Author: Maldoror
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and characters belong to Bandai, Sunset et all. If they belonged to me, they'd probably kill me for this one.

Dedication: To Dacia, for her wonderful site's anniversary, Little Piece of Gundam Wing (it's late, but the promise to write the fic was sort of the present). This is, ah, a bit darker than she anticipated when she gave me a loose description of what she wanted. I'll try to kick something a bit more positive out of my bunnies asap!

Huge thanks to Tsuki who braved the weirdness and depths of my imagination to beta this, erm, fic. I'm glad you liked it, Tsuki! (I'm not sure other readers will but oh boy did I have fun writing this!!)

PLEASE READ THIS WARNING!!
This is me, playing around with my weirder bunnies. Please do NOT take this too seriously, do not read if you are at all attached to the clean-and-squeaky image of the boys, do not go any further if you're the kind of sensitive reader who needs proper warnings to decide what they want to read, because odds are, you shouldn't be reading this. The only thing I can promise is that there is no NCS, mainly because I think it's a rather over-used trauma generator, and besides, I didn't want angst.

Darkside Tales + Part 2

The kid barreled right into him. Wufei had seen him coming, and caught him by the shoulder instinctively.

"Oh, sorry, mist-" the end of the apology ended in an undignified squeak as the child looked up.

"Douglas! I told you not to run! Oh, I'm so sorry, Officer. Douglas," the mother added in a hiss. "Stop staring."

Douglas' mouth was open and he was turning an interesting shade of white. His mother looked from him to Wufei, puzzled. She only saw the Preventer uniform and badge and professional air of the young dark Asian man before her.

Her boy, being a child of approximately six years of age, Wufei judged, had not yet evolved the automatic screening process most humans put in place to interpret the world for them. Douglas was seeing what was really in front of his eyes.

Wufei smiled. It was an automatic reaction, hotwired into the human mind, even his; a gesture to reassure. Wufei was a bit distracted by his current case and had not thought to restrain the gesture.

Douglas looked like he was about to faint, so Wufei put the smile away again.

"Be careful, Douglas," he murmured, probably scarring the kid for life, but he had to say something for the mother's benefit.

Douglas hiccupped, spun and buried himself in his mother's skirt.

Wufei nodded at the mother's twittered apology and walked off again. Normally he cleared his mind of all thoughts while he was outside like this. His mental discipline had lapsed. This case was draining...and it had been nearly a week since he'd been home, too. He'd been dozing at the office, and then two days in Saltzburg on that unimportant investigation for the Preventers - and a little stop for information overnight, dictated by duty. Yes, he needed to go home and rest; regain some control. Then he'd be better apt at thinking about his latest task. And he would stop frightening young children and animals with the thoughts on his face.

The small bungalow, a modern building not far off the old centre of town, came into view. Wufei pushed the iron gate closed behind him with some relief, shutting away the crowded streets. Why were there so many people? Oh yes, it was Saturday, wasn't it...

The front door opened, with the gentle beep that indicated that his security net over the house had not been disturbed. He walked through the rooms that had been furnished piecemeal out of a catalogue and arranged according to their pictures. The few guests he'd had had complimented him on his taste. Wufei ignored the surroundings; they fitted him, in the same way his Preventer jacket fitted him, and they had the same purpose. He went into what he guessed would be the study if he actually lived here, and checked the security and monitors thoroughly. Nobody had disturbed anything. With a sigh of relief, he headed towards the basement. Soon, he'd be home.

The passageway was hidden by a careful contraption of boxes piled high, seemingly precarious, but they were carefully nailed together and could be shoved aside if you knew exactly where to push to put the counterbalance into operation. He went through the revealed hole, after checking the security net again automatically. His laptop dug into his sides as he squirmed through the narrow portion. Then his steps echoed along brickwork as he headed down to the old catacombs.

Home.

