the_goldenpath: (Gundam Wing Fics - Heero and Duo)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: Duo Maxwell and the Amber Room of Gold
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairings: established Heero and Duo
Genre: AU, action/adventure with light angst/drama/romance
Warnings: Duo’s potty mouth, some violence. Shounen ai.
Summary: After his adventure in Tibet, Duo Maxwell returns home with Heero and receives a request from the military organization known as The Alliance to retrieve paintings lost during WWII. He travels to Eastern Europe and soon discovers that’s not all he’s supposed to retrieve…
Author’s note: unbeta-ed. Sequel to “Duo Maxwell and the Sword of the Khan”, following the same Tomb Raider-ish concept (not a cross-over), but can be read as a stand-alone. Some references to people and events from the Tomb Raider comics, movies, and/or games. Feedback is a nice thing.

Key: ----------------- = scene change




--------------------------------


“Motherfuckers,” Duo kept repeating, muttering under his breath, from time to time. Heero understood his frustration, so he didn’t bother correcting his lover’s foul language. He was bothered by something else, or rather, by someone else: Klaus Feldschweig. Heero couldn’t believe it was a coincidence that he had met the man, right then, at that moment at the spa. The way the man comported himself had unnerved him. Feldschweig was a wolf, lurking in the shadows, and ready to strike. Heero had no doubt that the man had killed, probably with his bare hands. Those cold eyes, that perfectly calm demeanor… Heero tried to be as objective as possible, but Feldschweig had pushed all the wrong buttons, especially the way he’d been talking about Duo. Subtle, yet threatening. The thought of something bad happening to Duo, was sickening. He was convinced that Feldschweig was capable of anything, and he pondered what he could do about this man.

“Why are you looking so angry, dear?” Duo asked out of the blue.

“This whole situation bothers me,” Heero answered truthfully.

“Yeah, me too. What kind of asshole do you have to be to threaten an entire family? Poor Grigore. Poor Mila.”

Klaus Feldschweig would classify immediately, or so Heero thought, but he didn’t voice it out loud. Instead, he stared in front of him, lost in thoughts. Duo didn’t continue the conversation; despite being an excellent navigator, he needed all his focus and concentration to find the way to Brsiç in the pitch-dark. The sturdy Jeep dealt with the rougher parts of the road, the 4 wheel drive had no difficulties with the terrain. It was another fifteen minutes to the town when Duo cleared his throat.

“Say, before we get into town, how are we going to do this? I don’t want to involve Branka and her family, and run the risk that they’ll be threatened too.”

“I have the feeling that the Silivaş aren’t that quick to be intimidated, but you’re right, we should avoid getting innocent people caught up in whatever is going on,” Heero answered.

“What about Alexandru? You know, the son of the garage owner who sold us the four new tires? Three strapping young men are even less quick to be intimidated.”

“The father is old and vulnerable,” Heero objected.

“We can’t spend the night in the Jeep, Heero. I’m sure Branka can take care of herself, but if I were the bad guy, I’d go for the ‘weak’ girl, and not for three sons who have worked with heavy machinery and tools their entire lives.”

“Yes, you’re right. We can ask if we can spend the night at their garage, and we’ll see what happens in the morning.”

“All right.” Duo stepped on the gas and soon enough, at the entrance of Brsiç, the garage with the servicii complete sign came into view. Duo killed the Jeep’s headlights; the entire environment went dark. It was around two past midnight.

“Well, let’s get this over with.” Duo wasn’t looking forward to wake up anyone of the brothers or their father, but drastic times called for drastic measures. No other hotel would accept them; he had the feeling that the entire town of Çleçiani had been ‘warned’ about them. Heero knocked onto the wooden front door of the building, increasing the volume with every knock.

Ce dracu? Cine-i acolo?” A gruff, annoyed voice was overheard.

“We’re sorry to disturb you,” Heero said. “Can you please help us?”

One of the windows of the adjacent building opened and this time one of the brothers stuck his head out, grumbling. Duo heaved a sigh of relief.

“Alexandru! Can you help us, please?”

Holding up an oil lamp, the eldest son squinted at Duo and Heero, before recognition settled in.

“Your tires are broke again?”

“No, no, they’re fine,” Duo said. “We need a place to sleep, Alexandru. Can you get us inside? Just a mattress will do.”

