Afterimage + Part 13 (cont)

~*~

Heero stared at the empty slip in front of him, stomach twisted in knots. He'd broken every speed and driving law racing down to the harbor where the bigger boats and yachts were kept, and practically pulled his gun on the poor harbor master demanding to know where the Epyon was docked. But he was too late. He'd failed. And now he had the horrible sick feeling his little lover was going to pay for his failure.

He heard Trowa run up behind him, panting.

"Did you... find it..." his partner breathed, half doubled over in pain as he clutched his injured arm.

Heero looked away, unable to meet his partner's eyes. "No."

"Shit. Well, they can't have been gone long. We'll go back up to the harbor master's office and call the coast guard and port authority to get out there looking for it." He placed a hand on Heero's shoulder. "We'll find them."

"Ahoy! Can I help you gents with anything?"

Heero turned to see a weathered man in his mid-fifties stick his head out from a flashy, new-looking speedboat two slips down from where they stood.

"The ship that docks here," Heero called back, a tiny sliver of hope riding in his chest, "would you happen to know where it is?"

"Ah sure do, sonny." He turned and pointed to a blinking light in the middle of the bay. "She left about a half hour ago. Hasn't gotten too far yet. Those Motoryachts are nice but their maximum speed sure ain't like my Bessie here," he said, patting the stern of his own boat.

Heero's eyes gleamed. He turned to Trowa. "Go back. Call Treize, the coast guard, the port authority, even the fucking Navy if you have to and get them down here."

Trowa gave his partner a wary look. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going after Duo." He turned back to the old man and whipped out his badge. "I'm with the police department. I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate your boat for the time being, sir."

~*~

Duo watched the dark waters swirling below with unseeing eyes, his hands gripping so tightly to the railing his knuckles were turning white. His heart pounded in his chest, though he barely noticed. All he could feel was his heart breaking, and waves of guilt coursing through him.

How could he have done that? How could he have betrayed Heero like that? In one blind, panicked moment he'd lost all faith in his lover and jumped into the arms of the nearest, willing body. He choked back a sob, his vision blurring again. His body was suddenly engulfed in flames, his blood boiling. He felt dizzy. The waters below looked cool and inviting. He leaned over further, wanting to just let go... A pair of strong arms wrapped around him, pulling him away from the railing. A warm mouth fastened itself to his neck. Duo closed his eyes and swallowed but felt too weak to try and pull away.

"Mmm, I thought I said not to go anywhere," Zechs's smooth voice whispered into his ear.

Duo didn't reply. He let his gaze drop to the hands wrapped around his waist... long, slender hands...

"Why did you kill her?"

He felt Zechs stiffen behind him. For a moment, Duo thought the older man was going to kill him right there, strangle him with his long hair and dump his body overboard. Then the moment passed and Zechs chuckled lightly into his ear, his hands wandering over Duo's stomach.

"I wondered how long it would take you to figure it out," he said against Duo's shoulder. "I was surprised when you didn't notice the portrait of my dear sister on the wall earlier. But I'm glad you didn't. I get to enjoy you first."

Duo's eyes slid closed, tears falling freely. He was going to die. He deserved to die. But not before he knew why.

"Your sister? Why?"

The arms around his waist tightened roughly, causing Duo to cry out, more in fear than in pain.

"That little bitch... always Daddy's little girl," the blonde growled into Duo's ear. "She partied harder than I did, slept with any guy that came along and caught her eye. And yet, in Father's and Grandfather's eyes she could do no wrong! She was their perfect little angel. They refused to see her other side. But me? They disowned me simply for not fitting into their mold. They threw me away for preferring men. I was left with nothing. Nothing!"

Duo clawed at Zechs's arms, trying in vain to get away. The grip the older man had on him was slowly cutting off his air supply. His survival instinct was kicking in. He had to keep him talking. Keep him distracted and maybe he could get away... though where he could go in the middle of the bay was a mystery to him.

"So why kill her?" he asked, trying desperately to squirm out of the man's grip.

