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
[Here come the man, With the look in his eyes.
Fed on nothing, But full of pride.
Look at them go, Look at them kick.
Makes you wonder, How the other half live...
The devil inside, the devil inside,
Every single one of us, the devil inside
-Lyrics to 'Devin Inside' performed by London Grammar]
To have heard time and time again how big the Preventers' case was shaping up to be was one thing. But to actually see in front of him, what his friends were facing, was a startling jolt into a reality that Yuy wasn't sure he was ready for.
Yes, there was the side of him that was grateful to have come across Duo Maxwell for many obvious reasons... namely the relationships that he was forging, not only with the braided agent, but with their friends as well.
But then there was a part of the scholar that now wished he had stayed in his dorm room the night of that fraternity party so that he could remain blissfully unaware of the dangers that were out in the world.
"Heero? Heero, are you alright, Sport?"
Shaking his head at Anna's concerned voice, the intern blinked to regain his focus as she stepped into his line of sight with a deep frown on her face that matched the worry in her tone. He forced a shallow nod and responded, "Y-yea... I think I'm okay." The corner of his mouth curling up, he asked, "Did you just call me Sport? That's your pet nickname for me?"
Anna relaxed enough to giggle, "Yep. It suits you since you've been such a good sport about everything that's happened since you first met Duo and all of us." Frowning again, she urged, "Now, are you sure you're holding up alright?" She gestured to the map, commenting, "This kind of stuff can be pretty unsettling."
With a shudder as he looked to the black-inked plane and passenger remains, Yuy rubbed the back of his neck as he admitted, "Yea, that's one way to put it. To be honest, it would have been nice to stay in the dark about this kind of stuff... but then again, this way I might be able to help somehow."
"See? You are a sport," the weapons expert laughed, slapping his shoulder. "And you already have given us a big lead by helping us track down Sweeney." Looking back at the map, she reassured, "We'll get everyone who's behind this. We'll get through this. That's the only way to look at this, or a person would go crazy."
Quickly realizing the real logic behind that, Heero righted himself. Meeting the blue eyes watching him, he grinned, "You're right." Changing the topic back to what he had originally come into her office to say, he offered, "I came here to say thank you."
Caught by surprise at that, Downs blinked widely. "Oh?" she replied, "what for?"
The intern answered, "Well, first off for standing up for me at Charlie's. I couldn't help but notice you were willing to walk away from Noin despite the harsh things she had to say about you until she verbally attacked me. No one ever stood up for me like that before and it really means a lot that you did."
Downs gave her friend a warm smile. "There's no need to thank me for that," she told him.
"I know that kind of thing comes naturally for you, but yes, I do have to," Yuy insisted, a grin spreading across his face. "As for keeping what happened between Duo and I between us so that it all comes out however it will on our own terms, I needed to tell you that I appreciate that as well."
Her eyes growing, Fire all but whispered, "So.... does that mean the two of you are...?" With a lopsided smirk, Heero nodded.
"Oh my God!" the Preventer cheered, throwing her arms around his neck in a tight hug. "I'm so happy for you both!" Quickly pulling back, she made a motion of running her right pointer finger over her smiling mouth, vowing, "Mum's the word."
Snickering, the scholar gave her a grateful grin and said, "I'm also going to have to ask a big favor of you." To the face that tuned very curious, he stated, "You know Duo better than anyone and I know he's going to need a lot of time to trust me to that level. But I'm just as new to this dating and opening process as he is and I don't have anyone I feel comfortable confiding in if I need someone to talk me off a ledge the way you helped him the morning after..."
As he shifted uncomfortably out of having to make the request he was about to make, he went on softly, "I don't want you to feel compromised since you're so close with him, but you're the only person I feel like I can talk to this easily-"
"Done," Anna declared without hesitation. "So long as I don't have to betray anything about Duo that he hasn't shared on his own, you can count on me. My line will always be open whenever you need it. All I ask in return is that you just be good to him, like I know you will be, and I'll be in your corner as much as I'll be in his."
That was everything Heero had hoped for and so much more. He now officially had a best friend... something he didn't think he needed in his life until he had come to know the weapons expert. Biting his lip when he couldn't trust his voice, he bowed his head and gladly returned the tight hug that he received.
