Author's Notes: For once I kind of let the fact that Endless Waltz and the Preventers happened make its way through my stubborn brain. I did take some liberties, however. This also takes place a few years after the series, so the boys are about 18 here.
Pretty much the whole original idea of this story was to poke a bit of fun at some of the GW fanfic cliches that have been around for years; especially the whole "the G-boys undercover at school" one. The splashes of OOCness are for comedy purposes only. This is supposed to be somewhat humorous, and for the most part is not to be taken seriously >>;;
Ch. 1 ~ "School's in Session"
When it came down to it, the collective education of those previously known as "Gundam Terrorists" was, in Lady Une's words, "A horrible tragedy that needed a swift and thorough repair for their own good".
Which, it turned out, translated roughly to "We are going to pay for your education, and I don't want to hear any bitching or moaning about it".
Quatre was safe, of course. He'd had the finest education money could buy, and besides, he was far out of her reach, busy with his family's business on L4. Duo, who was not even an official member of the Preventers, got word of the plot and disappeared like smoke on the wind. Considering his abysmal education, Lady Une did not take kindly to his sudden vanishing act.
Heero, of course, agreed without hesitation; more out of a firm sense of duty and his annoying habit of following his superior's orders than any personal desire to learn anything more than weapons tactics. Trowa didn't bother to put up a fuss, either, and Wufei... Well, Wufei might have gotten away scot free, considering his years of study on his home colony, but for reasons unknown to the others, he also agreed with a minimum of resistance.
After assuring herself of their cooperation, Lady Une stood the three young men in her office and spoke to them firmly of what was expected of them. They were to get good grades, stay out of trouble, and get the education previously denied them. They were not, under any circumstances, to give away the fact that they were anything other than young college transfer students.
"You are not Preventers agents while you are inside those walls," Une stressed, eyeing Heero in particular. "And god help me, I know you three are the least sociable or.. 'normal', but this is an opportunity you cannot pass up. You are being given a second chance here. Don't fuck it up." She slid three folders across her desk before leaning back in her chair, watching them keenly as they began flipping through the contents. "I've taken the liberty of setting everything up. The dean is an old friend of the late Senator Darlian, and Miss Relena was able to pull some strings to get the three of you in there without transcripts. You'll be staying in the dorms. I tried to keep you all as close as possible. Chang, you'll be boarding with Yuy. Barton will be just a few doors down." She hesitated, eyeing them dubiously. "Personally the thought of the two of you sharing breathing space so long makes me nervous, but as Barton was the first to request a single room, he's got 'dibs'. I know you've worked missions together and get along all right, but this is different. You'll be sharing a small room for months, and I know you've both got itchy trigger fingers and," here she shot a warning look Wufei's way, "short tempers. Will you two manage not to kill each other? Please?"
Wufei arched a brow at her and continued perusing the folder's contents.
Heero was frowning slightly as he inspected his class schedule. "What about missions?" he asked bluntly.
Une managed to keep from rolling her eyes. Barely. "Yes, yes, there will still be missions available. I would rather you focus all of your attention on your schoolwork, but I would also prefer that you take out any pent-up aggression on the enemy and not your fellow classmates. Weekdays are for studying, period. Weekends and breaks, your ass belongs to me." She handed Trowa a cellphone. "This is not for personal use. It's a secure line. This is how we will contact you if the need arises, and how we will discuss upcoming missions. The schematics, when necessary, will be sent to Yuy's laptop. Your contact will be a young lady by the name of Lesa Notch. She's currently taking night classes, so she should be able to answer any questions about school you might have." She flicked her fingers, indicating the folders. "Everything you need is in there. Your schedule, a map of the school, your room numbers, etcetera. You'll be taking every basic college credit I could cram in. I'm sure you're all pretty rusty on math, literature, and history." She studied Heero's grim countenance for a moment with a slight wince. "And Yuy, this is not a mission. Relax. In fact, it would be nice if the three of you tried to make friends. You know what those are, right? Acquaintances other than those you've met in wartime."
Heero stared at her balefully. "I have friends."
"She means besides Maxwell," Wufei murmured, sounding vaguely amused.
