by Iniquity

Ringu + Part 2

Heero quietly knocked on the door, trying to think of a way to tell the parents that he'd have to search their dead son's room without upsetting them too much. In the three years he had been working for the Preventers, Heero had learned one thing: there is no such thing as calm parents. He'd had to tell a lot of couples that their kid had died, especially in his first year when he had worked on the drug addicts' cases. Back then he had thought that nothing would be able to shock him. Now he looked back with a sad smile and thought about how wrong and arrogant he had been. Heero shook his head and knocked again, a little louder this time. A voice was raised inside and he heard a faint "I'm coming!" before he heard steps on creaking floorboards and a scraping noise as someone removed the hook from the security lock. Shortly after, the door opened and a man looked at him with skepticism if not out right hostility.

"What do you want?" The angry tone made Heero wish for his Arabian partner who usually dealt with this sort of people. He tried to remember how Quatre acted in such awkward moments and did his best to imitate him. A smile here, a nice touching gesture there, a little introducing sentence and he'd have Mr. Iwata securely tied around his finger like a band-aid.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Iwata. I'm agent Yuy and I work for the Preventers. Due to the investigation of the death of your son Shuichi, I have to ask you a few questions to help-"

"Aren't you a bit young?" Heero inwardly sighed as Mr. Iwata interrupted him, especially since the question was as well-known to him as was his response.

"I assure you, Mr. Iwata, that I am very experienced and confident that if you answer a few questions we can solve the case in no time." The little edge, the reprimanding tone-Heero had perfected the answer and he hated himself for it. He had seen more cruel things than any of his doughnut-eating colleagues at the Preventers and still those fat, lazy bastards got more recognition at what they did than anyone in Lady Une's team. The solved cases didn't count, the number of arrests didn't either. What counted were the print media's articles about 'a bunch of kids' playing detective. Mr. Iwata must have recognized his slight frown and bowed slightly.

"Sure. Come in, please." Mr. Iwata moved aside and Heero stepped into the apartment, politely leaving his shoes at the foot of the step before walking into the living room, where a grieving woman sat on a cushion.

He bowed to her, silently paying respect to the dead son. He looked at the couple, who were now seated on the cushions in the living room, and knew what they thought. He had seen those forlorn looks many times. In their own self-scrutinizing observations, they had committed the worst crime of all - they had survived their child. The father probably thought about his family's future, about the loss of his heir while the woman was plagued by more 'what-if' questions than any history professor might have had. They would blame themselves until assured that it had not been their fault and even then they would be weighed down by guilt for the rest of their lives. Heero waited another minute before beginning to ask his questions.

The family had gotten a visit from a police officer, telling them that their son had died whilst riding his motorbike. While waiting at a crossing for the green light, he had suffered a heart attack and died before the ambulance could save him. The devastating news was followed by the request to identify Shuichi, something the father had done alone to spare his wife the hard task, especially since the police officer had taken him aside and told him that this would not be something he would want his wife to go through. In the end, he was glad that he had gone alone. The dead body, the twisted features didn't look like his son at all, but the cross around his neck and the telltale scar on his chin finally left no doubt that it was his son lying on the cold, impersonal examination table. Mr. Iwata had thrown up in the morgue, ashamed that he couldn't take the sight of his own flesh and blood.

From what the parents could tell him, he learned that Shuichi had been on a little vacation in a holiday resort somewhere north of Tokyo the weekend before he died a gruesome death. He had borrowed his cousin's membership card to get a cheaper room. He had shown no signs of a viral infection and nothing in his room shed any light on the reason for his sudden death. A few magazines with oddly scratched faces were the only out-of-place things Heero could put a finger on.

Thanking the couple, he left the apartment, hopeful that his partner had found something. Before reaching his car, he had already dialed the number on the calling card Duo had left for him and waited patiently for the other man to pick up.

"Moshi moshi."

"Maxwell?" Yuy shook his head; this was too familiar. This was not the behavior he would have expected from his supposedly American partner. While waiting for the other one to talk, he walked toward his car and opened the door.

"Oh, hey Yuy. Found something out?"

"Yes. Iwata was indeed in the holiday resort one week before his death with his friends Nomi, Une and Tsuji, using his cousin's membership card. The resort would've been too expensive otherwise." Heero sat down in the driver's seat and placed the mobile into the car's internal com system. A crackle interrupted Duo's answer, but not for long.

"-oo expensive huh? That could imply that the family of the young boy had a membership too. Do you have his name?" Duo's voice broke through the speakers, leaving Heero with the feeling that his partner sat right beside him. Resisting the urge to turn his head to look at the passenger's seat, he responded quickly.

