see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
+ 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
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.
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