Shinigami Rises - Part 1
Duo's Friendship Arc 22
by Dyna Dee
Two weeks after the End's Beginning
It was nearing ten o'clock on a bright Saturday morning when Quatre and Duo strolled out from the dorms together. It was just the two of them this morning as Heero and Wufei had gotten permission to go to the Sanq Capital to visit with Relena for the day. Trowa decided to spend the morning at a local gym downtown as a membership had been generously provided by Lady Une for the five to use if they so desired to maintain their top physical conditions.
Quatre, unbeknownst to his companion, had volunteered to stay with Duo, who had declined to participate on either outing. Since the day the American had trashed his room at Quatre's estate in Saudi Arabia, the other four had taken on the task to have at least one of them monitor their friend at all times, at least until his medication got his emotional state stabilized. They were still waiting for that day to come.
The two boys, still small for their age of nearly sixteen years, walked towards the track in their gym clothes for a morning jog that the blond had suggested as an activity. Duo had half-heartedly agreed. The four had commented with concern amongst themselves that the normally exuberant boy from L-2 rarely showed any enthusiasm for much of anything anymore.
"You didn't have to stay and babysit me," Duo said a bit sullenly and with a sigh while looking off into the distance at absolutely nothing, as he did so often these days. Quatre curiously wondered if Duo was afraid to make eye contact with him because he'd expose too much of himself when his emotions were running rampant, or that maybe he was afraid to look at his friends to see their reaction at his current emotionally incapacitated state.
"Why didn't you go with Heero and Wufei, Duo?" He deflected the statement with a question of his own. "You know you were more than welcome."
The slender shoulders of the long haired boy shrugged. "Heero needs a break from me. Besides," he took in a deep breath, "it's not fun being the third wheel."
"You wouldn't have been with Wufei there," the blond replied. "I know he wanted you to go also."
Another shrug. "He needs a break too," was the dispassionate reply. "I think you all do."
The sensitive blond could feel the growing emptiness in his sad friend. He reached out his hand and grabbed hold of Duo's arm in a reassuring touch. "You're not a burden to us, Duo. We're your friends, not your keepers. We want to help you get through this," he said with all sincerity.
Duo's eyes rolled upward in disbelief. "Yeah, whatever you say, man."
The blond Arabian huffed, "Dammit Duo. Sometimes I could just shake you until you come back to your senses," he ground out in frustration.
"Did you just swear, Quatre?" Duo asked, a hint of a smile growing at the corners of his mouth.
"You're driving me to it," the blond teen replied soberly. "So perk up, okay?"
"I'm trying," the braided boy said wearily, diverting his eyes to look at anything but his friend. "This medication.....I don't like it. Why can't I be like I was before? Was I so horrible that they have to put me in this grey-emotionless mental state?" He shoved his hands into his pockets and, this time, his eyes did return to his friend to look pleadingly at him. "Nothing is funny anymore, Quatre. I can't find joy in the warmth of the sun or a hot shower. Food? I can't eat because I'm too nauseous or too sleepy. All I want to do is sleep, be angry and rant at the world for all the pain and misery I've known. Is that better than how I was before?"
Quatre could see that Duo was upset, though his medicine did much to keep his anger very much subdued. Not know what else he could do to help his friend, he threw his arms around the other boy and held him tightly. "I'm sorry, Duo. No, it's not better, but once they find the right medication, you'll not have the dips into depression you've had. It'll get better, I promise. If it doesn't, I'll pay for the best doctors on the Earth and Colonies to see you. We'll make this right. I promise."
As he spoke, Duo's arms had come up to embrace his friend back tightly, as if he were a his last hope to cling to.
They stood there for several moments before Sandrock's pilot spoke again. "Come on." He slowly pulled away. "Let's not be so glum. The school's not so bad, is it?"
Duo shook his head as he turned to look at the track just ahead of them, avoiding eye contact again.
