Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning: Male/Male sex, violence, graphic, language, icky death.
Paths + Part 17
"Duo," the soft voice
of Quatre slowly penetrated Duo's misery. "I'm sorry that I haven't-
I wanted to help you, like the others, but your pain... It hurts me too
much. It makes me crazy; gives me flashbacks about the war. I haven't
been very strong. I'm sorry that I can't cope. I'm sorry that I can't
sit by your side like the others. I hope- I hope you can forgive me?"
Duo was sweating profusely. Every muscle trembled. His teeth were gritted
on pain and mental anguish. The pain throughout his body was incredible
as hormones tried to reassert themselves, bones were finally able to show
him just how much gravity, poor care, and Heero's exercises were hurting
them, and his head tried to explode from the disorienting headaches caused
by his first day of not having his pills. He turned his head, purple eyes
huge in his sunken, white face, and remembered something he had said to
Heero a long time ago, "You'd blame yourself for there not being
air in space, Quatre."
Duo's voice was a thin, rasping, ghost, but Quatre leaned close and heard.
Quatre frowned, uncertain, and then he gave Duo a limp, sad smile. "I
made my body strong, Duo, thinking it would make my soul and mind stronger
too. It didn't. I'm still naive, little Quatre inside. Living day to day
with the memories from the war, and now this," he added, indicating
Duo, "overwhelms me." He gripped Duo's hand. It was shaking
uncontrollably. "I can't help, but blame myself for not being able
to keep it together."
Duo snorted in bitter humor, "As if we have!" he said pointedly.
"We're no different Quatre, we just cover it up better." A wave
of nausea and anxiety swept over Duo. Quatre's hand tightened on his in
concern, but Duo pulled away with the clink of the handcuff.
"Better go," Duo managed to whisper. "It's going to get
It had been that way for Duo for days, bouts of manic, abusive, screaming,
and attempts to escape, followed by brief periods of a lucid state when
his body was too exhausted to fight and scream any longer. Now that the
pills were gone completely, and the last of the drugs were leaving his
body, Duo suspected that his lucid moments were going to become nonexistent
and that he was about to spiral straight down into madness; a madness
Duo had little hope of overcoming.
"Can you bring Heero back?" Duo asked, trying and failing to
recall why Quatre was there instead of Heero in the first place.
"He was exhausted," Quatre explained. "I told him I would
get you to eat while he slept a little."
Duo's eyes followed a long, plastic tube from the needle in his arm to
the liquid nutrition bag hanging in a stand by the bed. He grimaced. "Can't
eat. Been throwing up." He panted through a wave of pain and anxiety.
His vision blurred and then steadied on Quatre again. "I need Heero."
Quatre could have ignored him, Duo thought, passing off his request as
just another in a long line of ploys to be alone long enough to escape.
Quatre was gentle and caring, but he wasn't a fool.
He nodded, though, and said, "I'll wake him if you feel you need
him that badly. James is outside the door. I'll leave him here to watch
you." Quatre didn't say it, but his face said clearer than words
that Duo's condition was tearing him apart. He was taking the chance that
Duo was too weak now to cause any trouble. Quatre wanted to leave that
Quatre went to the door and let a dark haired man in. Rubbing the center
of his chest as if he were in pain, Quatre explained the situation to
the servant. The servant was an older man, very formal and very correct
in his pressed uniform. He bowed respectfully to Quatre.
"You may count on me, sir," James assured him.
"Thank you, James, I know I can," Quatre replied in relief and
then he was gone, closing the door behind him.
Duo panted through another wave of pain and anxiety, trying to initiate
one of Wu Fei's breathing techniques, knowing that he had to calm his
pounding heart and lower his raging blood pressure. Slow in. Slow out.
Duo struggled. His mind was burning. It whispered to him like a conspirator,
escape the handcuffs, overpower the servant, escape the Winner estate,
and get more pills. It was taking all of his will power to ignore that
voice. Because of that, Duo wasn't finding the reserves he needed to deal
with his breathing.
Even in his condition, Duo's soldier training came to the fore, mentally
pushing his anxiety aside, briefly, to make a comment about the servant.
Duo physically frowned. The servant hadn't moved since Quatre had left
and he was strangely silent.
Duo blinked and focused his blurring vision enough to see the man halfway
across the room. He was intently staring back at Duo with a gun in his
hand, a smile on a sallow, narrow face, and a pleased glitter in his small,
black eyes. Duo wondered, with rising alarm, if Quatre had given him the
gun. If Quatre had given it to James, Duo wasn't about to blame him, but...
it wasn't like Quatre to do something like that.
