++Ch. 10++
"The Barrier"

"I don't understand... What do you want with me??"
"Just be quiet and keep walking."
Chains clinking, chaffing pale skin. "You can't keep me prisoner. My friends will come after me. And I won't tell you anything."
"Shut him up."
"Do it."
"...Gomen ne, Quatre-san. Look at me for a moment."
"H-how do you know my-- Ah!"
"Mou, that was harsh."


Duo tapped a finger against Deathscythe's radar, frowning. Finding a motorbike with this equipment was useless; they were shooting over a busy road. It had been over an hour since Trowa had run out. He sighed, peering through the cockpit, hoping to catch a glimpse of a biker going over the speed limit.
"Duo. Try that backroad. I'll keep following the highway."
"Hai hai," Duo sighed, veering off towards the trees. "I'll let you know if I find 'im."
For several minutes Duo shot over the nearly-empty dirt road, eyes locked on every vehicle that he passed. He was just beginning to wonder if Trowa should change his name to "Houdini" when the radio crackled.
"Duo. I know you're following me. Answer me."
"Trowa!" Duo flicked on audio quickly. "How did you get this frequency without Strongarms??"
"I'm a mechanic." Trowa's voice was dry, with the faintest hint of exasperation. "I found where they took Quatre."
"Quick, tell me where you are."
"Heero's already on the way," Trowa said. "Follow Hakama Road..."
Duo listened intently to the directions, even as he jerked Deathscythe's controls so that he was heading the right way. When Trowa had finished he demanded, "Is Quatre all right? Is he hurt?"
"He's not here." The clown's tones were clipped. "I must have just missed them."
"All right. Stay there, I'll be there in about five minutes."


