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The Mothers of Preventers

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Sally and Une had developed a weekly tradition together over their time ruling at Preventers. Sally had gone out for food, and come back with a large pizza, smothered in cheese and pepperoni, and had gone up to Une’s office to share the spoils. Une had been working almost non-stop, and Sally had briefly wondered if she’d even gone home in the past week.

The next week, Une had been the one to show up in the medical unit with fully loaded Philly cheesesteaks and French fries. They ate on a spare bed, talking and making a mess that meant the bedding needed to be stripped and changed before anyone else could use the bed. Sally hadn’t cared, though they’d both agreed that lunch was best eaten in Une’s office, at her small conference table. Only dry cleaning had gotten the grease stains out of Une’s jacket, but she didn’t have the heart to care. It was nice to have someone she could connect with on such a level. Someone who wasn’t scared of who she had been in the war, and someone who wasn’t intimidated by her now, as the Commander of Preventers. Sally had become that person, and Une was eternally grateful.

Thursdays became their designated lunch days. Une made sure to schedule meetings and other things around that lunch time, and Sally was always there, barring any existential emergency. They alternated who picked out food, and had it delivered. Thankfully, they didn’t always do greasy, artery clogging food. Une had found an amazing Greek place that did huge vegetarian gyros, and Sally was fond of a local Thai place that did a killer tofu pad Thai. Thursdays, from 1 PM to 2 PM was their time. Unless the universe was literally ending, and a colony was threatening to crash into Earth, they were both to be left alone, in the sanctity of Une’s office.

With five former Gundam pilots, who had been instrumental in ending the war, that wasn’t always possible.

Thursday, April 13

Une was digging through her container of rice for a piece of pork. She found one and speared it with the plastic fork, eating it with gusto, setting the container down. Sally had just spun up a forkful of lo mein when Une’s desk phone rang. Both heads turned towards it, hair bobbing with the motion. They fixed it with a glare, but it didn’t stop ringing. Une refused to get up. Her secretary knew better, so she allowed it to ring until it clicked over to voicemail. She was about to grab another container when it started ringing again.

“Someone has a death wish today,” she muttered under her breath, glaring through the wall where her secretary was sitting.

Sally chuckled around a mouthful of food, though she sobered when Une’s cell phone went off. This time, Une pulled it from the belt clip and looked at the caller id. She arched a perfectly maintained eyebrow and flipped the screen to show Sally. It was Barton, calling her.

“They know it’s lunch time,” Sally said with another shake of her head, already sensing that this wasn’t going to be good.

Une watched her as she stood up and began snapping lids onto containers and sealing boxes, that foreboding feeling creeping over them. It only intensified when Sally’s phone started ringing, and Barton’s name appeared on her phone. Now they both knew that something was wrong. For one of them to be calling the both of them, there was an issue. They’d lingered too long in their mental concern, and Sally missed the call. But, they didn’t have long to wait, because Une’s phone was ringing again. This time she flicked the caller id to answer it and put her phone to her ear.

“Barton. This had better be good,” she spoke in clipped tones.

She listened, and Sally could almost see the vein beginning to pop on the side of her forehead.

“What do you mean Yuy has been stabbed? How does one of my top agents wind up with a knife in his thigh? On the training line?” She questioned, her tone entirely displeased and bordering on homicidal.

Sally was already walking, heading out of the office with Une at her heels. Une couldn’t stand listening to Trowa talking, and an almost hysterical Duo wailing apologies in the background. They headed for the elevator, Une’s secretary apologizing as they boarded and the doors slid closed, whisking them away. Wufei had cleared the floor of other Preventers, which Une was grateful for. Heero sat on the floor, his back against a wall, Barton’s belt tightened around his upper thigh to staunch the flow.

“At least you left the blade in for me,” Sally practically sang, looking closely at the leg, gently prodding at Heero’s leg after donning a pair of gloves from her inner jacket pocket. She pulled them off after a moment, turning them inside out as she removed them. “Trowa, Wufei, please carry him up to the med floor and get him in a bed. I can’t work on him down here. I don’t know why you didn’t get him up there first, then let one of the other doctors work on him.” She continued, already heading for the elevator, mentally rolling her eyes at the antics of young men.

