|Leo Stenbuck Strikes Back|
|Summary: With Marie unconscious after their regretfully short reunion, two of her squad mates decide to interrogate Allelujah personally. For one of them, it's not his first rodeo.|
It has been a goodly number of hours since a medical team had swiftly whisked Marie away from the smallish confined of Allelujah's cell...most of a day could have passed by now, he thought, but the Meister had long abandoned any attempt at keeping a reliable track of time in here. If there was anything he could be thankful for it might be that in all the commotion no one had bothered to refit his muzzle, but it was an amenity wholly unworthy of notice beneath the crushing guilt the weighed down on the pilot's soldiers.
"Marie..." Her voice echoed off the walls like a prayer, heterochromatic eyes downcast in a gaze of torurous despair at a meaningly spot on the floor. She'd been right in front of him, suffering, collapsing...and there was nothing he'd been able to do to help her. Hell, it was his /fault/ that she was in her current state. Even before then, he'd felt the oncroach of helplessness, having a hard time convincing of what being with A-LAWS would mean, about it being better for her not to fight. Was this supposed to be his punishment? Was torture of this manner also an acceptable method in the totalitarian peace-keeping force?
No, he thinks. Even for them, that was a little too far...and perhaps a bit too individually focused. But that didn't mean there wasn't a greater hand at play here, visting vengeance on him for sins of the past. He couldn't understand why she couldn't be left out of it, at least, if only he could have an answer to that cruel reality...
But the Super Soldier doubts he'll be receiving answers any time soon. As usual, he's powerless to do anything but subsist and exist while the world passed around him.
After the events of last night - or, really, this morning - Leo Stenbuck is in an astoundingly foul mood. On some issues, his heart is finally at rest... but for now, all that truly means is that he now has to face the things he's done - both to some people and with some people - in a new light, a light where they were even greater mistakes than he had at first thought.
At least Louise had spent all of her time with So-- Marie lately. Sure, it was terrible, but it means she didn't get all weird about his hickeys.
But that's all tangential, because, today, that trend has come to a sudden stop. Only this morning did Leo receive the news; Allelujah Haptism, Gundam Meister, did... /something/ to Soma - to Marie - while she was questioning him, and she passed out. Leo has lost far too many squadmates, far too many people he cares about, and he's already almost lost S-- Marie-- once.
He was, understandably, a little upset.
The door to the cell Allelujah is being kept in unlocks with a heavy clunk and swings slowly open; Leo Stenbuck appears briefly in the doorway, backlit by the comparatively blinding lights of the rest of the facility.
He wasn't intending to do anything... untoward, not on the entire trip here. But the moment he sees Allelujah, his blood suddenly boils, as all the stresses of the past few months, desperately seeking an outlet, surge to the surface. They're joined, shortly, by rage at less immediate things; Allelujah's behavior the last time Leo questioned him. Louise's family. Celestial Being, full stop.
And so after a beat of staring at the bound Allelujah, Leo glances over his shoulder at the woman behind him, and says, coldly, "You might want to wait outside."
Then he crosses the cell in three long stride and kicks the Gundam Meister in the stomach.
Louise had not only been spending her time with Marie, but with Revive -- the Innovade had made his desires for this particular interrogation well-known. Of course, that was before Allelujah had done -- /something/ -- to the Warrant's best friend; now it's a touch more personal. She half wants to kill Allelujah herself, rather than spoon-feed Leo the opportunity as she's supposed to... but no, she reminds herself -- this is a mission of critical importance to him.
Naturally, when Leo tells Louise that she might want to wait outside, she shakes her head. "No," she says, quite firmly. She then watches, with laser-like focus, as Leo Stenbuck kicks the Gundam Meister directly in the stomach.
Oh, if mother and father could see her now -- party to revenge against the ones who took everything away from them. From /her/. "... Again," she requests of Leo, venom barely concealed in her voice -- but concealed just the same. She steps in closer to Allelujah, wanting to watch every second of it. Part of her wants to just walk up and match Leo's kick... but again, she reminds herself -- restraint.
She decides to /instead/ put that anger into questioning Allelujah, asking him one question that -- to /her/ -- seems impossibly simple.
"What did you do to the Lieutenant?"
Unexpectedly, the door opened, and Allelujah once again found himself squinting against the bright lights from beyond. It didn't matter how many times it happened; dilation was dilation as for his eyes were concerned. They adapt quicker at least, enabling him to make out the vaguely familiar features of his latest visitor. This was....someone he'd seen before, an ensign or something who'd tried to question him the last time he caught. He'd seemed more like a boy back then, but something had aged him to the Meister's eyes, aged in that way one couldn't avoid if they involved themselves in fighting. "You're..." Gold and Silver eyes quest Leo inquisitively, more words on the tip of the Meister's tongue..