Duo squinted at the old building skeptically. "Not too impressive," he muttered as Heero stepped up beside him.
Trowa appeared in the doorway, lifting his hand to get their attention. "There's a basement," he called. "They must have brought him there."
They followed him inside, treading carefully on the creaking floorboards. Trowa pushed open a door to reveal a flight of stone steps leading down into darkness. Faintly they could hear dripping water. "Down there. I found his watch. He must have taken it off to leave us a clue."
"Who the hell would take Quatre?" Duo demanded of no one in particular, scowling down into the inky blackness, hesitant to enter. "It can't be someone after the gundam pilots; they would have grabbed you and Wu-man, too. Do you think someone wanted his family's fortune? You know, kidnapped him for ransom?"
Trowa shook his head in ignorance.
Heero started down the stairs. "I'll look for more evi-"
A flicker of warning struck Duo's instincts. He reached out, grabbing suddenly at Heero's arm. "Heero, matte-!"
The Perfect Soldier didn't even reach the third step. He fell backwards suddenly, as if losing his footing. Duo caught him clumsily, and they landed hard on the top step. "Ow! Dammit, Heero, I said wait!"
Heero reached up to touch his nose carefully, assuring himself it wasn't broken as he glared at the steps.
Trowa arched a brow wryly. "Very graceful," he murmured.
Heero ignored him. "I ran into something," he said, pulling himself to his feet. Duo rose behind him, dusting himself off. Heero flicked him a glance. "You saw it?"
"Of course I saw it," Duo snapped, irked by his partner's ingratitude. "Heero the clutz."
"I mean whatever I hit," Heero countered, glaring impatiently. "You told me to wait."
Duo blinked, scratching the side of his nose. "Ara? No, there's nothin' there, Heero. You're just clumsy. I just.. I dunno, had a feeling you'd fall."
Heero stared hard at him, and Duo squirmed under the scrutiny.
"OK, I had a feeling something would stop you," he admitted. "But there's nothing there- you're just a clutz," he teased.
Heero hesitated before putting out his hand. He encountered no resistance. Frowning, he took a step down. Immediately he rocked back, bouncing off of thin air.
Trowa's eyebrows shot to his hairline. Duo gaped. "Nani Heero?? But there's nothing there!" Shoving past the other pilot, he bounced down a step below him-
and cannoned back into Heero.
"Oof! Itai!"
"Duo.." Heero's voice was irritated.
"It's like there's a damn barrier there," Duo said defensively, looking at the walls on either side of the stone stairwell, nervousness flickering in him. His skin was crawling. He picked himself up, turning to look curiously at Trowa, who was watching it all with his normal expresionless mask. "But Trowa, I thought you said you got down there with no problem."
The Heavyarms pilot gave the barest shake of his head. "I went downstairs," he affirmed.
"And you didn't feel anything?" Heero demanded, still scowling at the air before him.
Trowa started to shake his head again, but hesitated. "Pressure," he said slowly, as if not quite sure he was remembering correctly. "But that was it."
Duo watched him carefully. "See if you can do it again."
"Duo," Heero's voice got both pilots' attention. "Look." Heero was pointing at a smudge on the wall, a few steps down. Duo squinted, leaning slightly forward.
"Looks like some kinda picture," he muttered. "A.."
"Symbol," Trowa finished, eyes flicking back and forth warily as if expecting some kind of trap to spring.
Duo laughed nervously. "Someone doesn't want us to go down there."
"What else was down there?" Heero demanded, turning towards Trowa. "Describe the room."
Trowa shrugged slightly. "Just a basement. The walls and floor are made of stone. It's cold, and there's water dripping from the ceiling in some places." He hesitated before adding, "There were candles. Lots of candles, white ones. Set in a circle. The wicks were burnt, and..." He reached into his pocket, pulling out Quatre's simple watch. "..this was nearby."
"Candles?" Duo chewed on his lip, fingers playing with the end of his braid. "Weird. What is this, some kinda cult kidnapping? Great, some Satanists kidnapped Quatre," he joked.
"Where's Wufei?" Trowa asked suddenly, glancing towards the door with a strange look to his eyes. "He didn't come?"
"I told him to stay behind." Heero's voice was hard, and Trowa glanced at him over his shoulder at the tone.
"So.." he murmured.
Duo laughed shortly, scratching his head in mild embarrassment. "Yeah," he confirmed, "it's no big secret. Quatre's not too discreet when he likes someone."
Trowa turned his face so that it was hidden in shadow, masking his expression. "Aa," was all he said.
Heero ascended the steps, and Duo followed. "Call Wufei," he ordered. "See if he's gotten in contact with the scientists.
"Hai hai," Duo quipped, pulling out his cellphone. He dialed the number, scowling when it beeped at him in denial. "I'm goin' outside," he told them. "It can't get service in here." He hurried out to the porch, leaving Heero and Trowa to puzzle things out. He was getting a headache just thinking about it all.
Guys that blew up doors and threw people across the room with a glance, weird symbols and walls that weren't there, circles of candles...
Geeeez what a mindjob.
He redialed the number, glancing up at the slowly sinking sun. Evening was already here. A small smile curved his lips. Night was coming. Shinigami thrived in the night. The darkness of space had always appealed to him; night and darkness had always been his friend. As a thief on L2 he had done his most successful thefts in the dark of night, hiding from even the moon's pale gaze. The stars and the moon had called to him since he was a child, and even now he found a small unexplainable comfort when night fell.
Wufei picked up on the third ring, his voice gruff. "Wufei."
"Hey, your line secure?"
"Aa." He sounded peeved. "Well? What did you find out?"
Duo quickly explained about the old house and Trowa finding Quatre's watch, tactfully leaving out the part about candles and the invisible barrier. When he was finished he asked, "Did the scientists call yet?"
"No," Wufei said, his voice tinged with exasperation. "But someone else did."
"Eh? Who? Don't leave me hangin', man."
Duo blinked, catching his breath. Relena. Had she discovered that he and Heero had spied on her ealier? Was she going to tell them about Trinity? "What did she say?" he asked at last.
Wufei snorted quietly across the phone. "Only that she wanted to speak to Heero ASAP," he stated wearily. His patience with the "Peacecraft prodigy" had worn almost as thin as Duo's. "I told her she had the wrong number," he added with a hint of dark satisfaction, "and hung up."
Duo smirked. "Bet that put her titties in a twist." He could almost hear Wufei rolling his eyes. "So anyway, she didn't mention what she wanted to talk about, did she?" He remembered belatedly that he and Heero still hadn't told the others what they had overheard Relena saying to Trinity.
"All right, sit tight, man. We'll be back soon."
"Aa." He hung up.
Duo slipped the cell into his hip pocket, turning in time to see Heero and Trowa coming out of the front door. "No call from the good doctors," he said. "But guess who *did* call?" He smirked. "Our beloved Relena."
Heero's eyes narrowed slightly, and Trowa offered his normal deadpan look.
"All right," Heero said after a moment, glancing around. "There's nothing else we can do here, and too many tire tracks to tell which one is the most recent. Duo, you and Trowa get back to the house and tell them about Trinity. I'll get in touch with Relena." He turned and strode towards his Gundam.
Trowa looked at Duo. "Trinity?" he echoed.
Duo offered a grin that was forced, his mind churning at the name. "A-aa. C'mon, I'll explain it when we get back."

Author's Notes: mwahaha, writers block be gone!! I had a major flash of inspiration for what to do with this story, so hopefully the chapters will be coming faster. ^_^ I have a feeling this is going to be a long fic, tho.. *sweat* Bear with me! ^__~

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