Educating Quatre - Part 6
Duo's Friendship Arc 18
by Dyna Dee
It wasn't unusual for a Saturday morning to see the streets of Heidelberg alive with the bustling of shoppers, tourists and, added to that, soldiers who mingled amongst the civilians as they continued their search for the suspected teen Gundam pilots thought to be still harbored within the city.
Two teenage girls, appearing to be out for a day of shopping, blended easily into the crowd. Both boys wore much less makeup than the night before. A little mascara, powder, blush, and lip gloss were all they needed to keep up their guise of being young females. Both wore the mid-thigh length dresses that flared out at the waist and flowed almost wistfully against their thin legs, a very feminine style that had been generously offered by some of the smaller dancers at Sly's club. Quatre won the toss of the coin for the dark tights, and Duo, being the loser of the toss, had to settle for the rolled ankle socks stuffed into the loafer style shoes that were also borrowed.
Each of the two stylish "girls" carried a variety of bags from different department stores, lending to an air of normalcy. They casually approached the Hertzog/Bellow's building and standing in front of it, they stopped and looked skyward, looking up the thirty-eight stories. They had learned from Nan that the building was filled with offices from various well-to-do corporations.
Quatre had done his homework after the club had closed for the night, and borrowing Sly's computer, set down arrangements beforehand allowing them entry to the building, heavily guarded by OZ soldiers. He also e-mailed Rashid to inform the Maguanacs of their status and to expect a visit from the other two pilots soon. He quickly arranged for transports to be waiting for the remaining three Gundams, the location of which was a mere two hours from where they were currently trapped.
It was approaching eleven a.m. when they entered the building arm in arm. They strolled casually up to the security desk in the center of the foyer, seemingly unaffected by the presence of soldiers stationed at various points along the room's perimeter.
A tall blonde woman, that Duo recognized from following Trowa in the market three days ago, stood leaning up against the information booth and turned to appraise the two teenage girls as they approached the counter. Quatre felt a shiver shoot down his spine as she turned her cold, piercing blue eyes onto them, and found himself forcing a small smile as he met her gaze.
"Excuse me?" Quatre managed to speak in a small voice as he turned to the employee in a security uniform who was sitting behind the desk.
"What can I do for you?" the thirty-ish man asked pleasantly, disregarding the frown on the OZ woman's face.
"My uncle is expecting us." Quatre said demurely. "He said he'd have clearance at the front desk for us to come to his office."
The man nodded and looked at his computer. "His name, and then your names." he smiled pleasantly.
"Frank Bellows." Quatre smiled charmingly. "And I'm Seeima Winner, and my friend is Sheeza Boyes." There was an unfeminine snort of laughter from beside him. Quatre elbowed his friend to stop, and was hard put not to look at Duo and start laughing at their chosen names
The man looked up with a curious look on his face. "Seeima and Sheeza." he repeated their names as if testing them out on his tongue. "Interesting names." he commented out loud, but inwardly thought what strange parents to give their pretty daughters such odd names.
Turning his head back to the computer screen, he nodded his head. "Okay, here we are." He looked up with a smile. "Mr Bellows has your names on the guest list." His eyes continued to scan the screen in front of him. "It appears he is in a meeting just now, but I'm sure you could go to his office and wait for him."
"That would be fine." The blonde answered cheerily, though inwardly groaning that his uncle was such a workaholic, working on a Sunday. He had broken into the building's security computer early that morning, tapping into his uncle's schedule to make it look like he would be meeting them there, not in a meeting. That could only mean that his uncle was indeed on the premises. He fervently hoped his meeting would last until they were done rescuing their comrade, thus keeping him from becoming involved in the rescue attempt. He turned to look at Duo and continued in a small voice. "We can lay out what we bought and see if we need anything else while we're in the city."
The blonde woman, who had been watching the entire conversation, moved to lean over the security guard to examine the screen. With a nod of her head, the man opened the drawer to the left side of the desk and removed two security passes and indicated that they should clip them on their dresses so that they were always visible and then gave them directions to Mr. Bruce Bellows' office.
"I'll take them to the elevator." the tall willowy woman volunteered without any hint of pleasure of the task visible on her face. "Follow me." she told the two curtly. She led them to the elevator door and pushed the "UP" button.
The silence while waiting for the elevator to arrive seemed uncomfortable, so the Sandrock pilot decided to break it. "Don't worry Sheeza," Quatre turned to Duo and on the sly gave him a mischievous wink, "my uncle is really nice, and I'm sure he'll want to take us to lunch. After that we can finish shopping, alright? He won't bite, I promise."
Seeing that this conversation was all for the woman's benefit, Duo decided that if he was going to play along, he'd play along for fun. "Well, I don't know..." he said worriedly in a soft whispering voice. "I seem to remember you saying your uncle REALLY likes young girls. He won't hit on me will he?" He almost laughed to see Quatre's eyes almost bug out of his head.
"I meant, that he likes little girls. No wait!" He put his hand up seeing he hadn't made the statement sound any better. "I mean, that when my sister and I were young, he always visited and brought presents. He was really sweet to us. He's a good uncle, AND THAT'S ALL." The last was said in a sweet sounding venomous tone, which made it seem even funnier to the Deathscythe pilot. He was hard put not to laugh, so he put his hand over his mouth and muffled his laughter.
The Specials agent gave then a scathing glare at what she thought was frivolous conversation. "Take my advice girls." she surprised them when she addressed them without deigning to look at them, but at the numbers above the elevator that lit up as the elevator car descended . "Don't trust any man. Learn how, and then always be prepared to defend yourself." She then condescended to look down at them and smirked as she saw the wary look on their faces.
