Written By: bikkothewriter
Pairings: Main 1x2, others may show up
Warnings: Yaoi, Language, blood, gore, lemon, lime, angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing! Splicing idea borrowed from Batman Beyond.
Rating: NC 17

Preventors' Case #84309: Splicers + Chapter Eleven

Heero jerked, releasing Hughes' shirt to step away from Wu Fei. He hadn't seen the man since he'd become a Major, working exclusive with the Preventors Hostage and Rescue Team, almost a year ago. He wore a crisp Preventors' uniform, though his coat was decorated with gold pins marking him as a Major.

"We need to talk," Wu Fei said.

"No, not until I get some answers from her." He said pointing at Hughes. He'd committed himself to getting answers from the woman and he wouldn't let anyone stop not even Wu Fei.

Wu Fei's gaze flicked to the frightened woman then back to Heero, "This isn't the way to do it."

"She knows where Duo is. She knows where Kitten's gone. She knows all about Dr. M and she is going to tell me."

"Or what?" Wu Fei asked crossing his arms.

"Or maybe I'll do to her what he did to Lucy," he said to Wu Fei. He turned to Hughes invading her space again, "How would like to have tentacles for arms and legs and your lungs filled with ink?"

She paled and leaned away, looking at any and everything but Heero.

"She isn't the one who hurt Lucy."

"No, but she might as well. She's protecting that monster. They had to put her into coma she was in so much pain," Heero said his voice cracking with anguish.

"Heero," Wu Fei said his hands out, placating.

"Kitten is somewhere on L2. L2! And she couldn't be bothered to tell us his favorite places to go so we could try and find him," he yelled pointing at Hughes.

He looked again at the woman who was now blinking back tears her hands covering her mouth. He wanted to grab her again, to shake the answers out of her. Lives were at stake and still she sat silent, trying to contain emotions that Heero didn't believe the old woman felt.

"If anything happens to him it's your fault," he said then laughed unconsciously at himself. "What am I saying? You don't even care about him. What is it? Did you buy him at an Auction? Is he your pet?"

"Heero, that's enough," Wu Fei said putting a calm, yet restraining hand on Heero's upper arm. No doubt the other man knew that he was a hair trigger away from seriously hurting the woman.

"No! Everyone keeps telling me to go easy on her. That she's just protecting someone she loves," he said to Wu Fei before turning back to Hughes, "You aren't protecting anyone but a madman who experiments on children and kills innocent people."

"Eric would never do anything like that!" she yelled suddenly and regretted it instantly, quickly covering her mouth again.

"Who is Eric?" Wu Fei asked before Heero had a chance to recover from the shock of her outburst.

She shook her head, looking away from the two men.

"You see?" He asked Wu Fei. "She doesn't care. Three people have already died this week and Lucy's next. Kitten's still lost somewhere and she won't talk. She's just as bad as Dr. M."

"I don't know who Dr. M is but I know that I'm nothing like him," she said angrily.

"Then give me some answers. Who is Eric?"

"Eric is... " Hughes started. She took a deep breath letting it out in a quiet sigh, "I met him years ago. I worked as his secretary when he owned his own practice. We were friends, lovers, but when the war first started he closed the practice down to help fight for the colonies.

"I didn't hear from him for almost ten years, then one day he came to my house carrying this little boy," she paused, remembering, "He was maybe two then. His ears were as big as his head and the moment I let them in the house he was into everything.

"Eric asked me to take care of him. That it wasn't fair for Kitten to be raised in a lab. It wasn't supposed to be permanent, just a year or two and he would come back for him. He told me that his father was sick but once the treatments were over, he would come back for his son."

"You mean Duo."

"Yes. Eric didn't tell me much. He said the less I knew the better, just that he wanted me to keep the boy safe. Kitten told me about his father. He told me that his name was Duo and that he missed him."

"He showed up at our house after a decade with a little boy who was spliced with a cat and you accepted him without question?" Heero asked.

"Of course I asked questions, but I know that Eric wouldn't do anything to hurt anyone."

"There are people who die every day from splicing. Kitten could have been in danger," he argued.

"Eric assured me that he was healthy and he is. He's never been sick, not so much as a cold."

"Why were you protecting him? Why not tell us before now?"

"Because I know that Eric is doing good work and if I told you anything you would go after him and throw him in jail before he had a chance to explain."

"If his work is so good, why is he hiding it? Why does it involve splicing a toddler?" Wu Fei asked.

"I don't know. He wouldn't tell me much. Only that it would change lives and that Kitten needed to stay hidden and safe."

"So he entrusted the boy to you. To keep him safe and out of his lab."

