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

Preventors' Case #84309: Splicers + Chapter Sixteen

"Yuy, here," Heero said answering his phone as he walked down the halls of the clinic avoiding staff and Preventors.

"The dogs can't pick up Murai's scent," Trowa said, jumping straight into the conversation with no greeting.

"Why not?"

"The dogs are trained to sniff out bombs and drugs. They won't follow the scent from the clothes."

"What about the police K-9 unit? Can we use their dogs?"

"We've tried with the same results. They sniffed at the clothes for a few minutes before milling around. Agent Long says there's nothing more he can do to help us."

Heero was not pleased with the news, especially after the events of that morning and had hoped that Trowa would have been able to give him good news. He and Sally had come back to the clinic where the woman had turned herself over to the staff's attention while he went on to find out the condition of the agent from the school as well as Lucy and the twins. Hayers and Wu Fei had gone in search of Trent to bring him in for questioning and no doubt discussing a timeline for Hayers' transfer.

He put that thought aside trying to think of a more productive way to help the team find Murai when Sally's earlier words came back to him.

"I have an idea. I'll call you back," he said, hanging up the phone moving with more determination.

The number of Preventors' agents loitering around the clinic had doubled in the time in took to return from the school. Witnesses could neither confirm nor deny seeing a doctor on school grounds, as several of the parents for career day were doctors and many of them older men. The when and how of the attack was left unanswered as no one saw the injection take place and the only person who could possibly answer was completely paralyzed and resting in a drug-induced coma. The agent had been identified as Agent Pam Northman, who had come to the event on behalf of her son, Eric Northman, who had been admitted to Plainsboro Medical Intensive Care Unit suffering from severe third degree burns.

Sally had been right to assume that Northman had been spliced with an electric eel. When nurses cut away her pants her boneless legs had fused into a single tail, which along with the dark brown coloring of her skin served to make her resemblance to an eel more striking and disturbing.

In the ensuing chaos after her attack, Agent Northman had inadvertently killed four SWAT team members, two teachers, six students and injured over thirty others, some like her son, sustaining third degree burns.

Murai had planned for maximum damage and had succeeded effortlessly. The twins hadn't caused nearly as much damage in their raged panic, leaving everyone involved alive and whole although fairly cut up. Now, however, neither twin seemed to be concerned with hurting anyone as Gervais managed to cure the women while Heero and the others had been dealing with Northman.

The twins were gathered around Duo and Rhys fawning over the two to Rhys' amusement as he kept looking from one woman to the other where he sat on his father's knee smiling. Both women were dressed in their hospital gowns and paper booties, showing that their skin was free of fur and stripes and that they no longer sported claws and teeth so large it kept them from doing more than screaming.

"Oh, he's so cute."

"His ears are so soft."

"They look just alike."

"Oh, look at that smile. Aren't you just the cutest thing?"

"Commander Yuy," one twin said noticing his entrance and both twins straightened up although they both giggled quickly covering their mouths.

Duo glanced at him as well from his spot before the lab's computer, fingers typing away as if being manhandled by twins was a daily occurrence and easily ignored. Rhys' waved, still as energetic as when he first woke up that morning.

"Agents Gilliam, I'm happy to see you're doing better," Heero said greeting the two women.

"You're welcome," Gervais called from the other side of the small group.

"Hn. What about Lucy?" Heero asked already annoyed with Gervais.

"As soon as you let me back into my lab I can restore both Lucy and our newest patient in a matter of hours."

Heero circumvented the twins, Rhys and Duo to approach Gervais where he sat bent over, looking into a microscope. He looked to be wearing the same clothes he'd been brought in and Heero made a mental note to get a change of clothes for the man.

"I can't authorize you being returned to your lab, especially if you were able to cure the twins without any more equipment than what the clinic's lab provided."

"The lovely Lisa and Leslie were hardly a difficult puzzle to solve, but our dear Lucy and Pamela are an entirely different story. An octopus and a knifefish? You don't see that sort of thing everyday and not only do I need time to study the chemistry there but it would take all my resources to undo the damage."

"A knifefish?"

