Summary: Trowa gets a head injury and starts to believe he is Lady Une's real adjutant. He doesn't remember his past or anything to do with the Gundams. The others try to rescue him, but he's hellbent on killing them for OZ's sake. Named after my second favorite Portishead song, which fits nicely with this story.
Warnings: Some language. This is not your kind, genteel Trowa Barton. This analyzes if someone would have a change in personality if their past was lost. His personality does change drastically from lack of memory and brainwashing drugs. I don't own Gundam Wing characters, Sunrise/Bandai does. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment purposes.
SPECIAL NOTE: These stories were written a long time ago, but I've never really done much with them. Some success with Weiss Kreuz fanfiction has encouraged me to go back and post all my old things here. My Gundam stories are typically comedy or spy-thrillers. These are some of my great ideas I got before I went to college so my writing isn't as good. I just feel compelled to get them on the Internet and off my hard drive. I haven't read any Gundam fanfiction in several years either so have no idea what's come and gone. This is mainly a purging on my part, but I still hope there are people who enjoy them. More will be on the way.
Sour Times, part one
Heero clenched his knees on the saddle and leaned into the small buck from his horse. The rain plastered his chocolate hair to his head and soaked him to the bone. His OZ Specials uniform was ruined from mud, water, and harsh treatment. He could barely see Trowa in the lead on his own rebellious horse. It was a stormy dusk on Gruner Mountain, a secret Romefeller retreat.
"We're going back," Trowa yelled over the howling wind and rain. "No use to patrol any deeper in the forest since we aren't going to report Wufei's Gundam hiding over the next hill."
Heero watched Trowa's OZ cap get snatched off his head by the wind. The circus performer-turned-spy slicked back his thick bangs and forced his horse around despite the mare's protest. He removed his white gloves with his teeth and patted her neck while trying to urge her back towards Heero.
The earth fell away from under Trowa and his mare. Heero watched Trowa attempt to leap off the horse, but he was caught. He watched in horror as Trowa was jerked down under the thrashing horse. Rider and horse tumbled and skidded down the muddy slope towards the river. The mare's neck twisted as Trowa's head connect with a rock. Heero dove off his horse after the older boy.
He was in time to grab Trowa's wrist as the mare's corpse slipped into the frigid river, dragging Trowa with her. Heero followed, trying to keep Trowa's head above water as the turbulent currents threatened to tow them deeper.
He felt under Trowa's coat and gripped a throwing knife. Heero took a deep breath as thunder echoed in the valley. He wriggled under the water and found Trowa's foot lodged in a stirrup. After several rough strokes, Trowa floated away from the dead horse that sunk under the water. Heero wrapped his arm under Trowa's arms and start swimming for the rocky bank.
"Thanks to your quick thinking, Yuy, he'll pull through. Lord only knows how he didn't end up with more injuries than what he received," the graying lady doctor said, shaking her head while lowering her stethoscope from Heero's bare chest. Heero looked up at her and nodded. He knew what pulled Trowa through. Circus clowns always knew every aspect of taking a fall even in the most deadly of circumstances.
"May I go back to the dorms and see him now? We were at Lake Victoria together. We're like family," Heero lied, rising slowly off the hospital cot.
"Well, I really need to call his family, and..."
"I know his older sister. I'll call her when I get back to our room," Heero replied. Heero had no real intentions of calling Cathrine, who would only worry and get upset with him for dragging Trowa into danger; the truth was that Trowa had arranged this assignment with Doctor J.
"Thank you. That'll save me some work. Besides, it's better to hear it from someone who knows the family," the doctor named Steiner said, handing him a sleeping pill. "Get some rest tonight and I'll look in on both of you tomorrow morning."
Heero put a plain white robe over his boxer shorts and walked down the ancient stone passages. He finally arrived at the former servants quarters that had been converted to soldiers dorms. Fortunately, he roomed with Trowa, who was nestled on a cot next to a drafty window.
After he tossed the pill out the window, he moved Trowa to the other bed, mindful of his injuries. He bundled him up and double checked the doctors diagnosis. Concussion, sprained wrist, sprained ankle, and a dislocated hip. All on the left side. It looked like Gundam Heavyarms would get a nice vacation considering the overbalance of weight. Plus all the cuts and bruises. Heero found himself smirking at Trowa's two black eyes and broken nose.
"That's what you get for picking a fight with a horse, Trowa," Heero said, settling into the bed under the drafty window. This would definitely set back the mission, but Heero felt it could still be done when Trowa was a little better. Otherwise, he would have to leave him here alone. Not an option he was going to consider lightly.
Heero surrendered to the vicious coughing fit that squeezed his stomach in a way that made him wish he could vomit. At least that would offer some relief. He turned his blurry eyes over at Doctor Steiner who tended Trowa in the next bed. She glanced over at him and gave him a wry smile.
