see part 1 for warnings, disclaimer
Shades of Obsession + Chapter 13
Wufei to the Rescue
"Oh Duo . . ." Quatre sat down next to me and put a supportive arm around my shoulders. "What is going on? What did he do?"
"He kissed me!" I exclaimed into the furry head of the tiger.
" . . . yeah, I caught that part. I meant, why on earth are you two fighting now?"
"No, you don't get it. He kissed me and then he got all pissy about it after you left." I sniffled miserably. "He was like, this isn't going to happen again, this is my job, blah blah blah, and I've had it! Who does he think he is, huh? He can't keep giving me these mixed signals--it's driving me crazy! Either he wants me or he doesn't."
Quatre sighed warily. "I don't think it's that simple, Duo. Maybe he's just not ready."
"Then you tell him that my ass isn't there for his viewing pleasure, kay? He does want me, I know it."
"Don't push it. Really." Quatre gave me a very serious, very stern look. "Maybe he just needs some time. If you rush him, then you might scare him away for good, and then where would you be?"
I glared at him. "What are you saying? Are you saying that I'm--"
"Persistent? Overbearing? Annoying?"
Quatre laughed. "No, what I'm saying is that you can be a little . . . pushy at times. Maybe Zechs really is scared, but pestering him isn't going to help."
"I just . . . I was just so mad at him for kissing me and then pushing me away," I moaned miserably.
"I know. But still, I think you should apologize to him tomorrow morning."
I stared at the blond. Always the voice of reason. Kind of annoying, if you ask me. "I ain't apologizing to him! I want him to think about it. And he will, cuz that was one damn good kiss, if you ask me, and then maybe he'll come around."
Quatre shrugged and threw his hands up in the air. "Fine. If you want to be stubborn, go right ahead. But don't come crying to me if you mess around too long and end up pushing Zechs away."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." I settled down on the pallet.
Well, needless to say, the climate in the mansion the next morning after Q and Tro had left for work was not the most pleasant ever. Zechs and I didn't say a damn thing to each other as I tried my best to flip some pancakes without messing them up. He just sat in his usual chair in the kitchen with his face buried in the morning newspaper as if nothing at all had happened last night. It ticked me off, but I remembered what Q said the previous night and didn't mention it.
Once my `pancakes' were done cooking, I grabbed a big jug of syrups to drown away the taste of my own sorry cooking along with a pitcher of orange juice and plastic cup and went into the living room where I sat on the floor in front of the big flat screen TV and turned it on. I dribbled a butt load of maple goodness onto the `pancakes' and began to much away. I was vaguely aware of the fact that Zechs had slid into the room behind me and was now on the couch, but I just ignored him. Yeah, buddy, two could play that game.
I hate watching the news, because the people never really can get their stories right, but something on channel 10 news caught my attention as I channel surfed.
"--Gregory Weston, involved in a bitter divorce case was arrested this morning for, according to the police, hiring a man to kill his wife," a rather uptight woman was saying. "Weston is on the board of trustees of the Tonik Corporation, which is owned by ex-Gundam pilot and multi-billionaire business tycoon Quatre Winner. Unfortunately, he was unavailable for a comment--"
I winced. Oops. Quatre had to be hopping mad about this--he hated scandals. Oh well. Apparently the lady wasn't dead, and they were still making their fabulous shampoo, so really, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, all things considered. Woulda been a cry thing shame to see that shampoo discontinued.
I thought about giving Q a call, but then the doorbell rang and I figured that it could be him. I got up and went for the door, but Zechs beat me to it and carefully opened it, with one had already reaching for the gun at his hip.
"Don't shoot--it's just me," Wufei grunted grumpily as he came into the house with hands, one free and one clutching a brown paper bag, up in the air.
"You came baring gifts!" I snatched the bag out of his hand and opened it. Umm . . . fresh breakfast from a fast food joint. "For me?"
"Yes. Quatre was concerned about what you were eating since, according to him, you all ran out of donuts," Wufei said. He and Zechs followed me back into the living room. I dropped to the floor and pushed aside my crappy cooking. I munched happily on a sausage biscuit and hash browns.
I continued to eat.
He coughed again, this time a bit more forcefully.
I changed the channel and took a big bite of a hash brown.
Wufei practically barked, and I turned around to look at him. "What? Do you need a cough drop or something? Should I do the Heimlich?"
Wufei sighed exasperatedly. "No! Some of that was for him!" He jerked his thumb at Zechs.
