Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.
“What?! The Chief is dead?!”
“Yes. He was found just like the others – butchered. The letter J was found on his chest.”
“Jesus.” A chair creaked. “Have forensics found anything?”
“The reporters have been everywhere, of course.”
“Heero, perhaps you should leave for a bit. I'll stand watch. They want you to say something, since you're the leader
of this investigation.”
“Shit.” A sigh. “All right. I'll be there soon, Trowa. Give me ten minutes.”
There was a beeping noise, Duo noticed distantly. A really, really irritating beeping noise. And dripping noise. Why was he
undergoing Chinese torture?
“Jesus. I'd been right. He was J. And you, Duo. Are you really Shinigami?”
He hardly understood the words, but he recognized his name. The beeping noise jolted for a second.
His name again. The beeping noise jumped again.
“Duo! Duo, wake up. Come on. Get up.”
Yes, it was that voice. The one that called to him like a Siren. The one he had to resist. It was a serpent's voice, a beautiful
song that changed to a hissing strike. Cruel. Cutting. He couldn't trust it.
But at the same time, he couldn't help but feel the powerful beauty of it. For others, that voice would be salvation. He wished
it could be his, as well.
“Duo, come on. I have to leave soon. You're not allowed to wake up without me here. Get up!”
There was an almost frantic edge to it, not panicked, but... almost angry. Frustrated. A frustrated angel, or a frustrated
“Duo, dammit! Don't do this to me!”
The angel was being pretty damn insistent. Pesky, irritating angel.
He tried to move his hand to tell the voice to shut up, but only managed to make it twitch. It was damn heavy. For that matter,
his eyelids felt like lead weights. Lifting them open was like pushing against two brick walls.
Finally he saw, just a tiny slit, but something. White. Everything was fucking white, and that damn dripping noise could still
be heard. Drip. Drip. Drip. And that beeping. Why wouldn't it shut up?
The noise came from the left. He slowly turned his eyes toward it. There was something clear and dangling in his line of view,
an irritating blur that distracted him. Then there was a block of brown and blue and peach. A person. The one with the insistent
voice. The Angel-Demon.
Slowly things took on a stronger shape, and he recognized it as Heero. He could even label it. He opened his mouth to speak.
His voice was weak, nothing more than a breath. A pounding was centering in his head, banging against his brain with rage
and loathing. He winced in pain.
“God. What happened?”
“I would like it very much if you told me,” Heero said with irritation. “Unfortunately, I must go give an
appearance. I'll have the doctor take a look at you while I'm gone. I expect you to be here when I return. Understand?”
Duo couldn't understand. Why was Heero angry? He'd thought they'd gotten at least a little closer after that fiasco last night.
“Do you understand?”
Duo winced again – damn that hissing noise that Heero could make. It made the evil imps with the spikes dig their weapons
in deeper. “Yeah,” he breathed. “Sure. Fine. Whatever.”
He frowned. “Swear.”
“Fine. I will return as soon as possible.” Then he leaned over and pressed a large button on the side of the bed
he rested in.
Doctor, he understood belatedly. Hospital. He was in the hospital.
Suddenly more alert, he struggled up. “What happened? Why am I in the hospital?” His throat felt dry as a desert,
and about as sandpaper-y.
Heero scowled. “You were found unconscious in the driveway of your garage by a passerby.”
The bastard. That was right – J. J had come to threaten him, hurt him. He'd wrenched his arm behind him, threatened
both him and Heero, and then... had thrown him to the ground and smacked him in the face with his car. Bastard.
But wait – he was supposed to have been killed... when? Was he too late? He had to send a message to Heero somehow!
But how? He was trapped in the hospital, his computer most likely confiscated...
And Heero most likely knew.
That was it – that was why Heero had gotten so... so pushy. So rude. He knew. Or at least he thought he knew. Duo would
do his damned best to keep Heero from ever knowing completely. But J had said that it would be the same thing to Heero Yuy.
