see Ch. 1 for warning, notes, disclaimer
Case #84309: Splicers
+ Chapter Seventeen
Nature called, driving Heero
to peel off from the group to make his way to the restroom. He secured
himself inside a stall, having never gotten over the vulnerability he
felt when using a urinal. While silly to think that two-ply walls would
afford him any sort of protection, it didn't leave him in the open with
at least one hand occupied with aiming. He had never been in a fight with
his fly open, exposing him while in midstream and couldn't guarantee that
he could properly defend himself with someone looking at the most intimate
part of him swinging and urine running down his leg.
Trowa had laughed for a good ten minutes after Heero had explained his
reasoning to him.
The door to the restroom opened admitting two men who were in mid-conversation.
Heero stilled, listening to the two men talk, not surprisingly about him.
"I heard that Yuy's fucking that tall cat guy."
"You mean Duo Maxwell. Pilot 02."
"I don't give a fuck who he is. The guy's a criminal, what with that splicing
and he works for that asshole doctor. I mean you heard about Maxwell's
kid right? He's spliced with like twenty different animals. I heard the
little kid has gills."
"That's fucked up. Why is the Commander even trusting this guy?"
"Because he's fucking Maxwell. He's so busy getting his dick sucked he's
not even paying attention to that doctor and what he's doing. Why was
he able to change the twins back but not the girl on Yuy's team?"
"She's still alive at least."
"Yeah, and ready to star in her own tentacle porn."
While Heero was used to being talked about and having negative attention
focused on him, he did not like it focused on members of his team especially
ones who were in no way responsible for their situation.
He zipped his pants, flushing the toilet; he left the stall calmly walking
to the sinks standing between the two men. They both gaped at him stumbling
over their words, apologizing to him. He read their nametags in the mirror's
reflection as he washed his hands nonchalantly. He learned a long time
ago that the way to be most menacing was to do nothing and let the other
person imagine all the horrible things he could to them.
"Agent Beckham, Agent Adams," he said nodding to the two men as he moved
away from the sinks, shaking the excess water from his hands, grabbing
a paper towel as he walked out the door.
He tossed the used paper towel into the first trash bin he passed, remembering
both the agents' names and faces. While he couldn't report them for what
they'd said, he could make their lives hell. No Preventor wanted to be
stuck on security detail for overstuffed politicians or work security
at a busy shuttle port. He would make sure that both agents stayed very
busy for the next six months.
He followed the sound of laughter to find Sally, with an arm in a sling
standing in the clinic's lounge with Lisa and Leslie smiling with a dazed
expression. They slumped, each in their own chair, though one twin had
Rhys in her lap leaning against her chest, giggling.
"What's going on?" He asked Sally, who continued to laugh although it
had settled more into a chuckle.
"Well, when Gervais restored the twins some of there human DNA was destroyed
and needed to be replaced with animal DNA. Cat DNA," she said laughing,
"They were all over Trowa when he came by. You should have seen his face.
He turned beet red, then ran off."
Heero looked back to the twins and Rhys and the blissful expressions on
their faces. They must have gotten their fill before letting Trowa escape
from them without trying to give chase. With Trowa's mysterious smell
and good looks, he wouldn't be surprised to find the tall man half-naked
from the twins' amorous attention.
"Did you know which way he headed?"
"That way," Sally said pointing towards an exit. "Trowa filled me in before
the girls and Kitten attacked. I'll look after Gervais and see if I can't
get a couple of these nosy agents to go and collect his equipment."
He thanked the woman, leaving things in her hands as he set out to find
Trowa. Sally's direction proved accurate as he found the man standing
outside the clinic's main entrance with all of his clothing intact looking
no worse for wear, though his hair was slightly mussed.
"Are you alright?" he asked not sure how he would have dealt with being
mauled by three cats with Sally has a witness.
"I'm fine now. They caught me by surprise."
"Sally won't let you live this down," he said and hoped that when they
returned there would be a repeat performance so that for once he would
have something to tease the other man about.
