The year is AC 197. It is two years after Operation Meteor. A few terrorist factions- consisting mainly of old OZ and White Fang members -have risen to disrupt the peace of earth and the colonies in scattered, mainly unorganized intervals. None who oppose them know who leads them. The five boy-soldiers once feared as the most deadly terrorists in the galaxy step up to the plate once more to put a stop to the uprisings once and for all, despite the pleas of Prime Minister Relena for a peaceful alternative to fighting. Previous peaceful negotiations have failed; there is no other choice but to fight back. Some agree with the Gundam Pilots. Most, who follow Relena's ideals passionately, despise the five young men.
The Gundams have disappeared; their whereabouts, or even the knowledge of whether they still exist or not, is a secret known only to Quatre Raberbra Winner. Without their Gundams or the five "mad scientists", and with Relena refusing to back their choice to fight, the five are forced to work through their own channels and use their own motives. Some have joined them in their fight, helping them to get the ammunition and the intel they need. Some are old friends, others new. But for the most part, they are viewed as young terrorists: an enemy to all.
Still they fight, never knowing that everything they think they know about the world is about to change...
"What the FUCK was that??"
Duo jerked his gun side to side, eyes darting about as he tried in frantic vain to find any sign of the attacker. His chest was heaving from his mad dash to make it to his friend's side, and he could feel blood caking-- that was going to be a bitch to clean out of his hair --the side of his face and tickling his jaw. He was beginning to think his ankle had been seriously sprained in the fall, his head hurt, he felt like heaving, and his ears were ringing like church bells.
"Concussion," he muttered to himself, twitching his gun to the left and shooting a wary glance to his right. "That's great. That's just peachy. I hate Mondays."
Nothing moved in the darkness around him; even the night creatures had gone silent from the noise and the violence. Slowly, still gripping his gun like a security blanket, Duo crouched on the ground by his gasping friend-- then thought better of it when his ankle throbbed in protest, and fell to his knees instead with a wince.
The cheerfulness entered his tone easily, a talent borne from years of practice. "Hey, buddy.. hey, don't pass out on me, man. You're heavier than you look, and I ain't lugging you all the way back to the 'Vee."
He got a weak chuckle for his attempt at light-heartedness, and felt a small rush of relief. He looked quickly over his shoulder before reluctantly holstering his gun. Carefully he helped his friend into a sitting position, and cursed under his breath at the lack of light. There was no way for him to tell how bad the other pilot's injuries were.
"Quatre, look at me," Duo said firmly, holding up two fingers in front of the dazed boy's face. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
Quatre blinked slowly, reaching up to touch his head gingerly. "Two," he said carefully. Blue eyes flickered upwards in concern. "I should be the one asking you that, Duo," he said anxiously. "Are you sure you're all right? That fall looked pretty nasty. You probably have a concussion..."
Duo snorted, waving his hand as if the idea was ludicrous. "Me? My head's thicker than gundanium. Just ask Heero." He pulled Quatre to his feet with a grunt, then stood stubbornly in place for a few moments as he waited for the world to stop spinning. Just getting to his friend had been a trial. How the hell was he going to get the both of them back to the HumVee without passing out?
"What happened, man?" Duo mumbled, turning them both in the right direction. He ignored the flames behind them in the distance, the light showing above the treetops.
Quatre's fingers latched onto his back and arm as the two of them stumbled through the woods, supporting each other. "I.. I'm not sure," he admitted. "Something.. attacked me."
"Something?" Duo repeated with an arched brow. The effect was lost in the gloom. "Probably one of the OZies getting freaked out and running through the trees. Did he shoot you? Stab you?"
"I don't think that's it," Quatre argued breathlessly. "It was...hairy."
"Hairy?" Duo made a face as he helped his partner edge around a fallen tree trunk. The mile and a half to the HumVee was beginning to feel like a hundred miles. "Like... some guy with a hairy back?" He thought of the huge shadow he'd seen flitting through the trees right as he'd reached the Arabian, and shuddered inwardly.
"I don't know," Quatre mumbled in exhausted defeat. "Can't we talk about this when we get back? You shouldn't even be walking around if you've got a concussion..."
