Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.
Wufei said nothing. What could be said? His friend had just been targeted by someone. J? The killer? Or was it one of those
two men Duo had spoken of?
Duo was very quiet, very still. It was so very unlike him. Usually he was full of cheer, no matter what. Sometimes the cheer
was forced, but it was always there. Now, though... nothing. He seemed to be brittle now. Wufei had brought the man to his
own house, a rare privilege that, if Duo was in his right mind, would most likely be understood and appreciated.
When Duo returned to his right mind, he would be ashamed of his actions.
Heero had told him, over the phone, about what had occurred. Because of his close association with Heero, he had heard the
tension, anger and concern in the man's voice. Duo, he'd said, had reacted badly. That, Wufei translated, meant Duo had reacted
horrifically. Heero wanted him down to take a look at the graffiti'd wall and to take care of Duo while his house was checked.
Wufei had immediately agreed.
Duo hadn't fought, only mumbled a short apology before falling into deep silence. Shock? No, not quite, but close. He seemed
to be haunted by ghosts of the past.
And why not? Wufei thought angrily. Whoever it had been, Heero had told him that the person had known the state of the two
victims almost to a T. Who, when entering a part of their home, wouldn't be shocked to find a horror of their past plastered
on the wall? He couldn't imagine going into his bathroom and finding a blood-red mural of his sensei's death splayed before
It was sick. Wufei would make certain whoever did it paid.
“Duo?” he called softly. “Are you hungry? Thirsty?”
Duo just barely shook his head.
Wufei thought for a moment. He was unaccustomed to taking care of someone. His shoulders had never been used to cry on before.
Still... “Would you like to talk about it?”
Duo turned bleak, dead eyes to him. “It's the past.”
Wufei understood, because he himself had been there countless times before. His psych evaluation had been interesting. “Yes,
but the past always interferes with the present.”
Duo nodded and turned back away. “I loved them.”
“I'd been so alone for so long... so many years... there'd only been the other rats, and our leader, Solo. When Solo
and the others died... Sister Helen was a blessing, and Father Maxwell was so accepting...” He shook his head. “I
thought I had a home.”
Duo just shook his head again. His hand twitched, as if having been ordered to do something but not having the strength. “They
got me out of the house, Wufei. They knew it was coming, and they knew when.”
Wufei stood automatically. “They what?” His senses sharpened, and he turned into a cop. “Why didn't you
tell us this?”
“How could it matter?” he said bitterly. “Those men had said... they'd said that they would be hunted down,
and it would just be better if they gave up and didn't get anyone else involved. They'd looked at me when they said that part.
And then Father Maxwell lied to me, and told me they had a debt, and that the bank had a secret opening... he lied, and he
got me out.”
“He ordered you to steal?” Wufei gasped, aghast.
“No. I offered. But there was no opening. I was...” His head fell into his hands. “I didn't know. If I had,
I wouldn't have gone. I would've...”
“You would've been killed,” Wufei said gently. “You know that.” Those men... who were they? Was one
of them J? Was he the one who painted the mural on Duo's bathroom wall?
“Doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.” Duo's fists squeezed, and whatever he'd been about to say next had been swallowed
back. But Wufei got the gist of it.
How could someone who constantly laughed be suicidal?
Duo shook his head. “I know... I know that's wrong. I know.” He quirked Wufei a quick, tired grin. “After
all, I've fixed up a number of cars in my day.”
Wufei shook his head and smiled, but only because Duo wanted him to. “For one thing.”
Duo frowned for a second, then it cleared and he shrugged. “I'm sorry, 'Fei,” he said, using the strange pet name
he'd formed for the austere policeman. “I'm being a pain and keeping you up. You don't need to worry about me. Really.”
He looked around Wufei's house and smiled. “Nice digs, man. I thought policemen were poor bastards.”
Wufei smiled again. He was coming back. “I have a fairly wealthy background.”
“You don't say?” Duo's eyes gleamed. “Man, you're lucky I'm an honest businessman, or I'd definitely be
finding mythical animals romping around in your carburetor.” (1)
Wufei chuckled and shook his head. “I have a spare room that you're welcome to use if you wish.”