Both "girls" nodded and thankfully, the elevator doors swished open. The two entered and turned to see the older woman lean in and push button labeled 35.
"Don't go to any other floor." she warned them. "We're on high security alert today and you'll meet up with some very, very angry soldiers if you're found elsewhere." She then gave both of them a piercing glare. "Understand?"
Both nodded again. Seeming satisfied, the agent stood back from the doorway and kept her eye on them until the doors shut completely.
Both released the air trapped in their lungs, and relaxed slightly. The elevator was quick to arrive at the thirty-fifth floor and, as instructed, they made their way towards the corporate offices. As they walked through the hallway, they noted the placement of soldiers standing guard at the exits and determined that there were four total on the floor, and that they would have to deal with later. The office of Bruce Bellows, CEO of The Bellows Corporation, a mogul in the transport and trade industries, was easily located as the black plaque to the right of his private office door had his name and position written clearly in fancy scripted gold letters.
Quatre turned the doorknob and was relieved that the door was unlocked. He paused with one hand on the knob, and before entering the room, turned with a smile and waved to the soldier watching them from the end of the hallway. After the soldier gave a nod and smiled back, he then opened the office door and entered the executive suite with Duo on his heels.
Once the door was shut, the two boys immediately busied themselves. Taking the chair behind the large desk, they positioned it underneath the square HVAC vent. Stacking several objects onto the fine leather, executive chair, Quatre steadied the make-do ladder while Duo climbed up, flipped open his utility knife, and began to remove the screws that held the vent to the ceiling. Having successfully opened it, Duo handed the metal screen down to his partner, then dropped down and quickly re-braided his hair.
Meanwhile Quatre opened their shopping bags and removed the four, fully-loaded hand guns and knives they'd hidden within the feminine clothes they'd purchased in order to hide them in case they were searched. The weapons were quickly tucked into a small, black backpack as the clothing they wore had no pockets to carry their weapons as they crawled through the vents. Duo took up the backpack and slipping the strap over his shoulder, he secured the small pack to his back and the two paused to share a silent look of readiness. Slipping off their shoes to leave them on the floor, Duo moved to climb the "ladder" once again and pulled himself up and inside the three-foot square air shaft. He immediately discovered that the vent he'd crawled through protruded an inch above the metal frame of the vent opening, and that the raised edges were rough and sharp. Once up, he carefully leaned over and reached for Quatre. The blond teen clasped both hands firmly onto the descending hand to steady himself from falling off the wobbling chair, and quickly pulled up, helping lift the Sandrock pilot through the opening and safely over the sharp edges of the vent.
Removing a computer printout of the building's schematics he'd copied from an Internet site that was dedicated to honoring well-designed and innovative structures of which the Hertzog/Bellow's building was considered to be, Quatre led them down the shaft to the vertical air shaft that was connected to the upper floor. Duo eased off the pack and rummaged through it. He pulled out a tube labeled Sure Grip, opened it, and slathered on the odorless, clear and slick lotion on his hands and bare knees. Quatre meanwhile removed the tights he was wearing and put them in the pack. He then accepted the tube from Duo and likewise coated his hands and knees in the same manner, making those body parts a bit sticky and enabling them to climb the shaft with a firm grip on the metal walls. With only a bit of effort, the two cross-dressers made their way up the sharply-angled, vertical air shaft. Several times Duo halted and hissed below to his companion that he'd better not be looking up his dress. Both of their faces were continually pink with embarrassment at the realization of how much the short dresses revealed when crawling on their hands and knees. Even though they wore their boxers, they still felt terribly exposed.
Reaching the top of the shaft, Duo paused to catch his breath, and silently cursed the hated dress which made his crawling and climbing much more difficult because the hem of the dress kept getting caught under his knees. He reached down once again to pull Quatre up. They both winced at the sound of fabric tearing and momentarily stopped all movement. The Arabian reached down and removed the snagged portion of his dress from a sharp corner of the vent that had taken hold of the nylon fabric and easily tore a clean rip down the front of the dress, from his upper ribs to his hip bone. He could feel the sting of a deep scratch on his skin the sharp protruding piece had caught along with the fabric. Once he was freed, he swung a leg over and climbed onto the thirty-sixth floor ventilating shaft.
Both boys were breathing a bit faster from their efforts. "Let's go." Duo whispered, then nodded to the direction of the next vertical shaft. Two floors yet to climb.
There was little to no activity in the rooms they passed over, but the two pilots moved as silently as possible, keeping their presence undetectable should anyone be quietly working in any of the rooms they silently crawled past.
They found the shaft leading to the thirty-seventh floor and quickly scampered up into it, pausing for only a moment to catch their breath again, and then repeated the same procedure to the thirty-eighth floor.
With knees and backs aching from the unaccustomed and prolonged position and use, they moved on, knowing that their friend had to be freed. With more caution than before, they paused at each vent to listen for voices, any hint as to where their fellow pilot was being detained. Duo led with his head down as he moved, listening for any distant sounds. In this position, he was shocked beyond belief when he felt a hand press firmly against the top of his head, causing him to stop. He instantly pulled back and looked up startled. He couldn't help the gasp that escaped his lips as he recognized the other person in the air shaft with he and Quatre. Staring back at him with stern, disapproving eyes was Heero, who, after noting Quatre behind the braided boy, looked anything but happy to see them.