs replied in kind. Chewing on the inside of her cheek, she frowned deeply, "Someone had tipped off our involvement to the directors during my testimony. I figure it had to be Zechs or one of his cronies. I honestly didn't think our being together was going to be a problem before I was called in to meet them... and I'm sorry, but..."
At her hesitance, the team leader finished for her, "You denied our relationship." Cupping the side of the redhead's stunned face, he reassured, "It's, alright, Anna. I understand. We only just stared dating and if it could cause any trouble with your career-"
Blue eyes narrowing, the weapons expert cut him off with a snorted, "No, you idiot. I told them we are dating and they threw out my statement. That's what I'm sorry about because I wasn't any help in defending you."
Shaking her head at the shocked expression peering back at her, she stated, "Wufei, I blank you! I'm not going to deny us or what we have when this is only the best thing I've ever had going in my life-mph!" Her toes curled immediately the lips that crushed against her own to stot her mid-sentence when Chang pulled her flush against his chest.
The minute irritation the redhead felt up to that moment over her boyfriend's assuming the worst dissipated when their tongues probed and sparred in desperation. Panting when they finally came up for air, Wolf smiled, "I blank you, too, Anna. I'm sorry for assuming the wrong thing. And you're wrong about not helping me today. Just having you in my corner and speaking in my defense at all was all the support I needed."
A wave of relief washed over Downs' face at that and she beamed. "Well, I think your first order of business as our reestablished team leader should be escorting me out of here so we can go celebrate."
Laughing, Wufei gave her a smart salute. "Yes, ma'am. Your chariot awaits," he smirked. Taking her by surprise, he turned around and lifted her onto his back. Gentle hooking his arms around the giggling agent's braced legs while she wrapped her arms around his neck, he kissed her cheek and announced, "Let's go."
Right then, Chang was on top of the world again as were all of his teammates now that they weren't about to be separated. The Preventers had their pack leader back and they were going to continue to make the world a safer place if they had any say in the matter.
* * * *
"Alright, lady and germs, listen up!" Wufei called as he left Commander Une's office with a file in his hand. As his crew fell in attention at their work stations, he informed, "Sweeney is being transported here to be interrogated in the next couple of hours. Lady Une said everyone is invited to be there to listen in, but only one other person can be in with me to question the suspect."
Raising her hand, Anna offered, "I'm pulling myself from the running for that since I'm going to be preoccupied with our other possible situation."
The team leader nodded, "Alright. Everyone else, you know the drill. You'll have to settle amongst yourselves who the other interviewer will be."
Duo, Trowa and Quatre eyed each other with smug grins and raised eyebrows.
* * * *
Odin closed the folder of reports that he had read through, grinning, "Straight A's and A pluses across the board for your midterm exams. Not that I'm at all surprised. I wish all of my students were as easy to advise as you." Folding his arms across his chest, he inquired, "So, how was your break?"
Perched in the chair on the other side of the desk between them, Heero replied, "Oh, it was... eventful." He wasn't about to elaborate much more than that, but he grinned at his recollection to the past week. "I spent the time off with friends, which was a nice change."
His eyes growing, the advisor chuckled, "Heero Yuy, in all of the months that I've known you, this is the first time I've ever heard you mention that you have friends. That's very reassuring to learn."
"Reassuring?" the intern frowned in confusion. "Was there ever a concern over my not having friends before?"
Lowe set the folder aside to fold his hands on top of his desk with a sigh. Tilting his head, he replied, "Well, I don't know if 'concern' is quite the right word for it. I just couldn't help but notice that you tend to not process life with your emotions. You are incredibly bright and intuitive, but you repress the most basic of feelings that most people are governed by."
His eyes softening, he stated sympathetically, "It's been a bit of a challenge for you when it comes to your studies in psychology because you are one who looks for the logic in a diagnosis and not the emotions that make a person tick and react the way that they do."
There is one very important element to assisting those who need such guidance that you're not quite grasping... The human factor, the emotional side that comes with counseling others. ...you cannot be completely shut off from basic feelings, either... especially your own."
Heero replayed those words from his advisor from an earlier meeting of theirs. Then there were the conversations between classmates that he had overheard... Comments that called him a 'robot' or 'socially inept,' 'cold' and 'detached.' None of those names had bothered him because those opinions didn't matter.
And they still didn't matter... except for when it came to his line of work.
Shaking his head, the young scholar commented, "Emotions make people in our field susceptible to transference from their patients. That kind of thing makes a person weak and open to more hurt within themselves."
