Author: pyrzm
see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Broken Warriors + Chapter 95
Evidence

Heero still felt shaky the next morning, but he was determined to get Duo to New Orleans by Earth Fall eve or Christmas Eve or whatever anyone wanted to call it! Mission accepted. It felt good to have a goal in sight again, after so many days of painful drifting.

Dr. Batoosingh was commuting between his offices on L-2 and the hospital here in Tokyo and wasn't due until just before Heero's three o'clock session. He and Duo met with the physical therapist, who pronounced them both remarkably fit and needing only some more rest before they could resume a light work out.

When they were finished they found Wufei and Zechs in the solarium, facing off over a chessboard. Wufei was still in his pajamas and yukata, and seated in a wheelchair. He had an oxygen tube under his nose again, and an IV rack stood close to his chair, with some sort of drip going into his left hand through a tube. He looked exhausted and there were dark circles under his eyes. He was also broadcasting gloom, and seemed to be playing half-heartedly. Zechs, sharp as ever in worn jeans and a white Oxford, was clearly trying to cheer him up.

"What happened to you?" Duo demanded. "I thought you were off all the tubes and wires?"

"A minor relapse," Wufei replied brusquely, scowling down at the board as if the pieces had offended him.

Zechs looked up and shook his head at the others; don't poke the dragon.

Heero quickly caught up with the moves and soon both of the others were growling at him not to kibitz. Duo had never had any patience for the game. Instead, he wandered around, poking at the garish Christmas decorations that had appeared there a few days ago. Ropes of sparkly silver and white garland were looped over the tall window frames, with lots of colored glass balls. A silver tree decorated in a similar fashion, along with multicolored lights stood on one corner of the room.

Engrossed in the game, Heero didn't notice what Duo was doing until he came over and perched on the arm of Heero's chair. He was wearing a length of the garland like a stripper's boa and shining red and green Christmas ornaments dangled from his earlobes.

"Whaddya think, baby? Want your present early?" he purred, shaking his head a little to make the ornaments swing.

Heero wasn't really in the mood for flirting, and guessed it as more boredom than anything else on Duo's part, but he slipped an arm around him and tugged at the garland hanging over one shoulder. "I don't think I should open this one here, do you?"

"Get a room! Oh wait, you have one," Wufei muttered, still frowning over his next move. Zechs had his queen cornered.

"Grumpy, are we?" Duo shot back. ""Seriously, what's up your butt this fine morning?"

It probably wasn't the most tactful choice of words, Heero decided.

"I'm leaking!" Wufei snapped, and sacrificed a pawn for no apparent reason.

"A small leak has developed on his aorta at the edge of the regenerated tissue field. It was detected last night," Zechs explained. "It's only a minor setback, really. They're going to correct it with laser surgery and more regen this afternoon, but it means more time in recovery before I can take him home."

"And it's possible it will remain a lifelong weakness," Wufei added glumly.

Heero understood now. The prospect of possibly facing life as an invalid would be intolerable for Wufei.

"Oh, man, I'm sorry!" Duo dropped the teasing at once as concern took over. "I bet they'll fix you up just fine, though. The docs here are great."

"Well I wish they'd gotten it right the first time. Now we have to stay--" Wufei told him, and his voice sounded a bit unsteady under the snarky tone. He cleared his throat impatiently, then clutched his chest for a moment as another coughing fit racked him. He was shaking and sweating by the time it was done, and obviously weaker than he'd been yesterday.

Fluid in the lungs, and probably mood swings, too, thought Heero. "How long are they keeping you?"

"At least another ten days, with observation," Zechs replied. He'd moved to Wufei's side and was cradling his head against his shoulder as Wufei struggled for breath. "We'd hoped to be home by Christmas. But it looks like we'll be having it here instead."

Wufei closed his eyes, looking limp and miserable.

"Man, that sucks, all right," Duo said. "Heero's going to try and bust us out of here in time to get back with Tro and Kat. And you know you still have a standing invite, right, Wufei?"

