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

Preventors' Case #84309: Splicers + Chapter Twenty-Two

"I'm yours."

The words were barely out of his mouth before the Yates, Chase and two uniformed agents came bursting through the door. Chase grabbed his upper arm, wrenching him away from the girl and she screamed in protest pulling hard enough against the steel restraints that the cuff holding her right arm snapped. The ugly sound of metal tearing sent the two agents running to pin her free arm down.

"Get him out of here!" Yates yelled over the din of Nellie's screaming.

Chase dragged him from the room and Heero fought him knowing that the girl was on the verge of answering. Another ten seconds and he would have the answer and he was torn between letting Chase walk him out or breaking his mentor hands to be able to close his case.

In the end he let Chase lead him from the room. The door closed behind them and Chase didn't waste time laying into him.

"That's not the way we do things around here, Yuy."

"There is no 'we', Chase. She was about to tell me where Murai is before you pulled me out of there."

"You don't encourage psychopaths Heero. You don't tell them that you'll kill their parents. Jesus, Yuy, we won't be able to use anything she said in court."

"You wouldn't have been able to use it either way. I'm not an agent anymore and she's minor without legal counsel. Yates screwed your case from the start," he argued pulling off the blue and green Preventors jacket throwing it to the ground walking away from Chase.

"We're not done here, Yuy," the older man said following him.

"I am. You heard Yates. He wants me gone."

The tie followed the jacket to the ground and he didn't look back to see if Chase picked the items up as he was determined to get out of the uniform and back to his apartment and Kitten. Making it to the end of the hall he pushed the call button for the elevator unbuttoning his shirt as he waited.

"Have you been listening to a word I've said?" Chase asked stopping beside him, "You can get your job back. I'll even help you but pulling stunts like this won't help you."

"Chase," Heero said as the elevator door opened, "I'm leaving. I suggest you concentrate on finding Murai."

He stepped onto the elevator letting the door close on Chase's stunned face. He had nothing against Chase. He held the highest regard for the man but what he'd down back there was thrilling. Working outside the rules and regulations of the Pereventors, doing things his own way. It was one of the few things he missed about being a terrorist. He didn't have to play by anyone's rules but his own and for that brief moment with Nellie he had done just that.

The elevator ride was short and in less than five minutes he was back in the jeans and sweater he'd worn into the building. Packing the few personal belongings he owned from his locker into a duffel bag he took the elevator again to his office, finding that his key still worked in the lock.

The first order of business was copying all his files from his computer tucking the USB chip into his shoe. He didn't keep many pictures in his office. A single shot of Relena, a group shot of the pilots all together and one of him at his graduation from the Preventors Academy. He left that picture on his desk, taking the two others and other belongings.

He dropped his badge, key cards, and his Preventor issued handgun at the front desk, before exiting the building. He walked across the concourse heading for his car but was stopped by the sound of a woman calling his name.

"Commander Yuy."

"Dr. Walker," he greeted.

Doctor Rose Walker was the lead psychologist and profiler for the Preventors and the doctor that Duo was supposed to see for his psych evaluation. She stood just at 5-8', with long black hair held back with a simple clip. She had light hazel eyes and soft spattering of freckles across her nose and upper cheeks accenting her pale skin.

"I'm glad to see that you're alright, commander. I heard that you were attacked by Maxwell."

"Thank you for your concern."

She shook her head waving the comment away, "I completed the evaluation the day of your attack. I hate to tell you Commander but the results were inconclusive."

"Why?" he asked knowing that the woman shouldn't be talking to him, sharing information, but if he could find out why Duo would attack him and abandon his son he would happily break the rules.

"I can't say concretely that Maxwell was brainwashed or coerced. He refused to answer a great deal of my questions and in some instances it was as if he forgot the answer. It isn't uncommon for a person who has gone through a war and the harsh childhood he endured to suffer memory loss, but he seems to have forgotten the good parts of his childhood."

"How strange is that?"

"Not very, I've seen it in several cases where the patient is so depressed they suppress the happy times in their life, feeding into the idea that nothing good happens to them. I would need more sessions with him to know for sure."

"Unfortunately, you won't get the chance."

"Yes, he escaped along with Gervais kidnapping several agents in the process."