He relaxed as the reinforced steel door hissed shut behind him and the ‘secured' light went to green. He shed his uniform as he headed towards the bathroom. The furniture in here was spare but rich, oriental in style, a reflection of his fastidious taste, dark wood and steel, with few colors. The gun cabinet, the instrument room, the study with its research area and its list of names, were also reflections of himself, and the reason he needed to keep his home secure. Besides he didn't want other people here. Solitude and self-reliance were childhood reflexes.

Water splashed into the big tub. Wufei stretched, his muscles playing. He caught sight of himself in the mirror.

Huh. No wonder Douglas had been about to puke his little guts out. Most civilians reacted that way when they saw a dangerous weapon, unsheathed.

Good.

He relaxed slightly as he slipped into the water. It felt good to be home. But the case he was working on was arduous. He was still tense. He stared at the dark Scandinavian blue tiles of the elegant bathroom. The water was hot, he could tell by the way it was steaming and his skin was pinking. He swished it around with his hand, rubbing it over his shoulders until he started to feel a little warm.

"The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small," he whispered. He would get the rich bastard eventually. It was only a matter of time. As long as he didn't drive himself into the ground.

The saying was from another time, another culture than his, but he liked it. The mills of God...

Dammit he just couldn't relax.

Wufei started to frown.

He stood up, toweled himself off summarily, and slipped on the silk robe he kept in the bathroom. But he didn't head towards his meditation chair, or his comfortable bed, or towards the bookcase. He went into the study and called up the surveillance images from the house above. A quick check confirmed that no one had been into the house above his home. The security wasn't the best; it wouldn't keep a determined searcher out. Some had broken into the apparently inhabited house at times, and he'd identified them in the pictures, and hunted them down, and had them explain their interest - old OZ personnel, looking for revenge. A few criminals wanting to get a Preventer. Pretty much what he'd expected.

Wufei frowned and turned to the pictures that the camera at the door had taken of the street outside. He hit the fast-forward, three times the speed, and watched men and women bounce across the screen, noting stances, faces, any pauses. He sometimes did this, for safety reasons and because he liked it. He liked seeing the world and its people in shades of grey. He could fool himself into thinking that it was that easy. That the shades of grey he sought were visible on their faces instead of hidden by their deceiving colors.

When he was a child - but not like Douglas, he'd always been a drawn sword; brought up for a purpose, forged rather. But when he was a child, he thought the world was black and white.

That was incorrect. Everybody was grey. That was what the war had taught him. Some were simply more tainted than others. They could fool themselves about it, but it was there.

‘No one is innocent...'

The words came back to him again, in the cheeky drawl. That was true. He'd never met an entirely innocent person. Except for children, and the world rubbed off on them sooner than most adults ever realized. Everywhere he looked: shades of grey. Wufei used his self-discipline to ignore the smaller, petty faults that beset most of the populace, to concentrate on the far end of the spectrum. He already had too much to do, and he had to be careful. Who would do his duty if he ended up in jail? Not just anybody could do it. It was already taxing his considerable resources to the limit - bloody rich industrialist bastard, this one had hidden himself so well, he had so many layers of security, Wufei couldn't even get confirmation that the creature was as guilty as he suspected he was. And once he found that confirmation, not many other people would be able to get near enough to the criminal to question him. No, Wufei knew that he was the only one who could do the job, and that meant he had to be careful going about it. To borrow and slightly mangle someone else's phrase, Wufei was not entirely sane by the standards of the grey world outside - and quite aware of it, thank you - but he wasn't crazy.

...he was thinking way too much about Duo these days...

It had been stupid to leave the man alive. Taking a life needlessly was something Wufei did with great reluctance and after much consideration. That was something else the war had taught him. He no longer slaughtered mercilessly a bunch of idiots because they had bought wholesale someone else's grand ideal. No, each person was his own sovereign, the master of his own important choices, the one responsible for the shades of grey within their soul, and had to be treated as such. But Wufei wasn't sure Duo actually had a soul. The look in his eyes when he'd said-...Wufei should have killed him.

But he couldn't.

Because Duo might one day come to regret his actions, get over his madness. Or at least, that's why Wufei wanted to believe he'd spared-

Duo?!

