Chapter 11: "Tension"
Quatre gave a yelp of surprise and threw himself
away from the bike so hastily he lost his footing on the loose gravel and
fell in an aching heap.
The shot he'd been expecting never came, however.
The man merely advanced quickly, keeping his gun trained steadily on
Quatre while he sent harried glances towards the other people farther down
the lot, making sure no one had noticed the disturbance. Quatre cursed
inwardly as he propped himself up on his elbows and stared blankly up
at his assaulter. They'd wanted to avoid crowds, but by parking so far
away from the other people, he and Trowa had left themselves open to
ambush. At the thought of Trowa, his eyes flicked anxiously towards the
bushes, but his friend was nowhere to be seen.
"What did you do to him?" Quatre demanded.
"Shut up. On your feet." The man made a jerking
motion with his gun, teeth clenched in impatience and nervousness. His
eyes flitted constantly towards the other cars in the lot. "Keep your
hands where I can see 'em."
Quatre stood slowly, wincing as his body complained
sharply. He'd already been sore from the hours riding on the back of a
bike, and now he'd managed to skin his knees and palms. He leveled the
man before him with an offended look, tempered by a good dose of
No suit. It was just a man in a pair of blue jeans
and a stained fishing shirt. He looked like an ordinary man, not the
men in black that had tried to follow Wufei home from the convenience
store just a few nights ago. Quatre's eyes skimmed the man quickly, and
he couldn't hold back a huff of annoyed disbelief.
All this running around, and they'd been outsmarted
by a mugger? Quatre felt both embarrassed and affronted. What
would Trowa say? He felt obligated to make up for it.
The man had most of his attention on the other
people, and didn't have enough time to react when Quatre's arm swung out and
knocked the gun spinning across the gravel.
He recovered quickly, however, and snatched Quatre's
shirt with a snarl when the blond tried to make a move towards the gun.
Quatre found himself grappling with the other man,
previous annoyance quickly overcome by fear. Of the four of them, he
had never been the best at hand-to-hand. It fell to him to be the brains
and the money behind the operation. Pitting himself against a man who
not only weighed twice as much as he did but towered above him was a
fatal mistake. A harsh noise of desperation and fear emitted from behind
his clenched teeth as he struggled to free his wrists from hands that
dwarfed his own.
"Stop squirmin'," the man growled angrily, twisting
his arm painfully. "Gimmie your wallet, you little--"
The man was strong, but unskilled. He didn't think
to drag Quatre up and crush him in his arms to prevent movement, and it
didn't take a genius to recognize an opening when he saw one. Quatre
seized his chance and swung his foot hard, catching the man right
between the legs with a satisfying whumph!
The man's eyes bulged, and his grip on Quatre fell
away immediately. He bent over double, making whimpering noises.
Quatre took a quick step forward and brought his knee up hard into the face
so conveniently lowered. His attacker fell back with a crash and lay
twitching, nose bloodied and hands cupping his genitals.
Breathing hard, Quatre took a quavering step
backwards and almost yelled in fright when a long-fingered hand fell on his
Quatre turned in mingled relief and humiliation to
face his calm-faced partner. Had Trowa seen him almost get pummeled by
something as pathetic as a petty thief? But Trowa's green eyes held
only a faint hint of approval as they swept the man on the ground.
"No, ah... just some.. thief," Quatre panted,
quickly wiping perspiration from his brow and averting his gaze. He rubbed
distractedly at his aching wrists. "I think we should get going,
though, before someone notices..." He trailed off helplessly as Trowa,
frowning, tugged carefully but insistantly at his forearm and inspected his
"He hurt you?" he asked quietly, tone underlaid with
Quatre pulled his hand away, offering an embarrassed
smile. "Oh, no, not really. I'm OK. Really, though, we should get
Trowa's gaze flickered towards the moaning man on
the ground once more, eyes narrowing in what looked suspiciously like
anger on his normally stoic face, but when he looked at Quatre again, his
face was unreadable once more. "Aa."
