Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5x1, others tba
Warnings: Violence, language, sex, adult situations
Spoilers: Yes, quite a lot for end of series (no EW though)
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer:Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole
host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off
of them. Not a single peanut.
AN: Another three-part chapter, though shorter than the previous one.
In case you were wondering, this is where some of the angst starts. Still
liberally peppered with anger, blood, violence and swearing...gotta stick
with what I'm good at, right? If you're interested, I might even give
you all a pretty nasty lemon to go with it (the next few chapters were
normally citrus-free but I can see where one can be squeezed in, if wanted).
Arrangement + Chapter 24
Knowledge, Part I
feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather"
The two bokken crashed and rasped, wood on wood.
Wufei pushed against his opponent's blade - took a step forward -
No! He'd moved too soon-
Heero's bokken lunged - a bent wrist wresting it from the deadlock with
its mate - and hammered into Wufei's shoulder.
Wufei tried to spin -
The sword promptly swept from his shoulder to his knees.
Wufei swore as he tottered and tumbled to the tatami. His furious glare
hid the acid bite of shame. What a stupid mistake! Stupid!
Heero let his bokken rest on his shoulder and lifted an eyebrow. The first
time he'd managed to catch Wufei out, he'd been rather pleased with himself.
The second time, he'd been mocking. This time - the third - there was
only that eloquent eyebrow asking Wufei just what the hell he thought
he was doing: knitting?
This was humiliating. Heero was a good fencer, but that didn't translate
to other sword forms such as Chinese sabres. Wufei had been teaching him
for the past few weeks.
My timing and my balance are off...The words squirmed like vermin eating
away at his confidence, his pride in his ability.
Heero turned towards the sword stand on one side of the room to put away
his practice sword - to find his way blocked by Wufei's bokken.
"I thought you'd have had enough." Heero commented dryly, glancing at
Wufei didn't say anything. He glared his challenge, took a step back,
and swished the bokken up in a brief salute.
Heero did the same, with a cool indifferent movement that Treize would
have envied. Wufei normally admired his partner's composure. But today,
he found his fingers squeezing the bokken hard enough to make his bones
ache. Bad. He forced himself to relax, or Heero would disarm him at the
first touch. He steadied himself. Breathed. In. Out...Looked for his centre...gave
up that attempt quickly; he'd not found it in weeks. He threw himself
into a furious attack.
Crash! The bokken bit, wrestled, swept away and crashed together again,
barking wooden insults at each other. It went wrong almost immediately.
Wufei felt like he was stumbling from one movement to the next, perpetually
He was tired. And he shouldn't be, his mind countered ragingly, a second
on the heel of that thought. Heero wasn't tired! They'd been working furiously
for the past month, ever since that stupid mission on L3. But did
Heero show any signs of being affected? Oh no, not the perfect soldier!
Fresh as a fucking daisy.
The first two weeks back from L3 had been immediately and insanely busy,
and considerably dangerous. The partners had been at the forefront of
several offensives to break Syndicate operations - weapons factories,
drug manufactures, suit depots. They'd arrested a lot of the Syndicate's
small fry, netted from Exeter's information. But the big fish were harder
to catch, even with those resources. After their first frantic round-up
of criminals - and a few truly vicious fights - they'd spent the last
two weeks in Brussels, looking for more leads on the others, interrogating
the men they had already caught, and building their cases.
No cleansing fights, no all-consuming battles, no real life-or-death situations
in two weeks - the look on Heero's face as he easily dodged the blow aimed
at his shoulder seemed to contemptuously underline the fact that he certainly
wasn't in any danger now; he looked almost bored. Wufei whipped the sword
towards the hand so lazily holding the bokken, and staggered as his own
practice blade bit air. He wrenched a few back muscles stabilizing himself,
and jerked out of the way of Heero's counter, avoiding it by the breadth
of a hair that had been previously quartered.
They worked sixteen hour days at Ops, following their leads, then, when
Sally, Sam or Une chased them away, they went back to the safe-house and
worked some more. Once the interrogations were done, they both opted,
of a common, silent accord, to work from Heero's place all the time and
avoid all interruptions. The patterns of their lives for the past week
or more had been endless repetition, sitting at the kitchen counter for
the most; hacking into accounts, chasing leads, directing and analyzing
satellite surveillance. They'd get up, work for twenty hours, sleep...wake
up and repeat. Hours drifted by like hungry ghosts. The only relief was
these moments of practice, and the occasional quick, efficient fuck.