And Duo had the feeling the old shit had been right.
Still, Duo had been given extremely useful information. If he ignored the old man's order, someone else would be able to follow
up on his threat. Which meant there were more than just the five scientists. Underlings, or equals? What should he do?
While he was in the hospital, he was safe. He couldn't very well cooperate with the police when he was in the hospital, now
could he? But once he was released, if it was found that he hadn't given information to the police... if he wasn't found going
in and out of the cop's place over and over again... hell, if it was found out that he didn't admit to being Shinigami...
Death. And maybe not just his.
It didn't matter that his life was in jeopardy. He was Shinigami – the God of Death. He was cursed to live while everyone
around him died. That was nothing to him. If he truly did die, then the curse would finally be broken. That would be... a
very good thing.
But here was a threat that spread to others – to those around him. To Heero Yuy, who had made it his mission to get
close to the one person no one should ever get close to. Duo wouldn't let someone else die because of him. He would never...
The doctor walked in then, smiling brightly. “Good morning, Mr. Maxwell. How are you?”
Duo watched the man carefully. “How long have I been out?”
“You were found yesterday afternoon. You're lucky; with the hit you took to your head, you could have been out much
longer than you were, especially as long as you went as you may have without getting help. As it is, you've been unconscious
for about twelve hours.”
Twelve hours. J would be dead. It was too late.
He closed his eyes. He should have told the copperheads as soon as he'd found out. Because he'd hesitated...
“Well, your chart looks good,” the doctor chirped. Stupid happy person. Duo slitted his eyes into a half-hearted
glare. A young doctor, probably no older than thirty-five. Happy. Bubbly. Duo almost groaned.
“Mr. Maxwell, do you remember what happened to you?” The doctor turned fully to him. “You seemed to have
taken an injury to your head.”
Seemed? Oh, yeah, he'd taken an injury, all right. If it weren't for the guilt, Duo would be extremely gleeful about that
bastard's death. “Huh? Oh, yeah. Some nut must've not seen me. I dropped a paper and bent to get it, and then –
bam!” I shrugged. “Crazy drivers.”
I would only speak to Heero.
The doctor frowned. “Did you see who it was?”
“Not really... but I'll tell that cop about the car when he comes back.”
The doctor nodded briskly. “See that you do,” he said, and here he was serious. I almost smiled, recognizing his
cheerfulness as a professional mask. Interesting – almost like himself. “I'll be back soon, but for now, a nurse
will be taking your measurements. If all goes well, you should be out of here within the next couple days.” The doctor
smiled brightly and left.
Was it sick to hope things didn't go well?
He didn't have to wait long for the nurse to bounce in; he was about to gag on the bubbly cheerfulness that seemed to permeate
the very air here. She checked his chart, just like the doctor had, then his IV drip. Then she pulled out her group of gadgets
and proceeded to take his blood pressure, temperature, and an assortment of other things. He quit paying attention fairly
He relaxed against his bed and tried to think. Okay. They know he's Shinigami – or at least they think they know. Secret:
out. Busted. Fucked. Jail? They could stick him in there, but he hadn't done anything illegal. They could search all they
wanted for any proof of bargaining with criminals; they wouldn't find any. Primarily because he never did. He was just an
on-line P.I. Nothing illegal. Immoral? Maybe. But not illegal.
Still... Duo could bet all my hard-earned money that to Lieutenant Heero Yuy, they were one and the same.
He didn't care.
He glared at nothing. No. He did not.
J had said something about Heero and him being... closely psychologically tied, or some such bullshit. Like interest could
be foreseen. It sounded like a rip-off internet site. 'We'll match you with a compatible blah-blah believe us and give us
money.' Pfft. No such thing.
Ridiculous. Why was he even thinking about this? For some reason, he just couldn't get the memory of Heero's warm, solid chest
from his mind. Granted, he was gay. Duo knew that as well as he knew cars – no, better. He'd always looked at it as
a sin against Father Maxwell and Sister Helen.
