"They were going to meet us at three," Quatre said.
"It's twenty after," Wufei said, then suggested they just wait down in the lobby for their two missing friends.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. The four people standing there started forward until a voice warned them of danger, "I wouldn't."
The four young men looked down to see Duo and Ronnie's heads as they came into view at the ledge of the now open elevator doors. "That first step's a doozey," Ronnie said. She and Duo were hanging from footholds at the doors after having climbed out of the elevator, up the shaft's ladder and then over the footholds to the switch that would open the doors on the fifth floor.
Quatre smiled down at them before squatting to be closer to their eye level. "Need a hand?" he asked, clearly trying not to laugh.
"No, Q," Duo said, sarcasm evident, "we like hanging around. Now help us up!"
While Duo and Quatre were busy, Wufei and Trowa had already pulled Ronnie from the shaft. "Thanks," she said, once she was on level ground.
"Hey," Duo exclaimed, "what about me?"
Heero shook his head at Duo's antics. "Baka," he muttered as he reached down to pull his lover up to stand next to him.
"Thanks," Duo told Heero, as he leaned into him. "But the building manager has to die now."
"Duo." Wufei's voice sounded more exasperated than warnful, like he'd had the same conversation with Duo one too many times already.
"Not this time, Wu," Duo said. "Not this time." Duo had had it with the building manager. He didn't know who the owner was, but he was going to find out, and then the poor building manager wouldn't have to be alone when facing his wrath.
"Fine," Wufei relented, given the look on Duo's face, "but someone goes with you to keep you out of trouble."
The other three men nodded in agreement. "You guys are no fun," Duo told them with a slight pout. "Help me, Ronnie," he begged of the only girl standing there.
Ronnie stared at him, her expression clearly one that asked if he was joking. "Duo," she paused, "I'm hungry. I look like I've been...well, climbing through an elevator shaft." She started walking toward the stairs. "Give'em hell, but take the stairs." Pushing the door to the stairwell open she asked, "Lobby, fifteen minutes?"
"Twenty," Heero stated. When Duo began to protest Heero told him that he looked like he'd lost a battle with a spray paint can. Duo huffed but started toward the apartment he shared with Heero. The others smiled and followed after him.
"Come on!" Duo knocked on the door again, "I know you're in there!"
"Maybe all five of us coming was a bad idea," commented Quatre.
Both Quatre and Duo turned to look at the other three men. "Would you three stop that," they said in unison.
Ronnie snickered from her position at the open stairwell door. The ex-pilots turned to look at her, she smiled. "I could hear you from the stairs."
Duo glared at her, but kept knocking on the door until Heero reached up and gently pulled his hand away. "We'll try again later," he told him.
Duo would have argued but his stomach chose that moment to say otherwise. "'kay, food now. Manager, later."
After two days of no one answering the manager's door, Heero decided it was time to use other resources they had at hand. Preventer resources. Like the computer mainframe for a records search. This was exactly how Duo found him at lunch busy on the office computer.
Heero didn't even look up. "Not exactly, but I found the holding company that owns the building. Place to start."
"And that would be?" Duo asked wanting to know so he could exact his pound of flesh from the manager and if he had to do it by going through the holding company, he would.
"Robert Lindley is the attorney who handles all the company's transactions," Heero answered slowly, recognizing the name.
"But… but… Robert Lindley is my attorney," Duo said, shocked. "The name of the holding company, Heero, now." Almost pushing his way into Heero's chair just to see the computer monitor. He had a feeling about this and part of him took glee in the idea that the building might be his; and yet another part was slightly embarrassed because he didn't really know exactly what he owned.
"Helen's Holdings," Heero said quietly, waiting for Duo's reaction having recognized the holding company as one Duo had set up during the war and now used to keep some of his business dealings from prying eyes.
"The building manager is dead," was all Duo said before he turned and stalked out the door.
'Uh-oh' Heero thought, quickly following his lover.
"Where are you going?" Trowa asked, turning to follow them instead of continuing into his office. The look on Duo's face set off warning bells for Trowa.
"Home," Duo said through gritted teeth.
Trowa looked questioningly at Heero for some kind of explanation.
"He owns our building," Heero whispered.
Trowa's visible eyebrow shifted as if he was actually yelling, "What!?!" Trowa nodded his head in Duo's direction. "And, I take it, he didn't know?"
Having heard their conversation, Duo spun around and spat out, "NO. I didn't know. But now I do and things WILL change."
"I see," Trowa signed. Hoping his lover or Wufei would appear. Either would be able to keep Duo calm or there was no doubt that eventually someone would be arrested for murder.
Duo knocked on the door and waited only a moment before forgetting all civility and just began pounding on the door with his fist.
The door was yanked open to reveal a middle-aged man that looked to spend more time on his couch than with getting to know his tenants or the building. "What now?" the manager asked sarcastically saw who it was at his door.
"You're fired!" Duo declared with no preamble.
"You can't fire me. You have no authority." The manager tried to close the door but was unable to as Duo had stepped in the way and leaned on the door frame with Heero right next to him.
"Watch me," Duo dared the hated manager to contradict him. The only phone call Duo had made on the drive between the Preventer Headquarters and home was to his attorney. In clear and precise terms, Duo had told Robert Lindley what he was about to do and what he wanted done. No doubt the esteemed attorney would be making all the other necessary calls to the appropriate managers, legal and colony offices, and anyone else that had to be contacted. Then they would begin a search to find the perfect replacement for the building manager.
"How dare you?"
"Very easily. Make the call. You'll see. Then start packing. You're outta here." Duo was surprisingly relaxed which made the rest of them worry.
Wufei joined the little 'party' and was quickly brought up to date by Trowa as they waited for the manager to return. Moments later Wufei started to laugh. "Looks like you have your first complaint, Duo," he said, trying to contain his laughter.
"Huh, who? What?" Duo poked his head outside of the manager's door to see Quatre and Ronnie approaching.
"Damn elevator." Quatre looked disheveled, not to mention like a chimney sweep.
Ronnie just looked tired. "I'm sick of climbing out that thing. I'm sure you guys find it fun and all, but I really don't."
"Here to complain?" Wufei asked, still smiling.
"Great!" Wufei seemed very happy all of a sudden. He was also backing away from Duo. "Duo just found out he owns the building and has fired the manager. Complain to him."
- end -