Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 20

Time dragged by in that small room. I drifted in and out of a half-sleeping, half-unconscious state from time to time but I hurt too much and in too many ways to really get any rest. It wasn't like I hadn't been in equally bad shape before but I was having trouble drumming up much optimism this time. Our chances of escape didn't look too good.

Sally was the only able-bodied one of the three of us and even she had a definite limp. Wufei had obviously gone down fighting or he wouldn't be such a mess and she would have been fighting just as hard right at his side. She'd been a pretty decent fighter even before partnering up with Wufei and she'd gotten a hell of a lot better since. They'd been training together - martial arts, target practice, obstacle course, you name it - practically every damn day since they got engaged. That was part of the deal they'd made with Une to let them keep on as partners. As long as their scores held or improved from what they were prior to their engagement, she'd let them keep partnering each other. It was the same deal that she'd cut with Noin and Zechs a year earlier.

If they'd been regular operatives, partnering with each other wouldn't have been an option but they weren't. Neither were Heero and I come to that. We'd all been lumped in together as a "special ops team" (including our emergencies-only members, namely Trowa and Quatre - oh, and Dorothy, of all people) instead. It had kind of been a necessity at the start since the Preventers required recruits to be 21 and even Zechs, Noin, and Sally hadn't made the cutoff at the time they'd joined. Hell, *Une* had barely been 21 and she was in *charge* of the damn organization! There were a lot of rules that applied to regular operatives that were waived when it came to us; if we'd had to adhere to them most of us would've bailed a long time ago.

I had one lonely pick left in my braid - the other one having been sacrificed to jamming the arena door - and that was it in terms of equipment; our captors obviously knew at least a bit about Preventers agents since they'd taken away our shoes, belts, and jewellery. Even my "wedding ring" was gone; this sort of thing was the reason I'd quit wearing my cross on assignments quite some time ago. There were a few useful things in the medical supplies they'd given Sally but a few needles, a scalpel, scissors (now torn apart to give us two halfway decent stabbing blades) , and a pair of forceps weren't exactly going to do us a hell of a lot of good.

Especially not when no one had even checked on us in hours; you couldn't very well take a hostage if no one came within arm's reach. The last time we'd heard from anyone was when Sally had pounded on the door and yelled till someone finally yelled back. She'd - requested - the use of a washroom. A few minutes later, there'd been the grate of at least two bolts sliding and the door had been opened long enough for a bucket to be thrown inside. Sally had counted no less than three guns aimed at the doorway while it was open. I was guessing that we had the guy who'd recognized Wufei to thank for that; they knew that they had a former Gundam pilot in here and weren't taking any chances. And I had a sneaking suspicion that they knew I was one too; if they had enough info to know my name was Maxwell, odds were good that they knew a hell of a lot more than that.

Unless Heero remembered a few more things and came looking for me I figured we were in pretty deep shit. The door opened inwards but the hinges weren't a type that could be torn apart with the makeshift tools we had available. Both the door and its frame were steel. It was bolted shut from the outside and, while the three of us working together *might* - maybe, if we were really, really lucky and didn't mind breaking a few bones in the process - have been able to bash it down even in our current beat-up state, it would take a fucking *long* time and make one hell of a lot of noise. Even if the guards weren't standing right outside, somebody would hear and come before we could get it down and be gone.

For now, we were being good little captives and playing up our injuries. Not that my own condition required much exaggerating, it had taken both Wufei and Sally to get me on my feet and over to the damn bucket a while ago. But hopefully, whenever our captors finally did come back to dispose of us, they'd underestimate us and we'd be able to find an opportunity to try an escape. Not exactly the greatest plan any of us had ever come up with but we didn't have a whole hell of a lot to work with at the moment.

I wondered how much longer Mattis would want to take the risk of keeping us alive. My guess was that he was dismantling the weapons factory and shipping out the evidence right now. Once that was done - well, holding Preventers agents captive would be highly inconvenient.

Mattis apparently wasn't the type to gloat; he had no interest in rubbing our noses in our failure or he'd have been back here to do so by now. Nor was he interested in even trying to find out from us just how much the Preventers knew. He was just cutting his losses and covering his tracks. By the time the Preventers got around to sending someone to look for us, there would be no sign of us *or* the weapons factory. No evidence, no case. And Mattis would get off scot free. *If* he managed to eliminate the other possible witness - Heero - as well.

Assuming that he hadn't done so already. The thought made me feel even worse than I already had. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think there was much chance of Mattis's goons getting anywhere near Heero, regardless of the fact that they seemed to be at least semi-competent. But with the amnesia and the headaches and the confusion... I wasn't quite so sure. I *hoped* that he was still more than capable of handling the situation but there was that little tiny bit of uncertainty nagging at me.

And even if Heero managed to stay free and safe, I had no idea whether he would remember enough in time to decide to rescue me. I hoped that he did. Not just for the sake of Sally and Wufei and myself, but also for Heero's own sake. If one or more of us ended up dead because of his amnesia, he might never forgive himself. He might not be the most friendly person in the universe but he would at the very least be upset at his "failure" to aid his fellow agents. Okay, fellow agents and friends, he *did* at least consider us friends nowadays even if we weren't really close. I kind of suspected that Heero would be pretty pissed at himself over shooting me as it was, that wasn't exactly part of the code of behaviour for partners after all. He didn't need any more guilt or self-directed hatred to add to that particular fuck-up.

I really didn't blame Heero for shooting me; I'd been aware of the danger of him remembering our first meeting from the very start. There must've been a better way to deal with the whole mess; I just hadn't been able to think of it. Him remembering the wrong things at the wrong time and me ending up hurt was my own damn fault for not handling this better. I still didn't know what else I could have done but there must've been *something*.

And the amnesia sure as hell wasn't his fault; if it was anyone's, it was mine. He'd gotten hurt protecting me in the first place. I was the one who'd been in the path of the falling scaffolding; he'd jumped *into* the danger to knock me out of it.

I sighed and shifted position a bit, trying to make my damn shoulder at least a *little* more comfortable. What I really wanted to do was pace but I knew that I couldn't afford to waste what little strength I had on something so foolish and useless. 'Not to mention that I'd probably fall flat on my face 'cause I'm so fucking lightheaded...' I sighed again and shivered as another round of chills set in.

"Maxwell. He *will* get us out of this. You know that as well as I do," Wufei whispered in Chinese next to my ear.

I made a noncommittal sound in response. Wufei hadn't been around Heero over the past few days. He had no damn idea how fucking confused Heero was. I really wanted to believe that Heero would get his head straightened out and come charging to the rescue like the "knight in Gundanium armor" I'd called him right after the accident. But I'd stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. And I don't think that Heero ever did.

[chap. 19] [chap. 21] [back to Calic0cat's fic]