Ringu + Part 4 (cont)

Heero took a deep breath and tried to calm down, but he couldn't. He had to get this out of his system or it would stand between them for the rest of the case. He raised one hand from the steering wheel and let it slide through his hair, frustrated with his partner's attitude. "You're the psychology student! You tell me how one could kill by visual and audio suggestive messages or by hypnosis! That is if it is possible to hypnotize someone so that they die after seven days. Duo, I am not able to draw the same connections as you do!" His hand went back down on the steering wheel, an exasperated gesture of defeat. This was more than he had wanted to show, but now he had to go through with it. "My education was different from yours. I can tell you what explosive one used by merely smelling the smoke, but I have no idea how to hunt down a psychopath. Lady Une told me to trust you, but if you're not even seriously thinking about the case, what am I supposed to think?"

Duo was stunned at his partner's outburst and closed his eyes, already sorry for aggravating his partner like this, but he knew that it was good for Heero to have let that out. He knew that Heero wouldn't be able to solve the case alone. That's why he had tried to go ahead and do it alone, but he could slowly see Commander Une's reasoning in pairing them up. They completed each other better than Heero could do with Quatre or WuFei could with him. They were more alike than either of them would like to admit, but they knew it. That made it so hard to forgive and forget the other's mistakes, because each of them made exactly the same mistake. To forgive someone for one's own mistake was hard. Heero couldn't take Duo's carelessness because he himself didn't care much about life. On the other hand, Duo couldn't let Heero get into danger voluntarily, because if he did he would have had to admit that he was no better. They would have to work those little problems out, and this fight was the first step toward a better relationship. Heero admitted that he was not perfect, that he lacked some skills. Duo did too. Duo had the same problems when looking at Heero. He lacked Heero's skills, and that was something he hated about himself. With a sidelong glance at Heero, Duo wondered whether the other man could see it too.

"I'm sorry, Heero. I just don't believe it makes much difference whether we bounce around theories now or not. I've already said it once. I can't think right now. My brain is drained. I'm going to sleep for the rest of the trip. I didn't get all that much sleep in the last week. When I'm awake, I'll tell you everything I was thinking about, but not now. A tired soldier is a dead soldier because he makes mistakes. Surely you know that."

Duo didn't expect an answer . He laid back in the seat, his hands fumbling under the cushion until he found the handle to push the back of the seat into a more comfortable position. With a murmur, he leaned against the door and fell into a light sleep, neither fully asleep nor really awake. He didn't see Heero's jaws working as the other man took a good look at his slumped figure.

+

Under normal circumstances, Lady Une wouldn't believe that one could know who was outside just from the knock on the door, but working in this department she had soon learned that it was, indeed, possible.

"Come in, Yuy." She looked up briefly, making sure that it was indeed Heero Yuy and his partner who were entering her bureau. With a few trained phrases, she excused herself to the caller and put the phone down.

"Maxwell, Yuy, nice to see that you care to come in and report."

"Good morning, Commander."

Duo stared at his partner, expecting something other than a title as a welcome, but Heero looked at the desk and didn't made any attempt to speak up. "Commander. We do owe you an explanation for our sudden disappearance, but we had to follow some very important leads."

"Yes." Heero began slowly as if he wanted to say something else, but he didn't continue. Instead he looked at his partner who immediately took a step forward and sat down in one of the chairs in front of Lady Une's desk without invitation. Shrugging, Heero followed his partner's example and sat down in the unoccupied chair next to Duo's. He listened as Duo started bluntly with their report.

"Commander Une, we've found the video."

Lady Une slowly nodded her head, not sure if she really wanted to hear their conclusion, but she knew that she had no real chance. Director Khushrenada had already asked about the progress of the investigation. He had been more than a little miffed that she couldn't tell him much. Her agents obviously didn't report to her, and she would have to make sure that her agents knew their place. She had ignored his comments, like she always did. He couldn't replace her, because he knew that she was the figurehead of the Preventers in Tokyo and, moreover, because her homicide department had the highest crime clear-up rate in Japan.

Heero continued. "We believe that it was really the video that killed those four teenagers, possibly by hypnosis or other suggestive underlying messages." He spared a glance at his partner, who looked at him wide-eyed and begged silently to stick with his theory. Duo nodded slightly in agreement although he did not fully understand why Heero lied to their commander and interjected.

"Yes; although we'll have to analyze the video before we can be sure."

"We are going to attempt doing so after this briefing."

Lady Une nodded again and looked down at her notes.