"Money of course. After my father kicked me out, I kept in touch with my dear little sister. She'd give me money when I needed it from time to time. But when Father and Mother were killed, they left everything to her. There was no mention of me in their will. It was as if I didn't even exist for them anymore." He ran his hands across Duo's stomach, moving inexorably lower. "Then I received word my Grandfather, the illustrious senator, was going to cut me out of his will as well. Relena stood to inherit everything! I went to her. I'd kept in touch with her over the years. She'd given me money on occasion when I'd needed it. She gave me the Epyon. But apparently my father's and grandfather's influence had finally gotten to her. I went to see her and demanded my portion of Father's estate. She refused. So I slit her throat."

Duo whimpered as Zechs's hand wormed its way underneath the throw rug. "Th...that's why you killed her? For money?"

Zechs laughed deeply. "Isn't it always about money?" He spun Duo around, pinning him against the railing. Ice blue eyes gleamed predatorily in the near darkness. For the first time, Duo noticed just how very nude Zechs was and became almost painfully aware of his own state of undress. "I became a cop for the money. I figured it would be easier to run things from the inside rather than having to buy off the local police every time."

"But... she was your sister."

"So? Relena and I were the only children. No cousins, no second cousins, no maiden aunts or long lost uncles... the only heirs to the Peacecraft legacy. I figured with Relena out of the way, there would be no one left to inherit everything except me, no matter how 'disgraced' I had been." He bent his head and ran his tongue over Duo's now bare collarbone.

Duo turned his head, squeezing his eyes shut. Feebly he pushed on Zechs's shoulders, trying to push the bigger man away. "Stop..."

Zechs pulled his head away and smiled ruefully at him. "I had the perfect plan too... until you came along." Strong hands began tugging the blanket away. Duo clutched furiously at it, again attempting to squirm out the man's grasp to no avail.

"Making it look like a teardrop killing you mean?" Duo spat, clawing at Zechs's hands. Miraculously, the fog that had been clouding his mind was beginning to fade. 'Keep him talking, Duo,' he thought to himself. 'Stall. Just stall...'

"Those murders were the perfect opportunity for me. Make it look like just another serial killing. Even if it didn't fool the cops for long, it'd throw them off at least long enough for me to put the rest of my plan into motion. Relena dead... and my dear old Grandfather would die a few weeks later of a broken, weak heart. Or at least that's what it would look like. It's amazing the number of undetectable poisons we have in lockup in Narcotics." He leered at Duo, catching his wrists in his hands. "Then you showed up. You lead them to the body sooner than I expected. You got them to take an even closer look at the case. You and your visions!"

He wrenched Duo away from the railing and flung him to the deck. The long-haired teen bounced on the polished wood once before collapsing into a boneless heap at Zechs's feet. In a flash, the blonde man was on him, straddling his torso, hands sliding up to clutch at his neck. "When we met in the bar and you told me of your visions, I knew you were telling the truth - that your visions were real. You knew too much. You could have had another and fingered me as Relena's killer. I couldn't let you do that."

Duo grasped Zechs's wrists. The man wasn't tightening them around his throat - yet - but Duo didn't like them being there. Déjà vu swept through him of the night Mueller had broken into his apartment. Waves of nausea washed over him, but he had to keep Zechs talking. It was imperative that he keep the blonde above him distracted in order for Heero to...

For Heero to do what? His lover didn't even know where he was. And yet... something was telling him that stalling Zechs from doing anything... more... was vitally important. And Heero was involved in some way. What it was he did not know, but he was determined to do it.

"Why not just kill me outright?" he whispered, not trying to hide the fear in his eyes. One hand left his neck and ghost down his chest. Duo jumped as cold fingers grazed one nipple. He didn't like this. How could he ever have let Zechs do to him what had happened? How could he ever want anyone after Heero.

'Dammit! Focus!'

"You... intrigued me." The hand slid lower. "Besides, I couldn't just kill you outright. It took me weeks plan Relena's death, gleaning all the information about the 'teardrop' murders from Chang. I knew about the leak in the department. So I sent word to the papers about your involvement in the investigation. You matched the victims' profile perfectly. I hoped my scapegoat would take an interest... and if he didn't, I could do as I did before and make it look like he had done it. And when that failed, I planted the knife in Yuy's apartment, knowing you would find it and most likely jump to the wrong conclusions." He smirked. "And here you are. You fell right into my hands."

