Chapter 16: "A Rescue and a Farewell"

    The sound of Heero's hands snapping the back of the chair into three pieces as his grip on it tightened convulsively made Duo jump. He tore his eyes from the scene of Treize pinning Wufei to the bed and gave his friend a nervous look.
    "Hey, Heero, uh, maybe it's not what it looks like. Maybe the guy, um..."
    "Tripped and fell on top of him?" Heero's voice was cold as ice, his narrowed eyes still pinned to the screen.
    "Ummm..." Duo glanced back at the screen just in time to see Treize's hand slip underneath Wufei. "Oh, shit," he cursed, banging his fist against the desk in frustrated anger. "He knows--"
    Wufei was arched off the bed, face contorted in agony. There was no sound on the television, but his mouth was open in what was undoubtedly a scream.
    Heero evidently decided the chair was in his way, and shoved it across the room with a burst of furious strength. It crashed into the far wall and fell over, making Duo jump again. Before the chair had even finished its fall, Heero had his gun out and was storming for the door.
    "Whoa whoa WHOA!!" Duo leapt to intercept his stone-faced comrade. "Jesus, Heero, don't be so goddamn stupid! Look, I know you're pissed-- me, too. But you can't take on the entire place by yourself--!"
    Heero turned hard eyes on the other boy. "Back me up or shut up, Duo," he said in a steely tone.
    Duo hesitated, then blew a sigh of long suffering. "Geeez. Fine, fine, be that way." He leaned over and picked up his duffel bag. "You're lucky I always keep this around just in case." Grinning fiendishly, he pulled out a sawed-off shotgun. "There's a glock in there, too. Better grab it. You've got a lot of bodies between you and Wufei. Oh, and try not to kill Kushrenada. Could be bad for politics."


    Treize hesitated at the window, frowning at the scene below, then strode quickly from the room.
    Wufei lay still for a few more moments, listening to the sounds of shouts and gunfire and struggling to get his breathing under control. Finally he gritted his teeth and forced himself to sit up. Breathing hard from behind clenched teeth, he managed to get to his feet and make his slow, stumbling way to the door by keeping his hands against the wall. He hesitated, spotting his bag on the floor. It must have fallen from his shoulder during the sword fight. He carefully slung it onto his back and wobbled his way across the room. He stopped to retrieve the saber, then opened the bedroom door a crack and peeked into the hall, panting at his effort. Exhaustion weighed down on him, threatening to bring him down at any moment. Was this how Heero had felt after he'd cured him?
    The hall was empty for the moment, though he could hear guards shouting to each other nearby. Tightening his grip on the saber, he placed his free hand against the wall for balance and stumbled down the hall towards the stairs.
    He made it halfway down the stairs before running into two guards who were hurrying upstairs-- probably to keep an eye on him.
    They weren't expecting him, which was the only thing that saved his ass, weakened as he was. He slammed the hilt of his sword against the temple of one guard and kicked the other fiercely under the chin, clinging to the handrail to keep his balance. Both men fell back down the stairs with cries of pain, and after pausing a moment to get over his light-headedness, Wufei carefully picked his way down the stairs and over their twitching forms.
    The sound of their bodies thumping down the staircase had alerted another guard, and he came running as Wufei stepped into the foyer. The man rushed him, and Wufei let him get close, doing his best to look as exhausted as he felt-- then brought his sword up in a sudden, slashing arc that took the man's ear clean off.
    The guard screeched in pain and shock, falling back and slamming into the wall, face full of horror as he clapped both hands to his bleeding head. Ignoring him, Wufei headed slowly but stubbornly for the front door.
    He had been dealing with the property guards so far. When he found his way to the door blocked by three soldiers, he hesitated, torn. They hadn't spotted him, yet, each of them shouting orders at each other or into radios. He could slip away and try to find another way out, but he had a feeling Heero would be heading for the front door with all the audacity and stubborness of a charging bull. He didn't want Heero to tear the house apart searching for him-- and possibly get killed in the process --while he was busy slipping unnoticed out of a window somewhere.