"Thank you," Wufei whispered without opening his eyes.

"Invite for what?" asked Zechs.

Duo explained Earth Fall Day and Heero saw the way Wufei looked away in pained silence when Duo revealed that Wufei had ignored invitations to join with the others. Zechs stole a compassionate glance down at his lover, still leaning heavily on his chest, and pressed a kiss into his hair. Wufei did not complain or pull away, just sighed and closed his eyes again.

Yes, Zechs is exactly what Wufei needs, thought Heero, watching them together and thinking again of how they'd all been drawn together that first day of Heero's war.

"I was thinking, maybe next year all of us could try and get together?" Duo said, more to Zechs than Wufei. "I mean, with things being so different and all now?"

"What do you say, mei?" asked Zechs, taking his lover's hand. "I think that would be lovely, don't you? Something to look forward to."

Wufei looked shyly at Duo. "The invitation is still good for then?"

"Of course, Wu-man, it always is! And you know we want you back in the Big Easy way before that, to finish out your birthday visit properly, too, ya know. Who knows, maybe you can even make it to Heero's big day, January eighth. Otherwise you have to wait all the way to September for Kat's birthday and mine. Of course, you can come visit any time, but it would be nice if-well, if you were around for some of the big events, too. Happy ones, this time. No more 'Maxwell meltdowns'!"

Wufei shook his head slowly but he was smiling a little now. "I'm still getting used to it, having things to look forward to."

"So am I. But it's important," Heero said quietly. "Otherwise, you lose your way."

Just then a nurse came into the solarium. "Yuy-sama? There are people here to see you."

"Visitors?" Heero asked, perplexed. Everyone he knew in Japan was here.

"No, Yuy-sama, it is the police. They wait for you in your room."

"Oh fuck," muttered Duo. "Guess the shit's gonna hit the fan now, huh? Well, it's been nice knowing you, guys."

"There shouldn't be any problem," Wufei said. "Zechs and I saw to your cover story ourselves. Une signed off on everything personally."

Heero rose, feeling a cold knot of fear tightening in his gut. "I don't think that's what they are here to speak to me about. Duo, would you mind remaining here?"

"Yeah, I would," Duo said firmly. "Come on. I'll help you talk your way out of whatever it is."

+

Heero was momentarily relieved to see Sally Po with the plainclothes detective. She was in full uniform, and had a bulky evidence bag under one arm.

The cop bowed and flashed a badge. "Yuy-sama, Maxwell-sama, I am Inspector Hiroka of the Kisarazu Sex Crimes Division. Please forgive me for troubling you while you are still recovering, but time is off the essence with our investigation. Major Po is acting as Preventer liaison in our investigation."

Heero kept his mouth shut and sat down on his bed with Duo beside him, leaving the chairs for the others.

"I've impressed upon Inspector Hiroka and his superiors the top secret nature of your mission in Kisarazu, Heero," Sally assured him. "Unfortunately, certain evidence has come to light that we need to discuss with you."

The cold knot in Heero's stomach was almost painful now. He knew what they'd have in that bag. He didn't want to see it, didn't want to admit it existed. Sweat broke out down his sides under his shirt and down the back of his neck. "What is it?" he demanded, and it came out in his old mission voice, hard and flat, emotionless, but inside he was panicked.

"We confiscated a huge amount of material from the building where you both were held," Hiroka told him. "Hato and his associates had been at work for some times, years it seems. We have literally thousands of hours of vid of the rape, torture and murder of young boys, as well as photos, website networks. He was producing and distributing these materials to a worldwide clientele.

Heero wanted to crawl under the bed and hide, but he refused to show it, just remained motionless, revealing nothing except for the sweat he couldn't seem to control.

"Hato was into this kind of shit long before the war," Sally told them. "But it is clear that at some point he became fixated on you, Heero, probably after the attack on the Kisarazu base."

