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The Wait (Part2)


Give me two minutes! Just two more minutes!


Duo's mouth was set in a thin line as he aimed at the men who had started this whole mess. One went down as the Deathscythe pilot's bullet struck home. He had expected his first shot to go wild, intending it to have been another diversionary tactic. But it seemed that Death was busy tonight as he gave a slight nod of satisfaction when the second man fell. Two down, three to go. He looked back to see that Trowa had made it through. Heaving a sigh of relief, he got up to run toward the exit but several bullets whizzing through the air made him crouch down once more.


Hell and damnation!


Hefting the gun in his right hand, Duo decided to make a dash for the door. Shooting as he got up, the boy started to move, pumping his legs as hard as he could.


Almost there!


His hand was on the handle when he suddenly felt a hot, sharp pain in his head. A warm flow of liquid wet his face, blinding him momentarily. Suddenly all he could see was red.


Then everything mercifully faded to black...




Trowa's heart sank when he saw one of the men that had been chasing them come out through the exit. He could see the large silhouette of the man frantically turn this way and that, probably lolooking for him. Trowa ducked in the driver's seat but it was too late. The man had spotted him, hearing the idling engine. A shot rang out, cracking the windshield. Trowa gunned the engine and the car shot out, speeding into the night.


Behind him, their pursuer swore and let out another shot that went wild. Muttering under his breath, the man re-entered the building. The place was not safe for them anymore. They would have to get out of here before the authorities came.


"The Winner boy's gone!" Callan said, wheezing. The thin, dark-haired man bent over, clutching his knees, drawing in long breaths. He had rushed to check on their cash cow as soon as the other boy fell and had rushed back with the unwelcome news.


"Jenks and Mahon are dead," Franz 's grim voice stated flatly. "The money's still here," his other partner continued, nodding toward the briefcase beside Callan.


The large man cursed silently, running his fingers through his short, dirty blonde hair. This was not going as he had planned it! They were supposed to have made a clean getaway, all the five of them. No one was supposed to die! None of them, that is. His eyes fell upon the inert body at his feet. He had thought that it was a girl at first, judging from the hair. But now he saw that the body on the ground was male. He nudged the body with his foot, turning it over. The boy's clothes were dirty, the dried mud on it making paiseley-like patterns on the black background of his outfit. The boy looked like he was asleep, the only indication otherwise being that half his face was covered with blood.


Two men! Two of his men! His friends! Killed by this *boy*!


An animal-like growl rose from his throat as he aimed a swift, hard kick at the prone body.


All his plans! Gone to shit!


Another kick.


And now they'd be on the run.!


Another well-placed kick.


"Hey, Jake! Cut it out!" Franz pulled him back by the shoulder. "Kicking a dead body's not gonna solve anything. We've gotta get outta here."


"Well, he's dead isn't he? So what's a few more broken bones?" Jake aimed another vicious kick at the boy's side. This time, however, the 'dead' body groaned, eliciting a look of surprise from both men.

Franz dropped to his haunches and felt for the boy's pulse.


Weak, but steady.


"He's still alive."


"Good," the larger man smiled, a cold gleam in his eye. "When he wakes up, he's gonna wish he hadn't."

Jake turned, walking toward the cruiser. "Come on, let's get outta here. And bring the boy," he barked at the remainder of his team. "We'll take the truck. They've probably ID'd the cruiser."


Franz looked back at the long-haired boy at his feet. The boy had drifted back into unconsciousness. As he bent to pick up the slight body, he couldn't help thinking that he wouldn't want to be in this boy's shoes for all the ransom money in the colonies.




It was dark in the alley, but the darkness suited his purpose. Trowa shifted uneasily in his seat, gripping the steering wheel nervously. Behind him, Quatre mumbled incoherently, drifting between sleep and w wakefulness. Beside him, the tracker blipped silently, the red light going on and off, assuring him that the homing device still worked. He had turned into this alley after driving off from the warehouse. From under the cover of the alley's shadows, he kept watch on the warehouse, half-hoping that Duo would somehow emerge from it unharmed.