"Don't worry, Sergent. You'll be next. Looks like a chest cold. Both you and the Lieutenant will get to stay in the Castle Proper. Better enjoy it. Only top officers and medical emergencies stay there." She smiled and prepared a syringe of antibiotics.
He watched as the needle slipped into his arm. He rolled his eyes in aggravation at the illness that would push back their mission. A smile spread slowly across his face. Main House Gruner? This was the opportunity that couldn't be missed. Being sick was a lucky stroke for their mission.
Heero slipped back into the darkened room and crept over to his laptop. He had downloaded information on the top Romefeller officials staying at the castle for the next year. His eye was caught by the name Khushrenada. Three days from now he would arrive without his whole entourage, just his adjutant, Lady Une. Wufei would storm over the hill and raze this place to the ground when he found out.
A soft moan snapped his attention around. Trowa had slipped in and out of unconsciousness for an entire week. The few times he was awake it was as if he were confused. He didn't responded to his assumed name any more. Heero had resort to calling him 'Nanashi' to get his attention. He obeyed every word out of Heero's mouth without question. Heero smirked ruefully.
"I knew I would repay you one day. I hope you snap out of it soon. This nurse role isn't my favorite," Heero mumbled over towards Trowa. He made his way over to his bed and fished a duffel bag out.
They had to stay put longer. Plus, if Treize were coming, Heero could figure out OZ's next move. It would also give Trowa enough time to recover.
"Wufei," Heero spoke softly into the two-way radio he had removed from his duffel bag.
"Line is secure. Go ahead, Heero," Wufei responded.
"Trowa is still not doing any better. Why don't you go back to the safe house and I'll call you when he's well enough to continue with the mission," Heero whispered.
"You should bring Trowa to the woods. I'll take him back with me." Wufei's voice became static that cleared once again.
"Negative. It took us too long to set this up. If he left for a sprained ankle it'll look really suspicious. The security is incredible. We'll never have another opportunity like this," Heero said, downplaying Trowa's injuries.
"Since that's all that's wrong, I'll leave in the morning. See you in about a week," Wufei said.
"Yeah." Heero flipped the off switch and stashed the radio in his duffel bag and shoved it under his bed again. He glanced over to see Trowa's eyes were half opened. "You okay?"
"You look familiar. Even before we were assigned here. Where were you stationed before?" Trowa asked. Heero rose slowly and sat on his own bed, giving Trowa a measuring look.
"Of course you know me. Get some sleep and I'll take you for a walk tomorrow," Heero said.
"What was that you were putting under your bed?" Trowa asked, narrowing his emerald eyes. Heero's eyebrows knitted together as he wondered if Trowa was sicker than he thought. He regained his composure and walked over to check the dressings around Trowa's head. Trowa glared back from him.
Trowa eyes were brimming over with hostility as he scrambled out of the opposite side of the twin bed. Heero was about to call Wufei to come and get Trowa when the lanky pilot sank to the ground. Heero walked around to see him spread out on the hardwood floor unconscious.
He couldn't move Trowa in this condition. The safe house was little more then a tent out in the woods. At least good medical service was provided if they stayed. Heero picked Trowa up and carried him back to bed.
The Japanese boy shook his head and settled back into his own bed. He would have to keep a close eye on what medication that doctor was giving Trowa.
Heero helped Trowa out to the battlements on the east side of Gruner Castle. Trowa hadn't said one word in three days. It worried him to see Trowa growing more confused everyday. The sooner he could get Trowa out of here the better off they would be.
Too bad Doctor J had forbidden him from leaving with Trowa. The grey haired man wanted to know about Treize Khushrenada and what he might be planning. OZ had been very quiet lately. Rumors of health problems with General Treize abounded like mad. Heero knew the General was extremely fit. If anything was troubling the General it was all emotional.
"Trowa?" Heero asked. He watched the green-eyed boy continue towards the rock edge of the castle's roof top as if he were in a trance. "Trowa? Trowa. Trowa Barton, answer me." Heero gabbed Trowa before the boy took a step out on the feeble edge. He shook Trowa and gave him a firm slap, only getting a blank look. "Nanashi? Snap out of it."
"What? Where did the colony go? Where am I? Why is the horizon like that? It's so big," Trowa said.
"Don't you remember coming to Earth?" Heero asked.
"No," Trowa said. He shuddered as Heero dragged him back indoors. He made Trowa sit when they finally reached a small private library done in red velvet and reeking of cigars. "How did I get to Earth? Did they send me?"
"Doctor S and the Bartons?" Heero asked.