"We're all together, right?" Quatre asked smiling, and looked to his friend for a positive confirmation
"And it's Saturday, sunny and we don't have any homework, right?"
A slow smile crept up on the violet-eyed teen's face. "You're right," Duo conceded as he looked askance to his friend as they approached the track, grateful for the attempt to lighten his mood. "Nothing to feel bad about today, is there?"
Quatre's smile beamed in response. "And as a bonus, our watch dogs have followed the other three off campus, meaning......," he waggled his eyebrows.
"Lunch and a movie?" Duo guessed, sounding hopeful.
The blond nodded with a smile, bringing an almost forgotten light into Duo's eyes.
The last time he'd even seen a hint of mischief in the blue-violet orbs was when, several times during the first few weeks and months at the school and when he had felt up to it, Duo had successfully snuck out at night just because he wasn't suppose to. He always got an impish sparkle in his eyes before and after he did it. But the first time he did it, he snuck out by himself and managed to buy some uppers from some college students outside a club in an attempt to self medicate himself in order to counteract his daily drug induced lethargy. He waited until the next morning to take them and a half hour later, ended up with a rush that left him literally bouncing off the walls and his heart wildy palpitating.
The other pilots were immediately suspicious at the dramatic change in their friend, and when Duo looked in shaking panic to Heero and told him in a distressed voice of his racing heart, they all cornered him and coerced him into confessing what he'd done. From then on they had kept a closer eye on him, with Duo agreeing to certain conditions when he felt the need to sneak out. Wufei and Trowa accompanied him on two other nocturnal outings while Heero and Quatre covered for them. They ended up at a nearby pizza parlor and an all night video arcade room. Harmless activities, really, but it gave the Deathscythe pilot a feeling of freedom and power to be able to break the rules.
Duo's eyes got that sparkle again along with a growing smile at the thought that here was Mr. Always Follow the Rules suggesting they sneak off school grounds, in broad daylight. He couldn't help the rising curve of his lips and he inwardly admitted to himself that it felt good to have a smile on his face again.
Then, rethinking the situation, Quatre narrowed the perimeters of their excursion. "Maybe just an early lunch," he amended. "Trowa should be back by twelve-thirty, along with his watch dog. They'll both start looking for us, so we should be somewhere on campus by then."
Duo's smile drooped slightly. "Do you always have to be so damn cautious?" he asked sourly.
"We can't afford to blow it here, Duo," Quatre replied in all seriousness. "If we ever want to have total freedom, we have to confine ourselves to certain rules to show we can be trusted. I'm willing to take a slight, safe risk to have some fun, but not to the point of ending up in some prison for the rest of my life."
Duo sighed and nodded, understanding Quatre's reason and even inwardly agreeing with it. Even though his point made sense, it didn't mean he had to like it. "Alright," he agreed, seeing Quatre wasn't about to change his mind. "If that's all we can do, I guess it's okay."
"Let's ask if we can go to the cinema this afternoon." Quatre suggested as he took off his jacket and lay it on the bleacher just off the track. "I'm sure it will be okay."
"Sounds like a plan, Q-man," Duo said with a crooked smile. "So how about we get this jog done so we can get outta here." And without further warning, the braided boy took off running at a quick pace, following the second lane on the marked track.
Two quick miles around the track, a full-out run back to the dorm, fast showers, and the two were soon sneaking through the pre-cut, chain-linked fence hidden behind a large bush.
They cut through yards in the residential neighborhood that encircled the school and were soon casually strolling towards the nearest shopping center, enjoying the bright cheerful day and each other's company. As they chatted, they agreed on what their lunch would be, a bacon/deli gourmet pizza from a pizzeria they ordered from most Friday nights. Last night they had given into Heero and Wufei and ordered Chinese Food, so being deprived of their weekly fare, they were craving a pizza for their lunch.
