Summary: Three young men with hidden secrets and huge responsibilities. Two more that are equally burdened with the goals they've set for themselves. One headstrong young lady with plans of her own. And two others who find themselves smack in the middle of the action when all these forces come together by chance and luck, and try their new, unexpected alliance against the largest force of all.
Author's Notes: An AU, but set in the Gundam Wing universe, just before the actual series starts. There are Leos, but no Gundams yet. Each scene is put in there for a reason, even if sometimes it seems pointless. And, er, watch out for copious amounts of sap in the last bit. [grimaces] I left a lot open at the end, so don't expect all the loose ends to be tied up.
Pairings: 1x2, established 3x4, 6x13
"Bodyguards my ass!"
"He does have rather unfortunate timing," Quatre murmured, frowning thoughtfully as he absently watched Duo flop around the room – first into a chair, then the window seat, then beside Quatre on his four-poster bed.
"Shit timing," Duo agreed into the silk sheets.
"Why now? We have done nothing for him to suspect us of being more than who we say we are. We have been snobbish, haughty, and useless. Our acting is certainly top-notch. Maybe we overdid it…?"
Quatre considered it. "No," he said at last. "You two did fine, Trowa. I think he's just being paranoid; careful, like the Alliance has been lately."
A muffled groan was Duo's only contribution to the discussion.
"Should we cancel the trip then?"
"No, he already knows of it, he would be suspicious if we cancelled it right after he told us of the… bodyguards."
Duo picked himself up off the bed to start pacing. "The trip itself. That's what he's worried about, enough to hire spies. Either he's worried for Quatre's safety or he's suspicious of him. I suspect the latter."
Quatre and Trowa blinked at each other. It seemed so obvious now that Duo had pointed it out.
"So we can't cancel it. What can we do, then? Certainly not lead them to our bases."
"No. What we can do is plan the first half of the trip like we told him we would, but instead of staying there, we'll just drop by each colony briefly. We'll take that time to befriend them, get their trust; show them what's really happening on the colonies."
Trowa picked up from where Quatre left off. "If we can trust his word that they really are mercenaries and not Alliance dogs, we should have an easier time. Mercenaries aren't biased; they can't be in their line of work. They're open to all possibilities. Alliance soldiers, though, are brainwashed. Yes, Duo?"
The teen in question was brandishing his glare at Quatre, perched innocently on his bed, and Trowa, comfortably seated in a chair facing him. "If you two lovebirds would stop finishing each other's ideas, I'd like to point out that you're effectively suggesting I let two Alliance spies meet our people in their hideouts."
"No, we're suggesting that we show them how colony-born people live. We could bring them to the L1 slums, or just lead them through L2's streets. Maybe show them L3's mercenary children. Your people don't have to be involved at all," Quatre calmly assured his agitated friend.
"Don't have to be involved? They're posing as civilians! The 'colony-born' people you're talking about!"
"Yes, yell out our secrets for the world to hear," Trowa remarked to the air.
Duo glared at him. "I think I liked you better silent." Then that glare became a cheeky grin as he added, "Must be because you're so vocal in bed; all that moaning has loosened your vocal chords."
"Duo!" came the scandalized yelp from Quatre.
Trowa just smiled good-naturedly. "Really, though. Our people act too well for outsiders to tell them apart from civilians, and besides, the civilians are on our side, too. It will be fine."
"You just say that because it's your boyfriend's idea," Duo grumbled, but then sighed and dropped to a cross-legged position, propping his chin on one hand. "So we make friends with them and show them our side of things?"
He sighed again when his two friends nodded. "Fine, then. I don't mind the 'making friends' part – hell, I do that wherever I go – but if anything happens to – "
"Nothing will happen, Duo," Quatre interrupted firmly. "Security before everything. If they really can't be changed, well…" The expression in his eyes was bleak, but hard.
"We kill them."
"Lord Winner, the bodyguards are here."
"Good. Send them in."
As servants silently cleared the table, Lord Winner smiled falsely at the three teens at the table. "Now, boys, I hired the best money can get; you'll be very safe with them. You can trust them with anything."
Right, Duo thought dryly. I bet you'd just love it if we really did.
They all rose from their seats as the door opened and two young men stepped in. Duo cast an assessing eye over them. Both were Asian, one apparently Chinese and the other – Japanese, probably. The Japanese was hanging slightly back, partially hidden from view, so Duo focused on the former.
Determined stern features, almond shaped eyes glittering onyx, and equally raven hair captured in a tight ponytail. Obviously a no-nonsense kind of guy, uptight and strict. His upper body, in only a black tank top, was all corded muscle. Though his legs were hidden in baggy white slacks, Duo was sure he was equally well toned there, too. Interesting, but this was what he had to work with? He'd most likely end up annoying the hell out of the guy. He knew this type – strong, silent, and stuck-up.
Then the Chinese man fell back, and Duo died.
A tiger's predatory grace in every long slim limb and hidden muscle, windblown hair spun of the essence of rain-drunk earth, defined and sculptured and flawless features that begged to be kissed (especially those luscious lips), a delectable ass in skin-tight spandex of all things… and intense eyes that were every colour of blue focused into twin sapphires. Eyes he could drown in.
Eyes that were staring back.
Duo wrenched his own gaze to the side. Quatre was levelling one of his devastatingly sweet and oh-so-naïve smiles at the Chinese man, light blue eyes sparkling innocently/demonically. He looked neat and pampered and slim in his vest-over-shirt, slacks-and-polished-shoes, regulation length angel-blond hair ensemble.