"Chang told me you went to South Hakone. I'd appreciate it if you gave me details. Director Khushrenada already complained about your lack of discipline. I tried to explain to him, but you know how he gets. Try to give me more information. I can divide it into portions and feed it to him, but I need something to tell him."

"Of course, Commander."

When he saw Heero looking at him in expectation, Duo explained further what they had found out. "We went there because of the interviews we had with the late teenagers' parents. There had been a dead boy before, and all leads pointed to a certain holiday resort in South Hakone. That's why I decided to go there. Yuy followed me about half an hour later."

"I see. Well, type it up and give it to me as soon as possible. You're dismissed. I assume Chang has already organized whatever you need?"

Duo was already rising from his seat. "Yes, he has. We'll analyze the video and follow the leads. You'll hear another report by noon tomorrow, alright?"

"Fine. Khushrenada is not happy that I have four agents on one case. Be prepared for Chang and Winner to be ordered to another case. Good day."

After they had left Une's bureau, Heero immediately led the way to the elevator to go to the media lab on the last floor. As promised, WuFei had reserved a room, and the receptionist of the media lab immediately pointed them to the third Audio-Visual Research room. Suddenly, Heero remembered the documents they had asked their partners for. He also remembered that he hadn’t taken a shower this morning. He sniffed at his clothing and decided that he wanted one as soon as possible.

"Duo, I'll talk to Chang and grab a quick shower downstairs while you prepare the video set. Maybe he or Quatre found out the name of the previous owner."

"Oh. Right. I completely forgot about that. Of course. See you in a few."

While Heero showered in the bathroom next to the Preventers' gym and met up with WuFei a few floors up, Duo made a copy of the video so that they wouldn't waste any time in their analysis. He wanted to go to the major tech room to investigate the bandwidth. If they knew what had recorded the video, their search would probably go on much faster.

After he had labeled the copy with one of the stickers on the desk, Duo placed it on the desk and put his wristwatch next to it so Heero would remember to look at the time when he watched the tape in case he was back earlier. Duo left the room and closed it, making sure the red light on the magnetic lock was on. He didn't want anyone else to endanger themselves. With the original tape in his hand, he searched for the tech lab, which had to be on the same floor. That didn't say much, considering how large the floors of the building were. He was just about to give up and return to the receptionist's desk to ask for directions, when he rounded a corner and found what he had been looking for. Duo slid the keycard through the slit on the lock and punched in his code when he heard a sneering voice behind him.

"Mr. Maxwell, what a pleasure to meet you again."

Recognizing the voice instantly, Duo turned and glared at the woman who was standing a few feet away.

"Ms. Darlian, I'd love be able to say the same about the pleasure of your presence." He punched in the last number with force and waited for the light to change to green. When it flashed on, he excused himself politely.

"I am sorry, Ms. Darlian, but I have some work to do, I'm sure you don't mind." Quickly, before she could respond, he turned and entered the room, slamming the door behind him. Shutting Relena out of his mind, he concentrated on what he came to the tech lab for, namely finding out what instrument the video had been recorded with. He shoved the tape into the machine and let the video play. Strangely, the display didn't show what he had expected. He tapped the plate in a futile attempt to get it working correctly, but nothing happened to reassure him. The video 'wasn't' recorded. It just 'existed'. Rubbing his temple, Duo tried to wrap his mind around the idea that he had seen an animated thermography. He shuddered. This was not possible. The idea of somebody being able to make an animated thermography was as outlandish as the idea of beaming or interstellar travel. The video showed no sign that it had been recorded by something similar to a video camera. He tried a few of the buttons that should have corrected any mistake in the machine, but none brought any other result.

Sighing, he took the video out of the recorder and moved to the door. He turned back to make sure that the power supply for the machines was cut off and turned the lights out. Another lead leading to nothing. Looking around carefully, Duo made sure that Relena wasn't around. He really didn't want to run into her again. The woman had been ready to drag him in front of a judge or at least kill his career. He didn't even know why she hated him with such fierceness that she would fall back on such low resources. He walked down the corridor back to their room, tapping his fingers on the videocassette. He would stay longer to search the Internet for the newest information on parapsychology and psychokinetics. If the video was a mental one, he could eventually ask one of his professors if they had heard something. His mentor, whom he had worked with for his diploma had a vast archive of paranormal cases from all over Japan, and he knew a lot of the phenomena involved, he would know how to find what they needed for their investigation.

