I was watching Unsolved Mysteries the other day and this idea hit me like a Gundam on steroids and wouldn't let go. This one... may be a little weird. ^_^;;

After Image + Part 1

Heero pushed open the glass door to the homicide unit with his shoulder, swearing under his breath as he almost lost his grip on the flimsy cardboard carrier holding the two styrofoam cups of coffee. He shifted the paper bag with their breakfast in order to get a better hold on the carrier before the scalding hot liquid could spill over his bare arm. Unfortunately he didn't see the dark-haired figure rounding the corner in a hurry.

The two mean collided hard, causing Heero to stumble backwards. He let go of the bag to grab the coffee, offering up a prayer of thanks as he managed to keep the coffee from spilling again.

"Jesus, Yuy, watch where you're going," the other man growled, pushing past him.

"Other people use this hallway too, Chang!" he called out after the dark-eyed detective as the door closed behind him. Heero shook his head and bent down to pick up what was left of their breakfast.

A helpful hand reached down and grabbed the beverage carrier before Heero could drop it. The cobalt-eyed detective looked up to see green eyes staring laughingly down at him.

"Laugh all you want, Barton. You're breakfast is in here too," he said, giving his partner a glare.

"Not my blueberry-banana-nut-cream-cheese-danish!" the taller man cried out in horror, clutching his heart melodramatically.

Heero made a face. "How can you eat shit like that this early in the morning?"

"I need the sugar for energy," his partner replied as they moved to their desks. "Without it, I'd be nothing more than a walking corpse."

"Do you know how embarrassing it is to order for you?"

Trowa ignored him, sniffing at the coffee. "Is that my Raspberry Mocha Chip Frappuccino?"

Heero rolled his eyes and handed Trowa his cup. "You know, for a straight guy, you order the sissiest foods," he commented dryly as he sipped his own coffee - black, no sugar, and sinfully hot.

"And for a gay guy, you have no sense of style," Trowa shot back, eyeing Heero's somewhat rumpled appearance. "What did you do, roll out of bed, throw on whatever was lying on your floor, and come into work?"

"My iron's busted again. I've been too busy to replace it," he said as he fished his plain bran muffin, now somewhat squashed, out of the bag. "So what has Chang's panties in a bunch this morning?"

Trowa licked cream cheese from his fingers before answering. "He and his team got reamed by Khushrenada again."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "Still no leads on their case?"

"No. And there was another body last night."

Heero swore. That wasn't going to look good for their department. For nearly five months, a serial killer had been using the city as his personal hunting grounds, leaving a trail of dead young men and women in his wake. The victims were never older than twenty-three, never younger than seventeen. All had no families or people who would care if they went missing. All were very beautiful, or at least they had been until they had fallen into the clutches of a twisted individual who liked to torture and rape them until finally murdering them. The press had gotten wind of the killings fairly quickly, now an entire city lived in fear of this madman. He had been dubbed the 'Teardrop Killer' because he always carved a teardrop onto his victims' faces before dumping their battered and naked bodies.

When that little piece of information had been splashed across the front page of every newspaper in the city, Captain Khushrenada had been livid. And unfortunately he'd taken his frustration out on Wufei Chang, the detective in charge of the investigation. Wufei in turn had become almost unbearable to work with. He wasn't a bad guy, Heero mused, but the stress of the case was getting to him. Heero was just glad he wasn't on Wufei's team. He'd have strangled the man long before now.

"So what's on our agenda for today?" he asked Trowa, shuffling papers around on his desk.

Before his tall partner could answer, the door to the Captain's office opened. "Barton! Yuy! In my office!" Heero shot Trowa a look as they stood up and walked quickly to the Captain's office. Treize Khushrenada had been Captain for four years, and was one of the finest men to ever serve on the force. But he was a hard taskmaster, always expecting results. When he said jump, one had better ask how high or face the consequences.

"Barton, Yuy... I just got another call about the Peacecraft case. Where do we stand?"

Heero sighed in relief. Treize wasn't yelling at them... yet. That was always a good sign.

"That last lead didn't pan out. No one at the dance club has seen Miss Peacecraft in at least two weeks," Trowa said, leaning forward.

Treize sighed. "Any other leads?"

"A couple. Trowa and I will be checking up on them today."

Treize nodded. "I know you've been doing things by the book, boys, but with a high profile case like this... let's just say the brass wants results. I don't have to tell you how much influence the Peacecraft family has in this city. Finding the girl is your top priority as of this moment."

Both Heero and Trowa nodded. "We'll let you know as soon as we find anything," Heero added as he and his partner stood.

Treize waved them out and wished them luck. Heero walked back to his desk and grabbed his now lukewarm coffee. "We're up to our asses in bodies and they want us to track down some spoiled rich girl who's probably off gallivanting around with some boy her grandfather doesn't approve of," he said bitterly as he threw on his jacket.

