Heero stood slowly, hands raised. Blue eyes flitted towards the gun he'd tossed away, towards the man holding Relena, towards the other enemies in the room. Wufei assessed the situation as Heero was doing. The conference table was thick oak, if Yuy could get Relena away, they could- no! Shit! Wufei's eyes widened in alarm as he got a better look at the gun the man was holding to Relena's head. A Desert Eagle, latest in line. That could put a bullet through just about anything in the conference room. Including, probably, their flak jackets.
"Come. Here." Wufei could see the man's face as it turned to follow Heero's movements; his partner had gotten nearer but angled towards the front of the stage so that he was between Relena and some of the other weapons. The man holding Relena...his face was set and...it didn't look like the face of a man who was intending to get out alive. Wufei had seen it before. He knew it well. He had a nasty feeling that Relena and the other VIPs were dead. Although if he was stupid enough to let a killer like Heero moving around the room instead of getting down on the floor there might still be a -
"Turn around." Heero stopped, a meter away from the man, way closer than Wufei would ever have let someone like Heero. His partner turned slowly, eyes flickering to the mezzanine as soon as he was facing in that direction, without alerting the others to Wufei's position. Wufei tensed but there wasn't much he could do yet.
"Where's the other one! Has anybody seen him?" The man almost right beneath Wufei muttered, he sounded like he was talking into a comm. The journalist he was holding swallowed audibly.
"On your knees." The man holding Relena said. Heero stood still for a second then sank to his knees, raising his hands to lace his fingers at the back of his head. The man shifted Relena around a bit, to his left, and she was now completely between him and Wufei. She was pale but her face was calm and her eyes dry, and she twisted in his hold to face front with him. The man pressed his gun against her head warningly and her throat bent back as the grip around it tightened. Wufei's lips curled back in a silent snarl at the horrible angle for a headshot, he'd never get the bastard like this without clipping Relena, at the very least.
"Did any of you see the other?! Paul? This is Andre! Come in!" The man below hissed.
"No." The man holding Relena said softly to Heero. "Get your hands away from your head. Put them - cross them at the wrist behind your back."
Wufei's finger tightened on the trigger, he had the man's shoulder in his sight, but he couldn't - the Eagle was at Relena's - she was in the way of a fatal shot - Heero-
Heero's eyes flashed towards him as he put his hands behind his back. A warning. A message.
Finish the mission.
Relena made some noise of protest and moved against the loosening hold, eyes wide.
The killer smiled like a hanged man. And in one quick movement took his gun from Relena's head and put it against Heero's. Finger tightening on the trigger.
Relena twisted out of the loose hold and dropped her full weight onto the man's right arm -
The gun fired twice and Heero was hurled forward, crashing into the wooden floor.
Relena clear. The thought came after Wufei had already squeezed the trigger.
She screamed as the man's dead weight crashed into her. Head shot, one hostile down. Wufei was already firing at the man below him. Shoulder shot, head shot. A bullet slammed in the wall by his head. Mokota had grabbed the first man's Eagle and was covering Relena with his body; the crack of his bullets made the chandelier ching. Wufei hurled himself over the handrail and landed like a cat on the ground below. He rolled and came up firing, and threw himself behind a pillar. A bullet smacked into it but then there were shouts at the door and the sound of running feet, and then nothing but sobs and screams for help.
Wufei broke cover and checked the room. No more hostiles. He spun and nodded to Anderson and Mokota before heading towards the fire exit. "Get them moving." He barked over his shoulder. Mokota hauled a sobbing Relena to her feet, dragged her screaming away from the body that Wufei couldn't - finish the mission. Get the VIPs out. Mokota had Relena, Sanderson took the President of the Council and the Speaker and hustled them forward. Others followed. Wufei checked the fire escape as they gathered behind him; the ground below was clear - good thing they were only on the second floor. And local police officers were running up the alley, guns at a ready, heading for the fire escape to block off the shooters' possible escape route.
