Author: Anria Lalumin
Warnings: language, angst, sap, humour, shounen ai and yaoi later on
Lizards = thoughts/emphasis
::Lizards:: = sound effects
+ Part 8
Things weren't easy after that,
not by a long shot.
Duo was quiet and seemingly embarrassed by the words that had spewed out
of his mouth to Zechs, never mind that the blond man was certain Duo couldn't
have stopped them if he tried. But then again, it was always frightening
to bare yourself completely to another person, to have them know everything
about you, because then they knew where to hit to hurt the most. And their
relationship had taken on another change, as Zechs' arm began to heal
and the waspishness caused by pain faded, and Duo's antagonism completely
disappeared. Once again the dynamic between the two of them had altered
and even if this time it was for the better, it was a disconcerting change
to get used to.
It didn't help that the very next day Duo finished the communicator.
It was an incredible stroke of luck that when they held their breath and
tested it they found it sent a traceable signal on the private Preventers'
frequency. Duo's washed-out grin was the first sign of joy he'd given
since their fight the previous day.
"We're gonna have to keep this up," Duo murmured to Zechs as he tapped
out the SOS code. "I mean, sending it once isn't gonna be enough we
don't know when they'll pick up on it, or how long it'll take them to
trace it. We've gotta do this twenty-four hours a day." He didn't sound
particularly happy with the realisation.
"How about taking it in shifts?" Zechs offered. "You do six hours, I do
"We'll be bored as all hell," Duo snorted.
"Then I'll just have to keep you entertained, won't I?"
Duo stared at the blond incredulously. "Y'know, if it was anyone but you,
I would've said that was a pickup line."
Zechs burst out laughing at that, his rich voice sending chills up Duo's
spine. Subsiding, he shook his head, amused. "Only you, Duo," he said,
chuckling, "only you."
And then he stood up and walked into the kitchen, and Duo was left to
ponder what exactly that had meant.
Unfortunately, that conversation was one of the very few times Duo forgot
himself enough to loosen up and joke around with Zechs. Most of the time
their exchanges were awkward and stilted, tense with the constant reminder
of their fight in the bruises both of them sported. When Zechs took his
turn tapping out the SOS on the communicator, Duo vanished and stayed
in other parts of the apartment for the entire six hours which the man
took to mean that he was still uncomfortable in his presence, but for
an entirely different reason this time.
The six hour shifts of tapping the communicator were boring as hell. Zechs
found himself slipping into a sort of trance, lulled by the rhythm he
kept up on the communicator. His mind blanked out and he stared at the
table, focusing on the patterns of grains in the wood.
He had no idea how long he stayed like that, but he was abruptly jerked
out of it when a plate of eggs slid into his vision, covering over the
spot on the table he had damn near memorised. He looked up in time to
see the tip of Duo's braid disappearing around the kitchen door, and smiled
to himself before beginning to eat.
They switched over at the end of Zechs' six hours, and Zechs decided that
since Duo was too nervous to make the first conciliatory move, it was
up to him and so he sat next to Duo and made use of the talent for small
talk Treize and years of moving among diplomatic circles had instilled
into him. Duo's naturally talkative nature, however, was suppressed almost
to non-existence by his fear that he would say the wrong thing and accidentally
offend Zechs, ending up with them having to start all over again.
Several painful hours of this passed, when suddenly Duo lifted his head
and asked, "Do you hear that?"
Zechs frowned, listening. It took a moment for him to hear it, but suddenly
he was aware that off in the distance there was a very faint clanging
and the unmistakeable sound of gunfire. He turned quickly to look at Duo.
"Could it be the Preventers? Is there enough time for them to have traced
the signal and done reconnaissance?"
Duo rapidly calculated in his head. "If they caught the signal on the
first day, yes," he said after a moment. He grinned and jumped to his
feet, suddenly brimming with energy because this was a situation
he knew how to handle. "You up for some quick planning?"
Zechs nodded. "We've probably got only a few minutes at most before they
get here securing the hostages is the first thing Falcon would think
of," he warned.
"Right," Duo agreed. "Most likely if the Preventers have arrived full
force, he'll want to command these morons himself, though, so I'm reasonably
sure he'll send his underlings at us instead. If you wait in the main
apartment and tap away on the communicator, then hopefully when they find
you they'll get pissed off and stop thinking straight. That's when I'll
ambush one of them, grab his gun and see how many I can take down. Then
we run for it."
Zechs frowned. "It's got a lot of holes in it," he said dubiously.
"Yeah, but we haven't got time for something flawless," Duo replied. "Have
you got any—" He cut himself off as they heard the main door to the apartment
slam open. Their eyes met for a split second before Zechs grabbed the
communicator and Duo lunged for the door to the kitchen, barely getting
it shut before two of Falcon's thugs armed with machine guns crashed into
the main body of the apartment.
Their eyes landed on Zechs, who did his best to look surprised. The one
in the lead stalked up to the table and swept his arm across it, knocking
the communicator in pieces to the ground and pointed his gun at Zechs'
chest. "Stupid little fuck," he snarled. "Up against the wall! Check the
rest of the apartment," the thug said to his companion before returning
his attention to Zechs. "Face against the wall and arms up! Don't try
anything, I've got my gun on you at all times!"
Zechs stepped up to the wall, listening intently for Duo's first move
as the thug prodded him with the tip of the gun, more out of belligerence
than any real searching method.
