A/N: Nope, not dead just yet. Let's hope I stay that way.

WARNINGS: SOOOOOOO SLOW OF UPDATING. I'm sorry but I am addicted to Naruto. Also, for some reason Heero has turned into Ricky Ricardo.

Previously In Prodigy (because Prodigy's long and I DON'T UPDATE):

In the WHOLE FRIGGIN' STORY: Heero (and, by bizarre "luck", Duo) know how to make a super-explosive called Nightfire that OZ, inc. really, REALLY wants, thus sending (a) a spy (see: Wuffles), and then (b) a bomb specialist (see: Hilde), and then (c) an agent (see: Noin) to try and get it. Quatre's dad is a cartel drug lord, and Trowa is a JAR FULL OF MYSTERY SOUP. Wufei is utterly Duo's bitch after he got duct taped to the fridge door and scared shitless by Duo getting ANGRY post-explosion, Heero is madly in love with Duo, Duo is also a mystery soup but with extra stained glass enigma, and Quatre just wants his boyfriend to stop LYING, dammit!, and Relena is…very much an enigma at this point as well! Anyway. Everyone else is either (a) not yet introduced, or (b) EVIL! Or, you know, (c) Dead-and-or-not-appearing-in-this-fanfic.

In JUST the last chapter(s): After a dangerous encounter with OZ, inc in the hospital which exchanged "hostages" (Wufei for Quatre) and left Trowa dangerously comatose, Duo is chomping at the bit to get Wufei back, and the only thing keeping him from running after his friend is Heero, who swore to "take care" of Duo for Wufei. Quatre, however, seems to be on Duo's 'charge in, get Wufei back, and fuck them all' platform after being roughed up and seeing what they did to his catatonic boyfriend-but-not-because-he-is-a-LIAR-angst-emo-woe. The three conscious kids have decided to finally stop running and take the fight to OZ, and Treize totally has a crush on 'Fei.

Oh, and pretty much everyone is gay. Yaaaaaaaaay gay.


Chapter 16

Like Heroes Dread

It usually takes people a while to enter the wreckage that comes after a massive shootout. That while can generally be considered the 'life preserver' period, usually somewhere around 75 of the time the actual fight lasted. It's during this time that people assess if the shootout is really over, if it's safe to venture forth and stare at the refuse left behind, be it broken bottles or mutilated bodies.

In this case, the hospital hallway was left eerily silent for nearly ten minutes, and by the time a nurse tiptoed her shaky way into the ripped apart hospital room, the only things left inside were a wall of torn cables and a bill that stated quite apologetically that all repair bills should be forwarded to Winner Enterprises, using specific enough terminology that the hospital could get nothing but the money for repairs, the signature beneath ensuring that the company couldn't get out of it.

While the nurse stared out the shattered window, she failed to notice the hurrying figures of three young men pushing a gurney through the parking lot, one catatonic young man staring blankly at the sky as they shoved him across the asphalt.

"Damn it, if we could just use my car we could dump him in the trunk and steal a van in a theater parking lot or something," Duo groaned as they avoided another island of foliage in the sea of pavement.

"Car bombs are very easy to put in, and your car's been caught on at least one security video showing us involved with the vehicle," Heero stated. It was probably the fifth time he'd explained why they couldn't just go rambling around in Duo's old car.

"Not to mention your apartment," Quatre added. Probably the third time, at least.

"What do you think I am, a fucking goldfish?!" Duo snapped, twisting the gurney toward a big green van. "I GET it, you don't have to tell me over and over again." Without even sparing a glance to either of them, he headed for the driver's side door, handing his area of the gurney over to Quatre.

"Do you think we should leave a note?" Quatre asked, frowning. Duo simply shook his head, putting a hand inside his braid and frowning as he searched the plaits.

"…What are you doing?" Heero asked despite himself, only to receive a wink and a grin as Duo pulled a thin strand of metal from somewhere near the end of his braid. The teenager twisted the metal sharply and jammed it into the key lock, quickly jimmying it and opening the door, then shutting it behind him, all within about four seconds.

