Educating Quatre - Part 8
Duo's Friendship Arc 18
by Dyna Dee
Heero's mouth opened as he prepared to speak again, when suddenly the door to the office swung open, catching the four looking like deer caught in the headlights of an inescapable, oncoming truck. Not even a second later, the two boys with guns raised them to point with deadly accuracy at the blond haired man standing in the open door way, dressed in an expensive business suit and looking equally shocked. Heero motioned with his gun that the surprised man was to shut the door. The man quickly complied.
The middle aged man's shock wore off quickly and his eyes narrowed in anger. "Who are you and what are you doing in my office?" he asked in an authoritative tone. "I don't keep any money in my office and my family will not negotiate for a ransom. But if you're this desperate, I have a couple of hundred dollars in my wallet that you can have if you'll just leave."
Quatre moved to quickly step between the man and his trigger-happy friends. He put his hands up to calm the situation. "It's okay guys, he's my uncle."
The man heard the comment and turned his blue eyes to fully study the teenage girl who turned to look at him apprehensively. His eyes squinted as he scrutinized her face. "Well, you could certainly pass for a Bellows," he observed out loud. "but I don't recognize you as part of the brood."
"It's me Uncle Digger." Quatre said with a blush of embarrassment covering his entire face. He always called his uncle that childhood nickname when addressing his mother's brother. Quatre took after the Bellows' fair haired line rather than the darker skin and hair of the Winners. In spite of the fact that his sister had been deceased since Quatre's birth, his uncle had made an effort to visit he and his sisters often when they were younger. The nickname he'd affectionately called his uncle had come from his uncle playing for long periods of time in the sandbox with him when he was very young. As he grew older, his uncle told him in a wistful voice that he could see his deceased sister in Quatre's features and felt a need to be with the young child whose father was too wrapped up in business and had little time to spend with a quiet, well behaved child.
"Bucket?" The man's blue eyes widened with the realization and shock that the girl before him was really his only nephew. His eyes traveled up and down the boy taking in the blue bow in his hair to the feminine dress that was ripped down the front.
Quatre nodded, and winced at the nickname he'd earned in the sandbox. "This isn't quite what it seems uncle. I assure you, this isn't my usual attire." he rushed to explain seeing the befuddled look on the older man's face as he stared at his dress. He inwardly groaned thinking that Duo was going to have a field day of teasing with him about this unexpected situation.
"I heard from your sisters that you ran off to fight for the colonies." the man still bore a perplexed look, still not quite believing what he was seeing. "Is this a form of retribution for the way your father ignored you when you were young?" He was clearly struggling for an answer to what was before him.
"By Allah Uncle, no!" The blond teen sputtered out. "My friend and I are undercover to rescue another friend." he motioned to the three behind him.
The man whose eyes looked so much like his nephew's took in a deep breath as his mind put the facts together. He looked at the other three faces, stern and serious for young teenagers, and he didn't miss the open HVAC vent either. "You're Gundam pilots." he stated with just a touch of disbelief in his utterance.
A loud explosion in the distance caused the group to move to the window. It didn't take more than a moment for the group to focus on the out-of-place object that had caused the surrounding destruction.
"That's Heavyarms." Quatre told his uncle. "Our other friend is providing a distraction so that we can escape." He turned to face his uncle whose eyes were locked on the retreating Gundam.
"I don't want to pull you into this Uncle Digger, but we need to get out of this building as soon as possible. My friend here," he motioned to the unusually quiet Deathscythe pilot "is injured, and his injuries will draw attention if we try to leave by the front door. Do you have any ideas how we could leave without detection?"
The older man drew his hand through his short blond hair, a gesture the others had often seen Quatre do when he was thinking. Suddenly a light in his eyes was followed by a sly smile, silently announcing he'd come up with a solution.
"There's a service elevator at the end of the hall near the copy machine and break room. I told the guards outside that I needed to get some important documents." He looked up questioningly at the four. "You do know that the other side of this building is on fire, don't you?"
Quatre and Duo turned to look at Heero who shrugged unrepentantly at his little diversion.
