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





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


It didn’t take him more than three minutes to fully load the Remington. As there was plenty of ammunition, Heero helped himself to a couple of boxes of shotgun shells, just to be sure. He didn’t know whether to be really worried about Duo or not. He knew he could take care of himself, but Duo wasn’t a superhuman. Feldschweig was a complicated threat and there was only so much he could do as one man alone.

“Shotgun, eh? I figured you’d like the heavy stuff.”

Heero didn’t bother to turn around. “Any news?”

“My brother’s still busy making phone calls.” Iulien Septem crossed his arms in front of his chest and casually leaned against the doorpost. “Your friend can hold out on his own, I hope?”

“He certainly can.” Heero refused to back down from his gaze. “You call yourself nazi hunters? Do you need this kind of arsenal when you go hunting?”

“Believe me, the current generation of extremists has more and better arms than we do,” Iulien said. “They’re prone to react with violence.”

“Feldschweig doesn’t promote violence in his book,” Heero said.

“No, he doesn’t, but he doesn’t shy away from it either. He’s hypnotizing, that man… he sways you to his side faster than you can blink, and gives you the feeling it was your own choice all the time.”

Heero tilted his head. He saw Iulien’s hard exterior in a different light. “You feel ashamed that you allowed yourself to be swayed by him.”

The man shot up straight, his eyes wide and wild, but he calmed down the next second. “Is it that obvious?” His lips twisted into a bitter grimace. “I’m not proud of it, no. Ten years ago… I was different: young and reckless. Everything he said, sounded so logical to me. I read his book, studied it like the Bible; I could recite entire passages back and forth. I grew distant from my family, spouted ideas that send chills down my spine by just thinking about it. He called it being a ‘good patriot’, a ‘national hero’.”

“And now you’re just as fanatic to track Feldschweig and his mooks down?”

“Anyone who has the slightest bit of sympathy for the Third Reich,” Iulien almost spat. “They’re smart, they don’t spout their ideas right away. They test you without you even knowing it. Once they have you hook, line and sinker, you’re trapped and there’s almost no way out of it.”

“You made it out,” Heero said.

“Thanks to Emil. And he had to drag me out, kicking and screaming - because I honestly believed Feldschweig and refused to see through his lies.”

“We all make mistakes. I’m sorry to hear what happened to you.”

Iulien shrugged haphazardly. A moment of silence fell. Heero turned towards the small rack and picked a rifle, handing it to Iulien. “Heckler and Koch G-3,” he said. “Your material is outdated.”

“Like my brother said, our network doesn’t run on air. We do this to protect our country from madmen like Feldschweig, but not even we can keep an eye on everyone. Romania is complicated and carries a lot of scars.”

“Then we end it,” Heero said darkly, “by removing the man who wants to add even more battle wounds. Like I promised your brother, Feldschweig is all yours, but if he has hurt one hair on Duo’s head, he’s mine.”

Iulien nodded tersely and stocked up on ammunition, picking out a second rifle for his brother. Heero helped him, until he heard noises: loud footsteps, someone was thundering down the stairs to the cellar. It was Emil, almost out of breath.

“Good news,” he said, “the network has confirmed that Feldschweig has been spotted in Brsiç. They couldn’t tell if Duo was with him, though.”

“Brsiç?” Heero did a quick calculation in his mind. “That’s at least two hours from here,” he said. Duo hadn’t driven like his usual Mad Max self to the city, so perhaps he was overestimating the distance right now. Emil checked his watch.

“If we leave now and step on the gas, we could be there in seventy, seventy-five minutes tops.”

“Alright. I’ll take the jeep.”

“That beaten-up thing?” Iulien arched an eyebrow in surprise.

“Duo will kill me if I arrive without the jeep,” was all that Heero said. Nobody disagreed.

“Follow us, then.” Emil grinned. “I told grandmother that we wouldn’t be home until the morning.”


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



Everything has been prepared. The ominous words resonated through Duo’s mind. His imagination was running wild; ‘prepared’ for what? A ritual sacrifice? Was Feldschweig going to start his war right now? ‘Heero, wherever you are, hurry the fuck up,’ he muttered under his breath. The two burly guys dragged him and Branka back to the same circular room in the cave.

“Déjà vu,” Duo said. Even the same men were still there, including Ferenç Pǎrvulescu and Marku and Stjepan Djurdjevic on the front row. However, one woman had joined the large group: Lauren. She had the nerve to look straight at Duo, who met her gaze head on, not withholding his anger towards her. She was the first to avert her eyes.

“Welcome, friends.” Feldschweig wasn’t addressing Duo and Branka. Whatever business he had to attend to, he had dealt with it quickly. Duo wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed, but it couldn’t be longer than an hour. “Tonight we’ll be witnessing the start of something amazing. Something beauti-”

“Are you calling genocide beautiful?” Duo cried out. The beefy guy to his right immediately lashed out, but thanks to his quick reflexes, Duo managed to dodge the punch.