Quatre politely moved Heero's jaw back up to where it normally was, trying to hide his grin. "I take it this is the first time you've seen Duo in his element?"

"He's a car thief?" Heero frowned, utterly confused. First he was a teenager, then he was a genius, then he was some sort of insane therapist boyfriend, and now…a car thief?

"Oi, oi, I heard that," Duo's voice called out, and the sliding side door opened, a bench seat being tossed out along with the words. The heavy thing slammed into the empty space next to it.

"…I'm definitely leaving a note," Quatre sighed to himself.

"I'm not a car thief. I bought my car, thank you very much, and this is…emergency usage without asking, is all!" Duo threw a pile of junk out of the van. "Ooo! Car phone!"

"I need to use that!" Quatre said quickly.

"Gimme a few more seconds, Quat, I wanna be sure we can fit your comatose boyfriend in here," Duo said, only to be followed by a ripping noise and the entire back's upholstery being flung out of the side.

The back of the minivan opened from the inside, and a beaming Duo looked up at them. "I think I missed doing that."

"You have a lot of explaining to do," Heero muttered as they hoisted Trowa carefully into the back, Quatre stepping in to watch over the sleeping boy as Duo stepped out and rounded the car, rolling his eyes as he re-entered the driver's side, Heero taking the passenger seat.

"Awww, Rickyyyy," Duo whined in a high falsetto, sending Quatre into a fit of giggles. "Oh, hey! Right. Here, Q. Phone." He tossed the heavy, mid-90's contraption into Quatre's hands and quickly pulled down the visor of the car, a set of keys falling neatly into his outstretched hand.

"Smooth as cream," he winked at Heero, grinning.

Heero just blinked, his brain busy trying to figure Duo out. Again.

As Duo revved the van's pathetic engine and started tinkering with the radio and controls, Quatre punched in a number he hadn't had to use for a very long time. It picked up on the second ring.

"Po speaking."

"Doctor Po, this is Quatre," he said, not even noticing that he'd started to run his fingers through Trowa's hair. "I have a job for you."

"Well, at the moment, it appears you and every other person in this city has a job for me," the woman sighed. "I can fit you in on, oh…two weeks from today."

"This is urgent," Quatre stated, his business voice slipping in. It earned him a glance from the couple up front, but nothing else. "My friend has been poisoned with something potentially lethal. He saved my life, Doctor, and if your inactivity causes him to die I may have to consider that a debt to repay."

The other line was silent for a good bit of time, until finally the doctor could be heard shuffling across the office. "Meet me in the parking lot at Aquinas and Gibbs, near the market."

"We'll be there in twenty minutes."

"Good," Po said. "I'll be there in fifteen."


The building that housed OZ Incorporated's main branch was a bland, thin skyscraper bordered by other equally tall buildings scraped together within the city block. While the others were contemporary masses of glass and concrete, OZ, inc was a blocky mess of glass and iron, a zig-zag pattern in the iron to prevent a collapse in the event of an earthquake.

Not that there had been an earthquake of any seismic relevance in seventy years, Wufei thought grimly as the limo pulled into the underground parking facility. But if there was one thing OZ did well, it was overkill. Or maybe, he thought as his eyes drifted again to the other occupant of the limo, it was merely what the corporation's controller did best.

"Welcome home," Treize said, soft smile seeming vicious through each flickering change of light cast as the vehicle passing under one fluorescent light after another, each making him feel more and more out of place. The older man frowned, obviously seeing something was wrong as his face flashed from perfectly lit and aristocratically concerned to a dark, menacing glow. "Wufei? Are you certain you're feeling alright?"

"I'm fine," Wufei said, voice practically a growl as the words welcome home echoed in his head. The light was making his mind fog over, that was all, or maybe it was the graceful halt of the limo as they reached the concrete elevator doors that led into the upper levels of the building, an area no unlucky code-monkey or secretary could possibly shamble into unawares.