"Why yes. Did you know that the electric eel is not actually an eel but a knifefish? Really, my boy, you should take the time to better yourself and learn such things."

Heero rolled his eyes at the man, "What equipment do you need?"

"Heero, my boy, I like you. I really do, but please keep up with me. Those two women have far more advanced splicing done as the animals they were spliced with were more advanced in their make-up. I need the equipment from my lab to restore them and I somehow doubt that you can bring my tank and all my equipment and set it up in this small, little hole you call a lab."

"Why do you need the tank?"

"I thought I just explained this to you," Gervais said looking up at Heero, questioning, "Are you slow?"

"Dr. G," Duo chided.

"No but maybe you are," Heero said angrily, "The branch director himself would have to give you clearance to return to your lab, even if it is for the benefit of other Preventors. I need to be able to tell him more than you need your lab and tank because Lucy and Pam's case are more advanced. So you either explain every detail of this procedure and why you need to be relocated or you can stay in this small, little hole."

"He's so cute when he's angry," one of the twins whispered though Heero heard her.

"I know," Duo said and made no effort to lower his voice.

"Or," Gervais said, "I could take the advice of that nice lawyer who came to speak to me yesterday and refuse to help at all until you drop the charges against both me and Duo."

"What lawyer?" he growled out.

"What was her name again, Duo?"

"Monica Rains."

"That's the one. Duo and I both could be sitting very comfortably in a cell letting your agents die but instead here we are letting our lives be put on hold to help you and yours."

"If you want to spend some time in a cell, Gervais, I can arrange it. I can push your case forward and have you sent to a penal colony by the end of the week. You can stay here and help or we can find out how much fun you have mining asteroids."

"Commander that isn't necessary," one of the twins started moving to touch Heero. He glared at the woman over his shoulder and she stopped in her tracks, hand extended, before backing down looking at him piteously.

He turned back to Gervais, looking the man square in the eye, "It's your choice Gervais."

"Are you always this difficult?" Gervais asked staring at Heero intently.

"Yes."

"I told you that I would prove that I'm not some monster like this Murai and I plan to do just that, though it would help if I could get your cooperation."

"I can't let you return to your lab without the director's approval, but until then I can get you whatever equipment you may need, but a sensory deprivation tank is out of the question until I know the full scope of its use."

"You could have said that before."

Heero took a deep breath, closing his eyes and letting out through his nose telling himself that he could not choke the doctor to death because he still needed him. However, he questioned the validity of the statement. Duo seemed more than able to handle the job being asked of Gervais and if he killed Gervais, Duo would be there to take over. He let go of the thought before he started to seriously consider the possibilities.

"Make a list of the equipment," Heero told him once he felt that he could control himself. "I'll get what I can for you by the end of the day."

"I'll need the equipment from my own lab. You'll insist on bringing me things that I've never used and I'll have to spend hours reading the instructions to figure them out."

"Fine," Heero growled out. He looked back at Duo, seeing the man's face pressed against his son's hair, knowing that he was being laughed at.

"I need your help," he said to Duo and the man blinked at him in surprise.

"Me?" he asked pointing at himself stupidly, eyes wide and the twins giggled.

"Yes. Is your sense of smell as strong as Rhys'?

"Better," Gervais answered.

"Yeah," Duo said, perking up looking at Heero expectantly, "What do you need me to do?"

+

"Somehow, I expected something more exciting than this," Duo said.

Standing in the artificial sunlight wearing sunglasses very similar to the ones he wore during the war, hands poised on his hips, head tilted back just so, looking avante garde with his ears cocked and tail swinging. Just standing on the sidewalk before Café du Sol, bracketed by Preventors' agents he attracted attention as random passer-byers on the opposite street stopped to stare at the statuesque man.

"I can't stand much more excitement today," Heero said, "Let's get started before a news van shows up."

Taking in the number of people watching, Heero wished that he'd thought ahead and made arrangements to disguise Duo. It seemed Janet had the right idea covering Rhys' ears with a large cap and shoving his tail down the back of his pants. Duo didn't seem to mind the attention he was garnering but Heero did. Seeing Duo on the nightly news was the last thing he needed.

