Title: Strength of Heart
Warnings: Eventual Yaoi, Action, Adventure
Status: Work in progress (part 11)
Disclaimer: This is simply fanfiction. I don't own this anime and I'm not making any money. It's just for fun. Like that wasn't obvious. Still.
Wow. So sorry it took me so long. I've just been totally stumped and without motivation to write the rest of this chapter. I think it's because I have a lot of complexity to deal with and I'm not quite ready for the next steps of this story, so I just kept putting it off. Please enjoy and I will really try to get the next part out sooner.
Quatre woke for what seemed like the hundredth time. He felt disoriented and strange, but his soldier instinct kicked in and he quickly assessed his situation. He was groggy, and the room was a bit cold, though he was covered heavily with blankets. He could feel Heero near him, asleep and he relaxed, so there was no reason to hide his wakefulness. He opened his eyes slowly, and found that he was in a hotel room of some sort. He could make out the black shape of Heero on the bed next to his. The boy seemed unaffected by the cold, sleeping on top of the covers. His face looked relaxed and so much younger in slumber. Quatre's mouth quirked in a soft smile.
Looking around the room, the cool white light that leaked in through the blinds,Quatre realized they must be in space. Having last been aware of the glaring desert sun, this startled him to stir, pushing the blankets down and taking in a sharp breath.
Though minuscule, the sound was enough to wake the Japanese boy and he was quickly up and at Quatre's bedside as the blond sat up on his elbows. Heero sat on the edge of the bed and looked him over. Quatre blinked the sleep out of his eyes and gathered his thoughts.
"Heero, where are we?"
"The moon. It's a good place to get lost easily," Heero replied quietly. Quatre gasped low in his throat. He had been out all through that? "How are you feeling?" Heero helped Quatre sit up fully and lean back against the pillows while, he did a quick self assessment.
"Better. Mmmh. Clearer," compared to when he was last conscious, the roaring in his head had stopped. There was no confusion or headache. He only remembered bits and pieces of what had happened since he was abducted.
"Heero," Quatre whispered, even though they were alone, he didn't have the energy to speak loudly yet. "Heero, what are we doing here?"
"Irea brought us in your private craft."
"Oh." Quatre said quietly. He was still trying to deal with the fact that his sister was here, let alone involved in their dealings. He didn't want to drag her into anything else. He would deal with that later though.
"We're already booked under assumed names. Rashid is going to meet us on L2 in 2 weeks with supplies." Heero brought him back to the present.
Quatre nodded quietly. They had done quite a bit of work. He was thankful they had moved quickly.
"I can update you on what we've found. Do you want to do it now, or do you want to sleep some more?"
"I feel like all I've done is sleep." the blond lamented though he was grateful for the choice.
"You needed it," Heero replied seriously. "I'll make some tea. You should start with these."
Heero handed Quatre two drives he had pulled off the nightstand, and rose to get them something to drink. Quatre was probably dehydrated from being sedated so long.
"I'll get your laptop. This is the data Trowa brought."
"Right." Quatre replied, subdued. Heero returned with his laptop. "Quatre?"
"Heero," Quatre replied, looking at his bedspread. "I think I may have made a mistake."
Heero took the laptop out but sat down, waiting for the blond to explain.
"I've dragged you into something that you didn't want. I..." his voice trailed off weakly and he swallowed, looking up and meeting Heero's eyes. "I thought if I brought you with me that I would be helping, but I think I may have just made things worse. I'm worried about you, but I don't want you to do something you don't want to. I mean... I have resources. If you want to leave, you can. You can go anywhere you want. I'll make sure of it... as long as you're safe. You don't have to..."
Quatre shut up at Heero's low warning tone. Heero so easily sent his spinning up, into a random direction, and suddenly he found he had no energy left to say what he wanted to say. He simply gave into the intensity of Heero's eyes and found himself lost.
"Earth and the colonies are in danger. I won't abandon them. Or you."
"I... thank you." Quatre said quietly. Heero reached a hand and slid it into Quatre's blond hair, making the blond's breath catch. His hands were so warm. Quatre found himself unable to do anything but stare back.
Heero expected and welcomed the reaction this time. The slight dilation in those blue-green eyes, and Quatre's body, seeming to relax and tense at the same time. Heero slid his hand through the blond hair indulgently, before sliding his hand along the boy's chin and neck.
"Your fever seems to be gone. I'd better go tell Irea."
He exited, and Quatre shivered and then sighed, pulling up the files and getting started.
"They've already gone. They took off in Winner's private jet. The caretaker claims that they're using it to visit family."
"Any idea where they're headed?" Noin asked Wufei over the com link. He was currently heading from the house back toward the car after having spoken to one of the Maguanac caretakers.
