Disclaimers:  I still don’t own anything.  David is mine, but no one else, at least no one that I’d want to call mine.  Who would
want Carl or Jack anyway?

Author’s notes:  Yes, the end is near.  Here is the mission to save Duo and Quatre.  I hope you enjoy.

Painful Memories
Part 14

Wufei half-listened as Heero once again explained the plan.  It was the third time they had gone over it.  Wufei really didn’t need
to listen to it again, he already knew what his job was to be.

“Everyone got it?”  Heero asked, finishing his speech, his voice back to its usual monotone.  He was back to the Heero that
Wufei had grown accustomed to, if only for a short time.  Right now, the only thing on his mind was this mission, the most
important mission of his life, saving the man he loved.  Trowa was the same, completely focused on the task ahead.  Wufei
found it encouraging to see both of them so ready for this.  At least neither of them looked as if they were ready to crack.

“We all got it the first two times you told us.”  Wufei replied.

“I just want to be sure that everything goes well.”  Heero said, pacing across the floor in front of the sofa.

“I want to come.”  David said.

“No.”  Wufei said, keeping his tone low, so as not to scare the boy.  They didn’t need to waste precious time searching for the
boy if he decided to run and hide again.

“But I want to help.”  David almost whined.

Wufei stood.  “It’s too dangerous.”

“But you’re just going to go in there shooting.  What if you kill some innocent person?  Not all of the people that work there are
bad like Nick.”  David protested, also rising to his feet, although somewhat slower than Wufei.

“We’ll only kill those people that make an attempt to stop us.  All others will be given every opportunity to escape unharmed.”  
Heero replied, sounding cold and emotionless.

“But . . .”  David said.

“Why is this so important to you?”  Trowa asked.

David lowered his head, staring at the floor.  “No reason.  I-I just don’t want to see any innocent people get hurt.”  He replied.

“Such a sweet kid.”  Hilde sighed.  “He’s concerned about innocent people getting hurt.”

“Yeah, he’s real sweet.”  Trowa replied.  “Now let’s get ready to go.”

“Okay.  Trowa, you and I will get the weapons.  Wufei you get the car ready, and Sally, could you get some supplies ready.  
First-aid kits, blankets . . . and anything else you can think of.”  Heero ordered.

“Wufei, I’ll need the other car.”  Trowa stated.

“Why?”  Catherine asked.

“I can’t bring Quatre back here.  If Duo’s going to be here, Quatre won’t be able to be around him for too long, because I’m
sure he’s already sick by now.  Who knows what condition we’ll find him in when we get there.”  He lowered his head,
obviously thinking of the possibilities.

Catherine took hold of his hand, and Trowa turned to her.  For a moment, Wufei thought he saw a smile, but it disappeared so
quickly.  Then each of them went their separate ways, each of them going about the jobs they had to do.  Relena went with
Sally, to help her get the supplies ready, while Hilde stayed with David.  And Catherine went upstairs, obviously to pack Trowa
and Quatre’s belongings.

A few minutes later, Wufei walked back into the safe house.  He had just gassed up the cars, making sure they were ready for a
quick escape if they needed one.  He saw Sally and Relena walking back into the room, Relena carrying two black backpacks.  
Catherine was standing near the door, dropping a large bag on the floor beside a small group of other bags, most likely the bags
all contained Trowa and Quatre’s belongings.  

Heero and Trowa walked down the stairs, each with a gun in one of their hands.  Heero also carried a large black bag with him,
but he tossed the bag to Wufei.  Wufei didn’t need to look inside, he knew it was full of explosives and detonators, along with a
weapon for him and a few spare ammunition clips.  They were going to make sure that no one was ever hurt in that place again.

Wufei looked over to the sofa, and saw David yawning.  “I believe it is time for our young friend to go to sleep.”  Wufei stated,
carefully laying the bag on the floor.

“But I’m not tired.”  David said, rubbing his eyes wearily.  “Besides, where would I sleep?”

“Well, since Quatre and Trowa won’t be coming back here, then there will be a spare room.”  Hilde stated.  “Duo and Heero
could share a room, since I doubt Heero will want to leave Duo alone.  Relena could take Trowa and Quatre’s room, Catherine
could take Duo’s, Wufei and David could share theirs, and I’ll bunk out here on the couch.”

“But you’re a girl.”  David stated.  “You should sleep in a bed.  I’m smaller, I'll sleep on the couch.”

“Look, I am not sharing a room with Wufei, no matter how attractive he is.”  Hilde said, and immediately afterwards, her face
turned a bright shade of red.  “I can’t believe I just said that.”

Wufei couldn’t help but feel flattered at her remark, even if she wasn’t his type.  He struggled against the blush that threatened
to spread across his own face.  He had never received such a comment, no one had ever complimented his looks before.

“Well, you could stay with Sally.”  David replied, yawning once again.

