Disclaimer: I don't own GW nor profit from writing about its characters.

Warning: Violence

Educating Quatre - Part 7
Duo's Friendship Arc 18
by Dyna Dee

He couldn't help the slight 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 eyes was Heero, who, after noting Quatre directly behind the braided boy, looked anything but happy to see them.

Having developed a sign language to use on covert missions, Heero asked through his hands, //What are you doing here?//

Duo rolled his eyes and signed back. //To rescue whoever was captured. Was it you? Are you escaping?//

Heero shook his head and held up his hand displaying his five fingers.

Duo nodded, it was Wufei. //Where?//

Heero motioned to the nearest vent behind him. He then pointed to his watch and signaled four minutes, ten seconds.

Duo nodded and turned to make sure Quatre got the complete message. The Sandrock pilot nodded that he understood and when they both turned their attention back to Heero, they saw him fighting a smile and instantly realized the reason. Both boys in dresses gave the Wing pilot their best scowl, which seemed to cause more distress to the Japanese boy as he was forced to hold in his amusement.

He finally turned away from the two to compose himself and prepare for the mission before them. He mentally shook off the humor he'd felt a moment before and, once again, donned the persona of the perfect soldier.

Seeing Heero in mental preparation, Duo took off the backpack and removed the weapons from inside, handing two guns to Quatre and two of the knives. The vent was still in place, but it looked like Heero had managed to unscrew the four corners enough to loosen it. A kick of a foot would eliminate the barrier between them and Wufei. Heero looked at his watch and then moved himself over the vent. With quick hand signals, he told his companions that Trowa was going to provide a distraction and that was when they would attack. He would go down first, and call out if he needed further back up. Then, not waiting for their reaction or comments to his plan, he turned his focus on the vent. With a gun in each hand, he placed them on either side of the vent and tensely waited while listening to the voices below to determine the direction of his targets.

There it was, in the distance the sound of an explosion announced Trowa's arrival. Positioning his tightly curled up body over the vent, his feet parallel to the screen and his arms planted as a sturdy support, Heero looked up to his unexpected companions and silently mouthed the countdown as three more explosions came, each sounding closer than the last.

//Three. Two. One.//

The slightly alarmed voices from the room below were heard as the three soldiers in the room reacted to the attack that drew their attention to the large window over-looking the city. There they were witnesses to the sight of a Gundam, which they quickly identified as 03, approaching the city and fighting off the two mobile suits sent to deal with him. At the sound of a crash behind them, they turned in alarm and in unison, hands moving to their holsters that housed their weapons.

Duo and Quatre watched the Wing pilot draw his knees up and then let them spring out, crashing through the screen below, his body falling easily through the opening with his guns firing before his feet hit the carpet below. The rapid pops of his silencer and the resulting silence afterwards revealed to the two in the air shaft that he'd succeeded in having the advantage of surprise as his gunfire wasn't returned by any one in the room.

Duo followed his friend by dropping down through the open vent a moment later, dropping into a crouch as he hit the floor. Surveying the room, he put a hand up to Quatre to stay his advance.

Three men lay dead on the floor near the large window in pools of their own blood; the redhead he'd seen at the market, with his hand still on his holstered gun, an older man he hadn't seen before with dark sunglasses askew on his face and faint streaks of white at his temples of his otherwise dark hair. His gun lay on the floor inches from his hand. And lastly, Duo easily recognized the albino who had questioned them the day before.

His eyes turned to Heero who was presently standing behind the door to the room that led out to the corridor, waiting and listening for any who might question any noise they'd made. His eyes met Duo's and with a nod of his head, indicating the area behind the point the Deathscythe pilot had landed moments before. He turned to see Wufei tightly bound to a chair and placed next to the far wall. Though his mouth was gagged and his eyes implored Duo to hurry and release him.

Heero, satisfied that no one was coming, secured the door by locking it. Then he made his way over to the desk where a computer and a specialized lap top were located. His fingers immediately began to work the keyboard.

On the other side of the room, Duo's knife made short work of cutting through the many ropes that held Wufei's arms, ankles, and torso to the metal chair. A moment later, the gag was removed, and to his amazement, the Chinese boy's first words were, "What the hell?"

Duo knew exactly what he was referring to as Wufei's dark eyes were raking his attire up and down. "Shut up." he answered in a warning whisper, giving his friend the look that said he'd better drop it. Then, his eyes softened as he looked questioningly at his friend. "You okay?" he asked.

Wufei nodded, but couldn't help rolling his eyes at the get up Duo was dressed in.

"Move." Heero hissed the order as he repositioned himself away from the computers to stand under the open vent. Duo responded by grabbing hold of Wufei's arm and hauled him out of the chair and over to Heero who had already laced his hands together indicating he would boost them up into the shaft. Quatre peered over the edge and stood ready to help.

Duo followed Heero's example and laced his fingers together offering a place for Wufei to place his other foot. Holding onto their shoulders, the Shenlong pilot placed both feet on his friend's hands and looking up, found himself easily boosted upwards towards the opening in the ceiling and clasping hold of Quatre's extended hands. An involuntarily sigh of relief escaped him as he finally settled in the metal air shaft, glad to be out of the room he'd been held in for two days.

Heero cupped his hands again, indicating it was Duo's turn. "Ladies first." he smirked.

The braided boy shook his head and whispered teasingly. "You just want to look up my dress. You go first."

