I have to admit that I thought we were all going to buy the
farm that day. It was something of a mind bending rush of emotions; first
the relief when we finally found Duo in that rat’s nest of a terrorist’s
hideout… followed immediately by the horror of realizing what he was
wired to. He was unconscious and the slightest sharp move on his part was
going to quite literally, bring the house down. It was only a matter of
time before he came around, and no way in hell he wasn’t going to
wake up thrashing.
You go down fighting, and the odds are always pretty good
you’ll come back up fighting.
‘We’ve got to disarm that thing,’ Wufei
hissed, eyeing the mechanism with obvious trepidation. It was hooked up
to our resident demolitions expert after all, and he wasn’t being
a lot of help in his current state.
‘We have to evacuate the…’ Quatre began,
but Wufei just growled.
‘They set the damn thing, they can damn well sweat it
out with us!’
They would have argued more, but there was a slight change
in Duo’s breathing pattern and we knew we were running out of time.
‘What do we do?’ Quatre asked, voice dropping
to a whisper, putting me in mind of a man in a nursery full of sleeping
‘You call the ground forces in,’ Heero suddenly
snapped, taking charge out of nowhere. ‘And get the damn prisoners
out of here.’ And since that had been part of his plan to begin with,
Quatre darted off to comply. ‘Trowa, you and Wufei see if you can
figure out how to get Duo loose from that thing.’
‘And just what the hell are you…’ Wufei
began, but petered out to an inarticulate little noise when Heero started
stripping out of his jacket and harness.
‘Heero?’ I couldn’t help asking, but he
didn’t look up at us as he knelt down behind Duo there on the floor.
‘I’m going to keep him from blowing us all to
kingdom come,’ he informed us, the remark given a very odd tone by
the weird little blush on his face.
I thought Wufei was going to swallow his tongue when Heero
carefully laid down and spooned up against Duo’s back.
‘Yuy!’ he gasped, voice wanting to rise at the
same time he was trying to keep it low. ‘Are you insane?’
But Heero wasn’t paying any more attention to us as
he gently wrapped an arm around Duo’s waist and held him against the
curve of his body. I waited with breath held for the eruption that would
send us all to hell, but Duo just seemed to… settle into the embrace.
No thrashing, no fighting, no erupting. Just… snuggling.
‘I’m here,’ I heard Heero murmur, and he
managed to work his other arm under Duo’s head. Duo sighed and I don’t
think Wufei was breathing either.
‘I need you to wake up, love,’ Heero whispered
and I’d only thought he’d been blushing before. I swear, for
about two damn minutes, Wufei and I completely forgot about the bomb.
‘H’ro?’ Duo mumbled, voice thick and a bit
‘Yes, it’s me,’ Heero responded, looking
somehow relieved. ‘I need for you to listen to me, ok?’
‘K,’ Duo responded, almost on automatic, his head
rubbing back against Heero’s chest. Heero pressed down on the top
of Duo’s head with his chin and they stilled.
‘Trust me?’ Heero asked and there was an immediate.
‘No matter what, you have to not move, all right?’
he commanded, and Duo went still in a scary sort of way.
‘S’wrong?’ Duo mumbled and I could see him
struggling to get his eyes open.
I blinked when Heero chuckled darkly. ‘Absolutely nothing
as long as you stay quiet, ok?’
‘K,’ Duo replied again, and Heero finally looked
up at us.
‘You two want to get the fuck to work, please?’
he snarled and we shook ourselves free of the dumbfounded trance we’d
Wufei squatted down next to the tangle of wires and plastiques
first and I followed, a bit slower to tear my eyes away from the sight of
Heero Yuy spooning Duo Maxwell. Hell… Heero Yuy spooning anybody.
‘It’s ok,’ Heero murmured to Duo, his tone
doing a complete turn around from the one he’d used to address us.
It was surreal. ‘I’m here now.’
Wufei was staring intently at the mess in front of us and
I tried hard to keep my focus there, but I’m really just not that
good with explosives to begin with, and I was still trying to get my head
around that ‘love’ thing. And the spooning.
It was pretty damn obvious that it was a position they were
both very comfortable in. Which sort of implied that it was something they’d
done before. A lot of times before.
‘Why…’ Duo began, voice fading in and out.
‘I know,’ Heero told him, sounding pained himself.
‘I know. Just stay still and we’ll take care of it. It’s
I couldn’t help stealing glances their way and was surprised
to look across and find Duo’s eyes drooping, but open.
‘Uh… hey,’ I said brightly and he blinked
‘Why are…’ he began and then stopped while
he puzzled something out. ‘Uh… not… our bedroom?’
‘No, love,’ Heero soothed, stroking his hand over
Duo’s cheek. ‘We’re not in our bedroom. Do you remember
‘Mission?’ Duo parroted, blinking at me still,
as though trying to fit me into his reality.
‘The Hildreth case,’ I supplied. ‘Remember?
We played Gundam, paper, scissors to see which of us went in first? In our
office?’ I ignored the looks that got from Heero and Wufei…
Duo was my partner and I knew what memory triggers would do it for him.
