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





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


Mein Herr,” one of the men stepped forward and came to stand next to Feldschweig. Almost to Duo’s disappointment, the man didn’t give the nazi salute. Feldschweig turned his head to the right, leaning into the man, who lowered his voice so Duo couldn’t overhear what he was saying.
The look on Branka’s face spoke volumes: any fear that she might have, was drowned out by the anger and resentment she felt towards Stjepan Djurdjevic, cowering behind his tall father in the crowd. Duo kept his expression as neutral as possible. He wasn’t really happy with the situation either and Feldschweig’s ominous words about starting World War III were… scary at best.

His stomach went up and down and up again; what did the man have in mind? What had he planned for Duo Maxwell? Heero… no, he was on his own now. Heero was still in Bucharest and had no idea where he, Duo, was. He didn’t feel any panic rise up. Heero would find him, come hell or high water. It was only a matter of how fast Heero would find him. Duo was sure that his kidnappers wouldn’t have left any clue. He was missing his cell phone, but that was all - and the letters of Andrei Silivaş. Were they still at the library, or had Feldschweig’s men took them… or worse, destroyed them?

“Duo,” Branka whispered. Her voice was steadfast. “Duo, what’s going to happen to us?”

“I don’t know,” he said in all honesty. She didn’t deserve to be lied to. “But I doubt it’s going to be very pretty. Whatever happens, I’ll do my best to protect you.”

She snorted, but not in a dismissive manner. “Maybe it’s you who needs protection,” she said, humorlessly. Her eyes darted back and forth, in search of an exit; but just like Duo, she had reached the conclusion that it was impossible to escape… for now. The crowd blocked any exit, and it was too badly lit to get an overview of this cave. Duo didn’t like the feeling of being trapped. He wished he had his Sig Sauer with him; how could this have gotten so far out of hand? He had only traveled to Romania to find some goddamn paintings…

“It seems, Mister Maxwell, that you’ve been bought some time,” Feldschweig announced after he was done talking to the other man. “If only a little. I have something urgent to attend to. My men will make sure you’re taken care of.”

“Hey, you just can’t go and leave us,” Duo said angrily. “Tell me what’s going on! What the fuck are you planning?”

Feldschweig tsk-ed. “You must keep me for an ordinary Bond villain. Do you really think I’m going to take the time to explain it to you into excruciating detail? Really, I thought you were more intelligent. Figure it out on your own.”

“How about…” Duo started, but Feldschweig cut him short. He appointed two random men in the crowd.

“Take them to the southern storage unit,” he said. “Put them on ice until I return.”

The two burly guys from earlier approached Duo again, but this time he had more room to move. Bracing himself, Duo was all but prepared to dropkick the buffoon in the face. Ever since he was young, he had plenty of energy to spare - his father had built him his first obstacle course and hired a martial arts trainer for Duo to work all that energy off. The moment Heero came into his life, he had encouraged his training and when Duo wanted to take it up a level, Heero had taken it upon himself to train him. He was agile, he had great reflexes, he had good leg strength; he could do this!

Not hesitating, Duo jumped at the burly man to the right, using the element of surprise. He planted the soles of his feet into the man’s chest and immediately twisted, bracing himself again for impact on the ground. The buffoon grunted and fell backwards, his companion momentarily baffled. Branka took advantage of the distraction and lunged at him, scratching and biting his arm. Duo fell back on the ground, rolling onto his chest and immediately trying to get up again, only to cry out in pain.

“Duo!” Branka turned around, taking a split second to look at him. The burly man seized the opportunity and slapped her across the face, hard enough for her to lose her balance and fall to her knees.

“Motherfucker!” Duo struggled to get back up on his feet. He had severely underestimated his right leg; his very recently healed leg, which hadn’t regained its previous strength yet. To make matters worse, Duo hadn’t used his cane since the day at the spa in Çleçiani as he didn’t have difficulties walking anymore; but there was a big difference between walking and fighting. The pain in his right leg was horrible and he cursed himself for being so rash and reckless. Before Duo had a chance to pull himself together, he was surrounded by Feldschweig’s goons, grabbing him at the shoulders and hoisting him roughly up. He couldn’t even muster the energy to pant.

“Totally unnecessary,” Feldschweig shook his head in disappointment. “You’d better save that feistiness for later. I have to prepare history, before we can write it.”