Wufei scrolled back in the surveillance film frantically. He was watching the footage of five days ago. His sharp eyes had caught the black-clad figure hastily hunching away from the camera's glass eye, tugging the cap firmly over his head, body language nonchalant but Wufei knew him-

The lights went out.

Wufei's hand was in the desk's drawer in a split second. His fingers touched wood instead of the cold metal of his gun.

Duo's MO came back to him, and he went over it calmly. Only attacks high security setups - simply because he liked the challenge, apparently. Before attacking, he went through the place carefully, looking for mementos, and disarming the victim.

Wufei did realize he was the victim in this case, but the knowledge was like his uniform, his case reports, his unblemished record. They belonged to the Chang Wufei who was a good agent of the Preventers, a tax-paying home-owner, a model citizen. The one Douglas' mother had seen. That one lived in the house upstairs, and stayed there.

Down here, Wufei was something else entirely.

Duo had just spared him the trouble of hunting him down to get rid of him like he should have done in the first place.

He stood silently. His home was a hermetically sealed box of steel and concrete, built into the old catacombs beneath the city. No light would penetrate here. The darkness was absolute. But it was his home, and he knew it better. There were a few bolt-holes carefully hidden that only he knew about, but he had no intention of running.

Wufei walked confidently out of the study, heading towards the sword rack. His dao had been in its usual place earlier. The sword would be just as good as a gun. He moved slowly, every sense a lethal trap. Maxwell killed with a knife, a short, very sharp blade according to forensics, which meant he would get within arm's reach. His last mistake.

"You move like a panther..."

The words were a whisper behind him, some distance off. Wufei paused. The enemy was near the wall, not far from the corner. Remarkable; Wufei could sense no presence there at all. Maxwell was good. Could he turn and rush him, pin him in the corner?

"...I like the robe...a lot..."

Wufei was absolutely still. The voice had echoed a bit further away, from near the kitchen entrance, but Wufei had heard not the slightest hint of noise or movement. He's very good...the thought was strangely admiring, piercing the cold calm that held his soul safe when he was about to do his duty. Well, no one could deny Maxwell was the stealthiest among a very exclusive number of accomplished killers.

"It's so soft...I touched it while you were bathing..."

Wufei's eyes widened until sparks of red marred the darkness before them. What?! He's lying! No, he never lies. An anomaly in a psychopath, actually (Wufei had done a lot of research after coming back from that fruitless ‘Maxwell' mission a month ago). Normally, the clinical psychopaths such as Maxwell lied freely and with considerable pleasure. Because they felt absolutely no constraints from the normal mores of society, in fact they felt completely untouched by them. Duo must have decided to never lie for a private reason, one of his own, inviolable rules. Wufei clobbered a tendril of curiosity that was trying to take root in his mind.

Concentrate. He'd upgraded the amount of danger he was in - though he felt no fear, he hadn't felt fear in, well, he couldn't remember how long. But the chances of getting injured or killed were high, and he couldn't afford that. So he now had to address the Maxwell problem. He should have taken care of this before, but he didn't like to go against the imperative that animated him. I suppose I have my own rules, he mused, which I follow as rigorously as that maniac.

He hesitated, then turned towards the kitchen. He was starting to get into tune with Maxwell. He was starting to understand him. He thought that Duo had shown more of himself to Wufei than he had any to other person, well, anybody still alive, and Wufei had touched enough evil to know its patterns, and elaborate on them. So he knew, without needing to go and check, that while he was working in the study, Maxwell had gone and removed the sword from its elegant wooden stand. If he managed to kill Wufei, he'd probably keep it as a memento. Wufei hoped so, in the small private part of himself that the cold and solitude protected, like a freeze-dried, vacuum-packed flower. He would want the blade cherished even if he died.

The idea of resenting Maxwell as his potential killer crossed the part of his mind that wore the uniform and took care of the Preventer duties assigned to him, but it didn't go any further. You didn't resent death. If Duo was strong enough to take his life, it would be petty to resent him.

