by: Shoori

Marking it Down to Learning + Chapter 22
The Reckoning

Heero

Heero leaned against the cold panel of the steel door, straining for any sounds of alarm or pursuit. So far, this had been almost too easy.

He turned his head as one of his companions cursed softly. Trowa was leaning over the panel of instruments, scowling furiously. As he watched the auburn-haired man, Trowa lifted his head and met his gaze. The scowl deepened as Trowa reluctantly jerked his head, summoning the Japanese man over. Heero silently crossed the room, as Trowa took his place by the door.

The system must be too difficult for Trowa to hack, and the other man wasn’t going to compromise the mission by doing it himself, when he knew that Heero would be able to accomplish it more successfully. But how that must gall the other man. Trowa wanted to do every part of this mission by himself ­ turning any of it over would anger him.

Heero stared at the silver keys before him for a moment. He sat down in a chair before the bank of monitors and instrument panels, and his hands began to fly over the keys, staring intently at each new screen that came up before him.

This, he could do. At times like these, he wasn’t even aware of any conscious thought, any strategizing, any conscious decisions he made about how to go about circumventing a system.

He just did it.

He always had.

And again and again, tightly guarded, rigidly protected systems had collapsed before him.

The Order was no exception.

Quatre

Quatre leaned back against the soft cushions of the low divan and allowed a lazy smile to pool around his lips. He twisted the long, soft cord of Duo’s braid around his hand, smiling down at the young man kneeling by his side. He glanced up to laugh at a bawdy joke delivered by one of the other men lounging on matching sofas around the huge, low table, but he was barely paying attention.

That wasn’t dangerous, not really. After as much food and wine as they’d all enjoyed, and in the presence of so much naked, decorated slave flesh, none of the others would really expect him to be at his sharpest. They’d all been describing the tantalizing pleasures of these feasts to him for several days, and they’d expect him to be totally immersed in the sensual pleasures of the night. He was doing his best to show them what they expected to see.

Inside, though, he was a tight mass of nerves. It should have begun by now. The others should be in the building, should have at least begun to shut down the building’s security systems and neutralize its guards.

Soon, this would all be over, one way or another.

At least he would never have to do this again.

He felt a brush against his thigh, and looked down to see Duo’s face nestled between his legs, his violet eyes closed as he lightly, tentatively nuzzled the sensitive skin of his leg.

A laugh broke into his awareness.

“You certainly have him well-trained!” Polynices boomed.

Quatre glanced across the room, a precisely-calculated, self-satisfied smirk on his lips. “I’ve learned from the best,” he drawled graciously, nodding at the bound figure of Treize, who was slowly bringing Polynices to arousal.

Polynices laughed in reply, and Quatre felt the almost imperceptible tremors against his skin as Duo shuddered. He tightened his grip on the other man’s braid, and pulled Duo’s head up, forcing him to meet his eyes.

He stared into the heartbreakingly beautiful violet gaze for a moment. This ends tonight, Duo, he thought, trying as hard as he could to send the message to the other man. No more. Ever. He stared intently for a long moment, until Duo looked down.

Quatre leaned back and closed his eyes as he felt Duo’s talented mouth wrap itself around his erection. He didn’t know if the other man had understood what he was trying to communicate, but he would keep the promise even if Duo hadn’t understood.

This ended tonight.

Wufei

Wufei took a deep breath, trying to steady his heart rate as he straightened up. He kicked the inert body at his feet, pushing it further back into the shadows where it could be missed by someone just glancing into the room.

He looked up sharply as the door beside him opened, his hand going for his gun, but relaxed as he saw the familiar blond head.

“That’s eleven,” Zechs told him tersely as he dropped another body on top of the one Wufei had just semi-concealed.

“Any signal yet?” the Chinese man returned, equally briefly.

Zechs shook his head. “We’re getting closer to the security center,” he informed the other man.

“How did they get in without alerting anyone?” Wufei demanded, scowling. Heero and Trowa had moved into the building almost a half hour before. Wufei had monitored them until they sent back a notice that they had reached the security room, and he knew they hadn’t engaged in any altercations until they had taken over that room.

Zechs shrugged, scowling faintly. “Heero always could get past anything,” he reminded his partner. “It used to annoy the shit out of me.”