“No, you really should sleep in a bed.  It won’t do your bruises any good if you sleep on a sofa.”  Relena said.

“Okay, now that we have that settled, we should get going.”  Trowa said.

“I’ll take David upstairs.”  Wufei announced.  He turned to the sofa.  “Come on, David.”  But to his surprise, he found that
David was already asleep.

Wufei smiled slightly, seeing David sleeping there.  He gently lifted the boy into his arms, deciding it would probably be better if
he carried him.  David must have been exhausted, he did have a long and hard day.  

He didn’t say a word as he walked past the other pilots, going up the stairs.  He walked down the hall, and without much
difficulty was able to open the door to his own room without awakening the boy he cradled in his arms.

As he laid David on his bed, the boy’s eyes fluttered open.  “You’re going now?”  He asked, sleepily.

“Yes, but unlike Trowa I will return.”  Wufei said, pulling the blankets up to David’s chest.  He could see a hint of fear
remaining in David’s half-closed eyes.  “Do not worry, if you need anything, the girls will be here.  They will not hurt you.”

“I’m sorry.”  David said, hugging the bear he still held.

“For what?”  Wufei asked.

David looked away.  “For being so much trouble.”

“There is no need to be sorry.  What happened to you was not your fault, and helping people is what I do.”  Wufei answered.

“What’s going to happen to me now?”  David asked, looking up at Wufei with a fear filled expression.  “What are you going to
do with me?”

Wufei smiled.  “We are going to help you, make sure you grow up to be a strong person.  But of course, that is only if you want
our help.  Do you want our help?”

“Yes.”  David nodded, timidly.  “I’d like that.”  He yawned, his eyes closing slightly more.

Wufei backed away from the bed.  “I will see you soon, David.  Sleep well.”

Wufei moved to switch off the lights, but David stopped him.  “Please leave them on.”  He said, a hint of fear remaining in his

Wufei looked at him kindly, wishing he could offer the boy some amount of comfort.  But he knew there was really nothing he
could do.  “There is nothing to fear here, David.  But if it will make you feel better, I will leave the lights on.”

“Thank you.”  David said.

Wufei turned and left the room, closing it behind him.  He walked through the hallway again, going back down the stairs.  As he
entered the living room, he saw that he had walked into the center of an argument.  Trowa and Catherine were glaring at each
other.  Hilde was standing between the two of them in an obvious attempt to calm both of them down.

“What’s going on now?”  Wufei asked, as he approached the group.

“Catherine wants to come.”  Trowa said.

“I don’t remember asking your permission.  I’m telling you that I’m coming with you.  No matter what you say, I’m still going
to come.”  Catherine replied, not backing down.

Trowa sighed.  “Catherine, we don’t have time . . .”

“To argue.”  She said, finishing his sentence.  “I know that.  I also know that you’re going to be too worried about Quatre to
drive.  You can’t take care of him and drive at the same time.  So I’ll do the driving for you.”  

Trowa raised his hands in defeat.  “Fine.  Just don’t get yourself hurt.  Stay in the car.”  He held his gun out to her.  “Just in
case you need it.”  Catherine tried to push the weapon away, but Trowa just pushed it back into her palm.  “Don’t argue with
me about this.  I just want to be sure you have some sort of protection, even if you don’t use it.”

Catherine wrapped her fingers around the weapon, looking at it as if it were a snake ready to bite her.  “All right, but I’m not
going to use it.”  She said.

“Fine.”  Trowa replied as he pulled a second gun from behind his back.  Wufei wasn’t surprised that he had more than one gun.  
Wufei himself usually carried several with him.

“Time to go.”  Heero said, snapping Wufei’s attention to the pilot standing by the door.

Quickly, they each said their goodbyes to the girls, then went to the cars.  Trowa and Catherine grabbed the bags that she had
left on the floor and took them out to one of the cars, placing them in the trunk.  Wufei picked up his own bag from where he
had left it earlier, placing it in the trunk of the other car, before he got into the driver’s seat.  Beside him, Heero sat in silence,
never uttering a single word throughout the drive to the Imperial Hotel.  Soon it would be over, Wufei thought.  And hopefully
they would find their friends still alive.


Trowa looked up at the building that towered over them.  “So this is the Imperial Hotel?”  He said, not really caring if anyone
replied.  It just seemed like any ordinary building.  To the passerby, it was just a hotel, not a home for prostitutes, a brothel
where people sold their bodies for money, some of them unwillingly.

Trowa turned, feeling something brush against his arm.  He grabbed the black backpack that Wufei was holding out to him,
slinging it over his shoulder.  He noticed that Heero was also ready, his gun drawn, the other backpack hanging at his back.  
Wufei also carried a bag, his filled with explosives and detonators.  At least no one else would ever be hurt in this place ever
again, not after tonight.

Wufei nodded, in a silent statement telling Trowa that it was time to get started.  “Remember.”  Wufei warned.  “Only kill those
that deliberately try to stop us.”