    Wufei took a slow, deep breath, and forced himself to stand straight. Tightening his grip resolutely on the saber, he crept up on the soldiers.
    "What do you mean one man?" one of them was shouting incredulously into his radio. "Just shoot him down!"
    Good luck, Wufei thought with grim amusement. Then one of the soldiers looked up and spotted him.
    "Hey-!" The man reached for his gun, intent clear in his eyes. "It's another one!"
    Kill or be killed, Wufei told himself fiercely, seizing the last of his innocence and crushing it into the very back of his subconscious. This was no time for him to be squeamish. If he didn't act first, he would die before he ever found out the truth.
    He rushed forward, calling up on every practice he'd ever had, every afternoon spent in his mother's garage, and plunged the sword straight into the soldier's stomach. He wrenched upwards with all his strength, blocking out the sound of the man's gurgling scream, the sound steel made as it went through flesh and blood, and yanked his sword clear.
    Ignore him, don't look, he's dead, worry about the living ones, he ordered himself fiercely, the thought flickering through him so quickly he was already spinning around, saber crashing upwards to knock aside the gun of the next soldier, carrying on with its upwards path until he'd sliced open the man's throat, all the way to the back of the jawline.
    Wufei jerked his weapon back and spun once more on his heel to finish off the last of them-- and stumbled.
    Light-headed and exhausted already, he was struck with a wave of dizziness, made worse by the shock and revulsion beating at the edges of his mind as he saw the bloodied bodies out of the corner of his eye. He staggered, barely managing to keep his feet, and swung wildly in front of himself to keep the other soldier at bay.
    The man had frozen, too stunned by the suddenness and ferocity of the attack, but he recognized Wufei's momentary weakness and immediately reached for his gun. He had been trained to be a soldier, but he was young-- only a few years older than Wufei himself. Even as he pulled out his firearm and aimed it at Wufei, he hesitated, hand shaking badly. Wufei met his wide eyes for an instant and realized the boy was just as horrified, as sickened, as he was at what he'd done. Just as new to death as he was. Fear and shock kept him immobile for the few precious seconds Wufei needed to regain his balance and swing his sword again.
    He tilted the blade at the last instant, cracking the young soldier's head with the flat of the blade. The boy stumbled, and Wufei used his free hand to deliver a swift chop to the back of his neck, sending him crashing to the floor in an unconscious heap.
    Wufei hesitated, placing his hand against the front door and drawing in ragged breaths. His heart was thundering in his chest, making his whole body pound along with it, and he felt on the verge of passing out. The exhaustion was dragging at him like lead weights, and he felt dizzy after what he had done. Staring down at his feet as he fought to recover, he watched as a pool of blood crept along the floor and spread out under his feet.
    Wufei shut his eyes and drew in a shaky breath.
    They would have killed you, he reminded himself fiercely.
    Like they killed your family.
    Wufei straightened abruptly, opening his eyes. Yes. It was men like this that had tried to kill him and his entire family over politics and money. And they would have killed him if he hadn't gotten the job done first.
    Wufei took another breath, and it was far less shaky this time. His heart slowed down gradually, taking the tension and sickness back bit by bit until all that was left was the numbing exhaustion and the ache spreading from his Mark and throughout his body. Straightening stubbornly, he grabbed the doorknob and wrenched the front door open.
    It was too fast for his mind to process, though his body recognized the threat and reacted instinctively.
    There was someone on the other side of the door, coming inside. A gun swung up, inches away, aiming between his eyes.
    At the same time, his arms jerked in violent reaction, snapping the sword up towards an exposed throat.
    Frozen, both boys stared at each other, weapons hesitating. Cold blue eyes met wild, defiant dark ones, and recognition slowly seeped in.
    Wufei blinked, forcing himself to lower his saber. "Heero.."
