A/N: I am so very sorry these have taken so long to get going. My muse was being super difficult and I wrote a bunch of this during Nanowrimo but I had to re-read what I wrote and make sure it made sense. Plus, the story went a different direction than I thought it was going to go so trying to fight against that made it hard to write so I ended up surrendering and just going with it.
Duo explained the plan to Wufei and Quatre.
Quatre frowned. "I don't know, Duo. If we're trying to clear up my reputation should we be doing something as illegal as sneaking into the colonies?"
"Quatre," Wufei said with a sigh, "we understand your concern but I have a passport as does Duo. You live on L4 and nobody with half a brain will claim that you don't. Technically speaking, we will be there legally, we just won't be announcing our arrival or going through normal channels to arrive."
"Yeah and besides that, how did you leave the colonies to begin with?" Duo asked, his tone teasing.
"Actually…I snuck onboard a cargo shuttle," Quatre admitted. "But it was a really stupid idea!" he added quickly. "I got sandwiched between two boxes that shifted during takeoff and it wasn't until the shuttle hit the atmosphere that they shifted enough again for me to free myself. It was sheer luck that I didn't end up with broken ribs or worse."
"That's why I told Iria that we can't just sneak onto a cargo shuttle," Duo said. "You let me handle it, okay? I'll get you up there in one piece."
"Quatre, trust us," Wufei said. "Heero isn't the only one who did a stint with the Preventers after the war. I have some favors I can call in if we need them. Everything will be fine."
"And Colonel Une did say to let her know if I needed backup so if the L4 Preventers pick us up we can call her and I'm sure she'll help us out," Duo said.
Quatre sighed. "Okay, I'll leave it up to you. How is Relena doing?"
Duo shrugged. "I could go see, if you want."
"I'd really like to speak to her myself," Quatre said with a frown. "Do you think the doctor would let me?"
Wufei shook his head. "You're still hooked up to the monitors. It would be easier for Relena to come over here."
"I'll go get her, then," Duo said. "You sit tight; I'll be right back."
Duo went over to Relena's room and knocked. Heero answered, as expected.
"Everything okay?" he asked quietly.
Duo nodded. "Quatre wants to talk to Relena if she's up for it. He wanted to come over but he's still hooked up to a bunch of stuff so…yeah."
Heero nodded. "I'll see if she's up for a visit and bring her over."
"Just in case she doesn't want to, what can I tell Quatre about her?"
"She's doing okay. I think she'll need some more time to be fully up to speed but I've got her scheduled with a psychiatrist so she can have the help she needs."
Duo nodded. "Good. I'll let Quatre know."
They parted and Duo relayed Heero's assessment of Relena to Quatre.
"I'm glad she'll be okay," Quatre said.
Someone knocked on the door and Duo opened it to find Heero with his arm around Relena's shoulders.
"Quatre!" Relena came into the room and rushed over to give the blonde a hug. "Oh, I've been so worried!"
"I've been worried about you, too," Quatre told her. "How are you?"
Relena let Quatre out of the hug. "I'm…getting there. Heero's been…just wonderful. Do you need anything?"
Quatre smiled at her. "No. Duo and Wufei are taking good care of me."
Duo pulled a chair into the room from the hallway for Relena to sit in. "Here you go, Princess. Have a seat."
Relena sat down and reached for Quatre's hand. "Heero said you wanted to talk. Is everything okay?"
"Of course it is," Quatre assured her. "I wanted to know what your plans were once we leave here."
"Well…Heero and I had discussed…moving in together," she admitted with a blush.
Quatre smiled. "I think that's an excellent idea. Will you move into his place or yours?"
"Um…we hadn't really decided yet. I mean, if we go to my place Trina won't have to change preschools or anything but…but if Silver told Fox where I live then…" Relena shuddered.
"I think it would be wise to stay in my home until we can find somewhere new," Heero said placing a hand on Relena's shoulder. "Trina will think of moving as an adventure if we present it correctly. And we can look into finding somewhere near her current preschool if that makes it less stressful for you."
Relena gave him a grateful smile. "If you think that's best then I have no objections."
"We'll figure out the details later," Heero promised.
"What are you going to do, Quatre?" Relena asked.
"I'll be returning home to L4. Iria is there getting things set up for my arrival and I'm sure she'll stay to help me out until I'm back on my feet."