Heero looked at him and frowned, looking as if he wanted to argue, but Une rose to her feet abruptly, getting their attention. "The first order of business is shopping," she declared.
She was met with three equally blank stares.
"Clothes shopping," she specified, scowling at them. "If any one of you owns more than four outfits apiece, I'll be unbelievably shocked. Lesa is going to take you shopping for clothes, and you are not to give her any trouble. And don't you dare get ten different variations of the same outfit. When in doubt, buy a couple pairs of jeans and a wide array of shirts to go with them. And for the last time, because I cannot stress it enough, act normal. Any questions?"
Heero looked back down at his schedule and frowned. "...What's 'economics', and why should it be relevant to me?"
"We're doomed," Wufei intoned.
Three exhausting hours later, Heero, Trowa, and Wufei were the not-so-proud owners of new wardrobes, though they'd had very little actual input into the clothing choices.
Lesa Notch, a fairly new addition to the Preventers team, spent most of the time teasing the boys about their lack of fashion sense and the rest of the time holding up clothes to her unhappy companions as she eyeballed cut and color against their lean bodies. Even if they'd been inclined to, none of the boys managed to get much of a word in edgewise. The nerve-wracking trip was finally drawn to a close when Wufei quite viciously put his foot down about a rather extravagant ruffled shirt that he half suspected had been suggested as a joke.
"Oh, lord," Lesa sighed, exhausted but happy after such a successful shopping spree. She threw herself into the driver's seat of the jeep Une had lent her for the expedition, smiling at her grim-faced companions in the rearview mirror. She was a pretty girl close to their own age, her dark hair cut just above her shoulders. Her almond-shaped eyes were bright and alert, and she was overall a friendly, fun person. Given their history with other females roughly their age, it was a wonder none of them had pulled a gun on her, yet. "Aren't you glad you had me along? You boys can barely do color coordination. Honestly, are you so used to wearing the uniform that you've forgotten how to dress yourselves?"
None of them bothered to point out the fact that they had become accustomed to wearing and rewashing the same outfits over and over during the war. It was not common knowledge what part they had played in the war, and it was highly doubtful Une would have tipped such a low-level agent off as to their former stint as Gundam "terrorists". She pulled a frown when she received no answer, twisting the key in the ignition with a careless little shrug. "Wow, you guys are way too serious. You act like a bunch of old geezers, you know that?"
Wufei scowled at her in the mirror. Heero was staring out of the window, ignoring her. Neither of them seemed inclined to deign her with any commentary, so Trowa gave an internal sigh from the passenger seat and said quietly but formally, "Thank you for your assistance."
"Oh my god." Lesa rolled her eyes, veering into main traffic and narrowly missing an oncoming car. "You sound like a robot. I swear, you three keep this up and you'll never make any friends at school. Oh, hell, maybe some of the girls will think you're 'mysterious' and 'romantic'. I guess you've got that going for you. At least you're all cute. That should help." She grinned impishly.
Trowa's grip tightened marginally on the handle bar over the door as she changed lanes abruptly, cutting off another driver. "Our goal is to learn, not to make friends," he pointed out dispassionately.
"Oh, really?" She took her eyes from the road for an instant-- Trowa rather wished she wouldn't do that --to send him an arch look. "And what are you going to be doing after school hours? Sitting alone in your rooms doing homework and then playing video games? Masturbating for hours and hours?"
The rest of Wufei's diet soda ended up sprayed against the back of her chair, and Lesa spent the rest of the ride home alternately laughing at his prudishness and reminding him to clean the hell out of the car before Une saw what a mess had been made of it.
"You're kidding me." Duo's voice, scratchy and tinny over the satellite phone, held a note of incredulity.
Heero pinned the phone between his shoulder and jaw to free his hands. He was packing his bags for school, folding his newly-acquired clothing with military precision. "I don't 'kid'," he reminded his friend, impatient to get off the phone. "And obviously you knew about this already if you're calling me-- to gloat, I presume."
"What? No, I figured you'd get roped into it no problem," Duo said absently. "I'm just kinda surprised about Wufei. I mean, yeah it's been awhile, but he still had some schooling, didn't he? And I thought he goes out of his way to do the opposite of whatever Une 'asks' him to do."
