Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.
Note: >< You know what, I don't know anything. I'm making it all up as I go along.
Smart. Duo Maxwell was damn smart.
He'd been surprised to see Heero, that was for sure. That sort of stunned reaction, that immediate tensing, that hesitation
in his walking, hadn't been faked. But had he tensed because of an unexpected visitor, or because he was hiding something?
And Heero had gotten the impression that Duo Maxwell was hiding something.
Of course, he could just be making it all up to make himself feel better. The fact of the matter was that, while those hookers
hadn't made him stand at attention, Duo Maxwell had. Now he had to reevaluate himself, and he had to do it in a few minutes
before he entered the precinct.
The man certainly had long hair and big eyes, just as the second red-head had said. That chestnut mass had been pulled in
a braid, just as Paisley had said.
And he'd been gorgeous – something Paisley and her two red goons had neglected to mention.
Heero forced thoughts of that out of his mind. First he had to find all those nuances that had made him suspicious.
“Devil's advocate,” Heero murmured. He knew Wufei understood; they'd often used each other for sounding boards,
and would act as devil's advocate to fight off every observation as if they were against the theory. Whether they were or
weren't wasn't the problem. And they were good at it.
“Shoot,” Wufei declared.
“He was surprised to see me, but he blew it off.”
“He didn't think I was social.”
Heero snorted. That, disturbingly, could very well be plausible. “He knew you that well?”
“He and I got to talking somewhere between 'the carburetor's busted' and 'if you fuck me over I'll sue.' I wouldn't
call us friends, but we chat whenever I go over.”
Heero nodded at that. “For how long?”
“A couple years now.”
Plenty of time to make some observations and assumptions. Just because Heero refrained from making assumptions didn't mean
the rest of the world did the same. “Is he good?”
“The best. I told you about him once.”
Heero couldn't remember that conversation, but he knew he would have turned down any offer anyway, because he fixed his own
car most of the time. “He was initially unhappy to find we were cops, but he cooperated fully.”
“I'm an old customer, and I'd just shocked the hell out of him. Plus, we were there to follow up the case that may have
haunted his nights. And if you're thinking about the way he stared at you, I have reason to believe the man is gay.”
“What?” Heero turned to his partner in shock.
“He doesn't say anything, but he watches. He's a good guy, Yuy.”
And here was where they may be stuck. “You trust him?”
“Odd, since he's a mechanic, but yes. The man has been nothing but honest with me in all these years. He didn't ever
speak of his past, and now I know why. But he got wicked pissed when he heard about what my previous mechanic did, and because
of the hassle, fixed my car up free-of-charge.”
Heero raised his eyebrows.
Wufei sighed. “If it was a marketing ploy, I would understand your skepticism. But it wasn't. I called him on it, and
he got offended. Told me I could take it somewhere else and pay for it if I really wanted to.” Wufei smiled. “The
man's good, Yuy. Why do you think he's Shinigami?”
Heero rolled his shoulders. “I got the vague sense that he was sizing me up.” Wufei quickly changed his chuckle
to a cough. “And he doesn't like cops. I also just feel that.”
Both knew better than to make fun of one another's gut feelings. “Yuy, he grew up on the streets. And we never solved
the case. Shinigami isn't the only one who hates cops.”
“I know that. Still, it's as Trowa said. Sometimes, coincidence becomes too outrageous to be coincidence. Both Duo Maxwell
and Shinigami are deeply involved in this case, when before neither had been involved in any. Doesn't that strike you as odd?”
Wufei frowned. “Yes, I can't argue that, and it does bother me. But, Yuy, what the hell would Shinigami be doing working
as a mechanic?”
Heero grimaced. “That's the question, isn't it?”
He turned and looked out the window. “In the end, I still don't know. Something bugs me.”
“You mean the fact that you stared back?” Wufei asked cautiously.
Heero practically jumped. “What?” He swiveled back to Wufei.
“I'm not blind, Yuy. Just quiet.” He glanced at Heero. “Just know I don't give a damn.”
Heero blinked for a moment, then nodded in solemn gratitude. “Thank you, my friend.”
Wufei smiled softly. “I just don't want to hear about it.”
Heero smiled too, and let his shoulders relax.
Duo awoke late that afternoon, into the evening. He stretched, then plopped back onto the bed. His mind had switched back
and forth all night, waffling between Sister Helen's bloody face and Heero Yuy.
He'd seen the man's picture and hadn't thought much of it. His face had seemed handsome enough, but there was only so much
a pretty face could get you, and it usually came with some seriously large thighs.
But not this guy. This man was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Wasn't it just a kick that the man was not only a guy, but a
cop, as well? Duo might as well declare celibacy and avoid all the damn trouble.
Duo raised his hand and ticked off the pros. “He's hot. He's smart. He's clever. He's intuitive.” Then he listed
the cons. “He's a cop. He's strict, black and white. He's probably got a humor deficiency, because he's no-nonsense.