"You can't be serious. If my dogs couldn't pick up the doctor's scent, what makes you think that he can?" Agent Long asked looking from Duo to Heero with a disgusted look.

It was in that moment that Heero realized that he was short, wondering when 5'8 had stopped being the standard height as he looked to Agent Long who was six feet tall. Over thirty with black hair gelled straight back and a ragged scar over his left eye attempting to look menacing and imposing with a Doberman sitting beside him.

"Mr. Maxwell has enhanced senses that we hope will help us track the doctor." Heero answered unfazed by Long's rudeness.

"How can you trust that he'll even tell you the truth? Doesn't he work for the doctor?"

"I believe you're confusing Dr. Gervais with Murai, Agent Long."

"It's Special Agent Long, Commander, and I can't believe you would really waste our time with this," he said gesturing at Duo as if he were a thing rather than a person.

"No one is forcing you to stay Agent Long." Heero said purposefully leaving off the special to upset the man for which he received a peeved glare.

"This man has already attacked four Preventor agents and you're bringing in some sideshow freak to find him."

"Sideshow freak?" Duo repeated lowering his shades to peer at the agent.

"Yes. You splicers are nothing but freaks who couldn't be happy with the bodies God gave them, paying good money to be turned into what? A goddamned cat," he sneered.

"I don't see how this is helping us find Murai, Special Agent Long," Flaherty said, inserting herself into the discussion.

When Heero had called to make either arrangements for Duo's tether to be temporarily turned off or its range extended Flaherty had insisted that she come along to monitor her charge's activities personally and take responsibility should he escape. Upon questioning of such unsound reasoning, she admitted that she wanted to get out of the office and out in the field for a day. Watching Duo track the doctor by his smell alone would be a bonus.

"Neither do I," Trowa added. He stood off to the side, frowning at Long.

"I wouldn't expect less from Gundam pilots," Long snapped, "putting your friendship before your job. Your job is to keep people safe not play around with animals."

"Don't you play with dogs all day?" Duo asked but no one answered him.

"I'm not a Gundam pilot or Duo's friend," Flaherty said, "but I know that offending a man trying to help us is counterproductive."

"He isn't a man, not anymore he's not," Long said sneering at Duo. He opened his mouth to say more but Heero interrupted the man.

"You're digging yourself a hole, Agent Long. I suggest you leave now before you make it any bigger."

"Are you threatening me, Commander?" he asked bearing down on Heero, trying to use his height to intimidate him. The man didn't seem to realize that Heero had taken down much larger men without any effort, else he wouldn't have invaded his personal space the way he did.

"I'm giving you some advice. If you want to keep your job, you'll leave now."

"You're nothing but an animal-humping freak and when you're boyfriend over there can't find anything don't come asking for my help again."

"I regret asking for it in the first place, Long."

Long left then, but not before giving them each a dirty look throwing three sealed plastic bags containing Murai's clothing from the back of his van, securing his dogs. Pulling onto the street, driving away, he left the group without the small cover it provided from the public and his shining personality.

"Did he just accuse you of being into bestiality?" Duo asked amused by the situation.

"I believe so," Trowa answered watching the van disappear around the corner.

"That was nice," Duo said smiling, "I've never been called a sideshow freak before. Do you think I'd fit in at the circus, Trowa?"

"You'd steal the show, Duo," Trowa replied giving the man a smile.

"Long should be reported. Personal opinion shouldn't interfere with doing our jobs and he had no right to insult either of you that way," Flaherty said, clearly upset by the event.

"We'll worry about Long later," Heero said pulling the bags off the street, pushing the idea of having sex with Duo out his mind as well as the implied notion that having sex with Duo would be similar to having sex with an animal.

This was the first time he'd run into someone who believed that Splicers were no longer humans and anyone seeking to be with one a zoophile. While he knew that many religious groups felt that away about the issue, he had never spoken to any of them, much less been accused and attacked for showing anything other than hostility towards Splicers. That Preventors' shared that view and would rather bad mouth Duo and himself than help solve their case was shocking but not nearly as important as getting their job done.

