Mission Implausible + Part 7 (cont)

+

Une had just time to register the blaring alarms before the door to her room was rudely thrust open.

"Une!" Treize said as he entered. "There's been a security breach. The child is missing--"

His voice trailed off as he found himself staring down the barrel of Une's gun.

"Not a morning person, is she?" Zechs muttered from the doorway.

"The child is with me," Une said. "Didn't Security tell you?"

"We tried to tell Security," one of the recruits from the night before said miserably. "But they wouldn't believe us when we told them that you'd taken the child into your room to see he got a decent night's sleep. They laughed us out of the bridge."

Une's eyes glittered. "I see. I shall deal with that later--for now-- " She flicked the safety catch off the gun. "Everyone. Out. Now!"

"Une?" Treize questioned, hardly believing that she could point a gun at him.

"The child needs his sleep. If any of you wake him up--" The others gulped and took a step back as Une's fingers tightened over the gun.

Duo sighed in his sleep then and stirred, casting about worriedly for something--

Luckily this called Une's attention back to him and Treize and Zechs were able to make their escape in safety.

"Now that was something I never thought I'd see," Zechs said. He was a little unnerved by the sight of Une in a nightie. A nightie with lace--

Treize appeared to be in shock. "She pulled a gun on me!"

Zechs rolled his eyes. "She does that a lot."

"But on me! She pulled a gun on me!"

Zechs patted him on the back. "It would appear you have been displaced in her affections. Come on, we should call off the colony- wide search."

Treize followed, slowly. He was not altogether pleased with the situation.

+

Two hours later, a colony wide search and a phone call later Noin joined the others in Treize's quarters.

"I've got the search called off and a shuttle to L2 booked, sir," Noin said, saluting as she entered the wall.

"Good, good," Treize didn't even look up at her as she entered. He was watching in horrified fascination as Duo ate scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast and hash browns--all at the same time.

"Would you like more juice?" Zechs asked sourly. Duo was sitting in his seat again.

"-es," Duo shoved his glass in the blond's direction. He didn't take a break in eating.

Une patted his head fondly. "Can I get you some more eggs?"

Duo shook his head, following the eggs with a mouthful of pancake.

"Incredible," Treize said. "Can you actually taste that?"

Zechs snorted. "I don't think he appreciates the value of a clear palate, Treize."

"Don't matter what it tastes like," Duo said. "As long as there's lots of it." He gulped down his orange juice.

Treize tore his attention away from the child. "When do you want to leave, Noin?"

"We can go at any moment sir," Noin reported.

"Lead the way, my dear," Treize said as he stood. "Well, young Duo, you wanted to go to L2 I believe?"

Duo used a very colourful phrase, one that would have made Quatre's ears turn pink and earned him a good fifteen lecture on filthy language from Wufei. "You're really going to take me home? I thought you were lying!"

"I'm the leader of OZ. I don't lie." Treize said petulantly.

"Although you did deceive the Alliance Doves," Zechs pointed out.

"You ordered me to lie to the Colony delegates," Une reminded him.

"What about the representatives of the different Earth governments? You weren't exactly honest with them," Noin said thoughtfully.

Duo snickered as Treize scowled at his subordinates. "It's a tough job. One must sometimes stretch one's personal integrity--"

"Don't gulp your food like that, dear," Une interrupted, patting Duo on the head. "You'll choke yourself."

"And we wouldn't want that to happen." Zechs rolled his eyes.

"Shall we depart?" Treize wanted to leave before they could get back to discussing his faults.

+

Wufei had not been in many churches. Still he recognised the blackened remains as having once belonged to a chapel. Even when it was whole it would not have been very grand. The windows were gone, long since looted, but they would not have contained stained glass. The outer buildings would have been built from wood--or what passed for wood on this resource poor colony--and their presence was known only from blackened smudges on the dusty ground.

Still, it might have been a decent place. Unlike other vacant lots, this one had no squatters--the place was left bare out of respect for the former occupants.

"Ain't no-one who will live there," a shop assistant told him. Pulling on a cigarette and sighing wearily, she looked old at twenty three. "Father Maxwell was crazy--ain't no other way to explain why he'd saddle himself with fifty or hungry mouths--but he was good. You gonna buy anythin'?"

No one remembered a braided child, but street urchins were so common in the L2 cluster that no-one gave them a second thought. Wufei saw several, thin to the point they appeared on the edge of starvation, but who ran away at his attempt to approach them. Life on L2 was hard, and the first lesson, apparently, was to trust nobody.

From a more helpful informant, the Chinese pilot learned that Father Maxwell had no living family, and had left no children. However, it was not uncommon for his past charges to take his name.

"The ones that didn't have names, at least," a former inhabitant of Maxwell's Church told Wufei. "Or those, like me, who no-one wanted."

Which was Duo?