“Asshole! You’re nothing but a wannabe nazi!” Duo spat. “You want to write history? Then do something useful and help people, instead of fanning the fires of hatred and intolerance!”

“Spoken like a true hero,” Feldschweig said deadpan. “Maybe I’ll carve those words on your tombstone. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

Duo didn’t fight as he was dragged along by the men. He could hear Branka scream in the background and he hoped that the girl would calm down and realize that she should conserve her energy as well. He ignored the pain in his leg as best as he could. He was more worried about the ‘put them on ice’ part than anything else. One of the men walked ahead and after a few head-spinning twists and turns through the cave, he halted at a large, steel door and opened it.

“Inside,” he grinned viciously, and Duo and Branka were tossed like a sack of potatoes into the sparsely-lit, icy cold room. The girl landed on top of him and he quickly wrapped his arms around her, to prevent her from bouncing off of him.

“Thank you,” she said, heaving a deep sigh. All of her bravado seemed to have left her, as she sullenly lay in his arms.

“You showed quite some strength there,” he complimented her.

“I hate him,” Branka spat. “Feldschweig and his cronies. Stjepan and his lies. Men with all their promises and fancy words and who turn on you in an instant… and then they have the nerve to call women backstabbers!”

“I do hope you don’t see me as one of those men?” Duo asked dryly. She wiggled herself free and then turned around to extend her hand to him, pulling him up.

“No, not at all.” Another sigh. “I’m sorry. It’s just that…”

“You’ve been living under a lot of pressure, right? Taking care of the museum, of your father, of yourself… with no one to help you.”

“I can take care of myself,” Branka said. She rubbed her arms. “But… I… I saw someone in the crowd who I didn’t expect. I don’t know…”

“You don’t owe me any explanation or an apology.” Duo could see his breath. This was bad. The longer they were exposed to this cold, the more risk they had of developing hypothermia. He looked around in the storage unit - large boxes everywhere, neatly stacked on top of each other. Duo grabbed one of the boxes and tore it open. Curiously, Branka reached into the box and retrieved a large can.

“What’s this?”

“Army rations,” he said. “Canned pre-cooked food, that only needs to be heated up before you can eat it. Ideal for soldiers in the field… or to feed your army of idiots who stay underground long-term.”

“We’re not far from Brsiç,” Branka said. “I think we’re in the mountains.”

“How come?” Duo searched the content of the box: more cans and pre-packaged food, consisting of easy to prepare meals with a shelf life of years. It was all there: pasta, rice, noodles, chicken, beef… Branka had an incredulous look on her face. Duo opened box after box: freeze-dried food and lots of it, coffee beans, tea and bottled water. He ripped the plastic apart to retrieve two bottles, one for himself and one for Branka. They both drank greedily.

“I was at the museum when Stjepan visited me,” she continued. “He’s such a coward. He waited until my father had left home to visit a friend. Stjepan said he wanted to talk to me, but not at the museum. I had to come with him. I refused, of course.”

While she was talking, Duo was pacing back and forth and she followed his example, in an attempt to keep warm. “What happened?” he asked.

“He became angry. Why couldn’t I feel love for him? Why couldn’t I see he was trying to help me? He whined and wailed until two of his ‘friends’ came in and dragged me out of the museum, into their car. They blindfolded me, but the ride wasn’t longer than fifteen, twenty minutes. I have heard of a system of caves under these mountains; used during wartime by the resistance, to smuggle people out of the country.”

“And of course Feldschweig had to turn it into his own Führerbunker,” Duo said. “It’s a perfect location, shielded by the mountain range. There’s enough food and water here to last a long time. It’s probably a maze of complex caves, all interconnected and if it’s truly been used to smuggle people out of the country, it’s also a perfect escape route.”

Branka was silent for a moment. “What’s going to happen to us? What did he mean by ‘tonight you’re going to start World War III’?”

“I’m not sure,” Duo said, a little too lightly. He didn’t want her to worry too much. In fact, he had a very dark inkling about Feldschweig’s plans. Branka wasn’t here for nothing. A Rromi girl, and he was an American. Feldschweig was going to put a gun into his hands. If Branka was killed by an American, witnessed by Romanian people, that would ignite the entire Brasov county, immediately spreading to the rest of the nation, and to Eastern-Europe. That son of a bitch was orchestrating another outbreak of hatred and violence - but for what?

