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
[But plant your hope with good seeds
Don't cover yourself with thistle and weeds
Rain down, rain down on me
Look over your hills and be still
The sky above us shoots to kill
Rain down, rain down on me
-Lyrics to 'Thistles and Weeds' performed by Mumford and Sons]
Wufei growled lowly as he closed the file to the recovery mission that he had run over time and time again since the case had closed following his reinstatement to the Preventers. Pinching the bridge of his nose against the headache that was coming on, he reclined back in his leather chair and sighed.
He really should have begun to let the whole thing go by now, but it still bothered him to no end how he had made the oversight of that ambush that led to Meiran's death.
Hearing a familiar metallic clicking approach his opened office door, he peered over in time to watch Anna entered the room. "Hey," she greeted cheerfully, the braces on her legs shining as she walked towards his desk. "It's just about closing time-" She stopped herself when she caught the name on the file that her boyfriend was quick to scoop up and tuck away in his desk.
Shoulders sagging, the redhead frowned, "Wufei, you're going to drive yourself crazy going over that for answers."
"I know, I just... can't drop it," Chang murmured dejectedly while locking up the drawer with his reports. "Yes, there are things that just happen beyond our control but those guards should have stayed away at the end of their shift. That was far out of their way to deviate like that, not to mention coincidental that they just happened to come back while we were on the dock."
Downs rounded the desk, nodding, "I'm not arguing how suspicious the whole thing smells, but we've all gone through that night with a fine-toothed comb and there's no proof that anything foul was in the works. Believe me, I'm not happy about having to leave it behind us like this, but we've done everything we can."
She bent at the waist to press and hold a kiss against the team leader's forehead. Closing his eyes, Wolf leaned against the touch of her lips.
As she righted herself, Anna ordered with a giggle, "Now, move it and get me to the physical therapist so I can finally get these damned things off my legs. If we're going to make it to Trowa and Quatre's engagement party in time, we better get going here."
Chuckling, Wolf winked and saluted her. "Yes, ma'am," he replied warmly, standing up and following her to the door, where he paused briefly to look back at his desk for a moment.
It was time to close that chapter in his life... time to turn that page in the Preventers' history and move. Little by little, that would get easier with this first step.
Drawing a deep breath, the pack leader walked away as his office could close behind him. And with it, that file would stay sealed away from that afternoon on.
* * * *
"Heero?... Heero, are you okay?"
The ringing of his ears and the spinning world before the scholar finally dulled down enough for Quatre's concerned voice to register with him. Shaking his head, everything came back into focus until he realized the public relations representative was standing over him.
His cobalt eyes blinking widely, Yuy's head shot around to his surroundings. In doing so, he noted that he was sitting down in Barton's chair with the tall Preventer looming close by wearing the same concerned expression that was on his lover's face.
And everything came rushing back when the intern's gaze fell on Night's monitor that still had his picture displayed along with those of the agents... the 'New Targets'.
"W-what...? Why? H-ow the hell did this happen?" he stammered anxiously once he found his voice again, unable to tear his eyes away from his mug shot.
Agent Rock answered calmly, "A mole, either working for the government or someone in this building. It's the only explanation, since we've confirmed that those pictures are the ones that were taken for our employment IDs. As far as we know, that's the only information on us that was leaked out to Sweeney and whoever he was working with-"
The bell announcing the elevator's arrival cut him off as the three friends turned around to watch as Duo, Wufei and Anna walked onto the floor. As the first to spot his pale partner, the braided agent frowned in worry at the same time the couple beside him tensed up, "'Ro? What's going on?"
Clearing his throat, Trowa drew the attention onto him as he informed, "We have a pretty serious problem."
Not needing to be told twice, the new arrivals hurried around the desks to Night's station while Heero and Quatre got out of their way for a clear view of the monitor. The second they saw their pictures along with the title at the top bar of the opened file, their eyes grew and jaws dropped.
"H-holy shit," Anna breathed.
Onyx eyes narrowing, Chang growled, "Well, now we know we have someone inside the federal government working with these assholes." Meeting Barton's gaze, he commented, "And I'll bet there's no way of tracing who the source of it was."
