Written By: bikkothewriter
see Ch. 1 for warning, notes, disclaimer

Preventors' Case #84309: Splicers + Chapter Fifteen

Heero had decided, before they'd even had breakfast the next day that taking care of a three year old was akin to having an energetic puppy.

He'd woken up with the boy only inches form his face, tail thumping against Heero's chest as he grinned with one thought on his mind: breakfast. A word that he repeated several times until Heero was finally forced to get up and out of bed as chocking a small child went against everything he stood for.

While it hadn't taken much effort to convince the boy that he needed to be cleaned and dressed before going to breakfast, it had taken a stern tone to convince him that he needed to clean up the clothes that he'd tossed haphazardly around the room and make up his bed.

The logic behind making the bed while standing in it would more than likely elude him for the rest of his life but with a little help the task was accomplished before they headed off to the showers and again Kitten's enthusiastic behavior made him think of puppies.

Kitten was not shy about the water, running from one spot to another prompting the automatic showerheads to activate so he could happily splash around naked, laughing at all the fun he seemed to be having. He also had no regard for the few agents showering in the open area with him, stopping to stand in front of the showering men introducing himself, his hand out in greeting. Heero would have to recount the story of Kitten and Agent Dorian and the way he'd covered himself, blushing a deep red, stammering at the boy.

After explaining that running on wet tile was dangerous and that he was bothering the others and keeping them from their own showers, Heero managed to corral the boy in a private curtain where he could supervise him. How one boy could use so much soap and not clean his entire body was another enigma for Heero to question in his downtime.

Heero was happy with his decision to square Kitten away first before getting dressed as drying a wily three year old was like holding water in his hand and combing Kitten's hair had been just as difficult with Heero holding the boy in a haphazard headlock to keep him still. Done with Kitten, he was able to freshen up and put on one the many clean uniforms he had stored at headquarters. Trowa had once told him that where others hid snacks around their offices, Heero squirreled away uniforms. The habit kept him with a clean uniform in easy reach and he refused to be offended by the joke.

Clean, dressed, and so hungry he could die, Kitten walked hand in hand with Heero though he protested that he wasn't a baby and could walk on his own. Heero began to see the reason behind putting harnesses and leashes on children as Kitten's attention wandered easily and if left alone he would have stopped to touch, smell, and talk to everything and everyone. They were held up from reaching the cafeteria because the boy was determined to greet everyone they passed in the halls on the way there. When asked why he needed to meet everyone, he replied in a haughty tone for a three year old that his Nana taught him manners.

Once in line at the cafeteria Heero hoisted the boy into his arms, mindful of his own smarting chest, promising himself his pain meds after he'd eaten. Kitten wrapped his arms around Heero's neck looking at the array of food behind the glass counter, inhaling deeply through his nose.

"What do you want to eat?" he asked Kitten after the boy had had time to see the selections.

"Everything."

"You can't eat everything," Heero chided, "Do you want cereal, or eggs and bacon, or some fruit?"

"Yes," Kitten said nodding.

"Yes to what?"

"All of it."

Heero shook his head sighing. Spoiled and incorrigible.

A worker behind the counter chuckled at the two of them before speaking, "Don't worry about it, Commander, I'll take care of him. He did the same thing yesterday."

"Hi, Mr. Bobby," Kitten said waving to the man.

"Hi, Kitten," the worker replied, waving a gloved hand. "What can I get for you, Commander?"

Heero didn't often eat at the Preventors' cafeteria and he gave the food another look, deciding to get eggs, bacon, toast, fresh fruit and orange juice, letting the other man take care of Kitten's meal. Reaching the end of the line he was pleasantly surprised to see Kitten's plate dished with a bite of everything the cafeteria offered for breakfast. He paid for his meal, while the staff let Kitten have his sampler free and allowed Kitten to lead the way to an empty table.