"Of course. One moment." Heero grabbed his bag from the backseat and flung it onto the empty seat next to him. He quickly flipped through his notes and finally came up with the requested name.

"Takuto Matô is the name of the father. The boy's name was Itsumi. I'm going to visit the family now. If there were no deaths before then, the boy might have recorded the video."

"Of course! I hadn't thought of that." Duo paused a moment. Heero could hear the hooting of a car and Duo cursing slightly. Obviously he was caught in traffic. "I'm done with Haruko Tsuji. Don't bother asking Nomi's family about the relationship of their son. They wouldn't know a thing because the kids kept it a secret. I doubt even their friends knew what was going on."

"Okay. What are you going to do now? Check on Midii's family?"

"Nope. I got enough information from the boss about her niece."

"So what are you going to do?" Heero asked. If Maxwell didn't tell him right away he had to feel uncomfortable about the topic, obviously so because he usually was very forward.

"I'm going to look for the video."

Something inside Heero wanted to yell 'No!' but he kept his cool façade and voiced his assent. The only question left he'd have to ask would have been a simple one if the positive answer didn't imply a death sentence.

"Are you going to watch it?"

The pause at the other end was uncomfortable, but firm, "Yes. If it exists, yes. I'm not sure there is a video yet, so, either way I'll be back tomorrow, whether if I find the video or not. I might need our media tech lab, so make sure I have an empty room by tomorrow at about three P.M."

"Maxwell, if there is a video don't watch it there. Wait until you're back and we have the lab for research." Heero didn't know why, but somehow he feared that their videotape-theory wasn't only a theory. He had to trust Maxwell not to do anything stupid, but if he watched the thing at the resort, he would lose half a day.

"Okay, okay. You don't do anything stupid either." Heero's eyes widened at the response. He had not just voiced his concern aloud, had he?

"Duo, I'm serious."

"Me too. I can't promise that I won't watch it because someone has to and I don't want you to risk your life because of a stupid theory that might or might not be true."

After he had disconnected the line, Heero immediately called Mr. Matô to get more information on his son's death. He couldn't get much data on the boy's autopsy report but his father surely had more information, especially if the boy had watched a video. After a few rings, a female voice finally picked up the receiver.

"Matô. Sayami speaking."

Heero was instantly discouraged. If the parents had divorced after the boy's death, something that was not uncommon after the loss of a child, he would have to deal with the mother because he didn't have Takuto's telephone number.

"Can I speak to your husband, please?"

"Of course. Wait just a minute. I'll get him for you." Heero's shoulders slumped in relief. A hysterical woman sobbing in his ear was the last thing he'd wanted to hear. Hopefully the father would provide him with useful information.

"Takuto Matô speaking."

"Hello, I'm agent Yuy. I work for the Preventers and we are currently researching a case that might have a connection to the death of your son. If you would please answer a few questions for me it would be very helpful."

"Of course. Please, go ahead."

Heero was glad that the man seemed to be emotionally strong enough to go through the details with him. " Is it true that you were on a vacation at the Pacific Holiday Resort in south Hakone one week before his death?"

"Yes, how did you-"

Heero's breath hitched. Could it be true? "Did your son watch a video while you were at the resort or did he record anything?"

"Yes, indeed, he did record something."

Heero let out a deep breath. This was both good and bad news. He would have to decide later which one exactly. Good news because it was a definite lead, bad news because it lead to a very mysterious solution. If he was right, Duo was currently signing his death sentence.

"Did any of you watch this video and when exactly did he watch it?"

"He was the only one, because we were all out to play tennis. He watched it on our last day, must have been six or seven days before-" Matô choked on a sob.

"I understand, Mr. Matô and appreciate your help, I know it must be hard for you to-"

"You have no idea what it's like to lose your child, agent Yuy. Those words aren't as consoling as people are led to believe.”

"I didn't want to imply anything. I'm sorry. A few more questions, then I'll leave you alone again." He paused to let Mr. Matô voice his consent, but nothing happened. Heero only needed one more answer. The answer as to who had started the craze. "Did your son bring the video himself?"

"Yes, he did. He brought a new video to record his favorite show. He did so, and the next day he watched it. Why are you asking all these questions? Is his death somehow related to that video?"

"I am currently restricted and can't tell you exactly what I am researching, I'm afraid. I am very grateful for your help. If we find something out, we will tell you before releasing the information to the media. Good day."

"Wait! Mr. Yuy? Mr. Yuy!" Nothing. The call had been disconnected. "Impolite young man." Angry that his caller had closed the connection so suddenly, Matô placed the receiver back on the hook and went back to the living room. What had his son's death got to do with that video? Truly, Itsumi had been acting strange after watching the video, but nothing more.

