Run and Hide + Part 4"Why Preventers?" I asked Sally as her team took the idiots away and carried Charlie out to the medics.
"Because of you," she smiled back at me. "A former Gundam pilot in a hostage situation? Who knew what you would do?" I raised my eyebrow at her.
"Hey, I passed my psych evaluation," I told her coldly.
"I know," she patted me on the arm. "But you are the only one out of the five that doesn't do some kind of work for us." That made me raise both eyebrows. "Besides Duo," she sighed. "Do you really think the others would just sit back and let the local police handle a situation where you're the one in danger? Commander Une had to order them to let me handle it."
"Good thing we all trust you," I grinned at her.
"You didn't need me Duo," she said pointedly.
"You were the best distraction in the world. They were all paying attention to the phone, not to little old me," I winked at her. "And once their backs were turned..."
"They turned their backs on you?" She repeated. "Morons!"
"That's what I said!" I laughed with her.
"C'mon, I'm going to take you back with me to report." She smiled at me. "Do you mind? I know the others will want to see you. We had to practically tie them up to keep them away."
"Nah, lead on," I told her. I followed her out of the store and over to her cruiser. Trowa was leaning against it and I got a faint smile of welcome.
"Still in one piece?" He asked me.
"Of course." I looked around. "Becky and Suzie?"
"With the medics. They're fine, just a bit shocky. Want to see them first?"
"Can I?" I asked Sally.
"Go ahead. I'll radio that we're coming in." I walked over to the ambulances, Trowa beside me. Suzie was sitting with a blanket around her and Becky was kneeling next to Charlie, who was getting his ankle taped up.
"Everyone okay here?" I asked and Suzie looked up at me and I froze at the fear on her face.
"We're fine," Becky responded calmly as she gave me a grateful smile. "Thanks Duo. Charlie said that you made sure he was safe."
"I wouldn't want anything happening to him," I replied easily. "How's the ankle?"
"Broken," he grunted, then gave me a piercing look. "You never mentioned that you were in the war."
"Not something I like to talk about," I said as I met his eyes. "But, yes, I was."
"Good thing, too," Becky said and shot a glance at Suzie.
"Uh, yeah," I was starting to feel uncomfortable. "I'm going to go file a report," I told them quickly. "So, I'll see you tomorrow?" Charlie managed a laugh.
"I think I'm going to close the store tomorrow. Just enjoy a long weekend, Duo. You've earned it. I'll see you on Monday."
The ride to Preventers HQ was mostly silent. Trowa and I followed Sally in my car. Trowa wasn't much for idle chitchat and I didn't feel like talking. When we got there, Trowa dropped a hand on my shoulder as we walked into the building.
"What scared Suzie so much?' He asked me quietly.
"She saw Shinigami," I replied in the same tone. His hand squeezed my shoulder comfortingly.
"Well, that sucks." He said and I agreed. I stepped into an office and found myself the focus of four pairs of eyes. Three of them were dark with worry, so I smiled reassuringly for Quatre, Heero and Wufei, before smiling charmingly for the last pair. Commander Une sat on one of the desks, not a hair out of place as she studied me.
"Commander," I greeted.
"Maxwell," she nodded back. "Please report." I ran through the quick version of the holdup, not leaving out the fact that I thought the guys were total and complete morons. Une actually unbent enough to smile at the nicknames.
"Well, Maxwell," she said when I was finished. "Not too bad. Of course your mouth might've gotten you into trouble there."
"I know," I said with a faint smile and tapped the bruise on my cheek. "But I can't help it sometimes."
"Does it hurt?" She asked, eyes on the bruise.
"Comparatively speaking? No." I raised my eyebrow at her and I knew that we were both thinking of another time. "Not after being hit by experts." She smiled faintly.
"Agent Po, please make sure the local authorities have a copy of this report," she ordered as she stood up. Sally nodded and was out the door. Une stood before me and met my eyes. "Mr. Maxwell, I would like you to seriously reconsider the Preventers offer."
"I don't..." I started and she raised a hand.
"Think about it, please." She held me with her gaze. "Your skills are being wasted." She walked to the door. "Let me know if you change your mind." She left the room quickly. As soon as the door closed behind her I was in a hug.
"Are you all right?" Wufei asked as he and Heero held me tightly for a moment.