He's a hard-ass.”
Duo sighed. “Hell, in the end, what do I really know about him? Psych profiles only dig so deep. He's organized and
he believes in peace through justice or some equally righteous shit. And he's just as hip-deep in shit right now as I am.”
Duo blew out a breath. “And he's hot. For a guy, he is outrageously hot. Hell, for any human, male or female,
he is top of the charts.”
Duo sat up. “It doesn't matter that I'm gay, right, Father?” he whispered. “It doesn't matter. It doesn't
change who I am. I'm still living a good, honorable life as I am... right?”
He hugged his knees and wished he could get an answer.
Heero rose from his mountain of notes to find most lights in the station off. Wufei had returned to the desk across from him
and was currently digging through his files for something. “What are you looking for?” Heero asked him.
Wufei looked up, seeming vaguely surprised to be hearing his voice. “Just one particular sentence. You wrote it all
verbatim, didn't you?”
Heero nodded. “Of course.”
“Well, Paisley said that Duo was 'one of the few survivors.' What does she mean?”
Heero nodded. “Yes, I wondered that, as well.”
Wufei scowled. “But of course you already know the information.”
Heero nodded affirmation again. “It was an epidemic, some string of pneumonia. It was winter, and they were kids. Not
“No wonder he thought he was cursed,” Wufei murmured sympathetically. “Everyone around him fell while he
stayed healthy. Any child would feel the same.”
Heero had to agree. “Yes. Still...”
Wufei sighed. “I understand. Don't believe anything either way until there's evidence.” He jotted down something
on a piece of scrap paper and looked back to Heero. “On a completely separate note, we haven't gotten any further in
the investigation on G.O.S.H.'s true identities. We're once again at a standstill. And we both know the murderer won't wait
for us to figure it out.”
Heero knew that all too well. “Neither Trowa nor Quatre are fools with a computer.”
“But they aren't as good as Shinigami,” Wufei pointed out.
Heero lifted a brow. “You want to work with him?”
Wufei scowled. “No. But I do want this solved, for my master and for everyone else who was murdered. Besides,
Duo may be my mechanic, but...”
“I thought you said he couldn't be called a friend,” Heero said, repeating Wufei's earlier words.
“That would be because it's based off a business arrangement.”
“So are we,” Heero pointed out.
“That's different. We're partners. He-”
“Fixes your car while you pay him to.” Heero shook his head. “Why not just learn to fix it yourself?”
Wufei sniffed. “No, thank you.”
Heero smiled. Wufei just didn't like admitting that there was something even he couldn't master. “I see. But you still
consider him someone important?”
“A friend,” Heero clarified, because Wufei seemed to be having trouble putting it down to stare him in the face.
Wufei gave a gusty sigh. “I have no idea how he did it,” he admitted.
Heero shifted uneasily. Not only was he questioning the innocence of a friend of a friend, he himself was dangerously close
to being interested in the braided man, himself.
“He's a criminal, and he didn't bother to try to lie about it,” Wufei continued.
“He did say that he runs and hides but never lies.”
“It's like his motto,” Wufei scoffed. “Still, the man has never lied to me. Not once... though obviously
he never told me anything about his past.”
Heero frowned, but he had to shrug. “And you didn't tell him you were a cop.”
Wufei quirked a grin. “True.”
Heero sat back in his chair. “So we know G.O.S.H. is related to the five of us somehow, and four of us came to work
in this precinct, in this particular department.”
“Such occurrences cannot be coincidence?” Wufei asked drolly, referring to Trowa's opinion on the matter.
“Why didn't Duo do the same?” Heero wondered aloud. “We all joined believing we were doing it for ourselves.
I personally wouldn't feel right in any other job.”
“Same here,” Wufei said. “But we were manipulated into these posts nonetheless. If we go on an assumption,
it should be that.”
“Agreed,” Heero said shortly. “But who would want us here?”
“The chief,” Wufei said immediately, his tone rueful.
Heero nodded. “He's first on my list.”
Wufei jerked in shock. “You mean to tell me you're seriously questioning – shit, Heero, do you know what you're...”
He cut himself off. “Of course you do.” He sighed, then leaned back and thought about it. “Jesus... you're
right. Should we bring up his files?”
Heero snorted softly. “We'd be caught immediately. We're monitored at all times, after all.”
Wufei hesitated for a long time.
“Yes, I realize that we can enlist Shinigami's help again, but doing so rubs me the wrong way. I won't do it. Not yet,
“Then what do we do?”
Heero grimaced. “We can only do so much through these channels. For now, I've been trying to see if there's any secret
meaning in Chief Fellur's name.”
Wufei nodded. “All right. Rome Edgar Fellur. Ref, like referee? No, that wasn't in the others. Rome... the city?”
Heero shrugged. “I have no idea. There's no one named that. The only thing useful I've found is that R, E, and F, when
placed numerically, equal 9.67 – ten, the same number that fits with J.”
