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Chapter Ten: In The End
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Fangs of the Wolf

Chapter Ten

In The End

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is still not mine. Dammit.

It was strange to find himself walking the streets looking for a place to crash for the rest of the day. It brought back bad memories, memories he'd thought had faded. Memories he couldn't take the time to be distraught by.

Things were escalating. That hadn't been his little stalker. The man had done nothing more than follow him to Heero's place, even though he specifically took a short-cut through an alley. No, that man hadn't been the one targeting the hospital. That left the Romefellers.

What the hell did that group want? He needed to be able to check on them, to see what was happening. He needed a huge fucking computer to be able to handle the hacking jobs most likely necessary to get in, too. But he couldn't go back for his. Which meant, most likely, he would have to find a secret place, hide the IP Address, and set up communications with the Police Department to talk them through the paces. That reeked a bit; the last thing he wanted to do was share his skills with the copperheads. Especially since it meant giving the police the credit that was due him.

Still, it was better than doing nothing but running.

He felt a change around him and realized his stalker wasn't behind him anymore. Duo paused for a split second. In an alley then, waiting for him. He stopped walking altogether, put his hands in his pockets. He took on a light tone. “I know you're in there, waiting.” His eyes turned to the alleyway to his left.

A low chuckle. “I see. You truly are a rat, aren't you? Able to sniff out anything.”

Duo smiled. “That would be a dog, jackass.”

The man materialized from the darkness of the alley's shadows. “I suppose so,” he said simply. “And you. What do you plan to do?”

Duo didn't let his fury place itself on his face. “Same as I have been, only even more low-key. I'm Shinigami – I know how to disappear.”

“That won't help the investigation,” the man pointed out.

“No, but my follow-up will.” Duo rocked back on his heels. “Hey, why don't you do something useful with yourself and, I don't know, leave me alone?”

The man only shook his head. “I don't think so.” A quick glance around the area distracted the man for a moment. Duo knew what the man would see – trash. The place was pure trash in this man's eyes. Deserted streets, populated alleys. Garbage cans were the only décor from the dilapidated brick buildings. He would never understand the life around this sort of place, the constant hum of adrenaline in the veins. Alleys were safer – there were usually more escapes. Leaving yourself open here was stupid.

Duo was counting on that stupidity right now.

“Mr. Maxwell, I don't think you fully understand the situation you're in.”

Duo caught sight of movement behind his little stalker and had to bite back a grin. “Don't I?”

“You should know. Isn't that why you broke away from Lieutenant Yuy? You don't want to get too close.”

Duo's need to hide his smile vanished. It was true – he was Shinigami, after all. All he could give to another was death – or justice. And with his stalker-imp tied to his hip, he couldn't exactly attempt to give anyone anything else. Still... good. His unwitting friends were in position.

“Listen, you damn cop,” he suddenly yelped, “leave me the fuck alone!”

His stalker's face switched quickly from surprise to confusion to fury and immediately back to shock. Rule of the streets: take down the cops first.

Duo shot off into the alleyway while the gang jumped his stalker. He threw himself down side alley after side alley. The sounds of fighting faded behind him. He didn't have time to see who won; he had to be quick. His stunt might make his stalker take his revenge on Heero. He needed something concrete on either Romefeller or J's man if he was to keep Heero Yuy safe.

He turned sharply, using the brick wall as a launching pad. He had to wonder, of course, if Heero Yuy wanted anything more to do with him. The two hardly knew each other. Duo shouldn't have been so upset with the idea of Heero's... well, not rejection, but that was the word that came to mind.

He couldn't forget Heero's strong arms around him. It had been his fault, of course. He'd thrown himself into Heero's embrace. He'd shuddered and fought back tears. He'd shown weakness to a lieutenant in the police force. Stupid.

But he'd enjoyed those arms wrapped around him.

He finally had to stop, out of breath and heaving. He slid seamlessly into the shadows and hid within a small crevice, almost impossible to enter, but it still had four exits, so it was safe. Each corner of the long-abandoned garage had worn away over time.

Then he sat down and quickly began forming a plan.


Now that he'd sat down and given himself time to think about it, he was absolutely furious.

Duo Maxwell really was Shinigami. Son of a fucking bitch. He was the one. Heero had cornered him twice and the damn man had managed to squirm his way out of suspicion. And still, in the end, that man had been Shinigami. And only when everything had crashed around him – only when the bastard had made his escape – had he deigned to inform Heero about his secret identity.

Hell, for all Heero knew, Duo had been the one to blow the hospital's second-floor D-Block to hell.