It was the duty that troubled him. Who would do his job?

The kitchen tiles were cool beneath his feet. He opened a drawer and pretended to scrounge around for a knife. He'd rather use his hands than something so crude, but he hoped to get a reaction-

An indrawn breath - near the kitchen entrance-

Wufei did not let him speak; he spun, wrenched open the fridge door and leapt-

The darkness refused to be broken. It made him stumble. Then he turned and glared towards the spot where the fridge was. He should have noticed it wasn't humming; Maxwell had caught him off-balance. He was having a hard time concentrating, and felt a cold fury at his own weakness, the little curiosity that was trying to distract him.

The laughter, near the other side of the living room, informed him that his attacker had realized he was off his game as well, and was enjoying being the cause.

Wufei gamely went back to the fridge, felt for the plug - the electrical cable was intact. That meant that Maxwell had cut the electricity in his whole house. Even though it was heavily protected by several layers of security.

Well done, Duo.

"You are easily the hardest I've come across, Wufei. It took me three days to get into this place and wire it to my convenience. I crack most banks in less than forty-eight hours."

Wire...?

"I have this nifty little remote control -"

Every light in the house flashed on, causing Wufei to flinch and blink- then darkness again.

"It's very much like the one that you used on your ship, but it's wired to your house. I have your inner space in my hand..."

Wufei stood in the centre of the living room, turning slowly. The voice was near the bedroom door.

"...that doesn't seem to bother you though. I thought, with all this effort at creating this neat secret base, you'd be a bit more miffed at its invasion." Duo's voice sounded disappointed.

Interesting. How did Duo know Wufei wasn't upset? He couldn't see Wufei...could he?

"No matter," Duo sighed. "I have other stuff to have fun with."

Voice in the bedroom, behind the partially closed door.

Wufei lunged, hammered the door open, threw himself towards where the voice had been - and flinched, gasping, as something caught his throat. It was gone almost immediately, a 'toing' signaling it had torn loose from where it had been tied on either side of the room. It fluttered against his chest and he caught it automatically. A ribbon. Silky smooth against his palm, incongruous. The message was clear. 'It coulda been piano wire, buddy'.

"Things like that..." the voice was near the kitchen again, and sounded highly amused. "I have a couple more goodies scattered around, so maybe you shouldn't move around too much. I don't want you injuring yourself. Yet."

Wufei dragged the ribbon through his fingers thoughtfully as he returned, still blind, towards the living room.

"What are you after, Duo?" he asked abruptly.

"After?" the voice was still near the kitchen, as if daring him to come after it. "What do you think, Wufei? I mean, you know I am the God of Death. What do you think I want/"

"What you are is a homicidal psychopath. That means your methods have their own inner logic that is probably beyond me. But they're quite rigorous. That means you do not want to just butcher me like you do your regular victims. I know your MO. You do not toy with them; they don't even see you coming. What do you want?"

There was a moment of silence, and then the voice sounded out near the bedroom again. "You're cute when you're thinking." The voice expressed an amused pout perfectly. "It's true; I'm not treating you like one of the little men, one of my regular clay pigeons. That doesn't mean I won't kill you, mind. You're real. That changes all the rules."

Real. Maxwell had used that term before. Apparently Wufei had qualified as someone on Duo's level in the psychopath's twisted view of the universe where other people didn't quite exist. Lucky me, Wufei thought sarcastically.

"Let's cut to the chase, Maxwell. And come in here, like a man," he added.

Silence for a few seconds.

"Come in here? What do you mean, Wufei?" the voice was at one side of the living room again.

Wufei strode away from it, towards the kitchen. He felt around until he touched the very expensive speakers he'd inserted into the wall at several spots in his home, so that he could listen to music in the living room, his study, the kitchen, in his bedroom...The spots from which Duo's voice had come. With one savage wrench he ripped out speaker and cables, breaking the circuit. A little squawk heralded the demise of the live system.