Not in his seat for more than minute, Heero's phone dinged with a new message alerting him that his day had officially began with Hayers asking for directions for the day. He sent a reply to meet him in the lab inside headquarters in an hour. He sent a pre-emptive message to Trowa, telling him of his location as well as the meeting he had planned, asking his partner to find out Price's status. Next was a call into the lab, specifically to Taylor, asking him to be ready with the surveillance footage from the coffee shop.

"Oh look, Wu Fei, Heero saved us a seat," Sally said as the two approached the table dressed in their uniforms, looking much more awake and alert than Heero felt.

"Ms. Sally! Major Wu Wu!" Kitten cheered waving to the two agents.

"Wu Fei," said man replied indignantly, taking the seat across from Kitten while Sally pulled the chair across from Heero.

"I taught him that," Sally said conspiratorially, leaning towards Heero with a grin.

"You're encouraging disrespectful behavior," Wu Fei replied, glaring at his partner.

"But it's so cute when he says Major Wu Wu," Sally said, pouting playfully at Wu Fei.

Heero liked the lighter side of Sally. Unburdened from her time as a colonel with the lives of hundreds depending on her command, she was a much freer and happier person. She looked remarkably younger with her hair down, wavy blond locks falling around her shoulders and face in a simple, effortless hairstyle. He enjoyed watching the playful banter she and Wu Fei shared though he sometimes wondered if there wasn't something more to their relationship than what they portrayed in public.

"It's disrespectful. He shouldn't call his elders by such ridiculous names," Wu Fei argued.

Sally only laughed in reply, saying without words that she intended to continue teaching Kitten behaviors that Wu Fei wouldn't approve of.

"What is he eating?" Wu Fei asked gesturing unfavorably at Kitten's plate.

"Everything," Heero answered, earning himself a glare.

"You're spoiling him too."

"It wasn't my idea," he said glancing at the mess on Kitten's plate. The boy had eaten everything he liked and picked over the things he didn't stirring everything into an unrecognizable pile of mush that he ignored in favor of the small pile of grapes on his plate. He turned back to Wu Fei and Sally shaking his head, "Did you learn anything worthwhile from the assistants?"

"Nothing good," Sally answered, "They were more gophers than anything."

"Gophers?"

"You know, go for this, go for that."

"Errand runners," Wu Fei elaborated rolling his eyes at the smiling woman.

"Were they aware that he was performing illegal splicing?"

"Yes but they both say that Gervais paid them enough to keep his little secret. Their exact wording."

"Where is he getting the money from? He's been underground for the last four years and before that a medic in the war. He doesn't have the funds to run this sort of operation and pay people off."

"A silent benefactor who's good at covering his tracks," Wu Fei surmised. "We've looked through all of Gervais' accounts and nothing points to where this money is coming from."

Heero was delayed in answering by an incoming message from Trowa. Price was out of surgery though still unconscious at the moment and wouldn't be cleared for duty for at least six weeks. That cut two people from his team because of Murai's splicing. He pushed his barely touched food away from himself, upset with the turn of events. At this rate if he didn't find Murai soon, his entire team including himself would be in the hospital.

"What's happened?" Wu Fei asked.

"Price was injured last night and won't be cleared for duty for sometime. It leaves me two people short on my team."

"You've got us," Sally said, gesturing towards herself and Wu Fei.

"Yes," Wu Fei added, "You have our help for as long as we can provide it."

Working with the Hostage and Rescue Team meant being on-call at anytime of the day or night to handle situations as they arose, and that its members took their downtime seriously, as they weren't afforded many opportunities to do so. That Wu Fei and Sally would give up the little free time that they had to continue to work with him on his case humbled him.

"Thank you, I appreciate it. We need to find Murai before he attacks any other Preventors."

"We issued the alert last night after we found out what happened," Sally said.

"Was there anything special about the attack that could he help us track him?"

"Oh!" Kitten yelled suddenly, standing up in his chair.

"Kitten, what is it?" Heero asked, putting a hand on the boy's back concerned.

"Mr. Trowa," he said softly, almost dreamily from the way he curled his tail into his hands, pressing it against his face as he stared at the far door.