Trowa sighed, "I know. Let's go, Dr Greyson is expecting us."
Doctor Archibald Greyson worked
not only as a liaison for the Preventors but as a college professor as
well. His office was a cluttered mess of books, papers and folders stacked
across every available surface including the floor. Maneuvering through
the room was difficult at best, as Heero didn't want to cause an avalanche
by accidentally bumping into one of the many mountains littering the room.
He and Trowa followed the thin man through his main office and into an
adjoining room where more stacks took dominance over the room although
they shared the space with different lab equipment.
"I've been comparing all the samples that you've given me and I think
I've found some useful differences," the aging man began, pointing towards
the only wall in the room not lined with posters and notes. Heero stared
at it blankly wondering exactly as to what he was supposed to be seeing.
"Give me just a moment I need to find the remote," Greyson said, shuffling
through piles of notes before finding the device with a triumphant 'aha'.
Turning out the overhead lights, he used the remote to turn on the projector
bolted into the ceiling that pointed at the blank wall showing what looked
to Heero like three different sets of DNA in mixes of reds and blues.
"Now this is the DNA of a normal splicer," Greyson said coming to stand
before the wall pointing to the left most picture. "The human pieces of
DNA are in red and the spliced DNA in blue."
Heero noted that the DNA was predominately red with only small sections
of DNA marked in blue. After looking at dozens of samples in both computer
mockups and under microscopes, he was almost tired of looking at the curling
chains of nucleotides.
"In the middle is the DNA of one of Dr M's victims. As you can see, the
majority of the DNA is blue. That's because his recombinant completely
destroys the human DNA, when too much of it is destroyed the entire chain
begins to unravel."
The second strand was almost completely blue with animal DNA except where
the red DNA broke apart in several places along the chain, pieces floating
like debris away from the main strand.
"Which is why the Splicers die. Sally mentioned that some of the twins'
DNA was destroyed and needed to be replaced with cat DNA," Heero said.
"It explains why they were so fond of me," Trowa responded, disgruntled.
"Dr Gervais was able to restore a victim of M's?" Greyson asked looking
back at the two agents.
"It would make sense the man is a genius," Greyson said turning back to
the wall. "This last strand is from the sample that you sent of the young
boy Kitten. As you can see, his DNA is a complete mix of both human and
animal DNA, knotted and twisted up on itself to encompass all of the animals
that he's spliced with, along with keeping him relatively human. It really
is a work of art."
The art that Greyson spoke of looked like a jumbled knot of reds and blues
that overlapped, taking on a purple hue in Heero's mind. He could understand
the point of twisting a person's DNA into an even more complex puzzle
than it already was, much less the reason behind putting someone's life
in danger to do it.
"From studying Kitten's DNA were you able to determine the other animals
he's spliced with?" Trowa asked, pulling the doctor's gaze away from Gervais'
"Oh, yes, I have it around here somewhere," Greyson said casting a searching
gaze over papers layered across the room.
"Never mind," Heero said, not wanting to wait while Greyson attempted
to search through the many piles of papers.
"What about any special trait's the splicing may have given him?"
"Looking at his DNA doesn't tell me whether he can run as fast a cheetah
or breath underwater. With the splicing the potential is there for the
boy to have some of the same attributes of his animal counterparts, but
you would need to test for that."
"I see. What else can you tell us about the different splicings?"
"Well," Greyson said turning back to the wall using the projectors remote
to change the image. Three strands of DNA replaced the first set, all
a match to Murai's work thought the each strand had an increasing amount
of blue sections and more destroyed red sections. "From what I've seen
of all the samples of M's splicing there is no way that any of his so-called
patients were meant to survive. From the first victim to the last, each
set of recombinant eats away at the human DNA faster than it replaces
it until the body eventually fails."
"We have a victim who was brought in an hour ago who was spliced with
multiple recombinants by Murai but he seems to be stable although he doesn't
resemble anything human. Could the multiple splicings be what's keeping
"I would think that his body would break down more quickly but the idea
is plausible. I'll need time to study a sample before I could make a determination."
