Chapter Eighteen
by Apollymi

Series: Gundam Wing, Sailormoon
Genre: Crossover, Romance, Supernatural
Main Pairing: Duo/Usagi/Heero
Word Count:: 3,688
Disclaimers: I own nothing but the idea.

Usagi cleared her throat nervously. She had long since lost count of the number of guards surrounding her, even if she maintained her suspicion that the firestarter was the one she was going to have to keep a special eye out for. He was the one who was going to cause her the most trouble. Of course, that didn't mean that the others didn't have the potential to mess up their plans too, but the firestarter...

There was something about him that put her teeth on edge and yet plucked at the back of her mind as familiar--and not just from the attack on the motel either. No, it was something far older than that.

But no, she couldn't be wasting time thinking about that right now. She needed to be concentrating on buying Heero the time he needed. Though she was relatively certain most of the guards on the property were standing around her, that didn't mean that they definitely were. It also didn't mean that they would be staying with her the rest of the time she would be here. Somehow she needed to do something to be certain they didn't leave, even when she was taken before their 'master,' whoever he was.

"What does your master want me for?" she asked, mostly to the group at large but, in part, also directly to the firestarter.

The tall man shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't know. He doesn't tell me these things." He shot her a smirk over his shoulder, and there was something about it that seemed so familiar. It was right there, just out of her grasp. "I do rather imagine he wants you to do something for him."

"Something?" she repeated, carefully making sure an appropriate amount of both fear and defiance were in her voice. She was playing a role: these people's interpretation of Tsukino Usagi. It wouldn't do to break character, at least not yet. Not until it would be advantageous for them to do so. "What kind of something?"

He shrugged. "I would imagine he wants you grant him a wish. That is what you do, is it not? Grant wishes?"

She resisted the urge to wince. The Ginzuishou had been granting wishes through her, responding to her heart's wish to please the people around her while she had no memory to fall back on. Whether or not it would still be willing to do so was an entire other matter altogether. Whether or not she had any desire in her heart to grant this person's wishes was yet another matter.

"I-- I don't know how it happens." As a lie, it was only a relatively small one. She had never really understood how it was that the Ginzuishou actually worked. "I don't know if I can."

"I think you should start considering finding a way," the firestarter commented--and she honestly couldn't tell if his words were snide or well intended--as he pushed a hand through raven black hair. "It wouldn't do to deny the master of the house whatever he wants. It tends to be... unpleasant when that happens."

'When it happens'... Meaning that it had happened before. Somehow, at some point, they had found someone else who could do what she did--or something similar to it--and that person had refused and then bad things had happened.

She thought back to the feeling of wrongness she had detected from outside the house. Horrible things had happened here over many, many years. How many people like her had been through here.

The firestarter glanced over his shoulder again. He must have read something in her face because he stopped and turned to face her before he spoke again. "He's had a lot of psychics through here over the years. Most haven't been seen again. Please do try not to add to those numbers, Miss Tsukino."

Then they definitely had not been planning to let Duo go, not if these people were collecting psychics for whatever nefarious purposes they had in mind. Whatever it was, she already knew it was not good.

Still, there was something she had to ask. "If psychics die here all the time, why are you here?" She nodded towards his hands. "You're clearly one of us."

He snorted, and there was no amusement in it. "I was born here, I've lived my whole life here, and I will die here. The master of the house is my father, and you just don't turn your back on family, Miss Tsukino. It's just not done."

"Even when your family is doing horrible things to other people?" she persisted. This time it wasn't part of a role. No, this was entirely her. What kind of family permitted such things? What kind of family engaged in such things? Especially enough for the sickly aura of it to sink into the property. "How is that done?"

"You stop thinking about it after a while, Miss Tsukino. This is your stop. The master of the house..." He broke off, shaking his head, as if realizing he had already given away the secret and he might as well just run with it now. "My father will see you now. Please do try to keep in mind what I said. Whatever you do, don't tell him no. It will be better for you and your man if you don't refuse him." He courteously opened the door for her and gestured her into the dark room beyond.

No, no, no, no, no! She couldn't let them slip away from her now. It had barely been five minutes; surely Heero would need longer than this.