"He wanted Kitten to have some normalcy."

"Of course, watching your father being experimented on isn't normal," Heero said acidly.

"Eric is nothing like your Dr. M and neither am I. I have never hurt or abused Kitten. I've loved him as if he were my own son."

Heero had to contain the malicious urge to remind Hughes that her son was a criminal serving consecutive sentences.

"Why didn't you answer us when he went missing? We might have been able to find him had we known where he was headed."

"I thought Eric had found out about my being arrested and had taken Kitten back with him. I thought he was safe."

"Do you know where Eric's lab is?"

"No and I don't know anything about Duo. As I told you, Eric said it was best if I knew as little as possible."

"What was Eric's practice?" Wu Fei asked.

"Veterinarian medicine."

It was almost too much for Heero. First to find that there was indeed a second doctor doing illegal work with splicing, but that he also worked or had worked as vet. It gave more credence to Zechs' theory of a copy-cat doctor. It also meant that whatever 'treatments' the doctor gave to Duo also involved splicing in some way and that the doctor had possibly been experimenting on him for years. The sudden image of Duo in Lucy's predicament made his stomach turn.

"Is it true that Kitten is on L2?" Hughes asked.

"Yes," Heero said.

"No," Wu Fei said.

"What?" Heero and Hughes asked together, looking to Wu Fei.

"That's what I came here to tell you. I found Kitten," he said smugly.

"How?" Heero asked.

"Apparently Kitten has a love of older women," Wu Fei said sending a pointed look at Hughes, "After he made his way to L2, he ended up staying with an eighty-four year old woman for a few days. When her grandson came looking for her he recognized Kitten from the news and called it in. Sally and I were on a short leave and decided since we were headed this way, we could drop him off."

"You mean he's here and he's safe?" Heero asked all but melting with relief.

"Yes, he's fine. A little too talkative, but fine."

"Can I see him?" Hughes asked.

Heero looked at the woman seriously considering saying no. After the time, effort and worry she could have saved them if she had spoke up sooner, he didn't feel as if she deserved to be in the same room as the boy, but his mission was more important.

"You can once you tell me everything there is to know about Eric."

+

Heero stood in the conference room, his hands flat against the table where he stood looking at his semi-assembled team. Hayers and Price had gone home for the day while Weber continued to work cataloguing the evidence obtained from Dr. Murai's lab somewhere in the building. Trowa sat in his usual seat to Heero's right and Wu Fei, along with Sally Po, filled two of the empty chairs. Kitten was sequestered away in one of the Preventors' dorm rooms fast asleep.

"Why did Kitten go to L2? I thought we'd established that Duo is somewhere on L1," Trowa started.

"Actually, his going to L2 was an accident," Sally answered, "He was trying to find something to eat and followed the smell of the in-flight meal right onto the shuttle. Once he was onboard the flight attendants fed him and kept him company," Sally explained.

"Why didn't they do something? He was obviously an unattached child," Heero said.

Wu Fei frowned answering, "The head attendant thought it would be too much trouble to stop the shuttle and have the pilot re-dock. It was under his orders that the staff continue on and report that they didn't find Kitten until after they had docked on L2."

"We've already filed charges against the crew," Sally added.

"Did he tell you why he left the foster home?" Heero asked.

"Yes, actually," Sally said with a small chuckle, "He was looking for you."

"Me?" Heero asked confused. Surely the boy had left home to find his father not him. He'd only spoken to the boy on very few occasions and couldn't believe that in such a short time that he had become important to him.

"Supposedly, the two of you have a play date and he was afraid you wouldn't be able to find him if he stayed at the home."

"You're kidding," Trowa said just as stunned as Heero felt.

"No, it's true," she said smiling. "He left the foster home to find Heero, decided he was hungry and ended up on a shuttle to L2 and once there found an old woman to keep company."

"Only a child of Duo's could get into so much trouble over nothing," Wu Fei said.

Heero shook his head unwilling to comment on that and instead changed the subject. "We need to look into finding Dr Eric Gervais. He's the one who's holding Duo hostage," Heero said to Trowa. He quickly briefed the other man on the information he and Wu Fei had obtained from Hughes.

"Are you sure?" Trowa asked quietly and Heero knew from the tone that he would not like where the conversation was about to head.

"Sure about what?"

"That this Dr Gervais is holding Duo against his will. He could have volunteered for this treatment."

Heero glared at the man and Trowa made a point of not looking at him.

"There were no signs of foul play when Duo went missing," Wu Fei said, "He could have willingly gone with Dr Gervais. Kitten talked about his father often and made no mention of him being restrained or hurt."