"You know money talks in this town, Yuy," Trowa replied, grabbing his badge. "If some rich old guy wants us to drop everything to search for his missing granddaughter, then by God, that's what we do."

"I know, I know," Heero muttered as they walked out the glass doors of the department. "I know that's the way things work... but I don't have to like it."

"So where do you want to start today?"

"Let's check out the restaurant she was last seen. I want to question the waitress again."

Trowa rolled his eyes but didn't argue. "Whatever you want, Heero. Lead the way."

+

"Hey Duo!"

The young man behind the desk looked up and smiled as he spotted his blonde friend walk through the door of the clinic waiting room.

"Hey Quat. How's Mrs. Anderson doing?"

"She and her baby are perfectly healthy. I figure she'll give birth to a bouncing baby boy in about seven weeks."

"That's great! I bet Michael is looking forward to being an older brother."

The blonde doctor looked at his young receptionist and smiled. He didn't know what he'd do without Duo's sunny disposition. The free clinic he ran was located in one of the poorest parts of the city, and the types of patients he usually saw sometimes depressed him no end. But Duo always had a bright smile for everybody. The boy was only nineteen, six years younger than Quatre himself, but he seemed much older than his years. He started working at the clinic nearly a year ago, and Quatre couldn't imagine how he'd ever managed before he'd showed up. He had known Duo since he was a child; he knew what a horrible life the boy had had - but Duo never seemed to lose his smile or love of life. And for that he was grateful.

"Any more patients?"

"Not for half an hour, unless we get some walk-ins," Duo replied, turning back to his paperwork.

"Good. Maybe I'll actually get to eat lunch today."

"Mm-hmm," Duo murmured noncommittally as he continued his work. Quatre grinned. Duo was certainly dedicated to his job.

Quatre pulled on his coat, making sure he had enough money on him to buy sandwiches for them both at the deli down the street. He was about to ask Duo what he wanted when the phone rang. Without looking up from his work, Duo picked it up and held the receiver to Quatre.

"It's Iria," he said.

Quatre raised an eyebrow but took the phone. Sure enough, Duo was right. His sister was on the other end of the line, wanting to know what time she needed to start her shift at the clinic. Quatre quickly answered her question, then hung up. He stared at Duo for a moment, trying to figure the boy out. This wasn't the first time Duo had known who was on the other end of the phone without answering it first.

Little incidents like that had happened for as long as Quatre had known him. Duo could tell when a letter would be arriving, or if the market was out of fish before they went in, or who was knocking at the door. Yet he never seemed to be consciously aware of doing it, nor did he seem to be able to control it. Quatre had only pushed him on the issue once, but Duo had gotten so upset, he'd quickly abandoned the topic. As much as he would have liked to explore Duo's little 'gift' further, he didn't want to press him.

"What did Iria want?"

Quatre was startled out of his reverie to see a pair of violet eyes looking at him intently.

"Oh, she just wanted to know when she was supposed to come in tonight."

"Iria's working tonight? Cool. I may just have to stay late then," the long-haired boy replied, grinning at him.

Quatre rolled his eyes. "I'd be worried if I didn't know that Iria wasn't your type."

"Why do you think I always work your shift with you?" Duo asked, giving him a wink.

Quatre sighed. "Duo..."

"I'm joking, Quat, and you know it. I know you have a girlfriend. Besides, Dorothy would skin me alive if I so much looked at you the wrong way," Duo replied, giving a mock shudder.

Before Quatre could give the boy a retort, the radio on the desk which had been playing Duo's favorite seventies rock station kicked in with the local news.

"Hey turn that up will you? I want to hear if there's anything on that break-in at Howard's last night." Duo reached over and turned the volume knob.

"...police are still investigating the disappearance of Relena Peacecraft, granddaughter of Senator Milliardo Peacecraft, Sr. Miss Peacecraft was last seen at a restaurant on Vernier Avenue on August seventeenth. Police have no suspects in the case as of yet, and as no ransom demand has been issued, authorities believe she may have been another victim of the 'Teardrop Killer'. While the family has not given up hope of finding Miss Peacecraft alive, authorities say finding her alive is doubtful, and have begun searching for her body. In other news, a local businessman..."

"They're looking for her body in the wrong place."

Quatre's eyes opened wide as he turned to stare at his young friend. Duo was staring off into space, his eyes open, yet unfocused and vacant.

"What did you say Duo?"

"They won't find her where they're looking. Her body's not there. They're looking in the wrong place." He blinked and shook his head, then turned haunted, mournful eyes to Quatre. "I saw her, Quat. I saw her. She's dead. And I know where she is."

[part 2] [back to Caroline's fic]