    Heero lifted his gun, moving the barrel from Wufei's head, a tiny piece of the hardness leaving his face. "Wufei." He glanced over Wufei's shoulder quickly, obviously spotting the bodies. Some of the tension left his shoulders, and he lowered his gun a little. "Are you all r--"
    It had taken all of Wufei's strength to get to the door and fight the men he'd run across on the way. Suddenly it was as if whatever Treize had done to him, the exertion of the fights, and the inner horror at what he'd done had caught up with him all at once. Wufei managed to mumble something like a warning, and then his knees buckled.
    The bloodied sword slipped from his numb fingers and clattered loudly on the porch, and the last thing Wufei was aware of were strong arms catching him just before he hit the ground.


    Heero had had it drilled into him since a very young age to never give up his gun. He would rather have offered up a limb.
    But when Wufei's eyes slid closed in exhaustion and he crumpled on the porch like a marionette who'd had its strings cut, he forgot what he'd promised his teacher and let his gun fall to the porch as he leapt forward and caught the other boy before he could crash to the ground. For a fleeting instant panic took over. Was Wufei wounded? Had Treize taken too much out of him? Was he dying-- dead?
    No-- he was still breathing. Heero grunted, shifting Wufei's weight around so he could get a look at his pale face to reassure himself. Then he looked him over quickly, but it looked like the blood covering the front of his shirt belonged to the unfortunate soldiers lying dead in the front hall. He was surprised, but relieved. If Wufei had hesitated to kill, it would be his body lying on the ground inside.
    The soldiers were on their way, racing towards the house, shouting. He could hear them; they would come around the front any minute. He'd taken out the lawn guards, with Duo's backup, but he wouldn't be able to hold off all the soldiers while dragging Wufei's dead weight.
    He knelt, trying to settle Wufei against the wall so he could get his gun. As he propped Wufei against the doorjamb, the bag on his shoulder slipped off, and some of its contents fell out. Something rolled, trapped in a faded cloth, and he paused, looking at it curiously. Suddenly his hands itched to unwrap the object, to pull it out and examine it. He shook the feeling off irritably and looked around for his weapon.
    "Don't move."
    Heero froze, eyes darting to the side.
    A woman was stalking towards him slowly, handgun aimed at his head. He recognized her as one of the women who'd snatched Wufei. A Suit. Yin, Wufei had called her.
    Heero hesitated, glancing towards his gun, a mere foot away, in easy grabbing distance. The glock Duo had given him was out of ammo, tossed aside as useless in the heat of battle as he'd made his way across the grounds towards the house.
    Yin moved her gun to the side slightly so that she was aiming at Wufei instead. "Don't even think about it," she advised with a cold little smile. "Kick it this way."
    Heero glared up at her, and after a moment's agonizing debate, swung his foot across the porch and sent the gun skittering across the gravel to land far out of reach of either of them.
    Yin's smile widened, her eyes amused and merciless. "You sure have balls, little boy; charging into a place like this all by your lonesome. Very admirable. A shame it has to end this way." She moved her gun up and down a little in a motion to rise. "Get up, and step away from the brat. I don't think Treize-sama is finished with him, yet."
    Heero shifted so that he was a little more in between Wufei and the woman, glaring up at her. "You're going to have to kill me to get to him," he said simply. "Which I don't think Kushrenada would approve of."
    Yin chuckled. "I'll tell him it was an accident," she assured him, and pulled back the hammer.
    Heero wasn't sure if it was that click or just chance, but Wufei stirred suddenly, eyes fluttering open from his momentary stupor. He took in the scene quickly and stiffened, reaching out blindly for a weapon, any weapon, as he glared with burning hatred up at the older woman.
    "I don't know about you, but I'm willing to bet a bullet's faster than a blade," Yin pointed out, looking even more amused. "And if you know what's good for you, you'll get up and come over here like a nice little shithead, or I'll blow your little bodyguard's brains all over the place."
    Wufei's hand clenched convulsively on the ragged cloth that had captured Heero's interest earlier, his lips peeling back from his teeth in a soundless snarl of frustrated rage. The object that had been concealed rolled free, and for the first time Heero got a good look at what Wufei had kept hidden in the bottom of his bag for the duration of their journey, and his eyes opened wide. He was too busy staring at the thing to see Wufei's eyes widen in surprise, or the figure that popped out of the bushes behind Yin.