And then he doubles over with a start as the other pilot's bootheel slammed unforgivingly into his stomach.
The initial shock blunted the pain, but it knocked the wind completely out of him. A fit of coughs, gasps and hacking comes convulsively over the captured member of Celestial Being, and it's only those blurred, teary flits of vision as his head lulls about helplessly that he notices the Jovian was not alone; there was someone else with him, a woman he didn't know. Blonde, young...maybe the same age. He didn't quite hear the first thing she said, but the second was easy being that it was a questioned aimed at him as sharply as any knife.
Ah, so that was it. They wanted to know about Marie. These people, they couldn't be...
No, don't think about that. There was something he could learn here too in any case. "I..." He looks between both of them once his breath is recovered, not a shread of malice or resenment in his eyes depite Leo's brutal reintroduction of himself, "I'm not sure...our quantum brainwaves react violently to one another sometimes." His lower lip caught itself in his teeth, and he would've turned his sight away if he could move his neck enough for it, "I didn't mean to...but it was my fault." He fixed Louise with a pleading stare, being that she had asked the question, "Is she alright? Please, please tell me if you can.."
Yes, after all that the Gundam Meister had the chutzpah to ask his own question. Didn't he know how interrogations worked?!
Leo shoots a glance at Louise when she urges him to kick Allelujah again; his surprise - concern, even - gives Al plenty of time to choke out his response to the woman's question, and then to ask his own. Only as the Gundam Meister begins pleading to know if Marie is alright does Leo decide to answer the blonde's request.
So he turns back and kicks Allelujah in the stomach again.
"Shut the fuck up, you psycho faggot," he snarls viciously. "I played nice last time, and you didn't want to cooperate. So-" Leo plants his foot again and swivels to crack a right hook into the side of Allelujah's face. "-no more mister nice guy."
"/Soma/," he continues, emphasizing the name, "Is gonna be just fine, except for how your little Kathy friends have fucking /brainwashed/ her. So why don't you tell us what this 'Marie' shit is all about, huh?"
Louise isn't nearly as sold on the notion of Katharon involvement in 'Marie' as Leo is -- she is, after all, closer to the Lieutenant than Leo is. Nevertheless, the misconception keeps Leo beating Allelujah, so she isn't about to argue it here and now. "She'll be fine," Louise says, playing 'good cop' a little more directly for just a few scant seconds.
Still, she wants answers -- and it seems like Allelujah has answers. It is at this point that she steps up to get about as close to Allelujah as Leo is, asking him firmly, "Why you and her? Why do /your/ quantum brainwaves react to hers that way?" Louise's don't. Revive's don't. Healing's don't. Only this Goddamn Gundam Meister.
"Tell me or he's going to kick you again," she says, with utmost certainty. She glances to Leo, as if to say, 'you will, right?'
Allelujah barely has time to take a breath after the final question before Leo robs him of it again, plus a fist across to face to add injury to...well, injury. A few more seconds coughing, gasping and heaving later and the Meister bears a throbbing welt on the right side of his face that should become a /fantastic/ purplish bruise in the next couple of hours. Even still, he can only feel relief at the news that Marie is okay, unable to keep a small smile from himself despite getting the boots put to him (literally), "Is she? I'm glad..."
But the relief is short-lived, for there are more questions they have for him, questions the Super Soldier can't answer nearly so easily. Both of them wanted answers this time, and he may as well start with the one that went first. "It's not brainwashing." The insistence is quiet, but not without a measure of stubbornnes, "Marie is who she really is. Marie Parfacy, that's the name she had when we first met....a kind girl who doesn't hates violence." Now, there was just a bit of an edge at his voice at that, "She must not have started using that other name until later." IE, when the /EFA/ (or whoever had been in charge at the time) had brain washed her.
As for why he's the only one who affects her and vice versa? Al himself has tried to figure out the answer to that to no avail, and he didn't think a lie would be much use here. "I...i'm not exactly sure why it only happens to us." The only reason he wasn't trying to chew his way out of these restraints is because of the handy incapacitor they'd put in his head, "I think it's because we were part of the same program, both Super Soldiers. I...I was the first one who could even hear her thoughts. She had no physical sense at all, back then." Far more than he intended tell, but all this had been sitting inside him for so long the pilot felt like he had tell someone, anyone, even people like these two.