“No offense, 'Fei, but I have zero desire to sleep.” He paused. “Hey, how long do you think they're going
to be in my house?”
“A day, maybe two. There's probably not much they can do with that picture.”
Duo nodded. “I figured. It's just a picture. Unless the guy was stupid enough to stick his hands all in it, then...”
“Basically. All we would be able to find out is whether the paintbrush is common or not.”
“Which still wouldn't necessarily help,” Duo sighed. He stood slowly, showing an emotional fatigue. “I figured.
I don't want to impose. After all, we still don't really know each other. I'll catch a hotel.”
Wufei cleared his throat uncomfortably, embarrassed and upset. Duo turned to him with a cocked eyebrow. “I offered my
home as one friend to another, yes,” he began, “but I am also a policeman. We need to keep you under surveillance.”
A flash of remembrance hit his features and he instantly grimaced. “Dammit, I forgot about that bullshit.” He
sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Right. My bad. All right. Spare bed. Gotcha.” He sent Wufei another lopsided
smile. “Sorry you're the one stuck with me, dude. Are you going to insist on sleeping outside, too?”
So Yuy hadn't been comfortable with the idea of being in the house with the man. “No, though it is a good strategy.
You see more from outside than inside,” Wufei explained at Duo's blank look.
“Ah.” Duo shrugged. “Right. Okay.” He looked around again, seemingly lost.
He look rumpled, tired and frustrated. Haggard. Worn out. “Come on, Maxwell. I'll lead you upstairs.”
Duo nodded. “All right. Thanks.” He seemed to have run out of smiles.
Wufei's brow furrowed in concern. Duo was so full of life. Where had it all gone? Moreover, where the hell had he found it
to begin with?
Heero glared at the computer. He'd been digging around in it for a while now. It was huge, complicated. How many mechanics
boasted about having computer like this?
He damned himself both ways. On one hand, he was angry that he was doubting Duo after the man had streamed out of his house
futilely fighting tears. Heero had felt the power of his interest all the way down to his toes when Duo had curled into him.
The man had been grieving. Hurting. But he'd wanted. So much.
He raked his hand through his hair for the hundredth time that hour. The man had just seen a mural that depicted the brutal
slaughter of the two people he loved more than anyone.
God, he didn't want to think that. But it was impossible to not see the signs. A huge computer. The ability he had to see
things and then to be completely ignorant of other things. The man acted incompetent, but he wasn't.
Was he Shinigami?
Heero hoped not. That instant when Duo had come to him, collapsed against him and cried... in that instant, his ability to
keep a safe distance burned to ashes. There had been no insincerity in those tears, and more, there was no trickery in his
need to be with Heero. And Heero had felt a warm, unnamed something delve deep into his chest at the thought of the man coming
It would hurt, very much, if this man turned out to be that bastard vigilante.
There wasn't anything suspicious on these computers. In fact, there was some virtual mechanic practice downloads that took
up an enormous amount of space. When Heero clicked on it, he found himself transported to a garage in which sat a car with
a blinking oil change light and smoke billowing from under the hood. Heero fixed it using a full virtual toolbox. Practice?
Or pleasure? There were also records of saved mahjong games. The man seemed pretty good at them. Then there were documents,
saved transcripts of repairs he'd done, a couple of essays to a couple magazines on what to do when something happened to
one's car. Mountains and mountains of old music, showing an eclectic taste. Episodes of something called Death Note, whatever
the hell that was. An old cartoon show, from the looks of it. (2)
Heero sat back, frowning. It could all be a cover. Most likely it was. It was like the man lived on automobiles.
He cocked an eyebrow at a coded entry. He easily broke into it.
It was sporadic, and hardly updated. There was only one recently:
I found out that Wufei's a cop. Who'd have figured? I kind've saw the guy as a lawyer. Anyway, apparently the cops have
some new lead on Father Maxwell and Sister Helen's murders. I can only hope they catch the bastards. Even though I don't trust
cops... I trust Wufei. And his partner seems pretty good, too. I'll give them a chance.
Interesting. From the perspective of a civilian, it meant nothing more than fear that cops would be incompetent. Heero felt
a twinge of annoyance, but he had to concede that, from Duo's perspective, cops had always been useless.