When he came back to their assigned room he found Heero sitting in one of the chairs, busily comparing notes on a notepad with the files. His hair was still wet from the shower and he had a new set of clothes on. Obviously he, too, kept spare clothing in his locker. Upon hearing the lock click, Heero turned and looked at Duo questioningly.

"I was in another lab to find out what had recorded the video." Duo had wanted to ask Heero to guess, but considering the strained relationship between them he didn't want to take any chances. "You were right. At least that's what I could find out."

"I was right? With what exactly?"

"The video wasn't recorded in any way! For example, a video camera makes a picture and it gets put on film. This video doesn't have any tracks."

"But, that's like-"

Again, Duo interrupted him, even more excited now that he could relate his theory to somebody else. "-like being born without fingerprints! The video was made in a telepathic way. I want to talk to one of my old professors who specialized in this field of study. He might give me some names or people who have that ability."

Watching Duo explain with such élan made Heero smirk. "When do you want to call him?"

"He's not at the university today, but I'm sure he'll be there tomorrow. I'll call him tonight and make an appointment." Duo stepped behind Heero to see what his partner had been working on and leaned on the back of the computer chair. Heero turned again and leaned back, so that Duo could see the files better. It didn't help much because Duo couldn't see the letters. He quickly fished the glasses out of his black bag on the floor, noticing how good Heero smelled as he bent down.

"That's the name of the previous owner. The files weren't public and it took WuFei quite some negotiation to get them. The previous owner was a man named Richard Morgan. An American wedded to a Japanese woman named Mei. They bred thoroughbreds on the land, which wasn't as big as the resort is now. It was mostly surrounded by nature." Heero paused for a moment and got another sheet of information which was half empty. "Strange thing is, they didn't live there for long. There is no Morgan family around in South Hakone anymore. They left after selling the land." Heero saw his partner bend over some more to grab a sheet. He grabbed it and shoved it closer into Duo's reach.

"Glasses?" Heero smirked, admiring the view. Duo grabbed the sheet with a growl and answered briefly.

"Yeah." He turned his head, his nose inches away from Heero's. When he saw the smirk, he narrowed his eyes and growled daringly. "What?"

Heero knew when it was better to deny any sort of amusement and his eyes widened momentarily. "Nothing! It's just -" Quickly deciding that it was best not to irritate his partner, he gave Duo his most dazzling smile and continued. "Looks cute."

Duo snarled mockingly and moved away, barely hiding his grin. Instead, he looked at the sheet of paper, regarding its contents. "So the new owner of the resort couldn't help much. Strange, but we'll leave that for now and analyze the video. You haven't watched it yet, have you?"

"No. But I will do so now."

"Okay. I'm leaving so you can watch it alone. The first impression is important, I think. Maybe we can go and grab some lunch after you've watched it. I'd like to hear your views, and I could use something to eat."

"Of course."

Duo smiled and walked toward the door. "Lights on or off?"

"Off is fine."

Heero watched his partner leave the room, then turned and pressed the play button. He didn't see the red light on another machine go on. Instead, he stared at the screen, reliving the feelings Duo had felt the night before. A strange joining of scenes, seemingly in no order at all. Some were scary, some disgusting, and some plain unrealistic and abstract, some even evoking feelings.

+

Duo wanted to wait outside the room until Heero finished watching the video, but after a few minutes the waiting made him uneasy, and he left his spot for a bathroom break. He was about to reenter the room, the door already slightly ajar as he heard Relena's voice behind him.

"Mr. Maxwell, your lover called out for you on the intercomm system. He probably wants to meet you in the janitor's closet on the third floor for a 'meeting'."

"My what?" Duo didn't understand what the woman was hinting at. He was in no relationship at the moment. Obviously Ms. Darlian couldn't get her head around the fact that his sexuality had burst her hateful plan two years ago.

"Your fuck buddy. Mr. Chang."

Duo clenched his fists. He would not let this woman denunciate his friend. By doing so, she had definitely overstepped her line, not only by calling him a fag to his face, but by involving WuFei. He remembered WuFei's lessons on polite negotiation and convinced himself that it was better to not aggravate the woman any further.

"As I may inform you, Ms. Darlian, Chang WuFei is happily married and I can assure you that I do not, nor do I wish to, have a sexual relationship with him." He tried to remain calm, even though it took all of his inner strength. "I don't know why you should assume so, but you are wrong. Whatever your problem with me is, I don't want you to draw my friends or partners into your little game. We both know that you lied."

"I know, although considering your past, it wouldn't surprise me if you'd just jump Mr. Chang without asking for his consent. That's what made it so easy for me to press charges."

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