"Do you have any idea why he trusts Gervais so much? Why he went with him in the first place?"

"He thinks the man holds the key to his happiness."

"He told you that?"

"No. I could see it in the way he talked about him."

"Hm," he murmured nodding to Walker, "Doctor there's something I want to ask you."

"Of course, what is it?"

"What I say stays between me and you?"
"Well you're not actually my patient but if it isn't dealing with something illegal or detrimental to a

case, whatever you say will remain between us."

"It's about Duo. The night he attacked me. He came to my office and he was very…forward."

"He tried to seduce you?"

He explained, as briefly as possible, the scene from his office and the parking garage, detailing all of Duo's strange behavior.

"Commander, that is very disturbing to hear. I've been going through the files your team provided me," She rifled through her satchel pulling out a file. "I've been focusing on Gervais' files mostly to understand his connection to Duo. From what I read he was a part of the Medical Corps during the war, with his team working almost exclusively with accelerated healing through the use of sensory deprivation tanks."

"We found Duo floating inside one and Gervais insists that it's the only way to undo the splicing."

"Theoretically, yes. I'm no scientist but from what I've read the purpose of the tank is to give the mind and body a chance to focus on healing without distractions such as stress and hunger. The problem that arose was while the body focused on healing, the patient's mind would deteriorate. A number of the patients in the trials made remarkable recoveries but went insane in the process."

"He said he kept Duo's mind occupied, that even after four months inside that machine he was still sane. Could he have done something to Duo to make him follow him so loyally?"

"In that state it would be easy to plant ideas, leave suggestions behind. This is all speculation. I wouldn't be able to confirm anything without more sessions with Duo."

"But you think it's possible that Gervais is forcing him."

"I believe that Duo went to him willingly, but from what you've told me about your attack I can't say that he stayed willingly. He may even be aware of what he's doing but unable to fight it. "

"Would there be a way to undo it?"

"Possibly but it would depend on how deep the suggestions go, the triggers, and a number of other variables. In reality you would need Gervais to undo whatever damage he may have done."

"Thank you, Doctor. If you think of anything else please call me."

"Commander…Heero, please this is all theory, untried and untested. I don't want you going to look for him thinking that none of this is his fault. He may very well have agreed to everything and is just now having second thoughts."

"I understand."

+

After leaving the Preventors headquarters, he'd headed to the grocery store to stock up on food for both him and Kitten. He surprised himself by the number of cartoon snack foods he'd thrown into his cart unthinkingly and had to make a second trip through the aisles to supplement the junk food with healthy snacks as well. In the small book section he found several coloring books and a box of crayons hoping that they would serve to cheer the boy up. He'd dropped the food, his gift to Kitten and his duffel off at his apartment before leaving to pick up Kitten.

Mrs. Greenwich was exactly like the single old women shown on television who spent their time following the lives of their young neighbors complaining that they never ate enough. She was Heero's neighbor although she lived down the hall from him. She made it a habit of cooking him meals, asking when his friend was going to stop by again, and checking on him when he was forced on bed rest from injuries. When Yates had called demanding a meeting with him he'd been forced to leave Kitten behind and didn't think twice about leaving the boy in her care.

She answered the door at his first knock with Kitten on her hip, his arms around her neck.

"Told you," he said quietly.

"Well, look at that you were right," she said smiling. "How did you do that?"

"I'm a psycho," he cheered.

"I think you mean psychic," Heero answered chuckling, feeling the weight of the past few hours lifting off of him in the little boy's presence. He reached for him and the boy came easily to his arms, wrapping his arms around his neck resting his head against his shoulder.

"He's already eaten dinner. I have a plate saved just for you. Hold right there and I'll go and get it," she said waving with her hands for him to stay put as she moved away from the door to her kitchen.

"She's nice," Kitten said. "Can I eat your dinner?"

"No, but you can have dessert."

"Ice cream, cake and pudding?"

"How about milk and a cookie?"

"Two cookies?"

"Two," he said thinking that the whole parenting thing would be a piece of cake if all he had to do was negotiate with the boy.

"Here you go," Mrs. Greenwich sang, returning with a foil covered plate. "It's roasted chicken, creamy rice, spinach and rolls. Make sure you eat every bite."