To his own amazement, Wufei felt himself grin. “I don’t imagine you phrased it that way,” he noted, amused.

Zechs looked at him. “Of course I did,” he contradicted mildly.

Wufei’s brows rose in surprise. “The Lightening Count said that something ‘annoyed the shit’ out of him?” he asked skeptically.

Zechs nodded. “You don’t know everything about the workings of OZ,” he told the Chinese man, just a little archly.

“Who did you say that to?” Wufei demanded, still not convinced.

Zechs actually grinned. “Noin,” he replied simply. “She knows me better than anyone.”

As Wufei stared at Zechs in surprise, unsure as to whether any of what the blond had just told him was true, he was startled by a voice in his ear.

“System overridden,” Heero’s voice snapped sharply. “Alarm systems down, monitors non-functional, communication devices neutralized.”

“Sending in reinforcements,” Une replied crisply. “05 and 06, are you in place?”

Zechs reached up and pressed a button on the tiny speaker lodged in his ear, turning the two-way back on.

“Ready, Commander,” he said simply.

Wufei reset his own communicator. “05 prepared,” he assured the others.

“Your position, 05 and 06?” Trowa demanded.

“Two corridors down from security center,” Zechs replied. “We will meet you in the next hall.”

“Acceptable,” Trowa replied.

And it had begun.

Treize

“Sir!” Treize jumped slightly, startled into slowing his ministrations as one of the guards burst into the private room.

It was unheard of for the guards to ever make their presence so blatantly known. In the six long years Treize had been in this hell, he couldn’t ever remember anyone interrupting one of these private meetings.

He jumped again as a solid blow connected with the side of his head, and he obediently returned to his task, pleasuring his ‘master’ with his mouth, mentally adding this blow to the tally he kept in his head, storing up each indignity visited upon him, not forgetting one. Some day, they would pay for each of them.

Simple justice.

“This had better be important,” Polynices’ voice purred with deceptive smoothness above him. Treize sucked harder on his organ, impatient for the man to be done so that he could see what was going on. Every instinct in his body screamed suddenly that something major was occurring.

“Sir, we’ve lost contact with the rest of security ­ our communicators aren’t functioning and…”

“You’ve interrupted us for that?” Polynices bellowed angrily.

Treize could almost see the faceless guard blanch. “Sir…this is most unusual… It’s probably nothing, but maybe we should move you all to a more secure location…”

“Idiot!” Polynices shouted. “Find out what’s wrong before you burst in here! What do you think could be happening? This is the most secure place in Sanc!”

“I know, sir, but…”

“Get out!” Polynices roared. “And let whatever idiot shorted the system know they had better run before I get my hands on them or…”

The door slammed before the leader of the Order could finish what promised to be a very graphic threat.

“I don’t know, Polynices,” came a voice that Treize knew to be Adrastus. “This is most unusual. “Perhaps we should…”

“It’s happened twice in the last month,” Polynices interrupted, his voice heavy with irritation. “Some component is weakening, but those imbeciles can’t figure out what it is. I’m planning to have the whole system overhauled.”

“Ah,” the other man replied, but Treize could hear the uneasiness in his voice. He shifted his position slightly and looked up at the divan where Quatre was lounging, his eyes heavy-lidded as he moaned his pleasure, Duo busy between his legs. Treize stared at him for a moment, and the languid gaze lowered slightly, and met his. Quatre stared at him for a brief moment then looked away, uttering a harsh command to the slave pleasuring him.

But it was enough.

Treize had seen the gleam of fierce satisfaction in those aqua eyes.

This wasn’t a routine mechanical malfunction.

This was the end.

He would have his vengeance.


Trowa

The auburn-haired man stalked steadily through the twisting maze of corridors, moving more and more rapidly as he neared his goal. He was aware of the others with him, aware of those who tried to stop them, impede their path, but the awareness was dim, the other presences blotted out by the violent crimson haze that surrounded him and grew more powerful with each step.

Quatre had carried a tracking device with him that day, and its signal was leading Trowa right to the lair where the vipers that constituted the Order were nesting.

He cut down another guard, and another, barely aware of them even as he fought them, entirely unaware of the excessive force and violence he used to destroy them.

He growled as he felt a hand on his sleeve, and turned to meet the attacker. The other person met his blow and stopped it, and Trowa blinked as Wufei’s face swam into the sea of red surrounding him.