Trowa drew his gun.  “Right.”  He agreed.  He took one look back at one of the cars, seeing Catherine sitting in the driver’s
seat.  She smiled at him, offering a small hint of encouragement in her shimmering eyes.

Trowa turned back to the hotel, beginning the short walk to the building with Wufei and Heero walking on either side of him.  
They walked through the doors, into the lobby.  Trowa noticed the lack of people.  Apparently, Carl had already begun moving
his employees out.  But none of these people looked to be in very good condition.  Many of them were shaking, just lying around
on the couches or sitting in chairs around the lobby.  Trowa knew the signs, these people were all addicts.  Carl must have
moved out his best employees first, saving the rest for later, unless he never intended to take any of them with him at all.

“Everybody out!”  Heero shouted.  Several faces turned to look at them, but none made a move.  “Now!”  Heero added, raising
his gun.  He didn’t fire, however.

Even though he didn’t fire it, seeing the gun was apparently enough to scare these people.  They started running, all of them
heading for the doors that the three pilots stood in front of.  However, one person stopped in front of them.

She was just a girl, roughly twelve years old, no older than David.  She wore a pure white dress.  It was sleeveless and simple,
just a plain white dress cinched tight at the waist.  The hem was slightly frayed, pieces of thread hanging down at the edges.  
Trowa could see that there was a bow at the back, but he couldn’t see much of it.  Her long ebony hair was tied back in an
intricate braid, with a white bow decorating it.  By looking at her features, Trowa thought that she looked to be of Chinese
descent.  Her eyes were warm and brown, and they told Trowa she was not one of Carl’s willing employees.  

He wondered how much this girl had suffered.  There was so much pain reflected in her eyes, although they still retained a
strong warmth.  She, unlike the rest of the people that had been in the lobby, was not an addict.  She looked perfectly healthy, a
little thin, but otherwise, healthy.  And there was an innocent quality about her, some strange feeling that Trowa just could not

“You’re looking for Duo, right?  And that blonde?”  She said, without a single hint of fear.

“Where are they?”  Heero demanded, grabbing her left arm roughly.

The girl only smiled, her hand reaching up to her chest to grab the necklace that hung from around her neck.  It was a sterling
sliver dream catcher, with three silver feathers hanging from the bottom of it.  A small piece of Amber was set in it, slightly off-
center.  The girl played with the silver feathers, sliding her small fingers around the pieces of metal.

Trowa turned his attention to Heero.  Anger was burning in the pilot’s blue eyes.  He was obviously losing what little patience he
had.  Trowa knew that if this girl didn’t answer soon, Heero might do something that he’d regret later.

“Where are they?”  Trowa asked, repeating Heero’s question, while he looked back at the girl.

“I’ll only answer if he lets go of my arm.  He’s hurting me.”  She said, her voice devoid of fear and emotion.

Heero didn’t let go.  Trowa turned to him, placing a hand on his shoulder.  “Let go.”  Trowa said.

“No, she might get away.”  Heero answered, staring intently at the girl.

Wufei stood on Heero’s other side.  He grabbed Heero’s arm, the one that held so tightly to the girl’s.  “Don’t be like the
bastards that hurt Duo.  You are hurting the girl.  Can’t you see that?”

Heero visibly flinched, the words apparently sinking in.  He closed his eyes for a moment, then dropped her arm.  Trowa saw
the huge red mark that Heero’s grip had left on her arm, the imprint his fingers had made on her skin.  She took her other hand
away from her necklace and placed it over the fresh bruise that was forming.

The girl turned her head.  She pointed to a door with one of her hands.  “That door leads to the basement.”  She said, her voice
totally calm, as if she weren’t afraid of Heero or what he might do to her.  “They’re both down there.”

“How do we know this isn’t a trap?”  Heero asked.

The girl smiled again.  “All you need to know is that I’m a friend and that they’re in the basement.  Bye.”  She waved slightly,
then took off running.  She was quick, faster than Trowa had expected, and she was able to get past all three of them.  

It didn’t really matter where she went anyway, they were only here to get Duo and Quatre.  He looked to the door the girl had
pointed out.  “So, should we believe her?”  Wufei asked.

“We have no choice.”  Trowa answered, knowing that it was the truth.  Her information was the only lead they had to go on.

“We’ll split up here.”  Heero said.  “Trowa and I will go down to the basement.  Wufei, you set the explosives and get any
remaining people out of this building.  We don’t need any innocent people getting hurt.”

Wufei nodded and walked away, as Trowa and Heero made their way to that door.  Heero kicked it open, not even bothering to
check if it was locked or not.  Trowa didn’t see anybody, just a set of stairs.  The two of them quickly walked downstairs, their
guns always ready.

Only minutes later, they reached another door.  And Heero once again kicked it open.  There was a long hallway before them.  
But again, they didn’t see any people.  However, Trowa did notice that there was one open door.