"Move, now." He hissed, once he made sure the lieutenant in charge of the four-man police brigade had recognized his uniform. Sanderson and Mokota covered the VIPs with their bodies, eyes on the skylines, the ground, any hint of cover. Wufei followed them closely. A red-headed cop built like a rugbyman picked Relena up like a child as she staggered, and huddled over her as he started running towards the armored car at the end. The lieutenant turned towards Wufei to ask a question-
The alarm in the man's eyes saved his life. Wufei was on the ground before the shot echoed. The bullet spat up brick and dust as it hit the wall where his head had been. He twisted and brought his gun up - the officer had already fired, sending the shooter diving for cover behind a garbage container at the corner of two alleys some distance away. Wufei uncurled himself in one savage spring.
"Hey wait-" The officer shouted at his back. He ignored it. His gun was firing even as he threw himself behind an open fire door. A bullet rang against the thick metal, a wild shot.
"Come on! Come on!" A shout from further down the alley and the growl of a motorcycle. Wufei turned to the officer and mouthed 'cycle' at the man. The officer grabbed his comm, started ordering forces to surround the building if they weren't already- Wufei risked his head out and pulled back as a shot echoed through the alley.
"Come on!" The voice sounded desperate. British accent, he noted absently.
"Goddamn- we're still at war, motherfucker!" The shooter behind the container shouted and took off. Wufei risked a shot but the man on the motorcycle had a shotgun pointed in his direction and he pulled back with a curse. The shooter had been one of the six in the conference room. The motorcyclist was a seventh. Not a huge force, unless there were others.
War? What the fuck did that mean.
Wufei stood as the whine of the cycle faded. Hopefully a barricade would be up by now. He brushed past the officer trying to ask him questions in a thick, Germanic accent. The armored car with Relena and the VIPs was already gone, Sanderson and Mokota with it.
The fire escape stairs clanged under Wufei's feet. A police officer asked him for his badge at the door and Wufei tore it off and nearly punched the man in the stomach with it as he burst back into the conference room.
The room was empty of civilians though only a few minutes had elapsed; it was like a magician's trick. There were half a dozen armed men, Preventers, Relena's people and a few cops in their place. One was putting pressure on Dupont's shoulder, she was pale but conscious. Two others had their gun on a man on the floor, one of the shooters. He wasn't moving. At a glance, none of the civilians had been injured, or else they'd been mobile.
He made his way swiftly around overturned chairs, crushed glasses, dropped handbags and cameras, like a ghost of terrors past, heading for the stage and the two Berlin policemen leaning over-.
He knelt next to Heero. Actually his knees had wobbled and near given out on him as he'd approached and heard the bubbling whisper of breath. Blood, frothy pink, on the lips but-...gods bless the creators of their flak jackets. He'd been told, without really paying attention, that they were wearing a new prototype coat - he'd only cared that it was tougher and lighter than the previous kind. He'd never thought to ask if it could resist two rounds from an Eagle at point blank range. Damn, that could have dented light armor plating.
"Yuy? Relena's safe. The VIPs made it out."
One of the cops said something. Wufei knew that the bullet's impact must have felt like a truck hitting Heero midriff. No wonder he was out cold. Still...he'd had to say it. Maybe it was for his own benefit. Relena was safe. Mission over. Now he had to get his injured partner to a safe-house.
Someone grabbed Wufei by the shoulder and jerked.
One second later, the paramedic was flat on the ground with the Luger in his face. Behind Wufei the cops both drew their weapons and yelled something. He realized they'd been talking to him for awhile now; he hadn't really been paying attention.
"Sorry." He lifted the gun away from the paramedic, who just stared at him. The man's colleague glared at Wufei and kneeled next to Heero, displacing one of the cops.
"Two bullets in the back." Wufei heard his own voice say, it sounded cold and exact. "Flak jacket took it but I think it broke his -"
"Karl, get up! We have a lung wound here! And...go get a backboard!"
Wufei felt his battle-edge start to dissipate. Heero's face was pale, and the breath dragged though his throat as if each one would be the last but Wufei knew it sounded probably worse than it was. One bullet had impacted the back of the flack jacket, snapping some of Heero's ribs and sending bone plunging into his lung by the sound of it. The other one had hit him right over the spine. Wufei started to think like a Preventer again. A worried Preventer.