"What's going on?" Sally asked confused.

"Something about Trowa's smell. Duo says it's akin to catnip."

"How is that?"

"I'm not sure," Heero replied. He swiped his finger down Kitten's nose, distracting him. He blinked confused all his attention having been focused on the approaching Trowa and the door to look at Heero.

"Sit down and eat," he admonished, and Kitten dutifully sat, going back to his grapes just as Trowa came through the door.

"We need to talk about this," Wu Fei said, nodding towards Kitten.

"Later."

"Morning Trowa," Sally greeted as the taller man approached. "I hear you smell like catnip."

"Only to the cats," he said smirking and immediately had Kitten's full attention, as he stared up at the man a grape forgotten between his fingers. Trowa ran a gentle hand over the boy's head, greeting him. "Good morning Kitten."

The boy preened under the attention, "Hi Mr. Trowa."

Sally giggled and Heero couldn't help but smile, Kitten was completely taken in by Trowa and by the look on the taller man's face, he was both amused and embarrassed by the attention.

"Are you done eating," Heero asked Kitten, tapping him under the chin to break his stare. Kitten looked to his plate, nodding. "Good, let's go throw this away."

He stood gathering his tray and Kitten's, directing the boy to walk towards the trashcans before informing the group that he would meet them in the lab to review the surveillance footage once he'd delivered Kitten into Joyanne's care for the day.

On the way to the playroom, they managed to meet and greet four agents, one custodial worker, a secretary, and two visitors before finding Joyanne waiting in the playroom for them.

"Are we going to play now?" Kitten asked after saying hello to Joyanne.

"Not right now, I have to work," Heero answered.

"But you promised," Kitten whined.

"I know but-"

"You promised," Kitten said, stomping his tiny foot, "Let's play now."

Joyanne chuckled at them both, stepping up to Heero to lay a hand on his elbow, stopping him from trying to explain to the boy that he had important work to do. It was strange to see the boy react in that way. Kitten was always very cheerful and that he could be upset by something as small as a missed play date hurt Heero. He felt guilty for having to once again leave the boy his job more important than smashing trucks and he wished he knew how to explain to Kitten without out hurting his feelings. The alternative would be prompting him to stalk Heero in the middle of the night and end up on another colony, although with Kitten's luck they'd find him on Mars.

"Commander, sit down for just a minute," she directed, getting him to sit on the floor where Kitten found a perch for himself on his lap. She sat beside them both and Heero thought it was smart of her to wear loose comfortable clothes, as she would be run ragged by Kitten.

"Kitten, do you remember when those bad men took you away?" she asked.

Kitten looked up from where he was playing with his own tail to answer, "They stole my unnawears."

Joyanne chuckled and Heero smiled at his answer. Kitten had a knack for saying the most amusing things. That he would be more concerned about his lost "unnawears" than the fact that he'd almost been sold to a pervert was quite funny to Heero.

"Yes they did and they took you from your Nana, remember?"

"Yes."

"And do you remember who came and saved you?"

"Mr. Heero did," kitten said turning in Heero's lap, putting a hand on his chest.

"That's right, because that's Mr. Heero's job," Joyanne explained.

"It is?"

"Yes. He saves people's lives everyday and right now there's a bad man out there and Mr. Heero has to go and stop him, so he can't hurt anyone else."

"Really?" kitten asked looking up at Heero.

"Really," Heero answered.

"So Mr. Heero can't play right now, even though he really wants to, because people need him."

"Oh. Daddy, is that true?" the boy asked turning to the door and Heero wasn't surprised when Duo walked in with an embarrassed grin on his face from being caught spying. Heero could make out the agent who had escorted Duo in the hallway just before Duo closed the door on him. It seemed his message to Weber and the other two agents had gotten through and he wouldn't have anymore slip ups.

"Of course it's true," Duo said smiling at his son. "Don't you know that Heero saved the world?"

"Really?"

"Twice," Duo said emphasizing with two fingers.