"Any time now," the man suddenly said. "The Commander is
going to be here with the troops. He's going to have every one of you
stinking Gundam pilots shot between the eyes. Maybe he'll let me have
the honor of doing you?"
Duo wondered if he was hallucinating about the war or if his paranoia
was twisting what the man was saying. When the man remained stubbornly
real, sunlight from the large window glinting on the metal barrel of his
gun, Duo could think of only one thing to say to address his helplessness,
his anguish, and the fact that he always seemed to get the worst in any
James blinked. Duo's voice had been a thin whisper. "What?"
"I quit!" Duo whispered again. "I've decided to be a bad
guy. Call your boss. Have him get me some more pills. I'll do any bad
guy thing he wants. You win. I lose. I'm done going through this torture.
Where do I sign up to join the anti- unification forces?"
James was still confused, the gun tensed nervously in his hand. "I
can hardly hear you. What the Hell are you going on about?"
Duo swallowed in his dry throat and crooked a finger at the man. James
cautiously approached, glaring. "Let me go!" Duo whispered and
rattled the hand cuffs. His wrists were raw and bandaged from fighting
against the cold metal. "You want to take this place over and capture
everyone, right? Well, I'm your man."
"The Lieutenant told me that the pills would make you betray your
comrades," James said with sudden understanding coupled with disgust.
"That's why I haven't killed you yet."
Duo froze, stricken, but then he was plastering on a large grin. "Yeah,
he was absolutely right! I'll do whatever you want if you just help me
get out of these cuffs."
James hesitated. "It would be better if I waited for reinforcements."
Duo lifted a lip contemptuously. "What? You can't handle a wasted
piece of trash like me?"
James raised his gun as if he intended to hit Duo with the butt end, but
his hand tensed at the last moment and he regained control. Lowering the
gun, he gave Duo a slow once over. "You're just a stinking bunch
of sticks," he said with a disgusted flare of his nostrils. "I
can handle you, don't worry, so don't try anything or I'll do more than
blow a hole between your eyes, got that? The lieutenant should be on site
now. I want to get in some fighting before all of your comrades get wasted.
I'll turn you over to him and then I can have some fun." When he
said, 'fun', his eyes glittered.
"Okay," Duo replied with a shrug. "Do whatever, as long
as I get some pills."
James's contempt deepened. He leaned closer to Duo to inspect the cuffs.
As he did so, he glanced at Duo, and then suddenly became intensely interested
in Duo's face. Duo, sitting up against the head board, felt an urge to
melt into the metal pressing into his back.
"You have some pretty eyes, piece of Gundam shit," James said
softly, as if it were a secret. "I've heard that you like some strange
Duo kept smiling, but sweat increased along his face and down his collar.
"Huh, well, I'm sure you haven't heard everything," he replied
in a hoarse, joking voice. He felt a threat in the air and it was growing
as the man's eyes once again did a slow once over of Duo's defenseless
body in its wrinkled, black nightshirt. "Let me go and I'll be a
good boy and cooperate."
"Why should I let you go?" James wondered slyly. "You're
going to behave much better if I don't."
James leaned in closer, a hand coming up to touch Duo's face while the
gun crept towards Duo's forehead. Duo leaned forward as if to meet him,
face going almost sensuous. "As long as I get the pills," Duo
murmured in a thin, yet sultry voice.
"When I'm done with you," James chuckled, "you won't care
about pills any more."
Without warning, Duo slammed his forehead straight into James. He hit
the man a solid blow over the bridge of his nose. There was a gush of
blood on both sides, but it was James who fell bonelessly into Duo's lap
without a sound, either unconscious or dead.
"In your dreams!" Duo bit out as he jerked his body and sent
James out of his lap and onto the floor.
With blood running down his face from a cut over his left eye, Duo used
his teeth to jerk the I.V. needle out of his arm. "Shit!" he
exclaimed as the small puncture wound began to bleed down his arm in a
narrow stream. "I didn't think I had enough blood left to be a bleeder!"
As quickly as he could, Duo maneuvered the needle between his teeth and
slid it into the lock of the handcuffs. Contorting his head, Duo soon
heard a satisfying click. Spitting the needle out of his mouth, Duo pulled
his wrists out of the now open handcuffs, feeling tremendous relief to
be free once more.
"Gun," Duo said to himself, trying to think clearly through
the pain of his head and his body in general. He slid off of the bed,
tested his knees to make certain that they were going to hold him up,
and then took the gun off of James. The man was dead, his skull split
and his body still twitching convulsively as his eyes stared at a point
on the ceiling. "Good," Duo whispered as he ripped a bandage
from his wrist and retied it over the I.V. wound, "Now I don't have
to waste bullets killing you, you bastard!"