"It must have taken you awhile," Wufei murmured thoughtfully, dropping the speaker to bounce against the carpet with a muffled crunch. "Wiring the lights to one circuit breaker and the speakers to another. And you're watching me through my own security monitors, aren't you. They can pick up infrared and heat signatures." He didn't expect an answer, of course. He headed towards the hallway leading back to the house above. Duo would be gone by the time Wufei reached the monitors in the 'study' upstairs. He wondered why he was slightly relieved at the thought.

A whisper of movement-

Wufei turned instinctively, punching the air savagely. He brushed cloth with his knuckles - smell of oil and sharpened metal - something whistled as it passed near his head -

He stepped back, and his hair fell around his face. The sliced fastener made a tiny sound as it tumbled to the carpet beneath his bare feet.

"I bet you look much nicer with your hair down."

The lights came on, blinding- off again.

"Yup. I was right. Hmmm." It was practically a purr.

Wufei glared at the darkness where he'd seen, in a flash of light, the figure in a tight black suit. Tight black suit and night goggles. Probably able to pick up heat signature, since there was no light in his apartment to amplify. Unless Maxwell had an infrared torch...

"It would have been a good idea to monitor you from above. You're smart. I didn't think of that," Duo admitted with a chuckle.

The voice was moving fast now, continuously. Wufei couldn't hear footsteps though. He felt sure that if he lunged, he'd be rewarded with empty air and a sarcastic remark.

"But as it happens, Fei, I like to get close and personal."

There'd been the slightest shuffle. Duo had bumped against something...so he didn't have an infrared torch. He was tracking Wufei by heat signature, and he must have memorized the house layout.

"I did patch into your fantastic speaker system - beautiful job, man - and I was using a subvocal mic."

So Wufei couldn't hear his real voice, and had been chasing electronic echoes from the start. He wondered how Duo had managed to restrain his fits of laughter.

"And all this for what?" Wufei stood where he was, thinking. And he was also curious; an emotion he'd not felt for awhile. He tried to stamp it out but it just wouldn't die.

A feeling of motion-

Wufei moved, but it was too late. He lost the thin thread of presence, and was left only with the memory of the brush of a body against his shoulder and the heat of a kiss lingering on his cheek.

"I wanted to get to know you better..."

Duo's voice was lighter and slightly out of breath. Wufei rubbed the fading patch of heat on his skin, and moved towards his meditation corner.

"I spent a lot of time in your study. Did you really kill all those men? And women," Duo added in a voice of someone who'd heard about political correctness and thought this was probably the appropriate time to apply it.

"No." Wufei picked up the meditation chair with one hand and without changing his stance or making a sound. It was a carbon reproduction of an antique. It would not pick up his heat signature unless he kept it in his hand a long time.

"No?" The voice was near his bedroom and sounded puzzled and disappointed.

"No. Some committed suicide, others died of their injuries, one fell out of a twenty-third story window while trying to escape."

"Ah." The voice was a purr of contentment. "Which one of them tortured Sally to death?"

Wufei didn't drop the chair, and he was pretty sure his temperature didn't even flicker in Duo's goggles. In fact, he was surprised he'd registered on them at all. "He's not in there."

"Oh? I'd thought he'd be the first." The voice was still circling, slower now. Trying to understand. Wufei wondered why that made his heart flicker, when the mention of Sally - and the flash of memory, of her bloodied body carved into something no longer even remotely human, her eyes, once so calm and kind but now glazed and frantic - had not.

"No. Sally's killer wasn't the first confession I received. And it was a few criminals after him that I realized that if I didn't keep some kind of record, I'd get them mixed up eventually." Which was unthinkable.

He put the chair down near the center of the room, where his instincts told him to.

"Yes, you have a quite impressive number in there. Confessions, hm?" Duo sounded wise, but Wufei snorted.

"Don't pretend you understand, Maxwell. Confessions - admissions of guilt - regrets - they're in the past. They don't have any significance for you. You do not understand me at all."

"Well, a little bit." Duo sounded...oddly sad. Wufei hesitated on his way to the sword stand. The tone...it...touched...he shook his head and picked up the stand.

