Crashed + Part 2
Treize looked up with a slight grimace as J entered. His office was elegantly styled, in turn of the century luxury. It was tidy, oozed wealth and roses, and was a fitting place for the head of the Kushrenada Institute to reside. J -- well, bluntly, J stood out like a sore thumb. Treize briefly considered offering him some fashion advice but decided against it. He had to have important news to even think of upsetting Treize's decorating scheme.
"J," he said pleasantly. "What a surprise -- "
"Security breach," J said, immediately. "Someone has hacked into my files."
"My, my." Treize shook his head. "Did they find Heero's records?"
"Well," Treize pressed a button on the panel on his desk. "We must see to this." As they waited he asked idly, "Any idea who?"
"Ah," Treize frowned. "This could be difficult. Still . . . the Winner's have been encroaching on our territory lately -- "
J grinned. "Mr Winner did turn down my application for funding -- "
There was a sharp knock at the door.
"You wanted me, your excellency?"
Treize smiled. "Colonel Une. Just the person we need -- "
My fingers slid over the wires. Why is it that whenever you want to do something quickly and efficiently, your fingers go to pieces and nothing co-operates with you? Add flying bullets to the mix, and it's a guarantee that nothing will go right.
"Shit, shit, shit -- " I muttered, as the right wires finally came loose -- "Look out," Heero grabbed me, pulling me close to him. I was about to protest, when I heard the crack of guns. Heero stumbled forward -- I realised from the impact of the bullets.
He'd used his body to shield me?
"Heero -- "
"Concentrate on the light," he ordered me, his voice the most mechanical I'd heard it.
His face was blank. I gulped, turning back to the light and trying to ignore the neat little holes in Heero's back -- if he hadn't been there -- Bullet fire continued around me. I worked the light controls trying to keep my mind focused only on that. Finally the light flickered off.
"Now the playing fields equal -- " I turned to Heero. "Give me the gun. You've done enough -- "
"Unacceptable. There is still considerable threat."
He didn't sound like Heero. "You were shot. You've got to stay out of this."
"Negative." It was all I could do not to yelp as Heero casually threw me over his shoulder -- with the lights out, everyone was operating on sound. "You do not possess metal plating. I do."
"What are you doing?" I hissed. "Heero, put me down!"
"The shuttle is armoured. You will be adequately protected there." Heero opened the shuttle door and dumped me inside. As an afterthought, he tossed the gun in with me before shutting the door. I immediately tried to open it, only to discover it was locked.
"Heero!" I howled. "Let me out!"
There was no answer.
"Of all the rotten no-good -- " I struggled with the door handle, temporarily choked for words with the extent of my rage. How dare he try and protect me! How dare he be out there, getting shot at, and lock me away in here -- "The jerk!" I stabbed a finger in the general direction of the battle. "If you think I'm going to forgive you for being all brave and noble, you can forget it, Heero Yuy. You are going to be sorry for this!"
I felt slightly better, but apart from that my mini-tantrum did not have much effect. With a sigh and a few more unkind words directed against Heero I pulled out the first aid kit and began to get it ready. After all, this is where I usually wound up any time things got messy. Only difference being that it was usually Howard or one of the Sweepers who threw me in here.
I settled back to wait.
Times like this, you have to try and think about anything but what is happening out there. You do that, you go crazy. Trust me, I've worked myself frantic dozens of time, to no avail. I thought about the Winner job, evil things to do to Heero and what a jerk Wufei was. That led me onto thinking about the Heero problem.
I'd thought about this quite a lot. Getting um, the necessary parts, providing Heero survived and didn't get shot to pieces, wouldn't be a problem. There's plenty of pleasure houses that deal in mechanical partners, both sexes. It wouldn't be difficult for me to find, steal or buy whatever we needed. The problem was well, connecting the parts.
No-one cares about a robot. They can be programmed to go through the necessary actions and reactions, but they feel nothing. I didn't want that. If Heero and I were going to have a relationship, it was going to be on equal terms, damm it. He would feel whatever a person felt, there had to be some way . . .
Problem was, I was a mechanic, not a surgeon. I had a fair idea where the major organs were, and that getting shot in any of them was a bad idea. At a pinch, I made a good medic, Sally saying I had good hands for being a doctor. But I didn't have the necessary knowledge for this . . . you know, connecting nerve ends and such and brain functions.
There was someone who did.
Someone who would be only too happy to assist me, to offer advice and work with me through every stage of this endeavour. The only problem was, that person was G.
The door of the shuttle opened.
"Duo! Get the kit out -- Roger's arm needs bandaging, and Short Jack's been hurt, we don't know how bad. George too, but if he's complaining about missing the circus tonight, then he can't be seriously hurt. The rest of you, get back to loading the generator."
I already had the bandages ready, Old Jack helping me cut away Roger's sleeve to get at the wound. "Heero?"
"He's still out there."
"Is he hurt?"
"He doesn't seem to be."