Wufei leaned forward. “Really? How'd you get that?”
Heero shrugged. “The only one of the four original victims with a middle name was Carl Jay – the only one that
had given us any sort of clue. I followed up on it – Carl Kurt Jay.”
“Obviously chosen, or else the mother and father were deaf,” Wufei nodded. “You're right – they all
equal out to 'H.'” Wufei whistled. “Well, he fits that bill. But then again, many probably do.”
Heero nodded. “Exactly. In the end, this tells me nothing. And it isn't even exact, unlike Carl Jay's.”
Wufei thought for a moment. “Still...”
“We can't rule it either way,” Heero finished for him. “For now, we'll have to keep our eyes out for him.”
It took two hours to decrypt the message, and then he growled in agitation.
J has the answer.
It took him only a moment to understand that the message pertained to the victims' code numbers.
He wanted to scream. In the end, what he was being told was that there was absolutely no way for him to know anything until
J was killed. Unless...
He gave the message another, closer look. J has the answer. Carl Jay...
Duo bit his lip in thought. Could it be? Carl Kurt Jay... Of course he'd already found that CKJ equaled H... J has
the answer. It could be so very simple – so very curt. J has the answer – J is in a position of power. And
his initials equaled J, and his name was everything Duo was looking for.
“Son of a bitch,” he breathed.
Heero packed his files into his briefcase and stood to leave. He wasn't surprised to see Trowa standing in the doorway, waiting
for him, and spoke before the uni-banged lieutenant could. “I don't hold it against him.”
Trowa nodded. “Thank you.”
Heero frowned. “You know how I feel about Shinigami, but unfortunately, we are at a stand-still. We've already come
a lot farther with his help than we would have without it.”
Trowa nodded. “He'd be the perfect fifth to our team, wouldn't he? Quatre, the charmer, Wufei the warrior, me the shape-shifter,
and you the leader. He can disappear and appear whenever he wants, wherever he wants.”
Heero disliked it, but had to agree. “It's a shame he didn't join.”
“Then again, he's able to work more fluidly than us,” Trowa pointed out. “The one person who isn't where
the murderer wants him.”
Heero didn't like that, either. Especially since it once again pointed to Duo Maxwell. “Yes.”
“Do you think that may become a problem?”
Heero thought about it. “It could be good, as well. The perp may want to come after him in some way, not to hurt, but
to manipulate.” Just as he may want to use Duo Maxwell. It all fit together as the two being one and the same.
Trowa seemed to follow Heero's thinking. “Should we leave a watch on him?” Trowa asked.
Heero knew Trowa had switched the topic to Duo Maxwell. “That would be best.” Still, Heero was uneasy, and he
couldn't put his finger on exactly why. It made him slightly edgy. “I'll go check on him for tonight, then we'll put
a man on him – Carlton.”
“May I ask why him?”
“Because I need you, Wufei, and Quatre here, and O'Hara and Duo Maxwell would get too close too quickly.”
“Wufei told me that you had suspicions.”
“Suspicions, and nothing more. Still, I'd feel better knowing we're watching him as a suspect, as well.”
“I understand.” Trowa nodded shortly and walked out.
Heero was left standing there in the small room he shared with Wufei gazing at Trowa's retreating back. He had no idea why
he'd offered to go check on Duo Maxwell on his own, and less understanding of why he had to think of the man as Duo Maxwell
just to refrain from the intimacy of thinking of him on a first-name basis.
He was interested. Heero was honest enough to admit it when it was screaming in his face. It would be a bit difficult to pretend
that gut-clenching reaction hadn't occurred. Worse, it would be stupid to. Still, worse yet was to let the interest take root
inside of him when the man he was interested in was a suspect in a murder case.
It wasn't like him to allow these sorts of emotions to roost themselves inside him. He was a second away from making a move
based on these emotions. He may believe following one's emotions was the best way to live, but he also believed that emotions
had no place in investigations. He was making a huge mistake by going alone at night to see Mr. Duo Maxwell.
“Hell.” He'd already made his first big mistake – offering. There was now no one else to do it. He had
to. And it was his job.
If he thought of it as a job, he would be fine...
Duo was glaring at his phone and wishing he didn't have to send a half-assed e-mail when he was so very close to getting the
answers he needed. And of course it was just then that he heard a knock at his door. Quickly he put his system through shut-down
and called out, “one minute!”
Who the hell was at his door at this hour? Hilde had called to say she'd be out of town for a few days. That left-
He grimaced. The cops.
His computer clicked through it's security checks and finally logged off. Duo checked himself. He was still in his pajamas
from hours ago, his hair still rumpled. He quickly took it out and re-did it, thinking about a specific brown-haired cop.
He glared at the wall in disgust. What the hell was he doing?
He walked down to the door while still braiding his hair, calling himself ten times the idiot.
But when he opened the door, it was to the deep blue eyes of Lieutenant Heero Yuy.
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