Heero's sword darted - a feint! Wufei barely recovered in time to parry
the counter-slash that nearly ripped the bokken from his tired hands.
Heero had been about to call the fight to a close, but since Wufei had
decided to go another round, the soldier was going all the way, and showing
absolutely no mercy. Of course.
Wufei parried again, and was pushed back. This lack of focus on his part
was all the more infuriating because he had been longing for this all
day; the quiet of the house had been drilling into his nerves. Heero had
been assiduously working for the past ten hours on his laptop, breezily
hacking into a few highly secure Swiss bank accounts, following their
leads on the Syndicate's financial setup. Apart from a few necessary breaks
to keep his body working at peak efficiency, he had not moved away from
the computer, or stretched, or talked, or even looked at Wufei
The latter was a bit at a loss to figure out why this bothered him; this
was Heero's usual attitude when he had A Mission. It had never annoyed
him before. But by the end of the day, Wufei had been ready to grab that
laptop and break it over his partner's hard uncaring head just for the
excitement that would lead to.
It was because he was tired. And bored - this part of the mission wasn't
all that interesting, for all it was crucial.
Heero's sword slammed against his, shoving him back again -
Yes, bored and tired.
And Heero, of course, wasn't.
And if he'd noticed Wufei's odd restlessness - of course he'd noticed
it, it was about as hard to ignore as a pissed-off dragon in a bamboo
grove. Wufei had caught a couple of nearly-curious looks thrown his way,
Heero noticing, weighing, and deciding it was none of his business since
it didn't affect Wufei's ability to fight against an average opponent.
- ...he didn't care.
Wufei's muscles screamed as he twisted, bent and straightened, right into
Heero's guard, like a mine going off in his face -
- ...Heero didn't ask what was wrong, because...that wasn't the arrangement.
A shove of his shoulder - Heero staggered-
-...They shared their strengths, and they honed each other's edge, that
His sword smashed aside Heero's defensive thrust.
- ...Heero didn't care that his partner was out of sorts for the last
month, as long as it didn't affect his work. So Heero just -
A sweeping kick took out Heero's legs -
- didn't say -
Wufei landed astride him, bokken twisting downwards -
The sword slammed point first into the spring-board floor with a harsh
bark of wood. His hands smashed into the tsuba which snapped clean off
from the violence of the blow.
The small sound of the little handguard falling to the matting was the
only noise, apart from their harsh breathing. Heero's wide eyes were on
the white oak of the bokken that had been slammed point-first into the
floor an inch away from his head.
Then those dark blue eyes fastened on Wufei.
So...you're looking at me now...
He found himself leaning forward, towards those wide eyes peeking through
the rich brown fall of hair, the mouth softened and open in slight shock
- they seemed further away. They were at the end of a long tunnel, darkness
ringing his vision...From a distance, he saw Heero blink and glance off
to one side.
Lips moved - blood, anger and faint stirrings of lust were boiling in
Wufei's ears, it took a moment for the words to filter through-
Heero snarled and shoved. Wufei was tossed aside like a child.
Fury ignited and he scrambled to his knees, the oak of the bokken rasping
along the floor as he swung it up.
Heero, who'd uncoiled from the floor like a snake and taken three steps
towards one side of the dojo, stared back at him, startled and a bit annoyed.
"Are you deaf?"
"What?" Wufei was on his knees, or he would have staggered.
"I said there's someone knocking at the door." Heero turned with a dismissive
scowl and headed towards the front door. Wufei stayed on his knees. The
sword had dipped, taking some of his weight like a crutch.
Heero's voice sounded distant.
"Yeah, hi, got something for you. What have you been up to, boy? You're
sweating like a pig."
Wufei saw his own hand pick up Heero's fallen bokken, fingers like light
copper against the ivory of the wood. He found himself moving towards
the sword-stand, his back to Heero and Sam. Centre. He needed to find
It had eluded him for weeks now.