"I said I was fine, didn't I?" Duo muttered rebelliously. He mulishly fought down the urge to puke that came every time he took a step.
"You always say that," Quatre sighed. But he was smart enough to know to drop it, and they struggled onward in silence.
...Until the shouts and crashes of pursuers reached their ears.
"Shiiit," Duo hissed, fumbling for his gun. His sense of balance decided to take a coffee break at that moment, and he tumbled to the ground, bringing Quatre with him. "Shit!" he said, louder.
"Duo," Quatre gasped, "get up! Are you OK?" The blond gripped his shoulders in a tight grip, glancing nervously back the way they'd come. "Duo, come on, it's just a little further. They're going to catch us."
Duo chuckled darkly, leaning over and putting his head between his knees to keep himself from passing out. "Yeah, and I'm sure they're tickled pink about our little visit to the warehouse. Hang on, I'll be fine in a second."
The muffled shouts were scattered, but getting closer. Quatre pushed Duo's elbow aside and yanked his gun from his holster.
"Where's your gun?" Duo mumbled, feeling suddenly confused and muddled. He looked around blankly.
"I lost it," Quatre said shortly, his voice low as he looked around, face set in the grim mask he'd worn whenever he piloted his beloved Sandrock. His grip on Duo's firearm was firm and steady. "Whatever attacked me knocked it out of my hand when I tried to shoot."
Duo took a few deep breaths, struggling to pull his aching head together and keep the contents of his stomach down. He knew with grim certainty that it was only a matter of time before he passed out. But how long?
That's the million dollar question, is that your final answer, you are the weakest link. Duo let out a small snicker.
"I'm fine." He took another shuddering breath and forced himself to his feet with Quatre's help. His grip on the blond's shoulder was slippery. Blood, he realized a moment later. "You're gonna have a scar," he pointed out helpfully as they started staggering away again.
"Duo, please don't pass out on me," Quatre whispered, glancing continuously over his shoulder as they struggled onward. "I can't carry you with this wound, and even if I could, I wouldn't be able to aim properly."
Duo slid his hand up to grip the back of his friend's neck in a sudden tight grip. "If I pass out, you'd better not try anything stupid like picking up my scrawny ass and dragging me out of here," he growled. "You get yourself out of here. Don't be a fucking hero, Quatre."
Quatre looked at him helplessly for a long moment. "Just walk," he murmured at last.
They got maybe twenty more yards before Duo's legs gave out on him and he collapsed, vomitting. His ears were ringing so loudly he could barely hear his friend's worried voice, and his vision was alarmingly dark. He swayed forward on his hands and knees for a moment before giving up in mild disgust and toppling onto his side.
"Fuckit," he mumbled, closing his eyes in utter exhaustion. The pain in his head was making him want to throw up again. He could feel Quatre tugging frantically at his arm, and tried weakly to pull away. "Jus' go," he insisted irritably. "Quatre.. jus' go."
"Duo!" Quatre's voice was faint and laced with panic. "Duo, please don't-"
Then there was a new voice, a stranger's voice. "They went this way!"
Duo's body reacted instinctively, even if his brain wasn't fully functional. He reached for his gun, found the holster empty- oh yeah, he thought dazedly -then reached out his other hand for the self-destruct button he knew was.... Oh wait. He wasn't in Deathscythe.
Then he fell backwards into unconsciousness in a dizzying rush.
Quatre saw Duo go limp and leapt to his feet. He could see flashlights flickering through the trees, and hesitated, torn. He looked frantically from his unconscious friend to the approaching enemy, his mind racing.
He could make out... six. Six flashlights. Was that too many? He chewed his bottom lip anxiously, his grip flexing on the borrowed handgun in indecision.
Then the first soldier stepped into view, and Quatre didn't hesitate anymore.
They spotted each other at the same time. The soldier was quick- he swung his rifle towards Quatre an instant after catching sight of him. But Quatre was faster.
The terrorist took a bullet to the brain, right between the eyes, and fell like a sack of stones without so much as a whimper.
It was as if Quatre's shot was a signal. Gunfire ripped the air, and he threw himself to the ground with his hands over his head as branches exploded from stray bullets that flew overhead. It took a moment for the screams to register in his brain. The soldiers were screaming.