"The moon. Should I follow?"
"Wufei, you know it won't do any good. They'll have disappeared already. We'll have another opportunity. The leader has already foreseen it. She needs you here. Return immediately."
"Right. On my way back then."
"Yes?" The Chinese boy raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"If it bothers you, doing this job, we can delegate it to someone else. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."
"We must do whatever is necessary for the peace. I have the best chance at finding them, and the best chance of convincing them that this is right."
"If you change your mind..."
"I'll inform you." Wufei replied.
Wufei, one more thing.
"I have some contacts there that used to be in White Fang."
"Should I ask about Zechs?"
Noin looked away, embarrassed. "His trail has gone pretty cold, but I thought we might find something."
Wufei smirked, but he knew better than to question the woman's desires. She wanted to find Zechs for an entirely ulterior reason than the peace of Earth and the Colonies. However, as long as the purpose was intertwined, he had no problem indulging her.
"As you wish."
The morning found Trowa and Duo making their way into the motel breakfast lounge. It was a large room, set with couches and coffee tables. Only a handful of people were up this early so it was a relatively quiet scene, except for a few early risers. Looking around, they soon spotted Heero and Quatre sitting on one of the couches. They already had a pot of coffee ordered along with a plate of breakfast breads. They were talking quietly.
"Hey Trowa, is it me, or are they sitting pretty close?" Duo whispered.
Trowa smiled quietly and the two made their way over to the pair, Duo throwing a folder on Quatre's lap.
"Id's, cash and credit cards all taken care of. How are you feeling, Quatre?"
"Better, thanks to you guys," Quatre smiled as they sat and helped themselves to breakfast.
"You still look a little tired." Trowa said softly. "Did Irea take a look at you?"
Quatre nodded, a little distractedly.
"She says I'm healthy enough. I'll be able to rest on the way to L2. We all will." Quatre leafed through the paperwork Duo had handed him. He looked up in surprise. Duo nodded.
I don't know which one it is, but all of our old accounts have been opened... at least the ones you guys told me about."
"Which means that at least one of the Doctors is still alive."
"We can't assume that." Heero warned. "If the preventors are already part of this, it could be them. They already have Wufei. Whoever opened those accounts will be able to track us if we use them. If someone is trying to get to us..."
"Which means we have to find out who is behind reopening them."
"It doesn't make sense." Duo said, leaning back. "Who's behind this? If the preventors are part of the conspiracy, how did it start? Did a group infiltrate? Or did it start there? What were they thinking?"
"It's not an improbable conclusion." Heero stated blandly. "Think about it. Quatre said that it felt like the Zero system."
Quatre nodded weakly when all eyes tracked to him for corroboration.
"It's a system that calculates for all possibilities and relays the best chance for success. In battle, it can help to calculate the best outcome. But if someone uses it for something beside battle, what then?"
Heero paused, while the others took some time to digest that possibility.
"What if someone started to use the Zero for something more long term? Even something seemingly innocent... like peace?"
A pin could have dropped now. Trowa was the first to speak.
"Oh my god,"
"Holy shit," Duo added. "You mean?"
"We can't be sure. But Quatre didn't rebuild the Gundams for nothing... right Quatre?"
Quatre, for his part, was a little pale. He nodded. All eyes were on him now, and he felt their concern, even if he couldn't meet their gaze. It was time to explain himself. He wet his dry lips with his tongue before starting.
"The Zero would calculate the fastest path to success. It doesn't take into account freedom, or human rights. However, it does calculate human nature in battle. Humans, by nature, fight to survive. Any living being fights to survive... whether it's right or not. We can't just stop. So how does the Zero system solve that problem?"
"By controlling human nature," Duo said, looking a bit sick.
Trowa put a hand on Quatre's shoulder.
"Is this what you saw, Quatre?" he asked softly. "Is this why you rebuilt the Gundams?"
"I wasn't sure," the blond said softly. "But it was too frightening to ignore."
"But the Zero system was destroyed, right? The only one left was in Wing Zero itself!" Duo argued.
"And Epyon," Heero replied. "Trowa disabled the Zero System on Barge, but it might have still functioned.
"Besides, there were other factions that analyzed the data from the Zero system when we were captured." Quatre added.
"But who?" Trowa asked. "Who would have reactivated it for that purpose?"
"We're going to have to find out," said Heero. "We'll need to find out who is behind it and how they're spreading it. Since it was a Doctor who went after Quatre, we can start with medical facilities and see if we can find how it's being distributed." Heero looked up sharply. They all turned to see Irea approaching their group.
"I can probably help with that," she said smiling.
The boys stood up as Irea joined. She went directly to her brother and put a hand on the side of his head, checking his eyes and grasping his wrist to take his pulse.