    "Hey!" came a cheerful shout. "Isn't this the bitch that grabbed you before?"
    Yin whirled around, but didn't even get the chance to aim her gun.
    A blast from Duo's shotgun took her right in the chest, knocking her down and killing her almost instantly.
    Heero barely looked up. "Wufei," he said sharply, "how long have you been carrying this?"
    Wufei blinked, confused, as Heero picked up the strange carved rod with careful fingers. Duo drew in a sharp breath, taking a quick step forward. His eyes, glued to the object in Heero's hands, were wide and hungry. "Where did you get that?" he demanded in a tone of voice Wufei had never heard him use.
    Wufei scowled at them both. "What does it matter?" he snapped. "We don't have time for this--" He cut himself off with a curse as the first handful of soldiers came racing towards them from around the side of the house.
    "Get him out of here," Heero barked, leaping to his feet.
    He held the stick out in front of him, pointing it towards the soldiers, and shouted a word Wufei didn't recognize. The rod shot out, seeming to grow hundreds of feet in an instant, and the red pommel at the end struck the first soldier a stunning blow to the head.
    Wufei's mouth dropped open in shock and disbelief. "WHAT IN THE FUCK--?!"
    Heero took the rod in a two-handed grip and swung it hard at the remaining soldiers, knocking them down as if he was weilding an enormous baseball bat. The soldiers went tumbling from the blow, shouting in pain and alarm.
    Duo managed to shake himself out of his daze and darted forward, seizing Wufei by the arm. "Let's go!" he shouted, practically dragging Wufei to his feet.
    "But-- What--" Wufei stumbled, straining his neck as he twisted around to watch as Heero moved on to the next batch of soldiers, using the elongated rod like a staff, swinging it around with blurring speed and skill.
    "Never mind!" Duo shouted angrily in his ear. "Move it or lose it, Chang! Heero knows what he's doing!"
    Wufei shook his head sharply once and snatched up his bag and the sword. He got a few steps before stumbling, still weak. Duo tucked one arm around his waist for support and ran, half dragging Wufei along as they raced for the gate.
    Wufei thought he spotted Treize watching it all calmly from a window, but couldn't be sure.


    "Get in," Duo snarled, shoving Wufei into the jeep, eyes wild. "Buckle up." He tossed his shotgun into the back and leapt into the driver's seat, twisting the key in the ignition.
    "Wait!" Wufei snapped. "What about--" he twisted around to see if Heero was still fighting, but the other boy was racing through the gate towards them.
    "Go!" Heero snarled as soon as he was in hearing range. Duo gave him just enough time to slide into the back, then slammed his foot onto the accelerator and roared off.
    "Treize called them off," Heero said, neck craned to watch the road behind them. "But I'm not giving him a chance to change his mind."
    Wufei was too pumped up on adrenaline to notice his fatigue. Ignoring Duo's irritated protests, he scrambled over the seat and landed in the back with Heero. He grabbed the front of Heero's shirt and hauled him forward so he could be heard clearly over the wind. "What the hell just happened back there??" he shouted furiously. "How did that damned thing do that? And how did you know how to use it?"
    Heero shook him off, scowling. "What does it matter?" he snapped. "It worked."
    "It's mine, Heero," Duo cut him off, voice angry. "Give it to me."
    Heero turned a steady gaze on his friend. "No, Duo," he said firmly, as if he was repeating an old argument.
    Duo ground his teeth together, hands twisting at the steering wheel savagely, expression in the rearview mirror dangerous. Then he seemed to get control of himself, and flicked Heero a carefully careless look in the mirror. "Whatever," he grumbled. "But it's just temporary, got it? It's mine. I want it back someday." His face was calm, but his eyes still had a hungry, desperate look to them.
    Wufei shook Heero, livid. "Damn it, don't change the subject! Tell me what the hell is going on!"