They walked into the drab, dim lit and empty restaurant they'd been in only a few times as their watch dogs usually insisted on having their pizza delivered. They recognized the husky, middle-aged man at the counter who called out a greeting to them. "Where's your chaperones?" he asked in his customary gruff voice as they two boys approached the ordering counter. He was referring, of course, to their constant body guards who followed them everywhere they went, sometimes subtly and sometimes not. The Pizza Parlor was thought to be a place of risk for some reason, so they always accompanied the boys inside and ate at the table next to them.
"They're busy today." Quatre answered in a friendly tone. The man they knew only as Pete nodded in reply.
"So," he eyed both boys. "What's it going to be today?"
Duo smiled as Quatre ordered. "A large Bacon/Deli and a pitcher of root beer."
Pete rang the amount up in the cash register and the blond billionaire pulled a few bills out of his pocket and paid for the food.
"Have a seat fellas while I fix it up for you," Pete said as he handed them two tall amber plastic glasses filled with ice and a pitcher of foaming root beer.
It was still early, eleven fifteen, so the lunch crowd had yet to make an appearance. The two sipped at their soda and watched Pete as he quickly threw together their favorite pizza, stuck it into the oven, and picked up the phone. He dialed the number quickly, obviously having memorized it, and spoke in a hushed tone with his hand cupping the mouthpiece to stop any words from escaping. Quickly becoming bored, Duo fished into his pockets for change and rose from his seat to approach the music box.
Fifteen minutes after ordering, the two boys found their mouths salivating at the sight of the hot cheesy pizza as it was placed before them. They talked and joked as they ate at their leisure, though being mindful of the passing time.
Happily sated a short while later, the entire pizza eaten, they stood to leave, putting a large tip on the table to show their appreciation for the excellent cuisine. They waved at Pete in farewell as they moved past the counter, but Quatre stopped for a moment wondering at the odd look on the man's face. He looked...like the cat that was about to get his canary, a hungry predatory look. He felt a chill run down his spine as he thought about it, and shook it off as they neared the door.
Stepping through the doorway to the outside, the contrast of the brilliant noon-day sunlight from the rather dimly lit inside of the restaurant caused both boys to pause in their step, being momentarily blinded, to let their eyes adjust. Before Duo's adjusted, he found himself being abruptly and fiercely pushed into the side of the solid wall of the restaurant, his head cracking loudly against the brick as a squawk of surprise came from Quatre.
The Deathscythe pilot ignored the ache in his head and shaded his eyes with his hands only to see a large man holding Quatre from behind, and a white piece of cloth was being pressed over his friend's nose and mouth as he struggled against the firm body hold the man held him in.
Having eyes only for his captured friend, the braided boy missed seeing the man at his left who, as Duo's surged forward to help free the blond, hit him on the head from behind with something hard and unyielding. Duo dropped like a stone to the ground, dazed and immobile, barely registering the voices and the sound of a vehicle that pulled up behind them.
Get up, get up, he ordered himself and, as the doors to the vehicle shut, his body sluggishly obeyed.
He stood on shaky legs and forced his eyes to focus. What he saw was a white, unmarked, older model van, the kind that small commercial businesses use. The van had two side doors and two rear doors that opened up the back. He also took in the fact that the windows up front and on the back doors were dark tinted. The van took off, with Duo still trying to get a grasp of what his concussed mind was seeing, when suddenly the get away vehicle jerked to a stop and the horn blared loudly as a car driven by an old man slowly, and overly cautiously, inched in front of the van to make a left turn around it. It was just the chance Duo needed. Using his mind over the matter of his body not responding well, the teen from L-2 forced himself to move forward to the halted van.
The old man in the car blocking the van's escape stopped his car for a moment and blinked in confusion at the van's driver, not comprehending the impatience of the other driver. Then, in slow motion, he raised his middle finger and flipped the van driver off, then proceeded to slowly finish his turn. The van began to move just as Duo reached it. He carefully crept up onto the back bumper so those inside would not detect his added weight to the vehicle, and held onto the door handles as the driver impatiently revved up the engine. Securely planting his feet on the bumper, he kept himself in a low, crouched position as the van's wheels began to spin when the accelerator was abruptly pushed to the floor.
