Memento [Part One]
The sheets were warm, so warm that he kicked them away from his already sweating form. Why he never got rid of the thick blankets, he didn't know why. They were just a nuisance on hot summer nights and they did nothing but suffocate him despite their warmth in the cold winters. Now he was awake, hot and in a foul mood. Bad mornings usually meant bad days and bad days lead into horrible weeks.
"...day marks the fifth anniversary of the alliance between the earth and the colonies. To celebrate this momentous occasion, representatives from the colonies will arrive on earth to discuss..."
Trowa shut his alarm off with a loud whap to the abused button. He almost forgot that he had a job to do that day. The Preventers thrived on those occasions that attracted the scum of every possible hole. As a Preventer, he had to make sure that nobody was assassinated and that whatever political views were discussed were done immediately and efficiently. He really didn't care much for the lunatic fringe.
"...identities of the Gundam pilots that until now have not yet fully been revealed. According to inside resources, pilot of Gundam zero t..."
This time he pulled the plug off the wall socket with an irritated tug. He was in no mood to listen to such claims. After so many years, he thought that they would have given up but until then, their blind ignorance lead them on the thrill of the hunt. Whatever made them happy was fine with him. He didn't see any harm in revealing his identity. He had nothing to hide anyway.
"Rise and shine Tro... just your buddy here with the morning call... have to make sure you're up and ready before the show begins."
Trowa looked at his answering machine, another one of the damnable devices that plagued his home. Duo had a bad habit of calling him every morning and although the phone never rang, the blasted machine took over the job of taking the messages.
"You better be up sleeping beauty. Une is going to have our hides if we aren't all there by six."
Trowa picked up the phone. Duo was honestly worse than the ringing in his ear.
"How could you be so damn jolly at 4:30am?" Trowa asked, his disheveled look coming up on the vid-screen.
"Three cups of black coffee, my friend. Three cups of that awe-inspiring liquid."
Duo presented him with a wide grin and held the empty coffee pot out for him to see.
"I don't think I'd want to see you before those three cups," Trowa commented while trying to stifle a yawn. He combed his fingers through his hair and tried to blink his eyes open.
"All the horrid pleasure goes to me, of course," Duo said with another grin. "I have to see all you lovely hunks in your most vulnerable and disastrous states... Hilde baby!" he suddenly called out. "Look! It's Trowa half-naked on the phone and glistening with sweat."
"Wha..." came the sleepy voice from the background. "What? Where?"
Within an instant, Hilde was next to Duo, still in her pajamas with her hair going in different directions.
"Oh hi Trowa!" she greeted and waved her hand. "Be careful out there today and tell Heero that this idiot over here didn't mean to blackmail him with those pictures."
With a flying kiss to Trowa and a peck on the cheek to Duo, she made her way back to the bedroom where she most likely went back to sleep. Trowa wondered how the two could be such a perky couple at the most ungodly hours of the day.
"Whoops!" Duo said and then laughed. "You can't blame a guy for wanting to take incriminating pictures of the most untouchable guy on the earth sphere. Many a woman would pay good money to have a picture of zero-one in nothing but his gun. Yeesh, you'd think that the guy was considerate enough to put something on before picking up the phone."
Trowa shook his head in disbelief. If it wasn't Heero down his throat, it was Wufei. The man just did not fear anything, not even the wrath of one Chang Wufei.
"Aw crap! I'll see you later Tro... gotta make sure Wufei's up too... don't want Une getting on my case for not doing my job. Ta ta!"
Trowa smiled faintly. At least his mood was picking up a bit. Moving toward the closet, he took out his uniform and some clean undergarments before heading to the shower for a quick, cold bath.
"Looks like zero-one's grumpy this morning," came Duo's sing-song voice as Trowa made himself comfortable.
"Shut up Duo!"
He looked up from his nth mug of hot tea to see Heero decidedly pissed off. He nodded a quick greeting before staring back down at his tea. The honey looked interesting when it settled at the bottom.
"Nope. I'm not going to shut up. I've got to make sure you're all up and alert come briefing time. Right Wu?"
He noticed that Wufei wasn't really paying attention and instead had his eyes closed and was on a world of his own. After their all day, late-night stake out at a possible arms warehouse for three nights straight, he didn't know how they would be able to function at 6am.
"I know that idiot!" Heero practically screamed as he pulled a chair out and sat. "What I don't understand is why you had to wake me up an hour earlier than everyone else. We didn't leave that warehouse until midnight so I would've appreciated another hour of sleep."