"The best way to live life is by one's emotions," Odin challenged politely. "Book knowledge can only take a person so far. Emotions and our absorbing them are what make the rest of our journeys worthwhile." Pointing at his pupil, he declared, "You, my friend, are afraid of feeling the pain of your loneliness and loss by opening yourself to everything else this existence has to offer."
Prussian eyes widening, Yuy fell back in his chair as though he had just been punched in the gut. That initial shock faded into an anger he hadn't felt in a vary long time as he glared at his mentor. "I came here for the follow-up on my mid-term report, not to be counseled on my personal affairs."
Odin held his hands up in the air, nodding, "Yes, I know and I do apologize for any offense. But some things need to be said. A little tough love every now and then is good for anyone." His saddened as he lowered his arms. "That is all I have for this meeting, unless you have anything you would like to discuss?"
Climbing to his feet, Heero grabbed his backpack and responded sharply, "No. I'm done here." He left the room without looking back and headed for the main facility's parking lot. Eyes still narrowed, he got into his car and peeled out of his stall to leave the campus behind him... and with any luck the dark thoughts following him.
* * * *
The ride to the federal building served to be the therapy Yuy needed to clear his head. Purposely not thinking of Lowe's consultation, he set his mind to the case that he had been pulled into. He thought about Sweeney and the interrogation that was going be underway soon, if it wasn't happening already.
Catherine smiled and waved in greeting when the intern passed the front desk. Returning the gesture, he used his ID card to open the glass doors leading to the main corridor and entered the elevator that was already waiting on the first floor by the time he arrived.
At the bright bell that announced his arrival to the seventh floor, Heero sighed in relief at being back in the presence of other people who understood him enough to not get involved in his personal matters and rounded the elevator column.
Wufei was the only one at his work station at the desk cluster when the counselor came into view. As for Duo, Trowa and Quatre, they were playing a rapid fire round of darts rather loudly with cheers, hollers and jeers in the rec area.
Raising an eyebrow as he lowered his backpack on top of his desk, Heero snorted, "Are they working on some special assignment?"
Chang finished typing at his keyboard to peer over at his friend, smirking, "It's round the tie-breaker to see which one of them will be questioning Sweeney with me. You missed the pinball and basketball, skateboard pike, skeeball and laser tag rounds of the tournament. It's been a pretty tight race, but this dartboard challenge will decide it."
Blinking at the team leader, Yuy remained silent for a moment before he deadpanned, "The fate of a federal interrogation is decided by playing games?"
It was Wufei's turn to raise an eyebrow with an amused expression that read as, 'Are you surprised?'
"Right," the counselor laughed, hands in the air, "Forget I asked. I should know better by now."
Chuckling, Chang retuned his attention to his screen and typed away while Wing and Scythe caught each other's glances at the end of Maxwell's last turn at the dartboard. With a warm grin, the braided agent waved. Offering a wave back, the intern felt the last of his built up tension melt away in seeing his lover again.
Slowly scanning the rest of the floor, Heero questioned, "Is Anna around?"
Wufei hummed an affirmative without turning away from his report as he answered, "She's in her office working on another assignment, otherwise she would have been in the mix with the others to be a part of the interrogation. I'm pretty sure it's unlocked, if you wanted to stop in and say 'hi' to her." Hearing his own words, he paused in his typing and met the nervous, Prussian eyes watching him.
"It's safe to go in," Wolf reassured, a small grin on his face. "Anna's not experimenting on anything, so no fires and explosions. Considering what she's up to, I'm sure she'd appreciate the company. I'd be in there with her if I wasn't busy prepping for this interview."
That was as much a request as it was an invitation for Heero to visit the redhead, the counselor realized. Clearly she was as preoccupied over an unsettling situation as he had been. Nodding firmly, he rounded the haphazard cluster of desks and walked to the sealed off office adjacent to his own at the other end of the floor.
Just as Chang had suspected, the door to the weapons expert's office was not only unlocked but the motion sensor was engaged so that it slid open silently to him when Yuy neared it. Inside, the all but gutted out room still bore holes, gashes and burn marks in the walls from Downs' experiments on the Gundanium sample. Long gone was the metal table that once took up much of the now open wide space in the center.
The two work stations at opposite ends of the office had their computers running as Anna sat atop an exercise ball for a chair that she was bouncing to the music playing through her ear buds as she typed at the desk straight ahead of the intern.
And hanging on the wall directly opposite of the door was a blown up map of Indiana, Western Ohio and Southern Michigan. With the door closing behind him, Yuy's eyes were drawn to the couple of dozen circles drawn in brown marker on that map. By each ring that peppered the three states, there was a note by them.