A wild ride through the unfamiliar city streets ensued with Duo clinging to the door handles with all the will and determination he could muster. His head throbbed and he could feel blood from the wound on the back of his head trickling down his neck and back.
A wave of dizziness and nausea almost overtook him and his handhold was beginning to loosen. He couldn't even guess how long he'd been holding on, but knew he couldn't hold his grip on the handles for much longer. Horns from passing cars honked at the van as they observed his precarious position on the back bumper, but the van's occupants must have determined the honking was not centered on them, and kept up its speed and serpentine movements through the city. Duo held to the hope that the van's occupants were still unaware of his presence.
As the vehicle jerked to a stop, the braided boy's cramped hand could handle no more and he was forced to let go. He stepped down from the bumper, keeping his body low to avoid detection, and rushed behind a parked car in a bent position. He gripped at his throbbing head as he quickly surveyed his surroundings taking in the tall, older buildings all around him. He knew he hadn't been to this side of the city before, and figured it was one of the older communities within the city.
He kept his eyes trained on the van that was momentarily stopped behind three other cars at a stop light. Taking advantage of the pause, Duo quickly looked down at his abused hands. The impression of the door handles imprinted deeply and in red on his palms. He tried to shake the feeling back into them while frantically looking around for some kind of help.
The stop light turned green at the same time that his eyes lit on a possible solution. A bicyclist peddling towards him, unaware of the situation, was about to lose his ride.
As the van pulled forward, Duo braced himself. The unsuspecting bicyclist was hit from the side from an area between two parked cars, ambushed, and knocking him over onto the pavement. Looking up and bewildered at what had just transpired, the man in his mid twenties was startled to see a teenager with a long braid grab up his racing bicycle, murmur quick words of regret, then with a running start, hopped onto it and sped off down the street as if the hounds of hell were in pursuit.
With dogged determination, the braided boy kept his sights on the white van while he peddled furiously after it, his heart beating with his exertions and fear for his friend. He forced himself to ignore the throbbing of his head and churning of his stomach as he willed his body to push ahead. There were times when he lost sight of his target as the van turned corners or bends in the road, but his adrenaline allowed him to greater speeds and taking the necessary risks to keep up.
After narrowly being missed for the fifth time by vehicles he shared the road with, having ignored almost all the traffic laws, his luck ran out when he was brushed slightly by a truck turning right in front of him. That touch of metal to the handlebars caused him to go crashing down onto the roadway. He lay against the grey pavement for only a moment as his mind fought to register what had just happened and assess his injuries. He was in pain with not only his head injury, but now with numerous scrapes and soon to be bruises, but otherwise, he felt he w unharmed, no broken bones. His left leg had been the worst of the injuries from falling off the bicycle, having been scraped against the rough surface of the road, causing the sleeve of his right arm and the right pant leg to be shredded, as well as the skin underneath from the road burn. He was mildly shocked that he hadn't broken anything, but his right hip bone hurt like hell. Then, as if his body hadn't suffered enough, he pitched to his side and threw up the entire contents of his stomach onto the street, thinking for just a second that regurgitated pizza might just be the worst thing to throw up. He paused only a moment to catch his breath before looking up at the blurred figure above him.
People witnessing the accident immediately ran to his aid. "You okay, son?" A mustached, middle aged man in a business suit stood above him with a look of deep concern on his face as he viewed the damage to the teen's visible injuries and handed him a white handkerchief to wipe off his mouth. Duo took the offered cloth and wiped off any trace of disgorged pizza from his face. The look of concern on the man's face quickly turned to pure shock as the injured boy then leapt to his feet, grabbed the slightly damaged bike by the handle bar grips and after a few running steps, flung his left leg over the seat and began to peddle away with a furious intent.
