Disclaimer:Don't own them, don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence, NCS Flashbacks
"You need to call your housekeeper," Hulitt said as he glanced around at the mess. "He'll cook you a meal and clean up." His eyes came back to Duo. "I don't blame you for taking it easy. You were hurt. I do expect you to know what to do when you can't do for yourself, though, and I do expect you to know how to feed yourself."
Hulitt opened the refrigerator and frowned. "You have things here that are better than pure sugar, Duo. Eat some of them."
"I wasn't...," Duo bit back a hot reply and then said more calmly, "I wasn't really thinking about it, I guess. That wasn't going to be my lunch." Duo frowned and moved away from Hulitt nervously. Hulitt noticed and changed his demeanor at once as he backed away for the door. "Maybe you should have the housekeeper come when Heero is home?"
"Heero is going to be late tonight," Duo looked at Hulitt suspiciously, "Isn't that why you came over, because Heero called to have you check on me?"
"He called, and he told me that you had passed out earlier today," Hulitt admitted, "and he did ask me to check on you later this evening, but that's not why I'm here."
Duo waited. He was still tired and he had thoughts of crawling back into bed and saving his strength for going back to work in the morning. If Hulitt was winding up to criticize him again, make him fix or do some task, or... Duo realized that he wasn't in the mood to hear anything the man had to say, and it must have showed on his face.
Hulitt was definitely on friendly terms with both Duo and Heero, and Soda hadn't batted an ear at his arrival, but he wasn't fool enough to let himself get comfortable with it. "You get some rest, Duo," Hulitt said at last. "We can talk about this tomorrow."
Duo didn't want to wonder what Hulitt had to say for that long, so he asked impatiently, "At least tell me what you were going to talk about?"
Hulitt looked uncomfortable. "The government sent me papers to fill out. I`m sure they sent them to all of your neighbors. It's a questionnaire asking about the two of you." Hulitt looked sour. "Whenever the government takes the time to ask questions, it can't be good."
Hulitt was right about that. They had only been too happy to declare all the underage war orphans adults and brush them off their hands. A few half hearted programs had been offered, but nothing substantial. Asking questions now, was out of the ordinary and definitely something to be wary of. Duo was well aware of how fickle people could be. Several times during the war he had gone from hero to killer to hero again because of the vagaries of the government.
"Thanks for the heads up, " Duo replied, less irritable now that he knew that he wasn't going to be taken to task like an irresponsible child. "I'll have a look into their databases to see what's going on."
Hulitt straightened abruptly, face going tight. "I didn't hear that last part, because that would be downright illegal, boy."
Duo smiled. "It's actually part of my new job."
"I'm sure that you weren't given autonomous permission to snoop, boy," Mr. Hulitt grumbled.
Duo sighed. "No, you're right, I wasn't, but, a guy has to look after himself,"
Mr. Hulitt gave the kitchen a meaningful sweep of his eyes. "Yes, they do," he replied. "So either call the housekeeper or make yourself something to eat. " He paused as he turned to go. "I could fix you something and bring it over."
He looked reluctant, Duo thought. Though the idea had appealed to him, Duo said instead, "I'll be fine. I can fix myself a sandwich."
Hulitt nodded. "Good. I have a female acquaintance coming over. I'd hate to cook a meal for her and then have to explain that I have to take some over to my irresponsible neighbor."
He went then and Duo looked down at Soda, who was almost asleep under the kitchen table. "You're getting lazy and complacent. You're supposed to watch everyone, in case you've forgotten."
Hulitt had made him nervous and Soda hadn't come to his defense. That bothered Duo too much, he realized. He knew he needed Soda to make himself feel safe, but he had thought that there would come a time when he would feel confident enough to not depend on the dog so much. Here he was, training to be a Preventer agent, making a home with Heero, and trying to get his life on track the way an adult should, and he was still clutching onto a dog as if he were a security blanket.
"I guess I thought I would stop being screwed up once I'd had therapy and I was with Heero," Duo muttered, feeling disappointed in himself. Duo crouched and rubbed Soda's ears. The dog panted and looked pleased. "Your the best, Soda, but I wish I could do without you as my shadow."
Thinking about that, and feeling the need to prove to himself that he could handle something as simple as a visit from a neighbor and his own house keeper, Duo picked up the phone and searched for Harri's number.
Duo didn't remember going to sleep or why he should be so uncomfortable. He tried to sit up, but a voice beside him said, "Don't, sir, it's better if you lie still "
It was Harri's voice. Duo's mind processed that slowly and then he blearily opened his eyes as prickling fear made him aware that Harri's voice shouldn't be where he was sleeping.