"He didn't argue about the decision," Heero cut him off. "There is, admittedly, value to a fuller education; unlike you, he seems to have grasped this concept."
"Oh, shut up. You wouldn't have agreed either if she hadn't promised you weekend missions," Duo scoffed. He was quiet for a long moment. Heero didn't have to see him to know he was tugging thoughtfully on his braid. "Maybe he's only going cuz you are."
Heero frowned slightly. "We are often paired up on missions," he agreed reluctantly. "We work well together. It would be easiest to continue being partnered on missions if we have the same schedule."
Heero wasn't paying attention anymore. He could hear loud thumps coming from the hallway. Before he could get tense, there quickly followed a WHAMWHAMTHUMPBANGCRASH and a florid Mandarin curse. "Have to go, Duo," he said abruptly, and hung up on the other boy's protests.
He quickly stacked his remaining shirts in the suitcase and zipped it shut before heading out to the hall. He'd been around Wufei enough to know the difference between his "I just fucked up" curses and his "Some idiot is shooting at me" ones. This was the former.
He opened his door and stepped into the hall, glancing automatically in the direction of the stairs. The Preventer barracks, really more like cheap utalitarian apartments, were housed by those recruits who were unable to afford dwellings off-site: mostly new recruits, those with mouths to feed, or lower-rung employees who didn't make enough to pay for the increasingly rising rent rates in the city. Others, like Wufei and Heero, simply chose to live in the barracks so that they might be closer to headquarters and to avoid the civilian masses. "Paranoid" and "skittish" were two words Une had used to describe them-- under her breath, of course. Heero chose to see it as prudence, and was a bit gratified that Wufei seemed to feel the same way. Showing up to work minutes apart from each other made them easier to pair up in last-minute missions, and as far as Heero was concerned, aside from Duo, Wufei was the easiest to fight back-to-back with.
He spotted his partner standing at the top of the stairs, hands on his hips as he glared venomously down the staircase. Lesa was with him, hands clasped in front of her face as she offered profuse apologies amid stifled helpless giggles.
"I told you to wait, woman," Wufei snapped as Heero made his way over. "I can carry my own luggage; I don't need you scattering my things down three flights of stairs."
"Oh, don't overexaggerate, Wufei," she protested. "Look, I can see most of your socks from here. I'm sure it only went down one flight."
Heero arrived just in time to forestall a verbal explosion by the look on Wufei's face. "Drop something, Chang?" he asked, glancing down the stairwell. Clothes was scattered on the stairs, and below on the second story landing, he glimpsed the corner of a suitcase.
"I did," Lesa admitted, fighting a wry smile. "He went to get his other bag, so I thought I'd help..." She shrugged. "I didn't know it would be so heavy. What on earth did you pack, Wufei? Rocks?"
Wufei was bristling, both at the situation and at the girl's insistance on calling him by his given name. Heero was vaguely amused in spite of himself, though no one would have known by looking at him.
Except Wufei, who had grown accustomed to the many subtle shifts in Heero's otherwise stony facade. "Don't start, Yuy," he growled, thrusting a finger right under the other boy's nose. "I am not in the mood."
Heero offered a mild shrug and left to fetch his own bags.
Lesa's shriek of shock and aggravation reached him as he shut his door behind him. "Oh my GOD! What is this? GUNS?? That's why it was so heavy? YOU CAN'T BRING GUNS TO SCHOOL! Oh my god, is that a grenade..?"
"Get out of my things, woman!"
Heero shut his door firmly and made a mental note to hide his own weapons cache a bit better in case the girl decided to do a search of his bags.
They swung by to pick up Trowa in his small apartment just off-base, where Lesa, with the thoroughness of a bloodhound, dug through his bags and threw out all the weapons he had packed with a firm command to leave them in the trunk of the car. She was good, Heero would give her that much. She'd found every one of his own weapons, save for the handgun he'd prudently stashed in a calf holster, hidden under his pants leg.