Kissing his cheek as she stepped back, Yuy and Downs shared warm smiles when the door slid open to reveal Agent Wolf. The team leader bowed his head to them and announced, "We're about to head out-" He froze when his onyx eyes fell on the map on the opposite wall. "Holy shit," he breathed after a long pause to process what he was reading.
Anna whistled, pointing at both her own eyes as she smirked, "Eyes are over here, Wufei." When her lover met her gaze with a sheepish grin, she told him, "I'm gonna have to sit this one out. I'm waiting to hear from the agents in charge of the black box that was found this morning. Hopefully it's salvageable enough to get the last recordings and readings off of it."
"Okay," Chang nodded firmly, his calm and focused resolve regained. "I'll check in with you as soon as we're back." Turning towards the intern, he said, "Let's go."
His Prussian eyes widening, Yuy stammered, "Wh-whoa, me? Why am I going to the interrogation?"
The team leader chuckled, "Well, you are our profiler. We need you to listen in on the interview so nothing gets missed."
Opening his mouth to protest over how he wasn't actually a Preventer or their profiler, Heero's shoulders sagged with a deep sigh. "I suppose I can't argue that I might be of some assistance there," he shrugged. "But I won't actually be in the room with Sweeney, right?"
"No," Wolf assured. "You'll in the observation room with Lady Une, Trowa and Quatre."
Which meant Duo won the three-way-tie-breaker round in the agents' competition to have a few words with their suspect. And if anyone might be able to make sure the braided officer stayed in line, the counselor decided that he might be better suited for that task.
Nodding, Yuy agreed, "Alright. Let's get moving, then." That said, he led the way out of the weapons expert's office.
As soon as Wufei and his partner were alone, he pulled her into a fierce hug and kissed her soundly. "I blank you. Keep up the good work in here," the pack leader smiled.
"I blank you, too and I'll be sure to do that," Anna grinned with a wink. "Good luck with Sweeney. Give him hell." Returning the wink, her boyfriend spun on his heels to slip through the opened door.
The redhead let out a long breath and turned herself to stare at the map again. A lot was riding on bringing to light whatever it was their captive was hiding. Between waiting on the black box findings and the result of the interrogation, Downs figured she was going to be spending a lot of the time wearing out the carpet in her office by pacing the floors.
* * * *
Duo and Heero had little to no interaction from their filing into Lady Une's car and the short ride to the off-site holding premises. They did, however, make sure that they were sitting side-by-side and stole a glance and smile when they could.
Neither one of them were particularly of the right mind for more than that as they prepared themselves for the meeting that was about to unfold, their minds distracted and nerves on high alert. Of the two of them, the scholar was easily the more anxious of the pair. He had never observed an interrogation of any sort, let alone having to potentially play an influential role in one.
Heero's knowledge of the human psyche was sure to be tested this day. All he could do was hope he was as apt in that field as his advisor and his friends believed him to be.
Entering the observation room that peered into the interview room through a long and tall see-through mirror the same as what he had seen in movies and television shows, the intern took a deep breath and laid eyes on Gary Sweeney in the flesh for the first time.
Dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit with his wrists cuffed together and dangling under the edge of the table he sat at by the clip they were snapped onto, the brunette blinked his green eyes as they scanned his surroundings. In his mid-thirties, there were no lines on the prisoner's oval-shaped face or a gray hair on his head.
He looked... small. He looked nervous.
And Yuy knew that Sweeney should be nervous, if he was smart.
Securing their invisible receivers into their right ears, Wufei and Duo quietly went over their game plan of how they would deal with their culprit as Lady Une, Trowa and Quatre took up their places by the window.
"Try to not to drag this out," the Commander ordered, her arms crossed and brown eyes narrowing on the squirming man on the other side of the glass. "You know what limitations you have to work with when it comes to getting answers, so push those boundaries as far as you have to if necessary. I want to know who he's been working with and I want those names now."
Chang and Maxwell gave smart salutes and chimed in together, "Yes, ma'am."
Not wanting to waste any more time, Wolf took hold of a thick file as he stepped up to the hidden door and pushed his way into the other room with Scythe on his heels. The prisoner's green eyes shot up at them when the Chinese Preventer smirked darkly, "Remember us? Man, are you ever going to wish you never laid eyes on our faces again."