It took him a long moment, and then he said, ‘Oh yeah,’
around a slow blink.
‘Do you know what happened after that?’ Wufei
prodded, still chewing on the part where Duo had gotten caught. He’d
been ranting about it for the last three hours, and I guess he wanted his
answers just in case. Wouldn’t do to go into the after-life with unanswered
‘Dunno…’ Duo sighed, his eyes easing closed
again. ‘Can’t think…’
Wufei returned the sigh, though his was more of frustration,
and straightened to fish his knife out of his pants pocket.
‘Shhhh…’ Heero said, gently brushing the
sweaty bangs from Duo’s forehead. ‘We’ll get you out of
here as soon as we get this thing disarmed.’
‘Dis…armed?’ Duo asked, and there was just
a hint more focus in his wavering tone.
‘Why did you think you needed to stay still?’
Wufei chuckled, pulling tools out of that stupid Swiss army knife he’s
so damn proud of. He flexed the little clippers and grinned broadly…
we’d be hearing about how handy it was for weeks.
That was about where Quatre came striding back into the room.
‘Ok, guys… how’s it going? The troops have moved in and…
I wanted to laugh at the pole-axed expression on his face,
but I was pretty sure mine hadn’t looked that much different not five
There was a long quiet moment while I imagined crickets chirping
‘Welcome to this week’s issue of ‘Romance
in Uniform’…’ Wufei bagan, but Heero cut him off.
‘Shut up and get to work, Chang.’
Wufei snorted, but bent back into the tangle of wires, visually
tracing the one attached to Duo.
Quatre was quiet for a long moment before gamely rising to
the occasion. ‘I’m thinking we’re about due for a boy’s
night out. You know; one of those evenings where we sit around some bar
‘Oh yeah,’ I agreed, watching Wufei’s partner
carefully kissing the top of my partner’s head. ‘Talk.’
‘Shut up, Barton,’ Heero said, but it was losing
‘Disarm?’ Duo muttered again, sounding like he
was carrying on a conversation with the sprites in his head.
‘Bomb, Duo,’ Quatre supplied. ‘Big ass bomb
intimately wedded to your person.’
Duo’s blinking became more… high priority. ‘What?
‘We’ll have you loose in a minute,’ Wufei
told him distractedly, and reached out with his little clippers.
‘Not the red one!’ Duo suddenly burst out, and
with his eyes wide open, I could tell he probably had a concussion as weird
as his pupils looked. We all froze.
‘Why not?’ Wufei asked guardedly, clippers hovering.
‘Well,’ Duo stammered. ‘It’s never
the red wire.’
‘Oh for God’s sake, Maxwell!’ Wufei huffed,
rolling his eyes. ‘Be serious!’
‘I am,’ Duo managed, sounding like he was coming
around more, but still staying perfectly still in Heero’s arms. ‘What’s
the red wire… ‘ttached to?’
‘You,’ Wufei replied, clippers still hovering,
but his indecision was plain.
‘Course you don’t cut that one!’ Duo said,
scolding like you would a little kid that had screwed up their homework.
‘Cut the other first…’
‘Other?’ Wufei groused. ‘A little bit more
specific, if you please?’
‘The one tha’s not red?’ Duo tried, his
eyes almost crossing as he tried to focus.
There was a sound of disgusted frustration from Quatre and
then he demanded, ‘Is that thing on a timer?’
‘Doesn’t seem to be,’ I told him. ‘Just
looks like a basic ‘suicide’ switch. It’s just such an
amateur job that it’s kind of hard to be sure what the hell all this
‘Then just hold on a minute,’ and he strode back
out. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. Striding, I mean.
Wufei huffed something under his breath that was decidedly
displeased. ‘Great; he’s going to call the damn bomb squad and
we’re never going to hear the end of this.’
‘They do like to brag about getting to save Gundam pilots,’
I commiserated and Heero sighed.
‘Five bucks says one of them has to make that damn self
detonate joke… again,’ he said, tone somewhere between dejected
‘S’ok, Heero,’ Duo mumbled and I think he
started to reach up to pat Heero’s hand before he remembered he wasn’t
supposed to be moving.
‘We could always go ahead…’ Wufei mused
absently and Heero and I snorted at the same time.
‘You disobey a Winner directive,’ I grunted. ‘And
you’re on your own.’
‘Wimp,’ Wufei grumbled, but he flipped the clipper
back into his knife and dropped it back into his pocket.
Duo seemed to be lagging just a hair behind the conversation
because he chose that moment to give Wufei a rather plaintive look and asked,
‘You won’t blow me up, will you ‘Fei?’
Wufei reached out to pat his leg but then thought better of
it. ‘If I do, I’ll blow me up too, ok?’
‘K,’ Duo smiled just as though it made all the
difference in the world. Misery truly does love company, I guess.