"I've never tracked anyone by smell before," Duo said as Heero brought the bags over to the small group, "Hell, this whole super nose is pretty new."

"Just try," Heero encouraged, trying to decide which bag to give to Duo first.

"Are they clean?" Duo asked, looking at the bags with obvious apprehension.

"We pulled these from his closet." Trowa said taking one of the bags from Heero to pass to Duo.

Duo tilted his shades up, letting them rest on top of his head before pulling the seams on the bag. Pulling a white shirt from within he brought it up to his face, inhaling. He shook his head and Heero was reminded of a dog smelling something it didn't like.

"What is it?" Heero asked

"Nothing. I don't smell anything. What else do you have?" he asked returning the clothes to the bag, tossing it aside.

"This is his lab coat," Trowa said pulling the coat free from the second bag passing it to Duo, who sniffed at the coat in several places before handing the coat back to Trowa while Flaherty watched quietly.

"There's nothing here," he said. "I smell cats, dogs, even a snake but no Murai."

"This one has unwashed clothes," Trowa said pointing to the third bag.

Duo sighed, waving Heero over, "Give it here," he said. He looked him in the eye adding, "I'm only doing this for you. Let's not make it a habit of asking me to sniff people's dirty clothes."

"I appreciate it," Heero said and he watched Duo smell another man's dirty clothing. He did appreciate what Duo was doing for them. Gervais had been right to say that they could refuse the Preventors, and more so Heero, their help. It would go a long way to lessening their sentence to no more than a slap on the wrist, as both men had already proven to Heero that they hadn't been trying to hurt anyone with their work. Knowing that Duo was doing something just for him didn't hurt Heero's ego either.

"I can't smell anything," Duo said pulling the clothing away from his face. "It's like the guy has no scent."

"Maybe, it's the clothes," Trowa said, "Maybe if we went to his house you could pick up something there?"

"I'm not holding out much hope, but we can try that."

Loading themselves into the second van, the short drive was punctuated with conversation as Duo pestered Trowa and flirted with Flaherty. To Heero he didn't speak but gave surreptitious glances out of the corner of his eye as if gauging his reaction.

"Trowa, why is it that you smell so good? It's not cologne. You're not wearing any."

"I don't know," Trowa said shaking his head. He sat behind the wheel of the van while Flaherty rode shotgun. Heero sat beside Duo in the van's middle row of seats, though he was strapped in behind Flaherty where Duo leaned against the back of Trowa's seat, playing with the taller man's hair.

"Do you think it's why the lions at the circus like you so much?"

"I doubt it," Trowa answered.

"Special Agent Flaherty, what's your first name?" Duo asked, abruptly switching topics and his attention.

"Famke," Flaherty answered without turning around.

Duo chuckled, "Famke Flaherty? It sounds like funky Flaherty."

Flaherty turned in her seat to give Duo a look, not amused with having her name made fun of.

"I like it," he said smiling, unaffected. "Famke is a sexy name, it totally suits you."

Heero rolled his eyes choosing to stare out the van's window to avoid looking at the surprised face Flaherty gave at the compliment. If Duo was going to pick up dates Heero would rather he did it on his own time and not in front of him.

He ignored the rest of the conversation, instead gong over a mental to-do list of the many things that needed to be accomplished soon. Trent would need to be interrogated again, along with the long put off meeting with Dr. Greyson, and then he would try to get Gervais to explain the use of his tank without strangling the man. He also reminded himself that he needed to visit Zechs sometime in the next few days, preferably before he went in to have surgery on his leg.

The van slowed, pulling onto the curb, with Trowa unnecessarily announcing that they had arrived. Exiting the vehicle with Duo following him, Heero took in the townhouse Murai once lived in. He was familiar with red brick and white stucco exterior, having stared at it off and on for three days during the stakeout. Now he was going to see inside the house, to see if a lunatic lived any differently from a regular person.

"Holy shit," Duo breathed and Heero looked back to him, finding Duo with the back of his hand pressed against his nose.

"What's wrong?"

"There's something foul in there."

