Author: Merula
see pt 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Reckless + Part 7

"I have a mission," Heero said to me a few days later.

"How long will you be gone?' I asked, looking up from my paperwork.

"About 48 hours."

"Backup?"

"Plenty. Une wants me to take the newbies out. Recon." I groaned.

"For goodness sake, watch your back. Have you seen them on the range?"

"Duo, don't be mean." Heero frowned at me and I grinned back at him.

"Kidding. So Une wants you to take them out and scare the hell out of them, right?"

"She did mention making sure that they knew what the job entailed."

"Then just take them to records and have them file paperwork for a few days. That should do it."

"Duo," Heero shook his head at me.

"You know it's true. When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow morning," Heero gave me one of his smirks. "Feel like leaving a bit early?"

"Always..."

The next day I lingered at work. I hated the thought of being in the apartment by myself. It was silly. I'd lived alone for years! But I just couldn't make myself go home and face that empty apartment yet. So, I stayed in the office, going over details from a case I was close to wrapping up. My phone buzzed, making me jump.

"Maxwell?"

"Commander?"

"I didn't expect you to still be here. We- have a bit of a situation. Meet me in my office?"

"Be right there."

Commander Une met me at the door to her office. "We just got a distress call from L2. Apparently Vice Minister Peacecraft was there with her staff visiting some low-income housing projects. The Vice Minister was kidnapped."

"What? Again?" I shook my head. "Someone needs to give that girl some self-defense training."

"She's a pacifist Duo. Agent Catalonia called for backup. I wouldn't do this, Duo, but..."

"I know L2." I finished. "I can leave right now, if you like?"

"We have a shuttle ready. Agent Yuy is out of reach at the moment. I tried to call Agent Barton back in to partner you- but I couldn't get a hold of him. And Chang and Po are out on an undercover."

"It's all right, Commander," I reassured her. "Catalonia, Merquise and Noin are there, right? They'll do."

"Merquise and Noin are on vacation. It will just be you and Dorothy."

"Still no problem. Dorothy will be plenty." I grinned at the commander.

Dorothy met me at the shuttle port. I nearly gasped in surprise when I saw her. Gone was the cool elegant lady I knew. In her place was a wide- eyed, frantic woman. I had never seen the Ice Queen lose her cool in all the time I'd known her.

"They sent a message." She told me immediately, wringing her hands.

"Dorothy," I reached out and placed a calming hand on hers. "Stop. Relax." Her big blue eyes met mine and I was surprised to see them fill with tears. I put my arm around her shoulders and she leaned into me. I couldn't believe that this was the same Miss Catalonia I remembered from the war. Why did the loss of Relena affect her so much? "You know we'll get her back. We always do."

"It's my fault," she told me. "I turned my back for a minute! It's my fault!" I didn't lie and tell her it wasn't. She wouldn't believe me anyway.

"We'll get her back, Doro, don't worry." I squeezed her shoulders. "Pull yourself together. Relena needs us."

Dorothy straightened herself up and yanked out a piece of paper from her pocket.

"Here's the message."

"How'd it get here?"

"A kid brought it."

"You detain him?"

"Of course- but he won't talk to us."

"Let me try." I scanned the note as we headed towards the hotel. Usual stuff- money or they'd kill her. Yadda yadda. When where we going to get some kidnappers that showed the least little sign of creativity?

The kid was about 10 or so, I judged, as I entered the room a step behind Dorothy. Two of Relena's security staff stood on either side of him.

"Has he said anything Preston?"

"No ma'am. Tried to take a bite out of Thompson." The kid in the chair scowled. I stepped in front of him and caught his attention.

"Aren't ya a runtlin," I said to him in the familiar street patter. "Got ya ass tagged right, idjit." My derisive tone made him scowl.

"Donbe cacklin ah me ya zoid." He snapped back and then slapped his hands over his mouth as I grinned.

"Ah, it does talk," I said to Dorothy. She gave the boy a glare that made him shrink back in his chair. Ah, there was the Miss Catalonia I remembered.

"So he does." She said through her teeth.

"The fem's a hellcat," I said to the boy. "Ya six feet if you don't start storyin."

"An idjit I not." He shot back.

"They filtched a princess, an ya work for em. Idjit."

"Princess?"