“Trowa, calm down,” Wufei ordered crisply, his dark eyes worried. “You’re taking unnecessary risks. You’re going to get killed before we get there. You need to stay with the rest of us and…”

“Keep up with me, then,” Trowa snarled, shaking the other man’s hands off him.

They were closer now ­ the alarm in his ear that pulsed as he neared the room was shrieking, the discordant sound that shrilled so loudly added to the tension, the rage that pumped itself through his veins.

He turned another corner, and stopped short. There was a mass of guards all standing before one door.

This was it.

Trowa paused for a second, and glanced behind him.

The others were there, watching him.

He nodded briefly, staring at them all for one short instant.

The he pulled out his gun, and charged around the corner, his rage and anger propelling him forward as he bellowed his defiance to his enemies.


Duo

This was the first of these “formal dinners” that Duo had been a part of, and he had decided that he hated them.

This whole nutty fucking crew took their ancient Greek role a little too far.

They all lounged around in loose robes, on low couches, demanding that their slaves feed them by hand.

Then, when their appetites for food had been whetted, said slaves had been expected to soothe other appetites.

And they had to do it all decked out in whatever these wackos had decided appropriate ancient Greek sex slave apparel was. It seemed to consist of a lot of eyeliner, an astounding number of gold chains, and bracelets that snaked up their arms.

And collars. Heavy, gold collars that marked them as slaves, property.

Duo hated the collars.

He didn’t have it as bad as some. There were no chains binding his wrists or ankles, no painful clamps attached to any part of his body. His only decoration was his collar.

He would have preferred anything else.

But at least…

His gaze moved across the room to Treize. He was the most heavily decorated of all the slaves ­ draped with delicate gold chains, biting metal clamped tightly on both his nipples, rings surrounding and squeezing his cock…

Duo looked away, sickened, not wanting to see anymore.

He’d almost betrayed himself in shock the first time he’d seen Treize here.

But he’d gotten used to it ­ Polynices spent an inordinate amount of time with Quatre, and since he was Quatre’s ‘favorite’ and Treize was Polynices’, he’d frequently been in the presence of the man the world had thought was dead for eight years.

And he hadn’t changed much. Duo couldn’t understand how he did it, but Treize seemed to accept his slavery as he’d accepted everything else ­ a temporary stumbling block in the path of his plan to…do whatever it was Treize had always planned to do.

Things that made Duo flush in shame, Treize performed smoothly and without seeming reaction, his eyes flashing with nothing more than bored irony.

He turned his attention back to what he was doing, slowly, carefully, licking and sucking Quatre’s throbbing arousal, trying to bring him some pleasure, trying not to think about other, happier, times when he had performed this same act, of his own free will and as an equal.

There was something…something going on tonight. Duo could feel the hair on the back of his neck prickling. First that strange, intense look Quatre had bestowed on him, then the guard…

Something.

This could be it. The final attack on the Order.

He should be glad, relieved, excited.

But he felt sick.

Either way, Duo couldn’t see himself returning ever to the life he had known before.

And that left…

The street.

“What’s that?” a voice demanded, its note of panic demanding immediate attention.

Quatre pulled himself away from Duo’s mouth, and the long-haired man sat obediently back on his heels.

“What’s what?” Polynices demanded, straightening up and pushing Treize away.

“I heard something,” the first man insisted. Duo looked to the source of the voice ­ it was Hippomedon, the giant.

“The room’s soundproofed,” Polynices snapped. “You couldn’t possibly have…”

“I heard a shot,” the tall man insisted.

“You heard no such thing,” Polynices corrected angrily. “You just…”

At that moment, the door burst open, and a fusillade of gunfire invaded the room.


Zechs

Zechs burst into the room behind Trowa, his heart pounding as he threw himself to the floor at the side of the doorway. The room had already erupted into shouts and screams, as angry men and frightened slaves struggled to understand what was going on.

“How dare you!” a voice, familiar from countless surveillance tapes shouted shrilly. “Get out of my rooms!”

More bodies piled into the room after him, and more gunshots exploded blindly. Zechs looked around and located a piece of furniture ­ a small cabinet, and rolled behind it, using it for some sort of cover.

