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Shikami Yamino

~ Duo ~

Pain flared and my vision was encompassed in a field of red before the darkness of the dank cell that held me swam into my focus again. Hissing lightly through my teeth to control the pain, I braced against the wall that was conveniently in reach and pulled myself up off the floor.

Damned OZ bastard. The memory of him burying his fist in my stomach with the leer of a smirking hyena burned in my mind. Then while I was hanging for breath, the bastard had clipped me across the temple with the butt of his gun. Yaro... How I wish he's face was in range now so I could show him how I'd like to rearrange his face with my fists...

When the red finally completely receded from my field of vision, I took a first look at my surroundings. Not that there was much to see. Hardly any light really. Walking slowly around it, I could feel that it was one of the usual cells used to hold dangerous prisoners. Four walls that held the confined space of the size of a closest and a blanket on the floor, nothing more, nothing less. Ch' they're crazy if they think I'm gonna use that flea-ridden blanket. Grimly, I chuckled at the ridiculous thought that crossed my mind. Man I was glad I wasn't claustrophobic.

Slumping down opposite the electronic sliding panel that was the door to the cell, I gingerly touched my aching stomach. Wincing, I sighed in relief. Nothing broken or fractured... just a hell of a bruise! I'm going to return the favor one of these days.

Leaning my head against the cool metal of the wall, I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to drift. It wasn't like I could do anything and I doubted that my teammates would ever find out I was here, much less come rescue me. Except maybe Quatre, but that was only if he found out. Chasing my thoughts around in my head, I rolled my eyes in the darkness. This immobility was really getting to me... Sighing, I let my brain shut down. Hn, since I'm stuck here without a shred of hope for rescue, might as well take a well deserved nap.

~ Heero ~

Lightly, I jump down from the catwalk to land softly on my feet behind a container of cargo. Waiting for the guard I knew was about to walk past, I slowed my breathing until it was almost non-existent, retaining enough to keep my body functioning. No way did I want to be detected now. Training my eyes on the dimly lit hold, my ears first picked up the sound of approaching footsteps. I allow myself a small smirk. Right on schedule.

As soon as the guard walked past, I jumped and clipped him across the sensitive area at the back of the neck with my fist. He went down like a puppet with its strings cut and I caught his body before it could make a sound. Phase one was complete.

Dragging his body behind the container, I quickly stripped him of his uniform and shrugged it on. Doing up the last buttons and putting my gun in the holster with another at my back, concealed by the jacket, I tugged out a piece of cloth and bound the guard's hands and feet before taking out another and gagging him with it. The mission would be blown if he had woken up while I was still on the base.

Grimly, I set out and strode purposefully down the corridor with my head bent. My mission was clear, I was to dispose of the danger to the Operation and then it was complete. So why was my stomach tying up in knots? That hadn't happened since that first time... when everything had gone wrong. I shook my head. Hn. Why should I care about that baka? It'd been his fault in the first place that he was captured. I had always known that he would be a liability to the mission. Ever since the first time that fool had defended Relena when I was trying to silence someone who knew too much. Ch', he'd had to play the good guy then. And I still remember the abrupt change on his face when he'd realized that he had become the bad guy. It would almost be laughable. If Heero Yuy was permitted to laugh. And if I hadn't had two smoking bullet holes on my leg and arm!

The hospital stunt was more than stupid, and although he had rescued me I had already repaid my debts, swiping that Leo off his back before it could plunge it's beam sabre into 02's unprotected back. I didn't have to do more than that... so why do I still feel like I owe him? Emotion is a sign of weakness and submission and I was not about to submit!

Shaking my head of unproductive thoughts, I calmly focus on the mission at hand. I had reached the bunker where the prison cells were. Following the well-studied map of the base in my head, I automatically turned at the side corridor that led to his cell. This was my obstacle. I could plainly see the guarding officer standing to attention with the semi-automatic gripped in his hands, eyes darting around as if expecting some sort of movement that would give him reason to fire the gun he held.

Hiding behind a corner, I pulled a small object from my pocket and tossed it lightly out into the main walkway. Pale grey smoke hissed out in mass quantities and I saw the guard's head snap towards the sound before beginning to pound towards me instantly. I smirked. The novice showed his inexperience when he didn't call for backup and continued to walk this way. As soon as he'd gotten within range, I pounced, bringing him to the ground and giving him a hearty crack over the cheek bone so he went into shock for a few tenths of a second. Those tenths were all I needed to steel my fingers and jab them into his neck, causing the novice to sag in unconsciousness. Taking off my jacket, I tore it into strips to gag and bind the guard and continued down the corridor to the door on the right, gun already in hand.

~ Duo ~

A noise outside my door alerted me out of my light doze and instantly, my eyes flew open. There were slight sounds of scuffling before it ended and all was quiet again. Already alert, I caught the small sound of ultra-low-grade explosives used specifically for locking mechanisms going off and tensed. Then the door slid open and I was blinded by a rectangle of intense white light.