“Duo refused to let anyone but you touch him,” Wufei chimed in, helping Heero up with a hand.

Once Heero was up, Wufei took one side, and Trowa took the other. Together they managed an awkward swing with their arms for Heero to sit in, and figured out a rhythm to get walking to the elevator. Duo followed with Une, bringing up the rear. Duo was flighty, filled with nervous energy, and Une had to resist the urge to deck him, just so he’d stop wringing his hands and petting his braid.

“Now, Trowa. Tell me what happened,” Une barked, once they were all ensconced in the medical ward, Sally gloved and masked up, already working on removing the blade and assessing the wound.

“We were practicing throwing with knives and other instruments. Heero had gone down his lane to clear off his board, and Wufei and I were standing there talking, and Duo was shouting down the lane at Heero. Something about how he was perfectly accurate. Just like that guy Jason Statham, the Expendables movies. So, Duo decides to show myself and Wufei just how accurate he is and turns his head the other way and hurls the knife. Embeds itself right into Heero’s thigh. We tried to get you through your secretary, but that didn’t work, so I called your cells,” Trowa said, his voice flat and humorless, which only made the retelling even funnier.

“I’m sorry Heero,” Duo sobbed from his side, looking utterly miserable for what he’d done.

Une put her forehead in her hand and sighed. “Duo, you owe me and Sally Chinese food,” she ground out. “As for punishment for this, I want written incident reports from each of you. I also want full reports on range and blade safety. Due tomorrow morning, on my desk.”

Sally laughed as she worked on stitching up the wound on Heero’s thigh, carefully bandaging it when she was finished, and the area was clean. Wufei and Duo both sputtered at the extra work being piled on them, on top of their already heavy workloads.

“You have no one to blame but yourselves. Keep complaining and I’ll make them due tonight for you two,” Une practically growled.

 

Thursday, April 20

It was a week later. A week. Today lunch was those delicious vegetarian gyros, along with a bowl of hummus and veggies between them to split. They’d only just started to eat when Une’s phone went off and she had to bite back a scream of frustration. Two weeks in a row? Really? Snapping the phone off her belt, she looked at the caller id and swiped across to answer it.

“Yes Quatre. What’s wrong?”

Sally fixed her with a pointed look and stopped eating, leaning back in her chair, folding her arms across her chest, blue eyes glaring daggers at the phone in Une’s hand.

“What do you mean an international incident?” She asked with a sigh, dropping her head to the table, reigning in the urge to sigh.

“Well, the delegate from China was speaking with me, and Wufei came up to say something to me, privately. And, I guess the delegate was… Disconcerted with my lack of attention. He said something in Mandarin that I didn’t quite catch all of,” Quatre rattle off, pausing to say something in a hushed tone to someone, his voice too far for Une to make out.

“Quatre?”

“Sorry Commander. I caught part of it, but it was clearly an insult directed at Wufei, for interrupting. Wufei did not appreciate such an under handed comment, and only fast reflexes kept him from landing blows. It took Heero, Trowa, and Rashid to get him under control. This all happened in the middle of the event of course. They’ve got him outside and calmed down. I’ve had to offer substantial business dealings with the delegate to smooth things over. I wanted to inform you immediately so you can work on media coverage asap,” Quatre continued sadly, like he knew just how weighty this kind of information was. How daunting of an endeavor damage control was.

“Thank you Quatre. I’ll make sure to send you a bottle of wine after this is done,” she replied crisply, ending the call and dropping her phone onto the table.

Pushing away from the table, she cast a longing look at her uneaten lunch, and grabbed a piece of celery, swiping it through the hummus and shoving the entire piece into her mouth. Sally gave her an apologetic look and patted her arm as she walked by.

“Chang owes us a god-damned steak dinner. With wine. And a twenty-page report on what happened, and why it won’t ever happen again,” she intoned with a devious grin, which only made Sally laugh all the harder.

 

Thursday, April 27

Sally wondered if anything was going to happen today. Things did happen in threes, and the past two weeks running, they hadn’t been able to enjoy their lunch. Today Sally had gone with a chicken place that was classier than KFC, and a million times less greasy. She was unpacking the sides from the bags while Une was finishing up a phone call. They’d had a busy morning with a small political group coming in for a private tour. No one on the scale of Relena thank god. Just smaller diplomats who’d wanted a chance to see how Preventers operated. Trowa and Heero were finishing up the tour, and Une had slipped away when it was obvious she was no longer needed. They were too enthralled in Trowa and Heero. Marveling how they were so young to be such high-ranking agents, and so knowledgeable of all kinds of things.