"So you hunt them down. And torture their confessions out of them. I'm surprised Sally's murderer wasn't your first. She was nice." He could have been talking about his favorite flavor of ice cream; that's how he said ‘nice'.

"She was a good woman," Wufei agreed. "But she made a mistake; she went alone to meet someone whose darkness she could not comprehend, and I wasn't with her to defend her. At one point, heart and courage alone are not enough. How did you find out about her?" Wufei pulled the wooden spars from the sword stand and swished them around.

"Rumors in the underworld. Newspaper cuttings, though her name had been withheld. Some Preventer files I managed to hack into. The fact that she was your only friend - apart from us other pilots - and she was no longer around. Was she your lover? You don't think you're actually going to hit me with those, do you?"

"No, and yes. In that order." Wufei moved towards the voice.

"So you tortured that man to death for revenge-" the voice was moving.

"No."

"...No?"

"I do not work for revenge. My duty is to Justice. As long as I have lived, that is what I have worked for. I did not understand its truth back during the war, not all of it. Sally's murderer was the first confession I actively sought." Wufei moved again. He was speaking absently. He was keeping Duo distracted. He didn't really care if Duo understood him or not. He told himself all this sternly, denying the faint stirring of warmth at sharing these words for the first time ever.

"I would have arrested the murderous dog, but the chain of evidence had been compromised by some technicality. I'd been working for the Preventers for four months, I didn't understand those things very well back then. I looked for him. I thought, if I had his confession, he would stand trial."

A burst of merry laughter. "I don't know much about the law, but even I know that torture is not a legal tool that stands too well in court."

"I had his confession pretty much voluntarily, once I caught him. He didn't make too much fuss. He was a rich drug baron. He laughed at me. Said he'd continue to run his empires behind bars. Said he'd tortured Sally as a warning to me, and he'd find someone else I cared about and do it again. I think he was slightly insane - he had no real notion of consequences. I told him I had no one I cared about, but...I could see he wasn't really realizing what he'd done. He hadn't actually truly confessed. A real confession..."

Wufei paused, his voice echoing in darkness.

"A real confession tears out the soul. It makes tyrants weep. It brings down the proud. It makes you face your sins, your petty reasons, your vacuous desires. And they devour you. The purity of it- some people cannot bear it. They prefer to die."

Like Treize. Treize had been the one to show him the way. Treize had shown him just how much self-knowledge could be one's own judge, jury and executioner.

Well, technically, Wufei had been his executioner, but Treize had merely used him to leave a life he knew he no longer deserved. Wufei always gave that option to those who had confessed. Most of them took it.

"It didn't take too long, and not as much pain as I thought it would, not for him; when Sally's killer realized the full extent of his crimes...when he saw real Justice...at the end, he begged me to kill him. So I did. I wasn't interested in his further suffering. Justice had been served. He'd seen himself as he truly was. He'd counted the cost of all his victims and he knew their pain. So I put a bullet in the back of his neck and left him for his men to bury."

He darted towards the faint sound of a shuffle, wooden rods swinging. There was not the faintest hint of noise, except for his weapons biting air. He spun on instinct, struck again- heading towards-

A shout, and a fumble where he'd left the chair-

Wufei dropped the sticks and pounced. He tackled warm flesh in sleek cloth. He shoved the chair aside and wrestled the figure to the ground.

A breathless laugh beneath him. And the lights came on.

He stared down at a heart-shaped face and an impish grin beneath chunky black goggles.

"Damn! You got me! You're good, Fei!" Duo was breathless.

Wufei blew a strand of hair out of his eyes. His body was weighing Duo down, his hands like a vice on the slighter man's arms. A good struggle, and, if Duo didn't manage to pull his knife, Wufei could snap his neck...

He didn't move.

The grin widened and the head turned. Wufei's eyes leapt to follow the gaze behind the goggles. Duo's hand. Holding a remote with several switches and buttons...and a deadman switch, which Duo was holding depressed in his palm. If Duo's hand went limp, the switch would release and-

Damn...I thought he went down a bit too easy...he couldn't let go of that switch.

