Chapter 8
"A Nervous Look"

    "It's the Tallgeese," Une said in her crisp voice, the light flashing on her glasses as she turned from the radar to face the young man who'd come at her summons. "Evidently Zechs Marquise has come to space." Her smile was cold.
    Trowa's expression didn't change as he glanced from his superior to the radar, standing at attention. Nichol stood nearby, scowling slightly.
    "I want you and another pilot to take the Mercurius and the Vayeate and intercept him," Une ordered, hand on her hip as she stared her newest recruit down, looking for any hint of hesitance or wariness on his face. Trowa gazed back, impassive, and she gave a slight nod, evidently satisfied. "Bring him in. I want to talk to this man. If he resists, take him down, but I want him alive. This will be a good chance to test our new suits."
    Nichol stepped forward. "I'll be the other pilot," he stated.
    Une looked towards him, but Trowa interjected smoothly, "Why not let the Gundam pilot take the Vayeate?"
    Une turned her face towards him, arching a thin brow. Nichol glared hotly at him. "Are you insane??" he hissed. "He's a-"
    "Gundam pilot. Exactly," Trowa interrupted calmly, still looking at Une. "He's the one best suited to controlling these suits. Besides, if I'm in the Mercurius, I can take him out if he tries anything funny. But he won't."
    "And why is that?" Une demanded.
    Trowa nodded towards the radar. "He has his own personal score to settle with Zechs. He'll jump at the chance."
    Une tilted her head, considering it. "..Very well," she said at last.
    Nichol gaped at her. "Colonel," he sputtered. "You can't be serious-!"
    "He can be the other pilot," Une said sharply, cutting the other man off. "If he does anything suspicious, destroy the Vayeate if that's what it takes to stop him."
    Trowa saluted. "Hai. I'll leave immediately." He turned on his heel and walked out, ignoring Nichol's protests.
    He strode down the hallways of Barge, every inch the obedient and competent OZ soldier he was posing as. Those that recognized him didn't stop or bother him; they knew he was held in high regard with Colonel Une, and they had seen him in action. It was rumored he'd bested Nichol in sparring. It was best, they muttered among themselves, to just stay out of the mysterious boy's way.
    That suited Trowa just fine.