Maybe she’d been a bit malicious in her dumping the tail end of it off on them, but those four boys had been nothing but trouble, and they deserved a bit of payback. Even if Trowa and Heero hadn’t done anything directly, yet. Une had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach though, and she’d just sunk herself into her chair, looking at Sally with a nervous smile.

“Got that feeling that you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop?” Sally asked, hands hoovering over the container of chicken.

“Got it in one,” Une admitted with a sigh, drawing the container of mashed potatoes close.

She was just about to crack the seal on the lid when her secretary came bursting into the office like she was being chased by the devil, her face an ashen white. Une resisted the urge to smash something. Or to take out her service weapon and start firing. She needed a vacation from this madhouse.

“I’m sorry Commander, Doctor. But, there’s been a shooting. Agent Barton was hit in the shoulder. Pushing a delegate from the tour out of the way. He’s in medical now,” she stammered, half afraid of Une’s wrath for interrupting, but knowing she’d want to know something as critical as this.

Lunch was forgotten and they both stood up so fast their chairs tipped over backwards. Une’s secretary held the door for them as they both jogged for the elevator, Une doing an amazing job of it in heeled pumps. She kept pace with Sally, which was impressive.

“Fucking boys. Be the death of me,” Sally muttered under her breath as she danced from foot to foot, belatedly wondering if the stairs would have been faster.

“I’m waiting for the day they give me my first grey hair,” Une admitted as they boarded and hit the button for the medical floor.

It was a quick ride, thank the colonies for technology. Sally was brisk, grabbing gloves out of the holder on the wall, eyes steely and dead set on Trowa who sat on one of the beds, a nurse looking at him, while Heero, Duo, and Wufei hoovered. Close enough to talk to their comrade, but far enough that they were out of the way of the technical help. Une walked out at a more sedate pace, her face an impassive mask. She was annoyed that lunch had been ruined, but was thankful that whatever had happened, hadn’t resulted in death.

“What the hell happened?” Sally demanded, fingers removing gauze, inspecting the entry wound with a critical eye.

“Just a paltry assassination attempt,” Trowa replied, shrugging his non-injured shoulder as he looked at Une and Sally from under his fall of hair.

“Paltry, you say?” Une asked, leaning her hip against the next bed, folding her arms across her chest.

“Some guy. He approached the group as they were getting into their cars. He was ranting about some injustice and pulled out a gun. He was half in the street and fired. I shoved the target out of the way. Bad guy is a lousy shot, and he was using a .22,” Trowa replied, sounding cool as a cucumber.

Cool as a cucumber, even as Sally prodded with a pair of forceps, coming out triumphant after a few moments of digging, dropping the slug into a small metal dish. She set about applying gauze and bandages to his shoulder.

“Who the hell uses a .22 to kill someone?” Duo asked with a cackle.

“An amateur,” Wufei shot back.

“Hey Trowa, you know Quatre’s gonna kill you for ruining that tie. Didn’t he say it was Vera Wang?” Duo asked changing the subject, watching with glee when Trowa’s eyes widened, recalling how he’d wound up leaning forward, dripping blood onto his shirt, and the brand-new tie.

“Way to take time off his life, that he just saved by taking one to the shoulder,” Heero quipped, punching Duo in the arm.

Une put her fingers over her face, letting out a rattling sigh. Some days she hated her job with the passion of a million fiery suns.

“Barton, you know you owe myself and Sally lunch, right?”

Trowa merely nodded, and the others, except for Heero were painfully reminded of things they owed both women as well.

Thursday, May 4

“Odds on us getting to eat our lunch today?” Sally asked, holding up a pizza box and a bottle of soda as she used her hip to nudge Une’s office door closed.

“Well since you got something that’s good even cold, we’ll get to eat. At some point,” Une responded with a laugh, closing out what she was working on and heading for the table.

