Disclaimers: I do not own these characters nor do I profit in any way from my rambling.

Warnings: mild angst

Synopsis: The five pilots come together in a private school to prepare for a mission. An incident between Heero and Duo has the Deathscythe pilot questioning the other pilots' friendships. He decides to put them to the test.

A Test of Friendship - Part 3
Duo's Friendship Arc 4
by Dyna Dee

Duo wiped the trickle of sweat from his temple with the back of his sleeve as he stood in the shadow of the doorway poised for action. The five had no trouble reaching the base in the stolen utility truck he'd acquired for the night from a fenced compound. After dropping Quatre off near Sandrock's position, they had driven directly to the perimeter of the base and concealed the vehicle. As planned, the group split into two pairs. He and Heero had no problems setting their explosives in place on the exterior of the building and, after timing the guards, dismantled some of the security cameras and sensing devices, allowing them easier access to the interior. As it was the wee hours of the morning, most of the base had been powered down and was relatively quiet. Heero was now busy downloading the munitions computer for later analysis back at the school.

The beep of the computer made Duo jump. The room darkened once again as Heero shut down the computer, slipping a disc into his pocket. A moment later a hand gripped his shoulder as an indication that it was time to leave.

With stealth they made their way back down the corridor they had entered through, past the room where an unconscious guard lay. They both stopped abruptly as the sound of a distant on the base blared in the deep of night. Soon all the lights in the munitions building and elsewhere flared on and warning sirens activated throughout the base. The sound of shouting and running feet seemed to come from everywhere. Duo blinked at the now brightly lit corridor.

//Trapped, we're trapped// he thought frantically to himself and automatically dropped into a defensive crouch. He felt Heero's hand grip his wrist and pull him back in the direction they had just come from. Heero drew them into the last room at the end of the corridor. Duo watched as his partner immediately went to a floor vent and taking out his utility knife, removed the four screws that held the corners to the wall and removed the grate. He motioned for Duo to get in and the Deathscythe pilot rushed to comply, going in feet first and scooting himself all the way into it. The metal duct was obviously used for heating the building and ran along the outside of the wall, sheltered between the interior and exterior walls. Heero quickly followed, but paused to pull the grate into place before wiggling back to squeeze next to his companion in the dark shadows of the vent. They lay pressed closely against each other for only a few heartbeats when the sound of the door banging open alerted them of the search in the room.

Duo tried to control his breathing for the five minutes that voices could be heard in the room. Sound of a battle outside drew any remaining soldiers out of the room and into the corridor. After a few moments, Heero scooted himself forward with his forearms towards the grate. Certain now that the room was once again empty, he pushed the grate off and exited the shaft. Duo followed quickly behind and then followed Heero to the door where the Wing pilot stood peering out through a crack. They cautiously exited the room, Heero taking point. A guard stood at the end of the corridor looking out the main hanger door at the commotion ensuing outside. The gundam pilots both acutely aware of the sound of Sandrock attacking.

The guard never knew what hit him as Heero came from behind and grabbing the man's jaw and neck and with a quick jerk, efficiently broke his neck. He dragged the limp body into a room and out of view.

The two returned to the end of the corridor. From there they could see the flashes of Quatre's attack light the night sky. One blast sounded suspiciously close and its aftermath rocked the munitions building. Both boys exchanged a knowing glance. If the Sandrock pilot should attack this building, they would die in the explosive discharge of all the weapons they had discovered were stored here. Heero pulled a detonator out of his pocket and drew his companion close to whisper in his ear.

"On three, run through the hanger to the door. Follow me." he ordered.

Duo nodded and was completely taken aback when Heero said "Three!" He blinked wondering for a fraction of a second what happened to one and two in that count before he chased after Wing's pilot. It was no surprise that their run did not go unnoticed and a shout went up from behind them. Suddenly, an explosion from the large doors of the hanger went off as Heero pushed the activator in his hand. The soldiers standing at the entrance either fell or fled from the blast. Duo followed closer to his partner now as shouts of anger and pain rose from all around them. Heero pulled another activator out and pressed it as he ran. The back door of the hanger exploded.

"Stop them!" a voice shouted closer and well above the others.

The two boys ran, trying to reach the cover of darkness outside the hanger to rendezvous with their teammates. Shots fired behind them and a searing jolt of burning pain hit the back of the American's thigh and he instinctively reached out, grabbing Heero as he fell forward, taking them both down. The Japanese boy quickly jumped up and hauled the other pilot up, putting Duo's arm around his neck and grasping firmly onto him at his waist. "Run!" he shouted.