"I've been working on that since I opened the file," Night replied, the frustration evident in his own voice. "Of course they wiped everything clean as far as any trail for me to follow. I might get lucky with the other data that Sweeny saved, but I highly doubt the identity of the mole will be out there. Every measure was likely taken to keep them on the inside."
Again, the elevator bell sounded and Lady Une stormed her way around the column. "Thank you for calling me with what you found, boys," she addressed Quatre and Trowa curtly in her bottled anger. "I was looking for an excuse to get out of the meeting I was scheduled for, but I wish it wasn't under these circumstances."
The Commander's agents made room for her to see the opened file and its contents for herself. Glaring at the screen, she pressed, "Have you found anything else that was passed along? Your names? Addresses?"
Shaking his head, Trowa answered, "Not yet. So either whoever gave our pictures couldn't access that much, they didn't have time to do so yet or they scrubbed that information from everyone except whoever needed that much detail."
Middie righted herself and locked onto her team leader, ordering, "Wolf, delegate each and every gigabyte of data on Sweeney's hard drive sifted through immediately."
With a firm nod, Wufei responded, "Yes, ma'am." All but running to his work space, he fired up his computer and waited for it to load so he could sync up with Agent Rock's computer to carry out his task.
Her right hand lifting in the air, Lady Une brought her fingers together for a smart snap then pointed at Duo, Anna and Heero. "You three, come with me," she urged, spinning on her heels and leading the way to her office.
Taken aback, Heero followed behind his lover and his best friend until they were in the Commander's room as it closed off behind him. Facing him, Middie's face gave way to just how beside herself she was. A hand reaching up to cover her mouth as she pulled herself together and fended off the sting in her eyes, she took a deep breath.
"I am so... so sorry that you were put in the middle of this, Heero," she whispered as her hand fell away. "If I'd had any way of knowing anything like this could possibly happen... I never would have had you come to work with us."
Sincerely grateful for her consideration for his welfare, Yuy grinned sadly, "There was no way of predicting this, Middie. Besides, I was the one who came up with the idea that I needed to come across as a full-fledged Preventer so no one else in the office would know way I was really here. At least we know the act's been working if I was included as one of the targets."
Duo and Anna snickered at his sentiment and they brushed shoulders with the scholar between them.
Une let out a long sigh and her whole body sagged in relief. Smiling, she squeezed the intern's shoulder with a wink before she walked behind her desk. Brown eyes settling on her agents, she said, "Our number one priority is making sure Heero stays safe. It's not that I'm not concerned for all of you, but I also know you can all handle yourselves in this situation."
"Yes, ma'am," the Preventers nodded firmly in unison, their backs straightening with determination dripping from their tones and resonating in their expressions at being set to the task of looking after their new charge.
Cobalt eyes growing, Yuy glanced from the braided Preventer at his left to the redheaded one on his right. And in that moment, he never felt safer in his entire existence than knowing that he was going to be protected by them and the other officers out on the floor.
Pointing at Downs, the Commander told her, "Anna, I want you train him on self defense and firing a gun. I'll have him registered for his own weapon before the end of the day. I shouldn't have to wait long since it's protocol for agents to have a firearm on them."
The weapons expert fisted the air with a quiet but excited, "Yes!"
What security Yuy had felt up to then dissipated immediately. "W-whoa, wait a second," he sputtered, wide-eyed as he snapped his head back and forth from Anna to the Middie. "Is learning how to fire a gun really all that necessary? I've never touched a gun, let alone handled one before."
Downs' dulled hearing was able to pick up his comment and she turned towards him, smirking encouragingly, "Don't worry. I'm a pro at breaking people in for this kind of stuff. As for whether or not it's necessary, it couldn't hurt to be on the safe side rather than sorry. Everyone should know how to protect themselves, not just in cases like this."
"You can trust her, 'Ro," Maxwell insisted soothingly when his partner moved to make some sort of protest. As the lovers' gazes mixed onto one another, he grinned, "Annie's the best person for the job. Along with that, I'd feel a hell of a lot better if you agreed."