They’d maybe each managed a slice, over carefree conversation. They hadn’t had much alone time the past few weeks, and they needed to unwind. What they really needed was a night in with bad movies and a couple bottles of wine, and copious amounts of snacks. Maybe next weekend. They’d have to arrange it sometime soon. Une was reaching for another slice, and the idea of getting together was on the tip of her tongue when there was an unruly mop of brown hair at the door. Une dropped her pizza and motioned for him to come in, nodding at Sally.

“We should have put money on being able to enjoy a peaceful lunch,” Une said, sounding snarky.

Sally shook her head with a smile. Heero wasn’t showing obvious signs of panic, but there had to be something wrong for him to be coming during their lunch break. Heero was meticulous, and knew how much they enjoyed their routine. As a former soldier, he understood routine.

“There’s been a breach of the network. Your computer is the only one with complete access to the entire system,” he intoned as he dropped into Une’s desk chair, fingers immediately clicking away at the keyboard. “I’ve already called in back up, they’ll be here shortly,” he continued without looking away from the screen.

“Guess I should go and order more pizza,” Sally said with a sigh, standing up and casting a longing look at their lunch.

“Sounds good to me,” Duo chimed as he and Trowa made their way inside. “I want meat lovers pizza!” He moved to one of the walls and plugged in a laptop that looked like Heero’s.

Trowa didn’t say anything, but he grabbed the other outlet and sat on the floor on the other side of Duo, firing it up as well.

“Just invade my office, why don’t you all?” Une asked, a hint of bitterness creeping into her voice.

“We work better as a team, and you know it,” Heero retorted, sparing a quick glance up at her.

Rolling her eyes, she stalked for the office door, just in time to open it for Quatre who sauntered in like he owned the place, Wufei following him with a large briefcase. Quatre had a laptop bag slung over his shoulder, his tie long gone. He doffed his suit jacket and settled into one of the chairs at the table she and Sally had just left. He fired up his own laptop, stealing another outlet and Wufei snapped open the briefcase, revealing a control panel that reminded Une of a satellite relay, mixed with a tracking device.

“Sally’s having pizza delivered. I’ll be wandering around, call if you need me. Yuy, I want my office spotless before you go home. I don’t care what time it is. And you owe me and Sally wine. A case of wine,” she demanded before she stalked out, on the hunt for anyone who was doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.

She wanted to instill the fear of the Commander into them, because her best agents didn’t fear and respect her like the rest of them did.

 

Thursday, May 11

Sally was sitting in her usual chair, sunk down low in it, looking more haggard than she had in any of the previous weeks. She hadn’t even bothered to turn on the main lights, opting for the long desk lamp across the room. Une set the bags of Indian food on the table and sighed. She felt as tired as Sally looked. Had either of them gotten any sleep since Tuesday? She had no idea if she was coming or going.

“I got coffee too,” Une said, setting down a tray with two hot cups, the largest ones they offered.

Sally made grabbing hands at it and yanked it free, holding the cup to her chest like it was a lifeline. Opening the lid, she breathed deeply, inhaling the rich aroma of dark roast with a perfect amount of cream and sugar to satisfy her. Taking a shallow sip, she sighed and sat up a little straighter.

“Fuck, these kids will be the death of us.”

“I wonder if they’re doing it on purpose,” Une replied, removing containers from the bag and laying them out.

“I’ll agree on almost all of them doing it, except Quatre. No one asks to be kidnapped and held for ransom. Even if he’s got the money to fake it, you don’t let your ‘kidnappers’ rough you up like those guys did,” Sally admitted, pulling the pile of naan closer to her so she could take one, then pushing it back into the middle.

Une sat down, her limbs suddenly feeling like lead. It took every ounce of effort she had just to reach for her rice and curry. How the hell had it come to this? That’s right.

Quatre. He was just too popular on both ends. You either loved him for everything he did, or hated him for what he did, or didn’t do. They’d only realized it late in the day. Quatre had been slotted to be in his office all day, working on paperwork. He didn’t have any standing appointments, so he’d given his secretary the day off and shut himself in. Or so they’d thought. With no one there to verify, they didn’t know when he’d been taken. But, when he didn’t turn up for a dinner date with his fellow pilots, they knew something was wrong. That wasn’t Quatre.