"Soda..." Duo murmured as he tried to make his gummy eyes open and his brain make sense out of what was going on.
"They left him behind," Harri replied. "He was drugged, like you were. They pumped something into the house, I suspect, maybe used canisters of gas. When I arrived, they were wearing masks and carrying you through the door. I tried to stop them, but they were armed and ready for trouble."
Duo took his time digesting that information and then he finally made his eyes obey him. He found himself in a small brick room with a caged fluorescent light on the ceiling. There wasn't any furniture and it was very cold. Harri was sitting beside him and his head was on Harri's lap. The man wasn't touching him though. His hands were lax at his sides.
"Must have found the safe house," Duo mumbled.
Harri frowned and then shook his head, "Sir, this isn't the war. You were in your home. You called me to come and clean your house, remember?"
Duo blinked and then lifted a trembling hand to rub at his eyes, pulling himself out of the past with an effort. "Yeah... yeah, I remember..."
Harri looked concerned. "Maybe you should rest some more?"
"No," Duo forced himself to sit up and move away from Harri. The room shimmered in and out of focus. He felt nauseated. "The sooner we try and escape the better our odds of succeeding."
Harri looked around the blank room, skeptically. "I don't think that we will be able to escape from this room, sir."
Duo blinked at the brick walls, the solid looking metal door, and then up at the light. That was a possibility, but he still wasn't thinking clearly enough to make a plan involving it. One of his shaking hands reached to his hair. He had used to keep any number of things hidden there during the war, but he had fallen out of the habit since then.
"Did they say anything?" Duo wondered.
Harri was silent and Duo looked at him.
"I need to know," Duo prompted sharply.
Harri winced and finally said, "They took me along to take care of you. Once they hand you over to who ever they work for though, they are going to kill me."
"Anything else?" Duo asked,
Harri started and stared in shock.
Duo said impatiently, "That's to be expected. You weren't the one they were after. You are lucky they didn't kill you then and there."
Cold, matter of fact, it wasn't what Harri had expected from someone he still half thought of as a child. He shivered. "I suppose you are right, sir. They didn't say anything after that, just loaded us into a windowless van and drove us here. I never did see the outside. They drove right into the building.
Duo frowned and pressed at his stomach. It was telling him that it was empty and about to have the dry heaves. He tried to deny it and curled up tightly, arms wrapping around his knees. "Did they let you see when they took us to this cell?" When Harri nodded, Duo asked, "Tell me, in as much detail as you can, everything you saw."
Harri did as he was asked and he did remember some surprising detail. From his descriptions, Duo formed a mental map. It didn't give him any clues, thought, as to who might have kidnapped them. As Duo listened to him talk, he became more and more alert and it came to him how very lucky Harri actually was.
"I want you to listen very carefully," Duo said when Harri stopped talking at last. "I am a trained Gundam pilot and I have many hair trigger reflexes. I could have very easily killed you when I woke up in your lap. I don't want you to doubt me when I tell you that, okay?" Harri swallowed hard and nodded nervously. Duo continued, "You have to keep your distance, until I say otherwise."
"Duo..." Harri suddenly dropped the `sirs' and cut to the heart of the matter. "Do you know who kidnapped us?"
Duo's jaw tightened as he saw a wisp of white smoke come from a vent behind Harri. He didn't bring the man's attention to it. There was nothing they could do and he didn't know if the man would panic or not. Instead, he said, "I have a lot of enemies. Take your pick." His voice was cold. It was Shinigami speaking, he knew. He was in mission mode; uncaring, unfeeling, ready to kill. It was the part of him that had carried him through a war and a rebellion. It was the part that made him sit, unmoving, while the gas crept about them, bringing sleep or death, he couldn't tell. He watched Harri fall first, suddenly sagging to the floor with only a small sound of surprise. Duo, prepared, was slower to succumb. He breathed shallowly as he lay down and feigned sleep.
After a minute, the thick door opened and men in gas masks came streaming in. One bent and touched Duo on the cheek. "Perfect," Duo heard him say with a muffled voice. "We are going to have such good times together, little pilot." And then Duo was unable to hold onto consciousness any longer and he fell into oblivion. **************************** "You can go," A voice said, and then impatiently, "He is secured. I am not in any danger."
"I know you're awake," the voice accused.
Duo opened his eyes, blinking at bright light, head throbbing and the taste of something vile at the back of his throat. It should have surprised him to see Commander Richards standing beside him, but it didn't. Something inside of him had never really trusted the man. Now Duo knew why.
