Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is owned by Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency and probably a host of other folks I know nothing about.

Pairings: eventually 2x1

Comments: This fic takes place four years after Endless Waltz, so the pilots are all about 20 now. New Types are a part of the other varied Gundam universes, and though it was never "officially" part of GW, Quatre's empathy could be seen as sort of proof that New Types exist in this variation of the Gundam universe as well. (I like to think so, anyway!) Next part will be this weekend--a brief lemony interlude...

C&C much welcomed!

Growing Wings by LdySowan
Chapter 4


The compound was large, filled with open, airy windows that looked out on densely populated pine forest, but Duo didn't see much more than that. Half-dragged, half-carried, he saw out the windows in quick, dizzying patches. His hands were stinging, his fingers moving again, but his legs were the same numb dead-weight they'd been the instant Kael had turned the taser on him. He wasn't angry; he was past angry. He was helpless for the moment, but that moment wasn't going to last forever, and when the opportunity presented itself, he would kill Kael--as promised.

*You show a surprising amount of restraint, Shinigami. I didn't expect that coming from you.*

The goad was intended to make him fight, to push him into acting foolishly a second time. Duo ignored it, instead focusing his mind on the worst of the memories he had from the war. He had always been the most creative of the Gundam pilots, had always had the best knack for really seeing things that perhaps were better not seen. And he'd always had a strong memory. Once something was in his head, Duo Maxwell wasn't going to forget it. Maxwell Church came to mind, but he pushed that down. Best not to give his enemy any more personal information than he already had. Instead he called up, in as much detail as he could, the ruins of Sanq, the houses blasted open to reveal kitchens and bedrooms, the bodies of the people inside bloating in the summer heat because there were too many bodies and not enough people left to bury them. He recalled the smell, how it had hung on the air; the sound of the insects, the flies and mosquitoes and how they had hummed so loud that it was hard to think. He recalled the days of horror, cleaning up, unable to eat because the water was fouled, unable to eat because he couldn't--not in that place. The specifics were the worst--the face of a child, half-eaten away--

Kael made a short, coughing sound, like he was going to vomit, and dropped Duo carelessly to the floor, bracing his hands on his knees to breathe. When he was steady again, he turned to watch Duo. "Clever, Maxwell. I'm impressed."

He said it out loud, not in Duo's head, and Duo spared him a grim smile, holding the memory in place. If getting Kael out of his head was simply a matter of driving him out with past demons, Duo could handle that. After all, he'd lived through the reality of it once.

Finding his feet, Duo pushed himself up off the floor to lean against one of the wall, the concrete of it cool under his fingertips. He still couldn't feel his knees, but his arms were almost back to normal. The taser's effect lasted just under 4 minutes then, give or take. "Just a warning, Kael. I call myself Shinigami for a reason. If you can't handle that, I don't think you're going to like being in my head very much."

Kael's eyes narrowed, but he didn't say anything. He backed up a step, keeping his distance, as though somehow the dead girl in Duo's head could reach out and touch him in the here and now. Rattled, but not completely unnerved, he kept the taser at ready and gestured for Duo to walk.

Walk he did. He didn't need to have another taste of electricity to convince himself that it worked. The compound was huge. Other hallways branched off this one; down some of them Duo saw guards. Down others, just doorways and rooms. The whole place was white, spotless as some of the better hospitals he'd ever been in. It was also a maze, one that he made a point of trying to remember. The view outside the windows never changed. Everywhere he looked it was more pine trees. Sometimes, he saw patches of white--snow maybe--in the distance, but he saw no indications of roads or powerlines. Which was a bad sign. A place this big couldn't sustain itself, and the lack of wires and paved roads troubled him. The only place he'd seen as remote as this one seemed to be was the research base in the arctic where Zechs and Heero had had their famous 'duel'. Their first one. He'd lost count of how many times the two of them had clashed since then.

Remote meant hard to get out of, hard to slip away from. If there had been a road, or even power lines, he could have followed them even if he couldn't get his hands on a vehicle. But he wasn't much for orienteering in an open wilderness. Still, first things first.

Before he even tried to get out of here, he had to find out how many of these people there were, why they had sent Heero to the Preventer base, what crazy take-over-the-world scheme they had, and how to stop them. And then, maybe, if Heero hadn't really gone over to the dark side, he could get Heero and himself the hell out of here. And kill Kael.

He watched the other man out of the corner of his eye. Kael was still holding a good, careful distance, just out of reach for any decent hand-to-hand tricks. It was a shame, really, but since Duo was content to save further escape attempts for when he actually wanted them to succeed, he was relieved. If Kael had left him a decent opening, it would have been out of character not to try to take it. Occassionally, Kael's clouded and paled as he brushed against Duo's memory-shield, but he didn't try to talk inside Duo's head again either. Also not a problem as far as Duo was concerned.

When they stopped in front of one of the guarded doors, Kael stayed back, holding the taser at ready, while both of the guards closed on him, one taking each arm, half-pushing, half-carrying him into the room. He struggled and cursed, but only weakly. Better to let them all think that the earlier shock was lasting a little longer than it was.

He almost regretted his good sense when they strapped him down to the table, wrapping familiar magnetic restraints around his wrists and ankles. He had a thing about being tied down, and like Heero had on the shuttle, they knew what they were doing. He pulled experimentally against the heavy cuffs but could do little more than bow his back up off the table. Not good. His pleasure at having bested Kael faded some. "A little looser here would be nice, guys." One of them cuffed him, but other than that, they ignored him entirely while giving the room a thorough once-over.

When the guards left and the scientists came in, his mood sank a little more. He hated scientists, and these were as bad as any he'd had to deal with in the past: faceless behind thin paper masks and long white coats, they didn't even have the mad scientists' deformities to individualize them. One of them, he thought it was a woman, peeled the paper gown back probe at his chest with cold, strong fingers. "Hey! Lady, on your own time, please! I've got--"

"To keep your mouth open," one of the men finished for him, bracing hands on either side of his jaw, pushing a bite-block in place. A moment later, Duo felt the first needle go into his arm. He blinked, tried to take a deep breath, and felt his arms go heavy, then his legs, like some very gently, very heavy hand was pushing down on him.

"That's got him relaxed. Let's get the IV in." He felt the needle go into his hand, the pain still sharp and clear, but he couldn't even stir his fingers to fight it. The woman set her cold fingers against his throat, messaging it to force him to swallow. He tried, but couldn't.

Another voice, this one echoing in a dizzying way: "Intubate him so we can get going. We don't have all day."

He wanted to ask what the rush was. Where did crazy scientists go, anyway? The last group he'd met really had been like plague demons, arriving and leaving with no warning and just as little reason.

He felt the tube go in, slide down his throat in a single sweep. It didn't even hurt much. Way to go, he wanted to say. Man, I've had medics screw that up before, and it burned like a bitch afterwards. After the tube was in, it was easier to breathe, which was a good thing, because that was when the whole room burned away in a wave of white-hot fire.