Heero had been... very, very helpful then. Once he'd found he needed time – and silence – he gave them to him.
He... had comforted. It was... odd. Wonderful. But... it could make him vulnerable. Especially when it was Heero Yuy he was
taking about – Lieutenant Heero Yuy. The Heero Yuy who had discovered his secret.
He shifted uncomfortably. There was a huge problem in and of itself. Yes, he couldn't be sent to jail on such charges –
not without at least some sort of proof that he was some sort of money-grubber, which he wasn't – but he could still
be put in prison and... hell, the police didn't like him on general principal. He could go through a lot of shit.
J. All of this was his fault. All of this shit was his fucking fault. If he weren't already dead, Duo would be sorely
tempted to kill him.
Damn the guilt for coming back.
Steady footsteps sounded on the linoleum floor. Duo turned his head, waiting. He had a feeling he knew who this would be.
He wasn't even remotely surprised to see Heero Yuy coming in the room, though he was a bit surprised to see Wufei with him.
Wufei was... upset. Duo could see it plainly on his face.
Time for the questioning.
“Duo Maxwell.” Heero took a stoic, almost military stance. Wufei closed the door behind him.
Duo let his eyebrows raise. “Lieutenant?”
“Duo,” Wufei spoke up, “we have looked at your computer.”
Duo let his forehead wrinkle. “Huh? Um, okay.” He shook his head slowly. “Um, what does that have to do
with me getting hit?”
Wufei's face twisted for a second. Heero took up the conversational ball. “It doesn't. It has to do with you being Shinigami.”
Duo let his face frown in confusion before shock pulled at it. “Shinigami? The on-line guy? Me?” He struggled
up. “What the hell?”
“Mr. Maxwell, your computer shows an outrageous amount of memory, memory taken up that has been stored secretly. Do
you want to explain this?”
Duo snarled, even as he smirked inwardly. He'd known about this weakness in his computer, the one thing he couldn't hide.
The one thing that would throw suspicion on him immediately. Knowing one's weakness, shouldn't one endeavor to make it one's
strength? He let his cheeks color. “Look, that's none of your business.”
“Duo,” Wufei spoke again, “we need to know what's in there. If you aren't Shinigami, this could clear your
“The hell? You've put me on record?” Duo glared at Wufei. “Man, I know being a cop means following the law
first, but I thought...” He let himself blush again and looked away.
He would not feel guilty for doing this. It was stupid to feel guilty for lying to cops. Cops were enemies... well,
maybe not these two, but... he was saving himself from a hell of a lot of misery. And he knew that he would lose Wufei's friendship
if he learned the truth. Best to hold the friendship a little longer, even if it was based on lies. After all, Wufei was the
only friend he had.
“Mr. Maxwell, once you are released by the doctors, you will be transferred to us. We will-”
“Hold on a fucking minute!” He sat up straight, not allowing himself to acknowledge the dizziness and nausea that
roiled around him. “You're fucking crazy! Look, it's not that fucking difficult to get inside, okay? You just need to
know the password.”
“We've already gotten through that, Mr. Maxwell.”
He glared at Heero. “No, you twit, the other password. You have to hit CTRL-ALT-DEL, then Windows Task Manager
will show up. Just go into that and double-click on the 'Extras' program.” At their stunned looks, Duo carefully shrugged.
“i kind of asked for help, okay?”
Wufei spoke up then, seeming almost eager. “Then what, Duo?”
He blushed again. “A password will be needed... it's iwontforget, no caps or spaces or apostrophe. Okay? Satisfied?”
He glared at Heero. “I don't know what your problem is, buddy, but you've got it in for me. First you think I had something
to do with the church, and now you're throwing this shit at me!”
“Duo, it's a reasonable assumption,” Wufei began.