Several stop lights worked in the teen's favor and against the white van, allowing him to make up for lost time and catch up. He was within half a block's length behind it when the van turned and entered a more industrial part of the city. Continuing on several blocks, the van slowed slightly and made a left turn into a narrow alleyway that stood between two large, brick buildings.
The American peddled anxiously towards that destination and having reached it, quickly veered onto the sidewalk and came to a stop in front of one of the buildings and quietly set the pilfered bike against the wall.
With a quick visual scan, he took into account that there was no traffic, human or vehicle on the street. The businesses on this street apparently closed shop on Saturdays. Aware that a boy wandering the street, obviously injured, would stand out and make anyone passing by curious, Duo stayed to the wall as he inched closer to the alleyway.
Wiping the sweat off his face with the left sleeve of his shirt and taking deep breaths to give his body the oxygen it needed, he pressed his face against the edge of the corner and slowly turned it to see what was happening. His eyes immediately found the stopped van with its back doors wide open. It had stopped halfway down the narrow alleyway in front of a side doorway of the next building. A man emerged with Quatre's limp body flung over his shoulder. It was clear that his friend's hands and feet had been tied up, and a pillow case was secured over his head.
"Damn," Duo muttered to himself as he turned back to the street to avoid being seen. What he wouldn't do at this moment for a gun or knife, some explosives....anything!
The sound of the twin doors slamming shut and the revving of the van's engine caused him to brave another glance. Thankfully, the van was exiting the alley by driving through to the other end. He was glad that luck was on his side for once as he would have been in plain view of the driver if he had backed out of the alleyway to his location as there was nowhere to hide. He then watched as the door to the warehouse across the alley shut.
After waiting several moments to make sure the way was clear, Duo eased into the alley as his mind raced, analyzing his options. He looked around him at his surroundings, the throbbing of his head becoming a viable distraction. Feeling half dazed, he realized he'd been so focused on following the van that he had no idea where he was or what his next step should be. Should he follow and retract his friend or call for backup? He glanced at his watch. It read one eighteen. They'd left the restaurant at twelve ten and he marveled that they'd actually wandered the city as long as they had. Another wave of dizziness coursed through him, so he took a moment to lower his head down between his knees and worked on controlling his breathing like Wufei had spent hours teaching him in order to gain control over himself when he felt panicked or overwhelmed.
Feeling slightly better, he straightened and glanced up at the eight storey, half-block long building that looked to be part industrial warehouse and offices. It would take him quite a while to locate Quatre if the men were going to any means to hide their crime. Having no remembrance of a public phone on the main street, his decision was made. Moving forward, he stayed close to the wall as he made his way to the building's side entrance.
It took only a moment to open the locked side door. The one thing the school and Une's watch dogs hadn't taken away from him, probably because they hadn't found them, was his lock picks that he habitually hid in his braid. He eased the door to shut silently, and left it unlocked for any possible back up or escape.
Once inside the large building, he noted the linoleum floor and slipped off his boots in order to maintain silence and slipped them into a nearby trash can in order to hide his presence. He gripped the longest lock pick in his hand as a possible and only weapon as he made his way in his stocking feet through the long, dim lit corridors lined with doors on both sides. Pressing his ear to each door, he tried to detect any voice, hopefully alerting him to Quatre's presence.
He bypassed the stairway and elevator, choosing to search the entire floor before ascending to the next level. His search was made both easier and more difficult as glass windows were encased in each door. Though he could see through them into the offices, it brought a greater chance of him being seen in return.
He discovered in his search a large work room that took up most of the center back of the building. It looked like a place where something was put together in an assembly line. He quickly picked the lock to the empty room and looked about for anything that could be of use to him. It was easy to surmise by the contents on the work tables that the business consisted of wooden picture frames and stationary etched into intricate patterns by lazars. The room was laid out so that the work stations circled the outer perimeter of the room with large metal racks on wheels were placed behind them where the completed carved wood and paper articles were placed, ready to be moved to the shipping area near the large back door.