“Look.”  Trowa said, pointing  toward the open door.

“I see it.  Should we check it out?”  Heero replied.

“Might as well, someone must have opened it.”  Trowa answered, taking a step out into the hallway.

They approached the open door slowly, Trowa expecting at any minute that someone would jump out at them.  But of course,
that was a natural reaction.  When raised by mercenaries, you tend to believe that there is always someone ready to ambush you.

Trowa reached out, pushing the door open all the way.  At the sight before him, his legs gave way and he slumped to the floor,
nearly passing out from the shock.  Lying on an old mattress across from the door and covered slightly by a thin blanket, was
his beloved Quatre.  His beautiful blue eyes were staring up at the ceiling above him, his pale face expressionless and blank.

“Oh, God, no.”  Trowa mumbled, pushing himself up and stumbling over to his angel’s side.  

Quatre looked dead, lying there so still.  Trowa reached out, pressing his fingers to Quatre’s throat, praying to a God he didn’t
believe in that his love was still alive.  Tears burned the corners of his eyes and he sighed in relief when he found the pulse,
weak but persistent.  But within that relief was a new terror.  His Quatre was not responsive in any way.  He didn’t blink, didn’t
make a single move, nothing.  

“Quatre?”  Trowa said, his mind bordering on sheer panic.  What had happened?  How much suffering had he sensed?

But there was no answer.  

Trowa grabbed Quatre’s shoulders, frantically shaking him.  He desperately wanted him to snap out of it, to do something,
anything to tell Trowa that he heard him.  “Quatre?!  Answer me!  Please!”  He begged, his tears now falling freely from his

A hand grabbed his shoulder from behind, pulling hin back away from Quatre.  “Trowa, calm down.  Quatre does not need to
feel any more negative emotions right now.  You have to get control of yourself.”  Heero said.

Trowa took several deep breaths, knowing that Heero was right.  He had to calm down, if only for Quatre’s sake.  He looked to
his blonde angel, trying to suppress the hatred that boiled within him, the hatred for that bastard that had hurt Quatre so terribly.

He took hold of one of Quatre’s hands, and noticed that it was balled into a fist.  He looked down at it carefully.  Something
white was sticking out from between his fingers, a piece of paper.  Trowa carefully opened his hand, frowning when he felt no
resistance, and took out what Quatre had held.  It was a small note and two keys.

Quickly, he read the note.  “Duo is at the end of the hall.  Hurry!  Jack is going to kill him!”  It was signed, “A Friend.”

Trowa handed the note and the keys over to Heero, and watched as a hate filled expression crossed the other pilot’s face.  “You
get Quatre out of here.”  Heero said.  He turned.  When he got to the doorway, he turned back.  “Take care of him, Trowa.”

“I will.”  Trowa answered quietly, hoping that his angel would be able to find his way back sometime soon.

Trowa looked back to Quatre.  He slid the backpack he had carried off his shoulders, and opened it, searching around the inside
for anything that would be of use.  He pulled out the first-aid kit and opened it.

He had seen the blood on Quatre’s ear, the bruise on one of his cheeks.  That bastard Carl had hurt him, not much physically,
but still he had made Quatre suffer.  Trowa wanted to beat the crap out of him, to make him pay for everything he had done, not
only to Quatre and Duo, but to all those nameless others as well.

Trowa pushed his anger away, forcing it back.  He didn’t need Quatre to feel his anger, to suffer because of his negative
feelings.  He took the antiseptic out of the first-aid kit and opened it.  He then took some gauze and dampened it with the
antiseptic.  Carefully, he cleaned the blood off Quatre’s throat, off the bite mark in his ear.

Once he was done, he tossed the backpack over his shoulder, after having thrown the first-aid kit back in.  Carefully, he lifted
Quatre into his arms, keeping the blanket wrapped around his bare body.  He left the room, and walked back up the stairs, all the
time wishing for Heero to make that bastard pay.

He passed by Wufei on the way out.  The Chinese pilot was pushing some kid toward the door, telling him to get out while he
still could.  But when he saw Trowa, he stopped.  “Is he okay?”  Wufei asked, gesturing to Quatre’s motionless body.

“I don’t think so.”  Trowa answered, keeping the fear and anger out of his voice.  “He’s not responsive.”  

“I suggest you get him out of here then.  I expect to see him well the next time we meet.”  Wufei answered, offering the
slightest of smiles.

Trowa didn’t respond.  His only concern was Quatre.  He took the Arabian out of the hotel, walking straight to the car awaiting
him.  Catherine hopped out of the driver’s seat and ran around, opening the back door.  Trowa said nothing, not even thanking
her, as he got into the seat.  He let Catherine close the door when he was all the way inside, with Quatre curled up against his
body.  He held Quatre so gently against himself, as if he would break if Trowa held on too tightly.