Previously, Trowa had given Quatre a cursory once-over and had been satisfied that the young blonde was suffering from nothing more than an overdose of a sleep-inducing drug. Given Quatre's current state of restlessness, Trowa surmised that the boy would wake up soon.


Meanwhile, he continued to keep his vigil.






His whole world was shaking.




Duo's eyes snapped open, startled. Reflexively, he tried to sit up but discovered that he could not.


Shit! I can't move anything!


His head felt like it was about to split open, releasing his brain that seemed to be playing basketball in his skull. His arms and legs refused to obey his commands, remaining frustratingly passive in their secure bonds. He looked around at his surroundings whilst trying to adjust to the relatively brighter conditions and the nauseating way everything that he saw seemed to overlap. He was on the floor of a large vehicle, trussed up with ungiving ropes. The vehicle seemed to be moving at a high speed, Duo judged from the sound of the engine and the way his surroundings shook, adding to his already blurred, double vision. He tried pulling at the ropes that held his arms immobile behind him but only succeeded in producing a grunt of pain as the ropes cut deeper into the parts of his flesh that was uncovered. Not only were his wrists bound together, but his arms were also held tightly against his body, painfully pulled back by ropes that wound around his arms and his torso.


He turned over on his side and hissed with pain and surprise when he felt sharp aches radiating over his body. He pulled his legs up, bringing his knees to his chest in an effort to dull the throbbing in his side, but the violently moving vehicle only seemed to make it worse. Duo closed his eyes and moaned, and promptly opened them again when a creaking sound fell on his ears.


"You're awake, boy?"


Duo looked up, squinting against the bright bulb that shone from the ceiling. There was someone here!




A sudden jerk on his hair silenced him as painful fingers pulled his head up. Duo felt something give under that grip, something that made his head feel warm and wet.


"Shut up! You're in no position to ask questions, whelp. You and your friend cost me plenty and boy, I'm gonna make sure you pay for it."


"Friend...?" Duo gasped out from under the haze of pain that was starting to fog his mind. Did Trowa make it? Was Quatre safe?


"Oh? Still have a voice, do you?" The hand in Duo's hair tightened its grip, lifting him up bodily. The next thing he knew, he was flying through the air, impacting with a hard, metallic wall. "Your friends are gone, boy. They probably think you're dead."


Death dead?


Duo could not resist smiling as that idiotic question suddenly popped into his mind. But the smile only came out as a grimace as he bit back against the wave of nausea that suddenly washed over him, clouding the throbbing ache in his skull. Dark spots danced before his eyes as he felt his grip on consciousness begin to slip. At least Trowa and Quatre got away, he thought grimly. All he had to do was last until they found him. As unconsciousness claimed him, he just barely heard his tormentor's reply to some unheard question :


"...just having some fun..."




It had been over an hour!


Trowa fidgeted as he waited in the darkness. Beside him, Quatre sat silently. Quatre had been awake for the past forty minutes, during which he had relieved Trowa as the taller boy went in search ofof alternate means of communication. He had finally managed to contact Rasheed from a small store a few blocks away. Now the Arabian general was only awaiting Quartre's orders, having positioned his troops and mobile suits in strategic positions around the warehouse.


"Do you think he's OK?" Quatre's small voice broke the uneasy silence.


Trowa glanced toward the blonde beside him, noticing the way the other boy gnawed absently at his knuckles. He had no doubt that Quatre was worried. He worried about everyone, Trowa thought. Except himself. Trowa also knew that Quatre felt guilty.


"Hey," he said, giving Quatre's knee a reassuring squeeze. "Don't worry. Duo'll be OK. You know how he always manages to get out of these situations."


Quatre looked back at Trowa, squeezing the other's hand on his knee before returning his gaze back to the silent street.


"I'll never forgive myself, Trowa, if..." A small sob made the boy's voice quiver.


