Warnings : Yaoi, angst, sap, OOC, Wufei POV, TWT. This one is 1+2+5... my first attempt, please be warned and be kind.
Thanks to Christy for beta reading and Aya for comments! Thanks guys!
Feed-back actually has a direct correlation with the urge to write.
I dreamed I owned them once... does that count?
by Sunhawk

Dark Silences

The Romefeller goons left us sit for a good long time in our stone walled cell, letting us stew in our own frustration. Giving us amble time to snap and snarl at each other over how we had come to be here. It had been an infiltration mission, what Maxwell termed a 'snatch and grab'. Our assignment had been to liberate a high-ranking official, a man who claimed to be loyal to Treize Khushrenada's 'true ideals' and was promising to defect with all the specs on the new mobile dolls in his hand. It could have ended the war, had it been the truth. It had been an outright lie. A trap. A bold trap that had succeeded quite admirably in snaring three of us. Maxwell, Winner and myself. I suppose, when you got right down to it... this might very well end the war after all. Just not necessarily in our favor.

If we lived to get ourselves out of here, I would allow myself to think about what I intended to do to the leak the rebellion had to have. This mission had been checked, double-checked and cleared at the highest levels. Someone, somewhere had set us up. When we had carried out the first part of the mission, infiltrating the base and making our way to the quarters of General Bellows, all we had found waiting for us was a hidden canister of colorless, odorless knock-out gas. The good General had even allowed himself to be drugged along with us to insure that we took the bait. We had taken it, all right; hook, line, and sinker. And awakened in this spartan cell, cuffed in place, with raging headaches and nothing to do but speculate and think about what was ahead of us.

"What do you mean a mole?" Winner was quick to go on the defensive. "The General was drugged right along with us... What makes you think he was in on it?"

Sometimes his naiveté was enough to drive a wooden man crazy and I opened my mouth to tell him just that, but Maxwell, for about the fifth time, interjected himself between us.

"Well, Quatre," he drawled with that damned ever-present grin fully intact. "The smirk on his face kind of gave him away."

"Oh," Winner backed down and I wanted to growl. He had been arguing the point with me for the last five minutes, but one word from Maxwell and it was 'Oh'?

"It's ok, man," Maxwell reassured him. "I was in front; I got a better look at him." His voice went pensive then and he surprised me with, "Just wish I'd figured out faster that his expression wasn't right. If I'd gotten a warning off..."

"It happened too fast, Duo," Winner told him gently. "Whatever they used on us, it acted almost instantly."

"But Wufei was right by the door," he continued. "He might have made it out... they might not have all three of us."

Having dropped out of the conversation when Winner had started arguing with me again, not wanting to believe that we had been compromised, I'd had a moment to calm myself a little. When I looked across the dim cell I could see just how frightened Winner was and just how much Maxwell was tearing himself up over his 'failure' to identify the danger.

"I doubt I would have gotten far," I told him gruffly. "I imagine there was a large number of armed men just waiting for us to move into that room."

Maxwell sighed heavily and I saw him try to work his shoulders. "Anybody else got a killer headache?"

Winner gave out with a groan and confirmed his with something muttered in Arabic. I grunted.

"Bet the dear General got an aspirin..." Maxwell began, then we heard the sound of footsteps outside the door. I had been looking right at Maxwell and saw his eyes get a calculated glitter to them; he seemed to be waiting for just the right moment, then he said, just a shade too loudly, "They can't find out that I know all the troop locations... they'll beat the crap out of me! I can't... I can't take that again!"

To my knowledge, Maxwell had never been captured before this screwed up mission. That made the likelihood of his having had 'the crap beaten out of him' a bit unlikely. Winner's eyes flew wide and his mouth flew open, but Maxwell gave him a harsh glare and he shut it again.

The next part went rather quickly. The door opened. Maxwell managed to make a look come over his face that can only be described as... unnerved. Not terrified. Not babbling. Not weeping. Just this carefully constructed mask that plainly told anyone who was looking that he was the one who had spoken, without it being overplayed. The three men who appeared in our cell went right to him, unlocked his cuffs from the chains set in the wall and hauled him away. Just as he had intended, I had no doubt.

I was awed by the look he threw back at us. Had I not known him, I would have said he was on the verge of screaming for mercy and trying to cover it up with a stoic but crumbling front.

When the door was closed behind them, Winner and I sat and stared at each other, on opposite ends of the chamber, and tried not to look at the empty spot on the sidewall midway between us.

"Why... why did he do that?" Winner whispered to me and I wanted to roll my eyes.