"I ate all my bites," Kitten said.

"Yes you did. You're such a good boy. You feel free to drop him off with me anytime you want. I love the company."

They said there goodbyes with Mrs. Greenwich wishing them a good night and Heero had to wonder about the effect the boy had on older women.

Back at his apartment he put the plate away not in the mood to eat. He hadn't had time to show Kitten around his home and took a few minutes to show him around the small two bedroom apartment.

"This is my bedroom," he said opening the door to his room stepping into the familiar space. He was no interior designer but he thought the beige walls with dark brown trim complimented the brown and beige comforter set he owned. The red throw pillows matched the red in the wall scrolls hanging on either side of the bed as a bright accent to the room. The armoire and two bookcases positioned around the room were made of dark wood that matched his head and base board of his bed. The bookcases were tastefully filled with books, pictures and small statuaries, though none of it mattered to the boy he carried. Kitten barely lifted his head to give the room a quick once over before pressing his face against Heero's neck again.

He crossed the room towards the bathroom door, pushing is open, turning on the light as he entered. He pointed out the two sinks set in the counter in front of a large mirror, the shower and bath and toilet. Opening the door opposite the one leading into the bath he stepped out into his second bedroom which he used as an office.

"This is going to be your room once I buy you a bed."

In his mind he was already replacing his desk for a twin sized bed, pulling the framed news articles from the walls to be packed away in storage in lieu of child friendly posters. He would repaint the dark green walls a light shade of blue, maybe with puffy white clouds along the top. He wondered why he thought of making the walls look like earth's sky and if Kitten would like the idea.

When Kitten didn't answer or even look up to take in the room, he rubbed his cheek against the top if the boy's head asking, "What's wrong?"

"Ms. Greenwich said I'm a good boy," he replied miserably.

"You are," Heero agreed.

"But my Daddy and Nana and Mr. G left me. They said I couldn't come with them. Did I do something bad?"

"No," he said squeezing Kitten close, "you didn't do anything wrong."

"But I was kit-napped and I ranned away."

He couldn't help but smile against the boy's hair. Kitten would say kit instead of kid.

"Kitten, they didn't leave because of you. You are a very good boy. And they didn't leave you all alone. They left you with me. You like me don't you?"

"Yes, but I could help."

"Help do what?"

"Daddy said he had lots of work to do and I can help. I'm a big boy and we could get the work done real fast," he said in a rush.

"You can help me."

"Catch bad guys?" Kitten asked looking up at Heero excited.

"You can help me put away the groceries first, then we'll work on the bad guys. Okay?"

"Okay. Then can I have my cookies?"

"Then you can have your cookies," he answered carrying the boy from the room.

"You have a big TV," Kitten said pointing at the 72 inch flat screen sitting in the corner of his living room, "It's bigger than me! Can I watch cartoons on it?"

"Sure," he said making a mental note to block inappropriate channels and programs.

Walking through the living room and back into the kitchen, completing the relatively small tour, he set Kitten on his feet atop the kitchen table amidst the canvas shopping bags. He gave Kitten the task of emptying the bags while he put the various groceries into their proper places. Kitten caught on quickly, separating the items into piles; one for refrigerated items and one for those not.

"Am I going to stay with Ms. Greenwich tomorrow?"

"No you'll be with me unless something comes up," Heero answered putting a box of crackers away in the cupboards.

"You don't have to work?"

"No, I won't have any work for a while so I can spend time with you. Tomorrow we can look for a bed and furniture."

"Do I really get my own room?"

"Yes."

"You don't have to," he said quietly.

"I know but I want to. You need a place to put all your clothes and toys."

"So I can stay with you?"

"Yes."

"Forever?"

Heero chuckled, "No, not forever." Seeing Kitten's ears droop he added, "When you grow up you'll want to have your own house. Until then you can stay with me as long as you want."

"Really?"

"Really."

"What about when my Daddy comes back?"

"If you want to stay with me Kitten you can stay with me," he said seriously. He didn't think a judge would allow Duo to take back custody of Kitten and he would be there for the boy no matter what even if it meant he had to stand up to Quatre.

"You won't leave me?" he asked and Heero's heart lurched at the pain and sadness he heard in the boy's voice. He sat the box of oatmeal down on the counter moving to cup Kitten's face in his hands.