Quatre turned apologetically to face the older man. "I'm sorry uncle. I didn't know. Are we in danger?"
"No, but the building is being evacuated, though the alarms and sprinkler systems don't seem to be working as they should. I wanted to move some documents to my car in the garage just to be safe. Since you've got ID badges, you and your ..." he looked to Duo, taking in the dress, the hair, the eyes, and his bloody legs.."girlfriend can accompany me down. Your other two acquaintances can climb back into the vent and go through there to that room. There's an opening that I'm sure they can manage and enter to elevator shaft and ride it down on the top of it."
"I'm a boy." Duo spoke his first words since the man entered the room, and even then his voice was low and quiet.
"I know." Mr. Bellows lied; he could see the boy was in pain and needed whatever comfort that was offered. Evidently he needed him to know he wasn't a girl. He'd have never guessed that, what appeared to be a very pretty girl with the beautiful hair, was really a boy and figured it must be a blow to the male ego.
"We don't have much time." Heero informed them, bringing the CEO back on track.
"It seems we have no other options." Wufei stated. "We might as well give it a try." The others nodded and Mr. Bellows moved instantly to a closet opening both mahogany doors at once. He brought out several boxes and quickly loaded it with discs and a lap top. Some paper files were added, plus personal belongings. He grabbed two long trench coats and handed one to Quatre and one to his injured friend. "Hold these in front of you and it will cover the most apparent damage." he quickly instructed them. A brief look of concern flashed across the man's face at the torn and bloody legs. The pinched look on the teen's face showed he was in considerable pain.
"Once we get into my car," he forced his eyes to turn away from the injured boy to his nephew "where should I take you?"
"Just out of here." Quatre answered plainly. "I don't want you to get into any trouble uncle, so you can drop us off at any corner and we'll go on from there."
"Shenlong's in the garage below strapped to a transport truck." Heero abruptly informed them and Wufei's head snapped up in surprise.
"Then lets take the transport and I'll pilot Nataku as soon as were in an open space." the gundam's pilot suggested eagerly.
"Deathscythe has been discovered and is being used as a trap for Duo." Heero continued and was somewhat gratified to see the surprise on the other's faces.
"Well your just full of information today Yuy." Wufei said with appreciation. "How did you find that out?"
"The computer upstairs. The information was on the screen as well as a portable tracking device." he explained. I didn't have time to determine how or what they used to track us, but I will as soon as I can analyze this." He held up a disk for them to see.
Duo's body began to sway slightly, and Quatre reached out to grab hold of his arm to steady him.
"We'd gotten the same information from a soldier in a bar." Quatre offered as confirmation of Heero's information. Both Heero and Wufei looked at he and Duo with a slight expression of shock, both wondering where the hell those two had been for the last few days.
Heero's eyes evaluated the condition of the Deathscythe pilot again, who stood on unsteady feet in silence looking extremely pale and fragile, leading Heero to the only conclusion possible in his current state. "Duo's not going to be able to pilot his Gundam out of there, especially if he needs to fight to reclaim it. I'll go with Wufei, and after we take back Shenlong we'll move to where Deathscythe is located. We'll eliminate the trap and I'll fly his Gundam to a safe place and transport it to the new location along with Wing."
"Is Sandrock compromised?" Quatre asked in a worried tone.
"Not that I could see from the information that I saw." Heero replied, then his eyes took on the expression of authority. "Quatre, your assignment is to take Duo with you and see that he gets first aid. When he's able, the both of you scout out the area where you left Sandrock, secure it, and escape together. Head to the new safehouse with as much caution and speed as you can." his directions came in the tone of an irrefutable order.
Duo frowned, not happy at someone else piloting his Gundam. But damn, his legs hurt. He looked down hesitantly, almost afraid to look at the damage that was causing him so much pain. The sight of the skin peeled away from the front of his bare legs, revealing a layer of tissue and blood that was oozing down his legs and into his socks made his stomach churn and his vision blur. A firm grip on his arm straightened him up and moved his eyes away from the damage to his body, saving him from embarrassing himself further by losing his breakfast in front of the others. He looked up to give a weak, grateful smile to Heero who, in return, looked at him in concern.