"The mercenaries,... I can't remember...," Trowa said, his confusion was growing rapidly. Heero watched the seventeen year old grow numb again. It was like watching a waterfall cascade over Trowa and force its will on his ill mind.
Trowa got up and hobbled towards the door. He said, "I want to sleep some more. I don't feel right."
Heero helped Trowa back to the guest suite they shared and tucked him in again. He got his laptop out and sent a message to Wufei, Duo, and Quatre. Hopefully one of them would get it soon.
Emergency. Trowa in trouble. Need to get him out of here and to a Doctor. Heero.
Heero woke up chilled that evening. He looked over to where Trowa had gone to the balcony. He joined him in the icy night that was lit up by landing lights in the court yard. They watched the small private jet touch down and taxi down the runway.
Heero didn't miss the lion's head logo of the Specials. He glanced at Trowa who looked on with heavy concentration. He gripped the iron railing so hard his knuckles were growing white.
He returned his attention to the pair that walked down the landing ramp. Treize's dress cape was pulled about him tightly as the long haired woman dressed in a red OZ Specials uniform followed the General.
"Colonel Lady Ann Une," Trowa breathed the name with reverence. Heero recognized the woman now. Trowa had spied on her and acted as her adjutant for a while. He turned his attention to her only half paying attention to Trowa who disappeared back into the room. Treize and Ann Une paused under a tree.
Heero wished he could eavesdrop on the obviously intense conversation. A click caught Heero's attention. He turned slowly to see his own gun pointed at him in Trowa's mending left hand.
"I remember you now. You're Gundam pilot Zero-One. Every other aspect about my life is hazy except the fight with us and the Wing Zero. Lady Une was my superior officer and you were trying to kill her and destroy the Vayeade," Trowa said.
"What are you doing, Trowa?" Heero asked.
"Hands up," Trowa said. Heero complied, seeing a dangerous glint in Trowa's one visible eye. "We'll make sure you stay put this time. March," Trowa ordered. Heero felt he could take Trowa since he was weakened, but here in the middle of Treize's arrival was bad timing.
He lashed out with a round house, kicking the gun away, and launched himself at Trowa. The taller boy took the jab on the chin, but didn't fall. He balled up a fist and threw a left. Heero knew to stay away from that left arm even if it was injured.
He grabbed Trowa's wrist and flipped him upwards. The lanky boy skidded across the balcony as Heero ran from the room. Something was deeply wrong with Trowa, but Heero couldn't solve it if he was on the wrong side of a firing squad. Hopefully, Trowa would come around on his own.
He swiped up his laptop and the discarded gun. He brought it to bear minutes before Trowa tackled him. He placed the barrel to the bridge of Trowa's nose.
"I don't know what the hell has gotten into you, but we'll sort it out at the camp. Get a move on," Heero said, waving the gun to the door.
"Help! A spy!" Trowa's melodic voice shouted. Heero's gun wavered in shock at Trowa's betrayal.
"Damn it!" Heero swore going out to the balcony. "I'll be back for you, Trowa."
Heero made the impossible distance to the ground using vines and jumps. He made his way to the runway in a sprint. Raising his gun, he shot the two guards by the boarding ramp before they even drew against him. He quickly made his way to the cockpit and prayed that it was still fueled. He launched the plane upwards as sirens began to wail in his wake.
"Trowa! I should have ignored Doctor J and gotten you out of there. I should have listened to my inner voice. I'm so sorry," Heero said, guiding the plane into the night.
"What? Where is he," Lady Une snapped. The dark haired Sergent dropped his salute.
"In the fifth double guest room, ma'am. The spy got away, but Lieutenant Barton claims he recognized him. He requested to see you as soon as possible, Colonel Une," the Sergent reported.
"Make sure he is comfortable and resting. I'll go to him, but first get a complement down here to watch Mister Treize," Lady Une said, pushing her glasses up her aquiline nose.
Her hazel eyes glanced around the small, red library. She watched Treize pick a book off a cherry wood shelf and settle by the tiny fireplace that burned hot providing the only illumination for the whole room.
"Go to him, Lady. I'll be fine. I have a feeling the immediate danger is over. Find out how compromised we are," Treize ordered.
Lady Une snapped off a salute, not wanting to leave the General's side, but not willing to disobey his orders either. She also had to admit she was excited at having Trowa back.
She had put out bulletins for information on her missing emerald-eyed prodigy, but no word had come. She accepted his death reluctantly at the hands of Wing Zero.
The Lady had a feeling Trowa wasn't forthright with her, but something about him compelled her to trust him. She had decided to take him under her wing and nurture him in Mister Treize's philosophies. Barton had been such an apt pupil and a part of her life that she would have mourned more if she hadn't been shot and put in a coma herself right after Trowa disappeared.