"If I can help it, Kitten, I won't leave you. Okay?"

"Okay," he said bringing his small hands up to rest against Heero's and moved, Heero bent down to kiss the small boy's cheek.

"Is it bad that I'm mad at my Daddy, Mr. Heero?"

"No," he said pulling away slowly, "I'm mad at him too."

"I don't like being mad," he said, "makes my head hurt."

Heero laughed running a hand over Kitten's ears, "Me, too. But we'll keep each other happy. I'll take care of you and you can take care of me."

"I can't take care of you, you're a grown up!"

"Well," he said leaning in conspiratorially, "Don't tell Mr. Trowa but sometimes I forget to water my cactus."

"Mr. Heero!" Kitten laughed.

"And I leave my towel on the floor and I don't eat all my vegetables."

He was happy to see the boy laughing and smiling and felt good knowing that he was the one to cheer him up.

"I'll help you, Mr. Heero."

"Thank you, Mr. Kitten," he said seriously and Kitten covered his mouth trying to smother his laughter. "Let's finish up so you can have that cookie."

"Two cookies," Kitten reminded.

"Two cookies," he confirmed.

"And ice cream."

"I don't have ice cream."

"You forgot the ice cream?" Kitten asked bewildered. He dropped his head, shaking it sadly. "You need a lot of help Mr. Heero."

At that, Heero tossed his head back and laughed.

+

While Kitten colored at his coffee table, humming happily to himself cookies eaten and glass of milk emptied, Heero worked on his laptop pulling up the files for Gervais, more specifically his bank information. Over the last four years a number of transfers had been made into Gervais' three main accounts from a number of different unnamed accounts. All unnamed for know but he planned to names to the accounts to find out who was funding Gervais and who may have helped him escape.

"Mr. Heero."

"Hm?" he hummed looking up from his laptop's screen to the three year old kneeling before the table blue crayon moving rapidly across the paper.

"The funny blond man's at the door," he said nonchalantly, switching his blue crayon for a red, tilting his head as he contemplated his art.

Heero rose from his chair peering through the peephole just as there was a knock on the door. He pulled the door open knowing that it was Quatre without having to actually see him. He was dressed in a simple suit and tie, his hands at his sides as he tried to look unassuming. Ken stood behind his left shoulder, mirrored shades firmly in place ruining the non-threatening look Quatre tried to pull off. Michael was nowhere insight but he knew the woman would be lurking somewhere nearby.

"I'm not in the mood to deal with you, Quatre."

"I just came to talk. To see how you were doing. I promise."

He sighed, knowing that he had to let the man in or risk him parking himself outside his door. He was nothing if not tenacious and with Michael as an assistant he could wind up living very comfortably outside Heero's door.

"Come in," he said backing away from the door to let Quatre enter. Ken didn't immediately follow looking to his right and Michael's head came into view as she peeked around the doorframe. She moved, keeping her chest and tablet pressed close to the wall inching past Heero as quickly as she could. Ken followed her shaking his head at her antics, closing the door behind him.

He ushered the group in the living where Quatre and Michael took a seat on his leather couch while Ken took up a spot against the wall behind Heero's armchair watching over the room Kitten's attention was now focused on the three new arrivals as he rose from his spot across from Quatre holding out his hand in greeting.

"Hi, I'm Rhys Maxwell. You can call me Kitten."

"It's nice to meet you Kitten. I'm Quatre," he said taking the boy's hand shaking it.

Kitten moved towards Michael repeating his greeting with his hand extended and the paranoid woman pulled away slightly looking to Quatre for guidance. At his nod she tentatively put a hand out, saying her name for the boy giving him the barest handshake possible. Done with the two of them, Heero watched as the boy moved to Ken who took the greeting warmly, pumping his hand hard enough to make his whole body shake and the boy laughed.

Returning to his place at the table picking up his crayon to continue coloring.

"How are you feeling, Heero?" Quatre asked without looking at Heero his focus on Kitten alone.

"Fine. There were no lasting effects."

"Are you sure?"

"Are you going to ask me if I'm unfit Quatre?"