Not waiting for the driver to open the door, Wufei pulled the chrome latch and stepped out, taking a deep breath as he did so. Calm, that was the key. He needed to be calm. He needed to relax. This was where he'd belonged and lived just a few weeks ago. This was his home. If he was legitimate enough to file a tax return, it would be listed as his residence.

"…Despite what you may think of me, I can tell something has upset you," Treize said calmly, stepping out of the limo and toward the younger man smoothly. A gentle, unobtrusive hand settled on his shoulder. "Come. I've arranged a present for your return home."

"It better be one hell of a present for what I had to put up with," Wufei muttered.

Treize laughed. It was a sound most thought beautifully twisted and cruel, but Wufei knew better than that. It was the man's self-depreciating laugh, the one that made him want to break the Treize's kneecaps for having such a bizarre mixture of loathing and egotism.

He'd been working for the man for as long as he could remember, and could practically read the other man's mind because of it. To most Treize might have been an enigma, but to the spy he was just another shattered person in the world. You simply had to find the pattern left on the jagged pieces and interpret, and the current interpretation had Wufei shaking his head, eyes set firmly on the dark concrete beneath him.

"It's done," Wufei stated, finally turning back to the owner of OZ, inc. "I'm back."

The smile was more genuine than before, and it was uncomfortable how relieved he was at that. "So you are, Wufei. So you are." He moved toward the elevator, and Wufei followed quickly on his heels, silent and easily switching back into the mask of arrogant indifference he'd worn for nearly five years without a break.

Treize smiled at him again, and this time it really was cruel. "Now, a present for your presence." Gloves were pressed into his hands, and, noting that Treize was already wearing them, he slipped them on, only to frown as his boss pressed the button for P5. The circular light shone a pale blue inside the silvery interior of the elevator. It was a floor he'd never visited before, and had always assumed referred to parking level five. But with that being where they'd just entered from, he found himself suddenly choking on something in his throat, anxiety clenching in his stomach.

The OZ building may have looked like a termite mound sculpted in concrete by an obsessive-compulsive architect, but the interior was state of the art, including the elevators. Within thirty seconds, the cheerful ping of the elevator opened the doors onto a concrete corridor, men placed sporadically throughout the hall, all wearing the security uniform and nodding politely at Treize as they passed by.

Wufei noticed with growing dread that the floor tipped slowly downwards, meaning they were going down. And going down from the specialized OZ elevator could never be a good sign.

They turned down one of the many smaller corridors, and Treize stopped in front of a rather plain door. It looked like a standard inexpensive door, save the slide handle and the guards on either side of the door, both of which nodded and clipped out a quick "Sir" from their stations.

Treize nodded back for once, and turned toward the one on the left side of the door. "Your firearm, please." Without a moment of hesitation, the man unbuckled a pistol from his side and handed it to Treize Khushrenada.

Treize Khushrenada, smile strangely distant, placed the gun in Wufei's hands, and with a single smooth movement opened the door and moved them both inside, leaving the door propped open as he guided Wufei a bit deeper into the pitch-black room with a gentle hand on his lower back. And when the hand slipped aside, the lights flashed on, leaving Wufei staring at a short, bloodied young woman tied to a wooden chair, legs bound together politely, her hands in her lap. It was like some horrific image of a young child caught napping in church, the way her head lolled against the wooden top of the chair, whimpering as the light burned her retinas.

The door crashed shut behind him.

"Chang Wufei, meet your present, Hilde Schbeiker," Treize said casually. "Our resident rebel arsonist, and the reason for your capture. Also claims close acquaintance with Quatre Winner and Duo Maxwell, who-"

"I know who she is," Wufei stated quietly, grip on the pistol finally firming up, his fingers naturally lining themselves up to hold the thing at the ready.

Hilde. Duo's friend. Duo's friend who'd nearly killed him. Him and Duo both, not to mention Heero. Hilde, who had shot Trowa, tried to shoot Quatre, nearly blown them all up. Hilde Schbeiker, who had gone to high school with Duo and Quatre, a woman they'd grown to be very fond of over the years. But she'd nearly blown them all the fuck up.

