NOTE: see part 1 for notes, warnings
AUTHOR: shira
Warning this part: "Extra Foul-Mouthed Duo," as opposed to slightly foul-mouthed Duo or normally foul-mouthed Duo *giggles* You've been warned.

Papillion + Part 18

Duo lay amidst the rubble collapsing down around him, his legs pinned beneath part of a steel support beam. His right leg felt very broken indeed as it throbbed its complaint throughout the rest of him, and every time he tried to move it, it screamed out. If he could only roll the beam off himself he could probably manage to wiggle his way out from under with his good leg but, being as it was the bad leg which the beam rested on, every little move brought him closer to passing out. As yet another explosive rang out near him, turning the factory into that much more of a pile of construction trash, he thought that passing now might be a good thing, shielding him from the inevitable blast or pile of rubble that was sure to fall on top of him any moment and snuff him out like a mosquito on a windshield. Duo wiggled his legs once more, sending the excruciating pain of bone against bone through his body, welcoming the thick, fuzzy feeling that accompanied it this time.

/I asked you, God, just for the chance to be able to tell Heero how I felt about him, and this is what I get?/ Duo wavered between consciousness and passing out, trying to move his legs every time he felt himself getting clear headed again. All I wanted was to tell him...so he could know how I feel, but the jackass hasn't changed one bit. Not one bit. Probably on one of those shuttles right now as they're all bailing outa here before the mobile suit hanger is detonated. Won't that be a fun party, when that goes up? "Fuck you, Heero," Duo said under his breath as he lie, his head against his arm, his eyes closed against the dust that was everywhere. Another charge went off, this time bringing down the roof support right next to him, and a huge new pile of debris was formed too close for comfort.

"Stupid morons can't even blow up a building right," he complained. "All these fucking charges were supposed to go off at once, you idiots! Need more training, I think..." Duo mumbled to himself until his anger became nonsensical, moving his legs around more to flood his mind with new waves of pain that eventually took him repeatedly to the brink of consciousness. No matter how hard he tried, though, he couldn't make himself pass out as his body hung on to a glimpse of consciousness. A large chunk of concrete falling on top of the beam that pinned his legs helped somewhat though, making him feel more hazy and lightheaded from the shooting pain running through him.

Fuck it all. Fuck you, Heero, for being your mother-fucking soldier self, and fuck everything, because I'm gonna lie here and get smashed to bits while all the rest of you are whooping it up on a job well done! Perfect ending to my perfect, fucked up life. Sure, there'll be a memorial ceremony or something. Can't forget that. The memorial ceremony with my picture on top of some podium since there wont be a body, and you can all act like I'm there in the room with you as you say nice things about me even if you don't mean them, but you know what I say to that? Fuck that! That's what I say to your goddamn memorial ceremony! That's what I say to you, Heero, for letting me die here, you bastard. You haven't changed one fucking bit! But I'm sure you got your mission done in time, you soldier you. J's little puppet, that's what you are. Nothing more than a goddamn puppet, you pathetic fool. Agent Maxwell didn't realize it but he was crying softly, a few tears making thin, pasty tracks of gray dust down his cheeks as more sections of wall and ceiling fell down around and on top of him. He tried his best to prepare for the inevitable, cursing life and death the whole while. You fucking selfish bastard, Heero. Duo sniffed. I fucking loved you.

+

Heero could hear the blood coursing through his head as he rushed to find his friend and partner amidst the wreckage of the charges that had been left by the units. He made his way down the main corridor that lead to the mobile suit factory and before he was able to even enter to area, he was overcome by the heavy cloud of particle dust filling the air. Coughing now, he pulled his shirt up over his nose and mouth to breath, and he squinted as he moved forward into the destruction to find Duo. Picking his way over piles of cement block and steel beam, he stopped every few feet to pull his shirt down and call. "DUO!" Then gasping for breath, he continued on again, getting further and further into the rubble as more explosives went off around him.

Daniels had said he thought Duo was near the conveyor belt on the left side. Heero gradually made his way in that direction, remembering the layout if the factory that he'd seen the day that he and Duo had spied on the activities going on in that very space. It wasn't far – maybe fifty feet or so – but in this mess it was going to be a challenge to find anything, what with the dirt and dust clouding everything up the way it was.

"DUO!" Heero called again, coughing violently after automatically sucking in a deep breath and filling his throat with dust. "DUO! Where are you?"