"No," Quatre said looking up at Heero smiling, "I believe in you more than I do myself at times Heero. I know you'll take excellent care of him."

"What did you come here for Quatre. The truth."

"Let's step outside," he said rising from the sofa gesturing to Heero's balcony.

Heero rose walking with Quatre to the sliding glass doors, opening them to allow the blond to pass through before following him out closing the door behind them.

"I know that you lost your job today."

"And?"

"I want to offer you the use of my lawyers. I know you had nothing to do with Duo's escape or his kidnappings."

"I can find my own lawyer should they try to pursue this."

"Heero," Quatre said with a sigh. "I don't want us to fight. I didn't come here to try and take Kitten away from you."

"But you want to."

"I want to do what I think is best for him."

"He doesn't need to be fixed Quatre. The ears, the tail are a part of him. He was born that way and I won't let you make him feel like less because you think he needs to be fixed."

"I understand but Splicing is unpopular. I'm personally in support of it but until there are laws and regulations passed legalizing it, he will be an outcast. I want to protect him from that."

"Hiding him away won't help him."

"No it won't, but until there's a time when he can walk down the street without someone trying to kidnap him, it's for the best that he's taken care of."

He nodded, not committing himself to answering one way or another. He believed that Kitten needed to be well taken care of, protected until there was a time when he could fit in with other children. He, however, didn't want to entrust the task to anyone but himself.

"You're going to be stubborn about this," Quatre said, "I can feel it. Just promise me that if you need help you'll come to me. You don't have to do this on your own."

"I'll try, Quatre."

They turned to the glass doors walking back inside and both froze shocked at the scene before them. Michael sat on the sofa with Kitten beside her with both of them bent over her tablet. More extraordinary than that, Kitten had control of the pen using it to tap at things on the screen while Michael looked on smiling.

"Wow," Quatre breathed and Heero echoed him whole-heartedly.

+

After exchanging small talk and marveling over the fact that Michael let Kitten anywhere near her tablet to play a good natured game of checkers, Heero saw the trio out the door. Kitten gave his opinion of the three saying that Quatre was nice, Michael was fun and Ken quiet while helping Heero to clean up his crayons.

Having experience in getting Kitten cleaned and ready for the day, Heero didn't find it too difficult to get him ready for bed. Clean, dry and wearing a fresh pair of pajamas the boy climbed into Heero's bed waiting patiently for Heero to go through his nightly routine of locking down the apartment and dressing for bed.

He turned the light in the bedroom off but left the light to the adjoining bath on with the door cracked for Kitten's benefit. Climbing under the covers he had barely lay down before the three year old was pressing himself close to Heero's chest, fisting his shirt. He knew the boy was still fighting off the stifling sadness and he only hoped that he could continue to cheer him up and keep his mind off his father's abandonment.

He'd tried not to think about Duo all day but in the dark holding close to his son he couldn't but think of him. Even if Duo had drugged him to somehow protect him from being accused of involvement in his escape and kidnapping of several people it didn't stop his heart from aching. He couldn't get Duo's promise to stop playing in his head coupled with the sting of the needle sliding into his back. In fact his dreams circled through Duo telling him of his feelings for him while attacking him with sharp objects.

When the phone rang early the next morning it startled him awake, jostling Kitten who lay half on and half off his chest murmuring in sleep. He couldn't be sure but he thought he heard him say something about an obvious bad guy. He reached for the phone flipping it open to answer.

"Hello?"

"Mr. Yuy, I'm sorry to call you this early. I understand if it's a bad time."

"No, no Wimbly," he said sitting up. "What is it?"

"Well Master Peacecraft and I were concerned when you didn't come to visit before his surgery. He asked that I call."

"I completely forgot. Things have been hectic for me these past few days."

"Yes, we were recently informed of your hospitalization. I hope that everything is alright. We pushed the surgery back when we heard the news."

"Oh, when is it?"

"Today. Master Peacecraft is about to be prepped. There is still time to see him if you wish. He will understand if you can't make it. He simply wants to know that you are alright."

"Please tell him that I'll be there shortly. I'm sorry for making you worry."

"It's quite alright. I'll relay the message to Master Peacecraft he'll be pleased to hear it."

"Thank you, Wimbly."

"I look forward to seeing you Mr. Yuy."