Sam grimaced as he sipped the ersatz coffee but was too polite to say
anything. Or too tired. His rich brown skin had a yellowy, stretched quality
to it, his eyes were red and swollen, and underlined with blackened bags
like bruises. It had been a long month, and Sam was responsible - as directly
as a 'consultant' like him could be - for most of the teams hunting down
the lower echelons of the Syndicate on the strength of the information
the partners had secured from Exeter.
The coffee cup - bought for Duo's visit a while back - clunked on the
counter, and Sam picked up and leafed through a folder instead.
"I thought you boys might be rather bored doing all this number crunching
stuff." He said, without further preamble. Wufei must have suddenly looked
like a hound straining at the lead, because the Old Fox grinned. Then
"To be honest, actually...we're tapped out. Our resources in Ops are being
stretched like Commander Une's nerves. That's why I have you guys doing
the cyberspace hunting; we just don't have anybody else who can take up
the slack, though we all know that's not where your true talents lie."
"So what do you have for us?" Wufei's fingers itched to grab the folder
from him. The promise of getting out of the house and into a fight burned
like a promise of salvation in his mind.
"It's one of the Syndicate bosses we're slowly closing in on. He's starting
to feel cornered. We got word on the street that he's had this brainwave.
He's decided to kidnap bigwig politicians and industrials, the ones close
to Preventers; he's going to hold them so we can't attack him."
Heero's silent sneer was an assessment of how likely that was. Wufei stared
from that expression to Sam, eyes wide. "You want us to do hostage rescue?!"
"Are you kidding me?" Sam let loose three short barks of laughter. "I
wouldn't trust you guys to rescue my mother in law, and the old cow's
bullet-proof! No, he's not put the plan in motion yet. You've got to realize,
the people he's aiming his sights at are VIPs. They don't consider their
day complete without the odd death threat or two. They know how to defend
themselves. So unless one of them does something stupid, it'll take our
bloke awhile to get his hands on them. But I'd rest the easier if you
two lads could nip his plan - an' him - in the butt."
"Bud." Wufei corrected automatically, then rolled his eyes at Sam's small,
cynical grin. Foxwood occasionally pulled out his 'just a beat copper,
guv' routine from his repertoire. Wufei sometimes wondered if he'd developed
it to fool the criminals he'd spent his life hunting, or the London politicians
and senior management he'd had to navigate like an obstacle course while
doing his job.
"What do we have?" Heero was, as usual, all business, and didn't show
the slightest interest in semantics.
"Well..." Sam frowned as he flipped through the four pieces of paper contained
in the folder. "Not much, strangely enough. I got this direct from the
Lady, and she said to pass it to you right away - obviously this is urgent.
Still, not much to go on. No informants, no satellite surveillance, no
research...just a few leads, possible locations, and that's it."
Heero frowned, and his eyes darted towards his laptop.
"I know it sounds a bit low-key," Sam added quickly, "but indications
are that there is a real threat here, and the leads are valid. And if
this is in any way, shape or form a real plot, we'd get our arses roasted
if any of these toffs get snatched and we only had a couple of cadets
on the case. And cadets are all we have left in-"
"We'll do it." Heero cut him short, in a voice indicating that the soldier
did not need justifications for his orders. "It'll be nice to get out
of the house," he added with the swiftest glance at Wufei. The faintly
sardonic tone had tagged a '-and my partner is feeling rather restless'
to his statement. Wufei managed to return the glance, thinking, yeah,
that was what was bugging him, he was restless. Getting out of the house
Heero grabbed the laptop, started closing programs quickly and efficiently.
Wufei finally snagged the folder from Sam's clutches and went through
the information, which didn't take very long.
"They're in Brussels?" He asked, rather surprised.
"Sure. They want to hurt us. You can't kick a geezer in the bollocks without
getting close. Besides, they, aaah, they have a cunning plan. A lot of
their targets will be coming here next week for a conference, and some
meetings with the Lady and the board of ESUN security. They think this
will be a great occasion. Never mind that the whole Brussels police force
will be out watching these VIPs." Sam sneered, obviously not impressed
by their foe's strategy.