"I understand. I'll make sure that a sample is sent to you as soon as
"I've mentioned to Agent Barton before that the concentrations are increasing
giving the victim less and less time to find medical attention. It is
imperative that you find this man as soon as possible. If he continues
to increase the concentration at the rate he's been going there'll be
nothing you can do for these people."
"We're working on it."
Moving the body found in Murai's
fallout shelter to the Plainsboro autopsy room did nothing to alleviate
the smell, though it was more manageable. The body lay open and exposed
to the room, its chest cracked open revealing an empty cavity, the organs
removed, set in dishes on a cart nearby. Dr. Phyllis Dellner stood to
the right of the body, arms crossed as she gave her report.
"We identified the body. Brandon Moore, seventeen years old. Last known
living relative is his uncle on his mother's side, Gabriel Murai."
"Cause of death?"
"Organ failure. From the crime scene photos and the position of the body
he died in the shelter and wasn't moved but the blood was obviously cleaned
"Can you give us a time of death?"
"At least six months ago, but with the location of the body along with
the warm recycled air it may have aged the body more severely. I'll be
able to give you a more exact TOD in a few hours."
"Was he spliced?"
"Yes. Tests confirmed that he gave himself a very amateur cat splicing
that caused the organ failure. His appearance wasn't altered at all but
his DNA was corrupted."
"He did this to himself?" Trowa asked.
"Yes. I've seen two other cases like this in the last two years. Teenagers
desperate to be spliced doing the injections themselves using bad recombinant."
"How? Where are they getting the recombinant from?"
"The internet. There are sites dedicated to splicing that have how-to
demonstrations and will sell you the equipment. From the angle of the
injection I can determine that he did this to himself."
"Why splice yourself when you're uncle can do the job for you and no doubt
for free?" Trowa asked.
"You're sure he did the splicing himself?"
"Murai didn't start his business until four months ago. If the time of
death is accurate, his nephew spliced and killed himself before Murai
got into splicing."
"If his nephew's death is what set him off then everything we know about
Murai is useless. He could have lied to Trent about his motive to get
him to work for him," Trowa said.
"The same could be said for the story he told the victims. We need to
look into Moore's past and how close he and his uncle were."
"I'll be sure to send over any more information that I find."
"Thank you, Dr Dellner."
Heero turned with Trowa following to take their leave, moving towards
the steel double doors just as they swung open by an orderly pushing a
gurney being ridden by a sheet-covered body. They separated, moving aside
to let the orderly pass between them wheeling the gurney to a stop beside
"Who's this?" Dellner asked, coming around to stand beside the body pulling
back the sheet, revealing the burned face of a small child.
"One of the kids from the school. Second one we've lost today."
He hadn't seen the victims during the raid on the school, his attention
so focused on the agent down. He'd known the stats of those injured and
those dead but he hadn't seen it for himself. Hadn't taken the time to
imagine the damage done to those who'd suffered third degree burns and
needed to be rushed to the hospital, hadn't imagined the children left
in that precarious situation, or that they may not survive the day.
The child's face was red, with blackened veins like a spider's web running
across the exposed surfaced peeling and flaking away. The child's hair
had burned away in patches leaving wisps of blonde hair, a ghost of what
it had been before. From the size of the body, he could see that the child
was no more than seven or eight years old.
Heero moved towards the child's body wanting to touch the helpless figure,
to press his fingers to what was left of the child's skin but was brought
up short by Trowa's restraining hand on his arm.
"Don't. It isn't your fault and there's nothing you can do," Trowa said
pulling on his arm. "Let's go."
Heero let himself be dragged away with the image of the child burned into
the back of his mind, guilt following him out the door.
Several news crews waited outside
the Preventors Headquarters, although across the street from the main
building, as they were not allowed on to the property without approval.
The distance however didn't stop them from shouting questions at both
Heero and Trowa as the taller man dropped Heero off for the night.