"Princess," I nodded. I saw him take in the uniforms and the richness of the suite we stood in with a sudden understanding.

"Cruxes!" the boy finally swore. "I don work for em. I just run, ken?"

"Ken. Can ya take me to where they gave the run to ya?"

"Course," boy snorted. "Second?"

"Nah," I ran a hand over my uniform. "Don't wanna look fuzz. Ten." I looked at Dorothy. "I've got to go change, and then he's going to take me to where they gave him the message. Can you handle things from this end?"

"Yes," she smiled faintly at me. "At least here I can speak the language."

Not 20 minutes later the boy was leading me down the sidewalk. He explained that 3 gangs used the drop-off point, but he had recognized the color that the messenger wore. Not that it told me anything, but it was a start. Fortunately one of the other messengers at the drop off point knew where the gang's HQ was and was willing to tell me for a good tip.

It turned out to be worth it. I knew something was up when I got a good look at the gang's HQ. It was an old apartment building- about 10 stories tall. It looked like a good wind could knock it over- not that we had wind on the colonies. Normal procedure would've had one or two guys out front. This place was crawling with them. And they were flashing their weapons. The locals must be paid off- no cop would just let these guys roam around with this kind of weaponry. Shit.

I needed a look inside that place- but how? There were buildings on either side, but not close enough to jump from one to the other.

I might be able to sneak in- full dark would be best for that, and they weren't asking for the cash until tomorrow. I could go back to the hotel and get ready- call Une and update her. I hated the thought of leaving Relena in these kinds of hands, but even I knew when I was outgunned.

Dorothy met me at the door, eyes anxious.

"They moved up the time. They want the money at midnight." Damn it- only 5 or so hours of time. I told her what I had found.

"Then we need to go in."

"I need to go in," I told her firmly. "Dorothy- the notes were to you. They'll recognize you and they'll want you to hand over the cash. And if this is a bigger thing- you're the one they'll be watching." She frowned unhappily, agreeing with my assessment.

Une agreed with me as well, but she wasn't happy about it either. "I don't like the idea of sending you in by yourself. Barton just called. I can send him up."

"But the shuttle takes 4 hours," I reminded her, "he won't make it in time. I'll still have to go in alone."

"I don't like this Maxwell."

"I don't either. Send him up, Commander, he might be able to get us out if anything goes wrong. Dorothy has the directions and everything he'll need when he gets here." Une opened her mouth, and then looked away from the screen towards her office door.

"Yuy," she said in relief. "Come talk to your partner." Ah, crap, he was going to be furious.

"Heero," I said to him when his face appeared on the screen. "You're back early."

"What's going on Duo?" I briefed him quickly. His response was exactly what I had thought it would be: "You can't go in without backup."

"I have to. Dorothy has to stay here and I'm not taking one of the security staff- they aren't trained for this."

"We could just wait til after the payoff," Heero tried.

"The chances of them just handing her over to us are slim and you know it. They might keep demanding money- they might hurt her. She's not my favorite person, but I can't just sit back and wait, Heero." I smiled at him. "I promise to be careful." His eyes narrowed.

"I've heard that before." Ouch. That hurt.

"What the hell do you want me to do Heero? Leave her there? Take in the locals that I can't trust? Take Dorothy in and risk that no one is going to notice her leaving the building?"

"You could wait until Trowa and I get there."

"Four hours from now? Leaving us with less than an hour to get in that building and search all 10 floors for her?" This was ridiculous. We were running out of time. Like I said, Relena will never be my favorite person, but I still wasn't going to just sit back and wait. I glanced at my watch. "Oops! It's dark. Gotta go." I looked back up at the screen. "I'll see you when you get here. Dorothy can fill you in on anything else." I stepped away from the camera and caught Dorothy's venomous glare.

"Are you trying to get him to kill me?" She hissed.

"Nope. I'm going to get your Relena back from a den of iniquity. The least you can do is calm my Heero down for me." She flushed a bit and I wondered why.

"DUO!" Heero's voice snapped from the phone. "Get back over here!"

"He's a bit overprotective," I smiled apologetically and she growled.

"I'm going to kill you Maxwell!"

"I think you'll have to stand in line, Catalonia." I slipped out of the room and went to go change into my 'stealth' outfit.

[part 6] [part 8] [back to Merula's fic]