"We'll be goin', too," Duo said, gesturing to Wufei. "Someone's gotta keep Quat out of trouble."
"Yes, but who will keep you out of trouble?" Relena asked with a giggle.
Behind her, Heero smiled. He was glad that she was able to laugh.
"Don't worry, Relena," Quatre told her in a stage whisper, "I'm going to keep him so busy he won't have time to get into trouble."
Iria called later that afternoon with the details for their journey to L4.
"Call me when Quatre is released from the hospital. I will have Amal meet you at the space port. He'll give you instructions from there."
Duo didn't like how vague the instructions were. "If Quatre didn't trust you, I wouldn't go for this," he told her. "So no double-cross, got it?"
"I wouldn't do anything of the sort, Duo! I want Quatre to come home in one piece. You should know that I appreciate how much you care about my little brother's safety."
"Well…alright then. The doctor said Quatre should be free sometime tomorrow so expect my call."
They hung up and Duo related the information to Quatre and Wufei.
"I think that will be acceptable," Wufei said. "We'll stop at Heero's on the way to the space port and pick up Duo's bag. I'll have Sally send some things to L4 immediately but most of it can wait until after we settle in at Quatre's."
"I can have Hilde send the rest of my stuff over," Duo said. "So, Quat, are you ready for us to invade your space?"
Quatre smiled. It had been so long since his friends got along and he was already looking forward to future gatherings.
"Once things settle down, maybe we ought to have a barbecue or something," Quatre suggested. "Heero, Trowa, Relena and Dorothy can all come out and the kids can play in the game room while we lounge out by the pool or something."
"Sure," Duo told him. "As soon as you're better we'll set up a barbecue. But until then you're going to follow the doctor's orders and rest."
Quatre sighed. "And here I thought you were supposed to be the fun one."
"Hey! I am the fun one. But your funeral would not be fun for me. So until the doctor clears you, you're on bed rest."
"Okay…I will behave," Quatre promised. "But only on the condition that once the doctor gives me the all clear you stop babying me. Got it?"
Duo and Wufei shared a look.
Quatre looked between the two of them. "What are you two plotting?"
"Nothing," Duo answered a little too innocently.
Quatre scowled. "I can still fire you, you know."
Wufei chuckled. "We're just messing with you, Quatre. Lighten up."
Quatre looked at Duo. "Are you sure he didn't get a concussion?"
Wufei scowled and Duo laughed.
"Why don't we order a movie and something to eat?" Quatre suggested. "Then you can make sure that I'm not overdoing it."
"I should probably elevate my leg," Wufei said, getting his crutches. "Duo can keep an eye on you tonight. I'll see you tomorrow."
Duo ordered food from the cafeteria and settled in to watch the movie that Quatre had chosen.
"You know, Duo…I really appreciate everything you guys are doing for me."
Duo looked over at Quatre. "You're welcome. I just wish it hadn't had to come to this."
Quatre sighed and nodded. "Me, too."
"Yeah, well now that everything's been cleared up it should be easier to keep in touch. Plus, I don't think that Relena will let any of us disappear again."
The next day, as expected, Quatre was released from the hospital. Relena, Trowa, and Wufei were released as well. Heero's and Trowa's cars had been retrieved the previous evening in anticipation. Heero drove Relena, Trina, Duo, and Quatre back to his house while Trowa took Wufei and Sally rode with Dorothy and TJ. After Trowa and Duo had retrieved their bags from Heero's guest room, everyone said their goodbyes.
"Don't be a stranger," Relena said as she gave Quatre a hug.
"We won't," he promised. "You should all come for a visit after we've had a chance to recover."
Heero nodded. "We'll do that. Let us know when is convenient for you."
"I will. Trowa, you and Dorothy will come as well, won't you?"
Trowa nodded solemnly. "If you want us to come, we will."
Quatre frowned. "Why wouldn't I want you there?"
"Quatre…I haven't been very nice to you…and I'm sorry."
"Water under the bridge, my friend," Quatre said as he patted Trowa on the shoulder. "After everything we've been through I think it would take a lot more than a few harsh words to kill our friendship."
Trowa nodded. He didn't trust his voice. He didn't know why Quatre found it so easy to forgive him but he was grateful. He hadn't been happy that their friendship had gone downhill but he'd really had no one to blame but himself.