Oh. Well, that's all he had to say, not cough up his lung. I took out what I thought my share of the food was and slid the bag with the other stuff over to Zech's feet. Then I turned my back to them both and ignored them.
"A word, Merquise. Now." Wufei dragged Zechs off to the corner of the room.
I rolled my eyes. Yes, real discrete, Fei. Like I didn't know that they were talking about me. I turned up the TV to drown out the sound of their hushed conversation.
It seemed like forever before they separated. Wufei came up to me and knelt down, then dropped something down into my lap. "Here."
I looked down--there was another small disk. My face screwed up in a scowl. "I don't want to hear anything that he has to say, alright?"
"Don't be stupid. Just listen to it, damn it." He stood up, grunted a goodbye and then promptly and unceremoniously left.
Why on earth did I have a sneaking suspicion that Wufei knew a lot more about what was going down between me and Zechs than he should have? An impromptu food drop off was very fishy, and almost immediately he'd pulled Zechs over to the side . . .
I put the disk into my pocket and chewed thoughtfully on the last bit of my biscuit. I wasn't sure whether or not I should listen to it or not . . . hmm. The damn thing had been in my pocket for less than five minutes and already it was burning a whole in it worse than a single cred had in my street days, and the simple fact that Wufei had been acting suspicious made me even more curious.
I glanced over my shoulder. Zechs was rummaging through the paper bag, his face void of any emotion. I would most certainly get no hint about the subject of his conversation with Wufei from him.
I guess I would listen to the disk. Later.
I was totally right about Quatre. I could hear him ranting and raving about what the news stations had labeled the `Tonik Controversy' even before he got into the house, and when he was inside, it was even worse.
He was on the phone talking . . . um, let me correct that, ranting at someone, using words that I never thought I'd hear him say. A piece of string cheese hung out of my mouth as I let it fall wide open--Quatre was on a rampage.
Trowa had his head on the kitchen table, probably because he'd heard about it all day. Zechs was just sitting there with the damn newspaper (which he had been `reading' all day), using it to cover up the fact that he was amused by Quatre's behavior.
"No, sorry is not going to cut it, damn it!" Quatre was barking. "Does he realize that this reflects badly on me personally?! I do not need another reason for the media to be hounding me, and if I find out that he--WHAT?! He was doing what?! EMBEZZLING from the company to fund the HIT MAN?!"
The string cheese fell onto the table. Oh, this was really bad now. I got out of the chair, took the phone from Quatre and hung it up for him. Then I led him to a seat at the kitchen table. "Calm down, Quatre, before you have a heart attack at a young age just like all of those other over-worked, over-stressed suits. Let the police handle this."
"I just can't do it all," he moaned. "I can't watch over all of these different corporations all the time! This guy has been taking money from Tonik for years and I never even knew! What am I going to do?"
Trowa lifted his head. "Quatre. Leave. It. To. The. Police. Let them do their jobs--that's why we pay taxes, okay? You don't have to do anything other than release an official statement to the press. Leave it alone."
The blond pouted. "Fine. Fine. I think I need to unwind." He got this devious look on his face. "Trowa, hot tub, now."
Trowa reluctantly let Quatre drag him away. "Sex-a-holics," I snorted and slurped up the rest of my string cheese. Zechs just ruffled the newspaper and didn't say anything.
I sighed heavily. I got up from my chair and approached the fridge, yanking the newspaper out of Zech's hand as I walked past--and deposited the thing right in the trash can. I opened the fridge and began rummaging around for something to eat. Nothing but funny smelling leftover Chinese . . . hmm, hard to tell if it was spoiled or not . . .
"I was reading that," Zechs grunted.
"No you weren't," I replied, keeping my back to him. "Unless you read like, I don't know, one word an hour or something."
" . . ."
"Stop hiding from me," I told him, whirling around and glaring at him. He just stared back. "I'm not going anywhere, bud, so you're going to have to face me sometime."
"I'm not hiding from you, Duo."
"Oh. Sorry, looked that way to me."
We were saved from another argument by the phone ringing. I refused to answer it, on the chance that the caller could be either Rankin or Relena--and right then, I wasn't sure which one was worse. So Zechs got off of his behind and got it.
"Hello?" A tense and slightly annoyed look appeared on the man's face. "Ah, Detective Benito, have you and your men found anything yet, or must I come over there and get the place into shape?"