He peered around the cabinet, and saw chaos. Middle-aged men were leaping to their feet, shoving naked, chained slaves into the corners of the room even as they pulled concealed weapons from god-knows-where out of the foolish robes they were wearing.

Zechs’ eyes roamed frantically across the room, searching desperately for one particular face.

And his eyes met cornflower blue eyes he had thought he would never see again, and he forgot everything, forgot who he was, where he was, what he was doing.

Treize was alive.

He had to go to him.

He stood up abruptly, meaning to cross the room to his love, and no fewer the four bullets shot past his head, and imbedded themselves in the wall behind him. Cursing, he dropped to his knees. He cursed again, berating himself for his stupidity. He winced as he felt a burning pain across one side of his head. Zechs lifted one hand to the source of the pain, and it came away red. Damn! It had grazed him!

“One down!” he heard a strange voice shout gleefully. “I got him!”

The voice was closer. A face peered down at him from over the cabinet. Zechs looked up, and their eyes met for one second. There was just enough time for the man’s surprise at finding Zechs alive to register in his eyes before Zechs lifted his gun and shot him.

The man collapsed silently, on top of the cabinet, providing Zechs with another layer of protection.

“Hippomedon!” another voice shouted above the melee! “You’ll pay for this! You’ll all pay for this!”

“I don’t think so,” replied a voice Zechs recognized. He peered around the corner of the cabinet again to see Trowa advancing on a man with faded red hair. Other small battles were going on in other parts of the room, but Trowa seemed entirely unaware of them.

You will pay,” Trowa warned the man, his voice deep with menace.

Zechs could only imagine how high that price would be.


Trowa

He didn’t know how many people he’d killed.

He’d killed guards through the building, he’d taken out most of those who had waited outside the door.

But he wasn’t done.

There were more ­ two more who would face his wrath.

Tydeus. And Capaneus.

Now that one was in front of him, his eyes wide with terror as he scrambled back.

“You can’t defeat me!” the man shrieked.

Trowa smiled slowly, letting all of the promise of destruction he brought with him shine through that smile.

He continued to move, satisfaction burning hotly inside him as he saw the fear grow in the other man’s eyes.

“Only the Gods can defeat Capaneus!” the older man screamed.

Trowa stopped, and allowed his smile to widen. He paused for a moment to luxuriate in the feeling ­ he was going to kill this man. He would die, die by Trowa Barton’s hand, go to Hell knowing that Trowa had sent him there.

Only the Gods!” the man screamed again, sounding a little more confidant. “Capaneus is more mighty than any mortal! Only the Gods themselves could bring him down! You will never best me!”

Trowa allowed his smile to fade, let the strength of his purpose and intent and righteous fury show in his eyes.

He opened his mouth.

“I am Nemesis,” he breathed softly, almost gently.

The man’s eyes widened in abject fear, and he moaned.

And Trowa shot him.

He watched him fall with a fierce satisfaction. He would like to have played with him a little longer, but nothing he could have done would have made Capaneus any more frightened.

He had died at the height of his terror.

And that pleased Trowa.

A sudden blow knocked him out of the rosy embrace of his satisfaction, and he turned, growling, to meet this latest adversary.

“I will destroy you for that,” a scarred face snarled into his, the moment before a searing pain tore through his shoulder.

Tydeus.

And he’d shot him.

“Wrong shoulder,” Trowa informed him, his voice smooth. The man’s eyes widened slightly in surprise at this response, and Trowa took advantage of this moment to shove the other man hard, with his good arm. He staggered, off balance, and Trowa shoved him again, knocking him to the floor.

Tydeus’ gun skittered across the floor, and the man turned and began desperately crawling toward his weapon.

Trowa advanced on him. He kicked the man, glorying in his cry of pain. He kicked him again, and again, harder. The older man curled into a protective ball, and that instinctive motion somehow inflamed Trowa to greater heights than anything had yet. He reached down and forced the other man up, punching him, hitting him, venting all the anger and rage and frustration and loss of the past months on his body.

Trowa forgot about the gun in his hand, forgot protocol, forgot Une’s instructions to take prisoners.

He wanted this man to die, he wanted to kill him, he wanted to feel his death with his bare hands.

“Trowa!”