One sharp tug and the throw rug was yanked away, exposing Duo's body to Zechs's hungry gaze. "I can't say I'm sorry that my first little plan failed. It would have been a shame to kill you without having you first."

Duo panicked. He hadn't given Heero enough time! He struggled beneath Zechs, scratching the man's skin with his fingernails. "Don't you touch me!" he screamed, raking his nails down Zechs's chest. The blonde hissed. He grabbed Duo's head and slammed it down onto the deck. Light exploded behind the teen's eyelids as pain radiated through his skull. His body went limp, too stunned by the sudden blow to the head to move. With one hand, Zechs pinned his wrists to the deck above his head. The other parted his legs roughly.

"Stupid kid. We're anchored in the middle of the bay. Where do you think you're gonna go?" He spat into his hand and rubbed the slippery liquid over his engorged cock. Duo cried out as Zechs lifted one leg violently upwards and positioned himself at his entrance. "I've been wanting to do this for a long time," he hissed before leaning down to crush his mouth to Duo's and thrusting his hips forward.

~*~

The little speedboat zoomed over the waves, flying over the surface so fast, Heero wasn't entirely sure if it was even touching the water at all. He didn't bother looking at the speedometer. He had the throttle down as far as it could go. The Motoryacht he was chasing loomed closer. It appeared to have stopped moving, something for which Heero was eternally grateful. Not that the speedboat he'd acquired couldn't catch up even if it were... but having the Epyon floating in one place helped close the distance immensely. He just prayed he wasn't too late.

The few moments it took to bring the speedboat in line with the taller Epyon stretched out into an unbearable length of time. Heero cursed the slowness of his fingers as he hastily tied the speedboat to one of the aft boarding ladders. He scrambled up the ladder and onto the deck, drawing his gun as soon as he found his footing. The aft deck was small with only one or two pieces of deck furniture.

Before him stood a pair of sliding glass doors leading into some kind of room. He approached the doors slowly. The lights inside were out; he peered through the glass but couldn't see anything beyond what appeared to be a bed. Reaching out, he grasped the door handle and pulled, scowling when he found his entrance locked. To his right he noticed a tiny walkway between the main cabin and the railing of the yacht. With his gun in front of him, he cautiously peered around the corner...

...and broke into a dead run when he heard a scream coming from the forward deck.

Duo! Duo was screaming. He was alive! But for how long? He shot off a quick prayer as he ran, pleading with God that he could make it in time.

~*~

The world was black, darker than it had been. Before, he could see the glittering lights of the city in the distance and the sheen of the moon overhead. But now, there was nothing.

Slowly, he became aware of his surroundings. The first thing he noticed was the sound of heavy breathing. He thought it was his, but the tone and pitch were off. Whoever was breathing - no, panting - was close. He could feel their breath on his face.

Pain was the next thing he became aware of. It radiated out from the back of his skull through his entire body to mingle with another kind of pain below. A stretching kind of pain.

He opened his eyes. His vision blurred, he could only make out the hulking outline of the figure above him, moving over him, inside him...

He screamed.

And screamed.

And then the weight on top of him was gone, bowled over by some shining white force.

The momentum of the action rolled him onto his side. He clawed at the deck below him, trying to push himself up. The throw rug he'd grabbed earlier was tangled around one leg. He yanked it over his body as he pushed himself up into a half-sitting position. He struggled to clear his vision. Gradually the two shapes struggling together several feet away came into focus. He gasped as he recognized Heero's slender muscular form wrestling with Zechs for control. Desperate to help his lover, he attempted once again to stand, only to slump back onto the deck when a wave of dizziness swept through him. He cried out in frustration. He had to help Heero! He turned his head away, cursing his traitorous, weak body.

Something glittering in the light of the moon caught his eye. He turned his head and gasped when he saw Heero's gun lying just a few feet from where he lay. Glancing back at the two men, he saw Zechs punch Heero in the stomach, momentarily knocking the wind out of the Japanese detective. He turned back to the gun and knew what he had to do.