“Just a moment.” Alexandru closed the window again. After a couple of minutes of stumbling and fumbling, he opened the door, while rubbing in his eyes. He looked like he’d thrown on the first thing he could find, as he was dressed in totally mismatching baggy pants and an oversized shirt.

“Thank you so much,” Duo said as he stepped inside. Alexandru yawned. He handed Duo the oil lamp, so he could see where he was going. The garage was cluttered with tools and equipment, various cars and boxes filled with junk, a veritable scrap yard crammed into a few square meters. Without another word, Alexandru beckoned to them and they left the garage, going through the door that connected the workspace to the living quarters. Duo and Heero ended up in a small, yet cozy kitchen; Alexandru mumbled an apology about the dirty dishes in the sink.

“We’re very sorry to overwhelm you like this,” Heero said. “We were… requested to leave Çleçiani and we need a place to sleep, just for tonight. We don’t want to be a bother.”

“We have room in attic,” Alexandru said, keeping his voice low. The rest of the household was still asleep, and he wanted to keep it that way. Duo and Heero nodded in understanding and followed him to the stairs, making as little noise as possible. Alexandru climbed the rickety stairs and went ahead to the attic, motioning to mind their heads as the ceiling was low. It was hard to move around with a mountain of boxes piled on top of each other and dark wooden cabinets taking up space from floor to ceiling, cramping the already small attic. However, tucked away in the corner was a metal-framed bed, complete with mattress and pillows, and sheets and blankets on top. Alexandru removed some clothes and chased a cat away, which had nested between the sheets.

“I’ll tell my family in the morning,” he said, “about you being here. Be careful.” With the clothes on his arms, he descended the stairs again, leaving Duo and Heero in the attic, with the
oil lamp to provide a little bit of light.

“Cozy,” Duo said.

“Romantic,” Heero added.

“I’m about to keel over. It’s going to be a rough night, I guess.”

“I’ll sleep on the floor,” Heero said. “I know you need your space.”

“That’s not funny,” Duo snipped. Heero didn’t make fun of him, it wasn’t a secret that Duo was prone to restless sleeping and tossing and turning. It wasn’t a problem at home, where the bed was quite large, but this bed was obviously much smaller. He looked at a few articles of clothing that Alexandru had forgotten to take with him. “Hey, Heero…?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t you think…” Duo got on the bed and showed Heero the clothes. “…this is all quite girly?”

Heero touched the white, lace fabric. “It looks like a maramã, just like the one Branka was wearing. It’s very traditional female headgear around here.”

“Weird. Is this some kind of secret snuggle place for the brothers and their girlfriends?”

“I doubt it, Duo. Alexandru wouldn’t have shown it to us, even if it were…” Heero put the fabric aside, tired.

“Maybe the family consisted of more than just three sons?”

“Or it could be their mother’s.” Heero nudged him. “Can we please go to bed now?”

“Sure, sure.” Duo pulled his shirt over his head, when something rustled against his skin.

“What’s that?”

“The envelope Grigore gave me when we left,” Duo said. He had totally forgotten about it. Heero plucked the envelope from between the folds of Duo’s shirt and held it up. “Our money back?”

“No, it’s something different. Open it, please?” Duo watched as Heero tore open the envelope and pulled out a small piece of paper. He unfolded it. “What does it say?”

“Here.” Heero gave the piece of paper to Duo, who immediately read the one and only written line of text: Help us.

“Jesus fuck Heero, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t like it one bit.” The small, but round handwriting was more than probably a female signature; it had to be Mila’s. Heero regretted that he hadn’t brought his Remington along. The heavy shotgun sure would come in handy for some serious protection. After a moment of silence, Duo put the piece of paper back in the envelope and continued undressing. Heero followed his example, understanding that there was nothing they could do at the moment anyway, and fatigue was claiming them. Duo moved around to make room for Heero on the bed and they pulled out the sheets and blankets to cover themselves. Heero took Duo in his arms for a firm hug, and that his hug was tighter than usual was welcomed by Duo, who responded by returning the gesture, almost just as firm.