"Wow," Joyanne breathed looking at Duo and by the look on her face the comment had nothing to do with Heero's heroic efforts as even he could see that Duo looked very good in the black skinny jeans and black tee he wore. His hair was loose and again draped over his shoulder and Heero wondered if Duo kept it that way because it irritated his tail.

"Really, Mr. Heero? Twice?'

"I had help," he said looking down to Kitten. "You're father helped me."

"Only a little," Duo said, plucking his son from Heero's lap. He rubbed his nose against Kitten's in greeting before giving his attention back to Heero and Joyanne holding his hand out. "Ladies first."

Heero watched the woman's face hoping, and yet not, that Duo's touch would inspire the same reaction that it had in him the day before, but she only smiled pleasantly in the face of an attractive man letting herself be pulled from the floor. When Duo bent down to help him up, Duo's smell was there, heavier, muskier than usual and once Heero's hand was in his, he shivered. The feeling of fingers brushing up and down his skin was distracting him from getting his feet underneath himself as Duo pulled him upright. He found himself looking into Duo's eyes just inches from his, wanting a kiss more than he had ever wanted in his life.

"Did you and Mr. Heero kiss and make up?" Kitten asked breaking the suddenly spell as the men jerked apart, dropping each other's hands and Joyanne giggled at the both of them.

"Not yet," Duo said standing up straight.

"What're you doing here?"

"I asked that Mr. Maxwell come in and spend some time with Kitten so that I can make a decision regarding who gets custody."

"I've got to break you guys of calling him Kitten. His name is Rhys." He turned to look at the child in his arms. "I can't believe you have everyone calling you Kitten. Did you tell anyone your real name?"

"But I'm a kitten," said pouting in way of explanation.

Heero shook his head and Duo echoed him before chuckling, kissing Kitten, no, Rhys' cheek.

"I'll leave you to it," he told Joyanne, "Call me with your decision."

"Of course, Commander."

"Duo. Rhys," he said nodding to the two cats, who waved and said their goodbyes to him as he left and headed to the A/V lab and the other members of his team.

+

"So there's Lisa and Leslie there," Taylor said pointing towards the twins on the large view screen. Heero stood to the side of the lab tech's chair with the Trowa, Wu Fei, Sally and Hayers spread out behind him reviewing the footage from the attack at Café du Sol.

The twins were chatting each other up in the footage, laughing and gesturing to each other dressed in their Preventors' uniforms, their blond hair pulled high into ponytails that moved as they talked.

"And over here is Dr. M," Taylor said pointing to the bottom left hand of the screen where Dr. M stood concealed in a large coat and hat, "He's just watching them and then when we fast forward, he joins the line after the girls do."

The tape accelerated showing Dr. M move from the corner to the end of the line in a jerky motion before Taylor hit play again. The twins were unaware of the danger that stood behind them as they moved forward in line.

"Okay, so then he reaches into his pocket," Taylor said using the computer to zoom in on the image of Dr. M pulling two syringes from his coat pocket. "And see here, he's got more syringes in his pocket."

"This was premeditated," Wu Fei said as the tape continued to run, showing Dr. M stab the first needle into the twin on the right, Lisa, and then Leslie. "He planned on finding twins to use the tiger recombinant on."

"He had a plan then for who he wanted to use that batch on but what about the others?" Sally asked aloud. "We can't say for sure that he is going after agents. It could be a coincidence that the twins were also agents."

"So his customers aren't coming to him, so now he's going to them?" Taylor speculated, turning for his station to look back at the group.

Taylor Hayers was a skinny, with pale skin, dark brown hair and thick glasses, the miniature and nerdier version of his brother Benjamin Hayers, who worked as a part of Heero's team, who was tall and muscular with dark brown hair and clear skin. Despite their differences in looks and personality, the two got along well and it didn't hurt that with Ben as a part of his team, Heero had the lab's best A/V tech on call whenever he needed him.

"No, this smacks of revenge. He attacked two agents in public in the middle of the afternoon, in view of cameras and witnesses," Trowa said. "He wanted to be seen by us."