Gritting his teeth, he slowly began to pull himself by his arms towards the fallen weapon. It was slow going. He hurt everywhere, and his vision kept blurring in and out. But he had to make it... had to reach the gun...

His hand closed over the cool metal just as he heard the thud of a body hitting the wood floor. His heart froze as he saw Heero lying on the deck, curled into a ball around his stomach.

From that moment, the world seemed to go into slow motion. He saw Zechs throw open the lid of a nearby live-well and pull out a small, nasty looking harpoon gun. Snarling, the blonde pulled back the safety and aimed it at the prone body of his lover. The last clear thought Duo had was that he thought Zechs looked like some kind of ancient god, poised naked in the moonlight, holding a spear as though to slay some monstrous, mythical beast.

But the beast he was about to slay was Heero. His Heero. Duo didn't stop to think. He just reacted. He lifted the gun, took aim with shaking hands, and fired.

~*~

Heero blinked in disbelief as Zechs fell to the floor. He had looked up in time to see the wicked looking harpoon aimed for the spot between his eyes. He knew he didn't have time to react. His only regret had been that he'd failed Duo. He braced himself for the end...

then a loud *bang* deafened him and sent Zechs crashing to the deck, screaming and clutching his leg.

Heero reacted instantly, leaping off the ground, ignoring his bruised ribs, and striding swiftly to where Zechs lay in a pool of blood. He kicked the harpoon gun away and swiftly handcuffed the nude blonde to the deck railing. He gave in to his urges and kicked the man in the ribs, smirking with satisfaction as he heard the crunch of bone snapping under his foot. He leaned down and placed his face next to Zechs's pain-filled one. Taking hold of a handful of blonde hair, he jerked Zechs's head back so the man was forced to look into his cold, burning eyes.

"You will never touch him again!" he hissed before shoving the man's head away, disgusted. He picked himself off the deck and hurried over to his fallen lover.

Duo was staring at the gun in his hands, eyes glazed over in shock. Heero knelt down next to his little lover and gently pried the weapon out of his hands, securing it in his holster as one arm snaked across Duo's shoulders.

"Duo... are you all right?" he asked with a trembling voice. 'Baka! Of course he's not all right! You saw what that... bastard... was doing to him. Oh God...'

"Duo?" he repeated, fear creeping through his belly as his little lover turned dead eyes towards him.

"H...Heero?" He looked around as though confused about his surroundings. "Is it... is it over?"

"Aa." As carefully as he could manage, he stood, helping Duo to stand as well. He set the young man on his feet then cursed as Duo pitched forward. "Duo?!"

"Dun feel s'good, H'ro," the long-haired teen slurred.

Heero reached up and forced one of Duo's eyes open wide, swearing loudly as he saw the telltale signs of drug interaction. "Duo, what happened? What did he do to you?" he asked, voice shaking with fear. He wished he'd killed Zechs when he had the chance.

"Z'chs... put summin' in my drink... hit my head... H'ro... I can't feel my body..." His words trailed off as he slumped forward, unconscious.

"Duo? Duo!" Heero shook the younger man slightly but received no response. He turned his attention to where Zechs lay half-propped against the deck railing. "Kisama! What did you give him?"

Zechs stared at him coldly but did not answer.

Heero growled, drew his gun with his free hand, and aimed at Zechs's groin. "Tell me now or I turn you into a woman."

The blonde man had the presence of mind to look startled for a moment before rattling off the name of one of the more potent date-rape drugs.

"And you mixed that with alcohol?? Shit!" He holstered his gun and swept Duo into his arms. He looked around, panicked, never feeling more helpless in his life than he did right then. A small sliver of relief cut through him as he saw a line of Coast Guard and Port Authority patrol vessels heading their way. With any luck, they'd have a paramedic with them. He hoped so. He and Duo could use a little miracle about now.

Clutching the limp form of his lover tightly to him, he said another little prayer. 'Please hang on just a little longer, love. Just a little longer and I'll never let you go again.'

[part 12] [back] [epilogue] [back to Caroline's fic]