"Here." The paramedics were moving with quick efficiency. "Got it. Okay. Roll him."
"Be careful!" Wufei snarled, reacting to the sight of an IV. "He's insensitive to a lot of medication. Here." He reached past the medic and jerked Heero's dogtags from around his neck. "Scan this one. It'll tell you what you can use."
The medic took his PDA from his belt and used its inbuilt scanner on the tag. His eyebrows shot up at the result. "Gottverdamnt! We don't have any of this with us!"
"Well get him to a hospital that does." Wufei said through clenched teeth.
"Okay. Anamaria? What's our priority?" The man was talking into his comm. "We got a ride for him now. Creuz is taking the casualties. Let's go."
"I'm coming with you." Wufei snapped.
The paramedic seemed about to argue on principle, took one look at Wufei's face and changed his mind. "Ya ya, let's go."
"Are you the next of kin?"
"Then tell the nurse where I can reach his family and please leave. You're not supposed to be here, this is pre-ops. Go to the emergency room for treatment."
"I- he doesn't have any family and I don't need treatment!" Wufei snapped, resisting the urge to grab the surgeon by the collar and slam him against the wall a few times. "Look, we need to talk, I-"
"I need to get consent, if I can." The surgeon corrected him firmly. He was a man in his forties, wiry thin and stooped, with thinning light brown hair and a no-nonsense look of authority about him that made Wufei wonder if he hadn't been a military doctor at one point. The badge on his scrubs indicated his name was 'Helzman'. "Then I need you to leave. We have to get him prepped."
"You need me here for that, doctor." Wufei said, trying to keep his voice calm but he could feel the seconds dripping through his fingers like blood. Heero had been shot over thirty minutes ago. He'd stabilized in the ambulance all by himself, much to the paramedics' amazement - Wufei had never felt more grateful for J's tinkering before - and he'd been whisked through the emergency room and up to pre-ops at record speed as a result. Wufei had managed to follow him up till now but Helzman would be a definite obstacle. Wufei glanced at Heero's still form, on his side as nurses checked the restraint on his back keeping his spine and ribs from moving too much, while they cut away the rest of his uniform.
Helzman looked up from the clipboard he'd been perusing as if amazed Wufei was still there. "What? Need you here?"
"Look, I'm a Preventer-"
"You are?" Helzman stared at Wufei, who suddenly remembered he had blood all over the chest of his flak jacket. No wonder Helzman had assumed he was another patient.
"Yes! I- I don't have my badge, I left it on the scene but- you!" One of the nurses around Heero started. "Look in the back pocket of his pants, you'll find his wallet. There will be a card with his ID and emergency contact details. It will have the number of Preventer HQ in Brussels. You can call our superior, Lady Une. She can confirm this."
"That's not the point, sir." Helzman snapped, letting the pages of the chart he was holding riffle back with a whisper. "You may be his colleague but you should still wait in the hallway. Only family members are allowed in pre-ops, and then only until we start prep. We-"
"Look, I really need to talk to you-"
"Please." Wufei ground out. "We have to talk about what medical procedures you are going to use. He's-"
"I have all the details about his allergies to certain medication. As for medical details, you have no authority for that. Please remove yourself now, sir."
"Allergies are not the problem!"
"Rupert, Sicherheit anrufen." Helzman said over Wufei's shoulder to one of the nurses, who moved towards the interphone.
"No! I-" Wufei grabbed the surgeon by his scrubs and dragged him protesting out of earshot of the rest of the surgical team.
"This is not helping your friend! He needs immediate attention-" Helzman hissed, trying to break Wufei's hold.
"He's a Gundam pilot."
"-we need to operate while he's...what?"
"That's why he's resistant to a lot of drugs. And that's why you need me here. Now get Rupert to call off the hounds because my mood is bad enough as it is." Wufei growled.
Helzman was quick. His eyebrows shot up as he twisted to stare at Heero - who, still unconscious, actually looked all of sixteen for once, despite the blood and the pallor on his face. Then the surgeon's eyes twitched and riveted themselves on Wufei's face.
