DISCLAIMER: I keep saving my pennies, but I don't own Gundam Wing yet.

WARNINGS: Hints of 6+5, mention of Howard+OFC. After the war, Preventer fic. A bit sad.

SUMMARY: Zechs and Wufei are working together in Preventers, and Zechs doesn't show up for work one morning. (Same Disclaimers and Archives apply as above.)

A/N: An extra scene that I couldn't quite fit into 'Against Better Judgement'. I think it stands well enough on its own.

by D.C. Logan

Wufei pushed his partner's office open with his only available elbow, and shouldered his way through the heavy door. "Coffee, Merquise?"

Empty silence was his only greeting.

"Zechs?" He set the drinks down on the desk's surface and poked though the top three files, but found nothing to indicate that Zechs was off tracking down one of his leads. No note left in either of the usual, he lifted the lamp and checked under its base, or the unusual places either. Wufei dropped the Gundanium-shard paperweight back onto the stack of files it was guarding and picked up the coffees to aid him and provide sustenance in the ongoing search for his partner.

He wasn't in the break room.

He wasn't on the range.

He wasn't answering his vid.

He hadn't told any of the team members where he had gone either.

There was a soft snort from Billings. "Misplaced your partner again, Chang?"

Wufei shot him a disdainful look, but refused to give Billings the benefit of a reply.


"He what?"

The floor coordinator didn't look interested at all in satisfying Wufei's state of rare confusion, but supplied the line again in case it helped the message sink in. "He called in a personal day."

"But he doesn't take personal days."

"Well, he's taking one today."

"Where is he?"

The coordinator looked even less amused, if that were possible. "Misplaced your partner, did you?"

Wufei stalked silently past her, dumping the now-cold coffees in the trash on his way out the door.


"Merquise?" He smacked his hand over the intercom device with unnecessary force. "Dammit, Zechs. If you're in there, answer."

He moved closer to the speaker and thought he heard the slight static of an open channel, so he tried again. "Zechs? It's Chang." He paused for a moment, as that hadn't been what he'd intended to say. The man should damn-well recognize his voice by now.

He switched tactics and thought briefly about a working strategy, fairly certain that his partner was in his apartment. Smiling in a way that would have frightened both of his ex-partners into immediate silence, he deliberately depressed the button again. "Zechs? You have a count of ten to hit the release on the elevator." The slow smile continued to widen. "Or I will start singing."

It only took him counting down to eighty-seven bottles before there was a muttered curse over the tinny little speaker and the elevator access buzzed and turned to green.


He exited the elevator angry and righteous. "Okay Merquise, Stavinsky tried to feed me some nonsense about you taking a personal..."

But that was as far as he got, having just noticed the quiet from of his partner resting slack boned in his favorite chair, a glass of whiskey swinging negligently in his hand. Zechs stared quietly at his partner for a moment, uttered a very soft, "You done yet?," and closed his eyes before resting his head back along the headrest and looking blindly at the ceiling.

Wufei stared at the glass in Zechs' hand and the more than half empty bottle beside it. "You've been drinking."

Zechs rolled his head over to face his partner and cracked a single eye open to squint blearily at him. "Excellent deduction, investigator."

Fueled by irritation, he snapped back uncharacteristically. "It's nine forty-two in the morning, Merquise."

There was a slow nod, made awkward by his position on the chair. "You noticed. Second point for you then." He shifted position slightly and opened his eyes far enough to read Wufei's expression. "What are you doing here, Wufei?"

He noted the use of his given name and set that aside for later review. "You weren't at the office."

Zechs carefully swirled the glass in his hand, feeling the shift of the liquid within. "Received some rather unexpected news last evening." He slumped back in his chair tilted his head at the glass. "Howard's medicine seems to be helping though." He tried a sight nod towards the open signal on the vidscreen, where Howard was draped across a piece of a machine fitting and snoring loudly amid a series of glasses and a few empty bottles. Mercifully enough, the volume had automatically switched to mute-mode.

Wufei had to walk over to take a closer look. "You mean to tell me that you and Howard have been drinking all night?" He pointed at the screen incredulously. "Over the vid connection?"

Zechs raised his head and blinked drowsily at his partner. "More or less, yeah. Though Howard had some help on his end. Here?" He swirled the glass again. "Just me." He gave Wufei an evaluating look that probably didn't last a third as long as Wufei felt that it did. "And now you."