"Look, I'm your contact for missions, remember?" Lesa said huffily as she roared down the street towards the highway. "This is how it works: I contact Heero with the details and give you a drop-point. You'll find everything you need for the mission at the address I give you. But you cannot be caught with weapons on school grounds. You'll be expelled immediately, and Une will have to do some pretty fancy footwork to keep you out of jail, though the school will definitely slap criminal charges on you. Une's orders are that if you make bad grades or get in trouble with the school, you'll be put on leave until she deems you worthy to go into the field again. That means no missions. Got it? Geez, you guys are retarded."
"Just well-prepared," the ever unflappable Trowa murmured before Wufei could say anything.
"I'm your preparation! Me!" Lesa sent the boy a sideways scowl. "Look," she continued, her tone a bit softer, "you guys really need this, all right? Not just for the education, but for your pitiful nonexistant social lives. For god's sake, take this second chance that's being given to you and make some friends. Go to parties, do body shots, eat pizza for breakfasat. You know, the fun college stuff."
It all sounded rather unhealthy and alien to Heero, but he chose to keep his mouth shut in the end. In some ways Lesa reminded him of Duo, and he'd learned from experience that the best thing to do with that type of personality was shut the hell up and wait for the storm to pass. Wufei either agreed, or didn't think arguing with the girl was worth his time; he sat stiffly in the back seat next to Heero, staring out at the passing scenery with hooded eyes.
Surprisingly, Trowa seemed more willing to converse with their excitable liason. Though his responses were brief and monosyllibic, Heero was privately a bit puzzled why the most taciturn of his friends was even bothering to act civil towards a person they barely knew.
It wasn't until the conversation turned briefly to work and Lesa mentioned the name of someone Heero was sure Trowa worked with that he realized the two of them knew each other, if only in passing. Perhaps they worked on the same floor. Well, at least if Trowa was keeping her occupied, she wouldn't insist on input from her other two passengers. Tuning them out, Heero turned his thoughts inwards.
Thirty minutes into the drive, he was jolted out of his private musings when Wufei shifted beside him, his knee brushing against Heero's as he turned from his frosty contemplation of the scenery to mutter something under his breath about weapons-- asking if Heero had managed to smuggle any past Lesa's sharp gaze or something. Heero wasn't sure. His brain had fizzled out at the brief contact.
Heero had never been a touchy-feely person, minus hand-to-hand combat and emergency first aid in the field. He and Wufei had touched before, of course-- sparring in the training room, applying bandages, giving one a boost onto higher ground, etcetera. But Wufei, who jealously guarded his own personal bubble that tended to extend several feet around him, had seemed to have relaxed his guard somewhat around Heero in the last few years after so much time spent working together. And while it didn't happen often, it wasn't highly unusual for Wufei to place a hand on his shoulder when going over plans, or to lean in to say something in an undertone to prevent enemies from overhearing. What was unusual-- and a bit disconcerting --was that for the last seven or eight months, these brief moments of contact had the most irritating effect on Heero. His train of thought tended to derail momentarily, his heart would jump ever so slightly, and he would become increasingly aware of the sudden clumsiness he felt in his own body. If Wufei was aware of these symptoms, he was polite enough not to say anything about it, perhaps assuming Heero was still twitchy about having someone so close.
Duo claimed there was an explanation for Heero's odd reactions, though he had never bothered to fill Heero in. He had, however, taken to grinning a lot at the two of them, which was infuritating and puzzling.
"Yes," Heero said belatedly, hoping he was right and that Wufei had asked if he'd managed to sneak a weapon past Lesa.
Wufei had lifted a brow at the pause, but didn't say anything. Seemingly satisfied with Heero's answer, he turned away again and returned his gaze to the window. Heero was both relieved and disappointed, and spent the next twenty minutes wondering why.
Lesa dropped them off in front of the school with a few last-minute warnings and encouragements, then peeled out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell, leaving the three young men standing a bit awkwardly on the sidewalk.
The campus was not very large, but the buildings that compromised the school were impressive, and obviously very old. The rust-colored bricks and white slatted roofs proudly spoke of a lineage from far before the start of the war. There were students milling to and fro, some of them heading towards the main buildings, others wandering off down paths towards the dormitories or the town just off the main campus road. There were several little clumps of students sitting right on the grass, eating, studying, and carrying on lively debates and conversations.