+

He was dreaming. He had to be. He was unconscious and dreaming, because Duo thought he heard someone calling his name. The shuttles are long gone by now. There's nobody here to call your name but your own imagination. Then he heard it again, and it sounded closer. Someone calling for him, in all this mess. No, wait...that wasn't just someone. It was...Heero? Duo fought for consciousness now.

"DUO! Where are you?"

There it was again and, by golly, that sure as hell did sound like Heero.

Might as well answer him, you dope! If it's not him, and it's only your imagination, there's nobody here to make fun at you anyway, because they've all gone, remember? Duo pushed his thoughts aside and forced out a yell.

"Heero!" It was faint as his throat was caked with dust and his voice hoarse.

"Duo!" The call was closer this time.

"Heero! I'm here! Over HERE!" Duo screamed out for all he was worth.

"Duo!" This time there was recognition in the yell. He had heard him. "Keep talking! I'm on my way!"

"I'm over HERE!" Duo called out again, but his yell was drowned out by another explosion followed by more falling, crashing debris. Then there was quiet. Oh don't even tell me...

"Duo? Are you alright?"

He breathed a sigh of relief. "Over here! Hurry up, man! Before we're both squashed in here!"

By the time Heero was able to locate Duo under the beam and a loose pile of rubble, the main floor structure in the factory was cracking from all the damage that had already been done to the building. Apparently the foundation had been affected, and some of the mining tunnels under the floor were caving in, bringing layers of concrete floor with them. The entire place was now shaking like an earthquake, and Heero realized that if they were going to get out with their lives, he would have to work fast.

"Oh thank God," Duo said as he reached out and touched his partner. "Wha-at the hell are you doing here, man? Why aren't you gone with the rest of them?"

"Daniels said you were still in here. A shuttle is waiting, but we have to hurry up."

"My legs are stuck...under the beam. The...right one...busted femur, I think." Duo coughed between breaths.

Surveying the situation, Heero made a quick decision. "I'm going to start pulling up on this beam for you. When the pressure lightens, pull yourself out from under, OK?"

"Yeah." Duo readied himself.

Bending down to grasp the edge of the beam, Heero coiled his legs to brunt the load that he was about to try to lift. Then he looked at his partner.

"One...two..." On three, his face contorted as he pulled on the steel as hard as he could, at first thinking that he wasn't going to get the metal to budge and they were both going to die right where they were as another explosion opened up the floor the rest of the way. Come on, Heero! Failure is NOT an option here! The steel budged only slightly, but not enough for Duo to get out from under it, and he let off pulling up on the beam. Duo's face became distraught.

"Hang on. I have an idea."

Searching the floor beside them, Heero grabbed chunks of concrete, which he laid on the floor behind Duo's legs, where the beam was closer to the floor. He stood straddling his partner's legs, then started to pull again, giving it everything he was worth, praying that he could get the beam to move if only an inch or two. /Come on, come ON!/ Slowly though, he eventually started to get a little bit of leverage on the beam, and as he did, he kicked the big chunks of concrete into place under it, trying to wedge them under the steel, making it so that it wouldn't go back down. "Now! Duo! Pull yoursss...elf out!"

Duo used his one good leg to push against the floor, sliding his broken leg out, but not without having to pull it against the bottom of the beam. He screamed out as sharp bolts of pain attacked his right thigh yet forced himself to fight against it. He'd gotten himself almost clear when Heero couldn't hold the beam anymore, and it sank back down the couple of inches he'd managed to raise it up. Duo's foot was still caught under.

"Fuck! Heero!"

Another blast rocked them, this one closer than any yet, and more debris rained down on them. Then Heero saw one of the big metal forming machines disappear into the fault in the floor as the crack widened.

"Take off your boot. Quick!"

Duo began to undo the many lace hooks on the tall combat-style boots, cursing the time it was taking, when Heero bent down to help, ripping at the laces as well. With two sets of hands working them at once, they became tangled quickly, and Heero cursed in Japanese, a phrase that Duo recognized from days past. Then Heero got out his butterfly knife. Whipping the blade open so fast that he caught the tip of one of his fingers, cutting it superficially, he inserted it under the multitude of laces on the boot and sliced them open down the length of the boot tongue, immediately allowing the boot to loosen. Duo grabbed his ankle with both hands and yanked his foot out of the entrapped boot, freeing himself. He realized then that his foot and ankle were also swelling from the injury to his leg.

Grabbing Duo by the forearm, Heero hoisted him to his feet. "Can you walk?" "Not gonna be easy, but I want out of here worse."