"Because I love you the best!"
Trowa sighed and fought the urge to cover up his ears. Their little spout was helping him wake up but it was also causing him a headache.
"That's enough zero-one, zero-two."
Lady Une finally arrived and on her arms were stacks of papers and rolls of maps.
"Glad to see you're here zero-five and thank you for coming zero-three."
It was times like these that Trowa wished that they had better codenames. The number system was getting dull after a couple of years. Apparently, when they had initially joined, all the better codenames were already taken, leaving them with a few options. Perhaps Lady Une preferred the number system to remind them of the skills they possessed as former Gundam pilots or perhaps it allowed her to keep a little bit of Treize's regime in her heart. Zero-three was such a boring name but then Duo's other suggestions were a little less than acceptable. Bozo was certainly not acceptable. That's when he decided to stick with zero-three.
"I have the maps of the vicinity and the surrounding structures. We've marked down any possible hide-outs and distances within shooting ranges of all the types of firearms listed under the sun. Your job is to decide what spot you should take to efficiently stop whatever assassins and fanatics are out there. There is no need to worry about any bombs. A separate team will handle them. I trust that you will be done within the hour since you decided to start later than usual. We will set up ourselves within the perimeter in the next hour. Work fast. The arrival of the delegates and representatives will start at 0800 hours sharp. Make sure you're ready by then."
She left just as quickly as she entered and all that was left were four men and an endless stack of papers.
"Slave driver," Duo muttered as Trowa began to unroll one of the maps. It was time for work and whether he liked it or not, he was going to have to keep himself awake and keep sharp for the next sixteen hours of the day. The most glorious thought on Trowa's mind was the idea of sleeping for twelve hours straight as soon as his head hit the pillow.
"Everyone on the list is a potential target," Wufei's voice permeated the silence. The other three looked at him, a little surprised that he was up, but more concerned about how they were going to make it work. "We have to cut the list down to the most likely targets and split it up. Let's get this over with. My bed is calling for me."
All present nodded in agreement as they continued their job, making sure that they would be ready before the hour was over.
"Three more delegates to baby-sit and I could drop dead on the first mattress I see. ...Forget what I said. I'm going to drop dead on the first surface I see instead. So, how many have we apprehended so far zero-five?"
"Fifteen including the drunks, loons and assassins."
"What's that? like one per hour?"
Trowa adjusted his mouthpiece just to make sure that he could use it when the time came. It was getting late and that meant that there would be more people to look out for.
"If this little pattern continues," Duo continued. "There's going to be one more sucker waiting in the bushes. But then again the 'hiding in the bushes' scenario is getting a little old, huh? What's your opinion zero-one? Third level of the abandoned Leverett building?"
"That's too obvious."
"Hey, I don't hear you making any suggestions. So how about you zero-three? Have any guesses?"
Trowa didn't catch the last statement because he was busy following someone with his line of sight. There was apparently someone intent on causing trouble again. That same someone was moving rather fast before he stopped.
"Zero-three spotting suspect number sixteen," he said. "Zero-two, he's by the bushes to your left, five meter distance, standard rifle, doesn't look like a professional."
"Got it! Zero-five, we need someone to baby-sit his target. Zero-one, have you spotted his target?"
"Who's he aiming for?"
"Walta. Ugly politician. Fat guy with a toupee. Twice suspected of corruption. Got out of a felony once. Big fan of powdered donuts."
"Aww, can't we just let nature take its course?"
Trowa felt the urge to laugh at Duo's antics. It was always Duo's words that kept them sane on very serious missions that involved a lot of painstaking concentration. Where would they be without him?
"Stay focused zero-two. I'm escorting Walta out of here. I better not end up with a bullet in me because I'm coming for you right after."
"I love you far too much zero-five."
With the stealth Duo had always been known for, he approached the unguarded man with a tap on the shoulder. In the blink of an eye, the man was stunned, handcuffed and lead away to the Preventer officers that handled arrests.
"You can leave the fat guy alone now zero-five. We've got the man."
Despite the calm that overcame the other three, Trowa couldn't help but watch out for more bad news. There was still a feeling inside his gut that was bothering him to no end.
"Zero-one," he said. "Who's coming out next?"
There was a pause before Heero answered.
Trowa nodded his head although he knew that Heero could not see him. It was a possibility that Relena was going to be targeted. In fact, she was on top of the list. The show wasn't over yet. He kept his senses clear and focused on anything that might come up. He was pretty sure by then that the others were also on alert as soon as they heard the name. It was a fact that Relena was a hot target. One with such extreme views that came with implicit power was most likely to be a danger in the end.