"And perhaps in part because you fit the profile of the kind of boys he was preying on," Hiroka added. "I have had to watch many unpleasant things in these materials. All the boys resemble you somewhat, and more so once he started targeting boys to dress up like you. It was not until after the war ended that he was hired by Rafael Conte to write for his Gundam porn films. We are hoping to tie Conte in with the murders, but so far there is no connection. Perhaps you can aide us in that."

"How?"

"First, I must ask you to look at some photos." Hiroka took a packet from his envelope and passed it to Heero. There appeared to be at least forty pictures.


Does he know? Heero thought with a sick shudder. Is he testing me somehow? Now everyone was going to know! It would be all over the news. "Gundam Boy 01 Raped By Sadistic Pornographers." He could imagine already what the tabloids would do with this.

Everyone would know. Total strangers. People on the street. He couldn't go anywhere without being noticed, recognized. And it wouldn't be like Meir's unfounded accusation. He would not be able to stare this one down, because it was true. Heero clutched the pictures, wondering if he could get though this without having to go throw up again.

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to look at all of them carefully and tell me if you recognize any of them."

It wasn't as bad as he'd feared. They weren't like the ones Hato had sent him. There was no abuse going on in the pictures, just shots of boys dressed in black Spandex shorts and green tank tops and ugly yellow sneakers. Most of them were smiling. These must have been taken before they realized what was really going to happen to them, Heero thought, heart hammering in his chest. One by one, he looked at each of them, bracing to find his own face there.

He found Yuki first, picture number 32. The kid was looking up into the camera with a calculating smile. He was younger than most of the others, who appeared to range from fifteen to seventeen, but the expression on his face suggested that Yuki hadn't been a complete innocent. Maybe he'd been hustling on the streets to survive. Still, nothing justified what had been done to him. He was now recovering from surgery to restore the use of his legs, and he was still in the children's psychiatric ward under observation. So far he had refused to speak with a therapist. Heero had already arranged to cover all the boy's medical costs.

There were so many pictures, far more than the number of bodies he and Duo had stumbled upon. Heero's hands were shaking by the time he reached the last few. Any moment now, he was going to see his own face looking up at him, perhaps from one of those damning pictures his tormenters had sent, and then the questions would start in earnest. He slowly flipped through the last three, feeling ill. It must have shown, because Duo had moved closer and was resting a hand on his back. He hadn't said a word, which was unlike Duo, but he was looking pale as he watched those faces and familiar clothes repeated over and over again. Dark hair, Japanese features, some even had blue eyes, though none so dark as Heero's.

Three. Not him.

Two. Not him.

One.

Heero looked at the last picture in stunned silence. It wasn't him.
"This is the boy Duo and I met there," Heero told the detective, holding out Yuki's photo. "I don't recognize the others."

"I'm afraid they didn't look much like this anymore, when you did see some of them."

"This guy's a fucking serial killer!" Duo gasped. "But how come they sent Sex Crimes instead of homicide?"

"Homicide is running their own investigation. I am concerned with what was being done to these boys before they were killed, and tracking down customers of Hato's website and mail order business. The magnitude of the situation, and the number of men apparently involved, has called for several task forces. You may be questioned by Homicide, as well, but only as material witnesses. Those men you killed in the line of duty are being handled separately, and by the Preventers. It was clearly line of duty and you will not be held accountable."

"I see."

"You agree that these young men look somewhat like you?"

"In superficial ways, I suppose." Heero was almost dizzy with relief.

"Did you know Hato personally?"

"What? No, of course not!"

Hiroka exchanged a look with Sally, and then gave Heero a pitying look. "I am sorry, Yuy-sama, but there is one other photograph I must ask you about. It was found in a separate cache, together with several vids. It as apparently part of Hato's private collection, but there is evidence that the photos and vids were also reproduced for sale. Please, examine the photo carefully and tell me what you think."