She got back into the driver’s seat and started the engine.  No one said a word as she pulled out onto the street.  No one said
anything as she drove away from the hotel.  All that time, Trowa only stared at his love, gently caressing one of his pale cheeks
with his hand, wishing for him to get better soon.


Duo turned his head, hearing the door opening.  His unknown friend had left several minutes ago, saying that he couldn’t be
caught helping Duo, even if he had only been talking to him.  What an odd coincidence, Duo thought.  Now that his eyes could
focus, that guy was gone.  Now he probably would never know who had been so kind to him, who had risked his life to help
him by keeping him awake.

Duo’s eyes widened, seeing who now stood over him.  It was Jack, the bleached blonde punk that had nearly gotten him killed.  
His one eye was twitching, his hands fidgeting.  Apparently, it was almost time for his next scheduled fix.  Duo could see that
there were mild rope burns on his wrists, probably caused by one of Jack’s new, rougher, clients.

“Still alive?”  He asked.  “I should have made sure you were dead back then.”

He brought his foot up, then kicked Duo hard in the side.  The force of the kick caused Duo to roll over onto his side, struggling
to take in a breath.  But he didn’t get a chance to breathe, as Jack continued to kick him, over and over again.  Finally, after only
a few short, but agonizing minutes, Jack stopped.  Duo struggled to push himself up, knowing he had to try and defend
himself.  But yet another kick to his stomach toppled him once again.

“Did I tell you to get up?”  Jack hissed, slamming his foot down on Duo’s arm.  If it hadn’t been broken before, it sure was
now.  Duo heard the loud snap as the bone in his arm broke.  He coughed, unable to scream as a wave of fresh pain shot up to
his shoulder.

Jack took his foot away.  Duo pulled his arm against his chest, coughing, gasping for breath, the pain in his arm so intense.  He
felt something warm and wet touch his arm, and he looked down at his body.  His eyes widened, seeing the blood flowing from
his stomach.  Jack had kicked him hard enough, and so many times, that he had reopened that surgery incision that had been

Jack leaned over him, dangling something before his eyes.  Duo looked up, seeing the rope that Jack waved in front of his face.  
Jack walked around Duo, standing behind him.  He pulled Duo up by his hair, lifting him to his knees.  Duo shuddered, hearing
the sound of a zipper being undone.  He fought against the scream that ached to be let out as Jack pushed up into him.

“I hate being tied down, Duo.  And that’s what all those clients do.”  Jack said, as he used Duo's body.  “My father used to tie
me down.  Used to tie me down when he wanted me for his own pleasure.  But I killed him.  Just like I’ll kill you.”  

Duo gasped, feeling the rope being wrapped around his throat.  “No.”  Duo mumbled, before the rope was tightened, before any
other words he wanted to say were stopped.

“This was the rope he used, my father.”  Jack said, still pleasuring himself with Duo’s broken body.  “And this was the rope I
killed him with.  I saved it, never knew why.  But now I’m glad I did.”  With that last word, he pulled the rope even tighter,
cutting off all air.

Duo lifted his one good hand, trying to pry the rope away from his throat, but he just couldn’t do it.  His fingers kept slipping
away from the rope.  He kept losing his grip.  Duo struggled for air, but couldn’t take in a single gasp.  And soon, his vision
started going dark.


Heero walked down the hallway.  He had just left Trowa in that room where they had found Quatre.  Heero had seen the
condition the blonde was in.  He knew that it must have taken a great deal of suffering to make him retreat into his own mind
like that.  He must have been feeling so much, too much for him to handle.  And if Quatre was in that condition, then Duo must
be worse, maybe even dead by now.  Heero prayed that he wasn’t too late.  Who knew how long ago that note had been left?

Heero quickened his pace, deciding that he couldn’t waste any time.  Duo needed him.  And whoever had hurt him, had to pay,
had to die for all he had done.  

Heero stopped, staring for a second at the door in front of him.  It was the last door at the end of the hall.  Hopefully this was
the one he was looking for.  He pulled out the keys that had been found along with the note.  One key was smaller, obviously not
for the lock on this door, so he shoved it into his pocket.  Then he pushed the remaining key into the lock.  Once unlocked, he
took a breath, preparing himself for the worst, hoping he would find Duo alive.

He turned the doorknob, pushing the door open.  His heart nearly stopped as he looked into the room, seeing what lay before
him.  Duo’s body was horribly beaten, his bruised face almost unrecognizable.  If not for the long chestnut hair, Heero might
not have realized it was him.  A man was standing behind Duo, raping him, strangling him.  He hadn’t noticed Heero yet.  The
man’s eyes were closed, his attention probably more focused on the pain he was causing Duo, than on the man that stood in the

As Heero stood there, his body unable to move from the shock of seeing his love being hurt so badly right before his eyes, Duo’
s eyes closed shut.  He had been pulling at the rope that was cutting off his source of air.  But now, his fingers slipped away
from the rope around his neck.  His hand fell limply, just dangling there a few inches above the ground, swaying as that bastard
continued to use him.