Which meant they weren't the ones shooting.
A bush rustled behind him. He rolled over partially, death still raining over his head, and aimed half-blindly at the shadowy form stepping up behind him and Duo.
A cry of joyous relief escaped him before he could stop it. "Trowa!"
The tall acrobat didn't spare him a glance. He just continued his slow walk forward, firing into the howling team of OZ soldiers with the small Uzi he preferred to bring on field missions. He didn't stop until the screaming stopped; when it did, he ceased shooting, but didn't lower the weapon as he strode over to check the bodies and ensure himself he'd left none alive.
Quatre closed his eyes in a quick, silent prayer of thankfulness and quickly flicked the safety on Duo's gun, shoving it down the back band of his pants as he crawled over to his friend. Belatedly, with the adrenaline rush slowly ebbing, he noticed the horrible pain in his shoulder.
Duo was still unconscious, and even in the darkness of the forest that late in the evening Quatre could see the other boy was pale. He tried to tug the boy into a sitting position, and winced at the pain the strain caused his wounded shoulder.
Trowa returned then, a near-silent wraith, and by the way he cocked the mini Uzi's muzzle towards the ground, Quatre knew the solemn clown had taken out every man. "I recognized the sound of Duo's gun. What happened?" the taller boy asked in his quiet monotone.
"Here, help me get him up-- he's passed out," Quatre implored, getting to his feet carefully. "I'll tell you on the way back."
Trowa's eyes flicked towards the dark blood stains on Quatre's clothes, and wordlessly he slid the holster of his gun from his shoulder and handed it over to the blond. Before Quatre could protest, he bent and arranged Duo over his back in a fireman's carry, rising to his feet again with a slight grunt at the extra weight.
As Trowa led the way to the HumVee he'd taken, Quatre debriefed him quickly, keeping a sharp eye out for trouble, his finger hovering close to the trigger of the Uzi.
"Something went wrong; the explosion happened too early. I'd say it was a mistake in the timing or something, but Duo knows what he's doing with demolitions. I think it was sabotage. Someone must have found it and tried to dismantle it, which would have set it off."
Trowa nodded in silent agreement; Duo was known to boobytrap his little "presents" in that way.
"We lost the truck we came in in the explosion, and got separated in the commotion." Quatre glanced uneasily over his shoulder, his grip on the gun tightening unconsciously. "Something attacked me out there-- something fast. I didn't get a good look at who or what it was. Duo showed up right afterwards, but he got a bad knock to the head in the explosion."
"Seems like it."
"What about your shoulder?"
"I don't think it's too deep a cut. I'm not losing too much blood." Quatre changed the subject. "Have you heard from Heero and Wufei?"
"Aa." Trowa continued to walk doggedly, his face betraying in no way whether or not Duo's weight was a burden to him. "Heero called in to say they completed their mission about an hour ago."
Quatre stared mournfully at the long chestnut braid dangling over Trowa's shoulder. "I don't know where Duo's safehouse is," he sighed. "I'll have to bring him to mine."
"Iie." Trowa carefully stepped over a rotten log. "We'll go to mine. Catherine can help patch you two up."
Quatre smiled gratefully, but the other boy didn't see it in the darkness. "Arigato."
Heero Yuy stood at the stained kitchen counter in the tiny apartment on L3 he and his partner used occassionally for a safehouse.
With a precision and a speed that would have impressed the Iron Chef himself, he diced up stacks of carrots, onions, and a menagerie of vegetables and meat for the stew he was making. He did not enjoy cooking, but Heero was not one to do something half-assed. It was his turn to cook. If he'd been cooking for just himself, he would have snagged a cup of instant ramen and been done with it. But he'd been feeding two mouths on a regular basis for the past six or seven months, and his partner was not amused at Heero's idea of a "meal". So he'd learned to cook.
He continued to chop at the hapless celery with his right hand, eyes never leaving his task as he reached up with his free hand and snatched a carrot deftly from the air as it began to float by his ear in the direction of the table.
"Leave it," he growled, setting the carrot firmly on the counter.
"You know, Yuy, you don't have to make a three-course meal every time it's your turn to cook," the droll, cultured voice said from the table. "As much as I enjoy your concoctions, one does tend to get hungry waiting for the meal to actually finish."
