Stepping back into the living room, Heero was surprised to see Quatre and Duo sitting on the
couch together yet not speaking.
"Now what?" the Japanese teen asked in mild annoyance, as he looked at the pair. "What're
you two not talking about? When you're this quiet, it makes me nervous."
"Oh, hey, Heero," Quatre said distractedly. "Did you get them back in bed?"
"Of course I did," Heero remarked, "I wouldn't be down here now if I hadn't, would I?"
"Whatever," Duo shrugged, then focused a piercing violet gaze on Heero as he asked without
accusation, "Are you sure that you were really there when Wu was raped, Heero? Didn't you
sense his presence or anything like you usually do? There was no talk in the base about
ShenLong being sighted nearby or anything?"
The Japanese teen dropped into a chair and sighed heavily, "Actually, I was wondering that
exact thing myself. I know for a fact that there weren't any rumors of a Gundam sighting.
Berlin is OZ headquarters and if that had been the case, they would've scrambled the Leos
*and* the Aries to deal with him. No, he must've entered the area by standard ground
transportation, that's all I can think of."
"Makes sense," Quatre nodded thoughtfully, "But the rest of what he said is really disturbing.
What was it he said exactly? Something about being knocked unconscious and being tied to a
bed before he was raped? What kind of perverted beast *is* Khushrenada to do that to a 15
or 16 year-old boy?" The blond pilot trembled violently and wrapped his arms around himself,
simply imagining it made him feel vulnerable and afraid.
"He's the kind of monster that will be quite dead very soon, Quatre," Duo promised with a
growl. "And, yeah, terrifying as it sounds, he must've knocked Wu out and waited for him to
come around before forcing himself on him. Damn it, that asshole must be almost 30, why'd he
feel like he had to do this to a kid half his age? Couldn't he go get his rocks off with someone
his own age that was willing?"
Heero frowned, this wasn't adding up.
The cobalt-eyed teen thought about what they knew about the leader of OZ and then said
with a frown, "That's a good point, actually, Duo. This doesn't fit his profile at all. You've got
his age wrong by five years, though. What a 25 year-old is doing controlling the fate of
humanity is beyond me, but that's what intelligence has him listed at. Furthermore, while his
sexual preference does run towards younger men, there's nothing in the profile to indicate that
he's got a history of sexual assaults like this."
Duo snorted angrily, "And you know all that exactly why, Yuy?" His anger cooled ever so
slightly as Heero cast him a pained look, "What is it? Why are you looking at me like that,
"Because, Duo," the Wing pilot sighed unhappily, "after I went off to Antarctica with Trowa to
face Merquise, Doctor J insisted that I do background checks on all of the top OZ officials for
this sort of thing. He was completely pissed that I'd done that in the first place and was
shocked that Merquise only wanted a battle while we were there. J was convinced the man
was after my ass and that if I was going to put myself as well as another pilot into such a
potentially compromising position I needed to know it ahead of time."
"Really?" Quatre asked in surprise, his cheeks coloring briefly as he recalled his own reactions
to the platinum blond officer. "He *really* thought that Zechs might want you for a lover,
Heero? What did you find out about him?"
Heero missed the fact that this question was irrelevant to the issues surrounding Wufei and
answered with a shrug, "There's really no data available on him regarding sexual preference or
whether or not he's involved with anyone. He seems totally career-tracked with OZ and even
during his free time he's been seen mostly with Noin or Khushrenada. He might be straight or
bi, but it would appear that sex isn't as important to him as fighting is."
Quatre felt disappointed by this but only slightly since he had first-hand experience with the
man and he knew how the Lightning Count had reacted to him. No innocent, the Arabian teen
knew full well when someone was interested in him and he was certain that he hadn't read the
signals wrong. At the moment, though, he was more interested in this information for the tools
it might give him in persuading the man to help him in the team's upcoming quest for
Realizing that both of the other teens were looking at him with odd expressions, Quatre
belatedly added, "And what about members of OZ's leadership? Anyone we need to worry
about for this? Maybe Khushrenada had an accomplice?"
Heero frowned and searched his memory, then shook his head. "As disgusting as it sounds,
Quatre, if that was the case, it could be practically anyone in OZ. He's got more toadies and
boot-lickers than you can imagine, any one of which would be more than happy to do this to
one of us. The worst of them all has to be the so-called 'Lady Une'. That bitch would do
almost anything he asked of her and that's personal observation from one of our informants."
"Oh?" Duo snorted softly, "What've we got on the 'Iron Maiden', Heero?"
Leaning back in his chair, Heero stopped to think for a moment and then commented, "A
woman on the OZ command staff defected about six months ago and ended up talking at
length with Doctor J and I happened to be there and listened in. She told him how Une would
go out of her way to do such useless things as personally track down expensive bubble bath
for the man. Hell, if she'd do *that* for him, arranging for sexual prey wouldn't be much of a
stretch for her."
The very idea that his dear Chinese friend might be seen as nothing more than "sexual prey"
caused Duo to bristle with anger. The furious American teen forced that thought aside as he
growled low in his throat, "Plus that witch's got full access to his offices according to
intelligence reports. Yeah, we might have to consider her an accomplice, but shit, if
Khushrenada raped Wu then he's the first target to be eliminated."
"This is true," Quatre said quietly, "But we have to find the bastard first, don't we? Heero,
have you had any luck getting us a location on him?"
"None whatsoever, damn it all!" The Japanese teen stood and prowled around the room. "J
either can't or won't tell me and my own searches of the OZ information systems we've hacked
into just isn't cutting it either. Best I can tell, he's concealing his whereabouts for reasons we
can only guess at."