Leo's only response to Louise's search for confirmation is to tighten his mouth into a grim line and gently touch her elbow. Given how freely he's given Allelujah the stick so far, though, that probably translates into 'yes.'
He looks back to Allelujah as the Meister's explanation goes on... and as it does, the disbelief written on his face only becomes more and more evident. "Uh huh," he growls, obviously unconvinced. "So if I were to go digging, I'd find records of this, yeah? Of you, of her?
"You're /sure/ she's not some little story you cooked up in your head that you convinced the rest of your little team of fuckups into convincing /her/ of?" he demands, slipping his hand off of Louise's elbow and balling both hands into fists.
As Allelujah explains himself, Louise finds herself completely at a loss for words. On the one hand, it ties up all of what Marie had said and all of what Allelujah had said in a neat package... but as Leo says, it's a little too neat. Something they could've 'convinced' her of. It'd fit with most of Marie and Louise's 'pillow talk,' too.
That said... she has no reason to believe a member of Celestial Being, either. If they turn up evidence that corroborates his story, then so much the better; if they don't... well, either way, if everything works out, he'll be dead.
Her own hands join Leo's in tightening into fists, but she says absolutely nothing.
"It's the truth." The Meister insisted, once again a little stubbornly. Getting beaten didn't seem to do much to weaken whatever resolve was steadily mustering in the Super Soldier, "I don't know how much you could find. The program the created us was top secret." And horribly illegal and the government had probably changed once or twice since then, "But i'm sure if anyone could find it, it would be A-LAWS." The remark came a tone on the flippant side; someone apparently had yet to have the sass beaten out of them.
Meanwhile, Hallelujah hastily added 'Cut off this stupid kid's legs and force him to watch as I skullfuck the blonde' on the growing to-do list carved on the walls of his mental prison.
There weren't really anymore questions directly asked towards him, and looking at the two of them...he couldn't say his answers were going over well. But what else was there to say? This didn't quite seem like a professional interrogation...a personal stake was in this as well, and he began to suspect again. "Marie told me she had people who cared about her here.." The notion still sat oddly with him, but he fixed the pair with unabashedly earnest eyes, "Was she talking about the two of you? If that's true, if you care about her as well..." Anger wasn't something the came naturally to Al, but his fists almost balled, and a pained edge managed to creep into his voice (But that could just be the beating), "Then why? Why are you letting her be put in danger?! She doesn't want to fight! She doesn't want to be mixed up in battles!" Oh Al, you're such an expert on what Marie wants.
Allelujah's latest question makes Leo's eyes narrow, and he sweeps them up and down the bound Gundam Meister suspiciously. He's definitely full of shit, that's for sure - even if it is probably shit that he really, truly believes, being a total psychopath (pot, kettle, et cetera) - but... he does seem legitimately concerned about Soma. Marie. Whatever.
It may technically count as giving Allelujah a break, but Leo decides to illuminate things for the Gundam Meister, rather than simply punching him in the face again.
"Because I'm not a tyrant," he says bluntly, leaning closer to Allelujah to get - to use the technical term - all up in his grill. "That's the difference between you and me. Between us, and Celestial Being."
"You want to force her to do what you want her to; you're just as bad as the people who made her a Cyber-Newtype," Leo explains, leaning back away from Allelujah and wrapping an arm around Louise's waist. "We don't want her to be hurt, either. But we have to respect what she wants. If she wanted to stop fighting..."
Leo scowls, closing his eyes. "Then she'd tell us. But she's not a doll, or a puppet, who we can make do what we want. She's not the damsel in distress in our imaginary story," he adds viciously.
Scooting close to Leo as he tells Allelujah his side of the story, Louise frowns. It sounds, for a moment, like he may actually show Allelujah a little mercy... and that's something that Louise isn't okay with. Not just for Revive's sake, of course, and not even just for his sake... but for her own. Celestial Being took everything from her -- she wants to see them suffer and be broken and die.
Allelujah's concern for Soma -- for Marie -- doesn't humanize him to Louise at all. Quite the opposite, in fact -- it makes her hate him all the more. She doesn't want Celestial Being to want the same things she wants. She doesn't want Allelujah to do anything but have the good courtesy to die expressively.
She remains dead silent, however... for now.
The Gundam Meister withers under that verbal assault, shoulders hunched low. Really, this was 'taking it easy' on him? You might as well go back to the beatings, Leo. "That's not..." He stuttered, suddenly quieter then before, "That isn't what I mean.." And it's about all he can say. Marie wouldn't say something like that, she care too much about others to do what she wanted for herself, or so he thought. And he certainly wasn't going to get in a debate about whether A-LAWS or Katharon was in the right here, knowing nothing but a dead end await the end of that conversation. Then again...