He searched the room more frantically than systematically, looking for something to help him in his rescue attempt. All he found was a sharp cutting tool and duct tape and a couple of pairs of scissors. Then on the way out, his eyes lit on a phone. He rushed to it and after failing to get an outside line, he dialed nine and then the number of the hall phone of the dorms. It rang ten times before a vaguely familiar voice answered.
"Hayden?" he guessed at the voice on the other end of the line.
"Yeah, who's this?" the voice answered caustically. Duo could just picture the boy answering: tall, fair haired, somewhat handsome, arrogant and stuck up.
"This is Duo. Can you get Trowa for me?" he asked quickly. "It's an emergency," he added, obviously flustered.
"Don't think he's here," the other answered unconcerned.
"Can you look, please?" He was mindful to keep his voice down even though he really wanted to scream at the jerk on the other end of the line.
"I think he and that body guard of his are out looking for you and Quatre." The boy on the other end sighed as if bored. "You know you're probably in trouble if your off campus."
"Shut up and listen to me Hayden." His voice growled out impatiently. "I'm asking you one more time to check his room for me. This is an emergency," he repeated as slowly as he could to get the message across to the dim wit. "If you don't, I can promise you that you will live to regret it!"
The telephone went dead, the other boy had hung up and Duo resisted the urge to smash something. He was going to kill the guy when he got back, he decided.
He hit the phone's flash button, and dialed another number, Heero's cell phone, and prayed he had it on him.
Two rings later it clicked on. "Yuy here," came the Wing pilot's bland greeting, and the braided boy felt a surge of relief flow through him.
"Thank God, Heero." he gasped.
"What's the matter?" Heero's voice was sharp and authoritative in response to Duo's obviously distressed tone.
Somehow, the braided teen found the ability to deliver the message that Quatre had been kidnaped, the words came tumbling rapidly out of his mouth at an alarming rate of speed. He couldn't seem to slow down or stop, even though Heero kept ordering him to do just that. He sputtered out a short version of his tag on the van and roughly described his location.
"I'm in the building now, but I don't know where I am. Still in the city, an industrial area. He's not on the ground floor and I don't have any weapons. You're not here, and that prick Hayden wouldn't find Trowa, and I'm not sure how to proceed. Should I call the police or handle this on my own?" His words toppled out at a remarkable speed.
"Duo!" Heero shouted loudly, finally getting the rapidly speaking, more than slightly panicked sounding boy's attention. "Calm down," he ordered. "Take five deep breaths."
As the American reluctantly complied, he could hear Wufei's voice in the background over Heero's part of the line demanding to know what was going on.
"Duo," Heero began again, clearly ignoring Wufei's request, and kept his voice firm. "You did the right thing," he assured him. "Continue your search and locate Quatre. Do not engage the kidnappers unless Quatre's in danger. There's a heliport ten minutes from here. I'll secure transportation and Wufei and I will be back at the school within a half hour. I'll alert Trowa, and if you have the opportunity, call him in fifteen minute intervals with an update. Weapons?" he asked.
"I've found a couple of box cutting tools, scissors, and just office supplies. There's just not much here," he answered as his eyes scanned the room once more, his voice seeming much calmer now that Heero was giving him the comfort of orders to follow.
"Utilize what you can into weapons."
"Stay focused, we're on the way."
Alone again. Stepping back into the mode of having a mission, the boy from L-2 gathered three pairs of scissors from the closest desks and disassembled them, then put the separated halves carefully into the back pockets of his black jeans, leaving the handles out for easy access. With a box cutter in each palm, he felt ready to continue the search for his friend. Silently leaving the workroom, he made his way to the stairwell.