Heero leapt forward, the rage inside of him exploding.  He dropped his gun, not caring where it landed, and grabbed that
bastard.  He pulled him away from Duo and down to the floor, hitting him over and over again, not giving him a chance to
attempt to defend himself.  Heero didn’t hear anything, didn’t see anything, but the bastard that had hurt Duo.  He didn’t know
how long he had punched him, how many times he had struck that hideous face, and it truly didn’t matter.  He had to die for
hurting Duo, for ever causing him to suffer.  

Heero’s hands found their way around the bleached-blonde punk’s throat, showing him the same treatment he had given Duo by
forcing all air out of him.  The man struggled against him, but it was no use, Heero already had the upper hand.  Heero kept
squeezing, not stopping until he heard a distinctive snap, telling him that the man’s neck was broken.   

And even after he knew that the man was dead, he didn’t stop.  Tears formed in his eyes, falling onto the lifeless body beneath
him.  Heero’s hands were still around the man’s throat, his fingers still digging deep into the skin of his neck.  The man’s death
had been too easy.  He should have suffered more, should have felt more pain.  It was too easy.

Something at the edge of his perception moved, and Heero turned.  Heero gasped in delight, seeing that Duo was still alive.  His
eyes were still closed, but he was reaching up, moving his hand toward the rope that was tightly wrapped around his throat.

Heero let go of that bastard he had just killed, and half stumbled, half crawled, over to Duo’s side.  He pulled a knife from his
pocket, flipping it open quickly.  Just as quickly, he pulled the rope slightly away from Duo’s throat.  But he moved carefully as
he cut off the rope, not wanting to risk hurting Duo.  

He pulled the rope from around Duo’s neck, and laid the knife on the floor.  Then quickly, he pulled that other key from his
pocket, unlocking the shackle around Duo’s ankle.  Gently, he shook Duo’s shoulder, trying to rouse him as gently as possible.  
Heero didn’t want to hurt him, he already looked to be in so much pain.

Duo’s eyes slowly opened.  He looked up at Heero, fear reflected in their cobalt depths.  It was as if he weren’t seeing Heero, as
if he thought he was somebody else.  Duo pushed him away, pressing his own body against the wall behind him, as he struggled
to get away from Heero.  He was panicking, his breath ragged, as he whimpered in fear.

“Duo.”  Heero said, gently grabbing Duo’s shoulders.  “It’s me, Duo.  It’s Heero.”  

Duo looked up at him, as if examining him closely.  His eyes squinted, but at least he had stopped his struggles.  He reached out
with a shaky hand, touching one of Heero’s cheeks with his fingers, as if to make sure that Heero was truly there.  “Heero?”  He
asked, his voice barely a whisper, sounding gravelly.

“It’s me.”  Heero replied.

An instant later, Duo threw himself at Heero, wrapping his one arm around him, holding him as tightly as he possibly could.  
Heero could feel the tears against his shoulders, the shivering of Duo’s beaten body.  He wrapped his own arms around Duo
carefully, afraid to hold too tightly.  

After letting Duo calm down a little, Heero gently pushed him away.  Duo was looking at him with fear in his eyes, as if trying to
understand why Heero wouldn’t hold him.  “It’s okay Duo.”  Heero tried to reassure him.  “I just want to make sure that you’re
all right.  Then we can leave.  Okay?”

“No.”  He struggled to say, his voice hoarse and cracking.  “Quatre?”

“Trowa got him out.”  Heero said, then his mind immediately thought of the condition they had found the blonde in.  “What the
Hell happened to him?”

Duo was crying, his tears falling from his chin as he fought to speak.  “Carl . . . found out . . . that he was an empath . . . He . .
. made him . . . watch.”  He shivered, pulling Heero closer to him.  “It’s so cold.”

Heero’s eyes widened, hearing what had happened to the blonde.  But he kept his arms around Duo, pushing his rage down.  He
didn’t want to scare Duo, didn’t want him to think that he was mad at him.  All his rage was directed toward Carl, to that
bastard that had hurt Duo and Quatre.  Heero wanted to find him and make him suffer, but Duo was more important at the
moment.  He had to keep the long-haired pilot calm, had to get him out of this place soon.

After a few moments, he gently pushed Duo away once again.  “I just want to take a look at your wounds.  Okay?”

Duo nodded.

Heero laid him down on the floor, wanting to get a look at as much of him as he could.  Duo’s body trembled, as Heero looked
him over.

Heero frowned, seeing all the bruises, all the cuts and scratches.  Duo’s left arm was broken, and the surgical incision in his
abdomen had reopened.  Heero pulled the backpack from off his shoulders, and pulled out the first-aid kit from inside.

He knew he had to stop that bleeding, or at the very least try.  If he didn’t do anything, Duo wouldn’t make it back to the safe
house.  He pulled out some gauze, then helped Duo to sit up.  He wrapped the gauze around Duo’s body tightly, trying to stop
the flow of blood.  Duo gasped at the pain, but didn’t move away, didn’t try to stop him.