"I'm fine, 'Fei. Really." I pulled back a little and smiled for both of them. "They really were complete morons. Trowa was the only one who got shot at." Trowa glared at me as the three turned on him.
"They missed," he said reassuringly to Quatre who was anxiously examining him. "I'm really all right." He hugged the shorter blond for a moment. "I think I'll skip meeting Duo for lunch for awhile though. Too much excitement for me."
"Ha ha, Barton." I lifted an eyebrow at him and then sighed.
"What Duo?" Heero pulled back and looked at me.
"The bookstore," I replied without thinking. "I messed it up today."
"What are you talking about?"
"Suzie saw Shinigami," I said softly. "And, I'm afraid she got a bit frightened. She's not going to want to work with me anymore."
"All the more reason for you to talk to the Commander," Quatre pointed out. He squeezed Trowa one more time and then came over to hug me. "I have to get back to work," he said with a frown. "If you're sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine," I reassured him. Then I leaned down to his ear. "But take some extra time today for Trowa, okay?" I murmured softly. He nodded back at me and after collecting Trowa, left.
"Who's office are we taking up?" I asked. Wufei grinned at me.
"Ours. This is the first time you've come to see us at work." He shook his head at me.
"Are you going to talk to the Commander?" Heero asked me point blank.
"Not if I can help it." I returned. "Why?"
"She wants you in the Preventers, Duo," Wufei pointed out.
"That doesn't mean I want to be here," I said calmly.
"Duo," Heero's voice was soft. "How did you feel today when you realized that you had a good shot of taking those guys out? Didn't things just fall into place?"
"Well, yes," I admitted.
"It was natural, right? Easy even?"
"Yes." I looked away from Heero's intense gaze.
"You don't have to be involved in the policing side of things." Heero pointed out. "Quatre and Trowa aren't. They just occasionally perform a mission or investigation that matches with their skills. You could do the same."
"You won't feel comfortable at the bookstore anymore." Wufei's calm voice stated what I already knew. "Why don't you just go talk to her?"
"I can't," I replied, backing up towards the door. I glanced back and forth between the two of them. How could they not see that I wasn't comfortable with this idea?
'Because', the little voice in the back of my head spoke up, drowning me with ice, 'it's not the same for them. They aren't like you. They were trained to fight honorably. To protect. To be soldiers. You were born to kill. To destroy. To be Shinigami.'
I would always be Shinigami.
"I'm- gonna go home," I said into the silence. "I need to... think."
"All right, Duo." Wufei spoke quietly. "We'll see you at home." I gave them a faint smile and fled.
I drove home, heart beating like a trip-hammer in my chest. I had never told the guys that I had been the reason that the alliance had attacked the church. I had never told them about Solo. In all my late night ramblings, I had never mentioned that I was death to anyone close to me. I wasn't surprised. I hadn't wanted to think about it. Hadn't wanted to remember all of my loved ones that had died because of my mistakes.
I know it wasn't rational, but I felt that if I joined the Preventers, Heero and Wufei would get hurt. Worse- if Shinigami came out to play, they might die. Like all the others had. All the others who had done nothing but loved me.
But I also knew that Wufei and Heero wanted me to join. They had been waiting for something like this to help them rope me in. And if I stayed, I knew I would give in to them, let them persuade me. The lure of their company and approval was too strong- something I wanted too badly.
Now I realized what my subconscious had been trying to tell me the last several days.
It was time to move on.
Time to leave them before they got hurt.
They would be fine without me- they had each other.
I got to the house and flew up the stairs. My duffels were packed in minutes and I rushed, obscurely worried that they'd come home and catch me.
My bike was in the garage. It'd be harder to trace me on that, than in my car. I strapped the two bags on the back and made one last final tour of the house.
I had to leave something. I couldn't just go without a word.
I'm sorry, but it's time for me to go. I can't work at the bookstore and I can't be a Preventer. I'm still too much Shinigami for it to be safe. I'll miss you both very much. Take care of each other and tell Trowa and Quatre the same. Don't let Quatre work too hard. That goes for the both of you as well. Know that wherever I am, I'm thinking of you guys- always. All my love, Duo
It didn't say half of what I wanted it to say, but it would have to do. I left it on the kitchen table and headed out. A few hours later I was out of the city and on my way towards a shuttle port. Better to get as far away as possible.
[part 3] [part 5] [back to Merula's fic]