They'd gone from the hospital to Trent's apartment to see the scene for
themselves, learning from the CSIs that they couldn't determine if Murai
broke into the apartment or if the forced entry had come from the two
Preventor agents when they'd come in to stop Murai. The signs of struggle
were also lost in the debris of broken furniture, as Trent's tail had
smashed not only the chairs and tables but the two agents as well during
his transformation. The techs weren't able to confirm Wu Fei's suspicion
about there being a second person involved as no physical evidence was
found on the scene that didn't belong to the agents and Trent.
The next stop had them meeting with Madelyn Gregson, the Goth girl who,
had Heero's team not intervened, would have been spliced with bat DNA
in hopes of having mini leather wings growing from her back. Her story
proved to be the same as the first time they spoke to her after the raid.
She had been met by Pepper just days before the woman's death and given
the address to the abandoned building with a date and time for the appointment.
When asked why she had gone to see Murai with news reports about the many
splicing deaths warning against the procedure she's quoted the usual blurb
about the government trying to oppress the teenage youth of the day.
Heero shook his head as he made his way into the clinic, asking himself
how anyone could believe such nonsense. People had died from botched splicing
from both credited doctors and backdoor dealers long before splicing had
become illegal. To believe that the government had suddenly decided to
lie about the facts to scare teenagers out of the procedure showed a sign
of stupidity in his eyes.
The thought of course led him back to Duo and his reasoning behind splicing,
for not only himself but his unborn son as well. He tried to make some
sense of the things that Duo had already told him. Duo had mentioned that
he was in a bad place before and that Gervais had offered him something
he couldn't refuse. Rhys had not been part of the original offer but a
bonus, as Duo couldn't father children naturally. The offer, whatever
it was, would cause Heero to hate Duo should he learn of it. Whatever
Gervais had offered had been happily accepted, as Duo seemed quite pleased
with his predicament, saying that cat boys were sexy.
He sighed to himself happy to note that the number of agents milling around
had decreased for the night, leaving four agents one of whom Heero knew
to be Northman's partner. At close to seven pm the clinic was quiet, the
staff scarce in the building leaving Heero to walk the halls uninterrupted.
He met with Lucy talking to her for a few minutes, reassuring her that
Gervais was making progress in her treatment, reminding himself to find
out if Sally was able to find someone to deliver Gervais' equipment to
After saying his goodbyes to the young agent, he went in search of Price
knocking on the door to her room before quietly letting himself in. The
lights were turned out except for the bedside lamp that did little to
illuminate the room although he could clearly make out the shorthaired
woman where she sat propped against the bed's pillows.
"How are you feeling, Cheza?" he asked and received a frown in return.
"I'm not dying, Commander."
"What do you mean?" he asked confused at the statement.
"You only call us by our first names when we're dying or severely injured.
I'm neither of those."
"Price, then," he said smiling, coming to lean his arms against the bedrails.
"How are you?"
"Good, though I'll need to stay off the leg for a while," she answered
pressing her hands against her right thigh. "The femur is cracked; it'll
take time for the bone to re-knit. They've but metal braces along the
bone to keep it straight and for support."
"You won't be cleared for duty for at least six weeks," he informed having
once suffered a similar wound, knowing the pain the woman would have to
endure for the next few weeks
"My hands and my brain are fine, Commander. I can still work," she said
sternly. She paused, quietly staring down at Heero where he rested against
the bed. "Hayers told me about the promotion. I didn't know that he wanted
"Neither did I but I won't hold him back and he proved himself today.
He'll be good for Wu Fei's team."
"How bad was it?" she asked, referring to the raid from earlier that morning
"Bad," Heero said recalling the image of the child from the morgue.
"I heard that you called Mr. Maxwell in to help track Murai," Price said
smoothly changing the subject.
"He couldn't pick a scent from any of Murai's clothes or from his home
although we did manage to find his nephew's dead body in his house and
managed to alienate Special Agent Long for the duration of my career,"
he grumped remembering the tall man's sneering face and rude behavior.
"What happened with Long?"