Trowa leaned over and pulled the smaller boy into his arms, hugging him and holding him as close as he could. "Hush, Little One. It's not your fault," he whispered into the Arabian's ear, all the while running his long fingers through the fine golden hair. Trowa held Quatre for a little while longer, until the heaving breaths that wracked through the smaller frame stopped. Finally, Quatre pulled away, hastily dabbing away unseen tears from his eyes. They sat in silence, waiting until Trowa could wait no longer.


"It's too long. Something's not right," Trowa said, worry edging his words. On the dashboard, the tracking signal continued its silent blipping, the red light flashing without any change in frequency.


"Tell Rasheed we're going in," he motioned to Quatre, opening the car door.






Empty! The warehouse was empty!


They had entered the warehouse, again through the front exit, after ascertaining that their presence was unnoticed. The added presence of Rasheed's mobile suited troops gave them some feeling of security as they made their way inside. The first thing Trowa saw was the small pool of congealed blood on the floor, confirming his worst fears. The next thing he noticed was the cruiser, parked in the middle of the building. No wonder the tracker had not detected any movement! It was then that Quatre had alerted Rasheed, and for the next few minutes, his men had turned the warehouse upside-down in search of clclues to their friend's whereabouts.


And they had turned up nothing.


Trowa resisted the sudden urge to stamp his foot, remembering that it was an action Duo liked to do whenever the latter was feeling frustrated. Instead, Trowa kicked at the parked cruiser's wheel, relishing the ache that resulted. The throbbing in his toes helped him to focus his mind on their next course of action, whatever it might be. Quatre's footsteps caused him to look up.


"Trowa! The men found tire tracks in the back. They must have escaped in another vehicle," Quatre related breathlessly.


Trowa cursed under his breath. "That means they've probably been gone for some time now."

Quatre nodded, concern obvious in his eyes.


"Why didn't I think of that? Why?" Trowa growled, throwing a punch at the side of the cruiser. Quatre's grip on his arm stopped him just as his fist was about to make contact.


"Trowa," Quatre's quiet voice soothed the anger in Trowa's heart. "You said it wasn't my fault. Well, it's not yours either."


Looking into the blue pools before him, Trowa felt his heart melt, and with it went the anger.


Well, most of it, anyway.


It did not make Trowa feel any less guilty about not being able to predict the kidnappers' next move. But Quatre's presence made it easier for him to cope, easier for him to handle this sudden heaviness in his heart.


"Come on," Quatre urged, putting his arm around the taller pilot. "There must be a way to find out where he is. Who knows? Maybe we'll be able to track that long hair of his."


"Um. Maybe," Trowa acquiesced to a tired smile. His hand rummaged in his pocket, taking out a small, box-like object. He looked at the tracker in his hands, the red light still flashing incessantly.


If only it *could* track Duo's hair, he sighed. If only...


Quatre turned toward the tall boy beside him as Trowa stopped in his tracks. A strange look lit up Trowa's green eyes and an ecstatic half-smile played on his lips.


"Trowa? Doushita...?"


Trowa did not answer as he put his trembling fingers to work, adjusting the frequency on the tracking device.


Come on, Duo. Show some sense...


The tracker beeped suddenly, signalling the frequency change. The red light flashed slowly, the intervals between flashes increasing with time.




"Quickly!" Trowa pulled Quatre along as they ran outside. "Tell Rasheed to follow. I think I've got Duo but he's moving fast. We haven't time to lose!"





"Oi! Everything alright back there?" Franz called out to Jake. They had been driving the truck for the past twenty minutes when the sudden commotion in the back compartment had caused him to call out.


"Yeah! Everything's fine! Just having some fun!" Jake's muffled answer had brought a grin to Callan's thin lips.


"The boy must be awake," Callan observed as grinned manically, clutching the suitcase of money to his chest.


"Hn." Franz only grunted as he drove, keeping his eyes on the road as he tried to shut his ears against the sounds that emerged from the back of the truck.




