The plot thickens...

After Image + Part 2

Heero pushed open the glass door and held it until Trowa walked in behind him. Both men had grim looks on their faces as they walked to their desks.

"Think Khushrenada heard the news report on the radio?" Trowa asked, taking off his jacket and tossing it on his desk.

The door to the captain's office slammed open and the tall head of the homicide unit stepped out.

"Barton! Yuy! In my office. Now!"

Heero looked at Trowa. "Guess that answers your question," he said dryly.

The two police detectives hurried into the captain's inner sanctum. Treize swung the door shut behind them, the glass reverberating in its wooden frame so hard, Heero thought it might break. The captain stalked around his desk and slammed his fist onto the top of the desk.

"I want one of you to explain how the hell I happened to hear on the radio that the police - my police - have given up hope of finding Relena Peacecraft alive and are looking for her body which may have been dumped by a serial killer currently wandering free in our city?"

Heero blinked as Treize finished his tirade. He'd seen his captain mad before but never quite like this. Treize was absolutely livid. He glanced at his partner and shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

"We have no idea how the press got wind of it, sir," Trowa said.

Treize waved his hand impatiently. "There's been a leak inside the department for months. I can guess that's how they got the story. What I want to know is why have they associated Miss Peacecraft's disappearance with these 'teardrop' killings. Have either one of you had any leads that you have not shared with me?"

Heero shook his head. "There has been no evidence at all that Relena was targeted by that bastard."

"Then how did the press make the connection?"

Heero saw Trowa glance at him out of the corner of his eye. "We... circulated Miss Peacecraft's picture among the beat cops in the areas where all of the murder victims have been found. We thought that if she had been a victim, the beat cops might be able to identify her faster."

"So you just assume she's dead?" Treize asked. Heero watched in fascination as a vein throbbed on the captain's forehead.

"With all due respect sir," the cobalt-eyed detective began hesitantly, "we are homicide cops. We deal with dead people, not missing persons. Why assign us to the case if you thought there might be a chance of the girl still being alive?"

Treize sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. "I'm doing this as a favor. As you know, my father and Senator Peacecraft are close friends. When Relena went missing, her grandfather filed a missing persons report. But without a ransom demand or any signs of struggle or foul play, there's not much they can do."

"So you assigned us to the case," Trowa finished for him. "Damn it, sir. We've got a serial killer using the streets as his own personal hunting ground, and you've got us looking for a missing girl who may or may not have met with foul play?"

"Chang and his team have the Teardrop killings covered. You two were available, plus you are two of the best detectives in this department. If anyone can find this girl, it's you two."

"We've not had much luck do far, Captain," Heero stated almost bitterly.

"Well at least you haven't found a body," Treize replied, standing up. "From now on, until you have evidence of the contrary, don't assume she's dead. You're looking for a live, healthy young woman. Don't give the press anymore ammunition. Understood?" Heero and Trowa both nodded. "Good. Dismissed."

The two detectives walked out, both very relieved they'd made it out of Treize's office alive and in one piece.

"Well," the green-eyed cop commented idly, "that could have been a lot worse."

"Hn," Heero agreed, looking around and noticing how empty their departments appeared all of a sudden. "Think we scared everyone off?"

A movement off to his right caught his attention. He looked over to see a tall blonde man standing near Wufei's desk, looking down at something. Heero's eyes narrowed. He knew the man - Zechs Merquise, a cop working narcotics. He'd only met the long-haired man a handful of times - Merquise had only been with the precinct a little over a year - but each time had left an unpleasant taste in his mouth. Zechs wasn't a bad guy - on the contrary, he'd heard nothing but good things about the man. But there was something about him that made Heero feel uncomfortable.

Trowa too noticed the man on the other side of the room. He crossed the room, weaving around desks and chairs, Heero following close behind.

"Yo, Zechs. What're you doing here? Slumming again?"

The blonde snorted. "Hardly. As if I'd be caught... well, dead, working in homicide."

"Then why are you here?" Heero asked, glaring at the man.

"Chang requested some information on an old drug bust. I'm just here to deliver it," Zechs replied, gesturing to a file folder on Wufei's desk. He turned to look at a large map of the city that was hanging on the wall. Wufei had placed pins at each location where the victims had been found. Zechs let out a low whistle. "How many does that make so far? Eleven?"

"Twelve," Trowa answered, frowning. "And we really can't divulge any more than that. You know there's a leak in the department."

Zechs threw up his hands. "I know. I won't pry anymore. I've done what I came to do. I'll be leaving now. Have a good day, gentlemen."

Heero tried to suppress his scowl as the tall cop walked away. Zechs just rubbed him the wrong way and he didn't know why.

Trowa stared at the map. "Jesus. How could we have twelve murders and no suspect?" he mused aloud.

"I just hope Relena's not number thirteen. She fits the profile - young, beautiful, long hair, lives alone..."

"But she has a family. This madman doesn't take people with families."

"Maybe he didn't know. Maybe he slipped up."