-------------------------------



Heero woke up in an empty bed. Usually he was the first one to rise in the morning; it didn’t worry him at all that Duo was already up. He had so much energy, even though he liked snuggling up to Heero and enjoying the wee hours of a brand new day. Heero stretched himself, his back slightly aching. The mattress was thin and small, and he had spent the night in a very uncomfortable position. He swung his legs over the edge and stretched once more. Heero was alerted by the footsteps on the stairs, but he dropped his defensive position when he saw it was Duo, carrying a tray.

“Breakfast is served, my love,” he announced. Duo put the tray on the bed: slices of bread, scrambled eggs, feta cheese, a bowl of yogurt and some cold cuts, along with a huge jar of fruit juice and two glasses.

“Not bad,” Heero said. “Can I get dressed first?”

“No, you look cute in your boxers. Let’s eat, I’m famished.” Duo poured juice as Heero took a bite from the bread.

“It’s delicious, still warm!”

“Ferenç made it fresh this morning,” Duo said. “He’s the youngest. Dragos is the middle one. They got a good business going on, it’s been in the family for generations. Their grandfather started out with oil and coals, their father expanded with ovens and engines, and the sons added car repairs. There’s just nothing they can’t fix.”

“So you got to talk to them? Are all the brothers aware of our… eh, presence here?”

“Yes, Alexandru told them this morning. They don’t seem to mind much, but I don’t want to impose on the family. I have to find the motherfuckers who are behind this. I want answers.”

“Where do you want to start? You got a plan?”

“Not really,” Duo answered sheepishly. He ate another piece of feta, and munched on the cheese. “I don’t have a clue where to start. I’d like to talk to Branka and find out where all these sentiments come from. WWII happened quite some time ago, but it feels like it’s still fresh in the collective mind around here. I’m curious to know why these sentiments linger. Slashing a couple of tires to scare away someone, fine, but to actually threaten a family with God knows what… I have a feeling it’s all connected. Someone’s keeping an eye on us.”

Feldschweig? Heero hadn’t thought of the possibility. He got angry at the thought that the man, by casually showing himself at the spa, delicately was rubbing it in that he was the superior one, perhaps pulling all the strings.

“There you go again,” Duo said.

“What?”

“That angry look on your face. Just like in the car, yesterday.”

“Sorry, but this guy just pisses me off.”

“What guy? Anyone from the Pârvulescu family?”

Heero shook his head and told Duo everything about the tall man with the Waffen SS tattoo. Duo listened attentively, frowning as the story unfolded. “You should’ve told me right away, Heero. ‘One Nation, One People, One Fate: Why Accepting Imperfection In Our Genes Will Lead Us To Our Demise’ sounds exactly like the book I’d want on my coffee table.” Grimacing with disgust, Duo’s eyes widened suddenly. “That was the book you were reading at the spa, right?”

Heero confessed to buying the book. “I’m obviously not subscribing to this man’s ideals, Duo, but I want to know more about his background. I want to know who we’re dealing with. And the most shocking thing was, that I could buy it right there, at the spa’s reception desk.”

“Unbelievable. It feels like we’ve just opened one big, stinking snake pit.”

“And we haven’t even started on the paintings yet.”

“Maybe we should just leave.” Duo sounded hesitant. “Go back home and tell Acht that we have no leads on the paintings and that it’s no use. It’s a goodwill mission, nobody expects us to succeed… I don’t like the idea of quitting, but Nazis scare me.”

“If you want to go home, we go home,” Heero said. He finished the last of his fruit juice. “I go where you go.”

“I know.” Duo pecked him on the cheek. “But let’s not give up right now. Get dressed and then we’ll go to the museum.”

After Heero was dressed, Duo took the tray with the dirty dishes downstairs, into the kitchen. Dragos was busy with cleaning, but he declined Duo’s offer to help. The rest of the family was either outside or in the garage, so they went on their way to the museum. When they crossed the central plaza with the bronze fountain, Duo couldn’t help himself but to stick his hands in the cold, fresh water, like a little kid about to splash it all over. Heero let him be, but as he scanned the area, he saw a familiar face: Stjepan Djurdjevic, carrying a large crate with vegetables. The young man caught his glare and his face reddened. Heero had no urge to talk to him, not having forgotten how awkward the situation turned after they had inquired about the hospital, when having lunch at the family’s restaurant. Nonetheless, Stjepan turned away and hurried inside the building. Duo hadn’t seen him and as he pulled his hands from the water, he said: “All right, let’s go.”