Then Heero turned his attention to the broken arm.  It must hurt like hell, he thought as he looked at it.  “This is going to hurt.”  
Heero said as he lifted the broken limb.  “You ready?”

Duo nodded.  

Heero placed his hands on either side of the break and quickly pulled on the arm, setting the bone.  Duo flinched, his whole body
going rigid for a moment before he fell limply to his side, unconscious.  Heero caught him as he fell, lowering him slowly to the
floor, as he still held on to Duo’s arm so that he wouldn’t have to set it again.  Quickly, he pulled items out of the first-aid kit,
creating a makeshift splint.  It would be good enough for now, at least until they could get to Sally and have her make him a new

As Heero was throwing things back into the bag, Duo’s eyes fluttered open.  His eyes darted around wildly for a moment, until
they finally settled on Heero.  He reached out to Heero, grabbing his arm and pulling him closer to him.  Heero frowned, seeing
Duo so scared of being alone, thinking that Heero would have left him in this awful place.  Heero held him gently, waiting for
him to calm down again.

“So, this is the sweet-eyed Japanese boy that has your heart.  He doesn’t look like much to me.”  Someone said from behind

Heero turned and faced the unknown man, feeling Duo begin to tremble even more as he pressed himself even closer to Heero’s
body.  “Carl.”  Duo shuddered, digging his fingers into the back of Heero’s shoulder as his body shook.

Heero’s eyes narrowed in hatred as he watched the man walk into the room, a gun in his hand.  Heero regretted tossing his own
gun away, but there was nothing he could do about it now.  He would just have to wait for an opportunity to kill this bastard,
without risking Duo’s safety.  

Heero stood as Carl approached them, keeping his body in front of Duo.  He couldn’t let Duo get hurt, not by this man, not
again.  He had to protect him, even if it meant getting himself killed in the process.  

Carl smiled, “I guess I can see it now.”  He said, his eyes looking Heero over from top to bottom and then back up.  “He has a
sort of dark beauty . . . dangerous . . . almost like a wild panther ready to strike.  He could make me a great deal of money.  
There are people who would pay for such beauty  . . . ”

“I’d never do anything for something as disgusting as you.”  Heero spat, interrupting Carl.  He didn’t want to hear any more.  It
was bad enough that he was in the same room as this monster.

Carl stood in front of Heero, his eyes staring deep into Heero’s.  Without saying a word, Carl raised his hand.  He brought the
back of that hand down across Heero’s cheek, causing his head to jerk slightly to the right.  Heero didn’t even flinch at the slap,
it only stung a little.  

However, Heero’s eyes widened, as Carl's hand traveled over his chest, moving down along the front of his body.  Heero didn’t
move, not wanting this bastard to hurt Duo instead.  If this had to happen for him to save Duo, then so be it.  He would sacrifice
his own life if it meant Duo would get out of this alive.

Heero struggled to keep his breath normal, completely disgusted by the man that was touching him.  However, when Carl's
fingers dipped underneath the waistband of Heero’s shorts, Heero lost control.  He violently shoved Carl away, for a moment not
thinking of the possible consequences of his actions.  He was just so totally disgusted that he had to get that man away from his

“Feisty, huh?  I like that.  It’ll be so much more fun to break you in.”  Carl smiled, evilly.

Carl took one step, and then a loud bag rang out.  Heero looked at Carl, his mouth hanging open, as he saw the bleeding gunshot
wound in the man’s chest.  There were several more shots, the bullets all hitting Carl in the chest before he had a chance to fall
dead to the floor.

Heero looked down at Duo, watching as the American repeatedly pulled the trigger, not stopping even after all the bullets were
gone.  Heero hadn’t even realized that Duo had picked up his gun, hadn’t even known where he had dropped it himself.

He knelt beside Duo, listening to the clicking sound as Duo continued to pull the trigger on the empty weapon.  His eyes were
staring at Carl, and he was speaking, babbling in a raspy voice.  “I couldn’t let Carl do that.  Heero didn’t do anything to deserve
that.  He couldn’t hurt Heero.  I couldn’t let him.”  He continued on like that, just going on and on.

Heero laid his hands on Duo’s, prying the gun away from his trembling fingers.  He reached over to the backpack, and pulled
out a blanket.  Quickly, he wrapped it around Duo’s shoulders, knowing he couldn’t waste any time.  He had to get Duo out
quick.  He was obviously going into shock.

Heero slung the backpack over his shoulders, then lifted Duo into his arms.  As he walked past Carl’s dead body, Duo leaned
over and spat on it.  “I told you I’d kill you.”  Duo whispered.

Heero just kept walking, looking down at Duo every few seconds.  After walking a short way, Duo slipped into
unconsciousness.  Heero wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.  Hopefully, Duo would survive this.  He didn’t want to
lose Duo now.