"Looks as bad as it feels." he said in a gravely voice with a twisted, forced smile.
"Don't look at it Duo." Quatre advised, afraid his friend was about to pass out.
With effort, the braided boy swallowed the bitter bile climbing up his esophagus and willed the room to stay still. Taking a deep breath, he looked at the others watching his every action. "I'm alright." he assured them again, knowing his weak reply wouldn't fool them for a minute. "Let's just get out of here before they find us. Don't think I'm gonna be much help in a fight right now."
With a nod and brief words of encouragement, Heero and Wufei climbed back up into the air shaft and made their way to the elevator. Quatre retrieved their shoes from the pack and helped Duo slip his on before donning his own, deciding not to take the time to put the tights back on.
After seeing the two Asian boys disappear into the open vent, Mr. Bellows bent to pick up one of the boxes and handed it to Quatre, then lifted the other for himself. He looked into the face pinched with pain, and worried that the long haired boy might not be able to pull off the charade they needed him to. "Just worry about keeping your legs covered and not passing out, alright?"
The boy nodded grimly and steeled himself mentally, then moved stiffly to follow Quatre and his uncle to the door. They exited the room and ventured into the hallway where they were met by one of the soldiers.
"Did you get everything you needed, Mr. Bellows?" the soldier asked, eyeing the two girls slightly behind the older man.
"Yes, I believe I have, Mr. Jarvis." he replied unsmiling, showing his unhappiness at the idea of his building on fire. "Is it still safe to take the freight elevator to the parking garage?"
"Let me check." the soldier pulled out a communicator and turned it one and began talking to someone in command.
Quatre's eyes shifted between the two men and Duo, whose face had lost all color. He wondered if his friend was going into shock.
"All clear." the soldier replied crisply, "The fire department has arrived and it seems the fire is somewhat contained." he reported, then let his eyes return to the two girls. His gaze settled on Duo. "Are you alright miss?" he asked.
Duo looked up startled. "I.... I'm fine." he managed to say in a quiet voice.
"She's just frightened by all that's been happening, the explosions outside and word of a fire in the building." Mr. Bellows supplied.
The guard looked around to see where the other soldiers were. "You better leave with the girls quickly, sir." he said quietly, as if he was breaking protocol. "Something else is happening here today other than the fire alarm going off that could upset the girls even more."
"I will Private Jarvis, thank you." Mr. Bellows replied kindly. He'd often traded pleasantries with the young man during the few days that OZ had commandeered the upper floor to hold a prisoner and direct search operations, and knew he was a decent fellow. He then turned to lead the two teens towards the service elevator.
"Stop!" They had made it about ten feet when the private barked out the order.
The three collectively turned their heads and wary eyes back to the soldier who was studying the carpet and following a dotted trail to them. His finger touched the spot and turned the up to examine the bright red spots. "What's this?" he asked, with any tone of friendliness having vanished as his eyes narrowed in suspicion on Duo's feet. Traces of blood were on his shoes and socks peeking out from under the cover of the carefully draped trench coat.
He slowly stood, looking once more the threatening soldier, his right hand firmly placed on his firearm, and the other on his communication device. "What's going on here?" he demanded.
"Please," Quatre stepped forward to intercept the man as he advanced on them. They both stopped as they met, and neither Duo nor Quatre's uncle could hear what the Arabian boy was saying in hushed tones to the soldier, but the American had no doubt that his friend was attempting to talk them out of this predicament. To their relief, the soldier nodded and abruptly turned, leaving the three to find their own way out of the building.
As he returned to them, looking slightly flushed, the Arabian teen motioned for them to proceed, and his uncle led them once again down the hallway towards the elevator.
The elevator arrived quickly, and once inside, the three sighed in relief. They waited until they heard a slight tapping above them before releasing the hold button and the elevator carrying five began its thirty-six floor descent to the parking garage one level below the large building.