"Irea..." Quatre said softly.
"Your still a little hot, but your pulse is back to normal. You'll probably need to wear the resonator helmet a few more nights to make sure the nanobots are all deactivated. In the meantime, I can help you get the information you need."
"Irea, I can't let you get any more involved than you already are. This could get dangerous fast."
"Quatre, you can't push me away again. I can help you."
"Irea, you've already been hurt because of me. You could jeopardize everything you have. Not just your career, but your life!"
"If there's danger, Quatre, you all are going to need a doctor!"
"The Maguanacs have a field doctor."
"No. You know that's not good enough, Quatre. I majored in neuroscience and worked for 4 years for Novartis' nanotechnology section. Unless you know someone with that knowledge, you're not going to have any way of studying this technology and countering it."
"She's right, Quatre. We need her as a resource,"
Quatre looked at Duo in desperation.
"Duo, please don't. I can't let her get involved."
"Qat, she already is involved," Duo said plainly. "If they're targeting hospitals, it's only a matter of time before they get a hold of her. Face it man, she's safer with us."
Quatre bit his lip, and looked at Heero, as if for help. He merely nodded almost imperceptibly.
Quatre sighed and nodded.
"All right. We'll need to get you some equipment so that we can build you a proper lab."
Irea's eyes lit up when she smiled and hugged him.
"I know just the resource satellite we can start with."
Lady Une straightened her uniform tunic as she sat in one of the plush chairs of the office foyer. She had been nursing a headache all day, but work wasn't going to wait. She didn't look forward to this meeting.
She looked up. The secretary hung up the phone and smiled.
"Miss Dorlian will see you now."
Une stood as the secretary pushed a button and a door slid open. Inside, was all glass and stainless steel. The office was immaculately clean, the reflective surfaces made everything look even bigger. A large floor to ceiling window overlooked the business district of one of the L4 colonies. Relena was at the wet bar already preparing some iced tea. It was welcome after the heat of the colony.
"Miss Une. It's a pleasure to see you. Though I take it you don't bring good news?"
"I'm afraid not," Une said glibly. She sipped some iced tea and sat down at the large glass desk across from Relena. "It seems that the rest of the Gundam pilots have disappeared. Unfortunately our Earth contingent targeted Quatre Winner without knowing who he was. He escaped before Wufei could get to him. We've tried to find them, but one thing those boys knew was how to stay off the radar."
"I understand," Relena said turning and looking out the window. "It's a shame that it happened, but not at all unexpected. Do you think that my brother contacted him?"
"We haven't seen a sign of him either, but there's no evidence that he's been in contact with any of them. However, they were all at one of the Winner complexes when it happened. I suspect when Quatre returned, they decided to leave quickly. The Maguanacs have been ultimately unhelpful. Since they're still under Middle East jurisdiction and not part of the Alliance, we don't have much in the way of legal recourse."
"Of course not. It will be a while before all nations are on board with the peace plan. However, we are making good progress. Considering the hundreds of organizations we have to eventually absorb, things have gone amazingly smoothly. I am pleased."
"Yes, but of all people, the Gundam pilots could be the biggest threat to peace. We must find them."
"There is no need," Relena brushed the issue away like an annoying fly. "Things are in hand. The fact is, they are just one of the many challenges we will have to face before we can achieve ultimate peace. We have intercepted several messages we believe to be White Fang communications. It seems there are quite a few groups arming themselves again and speaking out against ESUN and the peace movement. We will have to deal with them carefully. Have you finished the mobile doll production?"
"Yes," Une replied. "We have enough troops to protect the main hubs."
"Excellent. I want you to increase production. We will need more once the Libra 2 is complete. They will be for defense only. As for the Gundam Pilots, they will come to us eventually if we're patient. In the meantime, we will continue the plan."
"Should I put the pilot's pictures out on the wire?"
"As persons of interest for now. It is vitally important that people don't see them in a bad light. Once they join the cause, they will need to be known as heroes. I don't want to risk their image if we can avoid it."
"I understand. I will also monitor Winner Enterprises accounts and communications. We might get lucky if they try to use any of those accounts."
"It's a good precaution to take. Heero's too smart to get caught easily. However I don't think they will have too many resources at their disposal. They haven't had time since the war since they've been involved with the preventors. If they strike, it will be by infiltrating our forces... random acts of sabotage probably. We will have to be vigilant."
"Then I will make sure that our people know their faces."
Relena nodded. "That will suffice. Thank you Miss Une."
"For Ultimate Peace."
"That should do it. I've sent our jet back to earth, and I've put in an order to one of our Medical Resource sattelites. They'll be sent to L2 and we can pick them up before we meet Rashid. I've also ordered some equipment from my lab on L4 to be shipped. That should be enough to start."