"Oh-- Heero messaged us," Quatre added, bending over
to retrieve the thief's gun. "They're in Arkenville. They're going to
stay at a hotel tonight so that we can catch a night flight
"Wakatta." Trowa slung a leg over the bike and
reached for his helmet. "Let's go, then."
Wufei's eyes hurt from staring at the road for so
long, and his foot felt dead from pressing down on the accelerator. When
he finally stepped out of the jeep that evening at a half-way decent
hotel, he couldn't resist a big stretch, arms over his head as he winced
slightly. He'd stubbornly insisted on driving all day. Never
Duo shot him an amused look as he clambered out of
the car, but said nothing. Heero came around the car, hefting their bag
of supplies over one shoulder and looking from the manager's office to
Wufei. "I'll get a room. You and Duo..." he hesitated minutely, eyes
flicking briefly downwards before he seemed to realize what he was
doing. "Wait here," he finished shortly, and turned on his heel, striding
towards the manager's office.
Wufei lowered his arms hastily in belated modesty,
feeling his cheeks grow warm. He tugged self-consciously at the bottom
of his shirt to make sure it was covering the stomach he'd unwittingly
exposed in his stretch. Duo's laughing eyes were on him again, but he
ignored the other boy frostily, busying himself with cleaning out the
wrappers and trash Duo had left scattered all over the back seat.
Heero returned a few minutes later with their key,
and they trooped wearily upstairs to the room given to them. It was
another two-bed room, but much more appealing than their last stop.
"Well, it's not exactly five star," Duo drawled as
he tossed his jacket carelessly onto one of the beds, "but I'll admit
it's better than that other dive." He spun around once to take the room
in, eyes searching out windows and vents before he turned to Heero with
a grin. "So! Door guard again?"
"You got the most sleep," Heero pointed out.
"You're first watch."
"Aww man, you suck!" Duo groaned, then hastily tried
to cut Wufei off as the other boy headed determiedly for the
"Back off, Maxwell," Wufei growled, pushing him
aside. "My showers last five minutes. Yours last an hour and use up all
the hot water."
"But I gotta pee!"
"Hold it," Wufei suggested, shutting the door firmly
in Duo's face.
Duo pouted at the unyeilding wood for a moment
before smirking across the room at his partner. "He's a firecracker, ain't
At Heero's blank, patient look, Duo chuckled and
made his way over to the beds. "Hey, look, man, I think we'd better chill
with the whole door guard thing. Did you see the way his hackles went
up at the mention of it? He takes it personally, yanno. Like we're
his jail guards or something. Anything so much as breathes heavy outside
that door, and you an' me will be wide awake anyway. It's prob'ly
better for peace and happiness everywhere-- or at least in the confines of
the jeep --if we forget the guard thing."
Heero frowned, wanting to protest, but he knew Duo
had a point.
"Glad that's settled," Duo said, taking Heero's
silence as an answer. "You 'n' me can bunk in one bed, and 'Fei can have
the other. He doesn't seem like the sharing kind."
Heero gave him a level look. "If you start snoring
or kicking, I'm pushing you off the bed and you can sleep on the
Duo argued hotly about whether or not he snored
until Wufei emerged from the bathroom, rubbing at his hair with a towel,
already wearing his sleeping pants.
Wufei was having difficulty sleeping, despite only
having had a short nap in the early morning. He lay awake, staring at
the door, his back turned towards the other bed as he tried to ignore
Duo's snores. He was picking at his memories of the past few days, going
through conversations and trying to see if there had been any slips of
the tongue. Had Duo said something important that he hadn't caught?
And Heero had been about to say something about his family last night,
he'd just stopped himself.
"They sent me to continue my training with the other
three while they..."
While they what? Scored space looking for Wufei?
Wufei let out a huff of annoyance, gaze traveling
towards the door. At least Heero hadn't insisted on sitting himself in
front of it like an unmoving sentinal this time. They were probably
sure he wouldn't run now that they knew he wanted to go to space.
