Written By: bikkothewriter
Preventors' Case #84309: Splicers + Chapter FiveAdrenaline. It was the sound of his own harsh breathing circulating through his helmet, his blood pounding so hard through his veins it made his fingers tingle with numbness. It narrowed his gaze and his focus on one thing: completing the mission.
At the word go, Heero and his team moved quietly and quickly through the backdoor of In Italy, taking only seconds to secure the storage room, bolting the two doors leading through to the bar shut before advancing on the hallway. He hugged the right wall with Meyers, one of their two female medics behind him, and Trowa bringing up the rear. On the left Sandford, Chase's second, headed the line with Arnet following and Hayers in back.
After three hours of studying blueprints and discussing options, the group had decided on the most efficient way to clear their half of the building. As they came across each room, the lead person would enter and clear the area while the rest of the line moved forward. Once done the leader would return to the line at its rear. Heero thought of it as a tactical game of leapfrog.
He approached the manager's office, the first door on the right, crouching low before turning the handle and shoving the door open. He entered, sweeping the room with his gaze and automatic rifle, to find the room empty of targets. He backed out quickly closing the door, and followed Trowa with Meyers now leading their line they turned the corner into a long stretch of hallway lined with doors.
At the next door, he and Trowa paused letting Meyers enter and clear the room before moving pass. On the other side Sandford's group had already cleared two rooms putting Hayers in front, already in place to open another door and clear the room. Trowa's move into an open doorway left him in the lead again and he moved quickly to the next room. Following the same routine, he turned the knob and shoved the door open on an occupied bathroom.
"Quiet," he ordered, in the man's face before he had a chance to stop the flow of piss as he stood gaping at Heero. "On the ground, hands behind your head."
He kept the gun on the balding man as he fell to the ground his hands laced behind his head. He frisked, then read the blonde his rights as he jerked his arms behind his back securing his wrists with zip-ties followed by his ankles. Sure that the target would be staying put, he left the room closing the door behind him. He marked the door with a red zip-tie on the handle to alert the arresting team of the suspect behind the door.
He caught up with the group at the end of the hallway, just before it split to lead to the two entrances to the main stage. The doors to the two dressing rooms had yet to be opened as the team had stopped to wait for him.
"Barton, Hayers," he called, nodding to the two men to move to forward to the stage doors. They peeled away from the walls, bypassing the rest of team, moving around their respective corner and out of sight.
He moved in front of Meyers, putting his hand on the doorknob he looked to Sandford mirroring him and nodded. They rushed the two rooms at the same time. Heero took stock of the room in a blink. One cage in the center of the room with eight naked children and one man separated from Heero by the cage smoking a cigarette.
"Don't move," he ordered to the dark-haired man in vain as the other man made a move for something behind his back. Heero opened fire, pegging the target four times in the chest with rubber bullets before the move could be fully completed. The man fell heavily to the ground where Meyers moved in cuffing the unconscious man amid the sounds of the children's alarmed crying.
"Pete, I told you to leave those fucking kids alone," a second man yelled as he exited the private bathroom still drying his hands with a paper towel.
"Hands behind you head," Heero ordered, training his gun on the man.
"Shit," the man cried out in alarm.
"On the ground." Heero stalked over to the man as he dropped to his knees, pushing his shoulder forcing him flat on the floor. He searched the man quickly and thoroughly, relieving him of his gun. He tied the man's wrists and ankles while reading him his rights, before giving him a warning, "If you make a sound, I'll make you quiet. Do you understand?"
Heero stepped away from the man, seeing that Meyers had moved to the cage, awaiting orders.
"Hayers," he called into his helmet's mike.
"The left side is secure, Commander."
"The right side is secure, Commander."
"The room is cleared. We have eight hostages."
He looked to Meyers, who commented without prompting, "The room is cleared. We have eight hostages," she said informing the rest of the team.
"Secure the hostages and be ready to move in five minutes," he instructed before cutting communication.
He holstered his gun and made his way across the room to Meyers' side. She relieved herself of her helmet, shaking her matted hair loose.
"How do you want to do this?"
"The way we planned. I'll lead them out and you dress them," he answered pulling his helmet off.