"We'd love to visit," Dorothy said, wrapping her arms around Trowa.
Quatre smiled. "Good. We'll see you later, then. Stay in touch and be safe." He looked at Sally. "You'll come soon, too, won't you?"
She smiled. "Of course. Wufei has asked me to pack up his apartment so I'll be bringing his stuff out in a week or so."
"Good. Let me know if you need help."
She promised that she would and gave him a hug goodbye.
Quatre climbed into the cab that Duo had ordered for them and slid to the middle seat. Wufei was already seated to his left and Duo slid into the seat on his right. Duo asked the driver to take them to the space port.
The ride was uneventful, which all three of them were grateful for, and it didn't take long to locate Amal once they arrived at the space port.
"Master Quatre, it is so good to see you," Amal greeted the blonde with a hug.
"You as well, Amal," Quatre replied. "How are things at home?"
Amal sighed. "We will recover in time. You know about Rashid?"
Quatre nodded. "Who else did we lose?"
"Omar, Hamza, and Yasin. Ahmed took a bullet to the shoulder but is doing well. Abdul and Auda are keeping an eye on things at home. We've taken the liberty of beginning reconstruction on the damaged portions of the estate."
"Thank you, Amal. Duo and Wufei will be accompanying us to help with security."
"Yeah," Duo piped up when Amal looked like he was about to protest. "We know you guys are capable and all but we would really like to help out. We respected Rashid, too, and we can't think of a better way to honor his memory."
Wufei, though surprised at Duo's mature response, kept his cool and nodded his agreement.
Amal gave them a grateful smile. "Thank you both. It will be nice to have more help."
"Is something going on that we should be aware of?" Wufei asked.
Amal picked up Wufei's travel bag and motioned for them to follow him. "The media has many theories on Master Quatre's recent activities. I'm afraid that the damage control alone will be quite a task."
"I can handle it," Wufei said. "I've done as much with the Preventers in the past so it should be manageable."
"We will leave it to you, then," Amal said, not disguising his relief. "I am sure that Ahmed will be relieved as well as the task would have fallen to him and he was not looking forward to it."
Quatre chuckled. "I don't blame him. I have promised to try and stay out of trouble at least until things die down a bit."
"I'm sure we'd all appreciate that," Amal told him dryly. "Just…don't let things get too boring," he added with a wink.
The ride to L4 was quiet. Amal had created a hidden suite behind a large stationary crate in the cargo hold and the three former Gundam pilots enjoyed a relaxing flight that Duo was certain rivaled first class on any other transport shuttle. Once they docked, however, things were a different story. The L4 space port was abuzz with reporters.
"What's going on?" Duo asked.
"I'm not sure. Give me a second," Amal answered with a frown. He pulled out his cell phone and called Abdul. After a quick conversation in Arabic, Amal hung up. "It seems that there was a rumor of Master Quatre being sighted boarding a shuttle on L3 so they're waiting for it to dock in order to see if it really is him."
"Huh…right person, wrong shuttle," Duo muttered. "So what do we do?"
"I suggest we dock and wait for the other shuttle to arrive. That way the reporters will see that I'm not on it, get discouraged, and leave. Then we should be able to leave without incident," Quatre said.
Wufei nodded. "I think that is wise. You should put on a disguise, just in case, too."
"Okay. Who wants to dye my hair while we wait?"
Duo grinned. "I'll help ya. This way to the salon, sir."
Wufei rolled his eyes, but he was grinning as Duo and Quatre made their way to the shuttle's bathroom in order to alter the blonde's appearance.
"Tell me, Amal, just what sorts of rumors have been circulating about Quatre?"
"The rumors are probably fairly commonplace for someone in his position. It is rumored that he sleeps with everyone he can coax into his bed and has disappeared in order to escape women who claim to have his children. He is also rumored to be on every type of drug imaginable and throws wild parties, dragging the reputation of the company down with him. The Board Members currently believe that if he isn't stopped, the company will go bankrupt within the month."
Wufei raised an eyebrow. "The finances of the Winner Corporation can't be that bad, can they?"
Amal shook his head. "If they were, there would be much more unrest within the colony as it is funded almost solely by the Winner Corporation."
"We need to find out who is starting these rumors and why. Then we can stop them. Do you have any ideas who it might be?"
Amal nodded. "I believe I know who it is."
A/N: I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!