"That's right, so am I." Wufei added. "Now, you need to get Yuy sedated before-"
"I heard-...I heard what those colonists did to you." Helzman stuttered, eyes wide. Wufei took a second to relate this to his own comment about Heero's drug resistance.
"Tell you what, doctor, once you've finished operating on my partner here, I'll sit down with you and have a long debate about ethics and the necessities of war. I could do with an intelligent conversation from someone who doesn't grunt or glare when I'm winning the argument. But right now -"
"Are you Wu F-Fei Chang?"
Helzman and Wufei turned towards the small nurse who'd been going through Heero's wallet. She was holding a card and looking at Wufei doubtfully.
"Yes I am, what-"
"Herr Doktor, he is next of kin." The nurse said, handing Heero's Preventer ID and contact details to Helzman.
"I am?" Of course, there was a Next Of Kin box on the Preventer emergency card. He hadn't bothered to fill it in; since he was a minor, he expected his guardian, Uncle Wai, would take care of- Wufei recovered from his surprise and spun on Helzman. "There! That means I'm allowed to be here, as well as make medical decisions in his name, right?"
"You can stay until we start prepping him." Helzman corrected bitingly, reading the card with a dubious frown on his face. "And you're definitely not allowed to take his medical decisions. If he has no family the hospital will take responsibility. Karina, go back and get Mr Yuy ready, I want him in there in ten minutes."
"If you're going to operate on Yuy, you're going to need me while you sedate him, and I want to scrub in and be in the theater so that -"
"What?!" He had Helzman's full attention again.
"Look, I happen to know how my partner my friend would want a spinal injury treated! I want to be on hand so I can tell you -"
"Absolutely out of the question!" The surgeon turned a fetching shade of purple.
"I know it's not procedure but-"
"You're damn right about that! I don't care if you were a Gun-mf!"
Wufei's hand muffled the end of the shout. Stay calm. Don't draw your gun or they will really have a reason to throw you out. If they do that...no. They'd call Une, or their physician back in Brussels. None of them would be able to make the kind of decision Heero would want regarding an injury that could potentially put him in a wheelchair. This was Wufei's responsibility.
"Call off security." Wufei said in a voice that was a lot calmer than he felt. He picked up the clipboard Helzman had dropped and grabbed one of the legal forms, ripping it from the clip and turning it over to get a blank sheet. He didn't look at the surgeon. Helzman hesitated. He could feel the man's eyes on his face but he didn't bother to look as he picked a pen out of the surgeon's breast-pocket. Helzman started, then slowly waved the two security guards hovering at Wufei's shoulder away.
Wufei scribbled quickly 'I, Heero Yuy, give authority to Chang Wufei to make all medical decisions on my behalf, signed, Chang Wufei, Heero Yuy'. He signed it with a scratch that made the pen bleed.
"Here." He stuck the mutilated form in front of Helzman's nose. "If I get him to sign this too, will that give me the right to call the shots on his treatment?"
"Well- but he's out cold!"
"We'll just see about that." Wufei grabbed a protesting Helzman by the front of his scrubs and dragged him to the gurney, stepping over cables and tubes. The three nurses were spreading betadine over Heero's chest and back and inserting an IV in his ankle. They stepped back, uncertain. Wufei shoved Helzman against the wall, fairly gently, stuck the clipboard under one arm, then grabbed Heero's wrists.
"Yuy. Can you hear me?"
"I don't know what you expect." Helzman snapped. "He's got whiplash concussion from being jerked around and thrown to the floor by point-blank shots-"
"Yuy?" Wufei gripped the wrists with one hand and tapped Heero's cheek with another. "Come on, snap out of it."
"- lung damage which we've barely patched up in the ER-"
"- possible spine trauma, several broken ribs-"
Wufei grabbed Heero's head by the hair and jerked it back. "Status, pilot!"
Good thing he was gripping Heero's wrists...
The clipboard went flying and Wufei almost followed as Heero jerked and wrenched one hand free. Wufei caught it as it tried to punch him blind. Heero rasped and wrenched it away again - goddamn it the son of a bitch was strong! - and put it to his mouth.