While Takuto Matô was still wondering about the connection between the death of his son and the video, Heero was already on his way out of the city, following his partner to keep him from watching the video. He opened the line and requested a call to 'Maxwell, Duo' via voice command. A minute later, a female voice expressed her regret.

"Caller could not be located. Please try again later."

"Shit." Heero grumbled and sped the car up. He had to warn Duo, or else they wouldn't have enough time to solve the case. Suddenly, the mobile beeped and the monotone voice announced an incoming call. Before the caller's name had been transmitted, he had already picked up.

"Duo! Don't wat-" His exclamation wasn't lost to the caller and he was interrupted by WuFei's calm voice.

"Yuy, it's just me. I gather you had no luck reaching Maxwell either, did you?" If Yuy's tone hadn't been so urgent, he'd have made fun of him, trying to banter with his friend's current partner, but the concern in Heero's voice had chased away any wish for jokes right now. He realized that Heero was worried for Duo and if Heero was worried, then WuFei didn't really want to know what his friend had gotten himself into.

"No. You've tried to reach him too?"

"Yeah. I wanted to ask him about the case. How's the investigation going?"

"We're currently trying to find out more about a video that might or might not kill people."

"Yuy, don't be ridiculous. Don't tell me you believe that too." WuFei waited for the quick rejection he was sure would follow, but none came. "Yuy?" Now he was worried. "That's a bad joke, right?"

"No, I'm afraid it isn't."

"So, you have proof that it was really a video that killed those four teenagers?"

"And a little boy." Heero added dryly but then calmed down quickly. "If it really kills, we're going to see in seven days."

Surprised, WuFei's eyebrows shot up at that last statement. "Why?" Suddenly, realization dawned on him. Heero had desperately tried to warn Duo, of course, and it fit that Duo would do such a stupid thing. "Don't tell me that-"

"-Duo is about to watch it. Yes. He's heading for Holiday Resort Pacific in South Hakone and obviously the signal is too weak there. Since I can't reach him, I can't warn him about the new information I just received." WuFei didn't like Heero's defeated tone at all and hissed angrily.

"Don't even think of giving up. You have to find out how to prevent that curse! The solution must be on the video itself. Trust yourself, and trust Duo. I will have your ass if you let my friend die."

"I-" Heero paused. Trust Duo? "I won't disappoint you." He finally managed to say it. He didn't want Duo to die either.

"Good."

Heero thought about it. Did he trust Duo? Trust was never given freely; it had to be earned, and he didn't know the other man enough to trust him. He didn't even like Maxwell. Duo. He wasn't sure why he suddenly used the American's first name instead of Maxwell. Probably because it was shorter and easier to pronounce. Suddenly, he became aware that he had never bothered to look into the other man's personal files. He didn't even know why he had started hating the other man. He had never heard complaints from Une, of that he was sure. It had to be someone else then. The first time he had seen the American was when he had been on a rescue mission to get WuFei's team out of a hairy situation. Duo had been the one they had had to drag away from the site because he had not wanted to give up his place at the shooting front.

He had not really recognized Duo's presence back then, even though they had worked on the same floor in the Preventers bureau, in the same room, occasionally on bigger missions together. The two teams had shared information, but Duo had seemed almost invisible back then, letting WuFei do all the talking for him. Heero himself had been friends with WuFei, always listening to the Chinese man's stories about Duo, admiring the changes his friend's new partner had brought about. WuFei had started to be more open and outgoing, and Heero thought that WuFei might have had a little crush on Duo. He could understand why.

The time that had brought the big change in his view of Maxwell was when Relena had run into him, clinging to him, accusing Maxwell of trying to rape her. Right. That was when he'd started to see the other's behavior as unprofessional and downright insane. The jokes became more shallow, if not obviously sexist, and his whole presence became a nuisance. Heero wondered why Maxwell had never justified himself. He also wondered why his and WuFei's friendship had ended one of these days. Was it his own fault? Had he automatically assumed that Maxwell's partner would have something to do with Relena's charges? WuFei had taken sides with Maxwell and accused Relena of being a liar. After the initial incident, no one had ever heard of the case again and Maxwell returned to active duty while Relena found a job in another department. Had her charges been wrong after all? Had he risked a great friendship due to the incorrect accusations of this woman? He knew that she had lied quite a few times when they had been working together on a few cases, but he'd never believe that she would have lied about something like that.

When his mind went back to the conversation he'd had with WuFei, he realized that the call had been disconnected from the other side. He didn't even know what WuFei had said afterwards but obviously it hadn't been very important. Heero had long since left the city of Tokyo behind him and was now on the highway to south Hakone. He didn't want Duo to go there alone. He didn't want Duo to go there at all.

+

[cont]