Bottom lip quivering, Gary stammered, "I-I said I want a lawyer. Y-you can't speak to me without a lawyer present."
Pulling one of the two chairs across from the suspect, Duo allowed its metal legs to scrape loudly along the floor. At the harsh sound, Sweeney winced and sank lower in his seat. "Aw, that's cute," the braided officer snickered as he flipped his chair to straddle it. "Someone hasn't been brought up on the new laws involving how terrorists are handled when they're being questioned."
"Terrorist?!" the young, lanky man shrieked. "I'm just a librarian! I'm not a terrorist!"
Wufei remained standing as he crossed his arms and replied, "Oh, I see you haven't been brought up to speed with what the government now considers terrorists. Anyone who falls under reasonable suspicion of conspiring with dangerous ties and whose actions threaten those investigating them fall under the terrorist category and voluntarily wave the rights they would otherwise have under normal circumstances."
As the prisoner's enlarged eyes were turned from one face to the next and back again, Maxwell sneered, "In other words, after you fired on us after we announced we were federal agents, you kissed your request for an attorney goodbye. So now, you only have us to talk to. And there will be no 'good cop, bad cop' for this interview. There'll only be 'asshole and bigger asshole' here."
His sinister grin returning, Chang commented, "You can decide for yourself which of us is which as we go along. But my suggestion would be that you cooperate so we can move things along before we have to make this really unpleasant for you."
With that warning, Wolf tossed the file in his possession onto the table so that its contents spilled out across the surface.
Displayed for all to behold, there were snapshot images of Sweeney meeting with Howard included their shaking hands and Gary handing over a large wad of cash in exchange for an armful of fake license plates. Along with those captures, there were pictures of the impressive collection of C4, guns and knives recovered from the culprit's residence following his arrest.
"I want the names of the person or persons who sent you to make this purchase," the team leader demanded, leaning over the table and pointing at the three pictures of the prisoner and the mechanic's meeting. "We came up with a hell of an arsenal for a mere librarian to be carrying, but none of those plates were found in your house."
Sweeney's bottom lip quivered and his green eyes began to mist as he shook his head vehemently. "I-I don't know who they were," he whimpered. "They... they threatened my life if I didn't get them what they wanted and I was trying to defend myself in case they came after me."
On the other side of the glass, Trowa snorted bitterly, "Bullshit. He would have come crawling to us once it was announced who we were." Heero glanced at the tall agent from the corner, holding his tongue though he completely agreed with his friend.
Huffing, Duo growled, "Yea, neither of us here is about to buy that since you tried to blow all of us to kingdom come yourself once you realized your little trap didn't go off like it should have. You had a death wish once you knew you were caught and you were going to take us out with you to protect whoever you're working with."
There was the slightest twitch of Gary's mouth and his eyes dried up fast. Those subtle clues were immediately caught by the psych major who was studying him closely. For an untrained eye, those subtle things wouldn't have amounted to anything. But to the scholar who had profiled him, a crystal clear mural of the man behind the frightened mask was being revealed.
"He wants to talk," Yuy noted aloud, Prussian eyes narrowing. "It's killing him right now that he can't take responsibility for what he did."
Lady Une and her officers snapped their heads to gawk at him. "You're sure?" Middie asked as she approached the intern. "How do they get it out of him?"
Meeting her gaze, Wing answered, "Threats and intimidation won't work since he's already programmed himself to keep quiet no matter what. But he's proud and he's angry at whatever it is he's fighting against. His background history supports that much of it. Have Duo and Wufei back off and have him excused from any further questioning."
Their eyes growing anew, the Preventers frowned to one another in silent musings over the suggestion.
Finally, the Commander walked to the com in the wall beside the window and hit the transmitter button at the end of the next round of demands from the interviewers. "Guys, wrap it up and close the interrogation. Act like Sweeney's nothing more than an annoying fly." Relieved that she had caught onto what he was getting at, Heero smirked and nodded to her.
Surprised as they were by the order, Chang and Maxwell kept their faces blank of any reaction.