"Kitten?" Heero asked surprised, looking into the cage at the boy he'd seen twice and met once. The small boy had his face pressed between the bars, smiling, though Heero could see the tear tracks that led from his red, puffy eyes. His left cheek scuffed and his brown hair in disarray around the large cat's-ears on the top of his head and light bruises on his arms and legs showed that he had not gone down without a fight.
"You know him?" Meyers asked disbelieving.
"I met him yesterday," he replied. A dozen questions were running through his mind but he forced himself to focus. He needed to get the children out and to safety before he considered the mystery around Kitten.
He knelt in front of the door to the cage pulling a small, portable drill from one of his utility pockets. Using the drill to shred the inner workings of the padlock and open the cage door. He gathered the small boy in his arms as he rushed forward from the cage, mindful of his nakedness and the long brown tail curling behind him.
"Take me home to my Nana," the boy said crying against his shoulder.
She reached out, touching the boy's arm, gently prying him away from Heero. "Come here, sweetie. We're going to take you home."
He watched her dig into the pack she carried for one of the many medical gowns to put over the boy. He sniffled and cried but stayed docile in her care and Heero, relieved, turned back to the cage and the other children. They came nervously to the door of the steel cage and let themselves be dressed by himself or Meyers, except for one girl who sat huddled in on herself.
"Come out. You're safe now," Meyers called to the small girl, who shook her head in reply. "Sweetie, we're here to take you home. Come on out."
Their time was growing short; they needed to have the children moved before Chase's raiding team advanced on the building. The bolted doors would only hold under onslaught for so long before they were breached.
"Do you know who the Preventors are?" Heero asked.
She shook her head again, refusing to look up.
"We're like the police. We're the good guys," he said softly, "We came to take you and everyone else home. We can't leave without you."
She looked up at him then, her eyes puffy and swollen made worse by the bruise marring the left side of her face. He crawled into the cage at the sight of her, at her dead and betrayed eyes. He moved close but didn't touch her.
"No one is going to hurt you I promise."
Her eyes flicked to the man lying prone on the floor, only a few feet from the cage and Heero wished he'd been allowed to carry something other than non-lethal bullets.
"I won't let anyone touch you. I won't let anyone hurt you. I'll hurt them like I hurt him."
He wasn't sure if it was the vehemence in his voice or the look on his face that made her move, but she stirred, standing slowly. Shame made her hunch in on herself trying to cover her body with her hands. More bruises trailed along her pale and freckled body and he had to contain the rage that flared hot inside him. She moved forward stiffly and he met her halfway, leaning forward to pull her into his arms. She hugged his neck tight, whimpering. He took the gown Meyers offered pulling the girl away long enough to slip it over her.
"Stay close to me," he spoke quietly into her blonde dog-ears, rubbing her back. He moved slowly, keeping one hand on the girl as he made his way out of the cage and into the crowd of children.
"Are any of them hurt," he asked Meyers.
"Mostly a few scrapes, but his ankle is sprained," she said nodding her head towards Kitten, "One of us will need to carry him."
"I'll carry him," he said keeping a firm grip on the girl who clung to side burying her face against his leg. He lifted the boy into his arms settling him against his right hip.
"Okay everyone, we're leaving now. Stay close to us," Meyers instructed, herding the children towards the door. One of the boy's broke away from the others to run back, snatch Heero's helmet up, and come to his side, where they brought up the rear.
Sandford and his group were already in the hallway with Hayers on point leading the two groups back down the hallway and Trowa following covering their backs. No one spoke as they moved hurriedly towards the storage room and the exit where a van waited to load up the children and take them to the hospital.
Two agents, who had been waiting in the alley for their return, came inside lifting children into their arms and rushing them out the door as Heero and his group made a slow procession towards the door. Most of the children had been led outside by the time they made it within a few feet of the door before being stopped.
"Wait," Kitten said, lifting his head, stopping the procession. "You can't leave her."
"Leave who?" Heero asked.
"Commander Yuy? What's going on?" Sandford asked, pulling up short.