"Or maybe he was forced to cooperate so that his son wouldn't be hurt," Heero snapped.

"I don't think we should jump to conclusions either way. Duo could have been forced into the situation and after what you've told us about Lucy, I imagine that he would do and say anything to not have to go through that kind of pain," Sally said. "We need to find Duo first and get our answers from him."

"We need to start researching Gervais and come up with a plan of attack once we find his location," Heero said.

"Trowa, Sally and I can handle that while you get some rest," Wu Fei said.

"I don't need to rest," Heero argued.

"You haven't slept in almost four days," Trowa chimed in, earning himself another glare from Heero.

"I've gone longer on less sleep."

"Don't make me pull rank, Yuy," Wu Fei said his gaze just as fierce. "You can either get some sleep or I can pull you off of this case. By the time you wake up will be ready to make a move against Dr Gervais but you're not going in unless I think you're one-hundred percent."

Heero clenched his hands into fists but conceded. He wouldn't let this mission happen without him and if it meant that he had to get a few hours of sleep to be at the helm in saving Duo then he would sleep.

+

Heero had all but collapsed in the twin bed the Preventors' dorms had to offer. Every part of him felt weighed down, heavy with stress, worry, excitement, anger and sadness. They were finally moving in the right direction again. Kitten had been found unharmed and he now had Wu Fei and Sally to back him in his mission to find and save Duo, but Dr. Murai was still at large.

Heero tried not to picture the horrifying sight of Lucy turning into something less than human. Tried not to hear the sounds of her shrieking as her body twist and turned in ways it was never meant to move. She had broken the case and had been broken because of it. Now Dr. Murai would try to go further underground, making it harder to find him a second time around. Even with his face practically plastered all over L1 and a bullet in his shoulder he had yet to resurface and Heero feared that more people would die before he was found.

Then there were the thoughts of Duo. Heero tried not to dwell on his confused and jumbled feelings for his comrade, but now he worried about what had happened to his friend. What was the sickness that Duo had that this Dr Gervais was treating. Had he gone to this man seeking help or had he been used in some sort of experiment? What was the work he told Kitten he had to do? All those questions ran circles in his head for some time before he was finally able to drift off knowing that they would find him and soon and all of his questions would be answered.

When he woke it was mid-afternoon, but he felt refreshed and ready to take on Dr. Gervais and rescue Duo. He ate a quick lunch in the cafeteria before hunting down Wu Fei and the others. In ten hours they had managed to make a lot of progress. Both finding Dr. Gervais' base of operations as well as settling up surveillance to track the comings and goings of his associates. They'd managed to find out everything out about the man from what size shoe he wore to what pre-school he had attended. So far there was no evidence linking him as an associate of Dr. Murai's but they both practiced in the same field, although Gervais was retired, which meant they had to travel in the same circles.

An hour later found Heero, Wu Fei, Sally and a few Preventors on loan from Commander Chase moving in on the abandoned office building where Dr. Gervais had converted the basement of into a make-shift lab.

There were only two assistants in the outer rooms of the underground lab, and they were quickly and quietly subdued by Sanford and Arnet, while Heero, Wu Fei and Sally continued forward to the main doors which were metal sliding that doors that Heero quickly rewired to open and remain open until he overrode them.

They entered the room as one and Heero's gaze swept the vast room taking in the books, computers and lab equipment that lined every available shelf, table and countertop as well as the medical machinery that lined the walls before his focus was drawn to the left side of the room where a small man stood at the controls of an unknown machine. Before the machine was a homemade structure, consisting of metal paneling that bowed out in a semi-circle with metal shutters in the middle that for the moment were closed. Heero could only imagine that Duo was somewhere inside the closed off room with the machine monitoring his activity until the doctor decided to open the shutters to have a look for himself.

"Don't move," Heero called out levering his gun at the gray-haired man's head as he made his way across the room. "Dr. Gervais, you're under arrest."

"I didn't think you would find me this soon. I doubt that I can convince you to come back in a month's time," the man said turning to Heero. The man looked benign, with light brown eyes, wrinkled skin and graying hair. He wore a lab coat, as all doctors were prone to, over a pair of tweed slacks, an olive shirt and brown tie. He brought his hands up in surrender, looking calm and patient.

"Where is Duo Maxwell?" Heero barked.

Gervais gestured to the observation room carelessly with one hand, "If you'll permit I can open the curtain and you'll be able to see him."

"Do it."

"It doesn't to hurt to be polite, son," he said turning back to the machine. Heero watched him carefully as he pressed one of the many buttons and the metal shutters parted smoothly, revealing not a room, but a tank. Filled with blue-green liquid that through the glass looked thick and viscous, it was like looking into an aquarium; except the fish was one Duo Maxwell who floated deep inside the structure, upright and unawares, with tubes and equipment attached to his body.