“What?” Branka asked. Duo realized he had said his last words out loud.

“I was wondering what he has to gain with all of this,” Duo said. “Feldschweig. Is he looking for fame? Fortune? Is this a convoluted plan to sell weapons, or drugs, or whatever? I don’t get it. He might be a controversial figure, but there are more like him, unfortunately… and not all of them go as far as to actually… you know, start a war.”

“History repeats itself,” Branka said. “Übermensch and all that shit. Persecutions and killings, only because someone feels ‘superior’.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “It’s so cold here.”

“Keep pacing,” Duo said. “It’s not much to keep warm, but still…” There was nothing but food and water rations in the boxes. Was Feldschweig truly preparing a war? Was he stocking up to feed his army? He had nothing to construct a weapon from, not even a piece of wood or a metal pin. Cardboard didn’t make for an impressive weapon. He was outnumbered anyway.

“What happened to your friend?” Branka asked.

“My friend..? Oh, you mean, Heero? He’s still in Bucharest. He doesn’t know where I am, and I’m not sure how soon enough he can find me… find us.” He told her about his kidnapping from the library.

She shook her head. “I don’t get it. Why would they take all that trouble to kidnap you in Bucharest?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps they thought we weren’t coming back. We’ve been traveling around.”

“Looking for war cemeteries?”

“You have an excellent memory,” Duo complimented her. It was the first thing he had spoken about, when meeting Branka at the museum. Of course, he had never told her the real reason of his visit, searching for the stolen paintings. It didn’t really matter. “Any chance of your father coming to look for you?”

She shook her head again. “He was going to spend the evening with friends. I don’t expect him back before midnight.”

“So, we’re on our own.”

“Heero’s not looking for you?”

“Yes, he is. But he only has my cell phone, and no clue or lead as to where they’ve taken me.”

He left out the “until it’s too late”. He wasn’t going to give up and he wasn’t going down without a fight. He had to think, he had to come up with an idea..! But the cold made it hard to think, he was too busy to keep himself warm. Feldschweig didn’t want them dead yet; this was just to slow them down, to make them feel their situation was hopeless. He had to keep himself alert, he had to keep himself warm! He was tired. Not knowing the actual time, made him feel disorientated. No! He had to keep himself together. He hadn’t eaten in hours - well, he was in luck, there was plenty of food available. Duo suddenly started to laugh. Branka, who had continuously paced back and forth, shivering, was startled out of her thoughts.

“What’s so funny?”

“I’m hungry,” Duo said, patting his stomach. “And I just realized that I’m surrounded by tons of food, but I don’t have a can opener!”

She snickered, but the humor passed as quickly as it had arrived. Branka delved through one of the boxes and retrieved a package of salty crackers. She ripped it open and held the food up to Duo. “Here.”

“Thank you.” He took a handful of crackers and wolfed them down, washing away the dry and salty taste with more water. Strangely enough, the bland food lifted up his spirit. “We have to think of something,” he said. “We can’t leave this storage room as the door is made out of metal. There’ll be guards outside. We don’t have anything to defend ourselves with…”

“We can’t send a message for help,” Branka said. She stared at the door. “All I can hope for, is that he changes his mind.”

Duo was about to ask who she was referring too, when the door suddenly opened. The same two men entered the storage room, faces neutral, with just a hint of amused disdain in their eyes - aimed at Branka. Duo stepped in front of her, ignoring the jolt of pain in his leg.

“Get away from her,” he hissed.

“Don’t worry,” the guy on the left said, accent heavy. “We’re not interested in a dirty Rromi.”

“I should’ve known,” Duo gave back in a similar condescending tone. “Even if Feldschweig hadn’t filled your head with filth, you would’ve been a racist asshole.”

“Shut up, American!” He got red in the face.

“It’s not worth it, Duo,” Branka said. “Bunch of peasants.”

“Enough,” the man on the right said curtly. “Everything has been prepared.” He grabbed Duo at the arm while his companion did the same with Branka, and dragged them out of the storage room. The temperature in the cave wasn’t that much higher, but at least the danger of hypothermia was gone. Branka still shivered violently every now and then. She caught Duo’s gaze and gave him a reassuring smile. She wasn’t going down without a fight either. It was only a matter of who had the most endurance. Heero, I could really use your help right now.


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