Wufei stared at the doors to the hotel, wondering if Heero had found Duo yet.  He turned the detonator over in his hands,
waiting impatiently.  He remembered how Quatre had looked, staring at nothing, his eyes vacant.  How much suffering had he
witnessed?  How much had it taken to drive his mind away?  Wufei hoped that Heero had found that Carl person and killed him.

Wufei’s thoughts were broken as he saw Heero walk out of the hotel, carrying Duo in his arms.  There was a distinct hand print
on Heero’s cheek.  Someone had obviously hit him.  And whoever it had been was probably dead now.  

Wufei then looked at the American, a frown spreading across his face, as he saw the condition of his friend.  Duo was covered
in bruises and wounds.  There was a deep red mark around his throat where his skin had been rubbed raw, most likely by a rope
of some kind.  That would turn into a nasty bruise soon.

He opened one of the doors to the backseat.  Heero carefully climbed in, holding Duo protectively against his body.  Once both
were inside, Wufei closed the door.  He turned and walked around the other side of the car.  

As he looked up at the hotel again, he pressed the button on the detonator.  An instant later the hotel was destroyed by a massive
implosion.  A cloud of dark smoke and dust filled the sky, as the building crumbled.  Wufei knew just how to set explosives so
that an implosion was made.  It seemed appropriate in this circumstance, no innocent people needed to get hurt when the
building was destroyed.  He had made sure to get the people out as he was setting the explosives.  Hopefully, he hadn’t missed
anybody.  But it was too late to dwell on that thought.  The building was already destroyed.

Quickly, he climbed into the driver’s seat.  “How is he?”  Wufei asked, looking in the rearview mirror to see Heero’s face.

“Not good.  He’s gone into shock.”  Heero replied, his voice filled with worry.

Wufei didn’t waste a second.  He started the car and sped away from what remained of the hotel.  Duo needed medical
assistance, and only Sally could help.  They had to get back to the safe house quickly.

As he drove, Wufei heard Heero talking.  “Don’t you leave me, Duo.”  He whimpered.  Wufei glanced in the rearview mirror and
noticed a tear fall from Heero’s eye.  “Don’t leave me, not after all we went through getting together.  If you die, I’ll die.”

“No.”  Duo mumbled, as he slowly pulled himself back into consciousness.

Wufei split his attention between the road ahead of him and the pilot in the backseat.  Duo flailed out, his one hand colliding with
Heero’s face.  Heero merely grasped the hand, holding it in one of his own, as Duo continued to move around.  He thrashed
about, trying to get out of Heero’s grasp, as if Heero was hurting him in some way.  Wufei stopped the car, deciding that he had
better help Heero before Duo hurt himself further.

He leaned over the backseat, grabbing the bag that Heero had beside him on the seat.  He reached in, pulling out a syringe and a
small glass bottle.  Without wasting a moment, he unwrapped the syringe and filled it with liquid from the bottle, then he finished
preparing the needle.

As he grabbed Duo’s arm, the American cried out, his voice raspy and fear-filled.  “No, Carl, please don’t.”  He whimpered,
thrashing about in an attempt to get away from both Heero and Wufei.

“He’s delirious.”  Wufei commented, although he hadn’t needed to say it.  It was plainly obvious.  “He still thinks that Carl has

Wufei struggled to hold on to Duo’s arm as the pilot fought against him.  He pushed the needle into his arm, injecting the liquid
into him.  Hopefully, it wouldn’t take too long for the sedatives to work.  Duo did not need to hurt himself further with his own
actions.  He was hurt badly enough as it was.

Slowly, Duo calmed down, his eyelids closing once more.  “Heero?”  He whispered as sleep overtook him.  “Where are you?  
Why won’t you save me?”

Wufei noticed the frown spreading across Heero’s face.  But he had nothing to say, nothing that could offer even the tiniest bit
of comfort to the other pilot.  So, instead, he just turned around, taking his place in the driver’s seat and once again starting the

“I’m right here, Duo.”  Heero said, as Wufei pulled out onto the road.  “You’re safe now.”

But Duo was already asleep by then, murmuring a few last sentences before he completely slipped into unconsciousness.  “No,
Carl.  Please don’t make Quatre watch.  He doesn’t need to see me like this.”  He said, his words trailing off, becoming so quiet
that Wufei almost hadn’t heard.

Inwardly, Wufei fumed, wishing he could have beaten that Carl bastard himself.  Duo and Quatre were his friends, and no one
hurt his friends without being punished severely.  Hopefully, Heero had killed him, shown him just the smallest bit of the
treatment he had shown Duo.

Wufei turned his attention back to the road, and pressed his foot down on the accelerator.  No need to worry about getting a
ticket.  Only Duo’s health mattered at the moment.  Hopefully they would get back in time to save him.  He was in serious need
of medical attention.  

To Be Continued . . .