“Enough,” Feldschweig said irritably, making a dismissive gesture with his arm. “We’re not here to beat Mister Maxwell up. We need him in one piece.”

“Asshole,” Duo said at the same loud volume.

“I might consider doing something about that big mouth of yours.” Feldschweig narrowed his eyes.

Branka stepped up next to Duo, and she gently touched his shoulder. “You better not try to reason with them, you know it’s futile.”

“Fortunately, I don’t have to consider doing something about your big mouth,” Feldschweig said disdainfully. “You’ll be taken care of soon.” He made a jerking movement with his head. Duo stepped in front of Branka again, but the gesture wasn’t meant for the burly men. Another man detached himself from the group, carrying a small, rectangular box. He held it out to Feldschweig, who agonizingly slow opened the lid, and took out its content. A gun. Duo couldn’t see from the distance what kind of gun it was; it looked like a Glock to him. His breathing became just a little faster. So Feldschweig was really going to do what he could only think of in his worst nightmare: he was going to kill Branka and put the blame on him, Duo Maxwell.

“Leave the girl out of this,” he snarled. “Do whatever you want to do to me, but leave her alone!”

“That’s simply impossible and you know it.” The man loaded the gun, shoving the clip with the bullets into place. The hard, metal ‘click’ echoed through the room in the cave. “You’re going to be the ignition of this very tragedy, Mister Maxwell. Because you’re too much of a gentleman to even think of pointing a gun at a woman, someone else will do it.”

“Wh-what?” Duo’s eyes shot to the crowd. “Are you seriously going to allow this to happen? Why aren’t you protesting? Do you really believe that a murder will restore peace and unity to Romania? By sparking an international conflict? A war?” He decided to take a personal approach. “Ferenç,” he addressed the Pǎrvulescu brother, “what are you even doing here? Why aren’t you with your brothers and your father, at your garage? This is no place for you!”

“Shut up, you foul American!” He barked at him. Undeterred, Duo addressed Lauren.

“Lauren, you shouldn’t be here either! I don’t know what you’re doing and I don’t care what you did or have done… but leave this place, and-”

Feldschweig cut him short. “That’ll be all for tonight,” he said crudely. “Your pleas won’t help, Mister Maxwell. You can’t change an entire life growing up with certain ideals in just one night. Just be quiet and play your part. It’ll all be over soon.” He gestured at the crowd and to Duo’s surprise, it was Marku Djurdjevic who stepped forward, along with his son. He held Stjepan firmly at the shoulders.

“He’s ready,” he said.

O Doamne,” Branka whispered. Oh my God.

Duo couldn’t believe it. His head was spinning. “You… you’re not even a monster,” he said. “You’re a creature from the darkest abyss of hell! You’re having a child take care of your mess?”

Djurdjevic pinched his son in both shoulders. “A child? No, not a child. A man! Tonight, he’ll become a man!”

“You’re sick. You’re all sick!”

Feldschweig took a step forward to hand Stjepan the gun. The boy took it from him, his fingers trembling. His eyes were glued to the gun, the tip of his tongue visible in the corner of his mouth. He was fascinated by the weapon and stared at it. Nobody said a word for a full five minutes.

“Son,” Marku Djurdjevic finally spoke, “it’s time. You know what to do.”

“Yes, father.” Stjepan raised the gun, albeit still trembling. The entire crowd was watching, except for Lauren; she looked from Feldschweig to Duo and back again, but neither man paid any attention to her. Duo tried to appeal to Stjepan one more time.

“You don’t have to do this,” he said. “This is bad, Stjepan, and deep down you know it yourself. You like Branka, don’t you? You love her, right?”

Stjepan swallowed. “She rejected me!” he cried out, his voice hitching. “I would’ve done anything for her, but she rejected me!”

“And do you think killing her will make things better? Will it heal your broken heart?” Duo heard the hitch in his own voice and urged himself to remain calm. “Just look at yourself, Stjepan. It’s not nice being rejected, I know - I’ve been there myself. I once chased love myself, only to be met by a solid ‘no’.”

It wasn’t exactly the truth, but Stjepan didn’t know that and it didn’t matter at the moment. Heero… their relationship had been turbulent, tumultuous in the beginning, and then he had disappeared… Duo had been bitter and holding a grudge against him for years, fleeing into excessive drinking and partying, tarnishing is his own established reputation as an archaeologist. The moment Heero came back into his life, Duo had rebuked him as well, treated him with suspicion and cold, distant behavior - until he discovered the true reason for Heero’s disappearance that had nothing to do with him, but with a precarious situation with the Queen of the World.

