Sandstorm

By Misanagi

Rating: R

Pairings: None yet

Warnings: Angst, violence.

Summary: Years after the war, the world is still wondering about the identities of the mysterious Gundam pilots. Now they have an answer.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing or the characters used in this fic.

Archive:

Feedback: Yes please! misanagi_zzz@hotmail.com

Thanks to Anne, a wonderful beta reader. *hugs* I love you so much!

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Chapter 1

The room was silent. The only noise that could be heard were the rain drops hitting the window and the trees blowing in the wind. It was dark, the big crystal lamp that hung on the ceiling wasn't being used and the only illumination was the few lights coming from the street.

The room was big and elegant. It was painted in beige and all the furniture was made of cedar wood. The carpet was light brown and it covered the room from wall to wall. Beneath the lamp rested a big wooden desk. It was covered with papers and folders that read things like 'transfer of ownership', 'Account closed' and 'I regret to inform that I can no longer perform the position of CEO…' In a corner, above some of the documents and close enough to hit the ground at any moment were two empty bottles of wine. 

A figure was sitting in a big leather chair with his back to the window. His eyes were closed but the uneven breathing was a sign that he was awake. He was wearing a white silk shirt with the first three buttons open and a deep blue tie hung loosely around his neck. An expensive Italian suit jacket lay on the floor near the foot of the chair, completely ignored. In his left hand, he held an empty cup while the right was wrapped around a remote control.

His eyes opened slowly, revealing an aquamarine color and a glassy look. A sigh escaped his lips and the figure leaned back on the chair. "It's almost time," he said, not caring that there was no one around to hear his words.

His fingers lazily pushed a button on the remote control and the wall in front of him parted, revealing the screen that was hidden behind it.

The remote was put aside and the man reached into a drawer and took out another bottle of wine. This one was different than the others; it was older and it had been waiting on that drawer for a long time. The label read 'Casillero del Diablo', the finest Chilean wine, or so his father had told him years before. After the war, it had been the only remaining bottle that he could find and he had been saving it for a special occasion. It seemed that the time had come.

The man left the cup on the table and got a butterfly knife out of another drawer. He used the tip to loosen the cork and then brought the bottle to his lips and used his teeth to take it out. He spit the cork to the trashcan and took a swing of the bottle of wine. All his manners were put aside. At the moment, he didn't care about being the perfect gentleman. 

The screen, that had been showing some landscapes of Earth, glowed red and the words 'News flash' could be clearly seen. It was time.

Sharon Parker, a woman with red hair and brown eyes, appeared on the screen wearing a serious look. "Good evening, everyone. We interrupt this program to give you last minute news. Our news team has found proof that the former CEO of Winner Enterprises and recently retired colony representative, Quatre Raberba Winner, was a Gundam pilot during the wars.

"We don't know if there is a connection between his role in the wars and his sudden and unexpected retirement from the political arena as well as his decision to leave Winner Enterprises under the control of his sisters. This station has also found out that Mr. Winner declared himself bankrupt this morning in a small notary. He stated, and I'm quoting from the notary transcript, 'I have transferred all of my possessions to my sisters and some charities. There is absolutely nothing in my name now. The house I'm living in is also now the property of Sulamita Winner. She is kindly letting me stay there.'  We are still trying to find more information on this story but the news we just delivered was confirmed by certified sources as well as a-"

Quatre turned off the vid and took another swing of the bottle of wine, some of the red liquid escaping from the corner of his lips. He placed the bottle loudly on the desk and closed his eyes while his tongue licked the drops below his lower lip.

His cell phone began to vibrate on top of the desk while the vid phone biped, signaling an incoming call. Quatre ignored them both. He turned the electronic devices off and leaned back on his chair, his eyes still closed.

The bottle of wine found its way to Quatre's mouth again. He smiled bitterly; there was nothing left for him to do but get drunk and celebrate the end of his life.

*   *   *

Relena sighed. She could feel the beginnings of a strong headache coming her way. She resisted the urge to take one hand to her forehead and close her eyes. Instead she just kept a neutral face as she waited for Minister Anilievich to finish his argument.

She despised that man.

Morris Anilievich was a very wealthy person. He was part on one of Earth's most influential families and his name had been associated with the former Romefeller foundation. He had been involved in politics for more than thirty years and had very strict and conservative convictions.

Anilievich had also been one of Quatre Winner's most fervent opponents. He attacked Quatre's social programs, his ideas of investing funds in rebuilding some areas of the colonies as living environments to reduce the homeless numbers and his education programs. But most of all, Anilievich attacked Quatre's age. The older man couldn't stand that a person so young could be in charge of a company as big as Winner Enterprises, be a politician and successful in both fields.

