Author: Caroline
Rating: this part - NC-17ish
Pairing: 1x2, 6x2
Warnings: AU, OOC, murder, angst, slight bastardization of some characters, a little NCS (the devil made me do it)
Spoilers: none
Comments: please
Disclaimers: don't own 'em. never will. 'nuff said.

Afterimage + Part 13

"Oh God. I think I overreacted," Duo said, burying his face in his hands and rubbing his red, puffy eyes. He hated it when he cried. Crying made him feel so... weak and helpless. But this whole situation made him feel helpless. He had absolutely no idea what to do. "It was a very understandable reaction, Duo," Zechs said, placing his arm around Duo's slender shoulders. "Are you sure the knife you found was the same one used to kill that girl?"

"Yeah, I... I'm not sure I can explain it. I saw it in my mind when I touched it. It's the same knife." He slumped his shoulders. "Not that anyone would believe me."

"I would. I do." Zechs began stroking his back lightly in a comforting manner.

"But why was it in Heero's apartment?" he asked, wincing as he noticed he'd stopped referring to the loft as 'their' apartment. "I mean... I know Heero. There's no way he could have killed that girl!"

"Duo, just how well do you know Heero?" Zechs asked. "I mean really know him?"

Duo shifted uncomfortably. "Not very well. I don't know anything about his past or childhood or what he was like before we met." He moved his gaze to meet Zechs's eyes. "But I don't have to know all that. It's something... deeper. I know him. I know him here." He placed his hand over his heart.

"But how well do you know him here?" Zechs asked, pointing to his head. "That's my whole concern, Duo. You don't know him very well. You don't know what kind of man he can be when he gets hurt or angry. The murder weapon was in his apartment. What does that tell you?"

Duo stood up, yanking himself away from Zechs. "It doesn't tell me a thing! Maybe he was holding it there for some reason. Maybe he'd just found it and hadn't taken it in yet. Maybe he doesn't know what it is. Maybe... maybe somebody planted it there."

Zechs stood and caught Duo by the shoulders. "Do you really believe that?"

Duo allowed himself to be drawn into Zechs's embrace. "I don't know what to believe anymore," he whispered. "I'm so confused, Zechs. How could I do this? How could I be doubting him?"

"You have every right to be having these feelings, Duo. Heero is... not the man you think he is." Duo sniffled into his arms. Zechs stroked his hair and maneuvered him back to the couch. "Sit down. Try to relax for a while. When you feel better, we'll talk about what to do next."

"Okay," the long-haired teen murmured, sinking down onto the soft, white sofa. He fingered the silk material covering the couch as he looked around. "Damn Zechs. This is... really nice. When you said you were working on your boat and I should come meet you here, I pictured something more along the lines of a pontoon boat and less 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.'"

The 'boat' had turned out to be a sixty-eight foot Motoryacht, fully outfitted with every luxury Duo could think of, including a sofa covered in what Duo suspected to be Italian silk.

"If you can afford something like this," he continued, "why are you still working as a cop?"

Zechs made a face. "This... is more of a family boat than mine. I could never afford something like this on what I make," he said, bitterness edging his voice.

"Oh." He leaned back against the soft cushions and closed his eyes. "What should I do, Zechs?" he asked in a small voice. "I don't know where to go from here."

He heard Zechs move to one side of the salon. He cracked open an eye to see the blonde man staring intently at a painting on the wall. "That all depends on you, Duo," he replied softly.

Duo sat up straight, frowning. "What do you mean?"

"You said yourself you did not know all that much about Heero. Even if he is not guilty of this crime, it has made you think, hasn't it?"

"Huh?"

"It was an awfully big step you made, moving in with him after only knowing him for just a short while. You're beginning to have doubts, aren't you?"

Duo slumped forward, eyes burning with unshed tears. Zechs was right. He had made the decision to move in with Heero awfully quick. He thought he'd known what he was doing. But now, with all of this... maybe Quatre had been right. Maybe he had made the wrong decision and he was only now beginning to realize it.

His face burned with shame. How could he even be thinking of Heero like that? He knew Heero loved him... didn't he?

From the other side of the salon, Zechs was still silently observing the painting. He chuckled to himself, as though amused by his own private joke. He looked back at Duo and grinned, his expression suddenly becoming much more intimate as if he was about to let Duo in on his little joke.