Heero surfed through the online information while Wufei read out the addresses
in the folder. They were on the far side of Brussels, in the oldest industrial
zone near the river, beyond the old train station, an area of mostly abandoned
warehouses, docking bays and haulage facilities. A good place to assemble
and house a group of armed nasties in preparation for an attack. Nobody
would report them to the police over there; the muggers, hookers and pimps
in that region hated anything with a badge.
Wufei glanced back at Sam suspiciously, while his fingers hovered over
the locked and reinforced cabinet where the partners kept their more serious
artillery. "Is this another mission where we have to be circumspect?"
Sam snorted hugely as he stood. "Hell no. I have six other things I need
you two and everybody else in Ops to do, I don't have the time for you
to dance the foxtrot with these buggers. And you'll have no backup, lads,
unless its regular police, and I'd rather not involve them. So you know
what that means...if you actually find these guys, you have my permission
to ventilate their arses."
"Perfect." Wufei muttered under his breath, the word covered by the beep
of the code he'd entered. He felt his indefinable malaise vanish as his
fingers closed around the stocky grip of the special ops Micro Uzi he
used when he felt like taking names only to slap them onto the toe-tags
at the morgue.
Of course, it was understood - confirmed by a glare from Sam's dark eyes
as he left without any other form of farewell - that it was Heero's job
to apply liberal doses of mayhem, and Wufei's job to insure that most
of the suspects survived, albeit somewhat holed. Despite the Old Fox's
brash statement, he was still very attached to proper police procedure,
where killing was used only as the last resort, instead of a means of
simplifying things; Sam knew that he and Wufei were somewhat on the same
wavelength on that.
Wufei felt a distant prickle of pity for the Syndicate thugs as he slipped
the SMG's strap over his shoulder and grabbed a thick long coat to cover
it. Today...today he wasn't feeling in the mood to pull his own punches,
much less Heero's.
It turned out that pulling punches was the least of their worries.
Wufei tightened the field dressing with a small hiss. It was a minor wound
across his lower back. Small, but somewhat painful, stinging and bleeding
again every time he moved, and he was moving a lot.
Stupid to have gotten injured...Heero, of course, had been rolling away
and firing back before the first bullet clashed into the concrete floor
where he'd been standing. Alerted by the sound of the trigger tightening,
probably. The second bullet, an instant behind the first, hit Wufei, but
he managed to mostly avoid it. They'd been aiming for his legs. That small
boon and the fact they'd aimed for Heero first was the reason Wufei still
had full use of his legs; he wasn't as quick as Heero when it came to
avoiding fire and retaliating. No-one was.
Their attackers hadn't tried for fatal shots, strangely enough...they
must prefer the partners alive. Wufei's grip tightened on the small SMG.
He had no intention of finding out why, except maybe when the judge asked
the bastards in court.
Heero was doing his thing - Wufei heard the Glock fire twice, each time
followed by a scream and shouts. His partner was in his element. Hell,
he was probably having fun, inasmuch as Heero understood the concept,
Wufei groused inwardly. For Wufei, the enjoyment factor had dropped considerably
when he realized how thoroughly they were surrounded, and how neatly the
jaws of the trap were closing in.
Someone really knew what they were doing out there. This was no hide-out
they'd stumbled upon. There had been no traces of occupation to warn them
as they entered the docking hangar, still in use for the few ships navigating
the canal. They'd thought it would be empty, like the first two leads
they'd checked that night. Far from it. These people were here for one
reason only, to capture the partners; they'd chosen their location perfectly,
and had quite a few men waiting for them. No wonder they hadn't bothered
with a head-shot, Wufei thought bitterly. They must feel pretty confident
they'd get Heero and Wufei alive.
Time to rip shreds out of their delusions...
Wufei stood in one fluid movement, firing at a dark shadow - Heero was
a pinpoint of light in his mind, he knew where his partner was and would
be, as if they'd had hours to discuss their tactics instead of Heero hissing
'left and up' over a pile of old boxes before taking off. Without even
checking if Wufei was seriously wounded or not, of course. He was working
on the assumption that Wufei could stay conscious, if not mobile, and
be able to cover his route as he tried to get around the shooters.