The phone disconnected and Heero lay back wondering how he could have forgotten Zechs surgery. While Zechs routinely went in for corrective surgeries he tried to make it to as many of them as possible to reassure the man and be his support even when he claimed that he didn't want him around. Although he had a very valid excuse for letting it slip past him he was disappointed in himself.

"Who's Master Peacecraft? Kitten asked at his side, sitting up to look down at Heero.

"A friend of mine. He's having surgery today. We need to get dressed. Do you have your hat?"

"Yes. Nana packed it."

"Good. Go and find it and some clothes. We need to leave quickly."

"Okay!"

The boy scrambled across the bed heading straight for his bags where he combed through the various pieces of mismatched luggage for an outfit. Heero followed his example climbing from the bed looking through his closet for clothes.

Within twenty minutes they were on the road to Pleasant Valley Medical where Zechs would be having his surgery. The media was already parked outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the injured heir. Not being new to the treatment, Heero knew that Zechs would have been admitted the night before via ambulance to save himself form the media frenzy.

He walked Kitten in through the rear entrance, winding through the halls of the hospital to the main lobby in search of a nurse who could tell them where Zechs' was located. As he approached the reception desk a hand ran across the back of his shoulders as a familiar female voice spoke, "Once upon a time there was a former Preventors agent and his beautiful, and I might I say brilliant, attorney."

"Dorothy," Heero said turning around to face the tall blond woman. He felt Kitten move behind him, pressing close to his legs, hiding. "What are you doing here?"

During the war, he and Dorothy Catalonia had not been friends. In fact he could say at one point they had been enemies so it came as a surprise to him that he was friends with woman today. She looked both elegant and dangerous in a gray designer pants suit with black heels. Her long hair was pulled back into a low ponytail that hung down her back. Even her pleasant smile looked cruel and calculating and Heero thought it funny that people misread her expressions as often as they misread his. She was still the calculating woman that she had been before though now her focus was turned towards working for the greater good alongside Relena. The two women not only worked together but were best friends and were rarely seen separate from each other.

"When Zechs tried to weasel out of surgery, Relena made it her personal duty to see it through. Can you believe he tried to use you as an excuse?"

"He doesn't want the surgery for a reason," he said, chastising the woman.

"Yet he lets Relena talk him into it every time."

"I'm sure she had help."

"Heero," she chuckled holding her hand up in mock surrender, "I'm an innocent bystander in all of this."

"Of course," he said sarcastically.

Dorothy smiled, changing the subject. "So, I hear you lost your job and adopted a bouncing baby boy."

"News travels fast."

"As if Relena and I have given up stalking you. It is our favorite past time and every girl needs a hobby."

"Where is Relena?" he asked not seeing the other woman anywhere in sight.

"Fending off the press. This is an excellent PR opportunity and we couldn't turn it down. Now," she said clapping her hands together, bending down to look at Kitten who peered at her from behind Heero's legs. "Is this the little man I've heard so much about?"

"Yes," he said nudging Kitten forward. "Kitten this is my friend Dorothy. Dorothy this is Kitten."

"What happens next?" the small boy asked confusing both Heero and Dorothy.

"What?" she asked.

"In your story. What happens next?"

"Oh," she said giving them both a wolfish grin, "Well the beautiful and brilliant attorney works her magic and gets the former Preventors agent Director Yates' job."

"Dorothy that's not necessary."

"Heero, please. It's an open and shut case. I could win this in my sleep."

"Even if you won, I couldn't go back to work with the other agents thinking I'm corrupt."

"Just another charge to slap against Yates for a hefty pay out. When I'm done you'll own the Preventors."

"Will you pick me up?" Kitten asked in the pause, tugging on the hem of the woman's suit jacket.

"Are you going to vomit on me?" she asked with narrowed questioning eyes and Heero shook his head at the woman.

"No."

"Alright then," she said happily lifting the boy under his arms settling him on her hip.

"Can I touch your eyebrows?"

"Why?"

"Because they're scary," he whispered his eyes widening as he looked at the woman's grey forked brows.

"You know if you weren't so cute I'd drop you."

"Dorothy," Heero scolded.

"What? I'm being honest. He's old enough to handle honesty."

