Author: June
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer


Warning: lots of blood in this chap.

Through the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 31
Jeopardy III

31. Quatre

You know, I had to yell
Just to get my voice back

- Smog "The Well"

Any thoughts of Duo's safety and whereabouts fled at the sight that greeted him upon his return to the room they'd so recently escaped. The muscle gripping his arm released him as soon as they were inside, but not before he grabbed the bandolier of knives from across Quatre's chest. He didn't protest or struggle but dropped down beside Trowa's sprawled figure, ignoring the activity of everyone around him. He very consciously blocked out the pained moans of the man Duo had gutted. He didn't look at the body of the boy Duo had shot. He kept his eyes on Trowa as he carefully rolled the Frenchman onto his stomach so that he could see his injury. He didn't think his lover was conscious, but as his body came to rest, he groaned softly, and very slowly, long fingers slid along the floor and reached for Quatre's hand.

The boy gasped softly when he found his fingers clenched in an alarmingly tight grip. He tore his eyes away from the bloody hole in his lover's back and watched as Trowa pulled his hand closer to his chest, tugging him down until he could feel Trowa's faint breaths. He brushed soft auburn hair away from a pale cheek. "Trowa?"

One dark green eye opened and regarded him without focus. Then recognition hit and Quatre could see the Frenchman's throat working to speak. "What the hell are you doing here?" He coughed weakly and Quatre thought he saw the blood pumping out of the bullet wound spurt a little before slowing again. It was suddenly very difficult for him to swallow.

"Shit," he managed, pulling his shirt over his head and winding in into a large bandage. He very gently wrapped it around his lover's middle, sliding it underneath him and tying it securely. He tugged on the knot and then flinched when Trowa hissed and then coughed again. The sound was wet. Trowa looked up at him.

"Pieces of a rib in my lung. It's filling up."

Quatre tried to swallow again and failed. He brushed the hair from Trowa's forehead again and found his skin cold and clammy.

"Why are you here, Quatre?"

Quatre smiled and laid down beside him, twining their fingers together again. "I came back for you. I couldn't leave you here."

"Where's Duo? Did he..."

"He got away. He's fine. You saved him."

Trowa regarded him with one cool eye. "You don't lie very well."

Quatre slid closer and kissed him on the mouth, tasted metal on his tongue. "You shouldn't talk. Show me where else you're hurt and I'll fix you up."

Trowa nodded and gestured toward his leg. Quatre sat up and, after a very short examination, saw the other bullet wound in Trowa's thigh. Fortunately, it'd missed the main artery by a healthy distance. It'd mostly just gone through a little muscle and tissue and then out the other side. Quatre tore a strip from his t-shirt and bound the wound as gently as he could. He could see that Trowa's left arm was bright red, angry bruising just beginning to darken to purple. Duo had dragged Quatre from the room before he could see what Gael did to Trowa after he'd been shot. The last he'd seen was Gael moving towards him. By the looks of it, he'd probably stepped on Trowa's arm... not very gently either. Finally, Trowa's dark red hair was stained brown and matted against the back of his skull. Quatre touched his head gently and his fingers came away sticky. The wound hadn't bled much and wasn't bleeding now, though Trowa was probably a bit concussed.

"Anywhere else?"

"Nothing you can fix," he wheezed. "If I don't get to a hospital..."

The tile floor was smeared with too much blood. Quatre had it all over him now, too. He saw that his lover was afraid. Trowa was afraid that he was going to die.

The lights flickered and then went out, and the room plunged into complete darkness. There were no windows and none out in the hall. Voices erupted in surprise all around them. Gael was suddenly shouting for a flashlight and Cecile was demanding that someone help her up. Quatre couldn't see Trowa in front of him and he reached out, searching for him. He found his lover's hand and squeezed, feeling a faint pressure in return. Fear thrilled through him. What if someone tried to hurt them while they were essentially blind? What if someone could see them and they couldn't... He spun around, looking for any sign of danger, one hand out in front of him. He felt around blindly until Trowa tugged on his hand again and he realized that the best he could do for the moment was to shelter his lover with his body.

They heard a cell phone ringing and then Gael's harsh speech. "All the security cameras are down from one virus? ...And, of course, you can't get the power back on..."

Quatre heard Trowa drawing a labored breath as he fought to speak. "They've come for him."

Quatre didn't need to ask who Trowa was referring to. Cecile had an idea as well.

"They're hunting us," she hissed from some unspecified location to their left.

"Indeed," Gael murmured, as Quatre heard the phone click shut. "Three of my employees have been confirmed dead, nearly sliced in half..."

