the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="dawnrune"> (Gundam Wing Fics - God of Death)
[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


“Septem?” Heero repeated, flabbergasted. “Nazi hunters?”

Neither Emil or Iulien answered as the bartender put large platters on the table: the traditional sarmale, rolled minced meat with rice and herbs covered in a cabbage leaf, along with mǎmǎligǎ, polenta made of boiled corn flour, and the inevitable bowl of sour cream. Iulien rubbed his hands at the sight of the food. At last, the man put huge bowls of vegetable soup on the table before scuttling off again.

“Here, eat,” Emil said and shoved a plate with sarmale towards Heero. “You’re going to need your strength.”

He hesitated. It was late in the afternoon and yes, he was hungry, but to have dinner with these two… yet his hand reached for the knife and fork, and not to stab one of the Septem brothers, even though the idea had crossed his mind.

“Good, good,” Emil mumbled as Heero started to eat. During the slightly awkward dinner, no one spoke a word. Each of the brothers refilled their glass of Šljivovica, taking turns. Heero passed up on the alcohol; he wanted to keep his head straight and his mind clear. At the end of dinner, dessert was served: pandispan cu fructe, cake with assorted berries. It tasted much better than he expected from such a dreary, drab looking bar; he was surprised that they served food in the first place. He had the feeling the brothers were regular guests here, though. Emil reclined into the uncomfortable hard seat, ostensibly content after the meal, but Heero noticed the sharp eye movements of the man; nothing would escape him.

“I guess we should apologize for… imposing on you,” he said. Heero took him for the eldest brother, used to take the lead. “We didn’t see any other way to call for your attention.”

“You could’ve asked,” Heero grumbled. “You could’ve said something.”

“We’re trained nazi hunters,” Iulien grumbled in the same tone of voice. “We know not to walk up to someone and ask.”

“For your information, I don’t subscribe to nazi ideologies. I don’t want anything to do with the Third Reich.”

“So your interest in purely historical?” Iulien narrowed his eyes.

“My interest?”

“Both you and your friend have been reading Feldschweig’s drivel,” Emil all but snarled. “‘One Nation, One People, One Fate: Why Accepting Imperfection In Our Genes Will Lead Us To Our Demise”. Standard claptrap on how to blame minorities and the social weak for any social or economic problem, and the suggestion that a new Endlösung will solve it.”

“I hear you,” Heero said, responding coldly to the hostility in Emil’s voice. “But neither I nor Duo read it out of personal interest. I met Feldschweig at a spa in Çleçiani. When I spoke to him, it was pretty obvious that he knew more about me and Duo than I’d like to admit.”

“Feldschweig is very gründlich,” Emil said. “Very thorough,” he explained. “I speak German, just like my brother. Obligatory, in our line of business.”

“So why have you been keeping an eye on us, if you know about the book?” He was unable to keep the irritation out of his voice. He hadn’t noticed that he and Duo had been spied on, and he didn’t like it.

Iulien stared at him. “Romania isn’t some kind of backwater, disadvantaged country. We have Internet and modern communication devices. Our network is extremely large, efficient and effective. We know what signs to pick up on. We hear and we listen. We knew Feldschweig was in our country again before he even decided to go.”

“Back up and start at the beginning.” Heero matched his stare and refused to avert his eyes. “I’ve done nothing to deserve your hostility, let alone being kidnapped in broad daylight. You’ve taken an interest in us, in Duo especially, otherwise you wouldn’t have bothered to do this. What do you mean by ‘We didn’t think Feldschweig would move this fast’? What do you know about him?”

The two brothers exchanged a glance, resulting into Emil heaving a sigh. “You’re right,” he said. He pulled out a smartphone and showed Heero a picture. He immediately recognized Feldschweig, despite him being in his early teens. “Klaus Feldschweig, born thirty-something years ago in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The notorious home of right-wing extremists, causing riots and showcasing the most horrific xenophobic behavior in all of Europe. Maybe we should feel sorry for the guy, as he didn’t have much of a chance or a choice- his parents were highly involved in the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots back in the days.”

“A mob attack against migrants,” Iulien explained. “They attacked an apartment block where asylum seekers lived. Those assholes threw stones and petrol bombs, and it’s still a miracle that no one was killed.”

“He was born and raised in this hatred,” Emil continued. He showed Heero another picture, this one of Feldschweig in his late teens, with a red and black flag in the background, posing proudly in front of the swastika. “He was fed all that crap that comes with that range of ideas the Nazis are so proud of and lo and behold, little Klaus became the poster boy of the next generation, poisoned with the Deutschland über alles mindset.”

“Many Germans condemn right-wing extremists and object to their ideas,” Heero protested.

“Do you really think there isn’t going to be a World War III?” Iulien asked derisively. Emil shoved the empty bottle of Šljivovica to him.