The blonde man leaned back against the inner wall of the trailer, flicking on the lighter to light his cigarette. He inhaled deeply, feeling the bitter smoke fill his lungs as the tenseness left his body. Clenching the cigarette between his teeth, he pulled at the waistband of his trousers, zipping himself up. He looked down at the prone boy at his feet, and smiled.


Crouching by the boy, Jake traced the tracks on the boy's cheek with his finger, wiping the damp trail left by the tears he had forced from the stubborn boy with much difficulty. The boy had regagained consciousness as Jake had thrust into him but had refused to make a sound, much less cry. Jake had enjoyed making him cry out. It had taken time, but it had been worth it, he grinned around the smoking stub. The boy was probably a virgin, that way, Jake thought. He had been wonderfully tight. Jake did not know when the boy had fainted again, and he did not particularly care.


Jake wiped his hands on Duo's shirt, adding blood and semen to the already filthy cloth. Then, he reached down to pull Duo's jeans back onto the boy's body, flipping Duo over onto his back as he re-fastened them. Jake debated whether to retie the boy's legs and finally decided to. The man did not want Duo to have the slightest chance of escape, not when he had discovered the wonderful diversion the boy provided. Jake stood up, stretching himself and retired to the corner of the trailer to rest.






So much pain.


What had he done to deserve so much pain?


You killed people, stupid!


Why was he still joking at a time like this?


I hate myself.




"Quatre-sama! We have them in sight." Rasheed's voice crackled over the communicator in Quatre's hands. "Do you want us to stop them now?"


Quatre looked toward Trowa in askance. Trowa nodded, his eyes intent on the road.


"Affirmative! Take out the driver's cabin. Repeat, the driver's cabin." Quatre commanded, his voice strangely at odds with his b boyish face.






Franz drove on, thankful that the noise from the back of the trailer had finally subsided. He had agreed to this venture for the money. Jake had assured him that no one would get hurt. Not him, not them, not anyone!


Well, this is the last time I trust Jake, he thought.


He turned the steering wheel, following the sharp bend in the road, wondering how his share of the ransom would erase the memory of the cries he had just heard from the back of the truck. That was the last thought in Franz's mind as his world erupted in flames.




No! Not again!


Duo clenclenched his eyes shut against the pain that accompanied his every movement. He had woken up when the man had been putting the finishing touches to the bonds that held his legs together but had remained immobile, feigning unconsciousness. Hearing the man retire to a far corner, Duo had relaxed somewhat, going over what past events he could remember. And remembering what had so recently transpired, a small tear escaped his closed eyelids.


How would he face Heero now?


Duo had been having a hard enough time persuading Heero to acknowledge his feelings toward him and Duo could see that recently, he had made some headway. But now, Heero would never want him...


But it's not your fault!


But I...


You didn't ask for it!


He said I looked good...


He's sick!


But I wanted...


No! He forced you! He hurt you!


He made me cry out for...


Because it hurt! You cried because it hurt!




A small sigh escaped Duo's bloodied lips. He was arguing with himself, he thought. And even then, he could not win. Even now, he talked too much. Heero was right. He did talk too much. Wasn't that the reason he was in such deep shit now?


How could he face himself?


Duo had fallen asleep with those thoughts on his mind but had been awakened by someone grabbing at his shirt.


Not again!


He lashed out with as much force as he could muster from his overtaxed muscles, considering the relatively little freedom of movement he had. He gave an angry cry as he reached to bite the hand on his body. But the hand was out of his reach. He struggled against the man's firm grip on his chest and shoulders. Duo could feel the other clutching at him, wrapping his arm around his body, pulling him closer to the other's warmth.






"Duo! Duo! Snap out of it! It's me!"


"Trowa?" Duo blinked, his swollen eyes opening with difficulty through the dried blood that covered part of his face. "Is it really you?" he whispered hoarsely, fighting to keep a sob of relief from his voice.