But from another perspective, one could look at that last sentence and wonder, and they can wonder a lot.
Was Duo the killer? Was he the one responsible for G.O.S.H.? Heero believed that the killer of G.O.S.H. wasn't necessarily
the killer of the five's close-members murders. He believed it was a deliberate copycat.
Duo had a very high motive for this.
He sighed and shut the computer down. Wondering was fruitless. He would have to get the computer sent to the lab to be checked
out. Duo wouldn't be happy about that.
He shouldn't care.
Quatre came into the room then, having gone to receive the analysis of the paint. “Normal paint, dollar store brush,”
he told Heero simply, then looked at the computer. “I know why you think he's bad, but he's not. Duo's a good person.”
“How do you know?” Heero asked, his voice carefully neutral. “You don't know him.”
“Sure I do. I met him once, a long time ago. I don't think he remembers.”
“A long time ago?” Heero cocked an eyebrow.
“Yes. My car had broken down on the side of the road. I was about to be late for a meeting.”
Heero could already see where this was going. “Let me guess – he fixed your car.” Of course.
“Not just that – he gave me a lift to the meeting, went back to fix the car, and then came back to wait for me
to get out of the meeting. The meeting lasted for over three hours, but when I came out, there he was, humming a tune. He
waved at me to show he was there. People don't normally do that, Heero.”
No, they didn't. And it was interesting that Duo Maxwell did. What kind of a man was he?
“Still,” Heero felt he had to speak, “the cards are stacked against him.”
Quatre sighed. “I know.” He seemed to want to say something more.
“Just say it, Sergeant,” Heero advised.
Quatre hesitated for another second. “It's just... I get the feeling that Shinigami isn't a bad person, either. I mean,
sure, he says he sells to the highest bidder, but does it really seem to be that way to you? I've looked at his records. He
never sends the bid to a bad guy.”
“As far as we know,” Heero pointed out. “He can cover his tracks without a problem.”
“Yes,” Quatre agreed, “but we've never heard anything about a perp going free for a long time. Sometimes
Shinigami even catches them before we do. He's better than a private investigator, too. He can find anything. He could be
a very lucrative villain himself, but instead he plays as a behind-the-scenes P.I.”
“He's a vigilante, Quatre.”
“I know that,” the blond said defensively. “Still... I think it would be wonderful if we could get the man
to join us instead of losing him to the courts.”
Heero frowned. It was true. If they had Shinigami on their side, they would practically be invincible. Almost an invincible
Another reason why Duo Maxwell could very well be Shinigami. After all, G.O.S.H. and J both very much wanted Duo Maxwell with
their police force. And Shinigami would be the perfect edition to their four-man team.
“If you think Duo Maxwell could be Shinigami... I agree.” Heero sent him a sharp look. “That doesn't mean
I think Duo should be punished or anything, just... I think, in his own way, he's fighting back against crime. He just doesn't
trust cops, right?”
“Wufei said Duo Maxwell never lies, though he may skirt truths.” Trowa had appeared beside Quatre – very
close to Quatre. “Perhaps we should just ask him straight-out whether he is Shinigami or not.”
Quatre sent Trowa a grateful glance.
“That would be putting too much trust in him,” Heero said with a shake of his head. “We'll search for evidence
by seizing this computer.”
“You do know that, if he is Shinigami, we still wouldn't know. Right?” Trowa said.
“Yes. I want to know how much space is available out of how much is possible to have.”
Trowa's eyes lit. “Ah.”
Heero frowned. He didn't want Duo Maxwell to be anything more than what he was – a mechanic with a strange fascination
for fixing cars. A kind man with a huge computer and a scatterbrained mind.
But Heero already knew that wasn't the case.
Duo went to work more to have something to do. He was still hurting, still upset.
But beneath the sorrow was a building rage so great it tested the limits of his strength. He wanted to kill. He'd never been
an extremely violent man, though he'd had his share of fights while growing up on the streets. The fighting had always been
more need than desire.
Not now. Now he wanted blood.