Closing his mouth, Heero chewed on the inside of his cheek. Unable to argue against that request, he sighed and nodded to the redhead, "Alright."
At that, Downs beamed and hugged him tightly as she promised, "Don't worry. I'll be gentle in breaking you in."
Carefully returning her embrace, the counselor snorted, "To be honest, knowing you, I'm not at all sure if that should make me more scared or not." He got a laugh from the Preventers while his best friend pulled back.
Middie muttered, "Now onto the next order of business. Having strength in numbers is only the best method in a case like this. Everyone else is paired up in their living arrangements except for you, Duo and Heero. I want that to change and soon... at least until this case is solved and we know we have all of the threats involved rotting behind bars."
That black car flashed back into Yuy's mind. Thomas Klein was alone in his dorm room when the driver of that car removed him from the face of the earth. If that same executioner knew where the scholar was staying...
"I'll help get you moved in tonight," Duo decreed decisively as though he had read his partner's mind. "It would only take us a couple of hours to pack everything in your dorm room up."
Already feeling at ease enough to breathe again, Heero let out a small sigh and nodded in appreciation to the braided agent. "Okay," he agreed. "Thank you." A violet eye winked as the corner of Maxwell's mouth curled upward.
More than satisfied with the moves being made, Lady Une muttered, "Good. At least I'll be able to sleep better tonight knowing that neither of you will living alone. As for the weapons training, get in with Anna what you can whenever you can, Heero. And you know to not hesitate in getting a hold of any one of us the second anything feels off should you be on your own."
"Yes, ma'am," Yuy responded. "Thank you for going through the trouble of all of this for me."
The Commander giggled, "Looking after my 'kids' is never any trouble." Lightly patting her flat stomach, she smiled, "This one is going to hate how protective I am as they grow up, but they'll have to get used to it." Her agents snickered.
Clapping her hands together, Middie barked out, "Now, back to work, all of you. We have a lot on our plate to deal with and the sooner we sift through it the better."
Anna wrapped a strand of hair around her finger as she informed nervously, "Uh, yea, about that... There's something you really need to hear in my office. Sooner would be better than later for this."
A flash of concern washed over Middie's face, but she bushed it aside quickly with a firm nod. "Lead the way," she replied, stepping out from behind her desk once more.
When the lot stepped from the room to go their separate ways, Heero hung close to Duo's side as they walked for the work space cluster. "We're all going to be okay... right?" he asked the agent under his breath, glancing over at his lover from the corner of his eye.
There was no pause to Maxwell's answering assuredly, "Yea. We're gonna be just fine."
* * * *
Middie had been spending a lot of her evenings in central Milwaukee long after her car had been repaired by Howard and his staff. With Treize back in Washington, she had the room and time needed to get her feelers out on the braided boy that had captivated her from the first time she'd laid eyes on him.
Keeping within a few blocks of the teenager at all times, the Commander tracked his moves and came to piece together a picture of who this Duo Maxwell was.
For one, there was very little available by means of public records of his background, spare for a long trail of foster homes that he had been shuffled through until he was eighteen. He had graduated through the public school system with good grades and a high regard from his teachers.
None of those things were particularly anything that Lady Une cared about when deciding if she wanted to enlist someone onto her new team.
No, she was far more concerned with the character of her prospect... what made them tick and what separated them from the pack of society that made them so very unique. Those were the things that would make them an asset as a Preventer.
At the end of the week, Howard handed over an envelope of the week's earnings and tips spread out amongst the youngest members of his staff. Most of those late teens went out and splurged on themselves or partied together, as most boys their age typically would...
...Except for Duo.
No, he would go out to one of the nearby diners to have a hearty meal. That meal, Middie guessed, was one of the few decent helpings of food he would normally get to enjoy by the way he never left more than a few crumbs on his plate by the time he was finished. And he always left the waitress a generous tip before he left.
From there, the braided youth hit the streets of Milwaukee. His route always changed up, but his actions were always the same. He knew everyone wherever he went, whether they were amongst the homeless living in cardboard boxes or living in the rundown apartments. And he took the time to catch up with all of them.