"You know what, I'm already bored of this," the braided officer declared as he climbed to his feet. "We're wasting our time on this guy. Even if he does knew who he got those plates for, he was nothing more than an errand boy. You don't get lower on the totem pole than that. He doesn't know what's going on in this case."
Gary slowly righted himself at that, frowning in confusion, but making no move to speak up.
"Yea, you're right," Wufei sighed in defeat while he gathered up the images and placed them back in the file. "He just doesn't fit the bill to be a person who could be of any threat to a bug let alone other people, especially with shitty aim like his."
Quatre and Trowa held heir breaths when they could see the physical shift in Sweeney's tensing posture at that insult. "Nice touch," Heero snickered in a quiet compliment of the pack leader. "That one left a mark."
More than satisfied with what she was seeing, Middie spoke into the com, "Keep it up, boys. Start heading out of the room." No sooner had she finished did the Preventers in the other room begin walking away from the man in the jumpsuit for the door.
Scythe reached for the doorknob as he informed, "We'll call for security to move you back to your cell while we sort out who we're really after. Once we have something to go on, we'll call on you again when we need some IDs made... if you can remember their faces after they intimidated the shit out of you and all-"
"Did you guys enjoy the firework show?" Sweeney cut him off with a low snarl. "I thought it was pretty spectacular, myself."
Backs turning rigid, the agents that were in the process of stepping through the doorway stopped on a dime. When they peered over their shoulders, chills ran down their spines at the night-and-day difference in their captive who was smirking smugly at them.
~ ~ ~ ~
"Here we go," Anna muttered to herself as she accessed the zip recording from the black box that was being uploaded to her computer. Clicking on the complete button, she turned up the monitor speakers and sat back atop her exercise ball.
At the end of a brief patch of static, there was an audio of a light-hearted conversation between the pilots of the doomed flight as they discussed their families and their plans during the more routine part of the trip.
Tapping her pen on the edge of her table, the weapons expert took hold of her mouse with her other hand and fast-forwarded towards the end of the recording.
~ ~ ~ ~
Wufei glared heatedly at the suddenly confident culprit. Stalking back to the table and planting his fists on its edge, he hissed, "If you're talking about what I think you are, you had better the fuck start talking if you don't want this to end badly for you."
Instead of cowering, the lean man sat up all the taller in his chair. "You're not up for this fight, boy," he snickered. "This is bigger than any of us in this room and whoever is standing behind that glass." Keeping his attention on the Asian Preventer, Gary gestured to what appeared to be a mirror.
"There's going to be a much needed shift in power before long and there won't be a damned thing you or your little friends can do about it." Lost in his need to be recognized, he laughed madly, "I had a very big part in what is about to come! My name will be recognized when this revolution is over!"
Heero blinked his enlarged eyes, breathing, "Holy shit." He had trusted his instincts about Sweeney to be right, but the shift in the prisoner and his warning rocked the counselor to his core.
Standing to his left, Quatre faced him and murmured, "You were right about him from the start... from the moment you pulled his file from Zechs' team."
A buzzing pierced the silence that had fallen in the interrogation room. Automatically reaching into the right pocket of his jean shorts, it was Duo's turn to smirk, "Well, that came up a lot sooner than we expected. Let's see what we got here from this burner phone that was found buried in the floor planks of your basement."
Gary gawked in panic at the sight of the black device Scythe produced. Turning the screen on, the braided agent read aloud, "Check in. Are you compromised?"
It was the first time there was genuine fright on the captive's face as sweat beaded on his brow and he gulped roughly. After being convinced that he had covered his tracks so well, he now had to contend with the harsh truth that he had given up a vital piece of evidence against himself and potentially his associates.
But there was urgency all over the Preventers when they looked to one another. "They're asking what they already know, same as we were asking him what we already knew off of what was found on that phone," Chang stated.
Rounding the table, Wolf bent down to being himself nose-to-nose with his enemy as he rumbled quietly, "I want those names. If you don't give them this second, I'm going to have my teammate respond with where you're being held." A cut off wail stuck in Sweeney's throat and his green irises tuned into saucers on the pack leader.