Reminding him of the slaughter of Father Maxwell and Sister Helen wouldn't turn him to the cops. Instead it would turn him
further away. Maybe it would have, but he knew the truth. He knew who J was. He didn't trust the cops, and for good reason.
The killer was there, sitting pretty reading reports of murders, yukking it up. The bastard had gotten away scot free, ruining
five lives, killing more. He had to pay.
Duo worked on a car during the morning, an old beat-up piece of junk that old Stanson wouldn't part with for stupid sentimental
reasons having to do with his wife and the first kiss they shared in the front seats. Duo was sick of it. The damn thing was
in practically every other week because parts were literally falling off the piece of shit.
Another car came up just as the transmission decided it wanted to break down entirely. Duo cursed the car's existence to the
bottom pits of hell before wiping his hands on a rag and abandoning the bastard machine. He looked up to see a sleek silver
Volvo. His eyebrows lifted; he'd never had that car before.
And out stepped the Chief of Police.
Duo growled low in his throat, just barely remembering to throw the rag on its rack. He slipped to the front of his garage
and plastered a smile on his face.
“Hello there, stranger! How are you? You have car trouble?”
Duo froze, his grin disappearing in a flash. The man held a cane, but he didn't seem to need it. He had strange glasses on
and a mechanical left arm.
And he knew.
J chuckled. “Yes, I knew you were Shinigami the first I heard of you. I've been searching for you. Just found you yesterday.
I was surprised to see Heero in front of your house. Seems they haven't been telling me anything.”
“With good reason, J.” Duo cautiously stepped out from his garage. He knew the danger he was placing himself in,
but the anger simmering below his blood took away his ability to give a damn. “You'll be killed soon.”
“Tonight, actually. That's why I wanted to see you.”
“Go to hell,” Duo snarled softly. “I know you're the one who pulled it all off. You sent the men to the
“Yes, I was quite furious to hear they'd been caught. I'd known immediately that I'd lost my edge. You didn't come to
“Damn good thing. I'm not one to be manipulated.”
“Every human on this planet is manipulated, in one way or another. Children get their cues from their parents, whether
good or bad. From friends they learn habits and ideals, from grandparents they learn of the past. Whether we decide to be
like someone or the opposite of someone, we are always manipulated by those around us. You, too, have been manipulated. Just
not as I'd hoped.”
Duo's nails bit into his palms. “Bastard. You killed them just to manipulate me?!”
“Of course.” The man nodded. “You have the ability to be someone truly great. Look at your hacking abilities.
I chose well.” He nodded again.
Duo stalked toward the man. “You fucker! That's not-” He shook his head violently. His braid whipped wildly behind
him. “You murdered people! You left us all miserable! You tortured us for your own ends!”
“Boy, what do you know of Romefeller? Eh?” He smacked his cane on the ground. “Nothing!” Another smack.
“Those men are a threat to peace as we know it. They are planning much more than you can comprehend.”
“Then clue me in, Grandpa,” Duo snapped. “Go ahead – I'm all fucking ears.”
“You are not ready.”
“Bullshit, you old fuck! Tell me – why the hell did Sister Helen and Father Maxwell and Sister Mary have to die?!”
“Listen to you. Three lives for the world? How could I not make that decision?”
“It's not your decision to make!”
J's glasses flashed in the sun. “Foolish little boy. You think you understand this world? You are still nothing more
than a child, dreaming your own little fairy tales. You send petty thieves to justice and think you're helping to save the
world. You don't understand the horrors people are capable of.”
Duo thought of all he'd seen on the streets – children allowing themselves to be raped for money, children being killed
in the streets for looking at a pimp wrong. Starved bodies on the ground. Other bodies of kids who hadn't been able to withstand
the cold. Sister Helen. Father Maxwell. Sister Mary. Death, sex, and pain. He understood very well the horrors of the world.
“You know nothing about me,” Duo snarled.
“I know everything about you, boy. G and I agreed that you would be a perfect addition.”
G? G was the one who'd been on him? Who had marked the others?
“Look up Romefeller, boy. Maybe you'll begin to learn more then.” J began walking back to his car.
Duo followed him as he opened the door. With a jerk, he turned the man around and grabbed his collar, pulling him forward.