"What a riot that would be," he mused. "A definite smash box-office hit."

Duo shifted nervously on the sofa. Zechs wasn't making any sense. The whole situation wasn't making any sense. "What are you talking about?" he asked quietly.

Zechs pinned him with his ice blue gaze. "Just think about it. You know the story. The good guy, the straight arrow, the man everyone loves. He gets the bad guy, he gets the..." another grin, "girl. It looks like happily ever after... and then the other shoe drops."

"The... other shoe?"

"Oh yes. Because this isn't your basic good versus evil story. It's one of those psychological twisters that leaves you guessing right until the end. The good guy has a secret. A secret the... girl finds out about at the end of the movie. With one slash, the girl finds herself drowning in her own blood. And the good guy, who turned out not to be so good after all, larks off, ready for the sequel." He turned to regard the painting once more, absently straightening it with one finger. "But that almost never happens in real life."

Zechs turned and gave Duo a fond, almost sad sort of look. "I'm sure you and Heero will be very happy together."

Duo swallowed. He looked down at his hands and only then realized he was trembling. "Oh God..." he whispered, unable to think, to breathe, to move. His stomach rebelled. He was going to be sick. He lurched to his feet, eyes wide in panic.

"Duo?" Zechs was by his side in an instant. Duo shoved him out of the way, stumbling to the sliding door that led to the forward deck. He rushed through, barely making it to the railing before losing the contents of his stomach over the side of the boat. He heaved until nothing more came up. He wiped his mouth off with the back of his hand, sliding down to the deck as his legs gave out from underneath him.

A cool hand brushed his bangs away from his face, moving to cup the back of his head. A cup was placed at his lips.

"Here. Drink this slowly."

Duo grasped the cup with shaking hands, tipping it to allow the cool, clean water to flow in
to his mouth. He gulped it down, nearly choking as he drank.

"Ah ah, easy." Zechs pried the cup from Duo's hands and set it aside. "Feel better now?"

"N...no." He couldn't stop shaking.

Zechs put the cup aside, sitting down next to Duo and drawing the shivering form into his arms. He reached up a hand to tip Duo's face up by the chin. "You don't have to be afraid, Duo. I'll be here for you."

Before Duo could say or do anything, Zechs bent his head and brushed his lips across Duo's. The violet-eyed teen froze, but did not draw away. Zechs pressed more firmly, sliding his tongue along Duo's bottom lip. Duo jumped, gasping in surprise. Zechs took the advantage, slipping inside Duo's mouth. The young man closed his eyes, allowing Zechs to invade his mouth. His body grew warm as he slowly melted into the kiss. Zechs lapped at the roof of his mouth. Duo sighed, making a little sound in the back of his throat. Zechs tasted so different from Heero...

Heero.

With a cry, Duo jerked away. "I... I'm sorry, Zechs. I can't. Heero..."

Zechs's face darkened. A new wave of guilt washed over Duo. "Please...

I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." With shaking legs, he got to his feet, clutching the rail desperately in order to support his weight. "I think... I should go back."

Zechs stood as well. "You're still shaken. Come in and have a drink. Take a little time to compose yourself. Then I'll take you back and we can question Heero about the knife together."

Duo gave the older man a wan smile. "All right." He allowed Zechs to support his weight. "I'm really sorry about... you know." "I know."

He looked down at Duo sadly. "I'm sorry too."

~*~

The stillness of the apartment was shattered by the sound of a door crashing open and slamming against the wall behind it. Heero rushed cautiously into the room, gun drawn, eyes darting all around. Seeing that the room was clear, he motioned for Trowa to enter. He kept himself between his partner and any potential danger. Trowa was still too injured to be doing something like this, but the green-eyed cop had insisted on accompanying him.

Heero quickly searched every room, his hopes fading fast with each passing moment. He'd hoped to find Duo here... hoped to find him before

it was too late.

"They're not here," Trowa remarked, echoing Heero's thoughts.

"Call Wufei. Get him to bring some people down here. Maybe they can find something," Heero replied, his voice completely drained of emotion. He couldn't allow himself to falter now. He had to keep his focus. He had to concentrate on this just being another case... because

if he didn't, if he stopped to think about what could be happening to Duo, he'd break. He was so scared, but for Duo's sake, he couldn't let his fears control him.