"Aren't you..?" He asks the question of Leo, wondering if he young man /really/ buys the line of A-LAWS that far, if he really believes in everything the organization in the name of a 'peace' that oppressed both space and earth alike, if he even knew the whole truth. He'd seen the results of Celestial Being's idealism, saw them right in front of him, and he would not turn away. But he would not run, either. He...they, the Gundam Meisters, would take responsibility. He'd just have to hold faith that Tieria would be able to do something about it.
More silence. He doesn't know what else to say, except, "Is...is there any way I can see her?" He's been given nothing but contempt and abuse by both this pair; the fact that he could still ask a question like that was a sign of either truly pitiable desperation or full-blown autistic madness.
Leo stands there in silence, his eyes still closed, for several long seconds before he answers, bluntly, "After what you did to her last time? No." He picks his words very carefully; it isn't 'what happened to her', it's what he /did/ to her. Something may have pulled him back from physical violence, but he's still perfectly capable of being... well, kind of a dick.
Leo finally opens his eyes... and when he does, they're glowing, beams of light lancing out in all directions from his pupils. There is, Allelujah may notice, some quantum brainwave activity from him; it's very weak, but it's there.
"No one is coming to rescue you this time," Leo tells the Gundam Meister coldly. "I won't let you get out again. I won't let you people keep doing what you did to Soma. What you did to Louise." Leo's arm tightens around the blonde's waist, and his free hand balls into a fist again.
This is getting a little too clean. Doesn't this man, this -- /monster/ deserve to suffer for the things he's done in the name of Celestial Being? The things he's done to Marie? As he asks them if /they're/ the tyrants, something in Louise snaps, or at least bends enough to crack.
Though Leo holds Louise tight, she doesn't stay with him. Instead, she grabs Allelujah by the jaw with her hands -- not the throat. The throat could actually kill him, or make him too winded to talk. The jaw would be a losing proposition for a normal human being in terms of pain... but Louise has some assets when it comes to grip.
It is not to him, however, that she talks. It's to Leo -- even as she grips Allelujah's jaw with force enough to shift his teeth around a touch, it's Leo that she speaks with. "Leo," she says, voice tense. "We have a chance to stop him from ever doing anything like that again. Right here, right now. Kill him. If you can't, then -- then -- then you don't really want to beat Celestial Being at all!"
No, huh? Al's head hung in resignation...though it wasn't as if he could've expected anything differently. He couldn't argue against the logic anyways, the last thing he wanted was to hurt Marie again. But then Leo keeps talking, which isn't nearly so worrying as the fact that the pilot's were /glowing/ and he was emitting some very vague, but discernable levels of quantum brain waves. "What..." The Super Soldier's eye's showed a genuine bewilderment; Leo hadn't done anything like this in their last, er, visit, "What are you.."
And he has just enough time toe parse the last thought--Louise, was that the name of the woman? He had a feeling so, but what had he...what had Celestial Being done to her? Was she another victim of their interventions, as the masked pilot had been?
He scarcely ruminates on that at all before the blonde locks his jaw in a painfully strong grip, far greater than he would've expect from a girl of her size. The pain doesn't bother him too much, being used to that by now, and what she says is...well, expected. He figured an execution or accident of some sort could be lying in wait for him. But talking isn't really an option for him right now, and it's not like has much to say to that anyways; there wasn't much he could do if they decided to kill him right here.
A realist when the situation called for, those heterochromatic eyes showed nothing but a dismal acknowledgment of the mood. He'd not rebuffed a single one of the charges anyone had laid against him; He couldn't say he didn't deserve this.
He just hopes Marie will be all right.
Leo blinks rapidly in obvious surprise when Louise grabs Allelujah by the face... and, suddenly, he finds himself in a difficult spot. Technically, Louise is correct; Leo could kill Allelujah right here, right now. Sure, some of the higher-ups might be angry, but the worst that would happen to him is that he'd be chewed out.
Leo Stenbuck has been chewed out before.
Leo spends several seconds in a sort of stunned silence, desperately wracking his brain for a reason... an excuse, really. And, although it takes a bit, he does eventually seize on one.