    He reached the holding cells of the fortress and halted at the last door, gesturing sharply. "Open it," he ordered quietly.
    The guard hesitated, then slid his card in the slot and punched in the code. He stepped back, rubbing at a swollen lip. Fighting among the younger troops was not uncommon, and Trowa ignored the pathetic attempt to hide the fresh cut. He dismissed him with a hard look, and the hapless guard scuttled off with a nervous glance towards the other soldier- and towards the door. Obviously a newbie, Trowa thought with a weary mix of scorn and relief.
    He pushed open the door and stepped into the dim cell, eyes flitting to the side at a faint sound. He closed the door behind himself, waiting for his eyes to adjust.
    "Heero," he said quietly, identifying himself before his partner could attack.
    There was a scuff of tennis shoes against concrete, and he finally made out the boy's figure in the poor light as Wing's pilot rose to his feet, hands still manacled. He gazed at Trowa silently with an intense look that had made grown men cringe, cobalt eyes blazing from behind a fringe of ragged chocolate bangs. There was a tear in his customary tank top that showed a glimpse of washboard abs. Trowa kept his eyes dutifully on Heero's face.
    "What are you doing here?"
    Not exactly the most cheerful greeting, but Trowa hadn't been expecting one. Heero was probably wondering why he was jeopardizing his cover by showing up here. He turned to face his fellow pilot, taking a few steps closer to see him better. "It's Zechs," he said simply. Right to the point.
    Heero took an involuntary step forward, eyes narrowing slightly. "He's here?" he demanded.
    Trowa nodded once. "He's come to space in Tallgeese. No one's quite sure why. We're to go out and detain him."
    Heero's mouth twitched into a frown. "We?"
    "Aa. Une wants to test the Mercurius and the Vayeate, and I convinced her to allow you to be the other pilot. Don't try anything funny though- she expects me to shoot you the moment you resist. I told her you would jump at the chance to face Zechs again." He arched a brow. "I'm assuming I wasn't mistaken?"
    "I won't try to escape in the suit, if that's what you mean," Heero said after a moment's contemplation, his voice hard. He swayed slightly, as if to come closer, then hesitated, eyes flickering towards the telltale red glow by the door.
    Trowa glanced towards it. "Security camera," he said, confirming the boy's suspicions. "After Duo's infamous breakout, the security concerning captured Gundam pilots is understandably tight." A tiny, unamused smile played along the corners of his mouth. "Luckily for me, your current guard is a joke. When I report it to Une, it won't be so simple to get in here without them at my back aiming firepower at you. I'll let you know when the time's right."
    Heero's glare could have melted paint from the walls; he didn't like the insinuation that he would try to break free before the correct time. Trowa shrugged slightly, but didn't apologize. He didn't like apologizing; it made him feel like he was to blame for something, and if there was one thing he hated it was guilt. Destroying Deathscythe had caused that feeling to surge, and he hadn't enjoyed it one bit. He'd thought he'd destroyed that emotion long ago.
    Evidently not.
    "I'll be back to get you in ten minutes," Trowa said, walking towards the door.
    Heero made no response, but Trowa paused, hand hovering by the door. He stared at its reinforced steel surface, wondering if he should even bother to ask...
    Heero noticed his hesitation; Trowa could almost feel him frown. "Nani?"
    Better not to ask. And yet...
    He thought of the door guard's nervous glance, and turned his head slightly to look at Heero out of the corner of his eye. He kept his tone as neutral as his face. "Are they treating you decently?"
    Heero's eyes narrowed in confusion at the unexpected question. "..What do you think?" he asked harshly.
    "I know they roughed you up a little when they first put you in here," Trowa conceded quietly. A freshly split lip, an almost guilty look towards the door.. "That door guard.. just now...."
    Heero's eyes narrowed, his face a mask of cold stone. "I hit him," he said simply, but with an edge to his words. "But he won't report it."
    Trowa stared at him. He caught the word 'why' before it reached his lips and swallowed it. His gaze flickered almost unconsciously towards the rip in his partner's shirt. He didn't need to ask why. Something cold twisted in his stomach, and his voice sounded alien to his own ears- quiet and sharp as a knife. "I'll mention it to Une. It will be on the surveillance cameras." He didn't let Heero get a word in edgewise as the other boy opened his mouth to argue. "The other guards might turn a blind eye- they hate you -but the Colonel won't stand for that."
    Heero's eyes were practically hidden in the shadow of his bangs as he stared steadily at him in silence.
    Trowa turned away abruptly and pulled the door open. He stepped out of the cell and shut the door loudly behind himself.
    He paused there in the corridor, making sure his mask of indifference and competence was safely in place, that he could feel no tightness around his mouth and brow that hinted at the unexpected anger burning in his gut.
    Nothing to get upset about, he chided himself, striding down the hall towards the locker rooms. Heero could take care of himself; the guy probably never even saw the blow coming. Lucky for Heero the guy was a wimp. One violent retaliation had probably been more than enough for a horny but skittish newbie who thought he could get his jollies off on a seemingly defenseless prisoner.
    He blinked, glancing around. He was nowhere near the locker rooms, where his flight suit was hanging. He was a few feet from the security surveillance room.
    He started to turn away, hesitated, sighed internally, then turned again and rapped on the door.
    It opened slightly, and he stared at the man who peered suspiciously at him, hand on his gun. He blinked in bleated recognition and opened the door fully. "Barton."
    "I need you to show me the tape for cell 149 from about fifteen minutes ago," Trowa said curtly, stepping inside. The man retreated before him, thankfully- Trowa was not willing to push himself into another's personal space unless absolutely necessary.
    The man hesitated, then looked over his shoulder at his partner, slouching in a chair in front of dozens of monitors. "Hey, Bill, you hear that?"
    The chubby man looked up in annoyance. "On whose orders?" he demanded. He was fiddling with an unlit cigarette; smoking was prohibited in most quarters.
    His partner was watching Trowa a little warily. They'd seen what had happened and as Trowa had suspected, turned a blind eye. Trowa could see the calculating look to the guard's eye, almost hear his mind whirring as he swiftly thought up a way to cover his ass.
    "Actually, we just saw something funny going on," he said, earning a quick look from his companion. "We were just about to report it. You came just at the right time." He hurried to his seat and began tapping at a keyboard.
    Bill caught on quick, pointing a fat finger at one of the screens. "This is the one," he told Trowa, his face the picture of indignant righteousness. "We were about to report it," he repeated.
    Trowa nodded, taking a step forward and watching the screen calmly as it rewound. "Here it is," the security guard muttered, stopping the tape and pressing play. He leaned back, glancing nervously first at Bill, then at Trowa. Trowa ignored them, eyes on the screen.
    He watched the guard from earlier come into the cell and talk to Heero- there was no audio, so Trowa wasn't sure what he said, as the lights were too dim to read lips. Heero wasn't even looking at him; he stood with his back against the wall, eyes closed as he rested, ignoring the man completely.
    The guard, feeling confident, glanced at the closed door, then swaggered forward and touched Heero's shoulder. Then his face. By now Wing's pilot was rigid, though his eyes remained closed. Evidently deciding he was going to get what he wanted, the guard ran his hand down Heero's torso, then suddenly seized the bottom of the tank top and yanked.
    He'd probably been trying to pull the smaller boy up to him, but Heero was stubborn as a mule. He dug his heels in, and the shirt ripped. Fast as a striking snake, Heero swung his cuffed hands up, and the man stumbled back as the steel bands smashed into his mouth. He staggered a bit, then hurried out of the cell as if fleeing for his life. Heero leaned slowly back against the wall and closed his eyes as if nothing had happened. But the sharp line of his shoulders betrayed his anger and tension to the one man who had grown to know him well in the few months they'd been working together. Outwardly, Trowa's face was composed, eyes uncaring. Inwardly, the cold feeling was twisting in his guts again.
    He straightened abruptly, and eyed the two guards sternly. "I'll report this myself," he said shortly. "I expect a copy of that tape on the Colonel's desk by this afternoon."
    Two heads bobbed in rapid agreement. "Right, sure, of course."
    "It'll be there."
    "Good." Trowa turned and stalked from the room, heading for the locker rooms. Word would spread even before Une brought her firm disciplinary action down on the hapless guard's head. Soon everyone would know not to be so stupid as to pretend things like this weren't happening, much less go through with such an act. As Heero would say...
    Mission accomplished.