"But it doesn't really matter, though. Not right now," Duo sighed unhappily. "We're not going
anywhere 'til Wu's stabilized, remember guys? We promised that *and*, more importantly,
Trowa's got to be in on it."
The American teen glanced over at the staircase and sighed again as he shook his head,
saying, "I've got a bad feeling that finding out that you two were there when it happened is
really gonna cut Tro up inside. He's going to blame himself for this and even avenging Wu
might not be enough to keep him in one piece later. Especially if he adds this guilt to what he
felt after the other morning when all this shit started."
Heero had stopped pacing as Duo outlined his fears and walked over to join him on the couch,
mimicking Trowa's actions by simply gathering the unhappy teen into his arms and holding him
close. "I know, koi," he breathed gently, nodding gratefully to Quatre who stood to leave the
room and let them have some privacy. "Don't worry about that right now, though. Let's wait
and see what new crisis this afternoon might bring and let the future take care of itself for a
"Works for me, love," Duo answered, mournful violet eyes sliding closed as he leaned back
against his lover, allowing Heero to support him as the American teen let himself unwind a bit.
Taking the opportunity to relax, too, Heero leaned back and closed his eyes as he deliberately
blanked his mind and turned off the worries of the moment. His own guilt over having been
unwittingly present when the sexual assault against Wufei had been committed had gone
The Japanese pilot felt deeply that he truly was at fault for the same reasons that Quatre had
been thinking of, yet he had the ability to set it aside in the hopes of finding a practical
fashion to compensate for the error later. If nothing else, he would plan to be with Trowa at
the final moment of the rapist's life and by protecting the HeavyArms pilot as vengeance was
attained then perhaps his debt to Wufei might begin to be paid.
The scales of justice had been set terribly awry by a single barbarous act committed by a man
that Heero would never have expected it from, but he himself would see to it that balance was
restored. If killing Khushrenada meant that the war they were involved in worsened when the
command of the OZ forces shifted, the leader of the Gundam pilots no longer cared. All Heero
wanted now was to see his friends have the chance at happiness he had promised that
morning and to hell with the rest of civilization.
While the pair on the couch rested, Quatre was actively pursuing solutions for them all.
Taking a substantial risk of being caught pursuing his apparently traitorous activities from the
previous night, he opened his laptop in the kitchen and booted it up hoping to find a response
from Zechs Merquise to his previous e-mail but there was none. This annoyed the Sandrock
pilot, but he recalled that it hadn't been all that long since he sent the first message and that
it was nowhere near the deadline he'd set at the time.
The response from Rasid was more hopeful yet had not gained him much. The leader of the
Maganacs indicated that he would contact the small legion of spies that he maintained
connections with and get back to Quatre with any information he found as quickly as possible.
Quatre contemplated his efforts and found them insufficient.
//Well, such approaches are subject to change without notice, now aren't they?//
A distinctly devious expression crossed his face as Quatre began mentally outlining additional
plans of his own regarding locating the leadership of OZ.
Writing a note to Instructor H, he asked if the scientist might be able to locate any of the top
four enemy officers having noted that the two women mentioned while talking with Heero and
Duo, Une and Noin, each tended to be nearby the top men, Khushrenada and Merquise.
It occurred to the blond teenager that even if Khushrenada was in hiding, Lady Une might not
be as careful with public exposure and she might lead them back to her master, as he assumed
she considered the Russian general. The same could be said for the younger pair, but he
recalled that no one had indicated that the ex-commander of the Lake Victoria Base was
present at the OZ research facility where he'd met the tall pilot the week before and he
assumed they weren't together at least temporarily.
Realizing he needed an excuse for the information request, the Sandrock pilot snickered and
then indicated that he was interested in the information simply so he could update his
intelligence files, an on-going project that H firmly approved of last thing Quatre knew.
Sometimes life was easier when people underestimated the blond Arabian's intelligence and
Quatre did nothing to discourage it when it paid off at a time like this.
Sending the message and then closing down the system, Quatre stood and stretched, tired by
the events of the morning.
//I feel like either taking a nap or going for a walk on the beach, but since the two upstairs are
hopefully asleep and the others looked like they weren't in much better shape, I think I'll stand
guard for them all.//
Moving quietly around the kitchen, Quatre set some water on to boil for tea and then simply
stared out the window at the seagulls flying overhead while his thoughts turned back to his
//If I didn't feel like a total asshole for hurting Wufei before, I'd sure feel like it now. None of
us, not even himself, apparently, had any idea that he'd been raped, but I really feel like shit
to have added to his pain. That scar on his cheek won't fade any time soon, and every time I
see it, I'm reminded of what I did by mistake.//
Quatre growled angrily at this thought as it brought something else to mind.
//But at least I had the decency to *try* to offer Trowa restitution for my actions. Granted,
getting him to hit me didn't seem to make the kind of difference I had hoped for at the time,
but I doubt that bastard Khushrenada has even given Wufei's welfare a second thought, much
less offer restitution! Heero's right that the background info we have on him doesn't indicate
that he's done anything else like this that we know of, but wealth and power can hide a
multitude of sins, I know *that* from personal experience! He probably thinks he owes no one
anything for doing what he wanted to do to Wufei even though it was a helluva lot worse than
what I did to him.//
Face determined, the young Arabian pilot summed up his own thoughts as well as those of his
//In the end it doesn't matter, though. He hurt Wufei and that's all we need to know.
Khushrenada, if you believe in God, say your prayers now. There's no one and nothing that can
stop us from finding you eventually and making you pay with your life for this atrocity!//
Any further angry diatribes were cut off by the whistling of the tea kettle and Quatre allowed
his own soul to calm as he sipped a cup of tea and kept watch over the household through
most of the afternoon.
Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.