But on Friday, he Maxwell deviated from making his rounds right after dinner. Instead, he went to a nearby store and spent nearly half of his week's earnings on blankets, food, diapers, baby formula and other items.
Intrigued, especially with the baby items, Lady Une hung back several yards as she followed Duo when made his rounds from there. Along all of the stops he had taken before, he saw the same faces that smiled in greeting him. Several things from the grocery bag were given in exchange for other items that one couldn't just find in a local store in what looked to be a trade of services.
What one needed, they gave something that they could provide in return for another person on the teenager's run. One young mother along the course had tears in her eyes when he came with the baby goods and kissed his cheek before she handed over a stack of hand-woven blankets that were later disbursed amongst the people living on the streets.
Moved beyond words over what she was witnessing, the Commander wiped a stray tear when at the end of all of his travels, not a single thing remained for him... and yet he had a wide smile of satisfaction. In the middle of the park that was his last stop, he tossed the empty plastic bags and wiped his hands in a pleased gesture.
By the time he reached the alley that would lead him to his tiny apartment, Lady Une was more than convinced that her gut instinct to enlist him had been right. And with it, she made her move by coming to a stop by a street lamp, calling, "You're one of the most resourceful people I've ever met."
Frowning deeply, the all too thin boy stuffed the box of cigarettes he'd managed to swipe off a passerby earlier into the folds of his flimsy coat and spun on his heels to face who had spoken up. He blinked in surprise when the Commander emerged from the darkness of the alley to stand beneath the beam of a streetlamp.
Fast to calm the teenager when she picked up on the fight-or-flight he was suppressing, Middie commented, "It'd be a shame for skills like yours to go to waste out here." Tilting her head, she smiled, "My name's Lady Une and I'd like to make a proposition to you."
Realization filled the growing violet eyes watching her. "Wait... you're the Senator's wife," he acknowledged aloud. Humming an affirmative, Une nodded. "How long have you been following me?" Maxwell asked.
"Long enough to know my instincts about you were right," Middie answered. Her grin growing, she inquired, "Mind if I follow you to your home so we can talk privately?"
Of course, she knew that he wasn't about to turn down such a request from the wife of a Senator.
Minutes later, the Commander was ushered into a dive of an apartment on the outskirts of the city. It was as basic as an arrangement could get- one bedroom, a tiny bath and an even smaller kitchen. Ducking his braided head as he followed her to the rundown furniture of the living room, Duo shrugged. "It's not much, but it's cozy enough," he mumbled.
Though it was easily the shabbiest place she had set foot into for quite some time, Lady Une smiled encouragingly, "It's more than fine." Lowering herself onto the outdated couch, she took the time to note that the entire apartment was neat as a pin... proof that her prospect took enough pride in what he called his home to take care of it.
"Can I, uh, get you something to drink?" Maxwell offered, rubbing the back of his neck anxiously. "I've got tea and some other options in the fridge."
Raising a hand, the young woman assured, "No need, dear. I appreciate the hospitality, but I would much rather get to the point of why I've been watching you."
At that, Duo sank onto the recliner beside the sofa and said in a rush, "Look, I don't swipe smokes or things like that too often, but I have someone who knows someone who can't afford their own and I'm not of age to get them at the store yet. Besides that, the guy I took them from lives high on the hill-"
Middie giggled, "Relax. I'm not about to turn you in for any of that. I wanted to see you because, as I mentioned before, I have a proposition for you."
Hesitant at first, the teenager swallowed hard and the tension in his body edged away ever so slightly. "Folding her hands in her lap, Une informed, "I've been compiling a new team of federal agents. A team of young and talented people who are going to give the good 'ole clubs a run for their money. And I have one position left that I am looking to fill with someone of your skills and an ingrained disposition to look out for others."
Dumbfounded, Maxwell's jaw fell open. Shaking his head, he laughed, "Hold on a sec. You don't know me from Adam aside from following me around for however long now and you're offering me a job as a federal agent without any criteria on my part?"