Quatre, Duo and Irea were at the Lunar Hospital. Irea had used her access to get them into the offices so that she could run some tests. In the meantime Heero had planted a back door into the system so that even if Irea lost her clearance, they could hack into the systems. It would be far easier and less trackable than hacking in from outside.
Quatre stood watching as Irea collected what she needed. Duo was outside on watch.
"Unfortunately the sample they saved from you was too broken down for me to get any real information. However I was able to analyze the proteins in the substance. That may help."
"We need to get going soon before people get curious." Quatre said softly.
Irea stood up and walked to one of the big drives, resting on her cane while pulling her own smart drive out of the interface.
"This should be enough. I have your DNA information and the records we need, and it looks like Heero's program is installed. I can wait for the equipment for everything else."
"Irea..." Quatre hesitated. However Irea knew he was attempting again to talk her out of it. She walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. He chose to stare at her cane.
"Quatre, this wasn't your fault. We both went after father. You didn't force me to come with you that day."
"But if you hadn't kept me from hitting the bulkhead."
"Then you would be walking with this instead."
"You know I wouldn't, Irea. My body is designed to take higher impact."
"Well I didn't know that at the time. Besides your my little brother. I don't think I could have stopped what I did even if I knew. I love you! Plus, this will heal. It just needs time. You can't keep blaming yourself for everything that happens. And you can't try to protect me. This is my life. It's my choice to come with you. I'm the older sister. I get to protect you."
The door opened and they both jumped, but relaxed when they saw Duo walking in. Dressed in his usual black, he stood out like a sore thumb against the white lab coats of the hospital. However he was very good at not being seen, even like that. A ballcap and a jacket made him look like a visitor anyway since they were close to the outpatient lobby.
"We need to get going. Some nurses started to talk about who you were. I distracted them with my charm and wit of course, but they'll get antsy if we don't leave soon."
Quatre smiled at Duo's levity. "Thanks, Duo." He handed Duo a bag with some equipment in it.
"Hey are we stealing this stuff? Quatre I never knew! My little boy is growing up!" he wailed, sounding a bit like a Jewish mother. Quatre tried not to laugh.
"Knock it off, Duo." He grabbed a bag himself. "Fortunately or unfortunately, these are pieces that were going to be recycled. So you'll probably be the one helping to put them together."
"Why me?" He said as they exited.
"Well weren't you the one who said you could get anything working again?"
"It was a business slogan and I was talking about Mechanics, not lab equipment."
"What's the difference?"
Irea laughed and the nurses watched them leave, blushing when the boy with the long hair winked at them.
Outside, Heero was waiting with a white panel van. He opened the side door and Trowa helped them load the few things they had. Duo stopped and gawked for a minute.
"A surveilance van? How in the name of all that is sneaky did you get that setup?"
"I borrowed it." Heero said Dryly. "Our flight doesn't leave for L2 for another two days. I want to check a few people out before we leave to see if I can get any information."
"Like who?" Quatre asked.
"Like the head of nanoelectronics. The moon is a main artery for delivery to Earth."
Duo helped Irea into the passenger seat before heading to the other side. However Trowa had already climbed into the front.
"I'm driving Duo," he said softly.
"But Trowa, I always drive."
"Not with sensitive equipment in the back. Remember what happened last time?"
Duo huffed and climbed in the back.
"You know, you wreck one crime lab on wheels and they never let you forget it. As I recall we were being chased."
The two pilots continued to argue good naturedly. Quatre was about to climb in the other side when Heero's hand on his arm stopped him. He looked up, startled.
Heero looked at him with that scrutinizing non expression. His dark blue eyes bore into Quatre's own blue green.
"Is something wrong Heero?"
Heero shook his head imperceptibly. Hesitating a moment more.
"Have dinner with me tonight. I already made reservations. We have things to talk about."
Quatre almost fell out of the van. Was Heero proposing a date? Or maybe he just wanted to discuss their plan. Quatre hoped the former. He couldn't help the goofy grin that spread over his face.
Heero relaxed imperceptibly, but Quatre noticed. He always did. He smiled even brighter even as he tried to school his expression as he climbed into the van's back seat. Heero climbed in after and shut the door as Trowa drove them away. However every time they were jostled Quatre felt butterflies in his stomach since Heero's hand would brush lightly against his.
Sheesh, you would think that this one little chapter wouldn't have given me so much trouble, but it was a booger to write. I just could not get the creative juices flowing. Hope you enjoy it, though you didn't get that much info or action in this one. Be warned that the next chapters will be launching into a lot of non Gundam boy info. I'm mapping it out right now. However it will give the actual plot a kick in the pants. I have so much to keep track of now, I really have to map it out carefully.