"Honesty is the best policy," Kitten said nodding at his own wisdom.

"That's right."

"And I'm not just cute, I'm adorable," he said turning his nose up.

"If I ever decide to wreck my body giving birth I hope my baby is as wonderful as you," Dorothy said seriously, looking at the boy as if she had just found a long lost family member or at least a another person as vain and self-centered.

"I'm sorry," Kitten said.

"Why are you sorry?"

"'Cause I'm one of a kind."

"Dear. God. I love you" she squealed squeezing him tightly to her chest and Heero could only raise an eyebrow at the very strange moment wondering if he wasn't still at home asleep having a stress-induced dream. Only Dorothy with bond with a child who could be as self-centered and vain as she was.

"Heero why don't you go up and see Zechs while a take this little man out for breakfast."

"Fine," he said rolling his eyes, "Stay inside the building and make sure he keeps the hat on. I don't want to see him on the news."

She waved him away her attention focused solely on the boy in her arms. "you would look so handsome in a suit. With wingtip shoes. A little millionaire."

"Dorothy."

"Fifth floor, room 508," she said walking away and Kitten smiled waving as they disappeared around a corner.

He sighed, knowing that if Dorothy took so strongly to Kitten, he would have to fight Relena off the boy.

It had been sometime since he'd seen Relena and while Dorothy liked to tease about the two of them stalking him he knew that Relena's obsession had waned. They remained very good friends visiting with each other as often as their busy schedules allowed. With his current unemployment he would have a lot more time to spend with his friend.

He took the elevator to the fifth floor thinking of all the things he could do while jobless, amusing himself with ideas of cross country road trips with Kitten as his navigator. They could eat at every diner, drive-in and dive, and visit all the theme parks and circuses they could find until they were too fat and sore to go on. He was smiling as he stepped off the elevator and was just in time to catch the nurses and orderlies as they began to wheel Zechs, bed and all down the hall. He jogged up to the bed, walking beside it looking down at Zechs' uncovered face.

It was still shocking to see the blackened skin, open wounds and bits of metal and he knew to be exposed this way was trying for Zechs. He touched the man's hand and he blinked his eyes open. The pale blue eyes were clearly relieved to see him as he smiled softly, as much as his deformed mouth would allow.

"Hi," he said, keeping pace with the bed.

"How are-you?"

"I'm fine. I'll tell you all that's been going on when you get out of surgery."

"No. Talk to-me now."

"I wouldn't have enough time to tell you everything that's happened."

"Recap."

Heero sighed not really wanting to rehash the events of the past few days in front of strangers but there was always a chance that Zechs would not live through the surgery. The man had once told him of how ironic it would be to go under to improve his quality of life to die on the table. He also knew that it was a very real fear for him and having something else to focus on would help.

Turning the corner heading towards the double doors that would lead to the surgery bay he and the others were blinded by flashing lights. Three men, two holding digital cameras, one with a video camera blocked the hall snapping pictures, recording Zechs in his exposed state.

"Get him out of here," he said to the staff blocking the paparazzi's shot, going as far as to snatch one of the cameras from the men. They ran with the two cameras they had left before he could snatch them away and destroy the film to save Zechs the embarrassment of have his face splashed across the news. He turned back in time to see the bed clear the double doors and followed, making it as far as the door as a tall nurse dressed in surgical scrubs, a paper hat and mask stopped him with a hand on his chest.

"Sorry, sir. You're not allowed in here."

The man ducked inside the bay letting the door swing closed behind him and Heero stared, disappointed at not being able to tell Zechs that he had at least managed to grab one camera or to reassure him that everything would be alright when the door swung back wafting a familiar scent to his nostrils.

"Duo," he growled, pushing on the door as the door pushed back. Hard.

He was airborne as several explosions rang out, bright white lights blinding him as he crashed into the wall dropping to the floor like a stone as debris rained over him. He was head blind, his vision and hearing gone and he clawed at the floor, trying to find something to grab onto to reorient himself. He was rocked by a second set of explosions that rained more debris over him and he could feel people rushing past him, running feet making the floor tremble under his hands. He blinked rapidly trying to clear his vision trying to find where Duo had gone and who he'd come for though he knew without asking.

Gervais had come for Zechs.

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