She knocked on the door before entering. A doctor and three guards tended to Trowa, who laid in a bed. Five other guards examined the belongings of the impostor. His things were spread out on a second bed to Trowa's right. She went over and sat on the edge Trowa's bed.
"Colonel Une," Trowa said, attempting to sit up. She pushed him back down. "I'm sorry I didn't recognizing him earlier. I had a bad accident. I can't remember anything much. I failed His Excellency. Please forgive me."
"Don't be concerned. At least we know he was here. There is a lot we need to cover, but I want you to get some sleep first. His Excellency will be expecting you for breakfast and a debriefing," she said.
"Yes, ma'am. I won't let you down again," Trowa said as she drew his blankets up. He took her hand and squeezed slightly as a flash of pain crossed his face. "I always seem to fail you." Her face grew hot with surprise at the strange gesture. She then squeezed his hand back and smiled at him.
"You have never disappointed me, Lieutenant Barton. Get well soon so we can make His Excellency's dreams a reality," she said.
"Yes, ma'am." he answered as the doctor gave him a shot. She watched Trowa's eyes droop shut as his breathing became regular. Ann Une rose and took a deep breath of victory. Barton was back. He was in obvious distress, but she would find a way to heal him so that the talented boy would be a credit to OZ once more. He would especially be a credit to Treize's ideals.
"What have you found out about the spy?" she snapped at a Corporal who examined a two-way radio.
"Nothing. We have finger prints, but no records can be found. He was good, whoever he was. No traces. We were counting on Barton to fill us in," the man said.
"That's 'Lieutenant Barton' to you. I expect that boy to be treated as if it were me on that bed. If you find any leads, contact me at once," Lady Une said, leaving the room with a loud door slam.
It wouldn't disturb Barton in his heavily sedated sleep; he would be at peace. Besides, those incompetent investigators needed to know she was pissed. Too bad OZ didn't have more people like Trowa Barton filling their ranks. The war would have been won and His Excellency's ideals achieved if that were the case.
"Colonel Une said that His Excellency wants you to be at his breakfast table. Here's a new uniform," Doctor Steiner said after entering his room. Trowa looked up at her and got out of his bed, still feeling groggy. He removed his nightshirt without a second thought.
"What happened to you?" she asked, setting down the uniform on the foot of his bed. Trowa looked down at a few deep scars on his body with confusion. It made him dizzy to think of experiencing that much pain.
"I honestly can't remember anything before meeting Lady Une. It probably happened when I was in the Vayeade and Gundam Zero almost killed me. Damn that pilot! If I ever meet him again, I'll make sure he doesn't live. I wish I could remember it clearly," he said.
He picked up the fresh uniform and retreated into the bathroom. He quickly got dressed in the elaborate green, white, and gold outfit. He looked himself over in the mirror.
This morning he would be meeting His Excellency, General Treize Khushrenada. He began to feel butterflies as he brushed his teeth. This was an important meeting for him. He had to portray the General's ideals. Not for himself, but for Colonel Lady Une.
She valued him and listened to his thoughts when he expressed them. He knew the only time she expressed any patience was with him, because he wasn't a typical sycophant.
Trowa rinsed his mouth out, spitting foam into the porcelain basin. He began to slick his bangs back in aggravation. His Excellency would want to see what type of people the OZ Specials had in its ranks, not a bunch of hair. Why did he ever let his bangs get this long? Was there a reason? Probably, but he couldn't remember it. It was probably unimportant.
"Come on, Lieutenant Barton. Lady Une will lower the boom on you if you don't get by her side soon," the doctor said through the door.
"Sure thing," he said, making sure his bangs would stay slicked back. He examined his uniform critically and nodded his approval. He was His Excellency's ideal. He was going to try to live up to it in spite of the fact that he had no memories, besides those of his time with Lady Une.
Even those times were hazy and confusing. What he did remember clearly were some things he had discussed with Lady Une. He was one of the few who could appreciate OZ's subtle methods of controlling the rebellious colonies. Unlike some of her other men who were too aggressive and idealize brutality. He also remembered being the only one who didn't underestimate the Gundams; that's why Lady Une needed him.
"Ma'am," Trowa said softly, throwing a salute to the woman. She polished her glasses by a fireplace that had a quiet glow to it. She gave him a smile and waved him in.
"Your hair. I never thought I'd see your whole face at once," Lady Une said, smirking. Trowa blushed and shook his head.
"It's time I started looking more like a solider," he said, stiffly.
"This is an informal breakfast, Trowa. Mister Treize will be here shortly. I told him about you last night and he decide he would rather see you in a relaxed atmosphere," she said. Trowa looked at the glossy ten place dining room table that was set for three at the end of the table.