No. He felt his insides churn. No, he knew that wasn't true. Because he and Wufei had already figured out that someone or something was targeting Duo. That person was the one who had struck the hospital. That person was the immediate problem.

That person... was after Duo's life.

Yes, for some reason he couldn't shake the worry. It was no doubt that Duo was in danger, and the fool had just run off to nowhere while Heero was still trying to get his head screwed on straight. Granted he hadn't reacted well, but he'd had the carpet ripped out from underneath him. But now Duo was out there alone without any protection, without any police training, and there was nothing Heero could do because Duo Maxwell was Shinigami, a vigilante and a potential criminal.

His doorbell rang.

Heero was dimly aware that he'd been running a trail though his carpet. He stopped his mindless pacing and answered the door.

As expected, Wufei stood before the door. Unexpectedly, he was grimacing. He seemed about ready to explode into tiny pieces. Tiny, very frustrated pieces.

“Wufei?” He stepped aside, allowing the poor man entrance. He immediately shrugged out of his coat and wordlessly took Heero's place on the carpet.

“Damn that man,” Wufei muttered, lost in his own problems.

Heero cocked his head to the side, considering. “Treize?”

“Of course,” Wufei grumbled. Then he paused and looked around as if just then realizing where he was. “Where's Duo?”

Heero closed his eyes briefly. He'd known this was coming; he just hadn't wanted to get into it. “He's Shinigami. He admitted it.”

“So, what? You have him cuffed to the kitchen table?” Wufei moved toward the kitchen as if he truly believed Heero capable of doing that.

“Of course not,” he scoffed softly. At his tone, Wufei turned back to him. “Wufei.” He closed the door carefully, not bothering to look out. He didn't feel eyes on him anymore. “Duo stopped by to give me some information... and then he left.”

“He left?” Wufei charged back to him, eyes blazing. “You let him walk away?!”

“I couldn't hold him, Wufei. We have no concrete evidence that Shinigami is a criminal, remember?” Heero wasn't pleased about any of this, either. “He did manage to inform me of... a few interesting points.”

“But he is Shinigami.” There it was; the hurt and disappointment. Heero couldn't protect his partner from that.


Wufei nodded once, a sharp jerk, and then sat down heavily on Heero's sofa. “I... see.”

“Wufei.” Heero moved over to stand before his partner. Those dark eyes were troubled, unsure. There was a long, pained silence before Wufei finally managed to speak.

“What did you learn?”

Heero understood the tone. It was one he'd heard only a couple of times before, when Wufei had returned from private meetings with Chief of Department Khushrenada. It sounded suspiciously of pain tightly controlled. Heero couldn't do much about that, either. But he could try. “First things first: Duo.”

“You like him.”

Just that phrase was enough to make Heero's jaw snap. “Not what I meant,” he grated out.

“But enough to help you understand how I feel right now.”

Heero had to concede that point. Right now, thinking about Duo as Shinigami was... hard. He couldn't let himself ponder it too hard. “Fine. But Duo did more than tell me about his identity.”

Wufei nodded. “Helping us?” He sounded unsure.

Heero couldn't imagine the hurt Wufei was feeling. The man rarely put his trust in anyone. He would even be berating himself for his decision to befriend Duo. His integrity, so very important to him, would be suffering severe blows.

Heero walked up to his partner and put a hand on his shoulder. It made Wufei look up and meet his eyes. “Wufei... it's as you said. He isn't evil.”

Wufei grimaced. “Yes, but that I was so wrong about him...”

Heero thought about it, then decided he might as well say it. “He values your friendship, Wufei.” At Wufei's questioning look, he continued. “He showed regret at hurting you. There was pain in his eyes when he said he thought you would hate him for this.”

Wufei's eyes were oddly easy to read. Heero could plainly see conflicting emotions – anger, fear, sadness. “What did he say exactly?”

Heero sighed. “I... got angry and asked him how he thought you would take this. He had been smiling at me like a fucking clown before that, but it seemed to fall away for a second. Then he said he knew... that you would probably hate him forever.”

Wufei grimaced. “Sounds like him.” He straightened himself, stood. Paced. “What did he tell you?” he asked finally.

“First... Wufei, he knew who'd run him over.”

Wufei turned, his eyes flaring. “What? Who?”

Heero rocked back on his heels. Despite everything, Heero could plainly see the protective fury in those eyes. Duo had been wrong – Wufei was hurt, upset. Confused. But Wufei didn't hate him. Not at all. “J.”