His own safety was in jeopardy. And with that safety, the safety of his friends. Treize was watching, that he was certain of. This was as much a present for Treize as for Wufei. Having Treize trust him as he had before was the only way to live long enough to help his friends, who had only become his friends after he himself had nearly killed Heero and Duo…

His hypocricy seemed to grow by the second, Wufei thought, numb, and drew the gun up, aiming straight and true at his target in an arc that it seemed he'd known his entire life.

Hilde Schbeiker managed to rasp a single sentence through worn windpipes and chapped lips, head rising from the back of the chair. Empty eyes met his own equally bleak black.

"Danken Sie Gott für tod," she rasped out.

"I don't speak German," Wufei said simply, almost coldly, and fired, the bullet neatly punching between her eyes. He didn't even bother to look, simply turning back to look Treize in the eyes.

A dreadful silence hung in the painfully bright room.

"The old Wufei would have at least questioned her first," Treize said simply.

"Then the old Wufei was a fool." Wufei tossed the gun into his employer's hands, stripping off the gloves and trying to avoid looking at them, for fear of seeing Hilde's blood staining the fabric instead of an almost invisible dusting of gunpowder. He looked straight into Treize's eyes. "There's no truth to be found in a dead woman's word. She knew she was dead long before I ever entered the room."

The older man simply inclined his head, his own way of acknowledging truth without wasting words. The room had developed the eerie silence of a morgue, and neither seemed inclined to break it. Maybe that was the reason Treize hesitated over his next inquiry. "And her blood, then? Why bother to kill a woman already dead?"

Telling the truth would have gotten him killed. Telling Khushrenada that he'd pitied her, that he'd watched her beg for death as he came in through the door, was just about the same as painting a bright red target on his shirt and running through a shooting range. So he turned back toward the door.

"There's no more truth in blood than anything she would have said." Wufei paused, letting a cruel smile slowly seep onto his mouth, and glanced back. "But sometimes blood is more satisfying than truth."

He didn't dare turn back as he walked out the door, terrified that Treize would see how pale his face was outside of the blaring light of Hilde Schbeiker's newly christened tomb.


Dr. Sally Po was not a certified doctor. A certified acupuncturist, yes, but not a certified doctor, due to her way through medical school being paid by a now disbanded group of illicit businessmen who found it in their interest to have a indebted doctor and surgeon on their bankroll.

But when they went belly-up, Sally was free to pursue any path she chose, so long as it didn't involve the police. She chose the life of the freelance under-the-table doctor, a life where she could charge whatever the hell she wanted and usually got it, since it was either paying her or facing the wrath of those who'd had urgent appointments that you had personally cancelled.

There were only a few people which she didn't wring money from like water from a wet rag. Quatre Winner was one of those people. And that was why she was standing in the designated parking lot and waiting an extra ten minutes for the young man and his patient to roll up to her pristine, unmarked white van. For most people, she'd have already moved on, for fear of a government ambush, but Quatre was different.

In fact, Quatre was usually nice and polite to her – a rarity in her line of work. And when a boy like that started making threats, she knew he had to be clinging to the edge of normality with nothing but fingernails. Considering he was the son of a billion-dollar drug lord, normality was a strange creature in the first place, so whatever could send him teetering over the edge had to be incredible.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, Sally thought to herself, but at least it died satisfied.

A moment later, a green mini-van screeched into the parking lot, spinning itself around to put its tailgate at her makeshift ambulance's back. The vehicle rocked like a boat in a storm, but the driver didn't seem to notice much, grinning as he cranked the parking break into place and threw himself out the driver's side.

"Hiya, Sally," Duo grinned, sending a wink her way as he popped open the tailgate mid-rock. Another brown-haired young man stumbled out of the passenger side, but Sally wasn't about to take her attention away from her patient, who was already being gathered up by Quatre. Duo grabbed the tall young man's legs, and together they carefully lifted him into Sally's van.