"Good morning, Lady," Treize said. Trowa turned slowly to see the man standing at the door was dressed in gray slacks and a matching jacket. He watched the General's sharp sapphire eyes take him in, dissect him, and analyze what he had found. "You must be the young man Lady Une seems so taken with. After your experience last night I wasn't sure you would be down for breakfast."
"I couldn't refuse Your Excellency," Trowa said with a slight nod. He suddenly felt shy and uncertain of what he should say. "About last night, I want to apologize for letting the Gundam pilot go. I feel responsible for the loss of your personal plane."
"Planes are replaceable, not good soldiers. Please don't think another thing of it. You may call me 'Mister Treize.' Lady Une tells me you're quite a mobile suit pilot with experience in the Gundam Vayeade." Treize took his seat at the head of the table with Lady Une to his left. Trowa took his seat next to Lady Une's left.
Servants discreetly entered; they served the trio in silence. The only sound was the soft patter of rain against the French doors Trowa was facing. He watched the trees wave gently as they finished putting eggs Benedict, coffee, and tomato juice in front of him. The Lady and the General started their meal after the servants withdrew.
"Is the meal satisfactory?" Treize asked. Trowa brought his attention around to Treize.
"Yes, Sir. I was enjoying the landscape," Trowa apologized. He began to eat the egg with gentle sips of his coffee. "It's wonderful. Thank you."
"Lady Une and I wanted to discus your future in the OZ organization. Your appearance at this time seems to be an omen to me that the project I'm working on now is correct. However, Doctor Steiner has reported to me you have amnesia. Your records in between now and your Vayeade piloting are sketchy at best. You have a patroness that has been assuring me all evening long of your competency and your ability to handle the project I have in mind," Treize said.
"Thank you for extending your confidence in me. I won't let you down," Trowa said to Treize. He then glanced at Lady Une who sipped her juice.
"Before I put you into that project I want to be assured that you will be fit and sound. That's why I have decided to assign you as Lady Une's adjutant. A promotion to Captain will come with it, but you will have to spend a week with Doctor Steiner in therapy. If she says you have a clean bill of health, I will be pleased to make you a part of my project. Will you accept the promotion?"
"Yes, Sir. I will do my best to serve you and the Colonel," Trowa answered before taking his last bite of English muffin.
"Good. You will meet with the Doctor after breakfast and rejoin the Colonel after lunch. She'll have your itinerary by then."
"Yes, sir. Thank you for this opportunity," Trowa said before leaving the table.
"What happened to you?" Wufei asked. He looked over Heero, who was covered in mud and cuts; a huge sneer was set on Heero's face. Heero fastened the huge tent shut again.
"Didn't you get my e-mail? Obviously not," Heero said. Heero unwrapped his laptop from a piece of wet plastic and took his gun out of the waist band of his tight white slacks. "The mission went sour. Trowa is in big trouble." Heero stripped off the white OZ clothing as Wufei got him some dry sweat clothes. "His injuries were more serious than I thought. He took a tumble with a horse down a ravine. His head injury must have been more severe, because he doesn't remember anything. He's confused about who he really is."
"Where is he," Wufei asked, grabbing up his sword.
"He was enjoying his stay at OZ," Heero said. Wufei gave Heero a raised eyebrow. "I'll explain..."
"What the hell is going on, Heero? Is Trowa okay?" Duo asked. He burst into the tent leaving it open. He was soaked as well, but not muddy.
"He has a head injury and is a little confused. I'm even thinking that OZ doctor may have given him something that's not settling well with him. We need to go get him, at gun point if we have to." The other two stared at Heero as if had just grown horns. "Like I said, he's confused. I don't think he's really a traitor, because we would have had swarms of soldiers all over this camp. The last two weeks he was really quiet."
"Hey, Heero," Duo groused. "did you know his eyes are green and his hair is brown?"
"Not like this. I've spent more time with him than any of you. I know more about him. Something has snapped inside of him. It's not right," Heero said while Duo started to wring his braid out, base to tip. Wufei waved a towel at him in annoyance.
"Okay, but won't he be guarded? After all, he is a Gundam pilot..." Duo started off.
"I didn't make myself clear. He, for some reason, seems to think he's an OZ solider and has no recollections of being a Gundam pilot. I think he only remembers a twisted version from when he was spying on Lady Une. They hopefully won't have a reason to suspect him of anything, because I hid all of the incriminating evidence in my bags," Heero said.
"Damn! I knew he would go soft in the head one day playing around like that," Wufei said, picking up the damp towels. "Maybe we should let him go. We've got his Gundam under our control. What can we do if he's sick in the way you think?"
"We can't just leave him in OZ's hands. What if they find out? They could torture things out of him," Duo said. He furrowed his brow at Heero abrupt, mirthless laughter.