Wufei digested that with lightning-speed. “Chief Fellur?” Wufei seemed to be testing the name as if it were stuck on his gums. “Chief Fellur ran Duo over?”

“Yes. And sent a spy to keep watch over him. Apparently J wants us to work together to take down Romefeller.”

Wufei began pacing again. Heero followed his movements with his eyes. He couldn't sit; almost resented Wufei for pacing before he could; it would be ridiculous if they both paced while they talked. “The chief sent a spy on Duo. Then was the spy the one who targeted Duo just now?”

Heero shook his head. “No. Duo believes it was Romefeller itself that bombed that hospital, and I would have to agree. If J believes we can take out Romefeller, then it makes sense for Romefeller to try to take us out. And the one easiest to target is Duo, seeing as he's not a part of the force and was, at the time, recuperating in the hospital.”

Wufei nodded, most likely having already come to a similar conclusion. “Then what the hell do we do? Where did Duo go?”

Heero shook his head. “I don't know.”

Wufei growled. “Goddammit! If only that bastard hadn't fucking taken so long...” Suddenly Wufei blushed, scowling at his own action. “I may have gotten here in time...”

Heero scowled himself. “I hadn't been able to ask him everything I want to know. He'd blindsided me. And I could swear that damn grin was made to piss me off.” Wufei chuckled. “What?”

Wufei chuckled. “Well, at least someone can get under your skin.” At Heero's dark scowl, he changed the subject. “So? What else did he tell you?”

“He didn't. He just left.”

“So now he's out there without protection, just as you said.” Wufei's feet almost pounded into Heero's floor. “Dammit.”

Heero hated the concern in his gut. He would much rather continue being pissed. “He did say he never helped the criminals.” There was cynicism in his voice, an easy sign that he didn't believe it.

Wufei frowned. “He said that?” His voice, on the other hand, seemed to be considering it. He hesitated before saying, “He never lies...”

“Wufei,” Heero said sharply. He understood his friend's pain, yes, but he wouldn't let Wufei steer himself down the wrong path.

But Wufei shook his head. “He doesn't lie, he just skirts around the truth. Did he ever say he wasn't Shinigami?”

Heero stepped forward as if to deck his partner. “Of course he-” But he had to stop, had to think about it. “Goddamn it,” he murmured, thinking it over. He'd feigned ignorance, he'd led them onto a different path. But he'd never outright denied it. Heero couldn't remember exactly what Duo had said, couldn't remember each individual word and phrase. But he thought Wufei may be right. “Then,” he argued, switching tactics, “how do you know he's not skirting around the truth this time, as well?”

“Was that exactly how he'd put it? 'I never helped the criminals'?” Wufei asked.

Heero thought back, nodded. “I believe so.”

Wufei nodded, stopping his pacing. “Then I believe he didn't.” But Wufei's voice was still unsure, as if he didn't know whether he should put any faith in Duo. And Duo had known it would happen. Heero gritted his teeth and fought the urge to defend him. Because Heero didn't trust him, either.

He glared out of his window into the light of day. It played on the grass in his yard, shone into his living room. He wondered whether it could touch Duo, wherever he was.

Then he turned away, disgusted at the poetic nonsense. “Well, we need to get on this case, too. Look over forensics, evidence. What was found, what wasn't. Who wasn't.” A gut-clenching thought. “Who was.”

Wufei nodded. “I'll meet you at the precinct.”

Heero nodded and grabbed his coat. Wufei, he noticed belatedly, had been so disturbed he'd never taken his off. He watched his friend leave, shook his head. Hell. They were a mess.


He couldn't wait until night came. He hadn't seen his little stalker friend since he'd gotten the man off his back, but that could only be because he'd hidden himself. He couldn't take the chance that the man had gotten pissed and had decided to counterattack. He moved, leaving the safety of the dilapidated garage for the alleys. It took about half an hour, but he managed to get to his old lodgings. He doubted the computer was still there. And if it was, he doubted the businesses – if they even still existed – had the wireless internet still.

But when he entered that old building, even worse the wear than he remembered, he saw that old piece-of-shit computer taking up its usual space in the darkest corner. A pile of dust coated it, but Duo cleaned it with loving care. When he was done, he was rewarded with a low hum when he pushed the power button.

It took the computer a minute or two to start up, and it wheezed at the trouble. Duo took the couple of hours to scan the computer for viruses and otherwise help the poor thing out. He couldn't afford to have the thing break down, internet or no. This place had been his sanctuary before. He'd dug, with his own hands, underground paths to up the exits from three to five. He probably wouldn't be able to fit into those two any more, but the feeling of security hadn't dissipated. He would return here.

