Author: Elyndys
Pairing: 1+2+1/1x2x1; reference to past 1xR, R+1.
Disclaimer: If I owned GW, I would be happy. I am happy. But to draw the conclusion that I own GW from those statements would be to affirm the consequent, and would therefore be an invalid argument. See?
Warnings: Part 26 has no warnings. For all other warnings see individual parts. This is an AU fic.

Escaping + Part 26

By the time Heero reached the hospital, the young man had already been seen by the doctor -- Preventer presence always ensured speedy hospital treatment. A nurse was quietly finishing the bandages around the young man's right arm when Heero stepped into the cubicle where he was being treated; she looked up and began to ask him to leave, but a quick flash of his police ID sent her back to her work.

Wufei was sitting beside the bed, but got up when he saw Heero. "The doctor said there's not major damage -- nothing that won't heal pretty quickly. Not much more than a graze."

Heero was looking at the prone form in the bed; the paleness of the face, the half-closed eyes, made Wufei's statement seem somewhat optimistic.

Wufei followed his gaze. "They gave him some pretty strong painkillers. He won't come round for a while." He paused while the nurse packed up her things and left the cubicle. "As soon as he does, though, we're free to take him in."

Heero nodded. "Do you think it'd be any use me coming? Would *you* respond favourably to being questioned by the guy who shot you?"

Wufei smiled lop-sidedly. "Can't do any harm. After all, you saved his life."

Heero grimaced slightly "I could've killed him."

Wufei shook his head. "You're more skilled than that, Heero. That was commendable work you did today. If Une and the rest of Preventer command had been there, they'd be begging you to come back."

Heero smiled a little. "You never know."

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "You're thinking about it?"

"Yeah. Once this case is sorted."

"I'll be the first to put in a word for you. What changed your mind?"

Heero paused a moment. "...I guess the reasons why I left in the first place... I just don't believe in them anymore." It was the truth; Heero doubted he had ever believed in them. He decided he would wait to tell Wufei the catalyst for the realisation, though, for now.

Wufei smiled. "I look forward to working with you again."

"You already are," Heero said dryly. "And enjoy it while it lasts -- I'm thinking of heading back up to space."

"You've given this a lot of thought. Have you told your bosses yet?"

The mention of his superiors suddenly reminded Heero that he'd left the police station with no notice. "Shit! The DCI will be climbing the walls!"

"What?"

"I've been gone for two hours! I didn't even say I was leaving. And I've had my phone switched off as well." Despite himself, he couldn't help the tiny smirk that crossed his face as he thought of the DCI's reaction.

He noticed Wufei wore a similar expression. "So you don't want to come with me to question this guy?"

Heero hesitated only for a moment. "I'll go call the station."

He headed out to the forecourt outside the door of the emergency department of the hospital, finding a spot away from the others who were making calls, or nervously pacing with cigarettes in hands. He noted without surprise the three voicemail messages he had, and took a minute to listen to the first few seconds of them all. They were all from the DCI, and the gist of them all was the same.

Heero rang the direct line to DCI Meadows' office. He was glad he wasn't using a vidlink when Meadows picked up.

"Yuy?"

"Sir."

"This had better be good."

Heero didn't let the menacing tone deter him. "I got a call from Preventers. They were involved in a situation they thought might be connected with a case of mine. I decided to find out for myself. As it turned out, there was a connection."

"Which case was this?" There was still a note of heavy suspicion in Meadows' voice.

"...The summit investigation," Heero was forced to admit.

There was silence for a few moments on the other end of the line. "I'll see you in fifteen minutes. Wherever you are, get here *now*." The line went dead.

Heero gritted his teeth. He couldn't ignore this one. Quickly he made his way back to the cubicle. When he opened the curtain he found the prisoner beginning to stir.

Wufei looked up from watching him when he heard Heero enter. "He's just coming round. The doctor said he'll be fit to go in about fifteen minutes."

Heero shrugged helplessly. "I have to leave."

Wufei nodded. "I see. I'll keep you updated."

"I look forward to it." Heero turned to leave.

"Good luck."

Heero hoped he wouldn't need it.

~*~

"OK. Against my better judgement, I'm going to give you a chance to explain, Yuy. Make the most of it."

Heero looked his superior in the eye. "I received a phone call from Preventer Chang at around 11am reporting a disturbance at the war exhibition. He had reason to believe there was some connection with my investigation. I set off immediately and arrived approximately ten minutes later. Preventer Chang informed me that a young man was --"

Meadows cut him off. "Yes, I know the mechanics. We've been receiving reports, calls, messages all about it. I might have known you'd get involved!"