"He took offense to my bringing Duo in to help and says not come to him
should me and my boyfriend need help," he said sarcastically.
"But what about you and Trowa? I thought the two of you were-" She stopped
suddenly blinking at Heero. "Forgive me Commander. That was completely
inappropriate. I shouldn't have-"
He held up a hand, holding off any more apologies. "No, it's alright.
I've heard everyone else's opinions today, I want to hear yours."
Price looked at him with a worried expression no doubt weighing the options
of not answering her commander before giving into his request. "I
thought that you and Trowa were involved. The two of you are very close
and I know that you often spend the night at each other's houses, although
it is usually after a very hard or painful assignment. I thought Duo was
just a good friend of yours."
"Trowa and I aren't seeing each other. He's my best friend. We've gone
through some of the same experiences together. I trust him more than I
trust myself at times."
"I didn't mean to offend you, Commander. I shouldn't have said anything."
"Earlier today I overheard two agents saying that I was too busy getting
my dick sucked by Duo to pay attention to Gervais. I've never even kissed
Duo and somehow people think that we're involved."
"They think you're being lenient with him because he's your friend."
"I'm following procedure and have clearance for everything I've done in
this situation. I've done everything short of throwing him into cell."
"The rumors wouldn't stop there."
"I'm either too lenient or being an asshole because I won't ease up."
"Who said that?"
"Duo," he said with a sigh lowering his face onto his arms not understanding
the sudden need to talk about his non-relationship with Price when he
hadn't been willing to bring it up with Trowa during the day. "He won't
tell me why he left, what Gervais offered him that would make him leave."
"Why do you need to know so badly?"
"Because it's important to our case. Because spent four years looking
for him and I want a better answer than cat boys are sexy. Because-"
"Because if you know why he left the first time you can stop him from
leaving a second?" Price asked quietly, forlornly.
"Yes," Heero cried, raising his head to look at the woman as she understood
perfectly how he felt to find her smiling at him sadly. "What?"
"Sometimes I forget how much younger than me you are."
"I don't understand."
Heero. You could be the best husband, the best boyfriend,
the best friend a person can ask for but if they're ready to leave nothing
short of chaining them in your basement is going to keep them with you."
He scrubbed his hand across his mouth, frustrated and confused. "How do
I know that it wasn't me? How do I know that it wasn't my fault? That
I did something to make him leave?"
"I don't think it had anything to do with you, Heero. If it did, he wouldn't
be trying so hard to win your approval."
"How do you know that?"
"Heero," she said, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder, leaning
down to look him in the eye, "If it was your fault, he wouldn't have gone
out sniffing another man's dirty underwear for you."
He blinked then laughed at the mental image of Duo holding a smelly pair
of dingy gray briefs to his face, sniffing at them delicately. He appreciated
the joke knowing that Price made very few being the serious woman that
"Give it time, Heero. He obviously likes you very much and will tell you
when he's ready."
"I don't know that I can be that patient."
He sighed pushing away from the bed. "I need to check on Gervais before
calling it a night."
"Goodnight then, Commander."
He smiled in return, "Goodnight, Agent Price."
He left the room, taking the two turns to the lab where the overhead lights
were turned out, though Gervais had commandeered a lamp, using its light
to illuminate his workstation. He was, as usual, bent over a microscope
studying samples. Looking at the man after the quiet conversation he'd
had with Price, he didn't need anyone to explain why he disliked the man
Gervais, for all intents and purposes, had stolen Duo away, kept him hidden
from Heero for the sake of an experimental treatment. Even with Duo laying
only a few feet away asleep in one of the lounges armchairs, feet propped
up in another making a makeshift bed, it felt as if he were miles away.
Gervais was the man he'd turned to with his problems, the one he'd relied
on to help him through his trouble times, the one he looked to for support.
Duo worked for the man, had entrusted not only his life but also that
of his child into Gervais' hands.