But a part of him felt frustrated, lying there with
his captives just a few meters away and an unguarded door so close at
hand. The sensible part of him knew that staying with these lunatics
was the surest way to find out where he'd come from. But the stubborn
part of him was telling him to get up and leave, to find his own way to
space. To find a phone and let his mother know he was all right.
He was focusing so intently on the taunting door,
that he didn't notice Heero until the last second.
He turned over sharply as the other boy set a knee
on the bed, his weight disrupting the mattress. Heero hesitated, face
invisible in the dark as he stared at Wufei, waiting for an
"...Duo kicks in his sleep," he finally admitted,
the barest hint of wryness to his tone.
Wufei glanced towards the other bed, where Duo was
twisting about, mumbling in his sleep and giving an occassional kick.
He looked back at Heero, then turned his back on the other boy. After
another moment of hesitation, Heero climbed onto the bed and slid under
the covers, careful to keep a foot of space between the two of
They lay in tense silence while Wufei struggled to
fall asleep. He could tell by Heero's breathing that he wasn't the only
one too restless to sleep. Finally he blew a sigh of aggravation and
rolled onto his back, scowling up at the ceiling.
"And the other two?" he demanded abruptly.
Heero stirred, glancing across at him from where he,
too, was lying on his back. "What?"
"Winner and Barton," Wufei said impatiently, a
little embarrassed at his sudden compulsion to restart their inane
conversation. "Is Quatre as much of a weakling as he looks?"
Heero blinked slowly, then seemed to realize Wufei
had picked up on their earlier subject. He tucked an arm under his head
and gazed up at the ceiling for a moment before responding. "Quatre
couldn't beat any of us in hand-to-hand," he admitted. "He doesn't like
to hurt people." Wufei sneered, and Heero glanced at him sharply.
"That doesn't mean he won't," he added pointedly.
Wufei looked at him sideways, remembering the first
time he'd really gotten suspicious of the blond; finding him standing
over the unconscious forms of the men in black, umbrella held
competently in hand.
"He isn't physically strong like the rest of us,"
Heero continued, lidded eyes back on the ceiling. "He's better with a
weapon." Wufei's eyes had started to adjust to the dark, and he could
make out the other boy's face now. The rigid lines that held it in stone
were more relaxed, now that he was hidden in darkness, and for once he
looked his age. "He's decent with the staff against regular people,
and he's more than capable with a gun. Give him a rifle and a scope and
he could clear an entire room by himself."
"But he doesn't like hurting people," Wufei
repeated, making it a challenge. His neck was getting sore, so he rolled onto
his side to see Heero easier.
Heero shrugged slightly. "He was trained to be a
killer and a bodyguard, but his family believes in pascifism."
"Then why is he..." Wufei waved a hand vaguely.
"One of you?"
Heero hesitated, obviously deciding how much he
could say. "It was decided before he was born," he admitted at last. "His
family didn't take it seriously. He has 29 older sisters; they never
thought they'd have a son."
Wufei arched a brow at that. "Twenty-nine?" he
repeated. "That explains a lot." He tried to imagine having twenty-nine
Hilde's nagging him twenty four seven and winced sympathetically.
Heero made a strange throaty noise that Wufei
realized belatedly was a chuckle. He turned his head to look at Wufei, the
hint of a dry grin playing at his mouth.
He's much more relaxed in the dark, Wufei found
himself thinking, staring back. When he thinks no one can see him.
"Your turn," Heero said abruptly, and looked back up
at the ceiling as if reading Wufei's thoughts, half his face hidden
once more in shadow.
Wufei blinked, then frowned. "What else is there?"
he demanded. "I already told you about school..."
"That girl, Hilde. She's the only one I ever saw
you with," Heero prompted.
Wufei rolled his eyes. "Friends. Right. Well,
people tend to avoid me for the most part. I kind of encourage it. I
don't have time for nonsense like that. Hilde's just stubborn, that's
Heero snorted in amusement.
"She's known me for years, which is a little
strange," Wufei admitted, staring at his hand on the pillow by his head. "She
wants to join the military and 'fight the good fight', and I disagree
with war in general. But for a girl, she's not so bad. She sticks up
for herself, and she's tougher than most of the bubble-headed ninnies
that go to school."