Heero's short lived relief turned to bile in the back of his throat as Hiroka took a smaller envelop from his jacket pocket and handed it to Heero. Inside was a copy of one of the pictures Hato had sent to taunt him. Mercifully, it had been cropped so that all that showed was a scared, dirty boy being held by the hair by someone behind him. His eyes were wide, filled with confusion and fear.

Heero stared down at it, into his own wretched face.

"We have identified the other men shown in the photos and vids. I can give you their names if you wish, but they are all dead now, including Hato. You and the boy are my only material witnesses, Yuy-sama, but there is no one left to prosecute for those particular, unless there were others besides the men in the pictures, or if you can give me Conte."

Heero shook his head. "I don't know. I don't remember."

"He was sick, off his head," Duo said, and now he had an arm protectively around Heero. "If you've seen the vids, then you know he wasn't himself. You can ask Dr. Batoosingh, his shrink. He was fugued. You can't push him on this!"

"Then I see no reason to involve Captain Yuy any further, do you, detective?" asked Sally.

"Are you sure you don't remember anyone else?" Hiroka persisted.

"Yes. I don't even remember them."

"Then the fact that all four men pictured were discovered in the main chamber, around a metal table near some vid equipment, with their necks broken after your escape with Maxwell, that is pure coincidence?"

"Yes. I reacted to a crisis situation to save the child and Duo. I don't remember the faces of anyone I was forced to fight."

"I see." Hiroka still looked doubtful, but Sally pulled rank on him.

"That is a Preventer matter, detective. We will take care of any disciplinary action deemed necessary. It was line of duty action, heat of the moment. Both Captain Yuy, and Maxwell are trained for that. That's why they were brought in as specialists."

"And no one saw a conflict of interest, with Yuy-sama's involvement with these men?"

Sally sat back and folded her arms. "That is a security matter. I'm not at liberty to discuss it, as you well know. And now that you have asked all your questions, you will turn over all materials relating to Captain Yuy to me, as agreed. Starting with that." She held out her hand for the photo of Heero and he surrendered it. It was clear under the customary veneer of politeness and professionalism, Hiroka did not like having the Preventers running his show.

All the same, Hiroka knew a brick wall when he hit one. He gave Sally the photo and rose to bow to the others. "I am sorry to have disturbed you, and to have perhaps stirred up unpleasant memories, Yuy-sama. For now, I will consider this matter closed."

He left, but Sally remained behind, and locked the door after him. "I have something for you, as well, Heero, but it's something you might actually want."

She tore the seal on the large padded envelope she'd been holding and pulled out a worn, water stained red leather scrapbook. The pages were swollen with dampness and it smelled musty and faintly of garbage. All the same, Heero accepted it and opened it carefully across his knees. The first page was blank, to keep out prying eyes. All of those after it were filled with carefully trimmed pictures of his friends, with dates and notes under most of them in his own small, careful printing.

"Oh my god," Duo gasped, looking over his shoulder. "This is the scrapbook you kept, isn't it?"

"Yes," Heero replied softly, throat tight. He closed it and set it aside. "Hato had this."

"I'm assuming that's where he got those pages he sent you," said Sally. I was able to pull prints of Hato and the others of the ones you sent me, and this whole books has been carefully checked. Lots of Hato, no Conte. I'm afraid that scum sucker may be clean as far as the murders go. Whether he knew about them or not, we don't know. Hiroka and I were both hoping you could give us something to justify another warrant to search Wasabi."

"I'm sorry, Sally. I was planning to ask my doctor if we could do some sort of memory recovery process, but now I'm not sure I want to. If this ever got out into the press . . ." He broke off as another wave of anxiety threatened to overwhelm him.

"He's not up to that kind of shit right now," Duo warned. "Seriously Sally, if anyone tries to push this, I'll fight them, and I won't be alone. The bastards are dead. They got what they deserve. Hiroka can go chase down Hato's customers to his heart's content without any help from us."