“So, what, you don't have any weird hobbies?” Duo snapped. Then he visibly tried to relax himself. He was surprised
to find that he was actually upset, though he couldn't tell with who. “Okay, whatever.” He carefully laid
back down. He was tired now. He shouldn't have exerted himself.
Two things were running through his mind: his back-up drives, which he had bought and installed into his computer itself.
Those back-up hard-drives were encased just as deeply as the secrets on his computer, to help hide them. So when the
cops found the holes in his computer, they overlooked the fact that there were external drives hidden amongst the outrageous
size of his computer. They would see the gap while missing the more important gap. They would find nothing in his computer.
He tried not to feel guilty about lying to Wufei, who was obviously a good friend – and obviously honorable. If Wufei
ever found out... but he wouldn't.
He also couldn't help but think about whatever J's henchmen were do. Would they really go after Heero? How could he protect
Heero from the shadows? Because he waned Heero to be protected. Not just because he was Wufei's friend, but because the man
had helped him. When he'd been hurting, the man had been there to comfort. Heero couldn't be allowed to die.
Wordlessly Heero left the room.
Duo watched him leave, then turned back to Wufei. He seemed... chagrined. “Wufei, why do you guys want me to be some
sort of bad guy?” His voice was quiet.
“We don't,” Wufei said simply. “We just... Duo, this case involves Shinigami and the murder of Charles
“What does that have to do with me?” Duo demanded. “Yeah, I was there for... for the church murders,
but why do you think...?”
Wufei sighed. “I can't fully explain. This case is strictly confidential. It's a reasonable assumption, Duo,
one we had to follow up. It's not personal.”
“Yeah, I know. That's the problem. I thought...” But Duo would never accept such emotions. He would never
say he'd thought of Wufei as a friend, nor would he speak of how hurt he was. The man was a cop. Duo knew very well what cops
Wufei's eyes looked guilty. “I am sorry.”
Dammit. And worse, Wufei was right. He was Shinigami.
Duo dropped the subject. “When do they think I'll be allowed to leave?” Then he paused. “Hey – when
are they going to be done with my house?”
Wufei quirked a smile. “Another day. They... took the liberty of getting the wall clean.”
Duo closed his eyes. Thank God.
“Duo, I am very sorry about this.”
“It's... fine.” He shook a tired smile out for Wufei, tried it on. “Really.” He frowned. “What
would you have done... if I...”
Wufei breathed sharply. “I would have arrested you.”
“Honestly... we wouldn't be able to do much. Unless there are findings that Shinigami helped criminals...” Wufei's
voice got hard. “He would serve time, if only we could find such proof.”
Duo entered the minefield carefully. “You haven't? But...”
“He's very good. If he were helping criminals, he could hide it. He could hide his existence entirely
if he so chose. None of our hackers...” Wufei smiled sardonically. “I shouldn't have said that.”
“I won't tell,” Duo promised, inwardly preening.
Wufei shrugged. “I have to admit though... he would be a fantastic cop.” Wufei seemed to have a grudging respect
for Shinigami. Duo watched carefully. “Quatre believes Shinigami isn't actually a criminal.”
Quatre: the really nice sergeant. Duo hid a smile. “Why?”
“He believes, as I do, that Shinigami could hide himself easily. He also believes that Shinigami could do a lot better
than a few thousand from businessmen. He's right.” Wufei shrugged. “I'm sure you know better than most just how
much crime pays.”
“Yeah,” Duo said sourly. And he always made certain it didn't – not after he found it.
“In the end...” Wufei shook his head, apparently stopping his small explanation. “Don't worry about it,
Duo. As soon as you're found innocent, Yuy will drop the charges.”
Duo felt guilt splay through his system, one quick sharp burst that he fought off vehemently. “Uh-huh.”
Wufei smiled. “If you're innocent, Maxwell, you have nothing to worry about.”
Duo grimaced. Too bad he wasn't innocent.
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