Heero scowled. "We don't have time for this." he whispered vehemently. "Just move."

Seeing that Heero was not going to back down, the other boy complied, handing his gun to his scowling friend so that he had both hands free.

Whether it was just his brute strength or impatience at his friend's teasing that caused Heero to propel the light-weight boy up into the shaft with such force was debatable. But the result of the strong toss upwards was an overshot, causing the hands above to miss their target, leaving Quatre to fumble in an effort to catch his friend, resulting in him having to scramble to grab a hold of Duo's torso instead of his hands. It seemed much more awkward to lift him than it had with Wufei because the material of the dress made it hard for him to get a firm hold of his struggling friend. Ultimately, he required Wufei's help to the drag the Deathscythe pilot up and over the sides of the vent, eliciting a muffled, strangled cry from the boy.

"Are you alright, Duo?" Quatre whispered as his friend lay face down on his stomach breathing more heavily than he should under the circumstances. With an affirmative nod from the braided head, Quatre and Wufei turned back to concentrate on helping Heero up. With better timing and less effort, the Wing pilot entered the vent and immediately signaled Quatre to take the lead.

The blond boy handed his gun and knife to Wufei to carry for him and the Chinese teen placed them in the waistband of his pants and followed behind the rapidly crawling blond, careful to avert his eyes from the other's boxer clad posterior exposed by the shortness of the dress his wore. Heero's senses were alert to what was going on about him and paid no attention to his friend as he took hold of the gun Duo held out to him with a shaky hand. Without a second thought, he followed behind the other two as the long haired boy put on his back pack and took up the rear position. They made their way to the vertical shaft and Duo removed the tube of Sure Grip and passed it around. In the same order the four inched their way down the sharp incline as quietly as possible.

By the time Duo reached the thirty-seventh floor, Quatre and Wufei were already on the move. Heero paused to wait for the last pilot, wondering what was taking Duo so long. The boy in question dropped down from the vertical shaft onto his knees and hung his head with a low moan, causing the Wing pilot to wonder if he had injured himself. He moved closer to the American who had angled himself around to sit up with his head in the open shaft above and stretched his legs out in front of himself. It was then that Heero had his explanation. Duo's bare legs were scraped raw and bleeding quite heavily. The skin on top of his thighs down over to his knees and shins had been literally peeled off by the sharp edge of the vent they'd escaped through.

Without looking up, Duo painfully folded his legs under his body and positioned himself on his hands and knees again then looked up. It was then that he noticed Heero's presence and the look of worry in his eyes. With nothing else to do but continue, he motioned Heero to proceed and that he'd follow.

Heero's pace was much slower, but the Deathscythe pilot still found it difficult to keep up. He had no choice but to follow his friends to safety, despite the horrible pain in his legs. It was only by the sheer force of his will that he made it down the other two shafts to the thirty-fifth floor.

Quatre jumped down from the ceiling vent, crashing almost gracefully onto the boxes and chair that they had used to climb up into the shaft. Picking himself up, he pushed everything aside and looked up to see Wufei patiently waiting. Once the space below was cleared, he jumped also. The two then looked up to the open vent, waiting for Heero and Duo to follow. They exchanged a worried look after several minutes passed, wondering if something had gone wrong. Both were silently relieved when Heero's face finally appeared through the opening.

With a wave of his hand, the Wing pilot motioned the two over to help. After which there came sounds of shuffling from above them that had the two in the office very curious as to what was going on. Then suddenly, two bloody legs that could only be Duo's, were slowly being lowered through the small space. Both boys rushed to help, but didn't know quite where to grab, fearful of causing more pain to the injured limbs and of being killed by Duo for grabbing him anywhere else in order to help him down.

Wufei stepped forward and helped ease his friend down by moving around to the back of his legs and offered his hands as a seat for his friend's upper back of his thighs. Quatre moved quickly to help catch Duo around the waist when he let go of Heero's hands. It was awkward, but together they managed to get the stockinged feet onto the carpet.

"I'm okay." Duo quickly whispered his assurance to his friends who looked at his bloody legs with revulsion "It just stings like hell. But I can walk and run if I have to."

Heero dropped down behind him and came around to the front to survey the damage better. "You left a bloody trail in the vent." he said in a neutral, not quite accusing tone.

"Thanks for caring." Duo mumbled just under his breath, clearly unhappy at Heero's comment.

Quatre exchanged a look with the Wing pilot. "Then if Duo's up to it, we should get out of here before they find the bodies upstairs and that Wufei has escaped. They might be able to trace us here to this office." Then a look of doubt crossed the boy's face as he looked at the thin bloody legs. "And it's pretty obvious that we can't leave the same way we entered the building. Duo's legs will draw attention."

"And you have a tear in your dress." Wufei pointed out with a smirk on his face despite the seriousness of their situation. Quatre looked down at the damage to his dress and saw his skin and his boxers through the large rip and blushed.

"How did you plan on leaving with Wufei?" Heero asked a tad snidely, as if he believed they hadn't thought the matter through. "Got another dress with you?"

Quatre squared off to him immediately. "Duo and I were going to lure one of the four guards on this floor into the office and knock him out. Wufei would then wear the uniform and escort us to the street and disappear with us in a taxi."

Heero's mouth opened as he prepared to speak again when suddenly, the door to the office swung open, catching the four pilots looking like deer caught in the headlights of an inescapable, oncoming truck.

on to part 8

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