"Because we stopped his business?" Hayers questioned.

"And ruined his life," Taylor added. "His practice is gone, he can't go home, and he can't even show his face in public."

"What can we do to track him?" Wu Fei asked.

"Well this coffee shop is only a block from his practice, so he knows the area pretty well and he's probably lurking nearby," Taylor answered.

"We should talk to the baristas, find out if the twins or Murai were frequent customers," Sally suggested.

"What do we know about the syringes he used?" Heero asked.

"Typical medical grade. He could have purchased them anywhere," Trowa said.

"We need to bring Trent Montgomery back in for questioning. Someone is helping Murai and he may know who."

"What do these people have in common?" Sally asked.

"Besides splicing, not much. Two of them met him through his practice, the others met him through his liaisons to find the locations of his temporary labs," Hayers said.

"His motive?"

"We were told by Trent that he wanted to be famous for his work," Heero answered.

"How?"

"So far we're not sure. Dr. Greyson has been through most of the chemicals and from the high concentrations and the mixes; he's assuming that Murai intended to turn people into animals. The strength of the recombinant has been steadily progressing," Trowa answered.

"Why continue to increase the strength if the first test was unsuccessful?" Sally questioned.

"I don't think it was meant to be successful in the way that you mean it."

"What are you getting at Taylor," Hayers asked his brother.

"What if he intended for them to die. We've dealt with a lot of fanatics. Maybe his fame would come from being a murderer."

"But there wasn't a specific target before now."

"Yes there was."

"Splicers," Heero answered.

"Yeah you said it yourself they all had splicing in common."

"Why would a vet kill people who want to be animals? I could understand killing the politicians, the Preventors or people opposed to the idea. Doing this is like killing PETA members," Hayers said.

"We're not working with a sane person. To him this all makes sense," Trowa said.

"The question is how do we find him before he attacks someone else." Wu Fei said.

"Could we track him by scent?" Sally asked.

"What's your idea?" Heero asked.

"Kitten's reaction to Trowa made me think of it. We could try to track him with bloodhounds. If he's still in the area we may be able to find him."

"Special Agent Long is in charge of the K-9 unit," Taylor said turning back to his computers pulling up Long's face and number on the large view screen.

When a phone rang amongst the group, Heero was happy to note that it was not his phone for once. Instead, Wu Fei stepped out into the hall to take the phone call.

"Taylor, I want you to look through the sales from all the medical supply chains in and around the area and tell me if you find anything that Murai could have purchased in regards to making recombinant along with syringes."

"I'm on it, Commander."

"Sally, you and Wu Fei-" Heero started but was interrupted by Wu Fei reentering the room.

"Po, we have a job. Yuy and Barton, you're with me.

"What's the situation?" Sally asked.

"Children held hostage at an elementary school. We need to move out as soon as possible."

It's here on this colony?" Trowa asked.

"Yes, only a few miles from here from what I was told."

"Alright," Heero said, already switching gears in his head. "Hayers-

"No, Commander. Don't leave me out of this," Hayers protested, before Heero had the chance to give the other man instructions. "Let me come with you."

"I only need two of you. Let's make this quick gentlemen."

Heero looked to Trowa who stood off to the side behind Hayers who was looking at Heero intently. In the midst of a raid or a hostage situation there were no two people on his team better than Trowa and Hayers. Combat missions and infiltration were Hayers strong points as well as not being easily intimidated and why Heero had chosen him for his team. Asked to choose between the two on who he would take into a situation he would always go with Trowa as he knew the other man more intimately and could trust him without a shadow of a doubt. That Hayers wanted in on this job before he knew the details was worrying but Trowa nodded to Hayers giving his go ahead and Heero decided to trust in his judgment.

"Hayers you're with us."

"Thank you, Commander," Hayers said both happy and relieved.

"I'll stay here and work on getting the dogs and having Trent brought in," Trowa said.