Trowa stepped up beside them the keys to the house in hand, "There's rotting fruit inside. Could that be it?"

"No, this is much worse. Open the door."

Trowa looked to Heero quickly before making his way up the three steps leading to the front door and inside the house. Heero barely focused on the beige-colored walls with pictures and awards nailed into them, following Duo instead as he moved with purpose through the spacious house following the smell. From the foyer, through the living room, they ended in what appeared to be Murai's study, more specifically the back left corner of the room.

Duo pushed a heavy looking armchair aside one-handed, dropping to his knees to pull away the faux-wood floor panels, tossing them carelessly to the side. Heero, as well as Trowa and Flaherty joined him, pulling the boards away uncovering the house's escape hatch. Duo reached for the latch first, pulling the handle back lifting the door open.

"Jesus," Flaherty said, scrambling back from the open hole covering her nose and mouth as they were all assaulted with the putrid smell.

Heero was happy that he hadn't had much breakfast because the stench was enough to make him vomit and they hadn't even identified its source yet.

Duo poked his head into the darkened hole, cursing under his breath before he shifted, jumping down into the fall-out shelter, disappearing.

"Duo," Heero called out, looking into the darkened recesses, seeing nothing. Pulling a penlight from inside his coat, he pointed it down finding the ladder to quickly follow Duo.

Firmly planted on the ground of the shelter, the smell even stronger, he searched around the small area. The light caught the metal table first, reflecting off glass vials filled with multi-colored liquids. This was undoubtedly where Murai made his recombinants, as most of the equipment lining the room was familiar to Heero as he swept the light over the right side of the room. Passing over the left he found Duo staring, his face pale eyes wide, stricken. Heero approached him and once by his side turned the light in the direction that Duo stared.

A corpse. So far rotted that the skin was a mix of browns and greens, shrunken and dried, clothes hanging onto the form in tatters. The body sat on the floor propped against some machinery as if tired and in need of a quick nap that had lasted much too long. The body had to have been down there for months for it to decompose so badly, which meant that Murai had come home day after day knowing a corpse was housed in his make-shift lab and had done nothing. Had worked beside the thing, the smell obviously not bothering him, and Heero could picture the man talking to the corpse, telling it of his plans of fame and glory.

He grabbed Duo's wrist, dropping the light away from the corpse, pulling the taller man back towards the hatch where Trowa waited above, peering into the darkness, hand covering his nose and mouth. Heero forced Duo onto the ladder, having to goad the other man into climbing out of the shelter first before following him up, closing the hatch behind them although the smell had now permeated the house.

"What's down there?" Trowa asked, voice muffled behind his hand.

"A lab and a dead body. Call an ambulance and the CSIs," he answered though he stared at Duo concerned.

He looked to be in shock, blinking rapidly, though he stood motionless. Heero knew that the man was not new to death but something in that cramped space had affected him as if he were living some sort of horror inside his head that Heero could neither see nor protect him from.

"I've already called the CSIs," Flaherty said, hand still covering her face. She stood on the other side of the room as far away from the hatch as she could be while remaining in the room.

"Let's go outside," Heero suggested, nudging Duo to get him moving along with Trowa and Flaherty.

The sunlight was blinding after being both inside the house and the fall-out shelter but the fresh air was more than welcomed as Heero took deep breaths trying to clear his head of the fetid smell of rot. The image of the corpse would be burned into his mind for the rest of his life, not just because finding a dead body in someone's house was disturbing but also because he could tell by the size that it wasn't the body of an adult. Fifteen or sixteen, seventeen at best, holed up in a strange man's makeshift basement possibly being experimented on by a fanatic was no the way one should die. He could only imagine what that person had gone through and they were not pleasant thoughts.

Pulled from his dark reverie by a sharp tug on his tie, he looked up at Duo to find the man looking at him intently.

"Thank you," he said fiercely.

"For what?" Heero asked confused. Surely, the other man wasn't thanking him for dragging into this mess.

"For saving Rhys. I didn't thank you properly. I didn't really understand what he was talking about when he told me about being kidnapped. Just that some men had stolen his clothes and that you came and saved him.