For the first time since Une had clued them in on her oh-so-brilliant idea, Heero began to grasp the enormity of it all. This would not be anything like learning regulations or studying a manual on weapons upkeep. They would actually be interacting with these people every day. The thought sent a small curl of something unexplainable through Heero's gut, though he could not for the life of him put a name to it. It was similar to what he felt when Wufei bumped into him, except worse.
Trowa seemed slightly off-balance as well, if his slightly widened eyes were anything to go off of, but Wufei seemed mostly undaunted by it all. He was already glancing over a map of the school grounds. "Our dorms are this way," he said shortly, gathering his bags and heading off down one of the paths.
He led them unerringly towards a large whitewashed building, more modern than the school itself. The words embossed over the double doors labelled it as the Davidson House. There was a handful of students lounging on the porch, and they watched the three newcomers with mild interest.
Inside the House itself was total pandemonium by Heero's standards. He took three steps inside and came to a halt, all his instincts leaping up and demanding he go for the gun strapped to his leg. Only Wufei's calm kept him from doing so; the other boy was heading for the front desk without batting an eye, and Heero forced himself to follow, Trowa on his heels. As Wufei introduced them to the bored-looking boy at the desk and signed for their rooms, Heero kept glancing around tensely at the crowd. Students were everywhere, talking and shouting and laughing. There was a doorway leading to a lounge just off the main entrance, and a large group of boys were shouting excitedly over some sports game on the wide-screen television.
The boy at the desk handed them their ID cards and directed them to a door on the other side of the room. They had to swipe their cards to get in, and once they passed the threshold, they stepped into even bigger chaos. The first floor of the dormitories was filled with the shouting and loud conversation of young men; from behind closed doors came the skull-vibrating thumps and screams of music, cranked to an unbelievable level. A pair of boys rushed past them, one of them holding a football close to his chest while three other boys thundered after them, hooting. Heero tightened his grip numbingly on the handles of his bags and tried to ignore the gun against his leg that was itching to be drawn.
"Second floor," Wufei said above the noise, already heading up the stairs.
The second floor was almost as bad as the first, but Heero clenched his teeth and forced himself to keep moving. Years of being solitary, or at least surrounded by professionals, made the chaos of the dormitory almost unbearable. Even Wufei's back was tense, and Trowa was dead silent. Wufei finally stopped in front of a door marked 211 and unlocked it with the key he'd been given. Trowa continued on a few doors down to his own room, 214. Without a backwards glance, Wufei shoved the door open and went inside, dumping his bags just inside and striding over to the window to open the shades. Heero closed the door firmly behind him and set his own bags on the nearest bed, taking in the room in a quick sweep.
It was small, but the walls were mercifully thick enough to muffle the noise from the hall. There were two sets of simple furniture: two single beds, two narrow desks, two clothes dressers, two standing lamps. Other than that the room was bare. The carpet was thin and dotted with old stains from spilled drinks and god only knew what else.
"Lovely," Wufei was muttering, glancing around for a door that wasn't there. "So much for privacy."
It took Heero a moment to realize what was missing-- a bathroom. "Communal showers," he guessed.
Wufei sent him a brief glance. "I doubt it's militaristic," he noted with the faintest hint of dry amusement to his tone. "There are probably separate stalls, but I'm willing to bet there's a fight every morning to get a shower with this many people on one floor."
Heero made a mental note to set his alarm an hour earlier than he'd previously intended. He unzipped his bags and began methodically unpacking, claiming the dresser closest to his bed. Wufei followed suit, and the next half hour was spent in comfortable silence as they settled in. Heero glanced towards his partner just in time to see the other boy flip up the back of his shirt and tug a firearm out from where it had been shoved down the back of his pants, the butt of the gun resting against his lower back. Grunting in approval, Heero sat on the bed and unstrapped his own gun, checking the ammo and safety before sliding the weapon under his pillow. Wufei was already stashing his under his mattress, close to the edge so that he could pull it out while lying down.
Duo would have called it paranoia. Heero chose to call it precaution and habit.
Then there was nothing left to do but the inevitable. Drawing out their class schedules and the campus map, they found the building where their first two classes were located and grimly set out to collect Trowa and submerge themselves in the daunting tradition known as college.
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