"Five foot ten, possibly malnourished if I'm reading his bone structure right, patient appears to be comatose," Sally said automatically, already moving into the van behind them and feeling the young man's pulse. She nodded to herself. "Definite sedation, possibly fatal if symptoms spread into the nervous system."

"We found this," Quatre said simply, and handed her a glass syringe. Sally blinked at the strange, almost invisible warping in the glass near the plunger as her friend kept talking. "We're pretty sure it's whatever they stuck into his IV."

The doctor shook her head. It wasn't at anything in particular, just at the situation. "You certainly called the right doctor, Quatre," she sighed, and walked a bit deeper into the van to grab another glass syringe and a bottle of a light green liquid. At the look the Winner heir presumptive was giving her, she shrugged a bit guiltily. "…I freelance, after all. At least I have the exact antidote with me. It may have saved your friend's life."

"What's that mean?" Duo asked from where he leaned on the back of the van.

"It means she invented the poison, Duo," Quatre stated quietly, watching intently as Sally injected the antidote. "And that she does freelance work for OZ."

"They're a good bit of my paycheck, yes," Sally admitted.

"Then why are we trusting her?" the new brunet, the one sticking to Duo like taffy, asked coolly.

"Because she's pulled bullets out of me and set Quatre's broken bones and is an experienced, professional black-market doctor who knows not to ask too many questions unlike some people?" Duo replied easily. Refusing to blush or laugh at that, Sally just pulled out the needle, discarding the syringe and slapping a band-aid with a colorful pink bunny on the patient's arm.

"Who shot you?"

"You've tried to, so does it really surprise you that others have actually done it?"

"In a word? Yes."

Sally's smirk came to the surface. "I see you made a new friend, Duo."

"Bit more than that, but yeah, you could say so," Duo smiled at her. It was that nice, contented, slightly giddy smile that Sally rarely saw, the one he got when talking about Helen or Maxwell but without the bitter, sorrowful edge in his eyes.

"So he'll be okay now then?" Quatre asked anxiously.

"Give him twenty minutes and he'll be running laps around the parking lot," Sally answered, checking the boy's pulse again.

"Why didn't you call her for me, then?" Duo's friend asked, almost sounding jealous.

"Did you WANT me to call OZ's favorite secret surgeon for you?"


Sally grabbed her stethoscope, just to be sure the patient really was breathing safely.

"Thought not." Duo frowned. "Besides, it was just asphyxiation. You just needed to rest up and stuff."

"If anyone knows home remedies, it's Duo," Sally agreed, really looking at the other boy for the first time.

She dropped the stethoscope, mouth dropping open.

"Oh fuck," Duo hissed, and hoisted himself into the van, slapping a hand over her mouth before she could scream, talk, even mutter.

Dr. Heero Yuy, PhD, was right behind him, closing the van's double doors behind him and staying at a cautious distance from her.

"Promise you won't flip out if I move my hand?" Duo asked quietly. "He's not gonna hurt anyone in here. He's a friend, and he's proven his loyalty to us more than you can imagine."

Sally's phone went off.

"He's waking up!" Quatre whispered excitedly from where he sat next to Trowa.

It rang again, a cheerful yet business-like tone that echoed through the stuffy van.

"Let her answer it," Heero stated.

Duo barely hesitated, stepping back and dropping his hand, leaving Sally staring at HEERO YUY in her VAN, until the phone rang once more.

"Better answer," Duo said, eyes slightly dangerous.

She nodded, and snatched up her cell phone. She cleared her throat. "Po speaking."

"Ah, Dr. Po. Are you busy at the moment?" The voice was unmistakable. Ice gripped her lungs in a tight vice.

"Actually, I just finished with a client," she said, amazed at how easily her voice came out when it felt like her throat was closing up. "What can I help you with?"

"A simple retrieval is all," the caller said, voice utterly devoid of any remorse. "I'm afraid there's been a bit of an accident over here. I'd greatly appreciate your help in moving it."