Wufei looked down at the impish grin, and the goggles looked back at him.

"You son of a bitch." Wufei's voice was strangely taut. He...was normally much more calm, even faced with death. Nothing much seemed to shiver the cold distance he'd put around himself at the end of the war. But Duo..."You wired my house to blow...?"

"Uh-uh! Call it security!"

"I call it bloody insane."

"Takes one to know one!"

"Fuck you, Maxwell."

"Don't make promises you won't keep, Fei."

"...uh?" Wufei frowned, and then caught on. He snarled, releasing his hold on one of Duo's arms to rip off the goggles. Two blue eyes blinked and then sparkled at him. Insane. Completely insane. He's in the same house, he'll go too if he releases that switch...

"I have three questions!"

Wufei stared at his captive. "What makes you think I'll answer even one-" the deadman switch waved in front of his face before being whisked out of reach again.

"You...would blow the house up just to get me to answer...?" Why wasn't he surprised?

"Well, you can try something violent and find out!" The grin was cocky. "Why did you fuck Heero?"

Wufei felt his jaw drop a fraction. It wasn't the question he was expecting. At all.

"...pain wouldn't work with him any more than it had with you..." the fact he answered was also a surprise, and it had nothing to do with Duo's threats.

"Yeah, you can torture Heero until your hands fall off and pain will get you nowhere." Duo nodded sympathetically, as if relating to the difficulty of cracking that tough nut. "Did a little loving work? Did he spill all his pre-war assassinations to you? Does he regret his mistake at New Edwards, his war crimes, all the deaths he caused? Did he confess?"

"Yes."

"Did you kill him?" There was only bright curiosity behind the question.

"No. He declined to take my offer."

Blue eyes narrowed. "Why?"

Why did Duo care- oh, right. Heero was also ‘real' in his universe. Ironic, because...

"Because he's not human, Maxwell. I touched the little that was there, only to realize how shallow it was. He's not even a monster like you." Duo grinned proudly. "He has little concept of what he's doing at all. He's a tool. He'll gladly die but it has to be for a mission before he can justify it, and that I could not give him. So I left. He may have committed suicide since then, but I doubt it. A robot doesn't switch itself off."

Duo's face shone and he'd never looked so handsome. "I knew it...pure...no-one can truly touch him."

""Was that your second question?"

"No, it was a corollary of the first."

"Humph."

He should worry about what would happen once the three questions were asked and answered. Duo had shown that he was ready to kill himself - he didn't fear death in the conventional sense anyway. He might let go of the switch. Wufei's life was a thing of cold duty and fierce satisfaction in it; he wouldn't particularly regret it. But he had a lot more to do. There were many other people who needed to face justice before he did.

That should matter...but all he could feel was the warmth of Duo's body burning through the thin black suit hugging every hard muscle.

"Second question." Duo slipped out of his grasp slightly. The suit was smooth and warm beneath his fingers, like skin. Duo hoisted himself up on his elbows, Wufei still straddling him. Neither of them glanced at the switch he held negligently. It no longer really mattered. "How come you don't get caught? Granted, I knew what I was looking for, but what I could find of your Preventer track record for bringing back suspects alive, or disappearing off on ‘special missions' or holidays shortly before they find new bodies, is rather suspicious."

"Une makes sure that-"

"Une?!"

Wufei felt a ripple of tepid satisfaction that he'd managed to startle the unflappable man.

"You mean she knows about-"

"She knows Justice."

Duo blinked, perplexed. "Erm, actually I'm surprised you never pay her a visit-"

"She knows Justice because it's ripped her soul already. Every day, she counts the people she killed, the lives she took." Treize had taught her that, as he'd taught it to Wufei. "That is how she recognized my true nature. We work together on the understanding that I watch her closely. If she begins to forget..."

"You'll make sure she remembers. Painfully. Huh. She doesn't mind?"

"It was her suggestion."

"Whatta woman. Okay, third question."