Heero helped hold Duo so that he could keep his injured leg up, and together they hobbled their way toward the entrance to the main corridor, climbing gingerly over the piles of debris in their way. No sooner had they reached the dark hallway than the fault line in the factory floor cracked some more, and the very machine Duo had been lying near was swallowed up into the pit of the mining tunnels below, creating a loud 'boom' as the equipment hit the earthy bottom of the hole. The two partners looked at each other momentarily in realization of their close call, then hurried along their way.

When they reached the shuttle hanger, there was only one shuttle left as all the others had departed by that point. The pilot had already repositioned the craft into liftoff position, and was anxiously awaiting any sign that agents Yuy or Maxwell were still alive. He had given Heero ten minutes to return before he was going to have to leave without them and detonate the mobile suit hanger. As he watched the time count down on the clock in the instrument panel of the shuttle, his face was solemn as he called out to the others on the shuttle.

"Batten down the hatches, people. Liftoff in sixty seconds."

Nobody said a word. The only noise heard in the craft, other than the engines revving, was that of safety belts being fastened and equipment being moved around. They were going to have to leave without the two agents, and no one was happy about it, that was certain. Then, from a window at the back of the shuttle, someone spotted the hanger doors opening.

"It's them! Johnny! Don't lift off yet! They made it! All heads on the craft turned to find agent Yuy helping agent Maxwell as he limped his way across the hanger floor, obviously injured, but obviously alive as well. An instant later, officers were opening up the hatch on the shuttle, and running out to meet the two dust-covered agents to help get them aboard.

+

By the time the final shuttle lifted off and was a safe distance away from the Lunar base, the mobile suit hanger was finally detonated via remote control, sending up an impressive orange and red cloud as the army of war machines were destroyed in one big blast. Travelling at top speed away from the moon, the resonance from the explosion could be felt as it made the shuttle shudder and sway in its retreat. Then as the shaking passed and a dark cloud of smoke could be seen where the former Oz base once stood, a round of applause went up among the officers and agents. The threat had been halted with the destruction of the base and factory, and the Nation leaders would be grateful.

Heero sat at the back of the shuttle, leaning against the back compartment wall, where his partner was lying in the aisleway to keep his injured leg comfortable, his head propped up by his backpack. Trying to force away the stress and pain that was still throbbing in his head, he closed his eyes and rested it against the wall of the cabin.

"You look like shit," Duo said through a dust-encrusted voice, wiping his face of all the filth that was all over him. He coughed some more from the gunk that was residing in his throat. Craning his neck to look himself over, Duo found that the rest of him, and Heero as well, was covered in the thick gray dust.

"Headache. Bad one."

Duo perked up. "One of those headaches?"

Heero didn't say anything. It hurt too much to say anything.

"I thought he was controlling the headaches? I thought he took the chip or whatever it was out of you?"

"He...did."

"Then why..."

"Conditioning. Going to...take time, I guess." Heero rested for a few seconds, breathing heavy. "I went against the conditioning...I...always instructed to just get the mission done and not worry about anything else."

"Yeah, don't I know that one," Duo smirked, then winced as the shuttle rolled some, causing his weight to redistribute and move his leg slightly. "It happened by...itself this time."

"But..."

"It will stop. They'll stop...coming. I can tell."

"How can you be so sure? What if you're so brainwashed that it triggers them all the time now, even without the chip?" Duo was concerned as he looked up into his partner's face, seeing the pained expression as Heero withstood the debilitating headache.

"It's different. Not the same. Just too much...anxiety...this time. It was you this time. I...had to do this." Heero opened his eyes to meet Duo's, seeing him only through blurred vision. "Had to get you...out of there because..." His voice trailed off.

"Because why?"

"Because...I just had to. Because...the feeling inside me wouldn't let me...leave there without you." Heero closed his eyes once more, needing to force away the pain. "Couldn't...leave you at that place."

The feeling inside. He couldn't leave without me after all...because of the feeling inside him. "That" feeling? Is he feeling "that" feeling inside? God, I love you Heero, if you only knew. Dying anywhere would have been bad enough, but dying there would have been the worst, since his memories still fed him with visions of all the terrible things that had happened to him at that same location. Happy that his life wasn't being filled with all sorts of irony, Duo thanked God, and Heero, that he was still alive and now on his way back to Earth.

His mind wandering about what exactly Heero had meant, Duo closed his eyes too, letting himself be taken by a deep, pain-numbing sleep. When he next awoke, the shuttle was less than two hours from home. Heero was still by his side.

+

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