Wufei made a face. "She's the worst. She may be
more intelligent than most of the other girls, but she has blinders on
when it comes to war. She's a big pascifist. I guess it figures, with
her father being Senator Peacecraft. That family's always preached
about settling differences peacefully and abolishing war. It's a load of
"...Maybe," Heero said quietly.
"Maybe?" Wufei repeated incredulously. "You, of all
people, Yuy, do not strike me as a pascifist. It's inbred into people
to be violent, to fight for what they want. Nothing's ever going to
change that. It's just the way things are."
Heero turned his head again to offer Wufei a grave
look. "Yes," he admitted. "But the people who want peace the most
aren't the senates or the common people, but the soldiers and generals that
have been fighting all their lives."
"...Like you?" Wufei demanded quietly, studying
Heero's face carefully.
"Hn." Heero looked away dismissively, refusing to
Wufei tactfully changed the subject. "What about
"I can't tell you much about him," Heero admitted.
"He keeps to himself. Quatre's closest to him; he could tell you
more." He paused, thinking for a moment. "He doesn't like to let his
emotions control him. Not even anger. You could beat him to a pulp for an
answer to something he doesn't want to talk about, and he'd just take
it. Wouldn't strike back, but he wouldn't say a damn word, either. He
doesn't give his life much more value than you would a cockroach.
He'll step in if it means helping someone else, but I've never seen him
defend himself unless he was told to."
Wufei gave Heero a startled look. "Why?"
Heero shook his head once. "Maybe it's just the way
he is. I don't know. If something happened to him when he was young,
he's never said anything about it. I think it might have been his
teacher's influence, though; he was a lot like that, too. Trowa doesn't
seem to care about much of anything, much less his life. He cares about
Quatre, and about protecting you. If there's anything else, I don't
know about it."
"You almost sound like you're describing yourself,"
Wufei put in, eyes narrowing slightly. "The only thing you seem to
care about is this job. Retrieve the boy, bring him to point B, be his
human shield. Right?"
Heero looked at him, taken off guard by the hard
"And Duo, maybe," Wufei added after a moment. "You
two are close, right? Or do you not believe in friends?"
"Like you do?" Heero shot back, glaring at him now.
"After you were gone, Duo and I grew up together. He's an idiot, but
yes, he's my friend. And from a person who will barely even admit he
has one friend, you have no room to talk."
Wufei bristled, pushing himself up onto an elbow so
that he had height advantage as he glared down at the other boy. "I
had my mother," he growled from behind clenched teeth. "Before you took
that away from me. What have you got? This stupid 'mission', some
"You don't even know what you're talking about,"
Heero snapped back, temper stirring as he sat up fully so that he and
Wufei were practically nose to nose, glaring at each other.
"Probably because you idiots keep dancing around the
truth!" Wufei snarled, a little louder than he'd meant to.
But Heero seemed to have forgotten about the
sleeping boy in the other bed, as well. "It's not our place to tell you
anything," he said harshly. "That's--"
"Someone else's job," Wufei finished caustically.
"Right. Because you're just the human shields, right? The disposable
bodyguards. You're doing this because you were told to. Because
some idiot conned your families into some kind of blood contract. Not
because--" he cut himself off at the last minute, taking in a sharp
breath. His words had come pouring out hot and angry without him knowing
what he was going to say. Whatever the rest of that sentence, he was
suddenly dead certain he didn't want it out in the open air.
"Oh, for god's sake, you two," came Duo's muffled
but aggrieved voice from the other bed, causing them both to start
slightly. "Just shag and get it over with."
He rolled over grumpily and went back to sleep,
while Heero and Wufei stared blankly at each other in the sudden silence
that had fallen over the room.
A silence that was shattered a moment later by the
grenade that came crashing through the window.
Author's Notes: Sorry I haven't updated in awhile; haven't been
able to get to PoB from here.
I'm deployed to the desert, and can't get to most sites online,
including angelfire. whee what fun. I have to send these chapters to Mami
so she can update them. =p
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