Duo moved, curling up to lean back against his hands. His warm breath was washing against Wufei's mouth again. It was a sensation the latter had tried not to remember from that time in the shuttle. One of the rare things he'd actively tried to forget.

"...the reason you spared me...it was because I don't...I won't...I will never...and I even clinically *cannot*...feel the guilt for my crimes...and that makes my death meaningless to you..."

The lips touched his softly. They felt feverish.

"Is that a question?" he could barely understand his own words, his voice was so hoarse.

"...I guess not..." the lips touched his again. The body beneath his was like an inferno, scorching his inner thighs through the silk of his robe, setting fire to areas that hadn't known heat for quite awhile.

"Now what are you going to do?" Wufei asked, the words shivering onto Duo's lips.

For answer, there was a click and a snap from somewhere outside Wufei's field of vision - which had narrowed down to a pair of blue eyes and warm lips. Then he felt something slip into his hand. He glanced down and stared at the deadman switch. Which, since the house hadn't exploded, he presumed Duo had disarmed before releasing.

He stared back into eyes that danced and sparkled like twin beacons.

The switch landed on the carpet with a thud and Duo grunted as he was slammed back against the floor. But the blue eyes staring up at Wufei held no fear. Probably because the man was insane and didn't realize he was about to die-

Or because he realized that Wufei couldn't begin to approach the notion of his death. Wufei couldn't kill him because Duo couldn't feel the guilt, because he would never confess, he was Death without soul, like an accident or a plague. Because he was like a forest fire, joyfully indiscriminate, nearly sinless as a result. Because, in his fearless, insane way, he'd broken into Wufei's home, into his life, and tried to light up the darkness. This bundle of cheerful lethality that dared to try to understand him, knew no reasons, no laws, no rules except the rule of silence that let him kill - or not - when and where he pleased. Duo enjoyed it. That joy flared against Wufei's passions, which had been burning colder than Hell's lights for a long time now. And...Wufei wanted...

"I am going to let you live, Maxwell," he heard himself say. "On sufferance, and only because your skills will be useful to me."

Duo's eyebrows arched up.

"I find myself with a problem. I've been working on it for over a week, without success. A man. A rich industrialists with ties to several factories which may or may not be producing war heads. I think he's a criminal. But I can't be sure; he keeps his activities too well hidden. I think someone who can worm his way into my home and wire it like you did can probably find out the information I need."

"Why don't you just...ask him...?" Duo breathed, with a carrion crow grin making no doubts about what he meant when he said ‘ask'. He arched his hips and Wufei felt the fire reach higher, but he ignored it and shook the collar he'd grabbed.

"I do not harm indiscriminately and without considerable cause. If this man is just a careful businessman with a few petty frauds to his account, I am not going to bother with him. And neither will you! You will not harm those who do not deserve it, and you will not kill the guilty before they confess! Death is too easy an escape from guilt. They have to confess, do you understand?"

"No!" Duo chirped. "But I think I know what you're trying to say!"

"You will kill only those I tell you to. Those who are already broken by what they've done. You can also have the petty criminals who probably deserve it, and who are beneath my notice. That should-" a sneer "-keep you happy. And you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your stealth helping me with my duties."

Duo's grin was brighter than the lights. Because of course, Wufei knew Duo wasn't going to kill or spare on someone else's say-so. But Wufei was going to pretend he didn't know that, and Duo was going to pretend he was going to cooperate, and maybe, just maybe, they might not kill each other right away.

"And while you live here, you will do what I say, understand?"

Duo nodded vigorously, his bangs falling like a veil over his teasing eyes.

"You agree to that?" Wufei asked, not very hopefully.

"Tell you what, Fei," a soft purr while strong hands detached his own from a black collar. "Why don't you try giving me an order and see if I do it? It'll be fun to find out!"

The hands slipped up his arms, felt the cold silk over his chest; it warmed under the touch.

Owari



And they lived happily ever after and had lots of little psychos. Er, or something.

[part 1] [back to Maldoror's fic]