Duo took up a hand towel from the bedside table. Heero had been using
it to wipe sweat from him. It smelled slightly rank, but Duo didn't have
time to be picky. He pressed it to his forehead to stop the bleeding there.
Duo's body was shaky and weak. The drug withdrawal was beginning to kick
in full force. He didn't have much time left before he was completely
incapacitated. He was already feeling a manic burning in his brain, that
violent clamber to get more medication about to become his world and his
all encompassing imperative. He had been faking when he had told James
that he was willing to do anything for more drugs. Only his high saturation
of the medication had saved Duo so far. Once it was completely out of
his body, he wouldn't be faking any longer.
"It would help if I knew what the Hell was going on," Duo muttered,
uncertain what to do next, but then heard the sound of gunshots and shouting
men from outside, followed by the loud crash of something solid being
ripped apart violently.
Going to the window and looking out cautiously, Duo saw an expanse of
ground far below, a gazebo of fairy tale proportions, and a rock garden
dominated by a gnarled tree. Filling it were government soldiers forming
into armed search parties. It was obvious that they had breached the large,
ornamental door that led to the back of the estate. The carved, wood panels
had been Quatre's pride and joy. Duo could see carved pieces all over
the ground, the siege machine nearby, with its metal claws, the likely
cause of its destruction.
Where was Quatre? Duo wondered. The man should have been outside making
peace and bringing reason to the situation. Those were government soldiers,
not Oz murderers. All that was required was unconditional surrender and
a giving up of any arms, so, why wasn't that happening? Duo heard more
shots. His ears could tell that there were more than a few people returning
Duo suddenly leaned heavily against the glass, desperately fighting a
wave of nausea and dizziness that he couldn't afford to have just then.
His anxiety surged. He panted and whined, scratching at his own arms,
for how long, he wasn't sure. That raking pain gave him something to hold
onto so that he could pull himself back to his senses again. Eyesight
clearing, Duo found himself still staring outside the window, but his
blood ran cold when he realized that the scene had changed drastically
for the worst.
Quatre and Trowa, arms tied behind their backs, were being led to a large
man standing aloof from the others, yet obviously in command. Duo couldn't
make out his features enough to tell who he was, but Quatre's bright curls,
his large shoulders, and Trowa's long, slim build, made identifying them
The man spoke to them, gesturing curtly. Trowa and Quatre both looked
away from him, refusing, perhaps, to give him what he wanted. The man
motioned and a soldier landed a rifle butt into Quatre's face. He fell
limply. Trowa knelt beside him, frantic, but there was nothing he could
do with his arms bound. The commander began speaking again.
A servant, perhaps one of Quatre's desert soldiers, came out of nowhere,
trying to save his master, gesticulating threateningly. The commander,
without taking his eyes off of Trowa, raised his gun and shot him dead.
He fell in a heap beside Quatre, his life's blood running out thick and
steaming on the ground, as Trowa sat down heavily, seeming to go into
Duo's training turned on like a switch. This wasn't a government action,
this was war. Leaving the window, he throttled weakness and horrible need,
began panting hard to work up an adrenalin surge to block out his pain,
and knelt by his bag to take out a small case of things he had always
kept with him out of habit, but had never thought to actually need again.
Combing his hair out quickly with his fingers and then re-braiding it
tightly, Duo slipped in lock picks, garroting wire, and razor blades beneath
his thick hair. Sorting through a small bottle of pills, he found the
ones he was looking for. One went into the bandage on his arm, poison
in case the worst happened, and the other two went into his mouth. They
were a last resort too, for when the body and mind were failing and near
death. Those two pills had a good chance of being as deadly as the poison,
yet Duo didn't have any choice in the shape he was in. He needed the numbness,
and the flash of energy, those pills were going to give him if he was
going to make any difference.
As Duo found his clothes, black jeans and a gray turtle neck sweater,
and put them on, he wondered exactly what 'difference' he hoped to make.
He had to choose carefully. He had to spend his life where it would help
the most. He didn't have long. Whatever he intended to do, it had to be
done in an all out frontal assault before his heart gave out under the
withdrawal from one set of pills and the forced energy surge of the others.
Duo looked out the window again. The unconscious Quatre had been dragged
off to one side along with the dazed Trowa. There were two guards on them.
The commander had stepped away, talking to his troop captains. If they
stayed together like that, then Duo's course of action was clear. To kill
a snake before it could bite, it was necessary to cut off the head.