Quatre huddled over Trowa's body, wishing that his eyes would hurry up and adjust to the darkness, so that he could figure out who was where and what would happen to them. This would be the ideal time to get away, disappearing into the dark, just two more shadows. But Trowa couldn't go anywhere, so Quatre sheltered him with his body, hoping that he'd sense an attack long enough before it came to be able to protect Trowa in some way other than just being a human shield. "We have to get Gael out of here," Quatre whispered. "So that I can get you out of here."

"What about Maxwell?" Cecile asked.

Silence hung heavy for a moment. "He'd dead, shot through the back of the head. I wish I'd seen it."

Quatre's heart thudded to a halt and then froze to a chunk of ice. He hung his head and squeezed his eyes shut. He felt Trowa's cold slick fingers on his face, and knew that he now had blood streaked across his cheeks, like war paint. He pictured Trowa smiling faintly up at him, sending him off to battle. He pictured. Heero and Wufei ghosting through the mansion, silent angels of vengeance and murder. He squeezed Trowa's hand and leaned down to kiss his salty mouth again.

Then he raised his head. "You'd better find them before they find you... sir."

Finally, a flashlight clicked on and Quatre shielded his eyes from the bright beam as it came to rest on him. He could only vaguely make out the shape of his boss, but he could hear the man grinning.

"Right you are, Mr. Winner. If it's me they're after, I'd best go out to meet them and see if there's anything to be salvaged from all this." He paused, looking Quatre up and down with a considering eye. "You'd better stay out of trouble. Mr. Barton's fate is very easy to reproduce. I advise you to stay put while I take care of this."

He whispered a few words to one of the remaining muscle and then tossed him the flashlight, heading off into the dark hallway alone. Quatre could see Cecile watching him, holding her side, and scowling. Quatre looked down at Trowa, who'd manage to roll onto his side. The Frenchman's eyes were glazed, his expression distant. He knelt down again by his side and again, green eyes focused and bloody fingers grabbed for his hand.

"Easy," Quatre murmured. "Don't move."

"Now, Quatre," he whispered. "It has to be now."

"What does, Trowa?"

"You have to finish it. I brought you here, brought him here. I did this to you... before. When you learned you were sick, when you couldn't work with us anymore, I begged him to give you more responsibility, so that you were useful in this family. Otherwise, if you'd... you were too volatile."

"Trowa..."

"He wouldn't have let you stay here unless you were working and I didn't want you to be here in the mansion, away from us - we couldn't protect you here- so I asked him if he would give you a better job. I needed you to be with us, with me, so I got you the job as a hunter. I made you kill people. You killed that girl because of me. I did all this to you. I'm sorry, Quatre."

Quatre could barely hear his lover, even leaning down by his ear. "Sshh," he soothed. "It's okay."

"And Duo... tell Duo that I didn't give away our secret. It's safe. I just... Gael wanted to know what was happening in the flat, as a price for getting you the job. It was the price and I said yes, and so I've been telling him everything. He thinks he knows it all, but he only knows that Duo and Wufei are lovers. And that Heero doesn't know they're together and... I betrayed that trust and..."

Quatre's voice caught in his throat as he ran his palm over Trowa's forehead. "Duo's dead, Trowa. He's dead. I can't tell him. I left him in the stairwell and...."

Trowa shook his head. "Gael was lying. I know he was."

"But-"

"That's why you have to finish it, Quatre. I brought you here. And I brought him here and you have to finish it for me. Find the others and..."

Quatre caught movement behind him and turned to see the muscle with the flashlight approaching. He looked uneasy, and he was fumbling with something on his belt. "What are you doing?" Quatre asked sharply. "Stay away from us." The man continued to approach. Quatre turned his back on Trowa, getting to his feet. "What do you want?"

"Get out of the way kid. Hurry up."

"No."

"Look, I don't want to hurt you, and neither does the boss. Now just get out of the way." The man had a gun. He was aiming low and to Quatre's right. He was aiming for Trowa. "That kid screwed up. He tried to hurt the boss. That shit doesn't fly around here. You know that."

"Back off," Quatre gritted, reaching for throwing daggers that weren't there. "Get away from us."

"I can't. He told me to do it. Now get out of the way."

Quatre shook his head, balling his hands into fists. "No."

The man hesitated another moment, and the weapon briefly lowered. Quatre surged forward and the gun came back up, firing in the same instant. Pain blossomed bright and hot in his right bicep and he staggered. He fainted to the left as the gun fired again, and then he tackled the man to the ground, landing heavily on a muscled chest. His knee pressed firmly on the man's right arm, he heard the gun hit the tiled floor a moment before he grabbed a hold of his chin and the back of his head and twisted sharply. The sound of his neck snapping echoed wetly around the room before silence fell again, Quatre had the gun and flashlight in hand, the beam darting in a jagged pattern around the room as he searched for anyone remaining. He quickly found Cecile resting by the door, one arm in the air in surrender, the other held against her still-bleeding side. He stepped backwards over Trowa's body and put his back to the wall, again flashing the light around the room. Two more men that he could see, both afraid.