But after the clean-up was done, he returned to the computer to see that there was, thank God, a wireless internet available. And, he found – to his immense amusement – that there wasn't even a password needed to use it. He turned it on and rerouted the computer's coordinates. It took two hours, the modem choking angrily, for it to be done. Then he prepared a message for the precinct.


“So, in the end, there's no evidence.” Trowa threw down the file in disgust.

Quatre bit his lip. “I wonder if...” But he glanced quickly over at Wufei and Heero and held his tongue.

Heero turned away from the others, knowing Quatre had been about to speak about Shinigami – Duo. They sat around an interview table, their files spread across the top in what a passerby would call chaos. He sighed. “He has his own problems right now.”

Wufei said nothing.

Trowa glared at the files again. Pictures of the five planned murders, the five more recent deaths, and their own little selves outlined the reports. Trowa had earlier speculated on why they'd been left in charge after J's death; Quatre had said it may go higher up. Any and all attempts to ask Khushrenada about it were burned down by Wufei.

Heero stared at the reports, but he already knew every word. They still had no idea what Romefeller wanted, let alone how to take it down. It was an enormous business conglomerate, untouchable – even perhaps with evidence. They were at a stalemate. Again.

Trowa snorted. “This is ridiculous. There are still things we can do. Stake out Romefeller, for one. Find Du... Shinigami, for another.” He stood. “Quatre and I will do the latter. Will you and Wufei watch Romefeller?”

Heero nodded. “That's fine.” He turned to Wufei and stood, as well. Maybe the two of them could come up with something while they waited. “In the meantime, the computer guys should be able to-” He stopped at a small beeping noise. A text message to his cell phone? He scowled and pulled it out.

Just as he'd thought. Duo was contacting him.

“What does it say?” Wufei asked, voice quiet. He looked up from his seat, eyes guarded. It was the first time he'd spoken in over ten minutes.

Heero read it out loud. “'Call me.'” He glared at the screen. “There's a number.”

“Rerouted, of course,” Wufei murmured.

“How?” Quatre asked. “We still have his computer.”

Heero ignored them both and punched in the digits, scowling at the wall as it rang. After three rings, it was picked up.

“Hi. You secure?”

Heero's fist clenched. The bastard. Obviously Heero had worried about him for nothing. “Yes.”

“Great. Put this on speaker. You're with your partners, correct?”

Heero didn't answer, just punched the button for speaker. “Done.” He set the thing in the middle of the table, lying on top of the notes.


“Duo.” Wufei spoke first, standing, looking down at the phone like it might bite him.

There was a pause from the other end of the line. “Hi there, Wufei.” The voice was soft, less sure. Then, “do you have anyone who can use the computer worth dick?”

Heero saw Wufei sway a bit. He seemed confused. Lost, upset. He took control. “We all know basic computer skills.”

“Right.” Another slight pause. “One of you will need to get onto my computer.”

Heero paused, shocked. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Even from the phone Heero could hear the exasperation in Duo's sigh. “I meeeaaaannn,” he drolled, “soooommmeoooonnnne haaaaaaassss to geeeeeettt-”

“I meant,” Heero snapped, interrupting Duo's smart-ass response, “why do you want us to get on your computer?”

“I don't,” Duo replied shortly. “But you have it and I don't. It would be best if I stayed hidden. And Lieutenant...” He hesitated. “Watch your back. You may be the next target.”

Heero frowned. “Me?”

“Hm,” Duo hummed in affirmation. “So watch your back.” He moved on. “I need one of you on my computer. Is it in a secure place?”

Heero heard the worry in Duo's voice. It was like he was asking about his child. Quatre was the one who answered this time. “Yes.”

A slight pause. “Ah. Winner?”

Quatre blushed. “Uh, yeah.”

“Huh. You have a nicer voice than the others. Anyway, make sure you're alone, then call me back.”

“Duo!” Wufei cried.

There was silence on the other end of the line, but Heero heard no click. The timer on his cell kept going.

“Duo, I...” Wufei's fists clenched. “I don't...” He closed his eyes and bowed his head. “I... trust you.”

The silence continued for a moment. “Thank you,” Duo said finally, his voice whisper-soft. “I won't let you down again.”

There was a click, and the call ended.


Duo put down his phone and cried.


... >__< Argh.

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Every story unless otherwise claimed is Kayura's, and is copyrighted 2006 under her name.