see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Warriors + Chapter 76
Heero kept his arm around Duo
in the car all the way to the hotel, and held his hand in the elevator
as they rode up with Zechs, Wufei and two men from Zechs's private security
detail. Duo was grateful for his lover's touch, but suspected that Heero
needed the physical contact and comfort more than he did. Nothing any
of them could say was going to take that guilt out of his eyes any time
As the elevator rose to their floor he looked over at Wufei and Zechs.
As usual, they weren't touching in public, but Zechs was standing very
close to him. He was a head taller than Wufei, and everything in his stance
broadcast concern and protectiveness. And no wonder; Wufei looked pretty
wrecked. He'd been great at the hospital, comforting Catherine like that,
and helping them talk Trowa down. Wufei was always strong in a crisis,
solid and calm. Duo had lost track of the times he'd been there for him.
He wondered now if his own breakdowns had taken this kind of toll on him.
If this had been anyone else, Duo would have pulled him over and hugged
him, but it was Chang Wufei and because Duo was his friend, he left him
alone and pretended not to notice that blank, lost look in those black
When he and Heero were finally behind the closed door of their suite he
wrapped himself around him and felt those strong arms lock around him.
Heero didn't break down or anything, just held Duo tight like he was afraid
of losing him.
"Heero, it wasn't--"
Heero's arms tightened as he pressed his face against Duo's neck. "Don't.
Please don't say it. Everyone's been telling me that, even Quatre, but
it doesn't change what happened. I didn't act fast enough. I didn't stop
"You don't even know who they are!"
"No, but I know why they're doing it."
Duo hesitated, and then asked softly, "What happened at Kisarazu, baby?
Please tell me."
Heero let go of him and sat down on the end of the bed. His expression
would have looked hard and uncaring to most people, but Duo saw the pain
he was in and at down beside him, not letting Heero keep any distance
from him. Heero didn't object.
"It was bad intelligence," he began, his voice flat, like in the old days.
He sounded like he was in a debriefing. "It was just supposed to be military
factory, our usual kind of target. They made suit parts, I think. But
there was personnel housing there, too. Families. They'd put them right
next to the factory, maybe to prevent attacks? I don't know. But they
shouldn't have been there and J either didn't know or didn't tell me,
and I didn't figure it out until it was too late. I heard later that there
were civilian casualties. Seventeen non coms were killed. I can tell you
their names, if you like."
Duo swallowed hard. "Kids?"
"Not that time. It was a school day. The school was off base."
God, Heero had researched it! They'd probably all killed some civilians
by accident; Duo had nightmares sometimes about that, dreams in which
he could never see the faces of his victims. But Heero knew the names
of his. It had been J's bad intel, but leave it to Heero to take it all
on and punish himself with the details. No wonder he'd gone to pieces
in the end. And in his fugue state, he'd gone right back to the scene
of the crime. Duo recalled how Heero had gone looking for the Noventa
family, offering to let them kill him to atone for his mistake at New
Edwards. Duo shuddered inwardly, thinking of those rape photos. Had Heero
gone to Kisarazu looking for punishment? Duo knew all about that sort
of thinking. So did Quatre. But they'd gone to S&M clubs for it, not
He took Heero's hand between his own, stroking the backs of Heero's fingers.
"Listen to me, baby. What happened there was an accident. You didn't go
looking to hurt anyone. But these bastards made it personal. They raped
you when you were too sick to fight back. Now they've gone after your
family. It's not the same thing, Heero. In war people get hurt. And you
"Just following orders?" Heero cut in. "I know. Dr. Batoosingh has told
me the same thing."
Duo blinked in surprise. "You talked to him about it?"
"Just since the pictures started coming. I--I'd forgotten a lot of it."
That flat affect was beginning to waver. Duo could feel Heero beginning
to tremble a little and grief and anger crept into his tone. "There are
still pieces of my memory missing, Duo. There are a lot of things I hope
I never remember. When I left Relena's security detail, I was trying to
leave everything. I changed my name. I wandered. I was running away. I
missed you all *so* much it hurt, but it was a tie to all that and right
then I couldn't handle it. I just didn't want to be Heero Yuy anymore!"
Duo put his arms around him and rested his head on Heero's shoulder. Heero
grasped the end of his braid and wound it around his wrist; it had become
a talisman for both of them. "Other people made you into what you were,
Heero. You were just a little kid when they got you. I don't know about
that Lowe guy, but J and his crew weren't very gentle in their methods,
"I know," Heero replied wearily. "But I can't change any of that. And
it's so damn hard, trying to be someone else!"
Something clicked, something Heero has said back in Spain. When one of
the doctors had told Heero he might not get back to the physical condition
he'd been in during the war, Heero had said he had no desire to. Duo thought
of all those pictures in Heero's sketchbooks: not a wartime scene or even
his beloved Gundam among them. He didn't willingly talk about the war,
even when he thrashed his way out of the occasional nightmare. It was
amazing, really, that the bonds they'd forged back then had held at all,
weighed down as they were for him by guilt and memory.
Then again, Duo realized, all five of them had gone to some lengths to
distance themselves from all that. None of them talked about it. With
the exception of Wu, and Heero's brief stint with the Preventers, they'd
all chosen lives that had nothing do to with violence: Heero with his
wandering and his newfound love of drawing, Tro and Kat with their circus,
the wild sex and drug phases. And himself, too. Only it seemed that Heero,
the strongest and most dedicated of any of them, had been the only one
who couldn't outrun his past.
