see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 5
I'll be down, kickin'
on the ground
To make you see that you're the same as me
This is what you are
I get ripped apart
Pick it up and take it home again
- "American Special" Tugboat Annie
He knew someone was following him, could feel it on the back of his neck
and in his shoulders. This was not new, and he was not afraid. But his
heart rate quickened anyway. He knew what was about to happen, knew the
risk was higher for these meeting when he was by himself. But he couldn't
be with Duo all the time. And he felt capable of going out for groceries
by himself. He did it regularly, most of the time without incident.
Well, today, his luck had run out. He spotted Cecile up ahead, seated
at a little bistro, sipping daintily from a cappuccino. Her long blond
hair was, as usual, wound around her head like a crown, lending her a
regal and sophisticated air. Heero thought she looked ridiculous, and
since he knew she was a cold, slightly crazy, drama queen, the look was
lost on him. As he approached, grocery list in hand, she gracefully rose
from her chair, resting her long, bony hands on slim hips. She took one
seemingly casual step forward, and Heero stopped. He looked her up and
down quickly. If she was armed, she was very good at hiding it, because
neither her clinging white t-shirt nor her second-skin-like white trousers
appeared to have any room, even for a nail file.
"Bon jour," she called.
Heero nodded once in greeting. They stood facing each other for several
seconds, neither speaking, until finally, Heero jabbed the grocery list
forward like it was his switchblade. To his satisfaction, Cecile flinched.
While their encounters tended to be brief and violent -- Heero always
outnumbered and resigned to another meeting with Gael, Cecile perpetually
smug, always annoying and sometimes downright frightening -- she knew
that he wasn't a man to be taken lightly. If it weren't for the ten other
muscle who accompanied her, Heero could kill her. He saw this in her expression
now, as her eyes darted to the list and back up to his face.
"Fish, rice, cabbage, broccoli, oranges, and Doritos for Duo. That's all
I want. I don't want any trouble. I just need to go to the store." This
approach never worked with Cecile, but it was worth a shot. And, anyway,
he never left the apartment armed only with a grocery list. She smirked
at him, arching a graceful eyebrow. Then, turning on her heal, she marched
away from him, expecting him to follow. He glanced over his shoulder and
seeing that he was now backed by six of the aforementioned ten muscle,
he tried to shrug some of the tension out of his muscles, and started
after her. Maybe if he didn't fight back, this wouldn't last too long.
They always ended up on a rooftop, whether it was of some dump apartment
building or in a rooftop garden, or on top of some posh hotel. Heero always
found himself looking down over at least a 10 story drop. No difference
today. Gael was waiting for him to arrive, his long, lean body perched
atop a chimney stack, legs swinging carelessly. Heero found himself hoping
that he'd get soot all over his ass. Childish, he knew, but he wasn't
particularly concerned at the moment with the age-appropriateness of his
musings. He'd be bleeding in a few minutes. He was more concerned about
that. The bodyguards corralled him up against the edge of the roof, as
always, keeping his heals within centimeters of an untimely death. When
Heero felt thoroughly uncomfortable and unbalanced, Gael finally leapt
down from the chimney -- ass immaculate of course -- and approached the
Heero knew that by most people's standards, Gael was an attractive man
-- tall and fit with lean, strong shoulders and a narrow waist. He had
dark hair that he kept somewhat long, swirled and slicked into a close
cousin of the pompadour. He had no facial hair, a hawk-beak nose and amber
colored eyes that glowed in the sunlight. He was young, probably in his
late 20s, and during their rooftop meetings his personality alternated
between the coolly threatening drug lord and an over-excited teenager.
Heero found these changes baffling and extremely disconcerting. And he
found Gael repulsive.
As his boss approached, Heero tried to guess which personality he would
encounter first. From the looks of it, Cecile was looking for the same
information: she stood off to the side, watching the whole thing with
her predatory green eyes narrowed. Heero guessed she was jealous, knew
that she was more than Gael's chief bodyguard. 'You can have him,' Heero
thought, eyes returning to the taller man who now leaned suggestively
over him. Heero swallowed and stood his ground; he had nowhere to go.
"How's tricks, Heero?" Gael asked, a faint Spanish accent tinting his
words and lending them a sibilance that made Heero twitchy.
"Any particularly nasty boys to deal with?"
Dark blue eyes narrowed. "A few. More than we'd like."
"Duo and me."
Gael frowned and turned away in a huff. He'd never liked Duo. Heero thought
that their boss picked the worst men for Duo out of spite.
And then he knew which Gael he was dealing with today. 'Teenagers,' he
thought wearily. He watched the Boss pace back and forth across the roof,
fingers interlaced at the back of his neck.
"How's the young Winner heir managing?" he asked finally, turning back,
a smile tugging at his lips.
Heero shrugged noncommittally. "As well as can be expected. He doesn't
freak out much. Still thinks his sisters will come for him."
"I can assure you they won't. They made it perfectly clear that he is
to disappear until Winner, Sr. expires, with an altered will insuring
that the eldest daughter inherits."
Heero rubbed his elbow with a rough palm. He didn't want to encourage
conversation with Gael -- indeed preferred to avoid it at all costs --
but this had been bugging him. "Here's something I don't get. Putting
him out on the street, peddling him to rich and powerful men...he'll be
recognized. And if it comes out that the legitimate Winner heir was cast
off by his own family, essentially traded into a prostitution house...
the bad press that would generate would be crippling."