"To ensure that they took him and not one of us," I growled. "Why else?"

"But...why?" he persisted and I just shook my head. I didn't have an answer and I didn't really feel like talking about it. All I could think about was the look on Maxwell's face as they had pulled him from the room. I knew it had been an act... but it had still been unsettling. I wondered how far away they would take him for the questioning. I wondered how long before they figured out that drugs didn't work on us and got down to the 'old fashioned' method of interrogation. I pulled rather ineffectively at my cuffs again and glared at the door. Winner curled into a miserable ball and got quiet.

It was two hours before they hauled him back and dumped his limp body on the floor, not even bothering to reattach his cuffed hands to the wall.

We waited for the door to close and the sounds of movement outside to subside, then Winner called softly, "Duo... Duo can you hear me?"

The black-clad form shifted; rolling over onto his back and we very clearly heard him say, "Ouch."

I let go of a breath I hadn't really been aware I'd been holding and called, "Status, Maxwell."

There was a bit of a silence and I saw him attempting to evaluate, he got as far as flexing his hands and arms before heaving a sigh and blurting, "Hell, Wufei... I dunno. Nothing broken, I don't think."

Irritation welled in my chest and I started to berate him for only half doing the job, but he rolled over onto his stomach then, and levering himself up on hands and knees, crawled toward Winner. I stifled the faint pang of... of jealousy that bit at me and forced myself to watch his movements. He was obviously in a deal of pain, favoring his right leg and hugging one arm around his middle as he moved. He settled next to Winner and they conversed in hushed tones for a few minutes. Something flashed in Winner's eyes, some spark of hope, but it was strongly overshadowed by the unhappy expression that overtook him. Maxwell patted his leg reassuringly and then turned to make his slow way towards me. I ached to see him struggling so, and watched him closely, trying to judge the extent of his injuries. It seemed to take him forever to make his way the fourteen or fifteen feet across the cell. When he reached me, he fairly collapsed on the floor next to me, rolling over onto his back to grin up at me.

"Hey there, buddy," he chuckled. "Did you have to get a seat so damn far away from the rest of us?"

His ability to wear that jester's mask through everything that comes along never ceases to amaze me. "Are you all right, Maxwell?" I asked, allowing some of my normal brusqueness to leave my voice.

His grin brightened, flaring into something almost real for a second before turning into something... a little cockier. "Ah... I've had worse. The important thing is, I got what I was after."

All I could do was blink at him while he reached his cuffed hands down and those nimble fingers fished around in the top of his boot. It took a little work and I waited patiently to see what he would produce that was so important that he had deliberately endured a beating to obtain it. I was expecting a weapon of some sort, not the tiny little sliver of metal he finally pulled out with a triumphant air.

I couldn't help the raised eyebrow. "And this helps us, how?"

He fairly smirked at me. "Put your cuffs down here where I can reach them, and I'll show you."

I shifted my bound wrists around and he settled close beside me, bending his attention to the locks on my cuffs. I felt a faint glimmer of hope try to catch light somewhere inside me. "You can really get these things off?"

"Given enough time," he confirmed, obviously distracted by his work. "My somewhat... sordid youth taught me a few useful things that weren't covered in Gundam training 101."

I watched him work for a minute, his brow furrowed in concentration, and noted the faint tremble of his hands. He was clearly in some pain and ignoring it, I wanted to tell him to rest first, but knew we didn't have that kind of time. "How long do you think this will take?"

"Unfortunately," he muttered, "our buddies seem to have bought the best for us. These are Kodiak locks from the look of them... double sets... damned beveled drops... they're so freakin' easy to bind... got to be careful." All I could do was nod dumbly; it seemed he was speaking another language. He worked for a bit in silence, his lower lip caught between his teeth as he concentrated. Then, abruptly, he let his head fall forward onto his forearm with a straggled sigh.

"Maxwell?" I questioned softly, fear coiling around in my gut. Did this mean he had given up? He wasn't going to be able to do it?

"Sorry, man," he murmured. "Just give me a minute... I wasn't counting on them getting so... energetic this early in the game."

Damn. He was hurting too badly to truly concentrate on his task. I looked him over again; wishing I could evaluate his condition better, then tested the play in my restraints. The chain the cuffs were attached to was long enough to let me move fairly freely in place, if not long enough to allow me to move away from my seat by the wall. I shifted and he looked up at me.

"Here," I said gruffly, "rest your head on my leg so you don't have to hold it up. I'll position the cuffs so they're in front of you."