"Or maybe he had nothing to do with it," Trowa replied. "This case is baffling. It's like she vanished into thin air."

"I know," Heero said. "What we need is a lead, a break in the case."

+

Duo stood on the sidewalk outside the precinct, taking deep breaths in an effort to calm himself. He was nervous. He didn't want to go in. He knew no one would believe his story... hell he barely believed it.

He'd had visions all his life, or so he'd been told. He was usually unaware of having them, always being told afterward of his strange behavior. He'd long ago given up trying to explain his visions. He had always considered them little nuisances - something to laugh at amongst friends or ignore altogether. But this time - this time it was different.

He couldn't explain it, couldn't understand why this vision was so strong, stronger than any other he'd ever had. Quatre had asked him to explain it, but he couldn't. He didn't know why that when he'd heard the radio report about the missing girl, he had known exactly where she was. He knew she was dead, and he knew the police would never find her. The intensity of the vision had frightened him. He'd tried to ignore it, but the image of the girl was so strong, he couldn't get it out of his mind.

He hoped by reporting what he had seen to the police, the visions would leave him alone. He'd thought about calling and leaving an anonymous tip, but that wouldn't help. He knew where the girl was, but he didn't know the name of the place or even how to get there. Maybe by talking to the cops in person, they could help him figure out where.

Taking one last deep breath, he walked up the steps of the precinct and pulled open the door. Shyly he asked the sergeant at the desk just beyond the door who to see about he Peacecraft case. The man looked him over thoroughly before answering.

"Upstairs, first doorway on your left, homicide division. Ask for Heero Yuy."

'Homicide? That's unusual,' Duo thought, but thanked the man and turned toward the stairs.

The precinct was bustling with activity. Duo felt intimidated by everything. He hadn't seen so many cops since his parents... He shook his head. He didn't want to think about that now. He hurried up the stairs, avoiding eye contact with everyone. He kept his eyes glued to the floor. To his relief, he found the homicide department with ease. He was reaching out to grab the door handle, when the door suddenly swung open, hitting him on the shoulder and causing him to fall on his ass.

The fall knocked the wind out of him for a moment. Then a hand reached down from above in assistance. Duo took it gratefully, gasping in surprise as he was easily hauled to his feet.

"I'm so sorry," a deep, masculine voice said from above. "I should have been watching where I was going. Are you all right?"

Duo nodded, about to speak, when he looked up and met the most captivating pair of ice blue eyes he had ever seen. Gradually the rest of the man's face came into focus, causing Duo's heart to skip a beat. The man was beautiful - startling blue eyes, aristocratic features, a cascade of silver-white hair falling down his back. Duo was instantly In Lust.

"Are you all right?" the man asked again, breaking Duo out of his reverie.

"Uh, yeah. I'm fine," the braided teen stammered, trying to control his libido.

The man gave him a dazzling smile. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Uh, I'm looking for Heero Yuy."

"You've come to the right place, Mr..."

"Duo Maxwell."

"What an intriguing name," the tall officer half-murmured, still holding Duo's hand. "My name is Zechs Merquise. Again, I'm terribly sorry for running into you like that. Are you sure you're going to be all right?"

Duo nodded, then kicked himself mentally. 'Say something, stupid!'

"If you're looking for Detective Yuy, he's in there," Zechs continued, gesturing at the door behind him. He let go of Duo's hand and stepped aside. "It was a pleasure to meet you Mr. Maxwell. Maybe we'll bump into each other again someday, although hopefully not as hard."

Duo smiled, still tongue-tied. "Nice to... to meet you, officer," he stammered. Zechs gave him another smile before turning and walking away. Duo suppressed a groan as he watched, berating himself for not saying anything more.

'Figures. The most gorgeous man I've met in my life and I can barely put together a coherent sentence,' he thought bitterly as he puled open the door.

A petite little woman was sitting behind a desk just inside the door. Duo asked her where to find Heero Yuy, and the woman gestured towards two men at the far side of the room. Thanking her, Duo hurried over, groaning in frustration as he caught sight of the two detectives near the wall.

'Jesus. I should have joined the fucking police force. They're all so goddamned beautiful,' he thought as he looked at them. The taller one looked vaguely European. He had short hair except for one long strand that hung over one eye. One glorious green eye. He was very attractive, but the shorter one was even more beautiful. He was obviously of Asian decent - Japanese perhaps. But he had a mop of unruly dark brown hair and the most amazing cobalt blue eyes. 'The eyes'll do it to me every time. Oh please let that one be Heero Yuy.'

He hesitated about four feet from the two men and took a deep breath. This was it. There was no turning back now. He opened his mouth.

"Excuse me. Detective Yuy?"

The Asian man turned to look at him, eyes widening slightly. "Yes?"

"M...my name is Duo Maxwell. I think I may have some information on Relena Peacecraft."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "Oh? What kind of information."

"I think... I think I may know where she is."

[part 1] [part 3] [back to Caroline's fic]