They left him behind with Taylor, making their way to the riot room to gear up with Wu Fei explaining the situation. Several children and adults were trapped inside the Vigoro Elementary School cafeteria by an unknown attacker who kept them hostage electrocuting the group. So far no demands had been made but when SWAT had mobilized and moved in communications with the team had been lost abruptly and after twenty minutes with no positive outcome the Preventors Hostage and Rescue Team, namely Wu Fei, had been called.

When the HR Team was first formed Heero and Trowa had been some the top names on the list, though they had both politely turned down the job. For Heero it was matter of not wanting his entire job based on missions, sitting around waiting for something to happen before he could go and stop it. Being an agent and then a commander, he worked to stop the crimes before they were committed and it gave him an accomplished feeling to close a case with a perp behind bars.

While he was proud of Wu Fei becoming a Major and in charge of his own group, he didn't relish the attention the HRT received as the group was forced to wade through a crowd of reporters and worried parents yelling questions at them as they approached and crossed the police barricade. He felt weighed down by the familiar tactical vest knowing that inside the building there were children being hurt and he prayed that he wouldn't find any of them dead.

They didn't waste time, taking only a few minutes to acquaint themselves with the school's blueprints that Major Highland of the SWAT team provided them before moving into the building, finding that the mystery items that Hayers insisted on gathering before leaving were four pairs of rubber wading shoes that would help greatly as the school had been flooded with water. The sprinkler system had come on drenching the school's insides after curtains caught on fire and they could see the electricity coming in sporadic burst through the water as they walked. The boots wouldn't lend themselves for running but they would keep them from being electrocuted.

The power had been cut in hopes of stopping the yet to be identified target from hurting anyone else, leaving the hallways dark and eerie, and what should have been bright happy posters were washed out looking sinister, the sounds of children screaming echoing down the hall. Heero imagined that this was the effect that most horror movies were supposed to have.

They found the SWAT team down the second hall, four bodies crumbled on the floor caught by surprise. Sally pronounced them dead, although she couldn't be sure that it was only one shock that had killed them or if they'd lain in the water and the subsequent shocks had killed them. They were forced to leave them behind, relaying a message to the Major outside that the team was dead before pressing on.

At the doors to the cafeteria, they paused with Wu Fei and Heero standing against the door peering through the glass panes looking for the target. Heero could see several children huddled on top of the tables and crying but couldn't discern where the target was or where the electricity was coming from.

"Somebody's at the door," a voice said form inside the room.

"Help us."

"Make her stop!"

"Who's there?" a woman's voice called louder than the others did.

"Major Chang with the Preventors. I'm coming in," he said, pushing through the door his gun pointed up as he moved slowly. Heero pushed his own door open following Wu Fei, gun pointing down as he scanned the room looking for the threat.

"Major, please," the woman called out in pain and Heero tracked the voice to the other side of the room where a Preventors' agent lay in almost two inches of water. Her skin was dark almost black and shiny, her hair which he could only assume was once blonde floated in the water around her having fallen off of her head. "Please shoot me."

"What's going on here agent?" Wu Fei asked approaching slowly.

"I can't stop it," she said panting.

"Can't stop what, agent?"

"The electricity, you idiot," yelled a man from somewhere in the room. "Just shoot her before she kills us."

"Ple-Ahhh!" The agent screamed bucking on the ground and Heero could see the electricity shooting from her. Thin blue bolts that lit the room with their radiance, spreading through the air and water. He gasped as electricity passed through him thankful that he had the boots to keep him from being grounded and electrocuted. The others trapped in the room were not so lucky, screaming as they were shocked.

Wu Fei quickly holstered his gun going for the tranq gun at his side taking enough time to aim before discharging a dart that caught the agent in the neck. She gasped and another bout of electricity surged before she went limp.

"Don't move," Wu Fei called to the room at large as the children moved to get off the tables and out of the room. "Po, check her."

Sally moved forward to check the agent's body with Heero moving with her to identify the woman. Her nametag was melted beyond recognition, the plastic molded into her jacket.

