by: Caroline

After Image + Part 4

"You know, you're going to wear a hole in the floor if you keep pacing like that," Trowa remarked as he watched his partner walk back and forth.

Heero ignored him, glancing up at the door every few moments, waiting for Wufei to return.

"Heero? Are you even listening to me?"

"I know that kid's innocent, Trowa."

"It's not our problem, Heero. It's not our case. Let Chang handle it." He glanced at the clock. "It's after seven. You're off-duty. Why don't you go home and get some rest?"

"No. You go on home, Trowa. I want to talk to Wufei. I'll just wait until he gets back."

"Suit yourself," Trowa replied, grabbing his jacket. "I'll see you tomorrow, partner."

Heero nodded absently as he looked up at the door again. This time he caught sight of a familiar figure pushing through the glass door. Heero clenched his jaw in determination and hurried over.

"Chang! I need to talk to you."

Wufei looked up as Heero approached. "What do you want, Yuy?"

"You know perfectly well what I want. What the hell do you think you're doing? You can't legally arrest that kid. You don't have any physical evidence. Was his lawyer even present?"

Wufei held up his hands. "I know that and you know that, but I'm betting that kid doesn't."

Heero blinked, suddenly catching on to Wufei's game. "You haven't formally charged him with anything. Handcuffing him, reading him his rights, taking him down to lock-up - that was all for show, wasn't it? You're hoping to scare him into talking."

"If he's not the killer, then he knows something about who is," Wufei explained. "Legally we can hold him for twenty-four hours before we either charge him or let him go. Maybe a night in jail will loosen his tongue."

"So you have twenty-four hours to either get some physical evidence or make him talk," Heero said. "Let me help. Let me prove that kid is innocent."

"Now Yuy, this is my case..."

"Sir!"

The Chinese detective was interrupted by a member of his own investigative team, standing near a desk, phone in hand.

"What is it, Anderson?"

"They've found another body."

Wufei cursed under his breath. "Where?"

"In an abandoned warehouse down by the waterfront."

Heero grabbed Wufei's arm. "You and your team will need to go down that to investigate the crime scene. I don't have anything pending. Let me check out the kid's alibis for the time of the murders."

Wufei looked at him for along moment before nodding reluctantly. He shuffled through some papers on his desk, handing one to Heero. "Those are the approximate dates and times of death for the thirteen known victims. Check out his alibi. Let me know what you find out."

Heero nodded. "Thanks Wufei."

"Don't screw this up, Yuy!" Wufei warned as he turned to follow the rest of his team out the door.

Heero grabbed the paper and his jacket quickly. He had twenty-four hours to gather information. But he wanted to get a move on. He wanted to prove Duo's innocence as quickly as possible. He didn't want the boy to spend one moment in jail longer than necessary.

+

Duo lay curled up in a tight little ball on the small cot in the cell. He'd gone numb the moment he'd been pushed into the little room and the door had locked behind him. Images of him standing trial for the murders he did not commit filled his mind. He saw friends turn their backs on him, believing he was guilty. He saw Heero Yuy looking at him in disgust.

'Then they'll probably burn me at the stake for having these stupid visions like they did in the old days,' he thought, curling up tighter. 'Why didn't I listen to Quatre and stay out of this mess?'

"Maxwell! You have a visitor," came the voice of one of the guards on duty. Duo looked up with mournful eyes, surprised to see Heero Yuy standing on the other side of the bars. He quickly unfurled himself off the cot and hurried over.

"Detective Yuy! Please, you have to believe me. I didn't kill that poor girl or anyone else," he pleaded, clutching tightly at the bars.

Heero's eyes softened slightly. "I don't think you did, kid." He looked around to see if any of the guards were around. "Look, I shouldn't be telling you this, but they don't have anything to hold you on."

"Then why am I here?"

"Legally, they can hold you for twenty-four hours before either charging you or letting you go. But I'd rather have you home by breakfast." He held up a piece of paper. "These are the dates and times the victims were killed. I want you to try and remember where you were and what you were doing during these times, okay?"

Duo nodded. "I'll try."

"All right. Do you remember where you were between the hours of one and three A.M., Thursday, July 5th?"

The braided boy frowned and shook his head. "That was over two months ago. I was probably at home, sleeping."

"Can anyone collaborate that?"

"No. I'd broken up with my boyfriend several weeks before that."

Heero looked up, startled. "Boyfriend?"

Duo stared up at him defiantly. "Yeah. I'm gay. Have a problem with that?"

"N...no. It's just... no. I don't have a problem with it," the dark-haired detective replied. He stared at Duo a moment longer before looking back at his list.

"What about the early morning hours of Sunday, July 15th?"

"Ah. That's easy. I was at the Maxwell Street Orphanage."

"Are you sure?"

"Yup. I volunteer there on weekends. I help make dinners and play with the kids on Saturday evenings, then sleep in one of the spare beds in order to get up early to help with making breakfast."

"How early?"

"Four A.M. I get breakfast ready early so I can run across the street to the church to help prepare for Sunday Mass."

"You have witnesses?"

"Oh yes. Sister Helen helps me with the breakfasts, and Father Maxwell is with me in the church."

"And you are sure you were there on that Sunday?"

"I'm there every Sunday. I haven't missed one yet."

Heero looked at his list, hope blossoming in his chest. Nearly half of the murders had taken place during the late Saturday night, early Sunday morning hours, including Relena Peacecraft's. If Duo could account for his whereabouts for those times, there was no way he could be the serial killer they were looking for. If his alibi checked out, Duo would have to be let go. Heero quickly went through the remaining dates, and although Duo could only remember where he was for two of them, Heero felt sure he had enough information to prove the boy wasn't guilty.

"Thanks, Duo. I think I have all the information I need," he said, closing his notebook and slipping it into his jacket pocket.

"How long do you think it'll take to check those out?" Duo asked.

"Not long, I hope. Look, why don't you lie down and get some rest? I'll be back as soon as I can."

He turned to leave but Duo called out to him. "Detective Yuy?"

"Yes?" he asked, turning back to the beautiful boy looking up at him with those mesmerizing violet eyes.

The young man blushed and looked down at the ground. "I...I just wanted to say thank you... for believing in me."

Heero reached through the bars and boldly cupped Duo's cheek. "It'll be all right. Trust me."

Duo reached up to touch Heero's hand. "I do trust you."

They stood like that for a long moment, simply staring into one another's eyes. Duo could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He could feel a connection to this man that he'd never felt with anyone before. He knew that he could trust Heero explicitly. Though whether it was his gift or just gut instinct that told him so, he didn't know.

Heero withdrew his hand and gave Duo a small smile. "Don't worry. Get some rest," he said again, then turned away.

"I'll try," Duo whispered softly. He watched Heero walk down the corridor until the dark-haired detective disappeared from view. Slowly he moved back to the cot and lay down. He lay awake for a long time, thinking about his situation and remembering the touch of Heero's hand on his face.

[part 3] [part 5] [back to Caroline's fic]