“No, fucker. We're not done here. You killed them. I'm not letting you walk away.”
Quicker than Duo could follow, J twisted his arms and flipped him around. With a painful wrench, Duo's arms were pulled back
“Don't threaten me, boy. You aren't strong enough. Only together can you all win against Romefeller. You must
join the team if we are to have victory. Stop being a whining toddler and shape up. I don't give a damn if you like me –
just do as I say.”
“Never,” Duo snapped. His arms were in agony, pulled up even higher. He winced.
“You will do as I say. After all, you've begun to have feelings for dear Heero, haven't you?”
Duo's breath stopped.
“Fool,” the old man said. “I told you – I know everything. Your minds and profiles matched for a strong
relationship. Another perfect reason for the two of you to join together. Though I believe emotions to be more of an impediment,
it will serve to force the two of you together. If you don't do as I say, Heero will die. I've sent the orders myself. After
my death, you must join him – or Heero will go through much worse than you did last night.”
“Bastard.” Duo felt fear and anger snap through him, lightning flashes of emotion. “I won't let you win.”
“I won ten years ago, boy.”
Duo cried out in rage. “The hell you did! You can't force someone's emotions!”
“But you will join, won't you, boy?” The man chuckled. “Your heart is already linked to Heero's. It's inevitable.
You two are too perfect for one another.”
It wasn't true. Heero was too perceptive, too honorable, and too... too much a cop. They would butt heads too much. They were
But he couldn't let Heero get hurt. Not after what Heero had done for him last night. He wouldn't let it happen.
“You won't hurt him,” Duo managed. “You wouldn't dare – you need him too much.”
“I told you, boy: it's all or nothing. If I do not have all of you, I have none of you. Heero Yuy is useless to me alone,
though the boy is a fantastic specimen.”
“He's not a speci-” Duo flinched and shouted softly in pain. The man had twisted his arms a bit more. They felt
ready to come out of their sockets. Duo found himself almost bent fully at the waist to try to escape the pain. With tears
in his eyes, he gritted his teeth and wished he could get his hands around the bastard's throat.
“By tonight, I will be dead. By tonight, I expect you to be fully cooperating with Heero and the others.”
“They'll arrest me if they know,” he gasped. “Don't you know that?”
“This is why I certainly cannot have the five of you working alone,” the man said with a sigh. “By tonight,
he will already know.”
Duo's eyes widened. “Impossible.”
“Heero always finds a way.”
That was true enough – the man had probably found a loophole, the one he couldn't prevent – the space on his hard
drives. He couldn't hide how much he used. “Conjecture,” he muttered.
“But it will be enough for Heero.” The man leaned forward, whispering into Duo's ear. “Remember –
tonight. Or Heero will be haunted by more than memories.” Duo was shoved forward. Unable to lift his arms for the pain,
he crashed roughly to the ground.
Duo moved his arms to pick himself up and groaned in pain – they really had almost been ripped out. They protested every
movement he made. He managed to lever himself up in time to see J rev up his engine. The man looked straight at him, his face
serious behind those glasses and that shoulder-length hair. Duo struggled to his hand and knees, lifting himself slowly into
a kneeling position.
The engine revved a bit more, then backed up a bit.
Shit! Duo understood the movements, the noise. Arms shaking, he tried to lever himself up faster.
The engine clicked into forward drive and the unmistakable sound of the gas petal being shoved to the floor of the car could
be heard. Duo only had the time to think of a curse – and cobalt blue – before stumbling back, fisting his hands
and feeling a blast of indescribable pain lance through his head. Without a sound, he crumpled to the ground.
The silver Volvo backed up and left the parking lot with a smooth turn.
Distantly Duo heard the voice. He thoughts of angels and dark blue skies before falling back into Hell.
Note: “fisting the hands” refers to an attempt to keep his fingers from being run over. I didn't want to put a
number there because I felt it would ruin the moment. ^^ If you have questions, feel free to ask!
(1)Yeah, that's definitely a Dane Cook reference. I rule. ><
(2)>0 HISSBOOEVIL!!! CARTOON ME NO LIKIE!!!
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