"How many-" Heero whispered. "How many of the cops and Preventers have seen the vids and pictures he had of me?"

"Just Hiroka and myself," Sally assured him. "I already knew what they were going to find, based on what you'd already sent me. Une had been briefed, but she agreed not to view the materials unless absolutely necessary. Hiroka is a decent guy, too. The materials will be sealed, and as soon as I can, I'll see to it that you get them for disposal. You can keep the scrapbook, if you like. It's not considered important, since you won't be testifying about your own abuse."

"Thank you, Sally, and please thank Commander Une for me, as well," Heero said, letting himself sag against Duo a little. He felt like shit. "I just-I just want to go on as if this never happened. I'm a different person now."

Sally stood and smiled down at them. "I can see that, Heero. I see it in both of you, and I'm really happy for you. I knew you were amazing the first time we met, even before you flung yourself off that cliff. I'm just glad there was a real person left under all that training. Duo, this one's for you. It was in the camera by that metal table. I saw just enough to realize what it was. No one's seen it. I got to it in time." She handed Duo what looked like a vid camera disk in a sealed plastic evidence bag.

Duo grabbed it and shoved it deep into a pocket. "Thanks, Sal. There are enough fake vids of me out there, without this."

"Will you be visiting with Wufei while you're here?" Heero asked.

"Yes, I was planning on it," Sally replied. "I won't say anything about all this, but I'll tell him you're in the clear, all right?"

"Thanks."

As soon as she was gone Heero sank back on the bed and threw an arm across his eyes. He was shaky and nauseated and still sweating. The front of his shirt was dark with it.

Duo sat by him and held his hand. "You did well, Heero."

"I thought I was going to pass out!"

"But you didn't. I think you scared Hiroka off, doing that Perfect Soldier death glare the whole time like that!"

"Was I doing that?" Heero had assumed he'd looked terrified.

"Yup," Duo chuckled. "I can read you. I know how upset you were, but most other people can't. They just see that Gundanium mask you put on and run like hell. Hey, is it OK if I look at the scrapbook? I won't, if it's too personal, but the way you talked about it and all-"

Heero lifted the arm from his eyes and sat up. "I don't mind. I want to see it, too."

They placed the large portfolio on the bed between them and Heero slowly turned the pages. Duo, Trowa, Quatre, and to a lesser extent, Wufei, covered every page. There were a few of other people, like Relena or Sally, but mostly it was the four Gundam boys. And one in particular.

After a few pages Duo looked up. "You've got a lot of me in here."

Heero shrugged. "I love you the most. I missed you the most. And you were in the news a lot, too."

This was true. For every shot of Duo out clubbing or partying with the others there were more of him being arrested or carried into a hospital. Duo squinted down at Heero's notes. "'Duo looks good in green.' 'Duo kisses Quatre a lot.' Were you jealous, 'ro?"

"Yes."

Duo paused over a page of the arrest photos. "'Duo looks so unhappy.' 'Duo losing weight.' You worried about me, too?"

"Of course, at least when I was sane enough to think straight. I thought of you all the time."

Duo blinked away tears as he kept turning pages. Midway through both the arrangement of clippings on the pages and the handwriting underneath became increasingly erratic. Further back neat glue or tape gave way to dirty masking tape, or even what appeared to be little bits of chewing gum used to stick the pictures down. Many of the pages were streaked with dirt. The writing wandered across the page, often illegible, in other places readable enough to make out disjointed ramblings of a disordered mind. The final pages had drawings instead of clippings. They were jumbled across the page, little sketches of all of them, and again, Duo dominated the numbers.

"I must have been afraid I'd forget what you looked like," Heero said, running a finger over a likeness of Duo grinning.

"God, Heero, you were falling apart, but you kept this up," Duo said, torn between sorrow and wonder. "We meant that much to you, way back then?"

"Yes. You were all I had, and I thought I'd never see any of you again. I didn't dare go near you."