"Trust me, torture wouldn't phase him a bit, but if his thoughts get too fuzzy... who knows. We'll go tonight and kidnap him," Heero said.
The thundering noise rolled through the valley and shook the blue tent fabric violently. The trio regained their balance and ran into the misty mid-morning. Smoke was rolling over the valley from the direction of the Romefeller retreat.
"Look at all those mobile suits swarming around that place. They act like there's a Gundam up there, but that... oh no," Duo said, looking over at the four covered Gundams. "That little fool will get Trowa killed!"
"Get a move on," Heero ordered them to their respective Gundams. He would worry about Heavyarms later, but right now he had to make sure Sandrock didn't take a pounding along with the pilot inside. "Quatre, please don't. You'll get Trowa killed. You couldn't live through that twice."
Trowa threw himself over Lady Une as the vibrations knocked them around. They got to their feet, helping each other. Lady Une's face paled. Trowa noticed a crack on the left lens of her glasses along with her hardened battle mask falling into place.
"Mister Treize is in danger. We must protect him!" She ordered. They were on their way to Doctor Steiner's office when the wretched Gundam Zero-Four set down on the East wall and began a vicious assault.
"Yes, ma'am," Trowa replied. He barreled down the hall after her, drawing his side arm. They burst into the library to see Treize, standing in front of the fireplace in serene contemplation. Trowa said, "Sir, we have to get going. A Gundam is on it's way to assassinate you."
"I don't believe its me that pilot is after. My plans, perhaps," Treize said. Treize swept Lady Une and Trowa under his powerful arms and shielded them against sudden machine gun fire. Lady Une sat up after Treize rolled off and upturned a cherry wood table for a shielded. She drew her side arm and returned fire, ducking behind the table when her clip was spent.
Trowa took her place while she loaded again. After several loud bangs he ducked back down. Lady Une rose, ready to fire, only to fall back with a wail. She brushed off Treize and let him take her gun. Trowa glanced to see she was only nicked on the left arm.
"That's enough! I don't want to kill any of you," a voice called out from the hallway.
Trowa peered over the table as he drove his last clip home. His eyes watered from the bellowing smoke that drifted in through the doorway. He could make out the barrel of a submachine gun poking out from the jamb.
"You have one minute to hand over your prisoners," the voice demanded.
"What prisoners?" Trowa didn't turn at Treize's firm baritone. "The only Gundam pilot escaped." Treize motioned for Trowa to help Lady Une and to escape by the balcony. He gave them a firm look that didn't leave room for any disagreements. They slipped out to the railing and climbed down.
"There were two. What happened to the other one?" the voice from the hallway asked.
"We only found one, but thank you for informing us of a second spy. I'll see to it right away," Treize said, getting his feet under him. He launched himself to the balcony. The attacker cried out in anguish while raining bullets at the splintering table.
He climbed down to where Trowa and Lady Une were crouching in the bushes. He motioned for them to follow as an elegant red and blue Gundam swooped down in the shape of a fighter craft.
It tumbled end over end and transformed into the standard robotic form. Dust followed the trio into the stables. There were ten mounts ready for the morning patrol. Lady Une grabbed one more pistol and three bandoleers of clips. They all mounted excited horses.
"Well, Lady, I have been craving a distraction," Treize said.
"Distraction, yes. A Gundam attack, no," she replied to Treize.
"What's more thrilling then the chase?" Treize asked, leading the pair out of the stables and into the woods at breakneck speed.
"Quatre!" Heero shouted, running up beside the blonde who sprinted towards the stables. Heero watched Trowa ride off with Treize and Lady Une. He was beginning to think Wufei was right until Quatre leapt up on one of the horses. Heero grabbed the reigns.
"Wait on me," Heero demanded. He mounted up and gave pursuit with Quatre while Wufei and Duo dispatched several OZ Aries in their Gundams.
Heero was going to take control of this insane situation before it got to far. This situation dredged up the pain of losing Trowa all over again to Quatre's reckless emotions. This time Heero would get his role right in this play.
Quatre was hard to keep up with through the underbrush and the thick woods. The ground sloped rapidly, making it harder for Heero to control the bay gelding. He brought his horse to a protesting stop as Quatre halted his horse. It reared back. The Arabian, to Heero's admiration, kept his seat and brought the horse under firm control. He watched Quatre jump off the horse's back and run over the where Trowa was prone on the forest floor.
"Trowa!" he shouted.
"Quatre, no! It's a...," Heero didn't finish his warning before Lady Une and Treize had them blocked front and back. Trowa rolled over on his back and drew his gun on Quatre. The blonde skidded to his knees at Trowa's side. Trowa put the barrel of the gun against Quatre's chest.
"And you two are Gundam pilots? How laughable," Lady Une sneered as Heero surrendered his gun to the muddy ground, covered in leaves.