I had expected some flippant, outrageous remark, but an expression crossed his face that I couldn't understand at all, and when he moved to comply, it was with a bit of hesitation. "Thanks, Wufei," he murmured and if I hadn't known Maxwell so well; I would have said he was embarrassed.

After a little more time had passed, he began to talk softly, explaining that he had fought with his captors, escaping their grasp long enough to palm his make-shift lock-pick and been royally 'disciplined' for his efforts. They had seemed to know that truth drugs were useless and had cut right to the chase; giving him that beating he had alluded to earlier.

"I gave it long enough to be believable," he told me, "and then I broke down and spilled a bunch of shit I made up on the spot. It won't take them forever to figure that out, and they'll be back."

Suddenly, the cuff around my right wrist sprang free and there was a tiny, exultant sound from Maxwell. It had probably taken him an hour. I could only hope that he would get faster as he went. He took the thing into his own bound hands and did some fiddling with it, now that it was open, before looking up at me almost apologetically. "You can't get caught with it off," he told me. "I've jammed it so it won't really lock back... but you need to put it back on."

"Of course," I replied and winced at the arch tone of my own voice. He only grinned at me. Then, on a sudden thought, he turned toward Winner and flashed him a number one sign and a thumbs up. Winner grinned back, losing some of the anxious look that had come over him.

Maxwell turned to me again, carefully letting his head rest back on my thigh. "Ok... now for number two." I dutifully shifted the second cuff into his range. He worked stolidly for several minutes before glancing up at me with an oddly pensive look. "Uhmm..." he ventured, "you realize that there's no way in hell I'm going to get done with both of you before they come back... right?"

I didn't speak, only looked down at him and was surprised to find him blushing slightly. "I know I can count on you not to move too soon," he told me, eyes on his work. "I mean... that's why I'm doing you first, and not Quatre."

He was counting on me to sit idly, with my hands free, and do nothing while our jailers pounded him into the floor. It twisted in my gut, to hear him say it, but I knew he was right. I didn't know what to say and only stared down at him, wide-eyed. I was left feeling completely flustered. Pleased that he trusted my control, that he trusted me to do what had to be done. But, at the same time... bothered that he might believe that I could sit here completely unmoved by his pain.

"I can count on you, right?" he prodded, looking nervous. "Unless Heero and Trowa come busting in here to rescue our asses... I think this is our only chance. But we all have to be free before we make our move or it'll never work."

"I know," I told him and though I had meant for it to be curt, it came out a little... pained.

He blinked up at me and then smiled softly. "Just don't watch," he quipped.

Heero and Trowa. If they had any way of knowing that this mission had gone bad, they might very well come busting in here after us. Or at least after the other two. Though they tried very hard to be discreet, we all knew that Barton and Winner were... involved. And though he wouldn't have admitted it even if faced with a firing squad, I suspected that Yuy was more than a little fond of Maxwell. But we weren't due to make any kind of report for days. The plan had been to get the General out and go to ground until the heat blew over and we could safely move him out of the area. Our other two partners wouldn't even begin to worry for at least two days. We could be very dead by then.

Maxwell continued to work, though his hands were shaking even harder than they had been, and I could see his frustration mounting in his eyes.

"Enough," I whispered after watching him struggle for almost another hour and seeming to make no progress. "Rest for a minute. You're losing your patience."

He snorted softly, but let his hands drop down to the floor. "Don't have a ton of patience to begin with."

It was my turn to snort at him. "You're doing fine. Just give yourself a minute... your arms are so fatigued you're shaking like a leaf. It can't be making this any easier."

He sighed and I felt him truly relax against me. "You're right... you're right... just for a minute though."

"Just for a minute," I confirmed, but was considering letting him take a short nap; he was showing all the signs of sleep creeping up on him. I wondered if I dared?

As if reading my mind, he murmured, "Don't let me fall asleep. They can't find me here... they could use you against me so easily..." his words were slurred with fatigue, and I stared down at him, wondering.

"Wufei!" Quatre suddenly hissed at me. "They're coming back!"

Maxwell heard, and I found his fingers shoving his little lock-pick into my hands for safekeeping. Then he rolled away, managing to force himself up to his feet long enough to stagger back to where they had dumped him before. When he got there, he just pitched forward onto the floor with a faint grunt of pain and was lying pretty much where he had been, just seconds before the door opened.

The first man into the room strode forward and grabbed Maxwell by the collar, dragging him to his feet. "Not too bright, Gundam-boy," he growled. "Lying to the General like that... you really pissed him off."