"Then you cook," Heero snapped without looking over his shoulder.
He heard the quiet little half-sigh that he recognized as his partner's amused/aggravated sound. He ignored it, scooping a handful of celery into the boiling pot and attacking potatoes his housemate had thoughtfully peeled and had waiting for him when he'd come back from his mission with Wufei.
"Winner called on the satellite phone while you were in the shower. He and Maxwell seem to be injured; Maxwell is unconscious. Barton is bringing them to his safehouse for the time being."
Heero paused, his chopping knife upheld as he frowned down at the unoffending potato under his hand. The job had been an easy one. Go in, get any and all incriminating documents and photos they could get their hands on, and decimate the warehouse on the way out. Trowa was to watch the roads as a lookout. Duo had never goofed up on any mission requiring explosions so far as Heero knew. Aside from self-destruction, that is.
Heero pushed his musings aside with a mental shrug and turned to carry the potato to the sink to rinse it off a little. As he did, he could now see the man who had been speaking behind him.
Milliardo Peacecraft was seated at the small two-person table, chin propped on his palm, long legs elegantly crossed. His long platinum hair had been pulled over his shoulder to get it off his neck, and the long locks were trailing on the tabletop. He was playing with the ends idly with his other hand as he watched Heero move about their tiny kitchen with half-lidded eyes, his expression unreadable.
If someone had told Heero two years ago that he would be working with and occassionally living with Zechs Marquise himself in the future, he probably would have shot them. But there was no longer any need for the two of them to be enemies. Rivals, yes. When it came to fighting and the battlefield in general, the two seemed to be locked in a competition borne more out of habit than actual spite or dislike. But Zechs- or Milliardo as he insisted on being called now -was mature, experienced, and tolerable enough for Heero to accept him as a partner. Trowa and Quatre usually paired up as they had at times during the war. Duo had once confided in him, telling him that he suspected there was an underlying romance hidden there that neither of them had acknowledged as of yet. Duo himself... well, he would work with any of them, but more and more lately he took it upon himself to team up with Wufei. He took a sadistic, childlike joy in driving the straight-laced young man insane. Sally Po, who was Wufei's usual partner, seemed to find it pretty irritating as well. When Milliardo had suggested casually that he become Heero's partner after several successful missions together, Heero had relented. Of course, he hadn't thought that a partnership would make the older man think he was entitled to dropping by whenever he damn well pleased. It had irritated Heero for awhile, but after a time he'd simply gotten used to it. It was no longer a surprise to find the fallen prince waiting for him in his safehouse upon returning from a mission, or to have the other man follow him home after a mission together. Heero didn't even think about it anymore.
Strangely enough, it had taken him longer to get used to the new living and working environment than it had taken for him to accept the strange new ability his partner weilded.
"Telekinesis," Sally had called it, her eyes wide with wonder and perhaps a bit of fear. Heero had been standing just to her right, shoulders tense, wary eyes never leaving the thermometer slowly spinning in the air. Milliardo had seemed quite calm about it all as he sat on the examination table, watching Heero's face with a faint look of amusement. "I've heard of it and read about it, but I never really believed it," Sally had continued, reaching out as if to touch the thermometer, then drawing her hand back hastily.
After Operation Meteor, Milliardo had disappeared-- many had thought him dead. Only Noin and Relena seemed to be able to cling to the hope that he was still alive somewhere. When he'd shown up in Relena's driveway a little over a year after the war, he'd been unharmed, but a little out of sorts. Space fever, a momentary coma all alone in the vastness of space, and some memory loss did little to explain his strange new psychic ability. He'd simply had it upon awakening. He'd had plenty of time to practice with his new gift while on his way back to earth, but of course there wasn't much he could use it on up there in the ruined remains of his mobile suit. He'd started flexing his new mental muscle almost the instant he set foot on earth's soil, seeing just how much he could lift in weight and quantity. Not much at first, as it turned out. But he'd gotten stronger. Heero had watched him overturn a tank just two weeks ago with a sudden instinctive thrust of his hand when the vehicle had almost overrun them as they fled a ruined battlefield. Not even Milliardo himself knew if he'd reached his limits yet. Though he tended to get horrible headaches after such wild uses of his power such as the tank incident. He'd ended up passing out for almost six hours.