“Go get us a new one,” he said, his voice taking on a darker tone. As soon as the younger brother had left the table, Emil apologized. “Believe it or not, he means well. He just… sometimes… is a little bit too fanatic.”

“I guess that runs in the family,” Heero said dryly. Emil arched an eyebrow.

“You know our family?”

“General Septem? Of the Alliance?” Ever since Heero had met the man, he’d had a funny feeling about him. A thorough background check on the General had ended up in no results, and he hadn’t forgotten Relena’s words about the members of the Alliance in general: I just don’t like them. There’s something… fanatic about them. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s slightly unsettling. More so, Howard’s specific opinion of the man stood out in his mind, as relayed to him by Duo: I saw a fanaticism in his eyes that I haven’t forgotten till this day.

“Oh, that Septem.” Emil shrugged. “He’s not one of us. An imposter.”

“He’s an imposter and you didn’t warn any authorities? The Alliance itself?”

“We have more than enough on our plate to deal with,” Emil answered curtly. “Septem, even though he uses our name, is of no priority to us. He’ll get what’s coming to him, sooner or later.” A wistful look. “After people will no longer believe that one race is superior to the other.” He showed another picture of Feldschweig to Heero, in which he was flanked by a woman who he immediately recognized as Lauren White.

“Growing up, he became more and more active in the right-wing extremist movement,” Emil picked up the original topic of the conversation again. “Mom and Dad have to be proud of their wonderful, golden-haired, blue-eyed baby boy. He got arrested a few times for spreading propaganda, and he served a couple of weeks in jail for his provocations. It worked perfectly to his advantage of course, now he could play the martyr for being prosecuted and oppressed, his freedom of speech was endangered, blah blah, yadda yadda.”

“Who’s the girl?” Heero asked, not showing that he’d met her before.

“The girl? Her name is Frauke Jöllenbeck. Also from Rostock, and has followed Feldschweig on his heels since they were kids.”

“She’s German? She had no accent when I spoke to her.”

“As far as we know, she grew up with him, but we don’t know why exactly she follows him around. They’re not married and from what we’ve seen or heard of them, they don’t engage into any… eh… intimate activities.”

“Is Feldschweig married?”

“He hasn’t found his perfect Brunhilda yet.”

“Jöllenbeck doesn’t qualify?”

“She has a quart Polish blood running through her blood, from the maternal side. So no, she doesn’t qualify.”

“Strange. She introduced herself as Lauren White to us.”

“She’s his lackey, I guess.” Emil looked pensive. “She does everything he asks from her.”

“Why are you telling me all of this?”

“Because we want you to know what and who you’re dealing with.”

“I already saw the Siegrune on his shoulder. It made pretty much clear what kind of guy he is.”

Emil showed him a rueful grin. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. You want your partner back, right? So, what’s your plan of attack?”

“I first have to find out where they’ve taken him to. I can’t track him via GPS on his cell phone, so I have to think of another way… and why should I have to justify myself to you?”

“Look, we want to help you. We didn’t understand why Feldschweig took such interest in your partner. His name is Duo, right? A quick Google search showed us that he’s an archaeologist and he runs his own Foundation.”

Heero nodded. “That’s all true.” He ignored Iulien who took his seat next to him and put another bottle of Šljivovica on the table, unscrewing the cap with one swift movement.

“Then we figured it out,” he picked up as if he hadn’t been away, “your friend is American.”

“Half-American, half-British,” Heero corrected him automatically.

“It doesn’t matter. Whatever Feldschweig has planned, people will hear “American” and everything will go to hell in a hand basket. I don’t have to tell you about all the lively sentiments pertaining to WWII around here.”

“But what…” Heero processed all the information. “What has he planned?”

“My friend,” Emil said sourly, “I think Feldschweig wants to use Duo as a spark to ignite said hell.”

Silence. Heero stared in front of him. He balled his hands into fists. “I need your help,” he croaked out. “You know the country, you know the people. I want to use your network.” The harshness in his voice turned cold. “I’m not asking. I’m demanding.”

“We help you,” Emil said, knitting his bristly eyebrows together, “but you have to help us.”

“Name it.”

“Feldschweig and his group are financed by donations and what they receive from friends and family. His book has gained him a following, but they’re not millionaires.” He refused when Iulien wanted to pour him another drink. “We know why you’re here in Romania. On behalf of the Alliance, to try and locate stolen artwork… nazi plunder.”

“Yes?” Heero narrowed his eyes.

“If anyone can find those paintings, it’s you and your partner. You’re archaeologists. Our network doesn’t run on air.”

“I can’t promise you the paintings,” Heero said. “They’re not my, your or Romanian property. When and if the paintings are found, they’re to be returned to the heirs of the rightful owners.” And the Alliance would get massive, global good-will and invaluable PR. He suppressed that thought. General Septem could wait. Duo was all that mattered. “I can’t promise you any money either, not without Duo’s consent. But if his life’s in danger…”

Emil rose brusquely from his chair, almost tipping the furniture over. “We’re not extortionists,” he said. “It’s more important to find Feldschweig and your friend before it’s too late. Come.”