The minister never missed an opportunity to attack Quatre but no matter how many times he tried, all his attempts were futile. Quatre always seem to be one step ahead of him. 

Even after Quatre had resigned from his role as colony representative, Anilievich tried to attack him or the projects he had worked so hard on. Relena wasn't going to allow that. She might not understand why Quatre had resigned and kept some distance from her but that didn't mean that she was going to sit and watch her friend's name get trashed. As a consequence, Anilievich had shifted all of his resentment in her direction. Relena didn't mind. She was smart enough to handle someone like him, but the events of the night before had turned everything again.

After it was publicly announced that Quatre Raberba Winner had been a Gundam pilot, the political representatives had decided to hold a meeting to discuss the news and take an official position towards it. After all, the Gundams had played a vital role in the wars but the pilots had disappeared soon after it. Now, it was time resolve a problem they hadn't needed to face before.

Should the pilots be treated as war veterans, heroes or criminals? They had been terrorists but they had also helped to save Earth. It was a difficult decision and the politicians had been spared from making it for five years but now, the identity of a Gundam pilot had been revealed and the government needed to do something about it.

It had already been decided that there should be a trial to determine the fate of the ex CEO of Winner Enterprises but the issue that they had been discussing for the last three hours was what to do with Quatre in the meantime.

Anilievich was defending the motion to put the Gundam pilot into heavy confinement in "The Pillory", the biggest security prison in the world and the colonies. The facility was thirty stories underground and it was located in the middle of the Negev desert, with nothing around for miles.

"I have to disagree with you, Minister Anilievich," said Relena, as soon as the older man had finished his arguments. "If we put Quatre Winner in prison we will be sentencing him before he has the right to stand trial. We take pride in being a fair society and we have tried to learn from the injustices committed in the past. If we condemn a man before he has the right to be heard, we will be taking a step backwards."

"Vice Foreign Minister Darlian, you have to remember that we are not dealing with a normal case here. Due to the capabilities of this Gundam pilot, we need to take certain security measures. He was a trained terrorist, what guarantee do we have that he won't try to escape again?"

"Should I remind you that Mr. Winner didn't escape?" asked Relena, interrupting Anilievich's speech. "Unless you want to call this very room a hiding place. He was in plain view for five years; he went nowhere."

"No, Miss Darlian, but he did fail to explain that part of his life to us. He hid in plain view but he was hiding, none the less."

"And can you honestly blame him?" Relena turned around and fixed her eyes on all the politicians present in the room. "You all know him. You worked beside him for five years and you are still here, trying to lock him up like he is a common criminal. Quatre Winner is a man of his word and in all the years I've known him I've never seen him run away from a challenge. You should know that, Minister Anilievich.  He beat you in quite a few."

The minister was breathing faster, his fists were clenching and his face was turning red. "I don't know what you are implying with that, little girl, but I refuse to be put in the same level as that… that—"

"You should watch your words, Minister. Remember that you are not entitled to pass judgment on Mr. Winner; a jury will do that, in due time," said Relena, calmly.

"Then what do you propose we should do, Vice Foreign Minister? Let him go free?" asked Anilievich, breathing hard and trying to contain his rage.

"Since this is a special case, as Minister Anilievich has already pointed out, I can't expect you to agree to let Mr. Winner go free. However, I find the solution of a holding compound quite extreme. I think our best option is to keep Mr. Winner under house arrest under the Preventers' surveillance. I know some of you, may think that this isn't secure enough for a Gundam pilot but I ask you to remember that this Gundam pilot used to be your colleague and that someone with his connections and expertise could have vanished months ago if that was what he was planning to do."

There was no more debate after that. The president of the senate called for a voting and half an hour latter, they had reached a solution.

Relena was exhausted and her headache was getting worse. Still, she waited patiently until the votes had been counted and the decision announced. After she heard it, she nodded politely to some people and waited until the session was dismissed. She got up slowly from her chair and exchanged a few words with some other politicians before quickly excusing herself and leaving the room.

The limo was already waiting outside and she climbed into it followed by the shadow who made sure she stayed safe at all times. The door was closed and the car began to move. 

He put his hands on Relena's shoulders and began massaging them. "Thank you," he whispered after a while.

"Heero," she said as she closed her eyes and tried to relax. "He is my friend too. You don't need to thank me."

Relena could tell she was falling asleep. The movement of the car and Heero's hands had managed to relax her. She took a deep breath and unconsciously rested her head on Heero's chest. It had been a long morning but it had all been worth it.  Quatre wasn't going to jail.