Yes, there were a lot of things about Miliardo Peacecraft, AKA the Lightning Count, AKA Zechs Marquise, that confused Heero and vastly changed his view on many things. And as if his random, lengthy "visits" and his strange telekenisis weren't enough, there was... that.
That incident two weeks ago, just a day after the tank incident. Heero had been surprised at his own relief when the older man had finally stirred from his unconscious state. Though he would never admit it in a hundred years, Milliardo's shocking display of his power's strength had freaked Heero out just a little. Heero had gone over that day's happenings in his head over and over, and he wasn't sure just who or what to blame: the show of power, the near-death experience, Milliardo's sudden and deep unconsciousness, his confusion and jumpiness over the other man's constant presence... A million factors leapt to mind at will, but in the end, he knew he had no one to blame but himself. Milliardo was older and taller than him, but Heero would always be stronger physically. If he'd really wanted to, he could have thrown the other man across the room. Milliardo wouldn't have used his gift on him because that simply was not the way he was. It would have been.. unfair in the prince's eyes.
Heero could have stopped it.
He didn't know why, and perhaps neither did Milliardo. Heero tried to tell himself that what had happened had happened and that it would never happen again, but unlike most things, he could not push that one subject clear from his thoughts. Kicking Milliardo out and refusing to let him visit was ridiculous and would have proved how much it had confused him, so he'd gone about acting as though nothing had happened. Milliardo wisely followed suit, a thing for which Heero was secretly and deeply grateful for.
Perhaps it was harder to forget because he could not lie to himself. No matter how much he tried to dodge the thoughts and the memories, one truth rang clear in his subconscious: he had enjoyed it. Beforehand he hadn't been thinking too clearly, and he had been somewhat confused. And afterwards had certainly been a mental explosion as he tried to make sense of it all. But the actual act... that hour in that it had occured before Heero had fallen asleep in exhaustion from their efforts...
He had participated willingly enough, and enjoyed it.
Though now he wished it had never occured, if only to spare himself the complete confusion and wariness that hounded his every thought concerning the older man.
"Earth to Yuy."
Heero jerked his eyes from the water running over the potato in his hands to look quickly towards his partner at the dryly amused tone.
Milliardo arched a brow at him, the corner of his lip twitching with a barely-supressed smirk. "Daydreaming, Yuy? How uncharacteristic."
Heero offered him a fleeting scowl and turned off the water, carrying his potato back to the cutting board.
"Would you like me to call Barton and have him let us know Maxwell's status when he comes to?"
Heero picked up his cutting knife. "No." chopchopchopchop "If it's serious, Barton knows my number."
Milliardo had learned quickly the way Heero's mind ticked, and knew when a subject- however brief -was closed. It was one of the things that made working together so much easier.
A comfortable silence fell over the tiny kitchen, broken only by the quiet, continuous sound of the sharp knife cutting through vegetable after vegetable.
Heero thought briefly of Duo once more that day, when Trowa called in to report the other boy as stable. Quatre never crossed his mind. No casualties, mission accomplished.
Trowa didn't bother to mention Quatre's injury to Heero because he doubted the other boy would care. A bite mark, Trowa had deduced upon inspecting the wound. Probably from one of the guard dogs that had followed him into the woods. It would explain the "hairiness" of his attacker. Nothing a quick patch-up and a rabies shot couldn't fix.
He tended the shoulder, administered the shot, and none of them gave it a second thought.
Quatre himself forgot all about it within a few days, once the pain had subdued and the shoulder had begun to heal.
Then the murders began.
Author's Notes: Am I a masochist or what? You have any idea how many fics I'm working on at once? Most of them multi-parts X____X *stabs muses*
Anywho... This fic was originally going to center Heero, but then I thought "Hey, I rarely focus on Quatre much at all, and he'd be the last pilot I'd normally pick for this role." So what the hell. I decided to play with Quatre some ^^
I decided to pass up the obligatory GW/vampire fic idea that- from what I've seen -runs pretty rampant in the fanfiction community, and opted for this idea instead. Besides, I'm already doing a WK vamp fic =p
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