A few minutes passed before Relena finally came out of the building with the last delegate by her side. While she was busy, her bodyguards for the night kept watch. So intent was Trowa on finishing the job that he stretched his neck for a bit. That little stretch was all it took for him to spot a figure perched on the fourth floor of the abandoned Leverett building Duo had mentioned earlier.
"We've got ourselves a rat at high perch," he said and took out his handy device to calculate the distance away the assassin was. "It's too dark. I can't see a thing. Is anybody within the range?"
The third response was missing because as Trowa looked toward Heero, he saw the other making a run for Relena, most likely to assist her out of danger. There was very little time left.
"Let zero-one do his job," Wufei said. "I see a cable that connects to the building zero-three. You think you can jump your way up there?"
Trowa looked up to find that there indeed was a thin line that if crossed, would get him to the target in no time. The distance wasn't too far up so he suspected that he could make it.
"Positive. I see the wire. Commencing."
With a high jump and a graceful landing on the thin wiring, Trowa walked with perfect balance toward the building. Another long jump got him exactly on the fourth floor just behind the assassin. His landing was almost soundless that the man did not notice him.
"Show off," Duo said through the communicator.
Trowa tapped the assassin on the shoulder.
"You know," he said in his usually cold and steady voice. "You're off by a three degree angle and your gun should be pointed a half inch to the right. Your shoulders are not steady, making it hard to shoot and your footing will cause you to slip right after the shot. You should have positioned yourself on the third level of this building. The fourth window from the right of the building would have been the best spot."
"Know it all," he heard Duo say again from his receiver.
Dumbfounded, the man stared at him in disbelief, momentarily forgetting about his mission to kill.
"Shut up kid if you don't want to be killed."
With a swift swing, Trowa unarmed the man and flashed him with a smug grin.
"It was a mistake to go after Darlian," Trowa said.
"Kid, you don't know what you're talking about. I'd be crazy to go after that woman. She's got more bodyguards than the President of the Earth sphere himself."
"Really?" Trowa asked, amusing himself for the moment. "Then who were you planning to shoot?"
"Zero-three, quit being haughty," Duo warned him but he didn't feel like listening. Instead of arresting the man like he should have, he continued his inquiries.
"Tell me, who was it you were planning to shoot anyway? The building's practically devoid of politicians by now. Go ahead. Entertain me."
"You wanna know kid? Fine. I was after the rich blonde kid. I was after the Winner brat."
Trowa's eyes narrowed. He heard Duo scream 'oh shit!' from his receiver but he didn't even care anymore. The damn bastard struck a vein.
"Trowa, don't think about it," Duo's almost frantic voice came from the other end. "Get yourself together man! Time to go home buddy. Get him tied up so we could all go to bed. Remember that sleep-a-thon we were planning?"
Trowa had enough. He pulled out the communicator that was tucked behind his ear, discarded the weapon to the far corner of the room and began to pummel the man's face with his fists. He thought he heard Duo curse while calling the others for assistance but it didn't matter to him. The man was his for the night.
"Bastard," he hissed between hits. "Quatre Winner disappeared three years ago without a trace. Don't you, of all people tell me that he's in there. Get your inside resources straight before jumping into something you obviously don't know much about."
"Stop it! I get the point!" the man countered in horror from the look on Trowa's face.
"No you don't! Who are you to tell me where my husband is? Huh? Who are you?"
The next blow almost hit the man's rib before the other three came rushing in, all their efforts concentrated on holding their friend back. The rest of the Preventers team managed to take the man to the paramedics before Trowa could break loose.
"Get a hold of yourself Trowa," Heero said, once again ignoring the use of codenames as Duo had done earlier.
"Let go of me!" Trowa yelled before he was released from the hold of the three. By then, the paramedics had already taken the injured suspect away from the scene. They were quick. Trowa had to hand it to them.
"That was uncalled for," Heero continued, sounding as if he was the only one who could handle the angry man. It was a fact that he indeed was.
"Leave me alone," Trowa answered, sounding a little more defeated than angry. It seemed his anger was driven down, only to be replaced by despair. He used his right hand to trace around a silver band that was nestled in his left hand, nestled in the finger that was closed tight against his palm.
All of a sudden he remembered just why he never got rid of the thick blankets that were simply a nuisance to his bedding. Even after Duo's beer spills, several trips to the drycleaners and years of abuse, the blankets still smelled sweetly of Quatre.