Not prone to being jealous of anyone especially not a sixty-two year old
man with thinning gray hair and wrinkled skin who flirted with anything
remotely female, he found that he was jealous of the man. He wanted to
be the person that Duo depended on, who he went to in times of need. Though
Price had said that knowing the reason wouldn't keep Duo from leaving
a second time, it would help him to know how to be a better friend to
Duo, how to be someone that Duo could come to rely on in times of need.
"What did you offer Duo?" he asked walking into the room.
Gervais looked up from his microscope, squinting at Heero from behind
his glasses, "What are you talking about?"
"What did you offer Duo that he couldn't refuse, that made him go with
"Give it up, Heero," Duo mumbled, shifting to sit up though Heero ignored
him to keep his gaze focused on Gervais.
"That would be breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, my boy. It isn't
my secret to tell."
"Why is it a secret?"
"Heero-" Duo started.
"Why is it a secret?" he asked louder, cutting Duo off. "You've had no
problem with telling everyone who will listen how great your work is,
so why is what you offered Duo through splicing a secret?"
"There is a difference between sharing my achievements with others and
telling the world of Duo's condition. I helped him through a very hard
time. That's all that you need to know."
Yes, son, I've already-"
"Do it to me," he aid impulsively.
"What?" Gervais and Duo asked together.
Heero nearly chocked himself in his effort to snatch his tie from around
his neck, tossing the dark blue fabric onto the table with one hand, the
other jerking the collar of his shirt open to expose his neck, a single
button coming free, skittering across the floor.
"If splicing is what helped him through his problems, if it's what made
him happy then do it to me too. Make me a wolf, a fox, a fucking turtle
for all I care, but do it to me too!"
"Heero you can't be serious," Duo aid softly, trying to talk him down.
"Why not? It helped you didn't it? Made you happy? Why shouldn't I want
the same thing?" he asked looking to Duo, where he leaned over the armrest
staring at him wide-eyed.
"Oh my dear boy, I am so sorry," Gervais said softly and Heero looked
back to the man finding that the older man was apologizing to him with
a look of sadness on his face.
Gervais let out a deep breath lowering his gaze, "You were so very wrong,
Duo. Had I known before I would have done things differently."
"What are you talking about?" Heero asked and Gervais lifted his eyes,
his gaze boring into Heero's in a way that made him feel as if the man
were inside his head seeing his thoughts.
"You loved him. I don't think you realized it then but you did. I believe
you still do. You simply don't understand what it is your feeling."
"It's why you've been so determined to find Duo. Why you've been so obsessed
with learning the truth. You care about him more than you realize."
Heero felt embarrassed and confused. How could this man perceive to tell
him whom he loved and didn't love? Yes, he had some feelings for Duo,
lust being the most predominate but love had never figured into the equation.
Yet he couldn't help but wonder if that was what everyone else saw, why
the rumors had begun, if everyone else believed him to be in love with
Duo when he wasn't even sure of his own feelings.
"I need to go," he said backing away from Gervais' intense stare, "I need
He left the lab all but running, needing to distance himself from Gervais
and Duo, though Duo did not want to cooperate following him out of the
lab and down the hall calling for him to wait. Heero would have happily
escaped the man and hidden in dark hole for a few days but Duo caught
his wrist instead jerking him around. He had time to notice that Duo's
hair was once again unbound before the man had his face caught between
his large, soft, hands and his mouth pressing against his.
Heero was not new to kissing but the kiss he shared with Duo was easily
in the top three for best kisses of his life. The feel of Duo's lips working
against his, the touch of his tongue twisting with his, the sweet taste
filling his mouth left him panting with his knees weak from the experience.
"I don't know what he's talking about," he said between breaths.
"Heero, shut up," Duo said with a laugh swooping in for another kiss.
Heero had heard the expression of people kissing as if they wanted to
devour their partner but had yet to experience anything remotely similar
until that moment. Duo not only had his face cupped in his hands but his
tail wrapped tightly around Heero's waist holding him firmly in place
while he sucked at Heero's tongue making happy encouraging noises.