    Seated at a small table outside a modest cafe, Duo Maxwell tugged the brim of his cap lower over his eyes and glanced away as the newscaster on the small television in the window wrapped up the latest story. "Kee-rist," he muttered, his free hand nervously crumpling and tearing at his receipt.
    It was all over the news: Mr. Winner, president of Winner Inc, had been killed. Mr. Winner. Quatre's father. Duo sighed to himself, shaking his head regretfully. "Poor Quat," he murmured to himself. "He's gonna take it pretty hard, I'll bet." He rose to his feet, plucking up his empty soda can and tossing it into a nearby wastebin.
    He glanced at his watch, firmly pushing all thoughts of the cheerful blond from his mind. It was a little more difficult than he would have liked. In his head, he kept seeing the sad look in the other boy's eyes as he spoke of his fight with his father when he had decided to pilot his beloved Sandrock.
    He focused stubbornly on his watch. Well, might as well head out. He still had to figure out a way to get to the lunar colony. Heero's news about the new mobile dolls had been disturbing. He had to take out this new threat as soon as possible. Finding a way to get a flight when his face had been plastered on wanted posters all over the colonies was going to be a pain in the ass, but he was confident he'd find a way.
    After all, he was the unbeatable Shinigami, he reminded himself with a devilish grin.
    He scooped up his duffel bag and slung it casually over his shoulder, setting off jauntily for the nearest spaceport, plots of infiltration and destruction on his mind.


    Duo wasn't the only one aware of the existence of the mobile dolls.
    Chang Wufei was also headed for the lunar base, intent of the complete destruction of anything and anyone that got in his way. With typical bull-headedness he took out any resistance he ran across, despite the fact that his Gundam was beginning to show signs that a tune-up was overdue.
    As he took out the last of a small fleet that had been foolish enough to try and intercept him, he gritted his teeth in a savage mix of snarl and smile.
    He would show Heero Yuy it didn't take a Perfect Soldier to complete a near-impossible mission. He would destroy the lunar base and take out the threat of the infamous mobile dolls.
    Or he would fucking die trying.

Author's Notes: Sorry the chapter's so short, but that's cuz of all the stuff that happens in the next one, and I plan on getting it out soon after this one. ^^;
On a side note... Duo makes a convenient interlude. lol And yeah, I don't touch too much on Quatre; I have plenty of time for that later, when he goes nutzoid. o_o; I also have to take liberties with Wufei a lot because there were numerous spans of time in the show when you weren't shown his whereabouts & activities until later. What'd he do in between the major fights? Who knows? But I'm more than happy to make shit up XD kekeke

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
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