Gulping, Heero's jaw opened and his skin paled as he read each tag written in bold, capital letters. 'HALF OF JET ENGINE' by the Indiana and Michigan border. 'FRACTION OF COCOPIT' was displayed in the furthest reaches of the Iowa map. Throughout the three neighboring states, there were messages that read 'SEATS', 'BONE FRAGMENTS', 'ARMS, 'LEGS,' 'LUGGAGE REMAINS'...
...and most troubling of all was the memo 'UNIDENTFIED HEAD' deep in Iowa.
Shocked still, the scholar didn't need to be a weapons expert to realize the incredible projection of those reported findings from what was believed to be the actual site of the plane explosion could have only come from an incredible force.
The phone at the other station rang loudly, causing Yuy to jump at the unexpected sound.
Anna stood and kicked the purple exercise ball beneath her so it rolled across the room as she finished typing two last numbers she was crunching. Spinning so she faced away from the student, the took wide strides to towards the phone and by the time she squatted down, the ball was beneath her and she was bouncing again as she removed her buds and turned the mp3 player in her jeans pocket off.
On the third ring, the redhead removed the receiver from its cradle and held it to her ear as she greeted professionally, "Preventers. Agent Fire speaking."
After a couple more bounces, she froze and her back turned rigid. "Where?" she asked urgently as she frantically reached for a nearby pen and notepad. Jotting down whatever was being relayed to her, she stated, "Yes, I'll be here all day and night if that's how long it takes to decipher whatever you might be able to get out of it. What about the feed from the hanger-"
Glaring, the agent shouted, "What do you mean no one thought to check it?! A jet carrying politicians and world pacifists mysteriously goes up and no one considered going through the security cameras at the airport..." She stopped to hear whatever argument was being made, then yelled, "I don't care if it was the weekend, that's two days you lost at possibly having a lead. Now get on that! You know how to reach me when you have something!"
A loud growl rumbled from Downs as she slammed the receiver back down and her fingers flew over her keyboard. "So stupid! This investigation would go a hell of a lot smoother if I didn't have to hold hands and tell people how to do their damned jobs," she snarled, shaking her head of loose curls that bounced with her movement.
Heero bit his lip, a small grin curling his lips. That was the Anna he was coming to know and appreciate... full of piss and vinegar.
Grabbing the notepad she had scribbled in and a black marker from the pen holder on her desk, the redhead moved to the map. Reading the county name and coordinates she had taken down, she removed the cap from the marker and drew a circle at the southern tip of Indiana.
Beside the ring, she wrote the words 'BLACK BOX'.
Anna stepped back a couple paces to stare at the map and covered her mouth with her free hand, muttering a chilling, "Holy shit."
Swaying on his feet, Yuy caught himself from falling over, but managed to make enough of a noise that made his presence known to the redhead who jumped out of her skin with a cry of surprise. "Jesus, Heero! You about gave me a heart attack!" the breathless agent laughed, a hand pressed against her chest when she looked to him.
"I'm sorry," the intern grinned sheepishly. "I should have knocked before I came in."
Downs dropped her hand, giggling, "It's okay. Nothing like a good heart palpitation to feel alive." Shifting gears, she inquired, "So, how was your first day back to school?"
His smile falling at that, a knot filled Heero's throat and prevented him from speaking. Frowning sadly, Anna closed the gap between them and gave him a tight hug. Taken aback for a heartbeat, Yuy's enlarged eyes closed as he squeezed her back so they could just hold each other for a couple of minutes. And just as Duo's smile had put him at ease, so had this embrace.
Pulling back a while later, Fire soothed, "There. You looked like you needed that." There were no questions, no musings or anything to try to find out what was bothering him. There was only her sweet reminder that he had people who cared about him... who would be there for him whenever he would seek their support.
It was exactly what Yuy needed... even though he didn't know it until just then.
"Thank you," Wing snickered, running a hand through his unruly hair. "I guess I did."
Much as he was enjoying their moment, his mounting fears drew his eyes back to the map across from them. "That plane accident... wasn't an accident was it? And you think it's related to this case?"
Gripping onto the ledge of the desk behind her as she leaned back and stared at the map with him, Anna nodded. "All signs point to 'yes.' I'll be listening to the black box findings in a matter of hours, but I'm pretty sure that it's all related."
Heero chewed on the inside of his cheek. "It's bad, isn't it?"
Drawing a deep breath, the weapons expert nodded again. "Yea," she breathed. "...It's pretty bad."
Many a Preventers case began in the room he shared with his redheaded friend, Yuy came to comprehend as a series of goose bumps ran up his spine. This was where the severity of each mission was assessed and the challenge that the agents faced was realized.
Here they stood on the brink of what was shaping up to be the biggest threat that they had taken on to date... and he was smack dab in the middle of it all.