"How much appreciation are we talking, and how many am I moving?" Sally asked.

"Just one mess, and not a very big one at that," he sighed over the phone. "As for appreciation, well…I'd assume it would be the same as any OZ client, wouldn't it?"

"It costs extra to put people in my van when they're already dead," the doctor stated, and barely covered her own mouth in time as the antidote allowed her patient to open up very familiar emerald eyes.

-The scent of spring rain on a field of grass.

Soft tufts of brown hair that swayed in the breeze right along with those ridiculous star earrings.

"Triton, don't ruin your jumper just yet – you know I don't get another paycheck until Friday-"

Catherine Bloom's dead green eyes stared up at her from her little brother's face.

"-believe I can find that acceptable," Treize said into the phone.

"I'll be bringing my surgery crew though," Sally said, eyes locked with those of a limitless debt. "If you want me over there this soon, I won't have anywhere to drop them off before I head to the OZ building. Normally I'd charge you for their time, but you're not asking for medical help."

"I'll add a tip anyway, considering the inconvenience of my timing," Khushrenada said charitably.

"Thank you, Treize," she said. "I'm sure they'll appreciate it." Her eyes fell to the GPS mounted where the van's CD player used to be. She could get to the building in 20 minutes. "I'll be around the back in half an hour. You know the drill by now, I guess."

"Of course. Thank you again," Treize said, and they both hung up.

While the others in the van stood staring at her, breathless, Sally heaved a huge sigh, running the back of her hand against her forehead, closing her eyes for just a moment before opening them again, looking at Triton Bloom.

"I don't suppose there's any way you could forgive me for Catherine's death," Sally said hoarsely. "I just wasn't there in time. I'm sorry, Triton, I'm so sorry they took your sister from you, and I can guess why they poisoned you now."

"My name is Trowa now," Triton said quietly, and glanced toward the other brunets in the van. "And there's more reason than one. I doubt OZ even knows who Catherine Bloom was anymore."

Sally practically strangled her phone. "Well, I damn well remember her, and if I can help you get back at them, you bet your ass I will," she hissed out, and then twisted to open an overhead compartment, grabbing four sets of blue scrubs and surgical gear and tossing them to the boys. "We're picking up a body at OZ, inc. If you're blowing the building up, Tri-Trowa, just give me enough time to get out of the blast radius."

"We're not blowing it up," Trowa said, sitting up fully with help from an absorbed Quatre. The blond hung on every word of the conversation.

"Then what's Dr. Explosives doing in this operation?" Sally frowned. "Honestly I'm glad you met a nice guy like Quatre here, and I guess Duo's okay too-"


"-but…Heero Yuy? The only conclusion I can draw is that braid-boy here was dragged in, and you dragged Quatre, which means Quatre dragged Duo."

"Actually, I was the one who dragged Heero," Trowa said, smiling slightly. "He's my best friend and co-worker."

"And we're trying to get into OZ, inc to get a friend out," Quatre added. "He's being held captive by Treize himself."

"Annoying, Chinese, likes to cuss and stab things," Duo added helpfully as he shrugged into the blue-green shirt.

Sally sighed, squeezing herself into the driver's seat. "I'm guessing he comes from your little group of friends then, Duo?"

"No," Heero said, voice firm. "He's our friend."

The others nodded silently.

Sally shook her head, and started the car. "I can only get you to the back door. I'd try and help you some other way, but I can't afford to die just yet. Too many lives to save."

"You didn't save Catherine," Trowa said simply, his calm voice a brutally harsh slap in the face.

She didn't say a word. She couldn't. So instead, she quietly clambered into the driver's seat and turned on the engine.

"Thank you," Quatre said sincerely, already fully decked out in scrubs and surgical gear.

If it were anyone but Catherine's brother, she would have just given them directions to the building and wished them good luck. For Quatre, she would have told them about the OZ job. But for Triton Bloom, she would step in front of a bullet that she should have stopped inside a dark green barn a long, long time ago.