Duo left his room cautiously. The hallways of Quatre's estate, usually
full of the people who worked and lived there, were deserted. Walking
at a slow pace, Duo braced himself along an ornate wall while his free
hand clutched his gun. Listening at corners and intersections, Duo took
a much needed rest at every stop, surprising himself each time he was
able to force his body to continue afterwards.
When Duo arrived at a service stairway, he knew that he would find it
held by the enemy or Quatre's people. Either way, he had to manage to
not get his head blown off. Since it was impossible to escape detection,
Duo purposefully made noise. If there were friends downstairs, then they
would be decent people and wait until they saw him before firing. If it
was the enemy, then he hoped to draw them out long enough for a few, clear
No one challenged Duo in the end. He reached the bottom landing and discovered
why with a sickening wave of nausea. Bodies, soldier and civilian alike,
were scattered in a macabre tumble of blood and flesh just inside a shattered,
narrow doorway. Quatre's people had given their lives.
Edging around them, Duo slipped and slithered until he reached the doorway
and was able to look out. The giant foyer was filled with milling soldiers
and prisoners being searched, questioned, and beat into submission. It
looked like chaos, but the edges of it were orderly, armed search parties
finishing up looking in the last rooms of the downstairs and preparing
to go upstairs next.
Duo knew that he couldn't slip by unnoticed. He was unusually small, he
still had blood on his face, and there wasn't a uniform anywhere, including
on the dead men at his feet, that would fit well enough to pass. There
was only one course of action, Duo thought with a grim smile as he tucked
his long braid into the back of his turtleneck sweater. He had to hide
in plain sight.
Without hesitation, Duo strode out into the foyer and slipped himself
between two groups of men coming together as they headed out the front
door. It was seamless. Duo had to keep from smiling as the soldiers looked
him over curiously, each group thinking that he was a prisoner of the
other group. Duo kept his face downcast, sullen, and suitably defeated,
playing the part to the hilt.
The pills were making his heart hammer in his thin chest and Duo felt
heat burning his skin as his blood rushed through his veins along with
surges of adrenalin. At that moment, poised between the absence of one
drug and the flow of another, Duo felt more alive than he had in years.
His steps ignored gravity and took on a spring despite his swollen and
hurting joints, his muscles tensed and flexed with false strength, and
his mind cleared and became as sharp as a pin, intelligence returning
full force to formulate plans and contingency plans. He knew that the
pills were making his body eat itself alive for the energy, but, at that
moment, Duo didn't care. He was Shinigami again, the God of Death, returned
to the battle field and ready to take vengeance.
The men tangled and became confused as they left the house through the
shattered double doors. There was a curse or two and then a captain calling
them to order. When they separated, Duo had ducked down and out of the
larger men, using his much smaller body to advantage as he dropped and
rolled behind a large stone statue of some long dead Winner ancestor.
"You are still a bad ass," Duo said to himself and let loose
the grin he had been suppressing as he inched his way along the perimeter
of the rock garden, using the stunted, evergreen shrubbery, and the many
statues for cover.
Almost there, Duo calculated. He planned to try and free Trowa and Quatre
first. They were valuable weapons that couldn't be taken off of the war
game board. If Duo failed, he needed to know that his comrades would be
there to finish the job. He also had his sights set on the two soldiers
that guarded them. Both had been wearing automatic rifles. Duo didn't
question whether he could incapacitate them or not. Failure wasn't an
option. He needed those weapons, and their many rounds of ammo, to cause
the most damage.
Duo flattened himself against a tall, ornamental rock, the cold of the
stone, coupled with the freezing air, chilling him to the bone. Shivering,
he slowly inched his way around it, ears and eyes alert for the enemy.
He wasn't prepared to run into a very large man leaning against the other
side of the stone. The man was urinating. They both staggered as their
bodies collided, but the big man was the first to recover. He grabbed
Duo with a huge hand and slammed him, without hesitation, into the hard
rock. His other hand squeezed the gun out of Duo's stunned hand, letting
it fall to the ground, and then he was twisting both hands into Duo's
sweater and lifting his frail body into the air.
Eye to bloodshot eye with his captor, beginning to choke as the collar
of his sweater knotted tight to his neck, Duo had a frantic view of the
man's scarred face and his evil, amazed grin. "Well, well, well,"
the man chuckled darkly, "Just who I was looking for."
Duo was slammed backwards into the rock again. He involuntarily cried
out in pain and bitter failure as red light shot across his vision and
darkness descended on his senses.
[part 16] [part 18]
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