Duo's curiosity was eating away at him. "Okay, Quat, what did you say to him?"
The blond dressed in drag looked up at his friend sheepishly through his long bangs. "Well," he drawled. "having as many sisters as I have, I came up with the only explanation I could think of." he answered.
A snort of stifled laughter came from Mr. Bellows, and the American wondered at it. "What?" he looked at the man who had turned away, his shoulder shaking. He then turned looking confused at his friend whose cheeks were turning pink. "I don't get it. What exactly did you say?"
"Well," the blond teen began again looking away from his friend to the flashing numbers of the descending floors. "I asked him not to embarrass you as you were experiencing your first....um.. ah.... menses and were unprepared for it."
"Menses?" Duo asked, his brows drawn down in thought at the unfamiliar word.
"Ah...... a..... " Quatre stuttered and moved slightly closer to his uncle for safety even as the soft sound of barely restrained laughter could be heard from above them. "A...menstrual cycle. You know...a period." he finished, blushing furiously.
Duo's eyes widened, and on his pale face appeared two bright red spots on his otherwise pale cheeks. "You...to..t..told him that?" his voice squeaked.
"It was a logical and reasonable excuse for why you had blood on your shoes, socks, and on the floor." Quatre explained with a look of apology.
The Deathscythe pilot's hands turned white as he gripped the coat in his arms. "Quatre!" he growled in warning.
"Now Duo," Quatre held his hands up to calm his friend. "You're in no shape to fight right now, nor to throw a temper tantrum. So calm down."
The long-haired boy seemed to huff and puff in frustration as his words seemed to elude him. "I... do... not.... throw... temper tantrums!" he growled again through gritted teeth.
Snickers of stifled laughter sounded from above them, and Duo glared malevolently at the soon to open vent on the ceiling of the elevator car.
"Almost there." Mr. Bellows announced with a smile on his face despite the tenseness of the situation.
Quatre nodded and moved to the side of the door where the control panel was located. "If you'll bring your car as close as possible to the elevator, we'll wait here until you arrive."
The vent from above them lifted and Wufei and then Heero jumped down, both wearing smirks on their usually stoic faces.
"Shut up!" Duo snapped irritably.
"We didn't..." Wufei began with a chuckle.
"I. Said. Shut. Up!" the braided teen raised his voice, then suddenly began to sway. The smiles around him disappeared as the two dark haired boys nearest him reached out to steady their friend.
"I'm fine." Duo groaned in protest at their help, and closed his eyes as he once again willed the room to quit spinning.
"Perhaps I should take your friend to my home?" Mr. Bellow's suggested tentatively, watching the long hair boy fighting to stay upright.
Quatre shook his head. "We can't risk you and your family getting caught up in this Uncle Digger, the consequences for helping us could be severe. But thank you for offering." he gave the older man a soft smile of genuine gratitude. "Duo and I actually have some place to go and I can care for his wounds once we get there."
Mr. Bellows looked fondly at his nephew. "You've certainly grown up into a strong young man, Quatre. I'm very proud of you." he said sincerely his voice and smile warm with affection.
"Thank you, Uncle Digger." the wide blue eyes filled with emotion. "You have no idea how much that means to me." he whispered back.
The tender moment was broken when the elevator stopped and the four boys scrambled to the sides to hide from any security cameras that may be placed outside the doors.
"Be right back." the CEO promised as he stepped between the open doors and walked away casually with his box in his hands.
As soon as the doors closed, Wufei held the stop button. They stood in silence for a few moments, three sets of concerned eyes watching the forth boy lean heavily against the wall, his eyes shut tightly.
"Duo." Heero called his friend's name softly as he touched his shoulder.
"I'm okay, Heero. Just resting." he said quietly, having regained his composure once more.
The Japanese boy turned to the blond Arabian. "What's your E.T.A. to the appointed destination?" he asked.
Quatre took in a deep thoughtful breath. "A week, if Duo heals fast enough for us to move about." He replied. "I'm sure we can stay where we've been hiding out."
"Where exactly is that?" Wufei asked with one eyebrow raised.