There was a sharp cry from behind him, and Zechs' captor stopped prodding
him. He got as far as "What the fu—" before the blond man brought his
plaster-encased elbow down on his head, hard. He fell to the floor with
a satisfying thud that almost made the sudden pain in his broken
arm worth it.
Duo was rapidly stripping the other man of his weapons, then yanked off
his belt and tied him to the table leg. "It's not permanent, but it'll
slow him down some when he wakes up," he said critically, eyeing his handiwork.
Zechs picked up his captor's machine gun and routinely checked it over.
Duo tossed him a small container and Zechs caught it without thinking.
He looked at it and found it was the painkillers the Blackbirds' doctor
had given him. Giving the other man a grateful grin, he shook out a couple
and swallowed them dry.
"Thought you might need those at some point," Duo grinned at him, eyes
sparkling. Damn, but this was fun! "Here, let me get that guy." He grabbed
the man Zechs had felled and tied him up rapidly, then stopped and frowned.
"It would probably be a good idea to take their uniforms."
"What are we waiting for, then?" Zechs asked impatiently.
Duo eyed his arm. "Uh, are you going to be okay to change with that thing?"
Zechs blinked and looked down at the cast, then gritted his teeth. "I'll
manage," he said.
Duo made short work of stripping the two men down, and quickly changed
into their pilfered clothes. He watched Zechs struggle for a few moments,
before rolling his eyes and taking over.
"It'll go quicker this way," he said to Zechs' glare, bending down to
shove the trouser legs inside the other Preventer's boots. Straightening,
he grabbed his gun and he looked at Zechs. "You good to go?"
"Lead the way," Zechs replied, settling his own machine gun into a professional
grip and ignoring the pain in his arm. The painkillers would kick in soon,
so there was no need to worry about it.
Duo led the two of them out into the corridors, keeping them close together.
If they were in a larger party Zechs suspected the smaller man would have
gone scouting ahead to root out danger zones, but as it was it was safer
for the two of them to keep going together. The blond man let Duo lead,
and soon realised that they were gradually coming closer and closer to
the source of the noise, and therefore closer and closer to the main battle.
As they came to an alcove Duo ducked into it and crouched, gesturing for
Zechs to do the same. He leaned in close to speak to him. "Most likely
whoever's in charge of this mission will try to keep them all in the same
building and all in the same spot," he breathed. "If the Blackbirds are
allowed to disperse and the fighting ends up trailing into the halls some
agents will end up dead in ambushes, so they're most likely throwing everything
they have at one place. Have you seen anything familiar here? Is
this Victoria Base?"
"Some things are familiar, most of it isn't," Zechs responded, eyes darting
warily back the way they had come. "If it is Victoria we're most likely
in the West wing. When I was here I spent most of my time in the command
rooms and the East wing, which would explain why everything's familiar
but I don't know any of it."
"Dammit," Duo muttered, scowling at the wall.
"If the Preventers are throwing everything at one place, though, it's
likely to be the hangars," Zechs continued on. "If so it doesn't really
matter which hallway we go down, since damn near all of them lead there
Duo snickered, finding that inappropriately funny. "All roads lead to
Rome," he whispered.
"There is a problem with that, though," Zechs said, frowning. "From what
I recall, all the corridors in each wing converge into a hall on either
side of the hangars, and those two are the only entrances from the base.
They're both likely to be heavily guarded, so there's no way we could
force our way through and we can't sneak around them since it's open ground
for about fifty metres before you get to the doors."
"Shit," Duo muttered. "Is there another way out of the base than through
"Not that I recall," Zechs told him.
"What about the ventilation system?" Duo asked him. "Cliché, I know, but
it has to exit somewhere."
Zechs shook his head. "It's an idea, but there's no way I could fit through
it, especially not with this," he said, waving his cast at Duo. "The main
vents were deliberately made small enough that even you would have
difficulty getting through. Which was the whole idea."
Duo scowled. "Then we're stuck, unless you have some other information
you've forgotten to tell me."
Zechs grinned at him. "Not quite," he said. "I only said the main vents
were made small, didn't I?"
Duo eyed him warily. "What are you thinking?"
"It's dangerous, but if I remember rightly larger vents were put in leading
out to the hangars because some officers complained about wanting better
ventilation, and it was deemed not a big enough security risk," Zechs
told him. "We'd have to get quite close to the group defending the West
wing hangar entrance, but if we can avoid being spotted we can easily
slip into the hangar. There's enough cover there that we can make a break
for the exit."
Now Duo was grinning, too. "Can we sabotage the equipment they've got
in the hangars, too?" he asked with almost childish glee.
"You're psychotic, you know that?"
"I'll take that as a yes." Duo rose to his feet with a silent grace Zechs
envied, encumbered as he was with his cast. "Do you know the way to the
vents?" he asked.
"In theory, yes," Zechs said.
"It depends on how similar the layout of the West wing is to the East,"
Zechs said in frustration. "I'm betting on it being as near symmetrical
as they could make it, but I could be wrong."
Duo frowned. "We're just going to have to count on it being symmetrical,"
he said at last. "I can't see that we have any other option. If we come
across differences, we'll just have to improvise."
Zechs nodded, and they emerged from the alcove and headed towards the
thick of the fighting.
[part 7] [part 9] [back
to Anria's fic]