"I'm not sure. Take the children and get them to the van," he answered. He turned to the children at either side of him, "Go with him," he urged turning the two children over to Sandford but the girl only shook her head and pressed tighter against him.
"It's okay," Sandford said, holding his hand out, "I won't hurt you."
She didn't budge.
Heero knelt on one knee, speaking softly to her, "This is my friend, and he'll take care of you."
She shook her head.
"There's another girl here. I can't leave her either."
She looked up at him then, worry and fear on her face.
"I'll only be a minute. Go with him."
She moved away then, tentatively taking Sandford's hand. The boy at his side followed her example, the two letting themselves be led away from the room.
"Who can't we leave, Kitten?" he asked after he saw the other children off.
"The girl. You can't leave her in the box."
Kitten pointed over Heero's shoulder to where a dozen crates where stacked against the wall. Heero moved towards the boxes with Meyers and Trowa close behind him.
"Which one?" Heero asked already dreading what he might find inside the crate.
"That one," the boy replied leaning down to touch a crate that sat in the middle of a stack. Heero put the boy on the ground, letting Meyers pull him away as Trowa lifted the first crate out of the away. Heero took the second and set it aside before they both reached out to pull away the lid of the third. They quickly ripped away the boards that were stapled in place to reveal the body of a small girl packed inside the crate.
"Dear God," Meyers said, while Trowa tore his helmet off and ripped his gloves away from his hands to reach into the crate to touch the girl.
Sleeping. She looks like she's sleeping, Heero thought, stunned. Her face, slack and peaceful, surrounded by dark ringlets drew his focus. He couldn't look at the rest of her body, bent and contorted to fit inside the small crate, where blood stained her thighs and dark bruises marked her skin.
He saw Trowa shake his head out of the corner of his eye, the taller man's hands retreating from the box.
Dead. She was dead. Barely six years old and she was dead. Some bastard had raped and killed her and hidden away and didn't even have the decency to empty the box before he'd shoved her into it.
"Meyers, take him outside," his own voice, so calm and cold, sounded like white noise to his own ears.
The woman barely gave him a second glance before she snatched Kitten up into her arms and made for the door.
"Heero, don't do this," Trowa said grabbing his arm.
"Let me go."
"Chase and his team are going to get the bastard that did this. In two minutes the man that did this is going to be captured."
Trowa's words barely penetrated his ears as he pulled the confiscated sidearm from its holster and ejected the clip finding it full. He enjoyed the decisive sound of the clip clicking back into place.
"Damn it, Heero. Don't do this again."
"Let me go."
The sudden hand around his throat surprised him just as much as being forcefully jerked around to face Trowa, nose to nose. The other man had left himself unprotected and for a dark moment, Heero thought about shooting out the man's kneecap to make him let go. The awful thought was enough to give Heero pause.
"I want to kill the sick fuck that did this as much as you do, but we have a job to do. There are sixteen kids out there who need us to do our fucking job. Now get your shit together!"
"Someone has to pay for this, Trowa," he managed to squeeze out around the hand choking him.
"And they will. Let Chase do his job."
He didn't know if his resolve was breaking or if the lack of oxygen was taking effect but the fight was draining out of him and the sorrow and grief were setting in. He felt cold.
"How could anyone do that, Trowa? How could they do that to a little girl?"
"I don't know, Heero," Trowa answered sighing. His hand dropped away, as he pressed his head against Heero's. "I don't know."
The sounds of gunfire and yelling startled them both, as they jumped away form each other. Their fifteen minutes were up and Chase's team had begun their raid. Trowa caught him quickly, before he had a chance to look at the girl again.
"Don't. We need to get the others to the hospital."
"We can't leave her."
"We have to. We can't destroy anymore evidence."
Heero knew that he was right, that the less they touched her, the more evidence there would be to link her to her killer, but the thought pained him. He didn't want to leave her there, packed into a crate like a broken and discarded toy.
Heero waited while Trowa retrieved his helmet and gloves and together they left the room. He approached the van with feelings of guilt and shame looking at the small faces staring back at him. Saving these children, returning them home was much more important than thoughts of revenge. He had a duty to them first and with that resolve, he climbed into the van giving the order to move out.
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