Well so much for him. It would be a different story after I got through with him, I thought smugly, unintentionally pulling Roger's bandages so tightly he yelped.
Short Jack turned out to be not too badly hurt, and George would need Sally to patch him up. I picked up the first aid kit pleasantly relieved. We'd been lucky. Encounters with the Fang usually turn out nastier than this.
I said so to Howard.
"You can thank your robot for that," Howard said. "I've never seen anything like it. Duo -- " he pulled me over to one side. "Tell me the truth. Heero's not a normal AI, is he?"
"No," I said. "Not normal at all."
"Boss, we need a hand -- "
"We'll discuss this later," Howard said.
I did not relish the prospect.
I took the first aid kit and went to find Heero.
"I hope you're pleased with yourself," I said crossly. "Howard wants to talk to me later about you. Whatever you did out here, its got his suspicions up."
"Unfortunate but necessary," Heero replied still in that clipped tone. "You had to be protected. The best way to do that was to eliminate the threat."
"Eliminate?" I asked uneasily.
Heero nodded. "There is no one left who is a threat to you."
I didn't like this. Down here, we don't talk about this. Killing is sometimes necessary as a matter of survival, but no one talks about it. We just pass over the subject . . . Heero was rather too matter of fact about it for my liking.
"Are you hurt?"
"I'm functioning at 59% capacity," Heero reported. "There is a leak in my internal battery."
"Doesn't sound too bad," I said. "I'm sure I can fix that. Let's get back to the shuttle."
Heero walked steadily back to the shuttle without any need of assistance. For some reason that bothered me. If I'd been shot three times, I wouldn't like to be walking anywhere. But Heero was unique, I guess.
Once we got to the shuttle he surprised me again. "Threat has been deemed satisfactorily negated. Operative mode 'soldier' will discontinue in two minutes."
"Groovy," I said. "What the heck are you on about?"
"I will perform an all systems check now before shutting down to await repair," he continued. He did so.
"Fine then, ignore me. See if I care." I sulked.
I didn't like this at all.
If even the fact that he had to pretend to be an AI around Howard and the boys upset him, what was Heero doing? He was behaving more like a machine than I'd ever seen him -- and I had no idea why.
More worrying was the fact that he'd left the gun with me. If I had the only weapon between us -- how had he eliminated the threat?
"Kid," Howard said, sitting down opposite me. "We need to talk about your little find there. Spill. What's he really?"
"The truth?" I said bitterly. "I haven't the faintest idea."
When we got back to the fort, Howard gave me the run of workroom 7 without me even needing to ask. When I returned from retrieving the Shinigami sign from my room, I found he'd even sent in a toolbox. I decided to thank him later. For now --
I opened the toolbox. Heero.
It was reasonably easy to repair the damage done by the bullets. Like Heero said, metal plating was a bonus. But the one that had managed to rupture his internal battery was causing more problems. Battery fluid had damaged the sensitive wiring around his central circuitry and without being bad enough to pose an immediate threat, it was bad enough I couldn't fix it on my own. Heero's wiring was just too delicate. To replace it, I'd need special equipment.
Then there was the rest.
J had been busy. He'd not just left out some very important pieces, he'd made additions to --
"Duo? Duo? Braided idiot?"
I blinked. Wufei was waving a hand in front of my face, Trowa hovering at his elbow, amused. By the looks of things they'd been at it some time. "What?"
"What were you doing?" Wufei demanded. "You were just sitting there, staring at the wall."
"I was thinking," I said grimly.
Wufei humphed, making an annoyed sound. "Perhaps its as well the job's off. We can't operate unless we're all working at full capacity."
I ignored the slight. "What do you mean, the job's off?"
"Exactly that. In fact, that's why we came to see you, to let you know. We couldn't get through before."
"We were out on a sweep," I said. "Fang territory. 3 injured, no casualties. On our side at least. 4 if you count Heero."
"Why wouldn't you count Heero?" Trowa asked.
"Its complicated," I said shortly. And it was. When I'd taken him apart to repair him. I was appalled. And yet -- fascinated. If it was found out what Heero was --
"Will Heero be joining us?" Wufei asked with a smirk. He was looking to where Heero was lying on the bench, unconscious. I'd put a blanket over him so you could believe he was sleeping . . . I shuddered.
Wufei lept on the motion immediately. "Honeymoon over?" he suggested.
"Shut up," I snarled. "You know nothing about this, Chang Wufei. Nothing at all!"
I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Wufei back down. Well, I can be vicious when I'm in a bad mood, and right then I was feeling particularly nasty.
"And if we've got that settled," I continued. "Would you mind filling me in on the change of plans?"
Trowa answered. "Winner household was attacked tonight by persons unknown. There have been at least five casualties and great loss of property. The whereabouts of most of the family are unknown." It was a shock to have someone else's tragedy to think of. "Heero's friend?"
"Unaccounted for," Wufei answered, sounding quiet.
There was only one thing to do in these circumstances. We went out to get smashing drunk.