Before she could do anything, even break into a stomping fit or scream, someone gave her a firm push into the room. It was probably intended to be more a nudge than anything else, she thought inanely, but when all the guys who had been behind her were behemoths and she was barely 150 centimeters, even a tap became a whole lot more. The door quickly closed again behind her, and a lock snapped closed from the other side. Okay, clearly, they had way too much practice at this.

Her first instinct was to whirl around and beat on the door. She ruthlessly pushed it down and instead focused on the room surrounding her. Everything about it spoke of someone with a whole lot of money who loved the rich trappings of life. Even in her time, some of the furniture and fixings in here would have been antique. Now? It was a bit... overboard perhaps.

She didn't see this so called master of the house right away, but there was a hugely oversized wingback chair facing the fireplace; it was so large that a person could easily sit in it and not be noticed from behind. That was where she needed to be, she supposed.

Carefully stepping across rugs that had to have cost more than her father would have earned in his entire lifetime, she crossed the room and stopped in front of the fireplace. She wasn't sure if what she saw was what she had been expecting, but in hindsight, it made a great deal of sense.

The man sitting in the chair was... Well, 'elderly' would have been a compliment. She wasn't sure what word to use when the person looked older than elderly, because she wasn't going to let 'decrepit' cross her thoughts. Once upon a time, he must have been a tall lean man, much like his son, as she figured it, but time and age had long since taken its toll on him.

She wasn't sure his frame could hold him up now, even if he was as gaunt as anything she had ever seen. His eyes were closed at the moment, but she wasn't going to be let herself begin to think that he was asleep for one minute. Even seeing him like this, she could feel a barely contained strength lying beneath the man's skin.

It was like... like... like meeting a very old tiger, she supposed. He might not be in the game anymore, but that didn't mean she should disregard him as unimportant. It didn't mean that he wasn't a very dangerous creature anymore. By no means did it mean that.

"You must be the girl who grants wishes." She was almost startled enough to jump when he spoke, still without opening his eyes and looking at her. His voice was surprisingly clear... and there was something annoyingly familiar about it. She couldn't place it, though, and so set the thought aside for now. "Is this correct?"

"I guess so." She wasn't sure if she was slipping back into her role or if she was genuinely nervous about speaking to this man. Perhaps it was a little of both. "I don't know how it works. I don't know what makes some of the wishes come true and not others."

This had been something she had wondered about for a long time: why the Ginzuishou, when used without her Moon Stick or when not helping her transform, would respond to her heart sometimes but not others. Luna had always theorized that it had to do with her heart not being behind the wish, but there had been plenty of times where she had wanted something to happen with everything in her body, and it had done nothing. Sometimes it had only ever seemed to respond when the situation was a matter of life and death; a time or two, using it had even led to her own death or near death, so what was different about those times than others?

"Are you saying you will not grant my wish, little girl?"

She shook her head violently. "I'm not saying that. I'm just saying I don't know if I can."

"And if it means the life of your man if you do not or cannot?" The question was simply phrased. She could hear the malice in it, as well as the mocking in his final word. "If it means your own life?"

'No one I love is dying on me ever again!' a voice in the back of her mind screamed, and frankly, it had a point. She wasn't going to lose anyone else. She didn't know where Duo was or if he was okay or even if Heero had been able to reach him safely. For all she knew, there might have been a guard on the other side of the door with instructions to go kill Duo if she refused. And if they caught Heero? That could be even worse.

"I said that I don't know if I can or can't. I didn't say I wouldn't try to do what you want, if you will promise to let my--" She paused briefly, trying to sort out the proper word without saying too much. It was probably better to play up the scared teenager angle for as long as she possibly could. "If you will promise to let my boyfriend and me go."

"I will let you go if you are able to grant my wish. If you can't..." The old man let the threat hang. She could more than fill in the blanks.

"I'll do what I can." She wasn't going to make a promise to fulfill this man's wish, after all, no more than she was going to say no to him. If these were the options given to the other people with abilities who had been here before her... She felt for them. She didn't know them, but she felt for them.

"I wish for my wife to be back and alive."

She felt a jolt running through her, as if she had suddenly stepped on a live current. To her surprise, it was the Ginzuishou. This was a wish it liked? But this guy's wife, she had to have been dead for decades. Why was the Ginzuishou interested in helping bring her back to life?

