Racing With Secrets
Laurel whimpered in her sleep. If anyone had been there to see it, they would have noticed the tracks of tears running down her cheeks.
She was dreaming.
"Mr. Duo?" she was asking a man standing in front of her. He wore all black, a long braid hung lifelessly from his hunched shoulders
down his back. He apparently didn't hear her. "Mr. Duo, please, I need to talk to you."
The man turned, sad violet eyes seemed more lifeless than anything about him. "Who are you? What do you want?" He asked but didn't
seem to care.
"I'm Laurel, and you are thinking about leaving, aren't you?" Ice-blue eyes stared at him in concern.
"If you mean dying, yes. I don't know what's gone wrong, but it doesn't matter. I know my body isn't holding up and I think it's time for
me to leave." He looked so sad, she started to cry.
"No, Mr. Duo, no!" She pleaded. "Mr. Heero is getting you a new heart right now and he's going to make you all better!"
"Heero?" His eyes briefly caught a spark of life, then went flat again. "It's too late. Tell him I'm sorry. Tell him I love him, but I this isn't
my choice, it's time to go."
"No!" Laurel stamped her foot. "You *have* to wait for Mr. Heero! He'll be here, I know he will! Do you promise to wait?"
"I can't make that promise. I am Shinigami, or at least I was, and if anyone knows when death is coming for them it's me." He sighed,
"Well, I am not any special god like you are, but I do know what is going to happen and you *are* going to get better! You just need to
wait for Mr. Heero! If you give up now, he will hurt so much. Just wait a little longer, okay?" She pleaded with him in her dream
wondering if even she had finally met a vision of the future she couldn't change.
"All right," the man in black responded. "I'll wait if I can. But if I can't stay, tell him what I said, all right?"
Laurel smiled, "Yes, I promise I'll tell him. But you will get to tell him, too, you'll see."
As suddenly as it began, the dream ended, and for the first time in a long time, Laurel was truly frightened by her gift. Being shot was
easy, being able to make sure someone stayed alive that no one else could talk to was very, very hard.
"So, what's your name, buckaroo?" Starwind seemed an endless supply of strange phrases and idiotic grins. Heero was still trying to
assimilate why he would willingly accompany an obvious criminal in this fashion.
"My name's Heero Yuy and I still don't know why you're doing this. Explain now, Starwind, or I'll assume this is a trick and leave you
unconscious at the next corner!"
The driver glanced back and noticed the gun for the first time. In his nervousness, he twitched enough that Gene noticed. "Hey, man,
don't worry! This guy's cool! We're just trying to make it look real for the cops, okay? So if anyone asks you later, tell them I was a
hostage at gunpoint, okay? The same can go for you, if you'd like," he offered with a grin. "You'll probably be on the news, too!"
The driver simply nodded and increased his speed. He had no idea why, but he rather liked these two and assumed the one named
"Starwind" was telling the truth.
Suddenly, Gene turned to his captor and looked grim. "Okay, Heero, you want an explanation right? Well, it's simple, I've been doing
this for several years and I've seen too damn many cases where they were so busy going through protocol when the designated recipient
died to find someone else before the organ was no longer usable." He ground his teeth in anger. "If it wasn't for their stupid rules, maybe
my sister would still be alive. So, I buck the system whenever I get the chance. Heck, check this out!" He grinned and pulled out an
almost-realistic gun of his own. Without extensive training, a person could easily mistake the water gun he held for a real pistol,
especially at a distance. Heero was dumbfounded.
"Impressive, isn't it? I got it at an antique toy show and use it whenever my, um, 'kidnappers', don't think to bring a gun themselves. It's
kept me off the hook legally and saved at least three lives. Well worth the investment, wouldn't you say? Of course, you brought your
own gun, so I guess the count stays at three instead of going up to four this time out. You're actually the first one smart enough to bring
their own weaponry. Granted, I'd prefer if you stopped holding it against my ribs, it tickles, even if it is one hell of a nice piece."
Heero shook his head in disbelief, then decided for once to follow Odin Lowe's advice and listen to his feelings. His feelings said this
lunatic really was on his side and had every intention of doing whatever it took to achieve the mission objective. Heero lowered the gun,
but didn't replace it in his waistband.