The sound of his name jarred him out of his insane fury. He stared at the body in his hands ­ broken, bloody and battered, the form that had once been Tydeus hung limply in his grip. He stared at it for a moment, then, horrified with it and with himself, he threw it away.

He heard his name called again, more softly, and turned to see Duo staring at him, his eyes wide and horrified in an ashen face.

Horrified.

Duo was disgusted with him.

Pain speared his chest.

“Duo,” he whispered. “Duo, I’m…” The apology stuck in his throat. He wasn’t sorry. He wasn’t! He wasn’t. “Duo…You’re safe now,” he managed. “I won’t let anyone hurt you again. I promise…I…”

He stared at Duo, saw the violet eyes widen further in alarm.

“Trowa! Watch out!”

He whirled to meet the threat, but Duo’s warning came too late. The bullet hit him in the center of his chest, and he felt it tear through his body and exit through his back.

He fell to the ground, and the red that had surrounded the edges of his vision for so long turned black.

“Tydeus may die, but he takes his murderer with him,” a voice rasped, far away.

Another body was above him, shaking him, hitting his face. Trowa looked up dully, and saw Duo.

“Trowa, please! Hang on! God, Trowa, don’t…” Tears were running down Duo’s cheeks.

“Duo,” Trowa managed. His voice sounded strange to his ears. “Safe, Duo. They can’t…take you…again.”

“Trowa…God, Trowa, please don’t do this. Stay, Trowa, stay with me, please…”

“You stay…with me?” Trowa rasped weakly. Duo couldn’t leave him again. Anything but that.

“Of course, Trowa, of course…” Duo’s voice was frantic. “Please, Trowa, just…”

Safe,” Trowa whispered. Duo was safe, and he would stay. That was all that mattered. He could rest, now.

He could rest, and finally be free ­ free from the anger and the pain that had chased him all his life.

And with one last sigh, he surrendered, and allowed the blackness to take him.


Wufei

Wufei ducked behind a chair, pausing briefly to wipe his streaming brow.

There was a constant layer of gunfire, but most of it, he suspected, was from his allies.

He hadn’t caught sight of Duo yet, and he’d lost track of Quatre. Zechs had taken one down, and Trowa had gotten another.

There was another shot, and an agonized scream in a voice Wufei recognized.

His chest suddenly tight with fear, he looked around the side of his chair.

Trowa lay on the floor, his chest covered in blood.

Duo knelt by his side, frantically shaking him.

Wufei felt the fear pulse through his veins.

“Nataku, no,” he whispered.

Trowa couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t!

Another bellow of agony came from across the room. Wufei’s gaze turned sharply toward the sound, and saw that Heero, who had been struggling with one of the Seven, had realized what was happening to Trowa. The man he was struggling with ­ Parthenopeus, Wufei thought - tried to take advantage of Heero’s inattention to deliver a blow to the Japanese man’s ribs. But Heero, desperate to get to Trowa, barely registered the blow. He lifted the hand that held his gun and brought it down in a punishing blow on top of the man’s head.

Parthenopeus fell without a sound, and Wufei darted from behind his chair over to the body that Heero had just abandoned.

They needed to take some prisoners, after all, or they wouldn’t know what the hell had gone on.

He knelt beside the still body.

They wouldn’t be taking this one.

Heero had crushed his skull.

A movement to his right distracted him, and he jumped to his feet, bracing himself for an attack, rather surprised when it didn’t come.

He found himself facing one of the Seven, a tall, thin man with graying hair and long, solemn features.

“I am Amphiarus,” the man informed him smoothly.

“You are under arrest,” Wufei told him sharply. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in…”

“Please,” Amphiarus interrupted, waving his hand. “We both know I will never have a day in court. I know too much about your Mr. Winner for you to ever allow me any say in an open court.”

Wufei’s surprise must have shown in his face, because Amphiarus smiled slightly.

“I have known Mr. Winner was not what he seemed all along,” he assured Wufei, answering the Chinese man’s unspoken question.

“How…”

“My comrades are fools,” he said simply. “I knew he would be our defeat.”

“The why did you…why didn’t you tell them? Expose him?” Wufei demanded.

“The Seven were defeated,” Amphiarus said simply. “It is our destiny. It is why I joined them in the first place.”

“Why you joined…”

“I didn’t think I would have to wait this long for my destruction,” Amphiarus commented.