Iulien muttered something under his breath and didn’t follow his brother’s example. Heero wormed himself past the youngest Septem as he blocked his way.

“Where are we going to?” Heero asked as Emil moved to the exit.

“Home,” he simply said.

It was getting darker. Heero checked his watch; he couldn’t believe it was getting so late already. Not a couple of hours ago, he was supposed to meet up with Duo… a sudden thought crossed his mind.

“Did you only find the cap of a syringe at the library?” he asked.

Emil had been silent and was startled out of his thoughts by Heero’s question. “Yes, why?”

“Duo had printed some… documents. He was supposed to read them, while waiting for me.”

“Documents… no, I haven’t seen any documents. When we arrived, he was already gone.”

“I see.” What had happened to the letters of Andrei Silivaş? Had Feldschweig’s cronies taken the letters with them? He tried to take notion of his surroundings, but he passed so many back alleys that everything started to look the same. He was hopelessly getting lost, and he had to trust this guy he didn’t know… and Heero Yuy’s trust wasn’t easily won or given. At the moment, he had very little choice and so he stayed at Emil’s side, following him to wherever he was taking him. After at least thirty minutes of walking briskly, Emil halted in front of a brick building, at least three stories tall. It looked like an apartment building, judging from all the windows, most of them lit. Emil retrieved a key ring from his pocket and sifted through the keys to pick out the right one. He opened the door.

Cine e acolo?” A female voice called out.
Sunt eu, Emil!” He grinned at Heero. “My grandmother. Blind as a bat and paranoid as the old-fashioned KGB. She sleeps with a Remington under her pillow, so I’d advice you to be careful around her.”

“I will,” Heero grimaced. “What are we doing here?”

Emil nodded to the hallway, stretching out in front of them. “This way.” Boxes were strewn all over the small corridor, even a rusty bike leaning against the wall hampered Heero’s way. He grumbled, but didn’t comment. They passed a grimy kitchen, with dirty dishes stacked in the sink, dirty pots and pans on the stove, and a large black and white cat merrily eating from one of the pans. His shoes stuck here and there on the floor and Heero didn’t look down to see what made them stick like that - he simply tore himself free and hurried after Emil. Suddenly, the man opened a door to the left, leading to the cellar. He flipped a switch and the bright light revealed a small staircase.

“The basement runs under the entire house,” he said. “Mind your step.”

Carefully, Heero put one foot in front of the other, expecting the stairs to be dirty or slippery, but to his surprise, it was spotless clean. The well-lit basement was a pristine heaven compared to the rest of the house. Heero saw row after row of wine racks, more boxes and crates and some tools; hammers, pliers, scissors. Emil pushed a wine rack out of the way and stood in front of the wall, his hand hovering over a spot.

“It’s not very sophisticated, but should anyone come down here, it’ll pass any superficial inspection,” he said. Heero didn’t understand at first, until he saw Emil pull out a couple of bricks from the wall and reach inside the small hole; a loud ‘click’ echoed and the wall started to rattle and shake.

“A hidden door,” Heero said.

Emil waited until the door had properly opened; the sound of the rattling mechanism was too loud to hear his voice. “Take your pick. I have to make some phone calls.”

The small rack of rifles, shotguns and handguns brought a smile to Heero’s face. He wasn’t the kind of person to solve every problem with violence, but to face the likes of Feldschweig and his men without any kind of weapon, would simply be suicide. He had no doubts the man had armed himself to the teeth; if he was really planning to ignite this hotbed of tension in the Balkan, then he’d probably amassed some kind of armed troops as well. His eyes went to the Remington 1100, sharing Emil’s grandmother’s preference for the fierce shotgun. It was an outdated model though; it was gas-operated and semi-automatic, but it would certainly get the job done.

“Emil,” Heero called out to him before the man would turn around and leave. He grabbed the Remington and cocked it. “For what it’s worth, I don’t believe any of that bullshit that Feldschweig had no choice or a chance while growing up. Yes, it was a hate-festered, toxic environment, but people have managed to free themselves from worse circumstances.”

The Romanian looked a bit taken aback. “I wasn’t implying that you should feel sorry for him. He made his choice all right. He went to university where he could’ve surrounded himself with other intellectuals who didn’t share his mentality, instead he only hung out with a very mind-like crowd, feeding his hatred. No, I certainly don’t want you to take pity on him.”

“Good.” Heero started to load the Remington, the large shotgun shells a welcome touch to his hand. His movements were calm and composed. “You go make your phone calls. Find out where Duo is. Feldschweig is all yours, on one condition.”

“And what might that be?” Emil sounded curious. Heero shot him one of what Duo called his ‘infamous death-glare’. It certainly had its effect, as the other flinched visibly.

“If he has hurt one hair on top of Duo’s head, I’m going to fucking kill him.”


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