"What have you done to him?" Heero asked, trying to discern Duo's features through the murky liquid. He couldn't see his face as a mask of equipment covered it and the dark solution made it hard to make out the rest of his body.

"You make it sound as if I've maimed him," Gervais said affronted. "He's perfectly healthy,"

"Why is he inside that tank?" Wu Fei questioned.

"It's part of the procedure. In a month's time, the treatments will have taken effect and he'll be released."

"What happens if you release him now?" Heero asked.

"It's nothing too drastic, simply if I release him now the work that I've down will go to waste. We'll have to start the final step all over again."

"You're not going to be experimenting on him anymore."

"So you say," Gervais said rather smug as if he could stop Heero from taking Duo away from him and his machinations.

"Let him out of the tank."

"It isn't that simple."

"Then make it simple."

"He is in a sensory-deprivation tank, my boy. He's been inside for months now. He'll be very weak when he comes out and I can't release him until he's aware."

"How long exactly has he been inside the tank?" Sally asked, looking worried.

"For this round of treatment, almost four months," he answered.

"That's-" she started, going pale. Heero wanted desperately to ask what it meant that Duo had been left in that condition for months on end.

"I assure you he has not gone insane. I've taken precautions to keep his mind occupied while his body remains in a constant state of rest."

"That doesn't encourage me," Sally replied, "How do you wake him and is it safe to release him?"

"I take it then that you're the one with a medical background?" He asked Sally.

"Yes."

"Good, I can use you to assist me as my assistants seemed to have disappeared," he said sarcastically looking between Heero and Wu Fei. "I simply need to get his attention. Imagine that he's sleeping and I need to rouse him. Once he's alert, it will be safe to release him". He turned to the machine leaning over the microphone that extended from it. He pressed a button before speaking, "Duo. Duo, my boy, it's time wake up. You have company."

All eyes turned to the tank looking for signs of life but Duo didn't so much as twitch in response.

"The Preventors are here Duo; they would like to talk to you."

Again nothing happened and the doctor turned away from the mike, letting of the button to look at the three assembled Preventors, "Does he by chance know any of you?"

"Yes," they answered in unison.

"Your names, then."

"Wu Fei."

"Sally."

"Heero," he said disgruntled.

"Ah, Heero," Gervais said smiling, before turning back to the mike, "Your friends are here to see you. There's Wu Fei and the beautiful Sally."

There was movement then. Duo's body gave a slight twitch made noticeable by the tubes dancing in the water, then the release of bubbles that floated away from the breathing apparatus around Duo's face.

"And Heero is here," the doctor said and more bubbles surfaced as Duo gave a hard jerk. Heero wasn't sure what to make of the reaction and why his name caused it but it pleased him all the same.

"Is he awake?" he asked.

"Yes," Gervais said, though his attention was on the various buttons he pushed and the read outs the machine gave him. He spoke to Duo through the mike again, "I'm going to start draining the tank Duo. Keep still."

The doctor pulled away from the machine and they watched for a few moments as the fluid drained away from the tank, slowly lowering Duo out of sight of the window.

"My dear if you would follow me," Gervais said to Sally, gesturing for her to follow him around the side of the tank. Heero and Wu Fei followed as well keeping close to the doctor. They had since lowered their weapons but kept a steady eye on the man in case he made a move.

"Give the boy some privacy; he doesn't need you gawking at him," Gervais said sternly, looking at the two of them once they reached the door located on the side of the tank. "Bad enough that dear Sally will see him at his worse; I refuse to let the two of you do the same."

"I've got it," Sally said nodding to the two of them.

"We need to remove the respirator before the solution completely drains from the room. He hates the thing and will panic if we don't move quickly," Gervais said to Sally.

"I understand. Do you have a stretcher nearby?"

"Yes, in the room to the left, if one of you gentlemen would be so kind as to fetch it."

"Stay here," Wu Fei said touching Heero's arm lightly before moving away to 'fetch' the stretcher.

Hung on the side of the door were several pairs of water proof wading pants to which Gervais handed Sally a pair that she quickly donned as he dressed himself in a pair followed by boots for both of them. Gervais then grabbed a clean gown from a nearby shelf before opening the door to the tank. The door was two feet off the ground to keep water from spilling outward into the lab and the two stepped carefully over the threshold. Heero moved just in time to catch the barest glimpse of Duo, pale and naked floating on his back in the heavy fluid before the door slammed shut in his face.

"Duo."

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