Duo was strapped down to a hard table and wearing loose clothing, almost like white surgical scrubs. A tube was attached to one arm by a stinging needle and it snaked into a machine by the table. Duo gave it a flicking glance only and felt his mind steel itself and slip deep into mission mode.
"Aren't you going to ask what's going on?" Richards wondered in amusement.
Duo stared. The man's amusement faded and he looked almost prim as he drew himself up. "I am well aware of your abilities," Richards said, "I won't underestimate you. Escape is impossible. Cooperating will prolong your usefulness and therefore your life." When Duo frowned, he added, "If your life is not that important to you, then I'm sure the fact that I have armed men ready to eliminate your lover, Heero Yuy, will make you more amenable to do as I say."
"You seem confident that I can't harm him, " Richards snapped, nostrils flaring angrily, "but let me remind you how easily we captured you."
Duo frowned and looked away, jaw tense. Richards reached out a hand and caressed his cheek. Duo's jaw tightened even more.
"You thought that the war was over and that you could relax and play house," Richards said. "You must know that your extraordinary abilities makes you desirable to many people? You are a weapon that can win a man a great deal of power. I'm going to be that man. I'm going to topple this foolish, upstart government and guide the people with a firm, military, hand." Richards smiled and leaned close to Duo's face. "Heero Yuy was my main target, but he was exceptionally good at never affording me the opportunity to take him. You, however, aren't nearly as disciplined or as strong. You constantly left yourself open to attack. It was easy to put my men in place and to incapacitate you enough, by making you run that course, to cause you to go home alone. You didn't even lock the front door," Richards chuckled.
Richard's eyes swept over Duo and he leaned close enough that their bodies touched. His breath tickled Duo's ear. "You are very sweet to look at, Duo Maxwell. I must confess that you have tempted me." His tongue traced the outer edge of Duo's ear. Duo shivered and closed his eyes, forcing himself to stay in mission mode and to not react any more than that. "I can do anything I wish to you," Richards continued breathily. "The drug you are being administered relaxes your muscles. You can move, but not well enough to defend yourself. The straps are only to keep you in place.
Richard's hand ghosted down Duo's body and rested on his crotch. Richards closed his hand there, warm and firm. "Yes, there is so much that I can do," Richards warned, "and you are powerless to stop me."
Duo laughed and it caught Richard's off guard. "Is that supposed to be a threat?" Duo mocked with an edge to his voice. "I've been through a damned war and my life before wasn't exactly a bed of roses before that! You'll have to think of a better threat than that to get me to help you!"
Richards straightened and his smile wasn't pleasant. "Oh, that wasn't a threat," he said, "but this is. Do as I say and you'll live. Refuse, and I'll have my men show you just how long someone can live under severe torture."
Duo rolled his eyes. "Torture!" he scoffed.
Richard's leaned close again. "Oh, not your torture," he said. "The torture of other people. I've found that much more effective. We'll start with that man we found you with and then I'll order my men to start taking random people off the street. Women... children... we'll find your weakness, I'm sure. I've studied you, pilot 02. I know that you are not a cruel or hard man. You joined the Preventers to `help' people with your skills. I don't think that you can watch while I have one of those nice people you care so much about, tortured to death."
Duo lost his mocking expression and his jaw went hard again.
"I didn't think so. Consider my offer. You have one hour," Richard's told him and then suddenly licked along the side of Duo's face. "I can always play with you before I kill you, and one of the other pilots will make a mistake, sooner or later, that will place them in my hands as well. You aren't completely unique, Duo Maxwell, just the easiest to acquire. Remember that as you make your decision."
Richards left and Duo was left alone to stare at the white ceiling, his mind filled with turmoil. Every reflex had told him to kill Richards. Every bit of training, the lessons at the institute, and Duo's own force of will had kept him from attempting it. A six year old, abused child inside of him had awakened with a start, though, and it wasn't going to be easy to keep that child from taking over and reacting if Richards continued with his assault. Duo had to escape before then, he knew, before the madness of the past overwhelmed him.
Duo looked at the tube and the machine. First things first. Duo forced his arm through the tight strap on his wrist and elbow, ignoring the pain as bones were squeezed along with flesh to fit through the tight bands. When he thought that he had gone as far as possible, Duo jerked his arm back. The needle caught on the strap and was torn out with a spray of blood and fluid. That done, Duo knew that his body would quickly overcome the drug. In the meantime, he intended to get out of the straps and to formulate a plan of escape. All in under an hour, Duo thought sourly, and hoped that no one would come in to check on him before he did the impossible.
Go to Part 25: Shinigami