"There's some bloody rags in the corner bin," Sally said, already starting them on the eerily quiet journey. "Make it look like you really did just get out of emergency surgery, or you'll all be dead before the doors open."

The twenty minutes passed in a silent journey, the doctor easily making her way through downtown traffic and into OZ, inc's service area. She backed the van in without having to use anything other than her side-view mirror.

Treize was already waiting for her, looking as sophisticated as ever in a dark blue suit. All alone on the loading dock, he stood at the entrance with his arms crossed over his chest, that thin, all-knowing smile on his lips.

Sally motioned for the boys in the back to wait a little while as she opened the driver's door, nodding brusquely to Treize as she walked up the stairs that lined the back of her truck with the large concrete slab which Treize stood on. "Khushrenada," she said politely, nodding and stuffing her hands into the pockets of her coat.

"Doctor Po," he said, cordial as ever, and the doors behind him swung open, leaving Sally to stare at the trainwreck that was about to run straight into the back of her truck.

Zechs Marquis and Lady Une escorted the two lackies that held Hilde's body between them like a limp carpet. Behind those four strode a cold-eyed snake of a young man with pitch-black hair and eyes.

Chinese? Check.

The young man sidled over to Treize out of what seemed pure habit, Une and Zechs flanking them as the lackies knocked on the van doors. One of the boys (Heero, she guessed, from the eyes) swung the doors open and froze at the dead girl's face angled straight at him.

"What the fuck is the hold-up? Get the bitch out of here already," the young man snarled, stuffing his hands into the loose white pants he wore.

Annoying and likes to curse? Check.

"Barton," Yuy called quickly, and the other boy hoisted the body into the van, Heero shutting the doors quickly behind him.

The flickers of shock, hope, fear, and anxiety all played across the young man's face in rapid succession at the sound of Heero's voice, unnoticed by anyone but Sally.

Interesting friends they keep nowadays, Sally thought grimly.

"Perhaps a little respect for the dead would be in order," Treize said, glancing down and idly pushing a stray black hair back into place.

"If you're dead you can only respect someone's memory, not their corpse," Wufei said irritably.

"He's picked up some interesting beliefs during captivity," Zechs commented dryly.

Inside of the van, however, things were not so intellectual. Quatre stared at his friend's bloodless corpse as he clung to Trowa, and Heero was literally having to hold Duo back from the doors of the van. And at this rate, it looked like Duo was going to win, driven by adrenaline and grief alone.

To Duo, it didn't matter that the woman had nearly killed them all at some point or another. The past held a strong short leash around Duo's neck, and Heero wasn't sure he had the strength to hold him back for much longer.

"For fuck's sake, Heero, let me AT them," his voice choked out, hushed by the lump in his throat. "They MURDERED her, Heero, they fucking shot her in the head and starved her, now let me kill the bastard that did it-"

Duo's hand reached the latch, and the door barely popped open before Heero wrenched the other boy back into his lap, hugging him tightly.

Every single person in the van, however, went just as still and pale as Hilde as Wufei's voice echoed through the thin sliver of air let in by Duo's fumbling.

"Just because I shot her in the head doesn't mean I have to dress in black and go to her rainy funeral," Wufei called, sarcastic and bored. "That bitch was the reason I ended up captured. And if it hadn't been me, it definitely would have been someone else with a brain and a gun."

A sigh. "Well, that's all well and good, but I left Relena all alone in my office," a dusky voice called out. Zechs.

"Thank you again, Doctor Po," Treize said cordially, and the sound of retreating footsteps left them alone with a corpse, their thoughts, and their own rasping breath as the world came crashing down around them.


A/N: And, uh, I'll just be. Over here now. Hoping to not get murdered.

(Danken Sie Gott für tod "Thank God for death" in German. She's so dead on the inside she's already reverted to thinking and speaking in a native language she doesn't even remember is her birth-tongue. I'd planned to put a bit of Hilde-POV, but that might have made someone cry. Namely me. Because poor, poor Hilde.)