"I talked to Yomi and he told me about the Auction. If you weren't so obsessed with tracking down every Splicer on L1..." he paused, hesitating on the right words, "That could have been my kid in there. That could have been my kid locked up in someone's basement."

He shook his head, dropping Heero's tie from his hand. "I don't even want to think about it. What some pervert could have done to my son had you not found him."

"It wasn't me alone," he said, uncomfortable with all the praise being put on him.

"Yomi told me the whole story, Heero. You gave up the chance to catch this bastard weeks ago to go after those kids, mine included. Rhys says you're the one who pulled him from the cage and carried him out of that place. You didn't even know whether he was my son or not and you took care of him. I really appreciate that Heero. It means a lot."

"You're welcome," he answered embarrassed. He looked away from Duo, finding Flaherty staring at them from only a few feet away having heard the entire exchange. She looked up the street and Heero was saved from having to make more conversation with Duo by the arrival of the Preventors' CSIs who immediately went to work, followed by the paramedics who arrived shortly afterwards to take the body away.

A thorough search of the house yielded no other dead bodies, suspicious chemicals or clothing that contained Murai's scent and after Duo was able to smell the corpse through several layers of steel with no effort, Heero was inclined to believe him. For Murai to have no recognizable scent only brought more questions to mind as to who or what exactly they were dealing with.

+


The Preventors' agents loitering around the clinic were growing exponentially it seemed as Heero found at least ten more people filling the halls, asking questions of each other and the staff as to the current situation. From what Heero could hear another victim had been brought in to the lab and he along with Duo and Trowa made their way to the victim's room finding Wu Fei, Hayers and Gervais in attendance.

"What the fuck is that?" Duo asked and Heero didn't think he could have found a better way to ask about the identity of the creature on the bed.

His brain registered the green scales in varying hues, the arms that ended in hooves, curling horns on top of its head, the dark brown fur growing like a mane down its back, the long winding tail. Putting those things together to make a recognizable animal, or human, however was impossible.

"That's Agent Hargrove," Hayers said, but Heero didn't see it.

The figure on the bed, from its chest down to the end of its tail was one seamless mass resembling a snake though tufts of dark brown fur grew at the tip. His arms extended from broad shoulders not seen on a human being, ending in cleft hooves as big as dinner plates. His face laying against the inadequate sized pillows was deformed, the lower half of his face extended, resembling a muzzle his nose transformed into that of a dog's, black and shiny. From the top of his head the dark fur sprouted trailing down his back, thinning as it went, giving way to more scales. Heero estimated that unwrapped he would have been at least sixteen feet long from the top of his head to the tip of his tail.

"What happened?" Heero asked.

"Agents Hargrove and Talbot were put in charge of guarding Montgomery. When we arrived at the scene Montgomery and Talbot were dead and this is how we found Hargrove," Wu Fei explained.

"I don't understand," he said, looking at the thing that was once Hargrove. "Was Murai going after the agents or Trent?"

"It was definitely Trent. Both agents were spliced. We think Talbot died from the initial injection, but Trent…it was as if someone punched a hole through his head. There was blood everywhere," Hayers supplied.

"Yes, Montgomery was definitely the target and the other agents were collateral damage. From what I know of him, this seems out of the ordinary for Murai. As Hayers said the scene was very bloody."

"Did he work for Murai?" Duo asked.

"He did before we picked him up. He was one of Murai's liaisons in his splicing operation."

"Do you think Murai went to Trent for help and when he refused, attacked him?" Hayers asked.

"Possibly. Trent said he would be free of Murai once we'd discovered that he worked for the doctor," Trowa answered.

"He didn't go to Trent for help," Duo said, "He went after him to kill him for betraying him."

"Trent didn't give us his name," Heero said.

"Doesn't matter, not if Murai thinks Trent sold him out and is the reason why you found him in the first place."

"But to go that far?" Hayers questioned.

"This guy isn't exactly working with a full deck. He's got a big chip on his shoulder and he took it out on Trent."

"But why do this to Hargrove. Why so many animals?"