"Now, Lady, everyone has an off day," Treize said. Quatre sat frozen as Trowa rose up, still stiff from his injuries. Heero slid to Quatre's side and squeezed his shoulder harshly, hoping he would take a hint and act as if Trowa was an enemy. "You seem to know Captain Barton, Zero-Four. Tell us where you two met."
"I thought he was someone else I knew. I was very mistaken and made a foolish mistake," Quatre's voice sounded so aggrieved that it rung genuine. Treize waved them to their feet.
"I see, yet you gave chase as if your very soul were twisting in hell. Why? A mission?"
"In part," Quatre said with slumping shoulders.
"You have broken the ennui that has been plaguing me for weeks. For that, I will give you your lives. Remember, I may not be in such a generous mood next time. Colonel Une and Captain Barton, may I have the ropes in your saddle bags?"
They both removed ropes from their saddlebags that were packed for a regular patrol. They handed them to Treize, who quickly tied Quatre and Heero's wrists together over a low tree branch. He placed them belly to belly and tied them around their waists.
"Hopefully your other compatriots will find you," Treize said. Trowa and Lady Une brought their horses around and mounted them. Treize spooked two of the horses and mounted the last one.
"Good day, gentlemen. Hopefully we've taught you a valuable lesson. Lets go," Treize said with a wave of his hand.
Heero couldn't see them ride off because his face was pressed into Quatre's arm. He heard Quatre mummer something into his right arm as it became damp. No matter how hard he tried to force himself to be angry with Quatre, he couldn't do it.
"Listen to me, for now he's safe. Be grateful for that," Heero said.
"I'm so very sorry. I should have went to the camp first. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I can't believe I did something this stupid. Can you forgive me?" They both drew back their heads as much as they could to face one another.
"I would forgive you anything after what you went through with the Zero-System. I've forgiven it, so I can forgive this," Heero said.
"Oh Heero, what a mess I've created," Quatre said.
"You didn't know. You were acting on your emotions. I can respect that. I wish you would have asked. I, for one, am not waiting for Duo and Wufei," Heero said, yanking against the ropes.
He buried his face in Quatre's arm so he could concentrate on working them lose. He slipped into single minded purpose only snapping out of it when moisture formed in his armpits. Blood. He felt Quatre's head lull back from his cheek. Not all of it was his.
Treize looked over to where Trowa had taken point while he and Lady Une faded back out of the young man's ear shot. He smiled at the disheveled appearance. She never looked so gorgeous to him. Her cracked glasses and her hair that had worked its way into two braids with leaves clinging in it. He cringed at the idea of his own appearance.
"I don't believe that young man is what he appears," Treize whispered.
"Mister Treize, I must confess that when he was under my command the first time I had a similar feeling. He was withholding himself from me. The more I got to know him, the more I saw what a value he could be to you. I attempted to lure him towards OZ. That's when he was shot down and I..., well was shot. Now, seeing him again, I don't feel he's withholding from me," she replied.
"I feel the same. After all, if he were going to betray us he could have done it half a dozen times. The problem is that he could be trying to draw us into a deeper trust for a larger betrayal. I'm not sure if he is a Gundam pilot. When we get to the Romanian border we will send for a doctor. I want an assurance that we can use this boy effectively," Treize said.
"Yes, sir." Lady Une surged forward to take her turn at point. Trowa dropped back, wincing in pain. Treize reached over and patted him on the shoulder.
"You did good work back there," Treize said.
"Thank you, sir," Trowa said.
"I want to give you a fair chance to go back to the other pilots if you really are what that little blonde first thought," Treize said, watching Trowa's face carefully. Trowa's eyes turned wide as his head whirled around.
"No, sir. I'm not a traitor. I can't remember very much right now except for some of my time with the Colonel. I couldn't be one of those terrorists. The only thing I know is to want your will carried out."
"Would you fulfill my will and see a special kind of doctor when we get to Romania?"
"It will be done," Trowa affirmed, sitting in his saddle a little higher. Treize forced his horse up to relieve Lady Une of point duty.
"Well don't you two look cozy," Duo gloated. He and Wufei walked into the clearing. Heero snapped his head around as they reached the tree they were tied to.
"Hurry up," Heero snapped at the smirking American. Wufei drew his sword. The first swipe freed them from the tree; the second freed them from each other. They landed in a tangle of bloody limbs and grimy clothing. Quatre sat up slowly with a groan as Heero tended both their wrists. "How can you bleed so damn much? Don't you have any coagulation abilities in your blood?"
"I guess not," Quatre said with a wane smile. Wufei took over the medic's duty while Duo walked off with an ill look, deciding his other task took priority. "We need to decide what to do now."