    Heero reached up and pulled his hands away easily. Wufei glared furiously at the other boy, enraged at his own weakness. "Calm down," Heero commanded. "You're on the verge of collapse. Hold still so I can heal you."
    "NO!" Wufei wrenched his hands away. "Don't touch me!"
    Heero froze with his hand half-reaching. He blinked, taken off guard. "Wufei, what Treize did to you won't happen again. Not if I do it." His eyes turned into icy chips. "I don't know how he knew about that, but he won't get the chance to do it again. I'll cut off his hands the next time we meet to ensure that."
    Wufei shook his head so hard it made him dizzy again. He blinked quickly a few times to fight off the nasuea. "No," he snarled. "You slept it off, so can I. Keep your hands off me."
    "Look-" Heero started irritably.
    "Why didn't you tell me??" Wufei shouted in his face. "I had to hear it from him! My family- my colony! Why didn't you tell me?!"
    Heero's face went blank with surprise.
    "Aw, shit." Duo shifted uncomfortably in the driver's seat. "Jesus man, we're sorry. You shouldn't have found out that way."
    "You should have told me," Wufei repeated fiercely, glaring at Heero.
    Heero avoided his angry eyes. "...We were told not to," he muttered defensively. "Treize--"
    "Do you always do what you're told?" Wufei demanded acidly. "You really are a soldier. A mindless zombie who follows the orders of a man appointed over him."
    Heero's eyes flashed, his mouth tightening, but he still wouldn't meet Wufei's gaze.
    "Hey, chill out," Duo said hastily. "OK, it sucks that you found out like that. But is this any way to treat your rescuers?"
    "You're not my rescuers, you're my god damn kidnappers!" Wufei shot back.
    Heero's eyes narrowed, focusing on him at last. "Stop the car," he growled.
    Duo twisted in his seat to stare at them both. "What?"
    "Stop the car."
    "Wha-- But Heero--"
    "Do it!"
    Duo hesitated, then muttered a foul curse and steered the car off the road, parking in the grass. Wufei was too startled to do anything but stare at Heero.
    "We're not your kidnappers," Heero informed him coolly. "If you want to stay here and die, that's your problem."
    "Heero," Duo snapped, "you know our orders. We can't just--"
    "If you want to get away from us so badly, then get out," Heero bulled on, angry gaze still locked on Wufei. "Get out and find your own way back to your foster mother. We'll tell your family you weren't interested."
    Wufei drew in a sharp breath.
    "Heero, are you out of your mind?" Duo squawked. "Besides, look at him! He wouldn't get a mile!"
    "Make a choice," Heero said. "And make it now."
    Wufei hesitated, glancing from one boy to the other. Don't be a fool, his common sense hissed. But his pride and anger bulled the little voice aside angrily. He held out his hand demandingly, glaring back at his captor. "Give it back," he growled. "Then I'll go."
    "It isn't yours," Heero told him coldly. "It was given to me when they appointed me as your Primary Guardian."
    "You aren't my Guardian anymore, Yuy," Wufei informed him, eyes narrowing warningly.
    Heero stiffened slightly, his eyes darkening furiously.
    It wasn't worth it, Wufei told himself angrily. What use did he have for the stupid stick anyway? He didn't know how it worked or what it was. He snatched up his bag and his new sword and kicked open the door.
    "Wufei, be rational," Duo wheedled. "Treize seriously fucked you up, man. Besides, we're your only chance at finding--"
    "I can find them on my own," Wufei snarled, jumping from the jeep and managing to keep his balance on sheer willpower alone. "I don't need your 'help'."
    Heero's voice could have frozen magma. "Fine." He reached out and yanked the door shut.
    Wufei hitched his bag onto his shoulder and began stubbornly walking away from the jeep.
    "Damn it, Wufei! Stop!" Duo shouted after him.
    "Just drive," Heero growled, back to Wufei. "If he doesn't want to go, fine."
    Wufei ignored them, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, ignoring his exhaustion. He wouldn't let himself look back when he heard the jeep finally pull back onto the road and drive off.

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