In her mind's eye, the figure of a woman started to form. Long raven black hair flowed down her back, much like her son's. She couldn't see the woman's face nor her eyes, but there was something unnervingly familiar about her, something she couldn't quite place but was on the tip of her tongue.

"You look familiar."

The old man's voice was amazingly more suspicious than it had been before, and he stared at her through narrowed eyes. Narrowed blue eyes... She knew him.

But how could he be here? It was impossible.

His feet were dangling a few feet above the ground. It wasn't easy to tell exactly how far off the ground he was, but given that his eyes were just above being level to the top of the door frame, he was willing to bet that, it was further than the average person could lift someone. And there was no one there. That was important too.

Yet the invisible grip on his throat remained. It wasn't tight enough--yet--to cut off his air supply, but it was most assuredly present and very, very strong.

There were two options: either Duo's cell had an invisible guard or it was Duo himself. Oddly, the first one was somewhat plausible... but it was ultimately unlikely. Ignoring the movies where people turned themselves invisible, it didn't seem like an ability that could exist in the real world. So that left one other option.

It took him no more than a second to think his way through all of this and come to a quick decision. It was Duo. It had to be.

If it were anyone else, he might have worried that these people had somehow gotten to Duo. With the American, though, it didn't feel like something he had to worry about.

Instead, he was pretty sure this was Duo's abilities, kicking in while Duo couldn't defend himself. Now that was a pretty useful talent to have. Right now, though, he wasn't going to say anything against his own newly found talent; it had led him straight to Duo.

"Duo?" he called out as loudly as he dared. If there was any reaction, it was impossible for him to detect. "Duo, please... It's Heero. Let go, please, Duo."

Abruptly the invisible hand released him, and he dropped to the ground hard in an awkward pile. He sat there for a second, coughing and his hand rubbing at his throat. There wouldn't be a bruise or anything there; it hadn't been tight enough for that for starters, but also there hadn't really been a hand touching him. It wasn't the weirdest thing he had ever encountered, especially given the last few weeks, but it was a little up there.

When he finally looked up, Duo was slowly struggling to sit up. True to what Heero had seen in his last dream, Duo looked like a slice of raw hell, to use one of the American's more creative phrases. He was still too pale, skin almost grey with the pain he was obviously still in but not saying anything about. His eyes were fever bright, and it was obviously to see even from here that he was shaking slightly. Pain lines still creased his forehead, giving his face an overall pinched look.

Okay, he was going to have to get Duo to Usagi and fast. He didn't even want to think about how they were going to make that happen, given all the guards that had been surrounding her, but they were going to accomplish it. This wasn't going to wait.

"Sorry about that" somehow were the first words that came out of Duo's mouth. "I--"

"Don't be sorry," he cut in, forestalling any further apologies. He pushed himself to his feet, taking a quick survey of his own body. Some aches, possibly some bruises, but he was all right overall. Maybe once Usagi was done with Duo, he would turn himself over to her as well. But he had fought in much worse condition... and he had no illusions that there would not be a fight to get out of here. "Let's just get out of here."

"Are you real this time?"

He winced. Whatever Usagi's jewel had done, apparently it had managed to project enough of him here that Duo had been able to hear him... and to think that he had left him. "Of course I'm real. I was dreaming before."

"I'm not sure I wasn't the one doing the dreaming."

He rubbed absently at the sudden and sharp ache in his chest. He hadn't hurt it in the fall, had he? No, he didn't remember it. Besides, it didn't feel like an actual physical injury. Instead, it felt more like he had torn his own heart, emotionally speaking, maybe. Emotions still were not his strong suit.

"No, I was dreaming. Usagi did something, to make sure I could dream the right place to find you, and part of me was actually here." He sighed, shaking his head at the horrible explanation; he wasn't too good at them either. "I promise you, I'm really here this time. I'm keeping my promise: we're getting out of here."

Duo nodded slowly. Perhaps he was still a little wary; he looked like he felt that way. "All right. Then let's get out of here."

"All right," he agreed as well. "We'll have to get Usagi."

The other man stiffened, his whole body going painfully rigid. "They're after Usagi. It's her they're after."