"How about some food and rest while Duo fetches Heavyarms? It'll be about an hour before the sun sets," Wufei said, leaving them to light an eclectic heater against the chill that was settling into the valley.
"What about Sandrock?" Quatre asked.
"We picked them up on the way to find you two and hid them with our Gundams," Wufei answered.
"Thank you, Wufei," Quatre said, huddling by the heater. Duo roared off in the distance on Wufei's motor bike.
"Hey! You stupid idiot! That's my bike! Damn you!" From there it deteriorated into angry Chinese. Quatre chuckled as Wufei's fist waved at Duo's fading figure.
The three had the camp set up and food in their stomachs by the time Heavyarms came marching awkwardly over the hill. It came to rest on an empty semi bed with a loud groan and a heavy thud that rattled their teeth. Fifteen minutes later Duo walked into camp, rubbing his left arm and favoring the same leg.
"Damn that thing is overweighted. How can he move it without falling over? It's horrible! We should adieu..."
"Don't even touch his Gundam," Heero threatened with a low growl. "It's deliberately weighted that way. You should have let me go get it since I had all the weights memorized. You wouldn't have been able to fight if you were attacked," Heero said after swallowing the last of his water.
"First, it's stupid to have the Gatling gun and shield together. The thing is top heavy. Second, you messed yourself and Quatre up trying to escape Treize's third year Boy Scout project," Duo's baritone rolled on with the attack, his indigo eyes sparkling with outrage, "Third, I can handle any Gundam you put in front of me just fine. I don't have to attack a pilotless Gundam to make a kill. Unlike some certain part time circus clowns we know."
"Bitter much?" Heero asked with a warning hiss. Duo was seconds away from an ass kicking that Heero was obliged to give in his mood. Eyes narrowed as they eyed each other with crackling hostility.
"This isn't helping Trowa. We need to all sit down and relax. Please," Quatre requested. They complied, wary of each other. "Tomorrow I can call Rasid and have him pick up Heavyarms. I don't think it would be wise to make any more plans until then."
"Are you appointing yourself leader of this little escapade?" Wufei asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Wufei, please. I'm very sorry for my hasty action. Give me a chance for redemption," Quatre pleaded. The Chinese boy gave him a measuring look. He finally nodded in agreement. "Let's all get some rest. Okay?" Wufei and Quatre grabbed Duo and Heero, respectively, and dragged the hostile pair off to opposing tents.
"What do I do? Am I not responsible for him since he is under my command?" Lady Une asked. She sat on the plain wood bench beside Treize.
"Yes, Lady, you are. You need to make some choices concerning Mister Barton," Treize affirmed. "Don't start to pity him. Your choice about what is best for him will be tainted."
They both picked up their mugs of coffee and started to sip. They had arrived at a small Romanian village a little after midnight and been able to get an airlift to the nearest OZ base by two in the morning.
Treize had sent an OZ psychologist to Trowa's new quarters at three. He and Lady Une usurped the plush officers' quarters and paced until eight the next morning when the haggard grey psychologist brought in several audio tapes of his hypnosis section with Trowa.
Trowa didn't even acknowledge to himself he was really Gundam Zero-Three. The psychologist said that his head trauma earlier had blocked his life as a Gundam pilot out. His life as an orphaned mercenary was revealed, along with his betrayal at the hands of his first and only love. His mind tenaciously clung to the hazy, blissful absence of memories too painful to relive.
"That psychologist made a suggestion I think I would like to consider," Lady Une began dubiously. "He could have a fresh start in the OZ Organization and not have to fight losing battles anymore. Like I said when I first met him, talented people are attracted to OZ. This way, he could make an untainted choice to serve you. That, and he would never have to think about those appalling things that happened to him."
"What would you suggest? That we have him brainwashed into believing his military records are real?" Treize asked.
"Yes, I would," Lady Une said.
"Lady, I said I would let you make his choices for him since he is mentally incapacitated, but don't you think that taking his past away will change who he is? I don't think it's wise to tamper with his mind. The brain is a brittle organ," Treize said, leaning back.
"I am aware of that, however, is it fair for us to hand him over to Romefeller for execution when he isn't consciously aware that he's committed a crime? He wants to be loyal to you. The doctor said he was still unaware and sleeping peacefully now. He is not a willing spy, I know it. I don't want such potential to go to waste," she pleaded.
"Okay. You have three weeks to see if you can shape him into what I need for my project. Since he is a Gundam pilot, he'll be the perfect choice. In the meanwhile, make sure your man Nickole will be ready to fill in if Captain Barton doesn't work out," Treize said. Lady Une stood and snapped a salute.
"What would you do, Miste Treize," Lady Une asked softly, heading towards the door.
"I would dispose of him quietly and kindly," Treize said.
To Be continued.