Duo heard the order and through a haze of pain attempted to comply, each step threatening to bring a wave of blackness over him. He flinched as the report of more shots were fired and heard Heero grunt and felt him flinch.

Suddenly, a large cloud of dust and dirt enveloped them nearly knocking them both over, and they felt the earth tremble beneath them. Realizing it was the arrival of Sandrock, the two boys turned their faces up to see the towering Gundam just above them. They stood and chanced a look over their shoulders to see the soldiers who had been pursuing them. The sounds coming from the soldiers turned from anger to terror as they a good portion of them turned to flee the gundam that had just set down in front of the two fleeing terrorists. Yet a few determined soldiers held their ground and readied their weapons on the two standing in front of the mighty war machine.

As Heero and Duo watched them flee back to the hanger, Sandrock drew back it's mighty sickle and flung it at the munitions hanger. The enormous explosion carried a large concussion which knocked down their pursuers down and flung the two wounded pilots into the gundam's foot, rendering them both unconscious.


A sudden jolt brought him back to a level of consciousness where he realized two things; he was in pain and in a moving car. All he could manage was a moan.

"He's waking up." Trowa's voice said from close by.

Quatre's voice spoke soothingly. "We've got you Duo, we're almost to a place where we can tend to your wound. Try to stay still if you can."

He vaguely deduced that they must be in the utility truck and he was stretched across the other pilot's laps, face down. His leg was on fire and his head hurt like hell. He managed to raise himself to count those present.

"We're all here." Heero said from above him, seeming to knowing his intent. "Just rest." he admonished putting a comforting hand on his head.

Duo complied and collapsed his head back down onto Heero's dusty lap.

He came to again as he was being set down on a table topped with paper. His cheek crinkled into the white material as he was placed on his stomach. He felt hands struggle underneath him, fumbling awkwardly with his belt and then the button and zipper of his jeans. He came to full wakefulness gasping as his jeans were pulled off of him, his leg flaring with the heat and pain.

Heero had been watching his roommate closely and bent to study his face noting he had awakened. In a quiet voice he explained the situation to the wounded boy. "It's imperative that you make no noise while Trowa and Wufei treat your wound." he whispered into Duo's ear. "We broke into a veterinary clinic just outside town. There are animals boarded here that will sound an alarm of barking if we make any noise. There's a house adjacent to the clinic that seems to house an employee. We mustn't wake them or we'll have to kill another innocent."

The wounded boy nodded his head in understanding. None of them wanted to kill another innocent person just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"There are some drugs here," Heero continued, "Quatre is on the phone to Sally to see what we might be able to use and get instructions on removing the bullet.

The wounded boy nodded again. He tuned his ears to the whispering behind him that alerted his attention that something was being decided. He turned his pain filled eyes trustingly to his partner as Heero watched and listened carefully to the conversation.

"They found a drug that will numb the area where the bullet entered, but we don't have anything that we can safely use to knock you out during the procedure."

Feeling the shock of a cool cloth on his wound made the boy jump from the sudden flare of increased pain. He closed his eyes and lips pursed together tightly as he bore the procedure and pain in silence. When the cleaning of the wound was finished, he opened his eyes and maneuvered his head to look behind him. From the corner of his eye, Duo watched as Trowa held a small bottle upside down and used a syringe to extract the fluid from inside it. He tapped the syringe's cylinder as he shot a bit of the fluid out, eliminating any bubbles.

/This is going to hurt./ Duo thought to himself as he watched Heero receive some silent instruction from the others.

"No sound." Heero reminded him. Then without warning, the Wing's pilot planted his body solidly over the wounded boy's shoulders holding him firmly down to the table.

Duo steeled himself for what he knew was coming. He felt his legs held tightly just before the needle pressed into his throbbing wound. He gasped at the first two pricks of the needle, but felt an immediate numbing effect on the outer skin of his wound. He didn't feel any further pricks yet knew that Trowa was still at work. After a few moments, he heard an audible sigh behind him. He felt Heero shift above him to whisper in his ear that Trowa was going to now make an incision and probe down to find the bullet. Duo nodded and swung his arms up to grip the top corner of the table. Heero reset himself across his back.

If Trowa cut open the top of the wound, he didn't feel it, but as he began to probe down into the wound, agonizing pain shot through him again. A moan escaped him as the excruciating probing continued. His natural instincts to get away from the pain took over and he began to struggle.

"Hold him still." A hoarse whisper sounded from behind and he couldn't tell whose voice it was, but the hands on his legs tightened and so did Heero's hold. He continued to strain against his helping captors and a small whimper escaped his lips as the pain became unbearable and he collapsed into a welcome darkness of oblivion missing the whispered words of triumph, "I found it!"

on to part 4

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