*   *   *

A loud thud was heard as a fist hit the wooden table. "What do you mean, no?" asked Wufei, his eyes trained on the woman behind the desk.

"It's too risky," answered Lady Une in an even tone of voice. She understood why Wufei was angry; she was angry herself but she hadn't managed to be a Colonel by nineteen by not being able to handle her emotions. Five years working with Wufei had taught her that he was as temperamental as he was good at his job. She also knew that Wufei was very capable of keeping his temper under control but she was not taking any chances this time. "Quatre was smart enough to understand it, why can't you?"

"Because," said Wufei with a more controlled voice, "he is my friend and I won't let him go through this alone."

Une sighed. She considered Wufei a friend and she had seen what Quatre's sudden decision to cut connections with the Chinese man had done to him. At first no one really had understood why Quatre, who had been a loyal friend through the years, had decided to stop taking their calls and had even changed his personal number so that none of his old friends could contact him directly.  Wufei had been deeply hurt by that, Une could tell, but he had never said one ill word against the blond ex pilot. Chang Wufei was never one to pass judgment without knowing all the facts.

Now, they knew the hidden motives behind Quatre's strange behavior. Une was already beating herself for not being able to prevent the news bulletin that had told of Quatre's role during the war.  The blond strategist had obviously seen it coming. He had been clever enough to isolate himself from his fellow pilots so that no one would be able to connect them with him. He had resigned from his political post and handed Winner Enterprises to his sisters so that the cause he was fighting for and the family business wouldn't pay for his actions. He had transferred everything he owned into other people's hands so that the government wouldn't be able to confiscate it. Basically, he had gotten rid of everything that mattered to him to be sure that he was the only one who would suffer the consequences.

"He won't be alone, Wufei. Quatre will always have people backing him up."

"I know that," he replied, his voice completely calm now. "But I want to be one of those people too."

Une stared at Wufei; he didn't look that well. After the news bulletin, Wufei had arrived at the Preventers' Headquarters, demanding an explanation. He had wanted to know why nobody had told him about the fact that someone was trying to find information about the Gundam pilots and why they hadn't been able to prevent the information leak. He had spend the night at the office, working alongside with Une and Sally, trying to find anything useful about the leak and if they had any more information. Their efforts had been futile.

"You have to sit this one out, Wufei," said Une and handed him a paper from her desk. "I just sent a team of people to surround Quatre's house. They are already there and the perimeter is secure. The street is filled with reporters. It is a good thing that the security in that house was installed by Gundam pilots or they would have already found a way in.  Those reporters can be very persistent."

"And I guess you are going to tell me to stay out of camera view," said Wufei, his eyes still scanning the names on the list.

"We have moved the reporters a few blocks back but it would be safer if you stay away." Une sighed. "I know the rest of the pilots are probably on the way. Relena called and said that she would stop by later today and, of course, Heero is coming with her. I guess Trowa and Duo are going to take a little longer since they are on the colonies. I have to ask you that once you are all here, you refrain from doing something foolish." 

Wufei moved his eyes off the paper for a moment. "What are you trying to imply, Lady? 

Une kept her eyes trained on the man in front of her. "Don't forget that I was also a soldier and I know how you think. I already have had to put one Gundam pilot under house arrest and I don't want to be forced to do the same with the rest of you."

Wufei hadn't moved one bit. He was staring at Une with defiance, his arms crossed on top of his chest. "We'll do what we have to, Lady. Quatre is our friend, our comrade, and we are not going to let him down." The words were delivered with a steady voice, the controlled tone of a soldier who had his mind set on a goal and is not going to give up.

Wufei's eyes lowered back to the paper in his hands, his expression was neutral. "Who is Andrew Livinson?" he finally asked, raising his eyes again and looking at Une from behind the paper.

"He is new, just transferred from the New York base." Une could see in Wufei's face that he didn't approve. It would be only normal that he wouldn't trust just anyone with Quatre's security but Une was in need of people and Livinson came highly recommended so she had used him. "I need him at least tonight, Wufei. He is already there and we don't have enough people now. I'll find someone to replace him tomorrow."

"I don't like people I don't know guarding Quatre."

"Either we use Livinson or we are left with one person short. I'm going to go there personally this afternoon. The men have orders to surround the perimeter but no one is allowed to even try to go into the house. I'll do that as soon as I get there. I want to speak to Quatre myself."

Wufei sighed. "Since I can't be there, I guess he needs the support of someone he knows and trust. And besides," said Wufei, a smug look finding its way on to his face. "Unless I give you specific directions, there is no way you can get pass the security at his place." 

"Is that a challenge, Preventer Chang?" asked Une, raising an eyebrow.

"No, Lady. It's a fact."

*   *   *