Wufei gripped the back of the shuddering man's chair, condemning, "You'll never see a day in court because if your associates are as resourceful as I'm sure they are, they'll have you killed to keep you from telling us anything. And whatever fucked up legacy you think you'll have for what you've done will be snuffed out along with you. So, you'll die as the nobody that you've always been-"
"I only know the last name Rowland!" Sweeney cried. Real tears filled his green eyes now that he was looking at the possibility of being served a death sentence. Trembling, he insisted, "I-I was just their runner for small tasks... collecting gear, plates... whatever they needed that they didn't want to be seen getting themselves! I didn't kill anyone!"
Maxwell snapped, "We're going to need more than a last name to go on." Running the pad of his thumb over the digital keyboard on the phone's screen, he grinned, "My fingers are getting awfully trigger happy. Maybe I'll add in the schedule for the guards that'll be watching over your cell."
His hands balled into fists under the table, Gary wailed, "Alright! I used the library's server to make a few contacts! My history can be pulled off the hard drive on my desk computer in my office! Everything you could possibly get out of me is on there from my fake email accounts to secured router addresses!"
"Son of a bitch," Trowa whispered, the color in his face draining as he fell back from the glass. Everyone turned towards him as he snapped, "I never gave a thought to the fact that public libraries have their own private servers and databases. He would have been able to hop between international transmitters without ever being traced if no one knew what they were looking for."
Feeling her stomach lurch at the urgent situation that had just risen to light, Lady Une rushed to hit the com button. "Wufei, ask him if his contacts know where he worked," she pressed.
Already ahead of where the Commander was going, Wolf demanded, "Is there anyone around who is aware of how to get a hold of that computer if anything were to happen to you? Could they access your office, potentially endangering innocents, to get to that hard drive?"
Sweeney peered back up at him, the haunted expression on his pale face and the audible gulp from him answering that for him better than any words could. And his entire audience turned ice cold with dread.
"I want everyone moving in on that library! Now!" Middie barked through the com and to her agents standing by. "I'll call Agent Fire and see that Sweeney gets taken back to his cell, but we need that computer before someone else beats us to it, if we're not already too late now that they know their messenger's missing!"
Chang and Maxwell surged into the observation room to lead the desperate charge out of the facility while Heero looked on in profound worry. A part of him almost ran off with his friends, but the logical side of him won out to keep him planted where he stood, staring at the young woman across from him as she ran to her purse on the window counter.
Removing her cell phone, Middie nimbly accessed her speed dial and pressed the receiver to her ear. 'Comeoncomeon," she whispered.
~ ~ ~ ~
Anna gazed blankly at her computer monitor at the end of her assessment of the black box recordings. Unable to blink or move from her stunned state, she wasn't even aware she was breathing as she processed the findings she had taken in.
There were few times that she could recall being as scared of a weapon as she was right then. Before, there was always an answer to what she and her teammates were dealing with. But this... there were only more questions and concerns as to what weapon they were up against.
At the bright ringing of her desk phone that broke the stillness, the redhead yelped and all but rolled off her exercise ball. Only just managing to catch her balance, she clawed for the receiver and placed it against her ear with a winded, "Preventers. Agent Fire."
Lady Une's voice greeted her, urging, "Anna, you need to get to the Jefferson Public Library immediately and collect Sweeney's hard drive. You're the closest agent to it and we can't lose another minute retrieving the information he has on that computer."
Springing to her feet, Downs read between the lines of what wasn't being said in the Commander's rushed orders given how she was being called on since she was only a few blocks away... The Preventers might not be the only ones looking to get their hands on that hard drive.
Quickly, the redhead used her the thumbprint scanner beside her desk drawers to remove a holstered pistol and three clips of bullets that she tucked into the hem of her khaki shorts as Middie went on, "The others are coming in as fast as they can to back you up if you need it. Proceed with the utmost caution and keep your eyes open. Try to not raise any alarms when you get there that'll draw any unwanted attention."
There was a pause before the Commander muttered anxiously, "Anna..."
Nodding, Fire shut her computer down as she replied, "Yes, ma'am. I'll be careful. On my way now." At that, she flew her out of her office.
By her silent calculations, she would beat her fellow Preventers to the library by at least twenty minutes even if they didn't run into traffic on their way.
If anyone was going to get in their way, all they could do was hope they would beat them to the punch.