The rest of the ride to the airfield was filled with endless chatter from Starwind about an assortment of things. So much like Duo, Heero
thought ruefully. As the airfield came into sight, Heero pulled some more bills out for the driver and handed them to him. At this point,
nothing seemed to phase the man. Starwind laughed, "Hey, after you drop us off, make sure you take the 'long way' back, okay? The
cops will be out looking for you to find us and if you're on the back roads they'll never find you!"
"You really *have* done this before, haven't you?" Heero could barely keep the surprise out of his voice.
"Shit, yeah!" Starwind grinned. "Not as often as I'd like, but I'm glad I was there when you came in. Believe it or not, you've got to
handle the cooler just right or the organ gets mashed up too much. This way we save, well, whoever it is, and I get to thumb my nose at
the system again!" He laughed heartily as he put his thumb up to his nose and wiggled his fingers ludicrously.
"Well, since you feel so strongly about it," Heero tucked his gun away and held out his hand. "Give me your 'gun' so you can count it as
four. After all, I've got to escort my 'hostage' onto my jet."
"All righty then!" Doing his best Jim Carrey impression, Starwind happily gave Heero the water pistol and prepared to look scared.
Heero wondered why he always ended up with the nut cases.
The cab stopped next to the runway the jet was on, and the two young men and their precious cargo got out in a hurry. Starwind
headed up the stairs into the jet giving a low whistle of appreciation as Heero followed close behind. He slammed the door shut and
locked, cranked up the engines, and did a preflight check then noticed the fuel hadn't been added.
"Washio Tower, this is Winner-1, why isn't there more fuel in here? Over."
"Winner-1, the account you referenced is closed. If you want to give us an active account, we'll refuel after you shut down your engines.
"No time, Tower. Winner-1 requesting emergency clearance for take-off. Over."
"Emergency clearance granted, Winner-1. Godspeed. Washio Tower over and out."
Making sure his passenger was appropriately strapped in and that the cooler was arranged for safest transport, Heero taxied down the
runway and then lifted off. The jet practically leapt into the air as Heero pushed it faster than a normal take-off; time was running out and
he was afraid that he was losing the most critical race of his life.
"Hot dog!" Starwind shouted happily. "This is the best kidnapping I've ever had, man! So, where're we headed, Heero old buddy?"
"First, Starwind, I am *not* your 'old buddy'. Second, this isn't for your amusement. And third, we are going to save my fiancÚ's life. It
should be about a four hour flight, but I'm going to push it because time may have already run out and I don't know it." The Perfect
Soldier was all business as the adrenaline rush was starting to wear off.
"Whoa, there. You mean she may be dead already?"
"That's 'he', and I don't know."
Starwind sobered up; he gave Heero the first serious look he had the entire time they had been together. He looked thoughtful a
moment, then simply said in a much more controlled voice, "I'm sorry, Heero. I tend to get a little hyper when I get a chance to do
something like this. Call me 'Gene', okay? You know, 'Gene' like 'Gene Autry' the singing cowboy? And listen, whatever it takes, I'll do
everything I can to help out here. Must be one great guy to have landed you, what's his name?"
"Duo Maxwell." Heero's soul seemed to shriek something at him about finding out how Duo was, but the Soldier wasn't listening.
"Wait a minute." Gene stared thoughtfully out the windshield. "Now I remember why the name seemed familiar, you guys were both
Gundam pilots in the war, weren't you?"
"Guilty as charged," Heero answered blandly. "Does that make any difference?"
"Not to me it doesn't," Gene stated seriously. "Well, let me take that back, actually it *does*. I thought you five guys were crazy to put
your lives on the line for a bunch of selfish ignorant slobs who didn't appreciate what you were trying to do. As far as I was concerned,
you had the right idea to begin with and I'm damned proud to be able to help you out in any way I can."
Heero looked at him strangely. No one had ever told him these things personally, and he wasn't sure how to take it. But then he realized
it didn't matter, just getting the mission accomplished mattered and if Gene could make that happen, so be it.