Heero felt, if not proud, at least consoled. Yes, he *was* involved -- he hadn't left it up to someone else; he'd done what he could.

The feeling soon evaporated, though, at the DCI's next words.

"Where were you when this young man got shot, then?"

Heero only just managed to match the gaze of his superior as he replied. "...I was holding the gun, sir."

Meadows sank down into a chair, shaking his head. "I hoped against hope it wasn't true, but I knew it." He clenched a fist on the table. "How many times, Yuy?! You are *not* a Preventer anymore! It was *their* problem, you should have let *them* sort it out! Now you've dragged us all into this mess! You *know* what can happen when the police get involved in shoot-outs! You know how tight the laws are on gun control since the war! At absolute best, we could get a huge fine. And it'll be me, *me* who faces disciplinary charges! Are you *utterly* without a sense of responsibility, Yuy?!"

It was taking all of Heero's willpower to remain calm. "He was threatening to kill himself, sir. Preventers will testify that he intended to become a martyr for the sake of the colonies. I happened to react fastest to prevent that. His injuries were minor; Preventers have now taken him into custody." Heero paused a second; he noticed that the DCI appeared a fraction calmer. "As to punishment, sir... It will be a matter for the state to decide, but I will admit full culpability. I don't need to remind you that the minister with ultimate responsibility for matters like this is my wife."

"What are you suggesting?"

Heero looked away for the first time. "Only that I know better than anyone what her feelings are about incidents like this. I know she will act... appropriately."

Meadows gave him a long, hard stare. "I'll say this for you, Yuy. You're not a liar. And it's for that reason only that you're walking out of here with the same rank as when you came in. Get out of here. We'll talk later."

He waved his hand dismissively, and Heero left.

Back in his office, the first thing he did was call Wufei.

"What did Meadows say?"

Heero snorted. "You need to ask? Suffice it to say, I won't be helping you help our man with your enquiries."

Wufei chuckled. "Don't worry. He's not fit to be interviewed yet anyway. I'll keep you fully informed, and if you have any ideas or points you want raised -- you only have to say the word."

"I'll let you know. I think I'll have a few things to say."

"I'd appreciate any help you can give us."

"I'll talk to you soon. Good luck."

Heero drifted through the rest of the day, keeping his head down in paperwork and occasional browsing of information sent through to him. Steady progress. He set aside some time to pass all his information on to Wufei; attached some points and lines of enquiry he thought would be fruitful. Still, he knew it wouldn't be enough; no matter how much he tried, he knew he couldn't stay away. He'd find some way of being there.

But for now it was best, he reckoned, to show willing. And it was for that reason that he lingered into the evening, before slowly, thoughtfully, making his way down the stairs, out to the car... and home.

~*~

Heero could hear the sound of the television as he took off his coat in the hall. His heart sank as he realised it was the news -- inevitably, the events of the day would feature heavily.

By the time he got to the doorway of the lounge, Relena was already there, blocking his path. "I think we need to talk, Heero." She turned, and he followed her to the lounge, where she locked the door after them.

She stood, back to Heero, watching the TV reports for a few more minutes, before switching off the sound.

Now she turned to face him. "I've been getting phone calls all day telling me you were involved in this incident today Heero. Is it true?"

She had such sorrow in her face that Heero, even if he had wanted to, couldn't have tried to avoid the truth.

"Yes."

"Oh, Heero. Why must you do things like this? You promised me! Every time, you promise me. That was why you left Preventers. Now you're in the police, you're meant to stop this kind of thing happening!" Tears were welling up.

Heero was rooted to the spot, letting it wash over him. He thought of protesting, telling Relena the exact circumstances under which he acted; saying he was only acting for the good of relations between Earth and the Colonies! But he knew by now it was best to allow Relena to let out her frustration on him. So much the better for her work, her reputation, if she remained calm, serene, collected in public.

"It's never going to work, is it, Heero? People just can't see what's best. What's right."

Heero had to admire her determination.

"All I want is for people to live peaceful lives! Is that so much to ask?!"

Here it was. And all Heero could do was stand, silent, and realise how clear it all seemed to her, and how frustrating it was that no-one else could see it. How much passion she had, how much faith; and how much she still, desperately, hopelessly, needed him.

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