This was not going to be easy, Wufei estimated, ignoring the stab of anxiety
as he listened, in vain, for further shots from the Glock. The men were
surrounding them from all directions, even above - he'd fired at several
people on the gangplanks over their heads, but the bastards had been shielded
by the mechanisms of the cranes used to transport heavy loads across the
huge hangar. He'd caught one of them out in the open - the SMG doing short
work of him - but since then, the others had circled around him, staying
out of sight. How many people were trying to round them up? A considerable
number, he thought. They definitely knew what they were doing.
Men scurrying around him - on his right. The Uzi spat out bullets, but
hit only a metal container. Damn it! He heard/felt his partner nearing
him again; Heero had not found a way around their attackers. This was
bad. The entirety of the hangar loomed around them. As soon as the first
men had fired, someone had flipped on the overheads, and a grim, washed-out
light now tracked the partners' attempts to evade the trap. Footsteps
echoed in the huge space of the tall hangar, impossible to pinpoint. Stacks
and stacks of metallic containers, faded blue and red, each higher than
a man, formed a natural maze around them. This was really an exquisite
setup for an ambush.
Heero was a ghost, drifting between two rows, heading back towards Wufei.
New plan then, the latter guessed; they would hole up, back to back, and
wait for their adversaries to come and get them, and pay the price. Hoping
that their enemies didn't have stun gas. They already had a scrambler
- the Preventers' cell phones had been useless from the moment the trap
closed in around them.
Wufei heard the faint noise just as Heero was going to step out from behind
a protective container. His body reacted on instinct; Wufei hurled himself
forward and sideways, hitting the ground while he fired, up and to the
right, both hands steadying the SMG - the man who'd moved out of cover
on the gangway screamed as some of the bullet slammed into his thigh.
The strength of the round swiped the leg out from under him and propelled
him sideways. He crashed into the gangway's guiderail, then tumbled over
it. It was one of the lowest gangways, a mobile platform only ten feet
off the ground - but the fall had probably put him out of commission,
if the bullets hadn't.
Heero had fallen back to a crouch at Wufei's move, protected by a container
twenty feet away from his partner. He darted a look at the now empty space
on the gangway, then leaned back, turned towards Wufei - his eyes widened
in alarm just as the latter scrambled quickly to his knees.
The cold, hard touch of metal met the back of Wufei's head as he straightened.
On the battle-edge the partners' walked, the situation was immediately
Heero was twenty feet away, Glock pointing uselessly towards the now empty
gangway to one side.
Another attacker has appeared behind Heero - the blue eyes had flinched,
he was aware of the danger.
But the man who had stumbled onto the scene had his shotgun pointing in
the other direction, he'd been trying to circle them and gotten it wrong.
The person standing behind Wufei, who must have the weight and consistency
of a shadow to have gotten behind him so quietly, had a gun to his head
- waiting for Heero to throw down his weapon.
It was all beautifully unambiguous. Wufei, still on his knees, tensed
- less than a second had gone by since the metal touched his head, but
that preternatural clarity slowed time to a crawl, and cast his future
as a series of stark probabilities, uncompromised by any emotions.
Heero wouldn't surrender. He would spin around and nail the man behind
him, who had turned, shocked, towards Heero and was bringing his shotgun
up at the speed of creeping glaciers. The person behind Wufei would fire
in response. Wufei would have a split second to dodge, before the trigger
was pulled but after it was too late for the man to correct his aim. A
split second to live or die-...then Heero would kill the shooter.
The scene remained frozen...for a lingering second...
And then another.
Wufei felt his heart suddenly beat again, a ramming punch in his chest,
as time regained its normal speed and Heero was still frozen in position,
hesitating- Heero, hesitating! He was staring at the man holding Wufei
at gunpoint. The thug behind Heero finally got his coordination right
and the shotgun now had the soldier in its sights-
Three painful, confused heartbeats...then Heero leaned forward. The Glock
touched the floor and skittered away with the flick of his fingers.
What- what was Heero doing?! Wufei felt a wash of disbelief and horror
and-...well, mainly disbelief and horror. The twanging deadly tension
in his body - coiling for that last spring away from the bullet a few
inches from his skull - suddenly released and he slumped forward slightly.
They were stuck; even if, by some miracle, Wufei managed to dodge the
bullet and take down his opponent, Heero was now disarmed and - and putting
his hands on his head - had they used gas after all?! Maybe all this was
some kind of hallucination-
"Drop the gun," the man behind Wufei ordered.