Wufei thought of the bright, vibrant child he'd taught and who had blossomed under the pilot's care--he couldn't believe that no one could fail to see the promise the child carried.

But then there was Duo Maxwell.

Wufei thought of his former comrade with puzzlement. It was hard to reconcile the child Duo he knew with the fearless Shinigami--Duo was so strong. But sometimes there was a bitterness in his conversation that Wufei had been unable to account for--

All of a sudden he was reminded of child-Duo's fervent belief that Wufei would not come back for him at the Docks. It was becoming clearer now--Wufei shook his head. Abandonment and then rejection-- Pilot Duo had told Wufei once he had no family which meant he had never been successfully abandoned--and now what?

Duo was somewhere, scared no doubt, thinking the pilots were out to get him--Wufei could only hope that the Manguanacs would find him quickly. Quatre was the best person to take care of Duo right now--He was the first of them that Duo had trusted, and with his spaceheart, Quatre would know just how to reach him--

Wandering among the ruins, Wufei paused a moment among the pillars of what had once been the inner chapel.

It had been identified as harbouring rebels and attacked, destroying rebel and innocent alike. It had been a massacre. Somehow Duo had survived--

There was the sound of a car stopping outside the church. Wufei ducked behind a pile of rubble. From his observations, it was unlikely anyone in this district could afford a vehicle--

It wasn't a car.

It was an armoured OZ convoy.

Wufei said something impolite in Chinese. He only had the one gun on him, something that wasn't going to get him very far in this situation. A hasty escape was the best option--but how had they tracked him here?

Wufei was further bemused as Noin and Zechs exited the vehicle followed by Treize and Une. What was this, the OZ top brass's annual picnic?

They certainly weren't trying to hide their presence. Treize's voice carried to where Wufei was hiding. "Certainly not my choice of a location!"

Then Wufei's heart skipped a beat.

"Hey! That's my home you're talking about!"

"No," Wufei thought. "It can't be--"

"Let me help you with your seat belt, dear," Une said, and a moment later a very familiar child came into view.

Wufei's heart constricted. "Duo--"

The child looked around at the ruins with an expression of growing horror. "It can't be!" he wailed as he dashed forward towards the chapel. "It's true!" He knelt by what had once been the altar, stretching out a hand towards it, then shakily drawing it back to stem growing tears.

Une knelt beside him, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder. "There, there," she murmured. "It'll be all right."

"Curiouser and curiouser," Treize intoned. "Well, Zechs, what do you make of this? Time travel? Someone rebuilt the Orphanage and no-one told us?"

"Acting lessons?" Zechs sounded more embittered than Wufei remembered him.

"You still think this is a pretence?" Treize asked. "What is the point? What do the colonies gain by sending us a child who thinks he's from the Maxwell Orphanage?"

"I bet pilot 05 is behind this," Noin said. "He probably sent the child here just to piss me off." She flexed her hands menacingly.

Wufei made a mental note to stay away from Noin and hunched down further in his hiding place.

"Are you all right, dear?" Une asked the child who had stopped crying.

"I don't understand," the child said. "This is like the orphanage-- but the walls are gone."

"The walls?" Zechs was studying a map of the former orphanage--hoping to catch the child out.

"The Alliance built them. Ten feet high with glass on top. We weren't allowed out--they said we were a public menace."

"There's no record of any walls on the map," Zechs said.

"That building wasn't there neither--or that one--and where the Alliance Post used to be is just accommodation."

"What the--how did you know about the Alliance building?" Zechs demanded, staring at the map.

"It was there." Duo pointed. "It would be kinda hard not to notice it. That's where they used to check our tags and make announcements and that. If you climbed up from the second infirmary--that building there--you could throw stuff at the building without them seeing ya."

Treize peered over the map Zechs held. "Well, the infirmary is in the right place--how long has the Alliance building been absent?"

"After the Maxwell Church Massacre, the Alliance abandoned their post in this area, due to the reprisals by several community groups in retaliation for the attack on the church."

Duo took a sharp breath. "The Alliance destroyed it?"

"Of course," Treize answered idly, still studying the map.

"Are you sure?"

"It's in their records," Zechs said impatiently. He should know, he'd spent a good part of the flight reading over them.

Duo made a choking sound and sat down suddenly. "No--" he whispered, shaking his head. "I can't have--I--" he stared dazedly at the wreckage.

Wufei decided to take a risk. He picked up a nearby pebble and threw it.

Duo blinked as the stone landed nearby him. Puzzled he looked around to see where it came from--and nearly gasped as he spotted Wufei. Only the Chinese pilot putting a finger to his lips reminded Duo to keep quiet.

Wufei made a beckoning motion with his hand. "Come," he mouthed. "I'll get you out of here." He hoped Duo would understand. He ducked behind the pile of rubble heart beating fast. He had to get them both out of there.

+

[part 6] [back] [part 8] [back to girl_starfish's fic]