The door to the museum was wide open, revealing Branka with a broom, sweeping the floor. “Good morning,” she greeted the both of them friendly. “You come back for more history?”

“A lot more,” Duo said. “Can we kidnap you for the rest of the day to revel in your mighty wisdom and knowledge?”

Branka didn’t understand the word ‘kidnap’ at first, but she got the gist that Duo wanted to talk to her. “I have to ask my father,” she said. “Tatâ? Tatâ, can you come here?”

A middle-aged man came into the hallway, drying his hands with a cloth. He was slightly overweight and dressed in non-traditional clothing: jeans and a hellish bright, purple shirt.

“I’m right here, Branka.” He looked at Duo and showed him a large smile. “Ah, turist American! Thank you so much for your generous gift!”

“No problem,” Duo said. “Your daughter helped us a lot. We would like to ask her a few more questions about history, if you’d like to give us permission?”

“Permission, bah, not necessary! Tourists are always welcome here! Come in, come in! My name is Lubjan Silivaş.”

“You’re the mayor of this town,” Heero said.

“True! What is your name, young man?”

“Apologies,” Duo said. “My name’s Duo Maxwell and this is my partner, Heero Yuy.”

“Such difficult names,” Lubjan smiled. “Forgive me if I pronounce it wrong. English not my native language!”

“We can understand you just fine,” Duo reassured him.

“Branka told me a little bit about you,” Lubjan said. “You asked about the war cemetery, right? Come, into my house! My grandfather was a hero of the resistance. I can tell you lots!”

With an ecstatic smile, Duo followed Lubjan into the building. Heero stayed behind as Branka started sweeping the floor again.

“Aren’t you coming?” he asked her.

“When men are talking, most women don’t want to be around,” she said. She looked at her father’s retreating back. “Some men send their wife to the kitchen, as that’s her place to be.”

“Is your father that old-fashioned?” Heero remembered how Alexandru went to university for a year, until his family couldn’t afford it no more. Old-fashioned, outdated traditions and poverty, stuck in the claws of a dark past. Not a wonderful environment to grow up in. “You’re always welcome to join us,” he said.

“You love him very much, don’t you?” Branka’s voice was a whisper. Heero was thrown off by her remark.

“What?”

“I wish I could know the same kind of love,” she sighed and her fingers tightened around the broomstick. “But all I get here, is the wrong kind of love.”

“What do you mean?”

“The same reason why you were chased out of town,” she said. “Romania for the Romanians. My family is of Roma descent. We’re gypsies. My father is extremely proud of it, but I’m afraid it’s going to be the death of him. Our descent doesn’t make us ‘pure’. My father won the mayor elections because the opposite party was the worst choice of two evils.”

“Djurdjevic,” Heero said, rather shocked by her harsh words.

“Marku Djurdjevic is a bad man,” Branka said. “A very bad man, and his son is also bad. He follows me around and he keeps telling me how I should be ‘purified’. He says he loves me, but our love can’t be true because of my imperfection, until…”

“Until what?”

“Until something happens, I don’t know. I told him that I didn’t love him, so all his talk about ‘our’ love is moot. I don’t like him. Yet, he clings to the thought of whatever ‘relationship’ we supposedly have. He scares me.”

Heero wasn’t afraid of Stjepan. “If you want me to, I can talk to him. I can guarantee you that he’ll never bother you again.”

“That’s very kind of you,” she said and lowered her eyes. “But I’m afraid it would make matters only worse. You should go to my father and Duo now.”

“He’ll bring me up to speed later,” Heero said. “Look, if Stjepan is giving you trouble…”

“I’m sure he’s responsible for slashing your wheels,” she said, and kept her voice even lower. “Alexandru told me all about it. Stjepan and his father don’t want tourists around here. They don’t want anyone snooping around.”

Heero stared intently at the girl. “Branka… if you know what’s going on, please tell me. What is the big secret around here?”

“You have to be strong,” she whispered. “Or that man will kill us all.”

“Feldschweig?” Heero asked. The girl cringed so dramatically that he knew enough. “All right, I don’t want you to get in any kind of trouble.” He was reminded of Mila’s letter. Help us. “We’ll take care of this,” he said, “I promise.”


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