Like a kaleidoscope, the scene fractured and reassembled itself into a
much more rational picture.
Of course Heero wouldn't have surrendered for his sake...The quick conclusion
felt oddly raw, but then he focused on the here and now.
Wufei carefully put his SMG down and laced his fingers at the back of
his neck, mirroring Heero's pose. Footsteps, moving around him. He figured
it would be normal to glare at someone who'd captured him, so glare he
did, hiding any sense of recognition.
Trowa ignored the glare, and casually kicked the Uzi away.
For a nasty, quivering heartbeat Wufei wondered if he'd not made a mistake.
He barely recognized his comrade. Trowa's hair was oily, the bangs ragged
and messy and shoved to the side, far from his usual style. And that was
just a small detail. His face was hard and bitter, and he managed to look
at least five years older than he was. His whole stance was aggressive,
ugly. He moved like someone who made a habit of killing and a point of
But the green eyes were all Trowa as they briefly caught Wufei's gaze,
the moment hidden from the other attacker holding Heero at shotgun-point.
Then the killer's mask was back, as he crouched in front of Wufei.
"See? Wasn't so hard." He sneered, presumably at the man carefully approaching
Heero. Trowa's gun dug painfully under Wufei's chin, shoving his head
up and back. He looked like he longed to pull the trigger. The stance,
the voice, the attitude, the murderous look - there was no flaw. If it
hadn't been for that flash of quickly hidden acknowledgement in Trowa's
eyes, Wufei would have believed his comrade had actually gone over to
the enemy. In fact, despite the glance, and having been similarly fooled
before on the Lunar base, Wufei still wasn't as convinced as he wanted
to be, what with the gun digging a hole in the soft flesh under his jaw.
"Three men dead, Nash. Several wounded. Talby looks bad." The man covering
Heero sounded reproving. Wufei wasn't surprised when Trowa sniffed scornfully.
"Three men dead to get these two alive? You should be on your knees with
my dick in your mouth in sheer gratitude we got them so cheap, Bruckheim."
Wufei, looking over Trowa's shoulder, saw the thug's thin lips quiver
with a very-much unvoiced 'Fuck you' aimed at Trowa's back...and he looked
immediately scared at his audacity.
"Call in the others and get the truck around. And get some reinforced
steel handcuffs." Trowa ordered, eyes still bright and deadly on Wufei.
So he's in charge, Wufei thought, no wonder the trap was so good-
"Hold up-" Trowa had moved so fast it left Wufei blinking. He gasped when
a hand gripped his throat and yanked his head back into Trowa's chest.
The cold muzzle of the Browning pressed against his temple. "Keep your
shotgun on that other one, Bruckheim. He's the worst. Jan?! Get
your scabby ass down here, and tell Helena to cut the scrambler! You-"
Heero straightened slightly, Wufei gathered Trowa was addressing him.
"Don't try anything funny. Zero one. Or I'll blow your...friend's brains
Zero one...oh this wasn't good, Wufei thought, mind spinning. How much
was Trowa in control of the situation? What was his mission and what was
he up to? Would-
'...friend'? Wufei's mind lingered briefly over that mocking little pause
between the words. What...had that meant? Well, Heero wasn't going to
try anything. He'd always trusted Trowa implicitly, despite the rather
strange situations they'd found each other in at times. Wufei, with the
muzzle digging painfully into his temple, rather envied that confidence.
If this hadn't been Trowa, Wufei would have taken a gamble - this wasn't
the best position to hold someone like himself. But Trowa's alter ego
might not know that. Was he merely acting the part, or giving Wufei a
break? Dammit! This was why Wufei hated undercover missions! You got so
caught up in all the fucking lies you tripped yourself and your allies
as much as the enemy! He tensed...was Trowa giving him an out? A chance
to disarm 'Nash' and get Heero and himself away in a believable fashion?
Trowa's fingers tightened on his neck, a ripple of quick presses. Their
old code. Hold. Hold. Hold...
Okay, Barton. I hope you know what you're doing. Wufei relaxed slightly
against the grip - saw Heero echo the unspoken submission.
And hoped they wouldn't regret it.
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