Gael gave him a conspiratorial smile. "That's what I told them. And as
much as I'd love to see the Winner image smeared, I felt it was incumbents
upon me to warn them of that risk."
"Ever the good Samaritan," Heero muttered, eyes widening slightly at his
own audacity. He'd been friends with Duo for too long.
But the Boss took it as a compliment, stalking closer to Heero, arms now
crossed over his chest. "It's true. Sometimes my kindness and understanding
knows no bounds. I amaze even myself." He now stood only a few centimeters
from his prey. Heero hated this part, when he had to concentrate almost
entirely on stilling the reflex to shove Gael away from him, shove him
hard enough to break a couple bones. Somehow he managed each time. It
helped to picture the consequences of his actions. If he hurt Gael, the
repercussions would be swift and brutal, not just to himself. That beating
he could take. But Duo...
The Boss was still talking. "Anyway, long story short, I promised the
lovely Winner sisters that their youngest brother would have a low-profile
position within my family. He'd be kept out of sight and would not encounter
anyone whose circles the Winners moved in. In other words, he'll get all
the low-life clients I'd like to cut from the rolls, but never had the
heart to." Heero gritted his teeth and fought down the knee-jerk anger
and heart-break stabbing through him on Quatre's behalf. Sure the kid
was from another world, and up until a few weeks ago, Heero wouldn't have
had two words to say to him, but... they were on the same side now. And
what his family had done was wrong.
"But enough about other people." Gael murmured into Heero's ear. "Let's
talk about us."
'Here we go.' The Boss's large hands began to roam along Heero's body,
hovering the slimmest distance from skin. Heero shuddered and turned his
head away as Gael's breath puffed against his neck and traveled up to
his left ear. 'Please don't touch me. Please don't touch me. Please don't
touch me.' And so far, in their bi-monthly meetings on rooftops, Gael
had not touched him, had promised not to until Heero gave him permission
-- which he never would.
"Have you thought any more about my offer?" the older man purred into
Heero swallowed hard, knowing what was about to happen. "Yes," he hissed.
"And?" Those large hands lifted up his t-shirt and then let it slide back
down along his ribs. It felt as vile as a caress, though it was only his
"I want you..."
"To get out of my face."
Gael backed off a bit, his handsome features turned down in a pout. "That's
"Fine." He turned away and stalked off, moodily standing to the side with
Cecile, who looked pleased as punch that Heero had rejected him yet again.
In the next moment, several pairs of rough hands pulled and pushed him
away from the edge of the roof. He stumbled once and almost went down
on one knee, but then adrenalin and reflex took over, filling his blood
and his brain with familiar drums. He twisted his arms out of their grasp
and dodged between the men surrounding him. He could tell that these bodyguards
didn't want to fight him. He looked on them with something approaching
pity. They always ended up with broken bones and a few minor to moderate
lacerations when they took on Heero Yuy after a rooftop meeting. Occasionally
he wondered why the Boss would put them through this every time. Perhaps
it was to keep the bodyguards sharp. Maybe it was to keep Heero himself
sharp. Or maybe Gael liked to see him bleed. And he always did. The fight
wasn't over until he did. First blood ended it. Some days he fought hard
enough to keep them at bay for almost an hour. Others, he let them take
him in under five minutes.
Today, he was leaning more toward the latter. He had groceries to get.
His switchblade open and in-hand, Heero took a few steps forward, swinging
the blade in tight vicious arcs. A few men fell back while the others
circled around behind him. Keeping all of them out of his blind spot was
more than he could handle, so after ducking a few shots at his head, he
went down low and sprang up under their guard, taking out two with the
heavy handle of his knife. As they dropped, he spun and slashed at two
more coming up behind him. Dark blood blossomed through their shirts and
they fell back. Six of the ten remained, a few glaring at him, the rest
shooting beseeching glances at the Boss, who still looked pissed. They
wanted this to end as much as Heero did.
Finally, with a look from Gael, Cecile stepped forward, drawing a slender
blade from along her spine. She grinned at him and approached slowly.
Knowing that the sooner he bled the sooner he could go home, he let the
remaining bodyguards rush him. He went down hard, under their combined
weight, both elbows taking most of the fall. Once they had him down, they
worked quickly. They each took a limb, with two at each leg. Fighting
down the panic that inevitably rose in his throat whenever he was pinned
and helpless, Heero bucked against their hold on him, even though he knew
he should relax.
Cecile knelt down beside him, cooing soft words that Heero didn't understand.
His French had never been as good as Duo's. She ran her hands along his
body, feeling out the scars she had already given him. A few were doozies.
Most were easy to hide. Then with frightening precision, she slid the
blade along his exposed hip bone, bright red blood immediately flooding
along the knife and soaking the top of his jeans. His body jerked upward,
instinctively curling in on itself, trying to protect the wound. In the
next moment, the muscle released him and backed away, more than a few
looking thoroughly shaken. Heero didn't blame them; he felt pretty shaky
himself. Then they left him there with the psychotic blonde bitch and
his boss. Cecile ran her fingers along the shallow slice she'd just given
him, gazing raptly at the blood dripping down her palm. Gael stared at
it too, until he sharply shook his head and took a step back. Then he
looked upon the whole scene with distaste, turning and swiftly making
his way toward the stares. Cecile followed reluctantly, but only after
she'd cleaned her blade and wiped the blood from her fingers onto Heero's
"Goodbye, mon petite," she murmured.
Then he was alone.
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