‘How long…’ Heero began, but there was a
sound from the hallway that didn’t sound like the bomb squad. Not
unless ‘mother-fucking asshole’ was some sort of new mission
code-word. I exchanged a wide-eyed look with Heero over Duo’s head
that produced no clue, so I exchanged the same look with Wufei. He had no
Then Quatre was back in the room dragging a cuffed and sobbing
prisoner by elbows that were so close together I’m pretty sure the
associated shoulders were dislocated. The man’s wails only escalated
as he found himself coming full circle into the room he probably helped
It didn’t even slow Quatre down as he man-handled the
unfortunate fellow across the room. ‘Now then,’ he said conversationally,
slamming a knee into the back of the prisoner’s and forcing him down
on the floor. ‘If that bomb goes off, your face is going to be the
first thing it impacts because the position you are in now is what we in
the business fondly refer to as ‘ground zero’. That’s
pretty clear, right?’
The guy gave a half-hearted nod in between the wailing and
the sobbing. Quatre gave him a shake.
‘Say hello to the nice bomb, Mr. Riggs.’
There was an incomprehensible sound while Heero, Wufei, and
‘I can’t hear you,’ Quatre said pleasantly,
and ratcheted up the tension on the guy’s arms. There was a strangled
scream and then damned if the guy didn’t shriek out,
I thought Wufei was going to laugh right out loud, but it
would really have spoiled the moment, so he just bit his lip instead.
‘So you understand your position?’ Quatre prodded,
leaning the guy in just a little closer, making him forget the pain in his
arms and really start thinking about the blowing off of the head thing.
I’d never really seen anybody bug their eyes out quite
that much before. It was actually kind of gross.
‘And you get the part where Duo here is a friend of
mine, right? A really good friend who has a whole hell of a lot of explaining
to do, right? Explaining that I intend to see that he is around to do, right?’
Another shake and the response of ‘Right!’ was
echoing off the walls.
‘So you tell the gentleman here just how to disarm this
thing unless you want a real intimate relationship with Mr. Nice Bomb…
‘The black wire!’ the sobbing Mr. Riggs howled.
‘Cut the black wire!’
Wufei dug his pocket knife back out, the fancy Swiss army
one, having to flex the little clippers just once before bending down and
carefully snipping the black wire.
The only thing that happened was Duo’s mumbled, ‘Told
‘May we cut the red wire now?’ Quatre asked and
it was kind of surreal how genteel he could sound while roughing up a prisoner.
Mr. Riggs nodded vigorously and Wufei dutifully clipped the
wire melding Duo into the mix. It was barely severed before Heero was off
the floor with Duo in his arms, striding for the door and shouting for the
‘Very good, Mr. Riggs,’ Quatre told his captive
and the tone was so icily pleasant that the man just up and fainted. There
was a disgusted sigh from Quatre before he turned to the door with the limp
body in tow. ‘Murdock! Get in here and help me get this idiot out
‘Yes sir, Commander Winner, sir!’ the agent in
question shouted, running in to the now safe room and grabbing up half a
body. They both disappeared through the doorway with the somewhat worse
for wear Mr. Riggs suspended between them.
Wufei and I shared another one of those wide-eyed looks.
‘Commander?’ he asked in disbelief. ‘When
in the hell did Quatre outrank Une?’
‘You got me,’ I confessed. ‘I guess when
he became scarier than Une?’
Wufei whistled softly between his teeth, ‘Remind me
never to keep gossip from Quatre Winner.’
‘No shit,’ I agreed and then looked around. ‘You
do realize they just left us with the cleanup?’
He sighed heavily, putting his knife away and pushing himself
to his feet. ‘And all the paperwork.’ He stuck his hand out
to pull me up as well. ‘Come on… if I know Quatre, he’s
following them to the hospital right now.’
I let him drag me to my feet and grinned. ‘And if we’re
not there when the medics get done with Duo…’
‘We’ll miss the fireworks.’
‘No way in hell am I letting that happen,’ I informed
him. ‘If Quatre can be a Commander, so can we; somebody else can deal
with this mess.’
We gave the bomb a wide berth, and headed for the door. Wufei
got an odd little smile about half way there and suddenly said, ‘Besides…
Quatre’s kind of hot when he’s all take charge like that.’
‘Hands off,’ I growled, wondering if the incoming
troops would buy that Wufei got clothes-lined in the struggle with the terrorists.
‘I wasn’t aware you had a claim?’ he smirked
at me and we stopped in the doorway to glare at each other.
‘I saw him first,’ I told him, leaning a bit and
trying to use my superior height to intimidate. Wufei just leaned in too.
‘What?’ he wanted to know. ‘Are we five
‘Hardly,’ I snapped. ‘Or we wouldn’t
have a problem, now would we?’
He couldn’t help a snort of a laugh, but then he got
a feral little grin, sticking his fist out. ‘How about we settle this
like men then. What’d you call it… Rock, paper, Gundam?’
I bit down on the satisfied grin. ‘Gundam, paper, scissors,
Chang. Get it right.’
‘Maxwell’s version, I assume,’ he said with
a roll of his eyes. ‘On three…’
I matched his fist with mine. Oh yeah… Duo’s rules,
all right. Gundam trumps everything. And just like Duo, I wouldn’t
bother to explain the rules until after I’d won.
Quatre Winner was definitely hot when he was all ‘take
Fiction : GW :