Yeah, they should’ve communicated better. Yeah, they should’ve left their egos at the door. But once they had renewed their relationship, everything came together, like the pieces of a puzzle, and it clicked and matched, bonding strongly. But that was now… and Duo could clearly recall how angry he had felt at Heero leaving him, mad with rage at being abandoned. Stjepan was barely eighteen, and poisoned by his father, feeding him that extremist-nationalistic crap since he’d been a baby. Of course Marku Djurdjevic wouldn’t accept a Rromi girl as his daughter-in-law; but instead of talking it over with his son, he decided that the best solution for his ‘problem’ was to have her killed, even if it would spark international outrage and a civil war.

“It’s hard, but that’s life,” Duo continued. “I’m sorry that it didn’t work out for you, Stjepan, I really am… and I’m sorry that you feel this is the path you have to take. It doesn’t have to be this way. Put down the gun and walk out of here. Leave these people behind you. They’re toxic.”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Stjepan cocked the gun. “Shut up! Just shut up!”

“Duo…” Branka said softly.

“Is this what you want?” Duo couldn’t help it, he had to say this to Djurdjevic. “All because you weren’t elected the mayor? Is your own pride that much worth to you, that you want to traumatize your son for life?”

“You have no right to judge me, filthy American,” the man shot back. His hands were still on Stjepan’s shoulders, his fingers pinching and prodding. “You never should’ve come here.”

“I was only looking for some goddamn stolen paintings,” Duo replied angrily. “If you hadn’t slashed the tires of my jeep, I would’ve left empty-handed and continued my investigation elsewhere!”

The man gave him an incredulous look. “I never slashed any tires!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Feldschweig interrupted the both of them. “This is merely stalling. As amusing as all this bickering can be, your father is right, Stjepan. It’s time, and you know what to do.”

“Don’t listen to him!” Duo kept his focus on Stjepan. “Please,” he said, lowering his voice. “You’re still so young. If you do this, it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life.”

“Shut up!” Stjepan screamed, and fired. Duo and Branka ducked. The bullet ricocheted off the ceiling. The entire crowd ducked as well, only Feldschweig didn’t move at all. With a disapproving look on his face, he ‘tsk-ed’ out loud.

“I thought you had the boy practice, Marku?”

“I’m sorry, Klaus,” the man hurried to apologize and he pinched his son’s shoulders even harder. Stjepan suppressed a cry of pain, his already strained face distorted in discomfort.

“One more chance, Stjepan,” he said threateningly, “make it count.”

“Do you really think you’re going to get away with this?” Duo called to him one last time. “You will be the one in hot water when this all comes out, not your father or your fancy friends! Do you think anyone of them will support you, will stand by your side?”

The next second, he lunged at Stjepan, in a last ditch effort to wrestle the gun away from him. As in an action movie, everything happened at the same time. Stjepan fired again and the bullet grazed Duo’s shoulder. He faltered and stumbled as pain shot through his body; hot searing pain that drowned out any other pain he had ever felt. In a primal reaction, he fell to his knees while he pressed his hand against his shoulder. Blood seeped through his fingers and he gritted his teeth. It was painful, but he’d live; only a flesh wound, and a superficial one at that. He turned around to look at Branka. She had been standing behind him and from his angle, he could see that she was still standing. Relieved, Duo’s lips curled into a tentative smile - until he saw the rapidly increasing blood stain on the girl’s fotã, just below her collarbone. She was gaping at Stjepan, her eyes wide, as if realization didn’t want to settle in. Duo was horrified. The bullet’s trajectory had been changed after it had hit him. He’d been standing in the way instead of protecting her.

“Branka!” he yelled as the girl suddenly sagged and fell to the ground. He tried to reach her, but the two burly guys grabbed him and pulled roughly at his arms, away from Branka. He didn’t even feel the pain in his shoulder as he resisted his captors with all his strength, like a fury clawing its way out of hell. He kept yelling her name and desperately tried to look at her face, but she had her head turned away from him. Her chest - was she still drawing breath? It was his fault, all was his fault! If he hadn’t tried to get the gun from Stjepan, if only he had just remained in one place, standing in front of Branka, this would’ve never happened! He screamed and yelled a row of profanities and expletives until his throat ran dry. One of the burly guys almost dislocated his right arm. Duo kicked his legs and twisted and writhed in their grasp.

“He’s a slippery one,” one of the guys said, laughing out loud. He forced Duo’s right hand open and a cold, metal object was pressed into it. The gun. Still yelling and screaming, he couldn’t avoid how his fingers were forced to fold around the gun. His fingerprints. God..!

“Congratulations, Mister Maxwell,” a voice from far away reached his ears. “You’ll go down into history from this night forward. Perhaps not the way you’d like it, but well… we have plenty of work to do, so I’d like to…” The rest of his words went past Duo. Still fighting, he fought until the last moment to catch a glimpse of Branka, lying on the ground, with nobody giving a helping hand or even bothering to check up on her. While his body was giving out on him, Duo screamed and yelled until he had no voice left and he didn’t know or care where he was taken to.


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