Trowa, next to him, was his antithesis. One coolly staring, clear green eye, a fall of dark brown bangs, and a sombre dark blue and grey outfit made him rather unapproachable. The two of them made a formidable pair – the term 'good cop, bad cop' came to mind – and the Chinese man went up one notch in Duo's estimation for not showing any signs of unease; in fact, he was staring unflinchingly back.
Which didn't say much for himself, since he still couldn't meet that cold blue gaze. He wondered what the other made of him. Sloppy, perhaps, with his long braid and semi-formal folded sleeves. Probably thinks I'm a girl, he thought bitterly. And then he'll be disgusted when he finds out otherwise. Probably he'll think I'm a sissy.
Then he got angry with himself. Why care so much about what some mercenary thinks of me? I will not jeopardize my mission with my rampant hormones! Besides, I just met the guy, and he's likely to be straight!
Not like that's stopped me before…
He realized that the old man was talking. "…my son, Quatre Raberba Winner. These two are his friends, Duo Maxwell and Trowa Barton. They'll be here for the duration of their school vacation, so they'll be in your charge as well, for now. Boys, this is Chang Wufei and Heero Yuy."
Heero Yuy? How… ironic. The late Heero Yuy had been a peacemaker, idol of the colonies, and when he'd been killed it had all gone to hell – or to the Alliance, same thing anyway. This one here, silent and stoic… he was a killer, like his partner. Duo didn't think making friends with either one was going to be easy, not by a long shot, but he wouldn't give up until he did.
"Finally! We're in space!" Duo exclaimed, stretching languidly. "Now I can get out of these stuffy clothes!"
"Are you not already used to them after wearing them in school and in all those functions you surely attend?" Wufei asked with a slightly suspicious frown, turning around as Trowa, expressionless, unbuckled himself and got up from his seat as well.
"I am used to them, but that doesn't mean I'm comfortable in them," Duo retorted without missing a beat. "Me and Trowa, here, we're athletes. Q, now, is the scholarly type, yanno? So he doesn't care about what he wears. For us two, we live off comfortable. Like you, only with better fashion sense."
Heero turned in his seat in time to catch a cocky grin thrown in his partner's direction. Next to Heero, Quatre, in the pilot's seat, was smiling amusedly while his fingers flew over the control panel of his personal ship, setting it on autopilot. Wufei, directly behind Quatre, was glaring at being deflected and insulted by Duo at the same time.
"Your behaviour does not befit your status," Heero interrupted, staring impassively at the braided boy. "You should act with more decorum."
"If you have a problem with me, peasant, go away," Duo said haughtily, hands on hips, but the effect was lost when he grinned widely a second later.
"Humph. Well, I don't have to stand here and let you all abuse me. Come on, Trowa, let's hurry up and change, so we can all get to know each other better! We'll meet in the recreation room, okay? Oh, I can think of so much I want to ask – about school, hobbies, age, favourites and dislikes, deep dark secrets…"
He continued the chatter as he pulled Trowa after him down the ship's corridor; hearing Wufei's groans and Quatre's laugh echoing after them. No reaction from Heero, though. Was the guy some sort of humanized statue?
Duo cut off his flow of words once they were in the guest cabin assigned to him and Trowa (though Trowa usually spent his nights in the master cabin, otherwise known as Quatre's). "That Heero's a piece of work, huh?" he remarked off-handedly as he rummaged through his clothes, picturing outfits in his mind.
"Are you sure you can take him on alone? I know we discussed it, but maybe Quatre and I might have a better chance getting a reaction from him. At least Wufei reacts to your baiting."
"Nah, it's fine," Duo said dismissively as he changed. "I have a plan."
"Oh? What would that be – ah. Right."
He turned around to see Trowa eyeing him. "Should Quatre be jealous?" he chuckled, seeing how the green-eyed boy was staring.
"Duo… we said make friends, not sleep with."
"Aw, come on, Tro!" Duo protested. "I need something to… make him react."
"But with that?"
Duo looked down at himself. Artfully ripped, low-riding black jeans that showed off enticing flashes of skin and a clinging black tank top that bared slender arms and neck. "What's wrong with this? It's not too revealing, and it's comfortable. Besides, nothing can beat Heero's outfit… I mean, tank top and spandex? Kinda leaves little to the imagination."
Trowa sighed. "He might not even be gay, Duo."
Duo winked. "Bi, then. Besides, I look rather girlish, as people always say."
Trowa shook his head. "I don't see how anyone can resist you when you go all-out," he said frankly, "but be careful, Duo. He's a killer, and he's currently the enemy. Don't get too attached."
Duo grinned. "I know; I'll be fine. Strictly business. I still have enough sense to know that."
That green eye remained on him for a few more seconds, before Trowa shook his head and brushed past him to open the door. "Come on," he sighed.
"Right away, sir!" Duo saluted with a cheeky grin and bounded after his friend.
Okay, this is the first part of a completed multi-part, so the updating rate's going to be rather regular and quick. To those readers who're waiting for my other fics to be updated, though, I have to warn you – my updating rate is usually horribly irregular and long in between. Check out my bio for more details, and more fics if you're a new reader. [grins] Yes, I know, shameless self-primping here.
[Ashen Skies][Weep for the lives your wishes never led]