Heero was happy to know that Duo returned his semi-feelings and would
have continued to let Duo kiss the life out of him but the nagging questions
that circled his brain refused to rest. He couldn't start a relationship
with Duo without knowing why he'd left.
He pushed at Duo's arms breaking the kiss, forcing the taller man back
a few inches. Duo's face was flushed his lips wet and inviting but he
"I need to why. I can't do this unless you tell me why you left."
"Heero," Duo sighed dropping his hands away from his face to rest on his
shoulders, tail wrapped snugly around his waist still. He dropped his
head pressing his forehead against Heero's, closing his eyes before he
spoke again. "I
I was on every drug I could get my hands on. Vicodin,
coke, heroin, all of it, anything that wouldn't make me feel, that would
make the pain go away."
"Why," Heero said softly, shocked, having never imagined such a thing.
"I was depressed Heero. I thought the Earth rotated just to spite me.
I felt like everyone hated me, that I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't
even get a decent job after the yard went under and my life felt like
shit. I was miserable."
"Why didn't you come to me, Duo? I would have helped you."
"I didn't want your pity. I didn't want you to think I was weak. I didn't
think you cared about me enough to help."
"Why would you say that?" he asked balking at the idea that Duo could
ever believe that he didn't care about him. Besides working with Trowa
on a day-to-day basis, he'd spent more time with Duo than anyone else.
It had been devastating for Heero to find that Duo had disappeared without
a trace. Now to find that Duo, even if in the midst of his depression
didn't think them friends was crushing.
"Because I didn't think anyone cared about me, Heero. I thought the only
reason you even talked to me was because we fought in the war together,
that we weren't really friends."
"But you seemed so happy. You never looked depressed to me. How did I
not see it?"
"Heero some days I was so high I couldn't even remember my own name."
"That doesn't explain why I couldn't see it," Heero said pulling away
from Duo completely. "If I was so in love with you, why couldn't I see
that you were hurting?"
"I didn't want you know Heero. I kept it from everyone. This isn't your
fault, Heero. I needed to leave for myself, there's nothing you could
have done to change that."
Those words didn't reassure him; in fact, they made him feel worse. Earlier
in the day, Trowa had said almost the exact same words in regards to the
child who'd died at Plainsboro Medical. It wasn't his fault and nothing
he could do, not in personal life or his professional life. He felt worthless
and inadequate in that moment. He had failed Duo all those years ago unable
to recognize that the man was in desperate need of help and if he could
help the man he'd once called his best friend who walked past him day
after day in need of help, how could he possible save anyone from Murai?
"I need to go."
"I need to go," he repeated, pulling against Duo's tail to free himself
and Duo unwound the furred appendage, making no move to stop Heero as
he turned and walked away.
He managed to clear the concourse and the first few floors of the main
building before the guilt began to eat away at him. He felt useless, blaming
himself for the deaths that had happened that day, the charred face of
the child multiplying into that of the dozens of faces he couldn't save
that day. He blamed himself for not shooting Murai on sight, for not finding
the man faster, for not being in time to save Leila Johnson, for not being
there for Duo.
He stood outside the door to Rhys' room tears tracking down is face, feeling
like an utter failure, trying to convince his body to move away, to find
a different room and not disturb the boy but couldn't. He pressed his
head to the door, taking deep breaths to steady himself, trying to cope
with the aftermath of a long and trying day, feeling as if he'd been on
a daylong rollercoaster leaving him weak and disoriented.
When he felt more like himself he opened to door to find Rhys standing
docilely just inside the room, ears drooping as he looked at Heero, hands
clasped before his chest. He wore the same light blue pajamas from the
night before, his feet bare.
"Mr. Heero," he said quietly, reminding Heero that the boy had sensitive
hearing and had no doubt heard him through the heavy door.
He picked the small boy up holding him close to his chest, letting the
boy wrap his arms around his neck in a comforting hug. He stood holding
the boy for a few moments before carrying him to the bed, where he lay
down keeping the boy close as the three-year-old whispered assurances
in his ear, running his small hands over Heero's face and hair until he
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