"That's right," the Senator's wife nodded firmly. "I have a way of knowing what I'm looking for when it comes to this team and you more than fit the bill." Gesturing to the living space, she stated, "No offense to your current situation, but someone like you should be doing so much better than this. And not only would you be getting a nice payroll from the government, but you'd be doing what comes natural in taking care of those who can't take care of themselves."
She unfolded her hands to extend one, declaring, "I'm not one to waste a lot of time when I'm after something, so this is a one-time deal that you can accept or turn down as you wish. My suggestion would be that you take it."
Duo stared at her hand for a few breaths. Then, the corner of his mouth curled up in a lop-sided smirk. "Sure. What the hell?" he sniggered as he shared a firm handshake with her.
And with that, the Preventers were officially established.
* * * *
"So, how many more of these trips do you have to make today?"
"Only two more. Short hops, so I'll be able to enjoy a few waking hours in my last stop at San Antonio."
Middie readjusted the earphones on her head as she listened in on the last conversation that took place between the pilot and co-pilot of the doomed flight from Washington. Perched on the edge of her desk, Anna chewed on the inside of her cheek in anxious wait for her Commander's assessment of what she already knew was on the recording.
Standing by a few feet from her, Wufei had already had finished his own listening and waited patiently to discuss what it all meant with his girlfriend.
"I'll be seeing the sunset in California tonight by the time I touchdown at the end of my shift-"
The sentiment was abruptly cut off by the brief buzz of what sounded like radio static one would hear when adjusting between stations... then there was complete silence.
Frowning deeply, Une pressed the ear buds against her head and strained her hearing for what she was missing. "What happened?" she asked when she looked to the redhead in genuine confusion. "The connection just cut out, but that can't be it."
Chang nodded to Downs, " That's my thought, too. There should have been a warning alarm or some sort of signal to tell them something was wrong."
Anna shook her head, "That's just the thing... that *is* it. I went through every sensor that was recovered from the black box and nothing came up to even hint at where the source of the explosion was. There was no warning because whatever caused the explosion went off so fast there was no time for a warning or indicator of any sort that there was a problem at all. They were there one second and the next they weren't."
Slowly walking over to the map hanging on the opposite wall, she held her arms out to the wide span of black 'X' markings and notes of what had been discovered there. "I can't think of a single damned thing out there that can blow that fast and cause this incredible of a trajectory. It only backs up my theory that the Gundanium was created to protect whoever intends on using this weapon on a larger scale."
Tapping the wide, red circle she had drawn as the place where the flight was estimated to have exploded, the weapons expert faced her supervisors and declared, "This was just a test. A prototype. They have more where it came from and now they know it works. We have to hope to hell we figure out the when and where to their primary target because if we don't..."
Unable to finish that train of thought, she gulped and peered back at the map with a look of profound fear.
It was that expression of fright on the normally flippant agent that sent a jolt of terror down Lady Une and Wufei's spines. Staring up at the red ringed blast sight, the Commander breathed, "My God."
* * * *
Heero was never more thankful that he was a young man of few needs than he was later that evening when he and Duo packed up his things in his dorm in less than two hours to fill their cars in one trip.
Driving off campus, the scholar felt the weight he had felt on his chest all day finally lighten to where he could breathe easier. Oh, he imagined that his now shot nerves would have him looking over his shoulder, but at least he felt a great deal safer knowing he wasn't going to be staying alone.
When they arrived at Maxwell's apartment, the unload went smoother and much faster with Yuy opting to worrying about really settling in until the next day. Until he had some time to sleep, he was far too spent physically and mentally for more than having his necessities for the next twenty-four hours at the ready.
Leaning in the doorway of his partner's room as Heero sighed deeply at the end of his being as ready for the next morning as he could be, Duo frowned and closed the distance between them. "You okay?" he asked as he gave the psych major the tight embrace he'd wanted to give him all day.
"As okay as can be expected, I guess," Yuy snorted as he leaned into the agent and returned the tight hug.
With a shrug as he pulled back, Maxwell offered, "Wanna crash in my room?"
There was no need for consideration on the intern's part and he nodded in acceptance.
Minutes later, the pair was curled up under the sheets of the Preventer's bed and sleeping soundly despite everything they had been through that day.