"Louise," he says gently, stepping up behind the blonde and embracing her, wrapping his arms around her midsection. "You're right. We should kill him." He lets his right hand slide up her body, to--
-- gently take her elbow. "But think about the state Soma - Marie - is in," Leo continues, his voice as soothing as he can make it. "If we did it right now, she might get upset. We have to wait until we can... find out more about what they did to her. And until we can wring everything he knows out of him."
"So please let him go," Leo urges softly. "He needs that to talk."
Louise bites her lip hard. "She'll be fine," Louise says, as she takes her hand off Allelujah's face; that much, at least, she knows to say. "She might have a problem with it. But... it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that he needs to /die/."
But she can't pull that trigger. Only Leo can -- at least, here and now. Any other time, it'd be different... but here, she's supposed to make him pull it.
... and he won't.
Looking down and shaking her head, Louise says, "Make sure you interrogate him thoroughly and /then/ kill him, then." The 'killing' part seems increasingly non-negotiable, for Louise. Somewhere on the MUSH, Setsuna F. Seiei has disconnected.
Oh woe is Al, when Leo Stenbuck was the voice of reason in this scenario. He's a bit surprised at the restraint the pilot shows, he certainly didn't seem like he'd mind killing the Super Soldier...but if it was for Marie's sake, then it made sense. There's dull ache in his jaw he can't even assuage once Louise releases him, but at least the pain reminded him that he was alive. His sole friend from childhood had saved him again, it seemed...
But the woods weren't quite clear yet, not with things getting more and more unstable on Louise's end. The Meister gave an inquisitive, appraising look, trying to recall if he'd seen the girl somewhere, /anywhere/ from before...but nothing came to mind. There was no way to know he'd incidentally saved her life once in the past, a past that likely seemed a whole lifetime away for both of them by now. The world did enjoy it's irony.
But he can tell there's something, something driving her this hard. Perhaps it's just the effect of those annoying quantum brainwaves and the almost feminine intuition even Al's imperfect versions could give him, but he had a feeling there were more than just orders at stake here, and more than just Marie. What Leo said earlier didn't help. "What..." He looked at Louise, his face an expression of near concern that could easily be mistaken for pity, "What happened to you?" What did they do?
It was probably the worst thing the Meister could have done.
"okay," Leo promises Louise in a hushed voice, his arm still looped around her waist, the other hand still clutching her elbow. "I promise. Now can we-"
Whatever he was going to say is interrupted by Allelujah's question, and he swings his still-glowing eyes over to the bound man to stare, for just a beat, in disbelief. Doesn't this guy know when to shut up?
But it's too late for that; Leo has a bad feeling that he knows what comes next, and as okay as he is with Louise beating the shit out of Allelujah, he's afraid she'll go overboard and actually kill him. And so he immediately tightens his grip on the woman's waist and elbow, and begins, urgently, "Louise--"
Leo can almost certainly stop Louise from actually being able to kill Allelujah. Outside of the hellish cyborg hand, she is not exactly a prime physical specimen -- and as such, she probably cannot actually beat Allelujah to death without breaking her hand away from Leo's grip.
On the other hand, she can almost certainly match Leo's earlier trick. She snaps a leg up, giving Allelujah a single, awkward kick to the side. It's all she can really muster, in the position she's in. She has a feeling that Leo -- Leo, who was so insistent on killing Yazan Gable at every opportunity -- isn't going to nut up today... so it looks like the interrogation is over.
"Are we done here?" she asks of him, shaking her head, not even answering Allelujah's question beyond 'a kick to the gut.' He doesn't deserve answers. He's supposed to be /giving/ them.
Well, that certainly could've been worse. As it is, Allelujah takes a final hit to his side, unable to do much more than endure it stoically with a wince and the vague traces of a whimper. It was almost like kicking a puppy. Almost.
But if that was her answer, he certainly wasn't going press her for more. The Super Soldier tilted his eyes down at the floor, preferring to avoid meeting their gaze unless the two had any more questions. He thought of saying one more thing, asking them to give Marie a message for him when she woke up, but thought better of it. The Meister had said more than enough already.
Frankly, he was a little surprised he was still breathing.
Leo doesn't really mind the kick; he's just grateful she didn't go berserk. He keeps his arms where they are for a few moments, until he's absolutely certain that Louise isn't about to flip her shit, and then says, quietly, "Yeah. Let's go. We'll come back later."
Leo plants a quick kiss on Louise's neck, hoping to soften the sulk he can sense coming on, and then unwraps his arm from around her and goes to lead her out of the cell by her elbow.
Before the two step out of the doorway, Leo looks back at Allelujah, and says, coldly, "Next time, I'll have questions about Celestial Being. You're going to want to cooperate."