"Something's wrong with her legs," Sally whispered, squatting next to the other woman. Heero followed her gaze to the agent's legs that looked misshapen through her pants. Sally reached a hand out, touching the wet fabric feeling the other woman's legs and as her hand made contact the agent jerked another round of electricity moving from her and through Sally who screamed in pain.

"Shit," Heero yelled grabbing the back of Sally's vest hauling her up and way from the agent and the water that would have been her death had she fallen into it.

"My arm," she said panting. She clung to him with her left arm, her right limp at her side, her legs threatening to buckle underneath her

"Shoot her in the stomach," Hayers said.

"What?"

"The electricity is coming from her stomach."

Wu Fei didn't question him a second time shooting a dart into her stomach and she gave a weak jerk, blue electricity flaring up, then dying away quickly as the drug took effect. Hayers moved into towards her slowly, carefully reaching a hand out to touch her. Wu Fei moved up to grab Hayers in case he, too, was shocked but Hayers was able to lay a hand on the agent without being electrocuted.

"We need to get everyone out of here before she has a chance to come to," Wu Fei said, mobilizing the few adults in the room getting them to carry as many children as they could out of the cafeteria, warning them of the dead bodies in the hallway. Once the room was clear of "hostages" they set to work on getting the agent out of the school with paramedics coming in to cart the woman away after making sure she was completely sedated and paralyzed.

It was after they'd carried her from the room that Heero had time to process the scene, taking in the banner hung against the wall proclaiming career day in bold letters. It explained why one of the adults had been dressed in a chef's smock. The curtains around the room had caught fire, and only the ashes remained floating in the water along with a medical grade syringe.

"This was Murai's work."

"He's targeting agents," Wu Fei confirmed.

"How'd he know that she would be here?" Hayers asked.

"It isn't hard to spot us," Sally answered flexing the fingers of her right arm, from where she leaned against one of the tables recovering. "The uniform makes it pretty obvious."

"This isn't just about attacking Preventors; he's made sure that he causes as much damage as possible."

"What did he do to her?" Hayers asked.

"Electric eel, I think," Sally said. "I can't be sure, but it didn't feel like she had any bones in her legs."

"We need to talk to the witnesses. See if anyone saw him and how he managed to attack her and get away with out being shocked," Heero said.

"Hayers."

"Yes, Major."

"You did a good job here," Wu Fei said giving the man a firm look. "your quick thinking on the boots and the electricity saved us here. We could use more people like you with the HRT."

"If you're offering Major, I'm accepting."

"What?" Heero said looking to Hayers confused. Now was not the time to be applying for a new job, especially not in front of his current commander.

"No offense, Commander, I've worked under a lot of people and you are the best commander I could ask for. You get your hands dirty; you'll go dumpster diving with best of us. And when something bad happens on a job, you don't just say oh sixteen out of seventeen ain't bad. You feel cut up about just like we do, but this isn't what I want. I can't sit around filing paperwork and doing stakeouts sitting on my hands waiting for something to happen. I want to be on the front lines, saving lives and if Major Chang will have me then I want to go."

Heero stared stupidly at Hayers having never heard such an impassioned speech from the man or so many compliments from him in the time that they had worked together. He wasn't sure of what to say in this situation and the three pairs of eyes staring at him intently didn't help much either. He looked at Hayers earnest face and saw that being promoted to the HRT would be a dream come true for the other man and could do nothing besides give his blessings.

"Hayers... if that's what you want, then I'm behind you," he said and the look of joy on Hayers face was worth losing a member of his team.

"Thank you, Commander," he said to Heero before turning his hopeful gaze to Wu Fei. "Major?"

"Do you recommend him Commander Yuy?" Wu Fei asked formally.

"He's one of the best Major Chang. I hate to see him go but I know he'll be an asset to your team."

"Welcome aboard, Agent Hayers."

"Awe, group hug," Sally said holding her good arm out towards the men and if Heero didn't already know the woman and her sometimes silly tendencies he would have thought the shock had given her brain damage.

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