His breath came in harsh gasps and his heart pounded in his ears, as with a remarkably steady hand, he pulled the trigger twice more. A flash of white and he saw Cecile escape through the open door, disappearing into shadow. The two men slumped to the floor and again, he searched the room. The man Duo gutted wasn't moving anymore. He'd stopped moaning several minutes ago, Quatre realized. He'd most likely died, but just to be sure, he stepped forward and kicked the man onto his back. His hands were still clutched over his stomach, where Quatre could see guts trying to fall out. He gagged and quickly looked away, returning to Trowa's side, senses screaming for any sound that might be a threat, hating the thick darkness that hung around them like a shroud.

His lover's eyes were closed. "Trowa, wake up." He put down the flashlight so that the beam shown directly on Trowa's face. He patted the Frenchman's cheeks lightly, and called his name again. "Come on, Trowa, open your eyes." He looked around the room again, eyes bouncing over the lumps on the floor that were four dead men and one dead kid. One of them had to have a phone. He needed to call an ambulance.

Searching through their pockets made his skin shiver and all the hair on his arms stand up, but he quickly found what he was looking for. As he flipped open the phone, he glanced up, startled out of his concentration. Was that... sirens? Just then he heard voices and the sound of feet on carpet coming toward them. He had the flashlight off in the next second and had backed over to where Trowa lay when he heard them in the doorway. He took a few steadying breaths and raised the gun again, keeping himself between the men and Trowa. Then four flashlight beams found him and shouts of "Police! Drop your weapon!" assailed his ears. "Drop it now! Put your hands behind your head!" He did as he was told, watching as the officers carefully approached him, weapons trained on his chest.

"Please," he said softly. "You have to help us. He's been shot. So have I. Please help us." He looked up at the officers standing around him and put on his best wide-eyed, innocent face. They glanced between each other, mouths dropping open in surprise.

"... Quatre Winner? Are you Quatre Winner?"

Relief began to flood through him. "Yes, I am."

"You've been missing for almost a year. Have you been here this whole time?"

Now he was weak with it. "Yes. Held against my will. But I'm fine. You have to help my friend. He's lost a lot of blood."

And then, everything was happening very fast. An officer radioed down for a stretcher as the rest searched the room and examined the bodies. Quatre leaned over the body of his lover and found a weak pulse, but he was still breathing and, after a few more times calling his name, he opened his eyes and took a shuddering painful breath. He coughed and bright red blood sprayed from his mouth, some of it getting on Quatre. The fear and panic were back in his eyes as he tried to breath and found one lung full of fluid.

"It's okay, Trowa. You'll be okay. We're safe now. There's a stretcher on the way. I'm not leaving you."

Three paramedics entered the room then, pushing a stretcher ahead of them. Quatre was gently moved aside as his lover's vital signs were checked and then he was carefully lifted onto the stretcher. Glazed green eyes sought him out as they headed for the door and Quatre pushed his way to his side, gripping icy fingers in one blood-stained hands, grabbing up his bandolier of knives in the other.

"You have to finish this, mon petite," Trowa mouthed to him. "Finish it for me."

Quatre jogged with him a few more paces, ready to protest, to say that he was coming in the ambulance, but he saw that Trowa was utterly serious. He saw the guilt and suffering that his lover had been weighed down by for the past months fresh and raw and finally visible, and so he nodded. "I will. And then I'll find you." He stopped and watched the paramedics disappear around the corner, leaving him alone with the police.

"Mr. Winner, we'd like to ask you a few questions when we get to the station. If you'd like to have your lawyer present that's understandable. " Quatre spun around to see a kind-looking officer with glasses and a bit of a belly standing in the doorway, pointing a flashlight toward him. His mind flashed forward to how that would go. His family's lawyers. Would they know that his sisters had sold him to Gael and his Family? Would he even be safe meeting with them? His father hadn't died yet. If Quatre were to suddenly reappear, the future of the Winner fortune would again be in question. His sisters' plan would have been foiled. They would be ruined. He could get his life back. He could go home and maybe still go to school in the fall. Unless...

There were five bodies in that room and a gun with his fingerprints on it. The men he'd killed... his lawyers could certainly get him off on self-defense, but he wasn't sure he could even talk to the Winner's lawyers.

"I, um. I have to..." He looked over his shoulder down the dark corridor. The weight of his knives was familiar and comforting against his body. At least two of his friends were somewhere in the building, dealing death with glinting blades. He hoped for three. He hoped Gael had lied about Duo, though why he would about something like that was unclear. And he'd promised Trowa... "There's something I have to..."

The officer blinked and the boy was gone.

[part 30] [part 32] [back to Singles a-k]