Wufei tensed, jumping backwards into a defensive crouch and raising his gun as Amphiarus lifted his own weapon.

“Please take care of my wife,” Amphiarus asked simply. “She has suffered longer than I intended.” He lifted his weapon higher, and Wufei’s finger tightened on the trigger of his own gun…

…and recoiled backwards, crying out in shock, as Amphiarus lifted his gun to his own head, and pulled the trigger, ending his own life.


Quatre

Polynices was cursing steadily. Quatre glanced at the man crouched beside him behind the divan, wondering how best to bring him down. Apparently, he realized in annoyance, he was the only one of the participants who hadn’t sneaked a weapon into the ‘weapons strictly forbidden’ banquet.

“I’ll get that one first,” Polynices muttered. He sighted the gun carefully, and Quatre looked to where he was aiming.

Heero!

Polynices was going to kill Heero!

The other man’s finger slowly tightened on the trigger, a deranged giggle of pleasure escaping as he slowly, slowly brought himself closer and closer to murdering Quatre’s lover.

There was no time for a plan, no time to stop the action any way that was subtle or controlled or maintained his cover.

With a shout, Quatre threw himself against Polynices, jarring him and deflecting his aim just as he fired the gun. The shot went wild, completely missing Heero.

Polynices was thrown off balance, but he scrambled quickly to his feet. Quatre rose as well, backing away from the other man, his arms outspread for balance.

The older man stared at him, his mouth open with shock “You...” he managed after a moment. “You….”

“I am nothing like you,” Quatre managed, the denial he’d been wanting to shout all these months escaping him. “I am nothing like you!” he repeated desperately.

You…betrayed me!” Polynices shouted.

“I’ve defeated you,” Quatre corrected angrily.

“Defeated me?” the older man roared disbelievingly.

“Your security is broken. Your facility is overrun with Preventers. The Seven are falling,” Quatre listed detachedly, nodding at the room behind Polynices. The other man didn’t even look back.

“I trusted you…I brought you into my circle…I treated you like my son!” Polynices shrieked. “And you brought my enemies here?”

I am your enemy,” Quatre reminded him tightly.

Polynices stared at him for a moment, then began to chuckle. He raised his gun and pointed it at Quatre’s chest, but never stopped laughing.

“You are enough like me to be my son,” he chortled. “So I don’t know what else I expected…You treat your family just as I did.”

“I am not your son!” Quatre shouted.

“You may try to deny it,” Polynices conceded pleasantly. “But you won’t be able to forever. The same needs drive you that drive me. We could have been…amazing, together,” he said, almost sadly.

“I am nothing like you!” Quatre screamed furiously. “Nothing!”

Polynices chuckled again, shaking his head ruefully. “You would have realized it in time. But now…” He shook his head again. “You can’t defeat me, Mr. Winner,” he told Quatre solemnly. “Only Etocles can defeat Polynices, and Etocles is gone.”

“Will I do in a pinch?” a smooth voice asked behind Polynices.

Polynices whirled around, startled, and his gun was knocked out of his hand by the person standing behind him. He staggered, off balance, and fell to his knees before his attacker.

Treize had somehow gotten hold of someone’s gun, and he stood there, staring down at the man crouched at his feet. He was stark naked, still covered only by his absurd, demeaning slave paraphernalia, but he didn’t look debased or ridiculous. He looked like an avenging god, a barbarian warrior seeking his revenge.

You!” Polynices shouted, struggling to stand. “You can’t defeat me either! You…”

“I bear the blood of Etocles,” Treize interrupted, his voice hard. “And for my father, and for my mother, and for myself, I end this now.”

Quatre jumped as the gun in Treize’s hand went off, the bullet burying itself deep in Polynices’ head. The man’s body crumpled to the ground, and Treize watched dispassionately as he lay still. After a moment, the former OZ general lifted his arm again, and fired bullet after bullet into the recumbent form.

Quatre winced as each bullet thudded into the unresisting flesh. The last bullet destroyed Polynices’ face, and Quatre felt his knees give out, and he sank to the floor.

A moment later, he felt strong arms go around him, and looked up into Treize’s face.

“Always make sure your enemy is dead,” the older man reminded him softly.

Quatre bent his head, and felt the tears begin.

It was over. It was finally over.

+

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