Maxwell muttered something I couldn't hear and the goon that had him dangling from his beefy hand laughed outright. "You're a gutsy little guy... I'll give you that." Then his tone darkened. "But the boss hates gutsy."

Then they dragged him out, and the door was shut with an ominous clang.

I tucked the pick inside the waistband of my pants and sat for a moment feeling the rapidly cooling spot on my thigh where Maxwell had been resting his cheek just moments ago. I was... very afraid. And not just because he was the only hope we had at the moment, however slim.

"Wufei?" Winner ventured into the silence and the fear was a palpable thing in his voice.

I didn't want to discuss things at the level we would have to, in order to hear each other across the cell. I didn't think we were being monitored, but you never knew. "Trust him," was all I said and he subsided with an unhappy frown. I thanked God they were taking Maxwell away from here to do their questioning. I didn't know how Winner would... hold up had they done it right here in front of us. Though his empathetic, kind-hearted nature was... admirable. It could be one hell of a liability in situations like this.

It was three hours. Three long, endless, insufferable hours, before they brought him back. Again, they just dumped him on the floor and walked out, without a word or backward glance. Winner hardly waited for the door to close before calling fearfully, "Duo? Oh Allah... Duo, are you all right?"

There was no response and Winner made a strangled noise.

"Stop it!" I snapped before he could truly work up to a panic. "He's breathing; I can see it from here. Calm the hell down."

I had expected him to get angry with me, to rant at me about my lack of feeling, but he only took a deep breath and said, "He is? You're sure?"

"Yes," I confirmed. "And though it's hard to tell in that damn black outfit, I don't see that he's bleeding a lot."

He settled down to dark mutterings then, something about "barbarians", something else about "inhumane". I stopped listening, my eyes focused on Maxwell's unmoving form. After a few minutes, I thought I saw a twitch of involuntary movement and I called softly to him.

"Maxwell? Can you hear me? You need to wake up. What's your status?"

I saw his hands spasm open and then closed, I saw an arm twitch. When his voice came, it was rough and sounded thin. "Screwed over?"

"Not good enough, mister!" I snapped, heart in my throat. "You can do better than that!"

He chuckled dryly and rolled sluggishly over onto his stomach, wincing as he did it. I watched him try to push himself up onto hands and knees and I watched him not make it.

"Duo?" I whispered and saw him find some sort of resolve. He ended up dragging himself across the floor by virtue of his elbows.

"You mind?" he breathed when he got to my side, twitching his head in the direction of my lap.

"Of course not," I growled, frustration getting the better of my temper.

He settled against me with a soft sigh that made me shiver. "How bad is it, damn it!" I grumbled and couldn't keep the fear out of my voice.

He smiled up at me and held his hand out for his little tool. "I honest to God don't know, man. I roll with it as best I can... but they held me down this time. I think at the very least, I've got a couple of cracked ribs. I'm just tryin' to make sure they don't screw with my hands."

I fished out his pick and slipped it to him, not able to stop myself from squeezing his fingers for a second. "Try to protect your damn head too, all right?" I groused, suddenly embarrassed.

The grin slid away for a second and he let me see his pain and his fear, and there was something else in the back of those bright eyes of his that I couldn't quite name. His fingers caught at mine as I made to slide free and he let himself clutch at me for a minute before he looked away, bending back to work.

"General Bellows is a loon," he imparted after a few moments of his exploring the lock in silence. "He just about lost it that time... he wasn't even asking me questions any more. I think he was about ready to pound me into paste, but there was this other guy there who got pissed at him, pulled rank and made him stop."

Cold fear coiled around in my gut and I wanted to beg him to hurry the hell up, but knew better than to apply that kind of pressure. I wracked my brain trying to think of something that we might give them that would hold them off for longer than the few hours that Maxwell had been buying.

"If there was just something you could tell them that would take them longer to verify," I pondered out loud and he snorted softly.

"I don't even know if it's about information anymore," he sighed. "I think I've just gotten under the guy's skin."

"Maxwell?" I glared down at him. "What have you done?"

He glanced up at me and frowned darkly. "Son of a bitch wants to hear me scream and I won't fucking give him the satisfaction." His face told me there was no arguing with him over it. It was... a petty victory, but one I could understand. I don't know why, but I felt... oddly proud of him.

I had feared that he would have to start all over again with the lock, but some of his manipulations seemed to still be in effect, and after an endless fifteen or twenty minutes, the damn thing snapped open.

[cont] [back to Sunhawk's fic]