"Read it in our report." Quatre said with a slight baleful smile, knowing it was killing Wufei not to know about the place they'd hinted at.
"Alright." Heero spoke, returning the conversation back to the topic at hand and looking at Quatre. "Duo is your responsibility, the retrieval of Sandrock will be both of yours as well as your escape from the city."
Quatre nodded his silent acceptance.
A tap on the metal doors brought the silent group back to attention. Wufei pressed the open button, and the doors slid smoothly aside to reveal Bruce Bellows. His champagne colored luxury sedan was idling almost silently behind him, the back and front passenger door were invitingly open.
"The large tarped truck is located one level above us, on the ground floor." he told them in a hushed voice. "It's guarded."
Heero and Wufei nodded and readied their weapons.
Mr. Bellows moved forward and took hold of the braided boy's elbow to assist him to the car, Quatre took up the other and led him forward to the door to the backseat of the car. Quatre set the box he held into the front seat, then jumped in first, scooting over to allow ample room for his friend. Duo turned around and eased himself back onto the seat, carefully lowering his body then lifting his bloody legs up and turning them into the car.
"You're sure you can get him to safety?" Heero's voice asked in a dubious tone as he leaned into the open door. His eyes shifted to the front momentarily as Mr. Bellows sat in the driver's seat and shut his door.
"I told you that I'm fine, Heero." Duo snarled. "I'll get him to safety."
"I was talking to Quatre." Heero snorted with a wry smile. Leave it to Duo to switch the mission to himself.
"We'll be fine." Quatre assured him with a grim look of determination on his face.
Heero nodded, his eyes taking in both boys. "We'll be expecting you within the week." He backed out of the door and Wufei quickly took his place.
"Be careful." he said with concern. "And thank you." Then he was gone, the door shut quickly behind him.
"Ready boys?" the older man twisted in his seat to question them.
Quatre nodded. "If you can just get us clear of this building and head east, just a couple of blocks, you can drop us off and we'll find our way from there."
The blond man's brows furrowed with doubt. "You're going to walk with your friend in that condition?" he asked.
"We have to." Duo answered distractedly as he looked out the car window watching Heero and Wufei disappear into the shadows of the parking garage. "We can't let you know where we're staying...for your own safety."
The CEO nodded and turned and shifted the car into gear, he was careful to keep to the same cautious speed he always practiced when he drove out of the garage. The champagne colored car moved through the sparsely filled garage and then up a ramp to the next level. Both pilots noticed the large, tarped-covered transport in the corner of the ground level parking lot and the guards stationed around it. Even as they watched, they saw one of the rear guards taken down by a shadow. They both turned their heads, craning their necks to watch even as the sedan moved further away towards the exit leading to the street, and were rewarded to see another guard disappear into the shadows.
The car came to a stop and both boys looked forward to see that they were next to a security booth. A man in his thirties dressed in a security uniform stepped forward, leaving behind an armed OZ soldier who was observing the car with caution.
"Mr. Bellows." the security guard greeted the well known man pleasantly. "A little too much activity today." he said in a friendly greeting, though his eyes strayed to the two girls in the back seat.
"Yes, Garth," Bruce Bellows replied with an agreeing nod. "And unfortunately, it all happened as my niece and her friend came to join me for lunch. Got a real scare I'm afraid."
The security guard's eyes lingered a moment longer noting the lack of color on the long haired girl's face. "I can see that." he said, and then stepped back. "Well, have a good weekend." He paused, then placed his hand on the car, just above the driver's door and looked down at the Mr. Bellows. "Be careful out there, looks like there's some debris on the streets from the Gundam's attack."
They all came to a startled attention as a loud alarm reverberated through the near empty garage. The OZ soldier ran into the booth and hit a button and a metal gate began to slowly lower from the ceiling and the sound of a large truck starting behind them added to the confusion.
"Go uncle, NOW!!" Quatre shouted.
To the security guard's surprise, the luxury sedan took off with a shot, barely missing the lowering gate and flinging his hand off of the car, throwing him backwards.