"Yes, Duo. It's OK. We've got you," Trowa's voice soothed the long-haired boy as Quatre untied Duo's legs.


Trowa could feel Duo's body sag in his arms almost immediately as he gently pulled the long-haired boy into a sitting position. He quickly untied Duo's arms, massaging them gently to get Duo's circulation going. He glanced worriedly at Duo's limp body before searching for Quatre's face. The blond Arabian looked back at him with hard eyes.


"He's out again."


Trowa and Quatre carried Duo out of the trailer, taking care not to jar the bruised and broken form of their friend. They had arrived at the trailer mere seconds after one of the mobile units had blasted the front part of the trailer into a mass of melted slag. They had earlier pinpointed Duo's exact location in the vehicle via the mobile unit's heat detectors coupled with Duo's homing device. It had then been a simple matter to effectively intercept and deactivate the vehicle without harming their friend.


As the two boys had approached the burning vehicle, the back of the trailer had suddenly burst open and a large man had jumped out screaming. Melted metal clung to his torso and upper limbs as flames licked at his hair. Trowa and Quatre could only stare in horrified silence as the man writhed in agony before them, his screams growing weaker as he slowly gave up his hold on life.


They had barely regained their voices when the sight of their friend's body silenced them once more. Duo was lying on the floor of the trailer, effectively immobilized by lengths of nylon rope around his body. His long hair was matted with mud and blood. Several locks had escaped the braid and stuck to his face and neck, the chestnut color darkened by the rusty hue of dried blood. Trowa and Quatre had proceeded to free Duo in grim silence, removing him from the uncomfortably increasing heat.




The earthquake was starting again.


Duo opened his eyes slowly, finding that he had somehow regained mobility. His limbs moved when he wanted them to but it hurt when they did. So, he stayed still, letting the aches subside to a dull throbbing. He sighed, closing his eyes once more, letting the swaying movement of the vehicle rock him to sleep.


"Hey Sleepy head. You awake yet?" Duo could barely hear Quatre's voice as he tried to succumb to the welcoming darkness. He felt so tired, so drained. Everything hurt, inside and out. Hell, he felt like dying!


"Stupid question," Duo heard himself mumble.


"How do you feel?"


Like shit.


"Are you alright?"


No, I think I'm dead.


Except death would be painless, right?


So I'm not dead.




I wish I was.




I want to die.


You're alive! You're with friends and you're alive!


I don't want to be! I want to die!


"Oi! Duo! Did you hear me? Are you alright?"


Damn Trowa!


"Yeah," Duo answered with a resigned sigh. "I'm fine."




Heero knelt by the bed, gazing at Duo's sleeping form. Trowa and Quatre had finally told him what they knew but it still did not explain Duo's sudden abhorrence of Heero's touch, his sudden avoidance of Heero's eyes. Heero reached out, tentatively searching for Duo's hand beneath the rumpled sheets. He twined his fingers around the American's slender ones, squeezing the other's hand in his.


Heero had an idea of what else might have transpired during Quatre's kidnapping and Duo's subsequent abduction. It was the only thing Heero could think of that could explain his friend's sudden change. Trowa and Quatre had not seeeemed to know any more about it, apart from what they had already related to him. Heero had supposed that Duo had somehow managed to keep it to himself. Duo was good at that, Heero realized. No one would ever see what he did not want them to know. A small smile curved on Heero's lips as he ran a tender gaze over the face of the sleeping boy.


You can run and hide from them, Duo. But you can't run or hide from me. Not me.


Heero knew that the American was letting the experience eat at him from the inside, turning him bitter and paranoid.


Changing the Duo I know and love.


Heero knew that he could not let that happen. Heero could not allow this irrepressible Shinigami pilot to run away from him just as he was finally accepting Duo's presence in his life. Slowly, Heero pulled Duo's hand to his lips, lips that had suddenly set in a hard, thin line on his grim face. As he softly kissed the hand of the sleeping boy, Heero promised silently:


I'll be here, Duo. Whatever it is, I'll be here.





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