WEI’s security cameras had been hacked, and it had taken Heero a few hours to crack them. By the time they’d found when and who, the kidnappers had an eight-hour head start. It had been a whirlwind. All the pilots had gone into a rage, and there had been little Une could do, but track him down. Quatre was one of their own, even if he didn’t work for Preventers all the time. So, it had been all hands-on deck, on a wild goose chase through three states and two other countries. They’d found him, worse for wear, but alive. It had taken a day and a half, but they’d managed. Sally had gone along for the rescue, loaded down with almost anything she could need for on the spot medical care.

Speaking of the devil, there he was. That mop of blonde hair and those blue eyes were impossible to mistake. He smiled at Une as he stood outside the door for a moment. When she acknowledged him, he pushed his way inside with his hip, one arm in a sling, and one side of his face bruised and looking like he’d been through the wringer. On his good arm was a basket with a bottle of something and two glasses, and a large manila envelope tucked inside.

“I’m surprised you were let out of the house, alone,” Une quipped, but with a fond smile on her lips. She’d always had a soft spot for Quatre.

“Duo picked me up, so it’s ok. Since I’m surrounded by Preventers, we all figured it was safe enough for me to be alone in the building,” he said as he set the basket down on the table, just to the side of their lunch.

“So, why are you here, interrupting our lunch hour? You’re the only one who hasn’t. Your kidnapping was over before Thursday,” Sally asked.

“I know. Me and the guys came to an agreement. We’ve dubbed you both the… Moms of Preventers. None of us would be here, or get on without either of you. We’re like the red-headed step children that are always causing trouble,” he laughed out.

Both Une and Sally had to agree, and shared a laugh with him. They could see it. They were always taking care of things, cleaning up after the boys. Looking after them in times of crisis. They could totally be seen as moms, in a metaphorical sense.

“Since I’ve got such disposable income, they decided that I had to shell out. You guys leave tomorrow, on a private flight for St John, in the Virgin Islands. I’ve booked you a private room, right over the water. You’ve got a concierge, and everything you ladies want to do, on my tab. Massage, excursions, dinner, drinks. Whatever you want. You guys deserve it, for taking care of us kids. Cell phones get turned off and left on the jet, and you fly back Sunday night. Happy Mother’s Day. From your five problem children,” Quatre rattled off, flashing them a smile and pushing the basket at them.

With a wave of his good hand, he practically bounced off, gone before either Une or Sally could say anything. Both of them turned to look at one another, each with an arched eyebrow.

“I want to reevaluate my opinion of Quatre being the only one to not sabotage our lunch on purpose,” Sally finally managed to say.

“I second that opinion,” Une agreed.

Still, they weren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. With glee that rivaled children on Christmas morning, they tore into the envelope, looking over the information packets Quatre had included. There was everything. From expected temperatures to details on the dining and excursion options.

“Why don’t we call it a day? Go home, pack, and get some sleep. We can figure this out on the plane,” Une offered.

“Done deal,” Sally shouted, smacking her hand on the table. “It’s not every day my boss tells me to leave work early and go sleep!”

 

They met Friday morning at the airport, each with a suitcase. They were driven around back to the plane, and the flight crew carried their bags up for them. They had so much space and the flight was uneventful. Quiet and filled with as many glasses of champagne as they could want. They picked what they wanted to do, including dinners and both of them agreed on at least one massage. They’d earned it damnit.

 

Quatre hadn’t spared any expense. They were picked up at the airport by a car and driven right to the resort. Check in was blissfully short, and the bellhop carried their luggage to their room. The water was bluer than Quatre’s eyes. Clear down to the ocean floor, and their room was a private cabin on stilts literally on the water, with a glass floor that looked down and out into that expanse of endless blue. It was breathtaking, and neither one of them knew what to do first. They each had a bed, and claimed one.

 

It was blissful. So relaxing, after everything they’d been through the past month. They laid on tables right next to each other, naked under the sheets as a pair of talented masseuses worked out every knot and kink they could find. It was a perfect reward for taking care of such special kids, that neither of them would have traded it in. Even if it was a hassle when it was happening. And if things took a romantic turn, well they could blame it on the locale, and the limitless wine. Who would tell? After all, there was nothing wrong with five boys having pseudo moms who may or may not have been together, and had always been one another’s right-hand women.