Shading my eyes slightly, I glared into the brightness until my pupils dilated to the right degree and things began to focus. The first thing I saw was the light bouncing off the dulled black sheen of a gun, its business end pointed directly at my head. This could not be good. Then as my eyes adjusted further, I became aware of the white turtleneck of the OZ uniform behind the gun and groaned inwardly. Great... I was about to be shot by an OZ vigilante in a small cramped cell with nothing but a blanket and a great big bruise on my abdomen. Just my idea of going out with a bang! God, could I get anymore sarcastic?

My eyes stayed on the barrel of the gun but my mind noticed that the index finger situated snugly on the trigger was not tightening. Keeping one eye on the gun, I darted small glances upwards until I came face to face with a pair of glittering, violent cobalt blue eyes, deadly in their intent, partly hidden by a shock of thick dark chestnut hair and an emotionless face.

Heero Yuy.

Taking my eyes off the gun, I stared into those chilling eyes and grinned, slowly pulling myself up with the help of the wall behind me. When I was fully erect, I laughed under my breath. "Saa... Should have known you would find out ne Heero?"

Yes, to say the least I was not surprised that one Heero Yuy had managed to find out where I was and was able to get past OZ security to be standing right there in front of me. I had been amazed at Heero's hacking skills while we made the tour of the private schools and I was hardly shocked that he could hack into anywhere without being detected and been able to find my whereabouts. I had wondered what had happened to him when he'd self-destructed... Okay, worried was more like it... but now it seems he was more than capable of doing everything he'd used to do and more.

I laughed inwardly. Heero was one tough bastard... Even the high-grade explosives we used for the Gundams' self-destruction devices weren't able to kill him. Perhaps one reason I'd become attached to him. Become a friend. I'd had too many friends and loved ones who had been too fragile. Solo... Father Maxwell... Sister Helen... And all that had come too close to the Death that was me, had been torn from this world much too early. Heero at least could defend himself and I for one was grateful for the silent friendship he offered. Even if he didn't realize it.

I grinned foolishly, not really expecting an answer and noticed that the gun's sights had followed my upward progress and now lay in point blank range of my heart. I knew it would come to this. I had blown my cover, been captured by the enemy. I was a danger to the Operation and a loose end that had needed to be tied up. It seemed that Heero was here to tie up that loose end. I didn't mind... I was tired of this life anyway. As long as I didn't seek my own death, any death was appropriate and welcomed. This I conveyed to Heero. "Ne Heero. Don't just stand there like an idiot. Use it."

Cobalt eyes darkened. He knew what I was talking about. The finger on the trigger pulls slightly but not all the way. Why doesn't he shoot? Why *hasn't* he shot yet? He knows better than anyone that he is jeopardizing the mission by standing here!

I make it easy for him and lean back against the wall with my eyes shut and an expectant smile on my face. "Do what you have to do Heero. I'm tired anyway."

~ Heero ~

The idiot!! He just stands there, waiting for me to shoot him, that infuriating grin on his face and the closed eyes and upraised chin. As if accepting what was coming with the air of someone condemned. Silently, I question myself. Isn't that what he is? Hasn't he condemned himself to death as you yourself did when you became a part of Operation Meteor? So pull the trigger! I frown slightly and tighten my index finger on the trigger but still the mindless effort falls slightly short of effective, my finger releasing the trigger after a few seconds of breathlessness.

I know I should kill him. His is a liability, a danger to the mission. His death is the reason I donned the OZ uniform and blew my cover as I disarmed the watchman guarding his cell. I know I should, but even as I stand here staring into his resigned but smiling face, completely accepting of the fate that I am expected to give him. Even as I stand here with the comfortable weight of the gun in my hands, my finger on the trigger. I cannot.

He is a jokester, a liability, a danger, an idiot... and a friend. My friend. The only friend Heero Yuy can accept because he brings some semblance of light into my dark existence. Light that carries the shadows of war but nonetheless burns brighter than the darkness that surround it. He is grief with joy, pain with happiness and the life that absorbs all darkness but reflects only light. He carries his own resentment and guilt although only sharing his happiness and laughter, one that gives his all to ask nothing in return.

I don't know when he became a friend... or when I even acknowledged him... but I do know that I need the friendship and the support he provides. Those few times at the private schools, I was almost able to forget I was a Gundam pilot fighting a war that was as far removed from the happy students around me as happiness was from a war-torn soldier. Losing myself slightly in momentary contentment as he threatened, cajoled and bribed me into playing a 'normal kid'. Resigning myself and with the 'Perfect Soldier' in me cursing myself for the weakness, I lowered my gun.

One violet-blue eye opened under a shock of honey-tinted chestnut bangs and gazed at me, uncomprehending. "Heero?"

Reinforcing my face into showing absolutely no emotion at all, I pulled the gun from my back and said, "Can you still hold a gun?"

Confused amaryllis eyes peered back at me with confusion but he nodded and automatically caught the gun I tossed at him out of pure reflex. He transferred his gaze from the gun in his hands and then to me before limping over towards me. I slung one of his arms across my shoulders and almost hauled him out of the dank cell.

After we'd started walking, he switched the safety off on the gun in his hand and turned his eyes onto me, even though I pretended to ignore him and kept my eyes on the road ahead. A quiet voice whispered into my ear, "Why didn't you kill me?"

Snorting softly, I replied bluntly, "You once told me to always choose life while I had the chance. You should take your own advice."


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