"Shit, Heero. I'm sorry," Trowa said a moment later after placing his call.

"Hn. Let's look around. Maybe there's something... anything here that would tell us where they've gone."

Trowa nodded and headed for the bedroom. Heero took a deep breath and began his own search.

Zechs's place was... immaculate. There was no other word to describe it. Expensive furniture and art work made up the décor. Heero knew the blonde man's cop salary could never afford some of the priceless things he found. The man had to be making money by other means. Heero doubted it was legal, whatever it was.

He stepped over to an expensive looking antique desk and rummaged around, hoping to find a note or an address - anything that could tell him where he'd taken Duo. But like the rest of the apartment, the desk was clean. He slammed a drawer shut, cursing in frustration.

"Any luck?" Trowa asked, reentering the room.

"No. You?"

"No."

Heero ran a trembling hand nervously through his hair. "Dammit, where are they?"

Trowa moved to place a comforting hand on Heero's shoulder. "Try not to worry. We've got APBs out on both of them. Something will turn up."

"I wish I could believe that, Trowa, but oh God... I'm so scared right now." He turned his head to look at Trowa, only to find his partner staring at something behind him. "Trowa?"

"I think... I may know another place to look for them." He hurried away, heading for the front door.

"Huh?" Heero turned around to see what Trowa had been staring at: a picture of Zechs standing on the prow of a large boat, the name of which was emblazoned proudly on the side. "The Epyon?"

"Heero!" Trowa called from the next room. "Come look at this!" Heero tore his gaze away from the photograph and quickly walked over to Trowa's side. "What is it?"

"Look," his partner replied, pointing to a key ring holder hanging on the wall next to the door. Each peg was labeled something different: car, truck, apartment, boat. The keys were gone from the car, apartment, and boat pegs.

"You think he took Duo to the bay?"

"Looks like it may be a possibility." Heero reached into his pocket, dug out his cell phone, and tossed it to Trowa. "Call Wufei. I want to know where the Epyon is docked."

"And what will you be doing?" Trowa asked as he followed his partner out the door.

Heero reached out and snagged Trowa's keys from his pocket. "Driving."

"Ah shit," Trowa muttered, attempting to dial the station's number one handed while running after his partner. "Heero driving. I'm gonna die."

'Not before I find you, Duo. Hang on, koi,' the Japanese cop thought as he raced out of Zechs's building and into the night.

~*~

Duo lay half-propped against the Italian silk, eyelids drooping heavily as he took another sip of the rum and coke Zechs had fixed for him. He winced as he swallowed; the drink had a slight metallic taste that was unsettling. Very carefully, with slow deliberate movements, he stood. He placed one foot in front of the other in precise, unsure steps, crossing the room slowly. He sighed in relief as he came within grabbing distance of the wet bar. Using the edge of the bar for balance, he poured the drink down the sink.

He stood for a moment, watching the ice melt through fog-dazed eyes. He felt... strange. Sleepy but hyperaware at the same time. He placed the glass in the sink and turned, losing his balance as he let go of the counter. Strong arms wrapped themselves around his waist, pulling him tight against a broad, smooth, and unabashedly bare chest. "Whoa there, little one. I've got you."

Duo clutched onto the strong arm, blinking dazedly up at the man holding him. "Z...Zechs?"

"Yes?" The older man's voice sounded so far away.

Duo blinked, trying unsuccessfully to clear away some of the fog obscuring his vision. "What are we... are we moving?" The room seemed to be bobbing up and down.

"Yes. I've taken us a little way out into the bay. I wanted you to calm down and think about some things before we went back."

"O...oh." He tried to stand on his own, but his legs felt as though they'd turned to jelly. "I...I think I need to sit down."

"As you wish."

Zechs half-led, half-carried him back to the expensive white couch. The arms of the sofa reached up to grab him, settling him down at one end. Duo blinked but didn't really question it. He was too busy watching the stars visible through the window above play tag with the moon.

A hand stroked his face, moving inexorably lower to the nape of his shirt.

"You are so beautiful." Zechs's voice sounded vague and distant, as if being said through a long tunnel.

Duo tried to sit up straighter. "Zechs? What... what was in that drink?"

Warm hands began to massage his shoulders. "Just something to help you relax," he thought he heard Zechs reply.