He really didn't want to, but he nodded. "I know. We both knew. She's being bait so I could come get you without too much interference."

The look in Duo's eyes was angry. He probably would have skipped straight on to livid or furious if he weren't so exhausted. "This was not the best plan in the world, Heero."

"It was a bit of a desperate one." He paused, debating briefly before continuing. "And it was Usagi's plan. I... just didn't have a better one to offer."

Duo shook his head slowly. "So now we probably have to go rescue her."

"I don't think so," he commented, stepping over to the bed and cautiously helping Duo to stand.

The other man seemed shaky, well beyond what two days' imprisonment should be. He glanced to the side, where the water jug he had seen in the dream was located; it was empty, not a drop of condensation left on it, so clearly it had been empty for a while. Dehydration could explain part of it. Usagi had said that she thought Duo had overdone it with his abilities when they were attacked, so that could have easily been another part of it. Injured and dehydrated... The combination would be enough to make anyone a little weak.

"Besides," he continued, while Duo struggled to find his footing, "I think Usagi can take care of herself." Duo shot him a look that was questioning beneath the pain. "She's gotten more of her memories back. She's..." He trailed off, uncertain what exactly to say. "She's something."

"She's definitely something, Heero," the other man huffed in vague amusement. "She's ours, and I won't want her with these assholes a moment longer. Let's go get her and blow the pop stand."

"She's Sailor Moon," popped out of his mouth without warning. Duo glanced at him, a question clearly written on her face, so he pressed on. "She's Sailor Moon, and she remembers parts of being Sailor Moon. She's... more powerful than either of us realized. It's... pretty awe-inspiring, for the lack of a better phrase."

Duo was silent for a long moment. To be fair, it possibly had something to do with him taking his first step and nearly falling. Only a quick save from Heero kept him from hitting the floor. "So we have a super heroine for a girlfriend?" he gasped, apparently as an attempt to distract himself. "Good. That's a bit reassuring."

He couldn't watch Duo struggle with this any longer. He had been standing aside, knowing that if he were in Duo's place, he would prefer to do this on his own that be helped. But time was not on their side, and they needed to get out of here before Usagi's distraction ran out. So he took hold of Duo's arm and pulled it gently around his shoulder, slipping his free arm around Duo's waist, taking the brunt of the American's weight onto himself. There, that should help them move a bit faster. They would need all the help they could get.

He couldn't help one more sentimental confession. "We missed you, Duo. It's good to have you back."

They were out the door and part of the way down the hall towards the stairs before the other man spoke again. "How long have I been gone, Heero?"

There was that tearing feeling in his chest again. Yes, it definitely had to be emotional somehow. It had been dark in the room Duo was kept in, barely enough light to see a few inches in front of one's face. The hallway itself was well lit, but that didn't mean that any of it had gotten into Duo's cell. How would he be able to tell time in a place like that? "It's been two days, Duo. Two days that lasted forever."

"Oh, you are sentimental, aren't you?" It was the first real glimpse he had gotten so far of the real Duo since he had opened that door. It was enough to make him breathe a happy sigh of relief.

"Only for the two of you."

From the end of the hall, from beneath the door at the top of the stairs, a bright light flared. If it hadn't been the middle of the night, he would have thought it was the sun he was seeing, but that just couldn't be possible. Unless...

...lit Tokyo Tower like the sun in the middle of the night...


Was this part of her distraction? Or was she in actual trouble?

Either way, they needed to get to Usagi. Now.

18 August 2012

Can you guys tell I'm working on getting my title of "Queen of Cliffhangers" back? How am I doing? (Back before FanfictionNet, there was FanficNet. There, I earned the titles "Queen of Cliffhangers", "Queen of Angst", and "Queen of Crossovers". One at the time, I'm going to get them back.)

Okay, I'm bad about remembering to start posting Of Worlds to Fall. I'll post the first chapter right after I finish up here. It's a DBZ/SM/GW crossover. Where I'm at now, it's sitting at about 30k, with plenty more story to go. I hope you guys like it. (And once I'm done with it, I'm going to try to finish up BetrĂ¼ger. Try, mind you: no promises.)

See you in the next chapter, everyone!

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