"He fought back," Heero surmised. "He kept injecting him to but him down. Will he be alright?"

"Oh yes. It's quite remarkable actually. Instead of his body breaking down like the others, he's completely stable," Gervais said.

"What is he?" Duo asked.

"I have no earthly idea, but I do intend to name him something fantastic."

"You're not funny," Hayers said glaring at the man.

"I wasn't trying to be. This man should be dead by all accounts and instead he's perfectly fine."

"I don't see what's fine about this, Gervais," Heero said.

"Yes, well, it is tragic that such a thing happened, but his body has adapted to the changes and he is alive and in no immediate danger."

"What is he spliced with?" Duo asked approaching the bed where Hargrove lay. Heero could only assume that either he was drugged or sleeping as he lay still, curled up on the bed.

"Snake, ram and wolf. It's a strange combination if he chose those vials specifically."

"It's a possibility. Trent was spliced with a snake when we brought him in."

"So this could have gone from premeditated to a crime of passion. He was going to splice him and let him suffer then decided to just kill him?" Hayers asked.

"No I think he intended to simply kill Trent all along," Wu Fei said, "and I also don't think he did this alone."

"What makes you say that?" Heero asked.

"When we found Hargrove and started to revive him he kept saying the name Nellie over and over again. Does it mean anything to you?"

"No but Murai had a network of liaisons. Nellie could have been one of them or a loved one of Hargrove's. We'll need to look into it and see what we can find."

"Did your search turn up anything?" Wu Fei asked.

"A dead body hidden in the shelter below Murai's house."

"Do you have an ID?"

"Not yet."

"I don't get it," Hayers said looking to Gervais, "You spliced Duo and Kitten with like twenty animals apiece and they look human except for the ears and tail, but Murai spliced him and he doesn't resemble anything near human."

"Really, now, I'm not such a barbarian that I would sneak up on them and stab them in the back. What I did took precision and skill, more than just a needle with some murky liquid inside of it. I'm offended that you would even seek to compare me to this Murai."

"It's not about finding a comparison but the differences between your work and his," Wu Fei said, "We need to establish his motive for doing this kind of work."

"He's insane and gets a kick out of hurting people," Duo said. "Why else would he work out of that lab with a dead body sitting in the corner? He's a murderer."

"Why do it this way? Why use splicing?"

"I don't know. I just know that this guy is evil."

"I would have to agree," Gervais said, "There's no logical reason to do this to another human being."

Both Duo's and Gervais' sentiment made Heero think back to Long who didn't believe that Splicers were human and wondered if the man felt the same way about those turned against their will. Would Trent be human in his eyes or an abomination? Would he have condemned Trent for wanting to be spliced before? Told the man that it was his own fault for wanting to alter his body that he was in his current predicament?

"We need to look into finding this Nellie and make an ID on the body we found in Murai's lab."

"Major Chang and I can look into finding out who Nellie is," Hayers said, eager to spend his time impressing Wu Fei no doubt.

"Trowa, we'll go and see Dr. Greyson and see what he can tell us before checking in with the Medical Examiner once he's finished with the body."

"Don't forget to relieve our dear Yomi. He's been standing guard over us so wonderfully but I think the man could use a break," Gervais suggested. "The lovely Sally Po has been cleared by the staff and I would so love to have her watching over me."

"Doc, I think she's spoken for," Duo staged whispered, pointedly glancing at Wu Fei.

"As if he could handle a woman of her caliber," Gervais said giving Wu Fei a once over.

"Come on, Doc, let's go back to the lab before Wu Fei tears you a new one," Duo said laughing, ushering the man out the door and into the hall. Heero looked to Wu Fei noting the dark look on Wu Fei's face. It looked as if Dr. Gervais, Duo and himself were on the right page assuming that there was more going on between Sally and Wu Fei then a platonic partnership.

"We should relieve the Preventors on the door too," Trowa suggested, smirking, "I'll find Sally and let her know about the changing of the guard."

Wu Fei glared but kept his mouth shut walking out of the room with Hayers following behind him. Heero gave one last look to Hargrove before following the procession out of the hospital room, closing the door quietly behind him.

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