"Oh." He closed his eyes. Something... something wasn't right. He tried to think what it was, but the fog that clouded his vision had spread to his mind.

Something warm and moist brushed his shoulder. His bare shoulder. His eyes flew open. The moon had shifted its position in the sky. The lights in the salon had dimmed. When had he lost his shirt?

"Zechs?" His voice slurred. He felt a tug on his braid, felt his hair tumble freely over his back. "No..."

"Shhh. Just let me..." The rest of the man's words trailed off as the fog closed in on Duo once more. His head lolled against the back of the sofa. He felt warm lips kiss a path across his collarbone, dipping slightly to taste the nipple located just below.

Duo arched his back, hissing as a jolt of pleasure raced down his spine straight to his groin. An image of his blue-eyed Japanese lover formed behind closed eyelids. "Heero..."

The world shifted. Duo lazily opened his eyes to find himself resting sideways against the arm of the sofa. He could feel something tugging at his lower body, but he ignored it. Instead he turned his attention to the opposite side of the room.

Relena stared back at him.

Duo blinked, trying to comprehend why a dead girl would be looking at him. He tried to reach out to her, but his arm felt wooden and stiff. He could only lift it a few inches from his body. Relena smiled sadly. He saw her mouth move. Duo strained to hear what she was trying to say.

"What?"

"...too beautiful to waste..." he heard from far away. Something moved his legs apart, legs that felt like dead blocks of wood... legs that were now bare. Warm air blew across his groin. He cried out, bucking his hips upward.

"Heero..."

A warm mouth attached itself to his penis. Duo opened his eyes and screamed. The colors of the room were dancing; miniature starbursts blinded him momentarily. A warm flush spread throughout his body. The mouth suckling him did so expertly. Cries of pleasure dripped from his lips. His vision cleared and he looked down, expecting to see Heero's smirking face looking back at him. He was startled to see a blonde head bobbing up and down in his lap.

He reached down, placing on hand on Zechs's shoulder. The older man used one hand to sweep his long, blonde hair to one side. Duo narrowed his eyes, trying to see through the fog which had once again clouded his vision. Something dark marred the smooth, pale skin of Zechs's neck. Duo traced the mark, his hand feeling like it was moving through water. A tattoo of thorns encircled the man's entire neck. Duo blinked and lifted his hand to his head. He had to clear his mind. There was something he'd forgotten... something...

A finger brushed against his entrance. Duo moaned, his head lolling almost lifelessly against the arm of the couch. One finger slipped inside, causing Duo to shudder violently. The feel of the finger and the mouth working around his member were too much. The warm feeling building in the pit of his stomach suddenly burst forth, shooting through his body like lightning. He screamed, his back arching as he shot his release into Zechs's waiting mouth.

The feel of Zechs's mouth on his own brought him out of his post- orgasmic daze. The blonde man claimed his mouth, thrusting his tongue inside so Duo could taste himself in the older man's mouth. The haze chose that moment to lift from his mind. Duo cried out in revulsion, pushing Zechs away as he struggled to sit up.

"Zechs... stop," he breathed, tears running down his face. "Please."

An cold laugh bubbled from the other's man's lips. "Beautiful boy. I knew you would taste good." He kissed Duo again, fast and hard, before gracefully rising to his feet. "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back."

Duo hung his head, tears now streaming down his face. What had he done? Betrayed Heero for one thing. Duo covered his mouth with one hand, suddenly feeling the urge to vomit.

He looked around the room. The fog had cleared but his vision was still blurry. His eyes fell on the painting Zechs had been fiddling with earlier. A younger version of Relena's face gazed back at him. Duo felt his gorge rise. He sobbed into his hands, his whole body trembling. He couldn't breathe, the walls of the salon were closing in on him.

He shot to his feet, grabbing onto the arm of the sofa as the sudden movement made his head spin. He was still naked, but he didn't want to take the time to pull his clothes back on. Instead he grabbed a throw rug from the back of the sofa and stumbled out the sliding glass door onto the forward deck. Wrapping the blanket around him, he stumbled to the railing. He gripped the cool metal tightly, leaning over the side of the boat in case he lost the contents of his stomach again. But there was nothing left inside... nothing...

Tears continued to course down his cheeks as he stared at the swirling waters below. 'Oh God... I'm so sorry... Heero...'

~*~

[cont]