Wufei sat down uneasily on the neighboring couch. "Is this something you can tell me about?" He glanced at the still-active vid. "Or has this something to do with the Sweepers?"

Zechs blinked slowly before responding. "Yes. And yes." He tilted a curious look at his partner. "Is that all you wished to know?"

Wufei tightened his fists in frustration. "No."


He sounded rather surprised, and very drunk, but seemed to be holding onto consciousness. Wufei watched as Zechs shifted slightly in his chair, then automatically corrected his slight overbalance, and he decided that he wasn't leaving without an acceptable answer to this puzzle. It wasn't like Zechs to drink to excess. Not like Zechs at all. He walked over and turned off the useless vid and sat on the edge of the chair across from Zechs, and waited.

He didn't have to hold his silence for very long.

"Karen Stillstar." Zechs tilted a glance at Wufei, checking for any recognition, finding none, then nodding slowly to himself as if expecting that exact response. "She is... was, a doctor of sorts within the Sweeper community." He raised his glass and took a deep swallow with an accompanying wince. "Saved my life. Twice. Put all the pieces back together again." The glass was set on the arm of the chair with complete disregard for the fine leather upholstery. "I owed her, and I didn't get an opportunity to replay that debt." There was a long pause, and Wufei wondered if Zechs was done speaking, but found himself unwilling to break the uncomfortable silence, death being an unfamiliar topic between them. Zechs added as an afterthought, with the heavy weight of consideration behind it, "And she was a good friend."

Wufei processed that; let it settle in for a few minutes and linked together a few more threads. "And Howard?"

Another slow nod. "They were... very close."

Wufei edged around the subject matter, unsure of which was safe versus dangerous territory, and not wanting to trespass on anything painful. "Was..." He left that with a question on the end for Zechs to answer.

"Wrong place, wrong time." Zechs swirled his glass again. "Cabin depressurized." He closed his eyes and leaned back.

Wufei leaned over and gently wrested the glass from Zechs' hand. "Do you need to be awake for anything in the near future? Or can you go to your bed and stay there?"

While Zechs processed that question, his partner collected the bottle and glass and set them safely on the coffee table before turning to face him. "Zechs?"


"Can you make it to bed on your own? Or do you need some help?"

A glimmer of his usual sense of dry humour surfaced briefly. "There's something wrong with this chair?" He yawned deeply and looked up at Wufei. "Blanket?"

"That chair is going to make your back pray for death in the morning, my friend." Wufei stood and rested a hand lightly on Zechs' shoulder, uncertain why he did so at first, but feeling the urge to offer some form of comfort for the man's obvious grief and sense of loss. "Your bed would make more sense than sleeping out here."

Zechs looked to position his missing glass, then shot Wufei a pointed glare. "Moving things on me, are you?"

"You didn't seem capable at the time."

"Point taken."

"I didn't think you drank."

"I don't. Much. Reserve the poison for special occasions: state banquets, weddings, funerals, and impromptu surgical procedures."


Zechs gave him a weak stare, made more watery by the strain it was taking the man to level his considerable length off of the chair and vertical, or at least semi-vertical. He returned the favor of resting his hand on Wufei's shoulder for balance, and then doubled it by adding his other hand and resting his chin heavily on top of Wufei's head. "I'm drunk."

"You are. Very." Wufei couldn't resist a chuckle. The view was closely spectacular, and the surroundings were warm and comforting. He wondered for a moment what type of drunk Zechs was, and for a brief moment, he wondered how far he might press his advantage, and how much might or might not be remembered in the morning. Wufei would give a great deal to simply touch the body he worked next to every day on the force and viewed on occasion on the Preventer showers. It was a stunning body. That it was Zechs' held great appeal to him. The man had interested him for weeks.

He took a chance and held out both hands to gently steady Zechs, holding his chest, smoothing around to his sides and holding steady as his taller partner slowly regained his balance.

"Haven't had many of those."

Wufei looked up and caught Zechs' thoughtful expression looking down at him though the shower of blond hair. "What?"


"Ah." Wufei worried his lower lip as he thought about that, but he didn't let go of his prize.

"Thanks." Zechs shifted, and the moment was broken.

Wufei watched as the man moved back towards the bedroom of the apartment, shuffling slowly and deliberately and placing his feet with care.

Leaving Wufei holding on to nothing but hope.


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