Duo set the album aside and took Heero's face between his hands and kissed him. "Don't ever do that again, baby."

"I know." Heero felt exhausted and low again. He lay down and rested his head in Duo's lap, and let out a deep sigh as he felt Duo stroke his hair. "What time is it?"

"Eleven twenty."

"Batoosingh at three." He felt himself drifting off under those gentle caresses.

"I'll wake you, baby. I'm on watch. You sleep."

Heero sighed again and let himself slip toward a dreamless doze.

"It's over, baby," Duo whispered, still stroking his head. "It's over now."

"No, it's not," Heero muttered, reluctantly leaving the comfort of Duo's lap. "You'd better keep your distance while I'm asleep, or cuff me."

Duo leaned down and kissed him. "I'll be over on the other bed if you need me."

+

Heero slept without dreams and woke thinking of his mission. He and Duo arrived at the office Dr. Batoosingh used for their sessions and were surprised to hear raised voices. Not even Duo had ever known the doctor to lose his temper, but from the sound of it, he had now. Heero caught his name and leaned closer.

"Do you have any idea what a set back this might have caused?" It seemed to be a once sided conversation, for there was a pause, then, "I will hold you personally responsible, Detective!"

Heero waited a moment after the shouting stopped, then knocked and opened the door. The doctor was in his customary chair with his pad on his knee. He greeted them with his usual Basset hound smile, but his cheeks were still flushed.

"Ah, will Duo be sitting in with you today?"

"What was that all about?" Duo asked. When the doctor merely raised an eyebrow at him, he added, "You were kinda loud, just now."

"I see. I just learned that the police interrogated you, and that they confronted you with photographs. I was just expressing my opinion that such a surprise visit was not in your best interests as my patient. Tell me, Heero, how are you doing?"

"I'm all right. I brought this to show you. Sally, our friend in the Preventers, brought it." He handed Batoosingh the scrapbook.

The doctor paged through it slowly. "How did it make you feel, seeing this again."

"I'm glad to have it back."

"Even given the circumstances?"

"Yes, this meant a lot to me, especially when I was sick."

Batoosingh closed the book and handed it back. "That's a very good sign. Now, would you like to tell me about the bruises I see on Duo and the fact that you requested to be restrained when you sleep?"

That took a few minutes, and Duo helped, downplaying any danger to himself while Heero insisted on his concerns for his safety.

"If you are going to insist on sleeping with him, then perhaps this is the best solution, for now. Has this brought up other issues you would like to discuss today? You both appear to have something on your mind."

"I want to take Duo back to New Orleans to have the holidays with our friends. It is important to both of us, to have some sense of family at this time," Heero said, as if stating a mission parameter.

"But only if you say Heero is up to making the trip," Duo added.

"Hmmm." Batoosingh stared down at his pad, and tapped his lips with the end of his pen.

"That didn't sound like a yes," Duo said, ready to fight Heero on it.

"Nor is it a no," the man told him. "You are responding well to the light therapy. That can be continued at the New Orleans Medical Center on an outpatient basis. Your physical injuries are sufficiently healed. I am somewhat concerned about the night terrors, however. Duo, Heero is right to be cautious. You have only to look in the mirror to see that. It would be safer if you slept apart. Otherwise, you will have to continue the restraints until his recovery has progressed further."

"Why is this happening now?" Heero asked. "I have never hurt him like this before."

"You and Duo indulged in a bit of shock therapy when you went to Kisarazu. Simply being there again might have brought back memories. Given what you experienced, however, it's small wonder the gates of memory are bursting. Given how calm you seem to be about it, Heero, I think we may take this as a sign of healing. Recovery is not always a pleasant process, as you both well know."

"Soooooo doc, you're saying we can go home?" said Duo.

"Give me a few days with him, Duo. I want to be certain he's at a point where it is safe for him to be seen as an outpatient. I hope you will be able to travel soon."

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