Duo kissed Heero on the cheek. "I love who you are, Heero. You're a good
guy. My guy. You found your way back to us, and you *are* a new person.
The way you are with me, with all of us? Oh, Heero!" Heero's eyes were
still dry, but Duo felt himself choking up. "If it takes me the rest of
my life, I'm going to show you how good and decent and loving you are!"
Heero sighed and stroked Duo's back under the braid. "Thank you. I do
feel some of that, when I'm with you. But it wasn't enough, was it? Now
I have to be the old Heero Yuy again and fix this." He stood up abruptly
and ran a hand back through his unruly hair. "I 'm going to go look around
at the house. Do you want to come?"
"Of course! Let's go."
Duo fed the security guys a line about going to find new clothes in the
shop downstairs and they caught a cab to the Quarter. Heero had the driver
stop several blocks from the house and they walked the rest of the way,
avoiding the streetlamps.
The front door and garden gate were cordoned off with yellow crime scene
tape and there were Preventer and NOPD officers on guard. Duo led the
way around back where they climbed a live oak and jimmied the bedroom
window open. The explosion had disrupted the security system and no one
noticed their arrival.
The floor and the unmade bed were littered with shards of window glass
on the courtyard side of the room. Some of the jagged pieces still lodged
in the frame of one were bloody; that's where Trowa had been blown through.
Heero went into the side bedroom and Duo stepped out onto the balcony.
From here he could see that the blast had gutted the kitchen, flattened
a lot of the trees and plants in the courtyard and taken out most of the
windows that overlooked it. The fountain lay in pieces on its side in
a large puddle. It wasn't gushing though; someone had found the main and
turned it off. The sight of it all made Duo feel a little sick; it wasn't
even his house and he felt violated. He wondered sadly if Trowa and Quatre
would ever feel the same about this place. They'd loved it so much!
"Duo, come here," Heero called softly.
He was still in the side bedroom. He'd turned on the bedside lamp and
stood by the bed, holding a manila envelop in one hand, and an unlabeled
vid disk in the other. "This was lying on the bed. I don't see how the
cops could have missed it. Someone's been in the house."
Duo took the envelop from him. On the front, spelled out in letters cut
from a newspaper, were the words "TO HeeRO yUy wITh lOVe."
Without a word, Heero strode down the balcony to the darkened TV room
and slipped the disk into the player there.
There was a moment of static, then they were looking at the courtyard
below, at what was obviously just moments after the explosion. The glow
of flames from the ruins of the kitchen doorway threw shadows and red
light across the walls. The cameraman zoomed in on the blast zone, then
quickly panned across the cobbled, debris-strewn courtyard to the broken
fountain. It had been knocked off its foundation and water was spraying
up from a broken pipe. The picture zoomed in and they saw Quatre lying
in a twisted heap in a puddle beside it, the remains of his clothes in
blackened shreds, with terrible burns and cuts all over his back and legs.
The cameraman took a moment to catalogue those injuries, and the fact
that he was bleeding from his nose and both ears. The back of his head
was red and blistered, the hair burnt away to the scalp. He was also bleeding
badly from at least one head wound. Mercifully, he appeared to be unconscious.
The picture shifted dizzily up to the balcony, as if the cameraman was
looking for Trowa, then back to Quatre. It moved in close and a man's
hand appeared in frame, reaching down to grasp the shining gold ring through
Quatre's left nipple.
Heero let out an outraged gasp and clutched at his own chest as the unknown
assailant yanked hard-- hard enough to tear skin and draw blood, not quite
hard enough to pull it loose. The hand disappeared, then came back holding
a Mauser .38. He pressed the muzzle to Quatre's temple and pulled the
trigger. Duo flinched at the sharp click of a dry fire. The chamber was
empty, but the message was clear. Someone had gotten close enough to film
this, and could have easily killed Quatre if he'd chosen to. The camera
wavered and the screen went blank for a moment, then was replaced by a
still shot of a post card. It was an old fashioned precolony one, made
of pasteboard, with a faded color photo of a city skyline at night. In
the upper corner, in English, white letters spelled out "Kisarazu! City
of the Future."
The shot remained steady, but this time there was sound. A man's electronically
distorted voice whispered, "I hope you enjoyed the show, Yuy. Next time
the gun won't be empty. How many more of your pretty little boyfriends
have to get hurt before you come and visit me? I'm losing patience."
This was followed by a series of still shots, like a slide show: Trowa
and Quatre walking into the performers entrance at Circus Della Notte;
Heero sketching at a cafe; Duo buying apples in the French Market; Quatre
at the corner grocery; Trowa at the garden gate.
Heero stood through it all, hands clenched, glaring at the screen. When
it was over, he played it again, and then a third time as they both searched
for some clue. But apart from the postcard and the obvious effort to goad
them into acting, there seemed to be nothing.
Duo shut off the television and waited for Heero to speak. He didn't say
anything for a long time, just stood staring at the blank screen. Then
he reached into his pocket and took out a plastic envelope holding some
jewelry. Quatre's jewelry, Duo saw. He took out the gold nipple ring and
held it up for Duo to see. There was still dried blood on it.
Heero was wearing a knotted leather thong choker, one that Duo loved him
in. He untied it and slipped the ring onto it, then put it back on. When
he looked up again, Duo felt a chill. Those dark blue eyes were hard as
stone and focused as a laser beam; full mission mode.
"Heero, we need a plan," he warned.
"I have one. I'm going to kill whoever is responsible for this."
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