"No- Yuy! Don't! You're-"
Heero coughed and gagged, but ripped the tube from his throat, and then made a spirited effort to roll off the gurney. It took Wufei a few heart-wrenching moments to immobilize his weakened partner without adding to his injuries. "Heero! It's me! Wufei! Calm down- safe! You're safe!"
Heero froze and then relaxed under his hands. Wufei blew a strand of loosened hair from his eyes and made sure Heero had something like recognition in his own before letting go.
"S...status..." Heero mumbled, breathing harsh and tortured.
"Safe. Relena's safe, mission's over, you're injured." Wufei shot out, leaning down to pick up the clipboard. "You took two rounds up close. Jacket stopped them. Damage to ribs, punctured lung - " blood was bubbling down Heero's chin again, damn it " - and back injury."
"Hospital. About to be operated on to patch the lung, get the bone shards out. You have a cracked vertebra and swelling in the spine but they don't know how bad. Once they fix the lung they'll look into that but -" Wufei stuffed the clipboard in Heero's lightly curled fist and fished around for the pen he'd stuck in his pocket. "Sign this. It gives me authority over your medical decisions. So I can tell them to take care of the spinal injury while you're still on the table." And tell them to take the risks needed to get it fixed. He knew enough about field medicine to know that a cautious surgeon would not want to strain a patient with an injury to a vital organ by spending hours working on a non-fatal back injury, preferring to leave the swelling to the care of anti-inflammatories and rest. But it was a precaution Heero didn't need, and a risk to his future mobility that neither partner would consider.
Heero's eyes tried to focus on him, then the clipboard. Wufei wondered how bad the concussion was. Then Heero painfully moved clipboard and pen together, Wufei steadying his hand, and awkwardly scribbled something like his name across half the page.
"...can't....feel f-...fingers..." his words and breathing were torn and ragged, flecks of blood on the white of the paper.
"You got pretty beat up. But you can move them." Wufei said then wished he hadn't, Heero didn't need this sugarcoated. "Doctor, is this enough?"
"We-we need to get him intubated again, his sats are dropping." Helzman said after picking his jaw up off the floor. He looked like he was trying hard to regroup behind an air of professionalism.
"Yeah, sorry about that, I should have seen that one coming." Wufei muttered. "But it if didn't happen now it would have happened in a few minutes while you were prepping him and you'd have been in worse trouble. Now will you let me in the operating theater?"
"...here..." Heero whispered. Wufei followed his gaze, reached out a long arm and dragged Helzman forward by the front of his already stretched and rumpled scrubs.
"Hey- let me go! Mr Yuy, I don't think you quite understand how serious your urk!"
Wufei had released the scrubs and Helzman had leaned towards his patient only to find himself hauled nose to nose with the latter by a very similar grip.
"Do. What. He. Says." Heero said, voice wheezy and choked with blood but still deadly. Helzman nodded like a puppet with only one string until Wufei pulled him back.
"Okay, doctor, tube him-"
"I can't! He's conscious!"
"I told you he- he's not norm- he can control his cough and gag reflexes." Wufei ground out. "Get your people in here and let's get this done already! We've wasted enough time as it is! You've got the list of drugs you can use. I'll scrub and join you, hold him down while you anaesthetize him. Yes I need to!" He cut Helzman's protests. "The last time he was put under, it was in an interrogation room! I'd have you cuff him to the table but we don't have time to autoclave the restraints! I'm the next best thing if you don't want him killing your anesthesiologist while he's semi-conscious. Now can we do this?!"
Helzman looked suddenly older as he sighed. "Rupert, see if team A is ready. Make sure we get Iagerbrand for anesthesia. Karina get me a tube kit."
"Are you sure?" Karina was staring at Wufei. So were the security guards still standing near the door.
"Yes. I think we're going to have to fly this one without radar or operating manual." Helzman muttered.
"MS corp medic? Alliance? OZ?" Wufei glanced up from where he'd grabbed Heero's wrists as he recognized the mobile suit lingo.
"Just a doctor, young man, just a doctor. Don't worry. I'll do my best. It'll be up to your friend to do the rest. You'd better be right about how tough he is."
"Doctor I haven't told you the half of it yet."
On to part eighteen-a. Back to part seventeen-a.