I rolled my eyes. Yeah, this was one guy who really had no business claiming that he didn't want me,
"No? Well, my offer remains on the table. What do you want? Oh, you think you've found the van? Hmm, what else have you found out? Never mind, Duo and I will come in--this line may be tapped." Zechs hung up the phone without a further word and basically ordered me to get my shoes on and my butt into Q's SUV, which we had to borrow until Zech's replacement sex machine arrived.
The car ride, as you can imagine, was excruciatingly tense. How stupid had I been to have an argument with a dude that would be around me twenty four hours a day, seven days a week? But I was too stubborn to take Quatre's advice right at that moment and make up with him--I could only wonder if what I'd said had gotten into his head. Hopefully he'd made up his mind about whether or not he really wanted me . . . and hopefully he did.
Alex was waiting for us in the lobby of the precinct. He looked exhausted with bags under his eyes, wrinkled and slightly dirty clothes and a giant mug of coffee in his hand. After gracing Zechs with a hard look, Alex draped an arm over my shoulder and led me to an interrogation room with Zechs following closely behind.
"Sit down," Alex grunted. He dropped warily into his own seat.
"Dude, you look like shit," I said. "You must be working really hard on this."
"Yeah, well, this is a high priority case," he muttered as he downed a bunch of coffee. "We've got a murderer loose in the city and there's no telling who he'll kill next. We need him off the streets."
"Right, just don't over work yourself. So what have you found?" I asked curiously.
"We located the van. It was abandoned on the side of the road not too far from the scene of the accident."
"How did he get it?" Zechs demanded. "Was it stolen?"
"Ah, no, it wasn't. It was from a rental car agency," Alex said. "Someone charged the rental to a credit card that was reported stolen only hours after the transaction occurred."
"Like the cyber café in London," I murmured thoughtfully. So this person, who ever he or she was, was no longer on the other side of the Atlantic, but right in my backyard. Scary.
"Exactly," said Alex. "We were able to get a surveillance video that recorded the rental, and we're pretty sure that it wasn't David Rankin unless he magically shrunk a couple of inches, but there really wasn't much that we could use to identify the person with, so--"
"Let us see it," Zechs ordered immediately. "Maybe Duo would be able to recognize this person."
"Like I said, there isn't much--"
I spoke up before an all out brawl occurred. "No, Zechs is r-right. I'd like to see it."
Alex sighed. "Okay. Well, we've also got a composite sketch of this individual from the lady who handled the transaction. Let me get that too."
Once Alex was gone, Zechs said, "Do you have any idea who this could be? Who would want to help Rankin?"
I very well couldn't tell him that I suspected Relena. We didn't need another fight on our hands. "That's a damn good question that, unfortunately, I really don't have the answer to."
"Any enemies? Anyone you've angered lately?"
Oh, besides you? "Look, during the war I killed a hell of a lot of people, some, I'm sure, who were quite innocent. So yes, I probably have a lot of enemies out there who would like nothing more to see me dead. But then again, my website pulls in millions of fans, so . . ."
Alex came back with a television and slid a drawing over to me as he hooked it up. Zechs leaned in close (damn, no matter how mad I was at the guy, he was still fine as hell) and together we studied the sketch.
"Er . . . Alex?" I asked, turning the paper sideways and then upside down. I held it far away from me, then brought it close, then squinted at it with one eye and then the other, but still I just couldn't figure it out. "Is this supposed to be a man or a woman?"
Alex snickered and sat down in his chair. "Good question. The woman wasn't really sure. Said the person's voice was strange and raspy, and as you can see, you really couldn't tell just by looking."
Just great. Well, hopefully the surveillance video would help. "Okay, play the sucker."
The three of us watched as a hooded individual came into the rental store wearing baggy pants and a baggy sweatshirt, so it was hard to tell if beneath those clothes were a pair of breasts or not. The person didn't look to be very tall, probably no taller than me, so it could've been a woman or a pathetically short guy like me. Now, as the person stepped up to the counter, all we could see was the back of his/her/it's head. He/she/it stood there for about ten minutes, then turned away with keys in hand, but the hood blocked the face from view. And that was it.
"Well. That wasn't really helpful," I moped.
Alex sent Zechs an `I told you so' look. "That's what I said. I'm sorry, but we don't have anything else to go on."
"Fingerprints?" Zechs asked, eyes narrow. "On the door handle paperwork, a pen, the credit card, something."
Alex gritted his teeth. "No. Prints. Whoever this is wasn't stupid. They coated their hands and fingers in a latex-like substance so that anything we picked up was no good."
I sat up a little straighter. "So then this person's been around the block a couple of times, so to speak," I interjected before Zechs and Alex started hissing at each other. "I mean, this person was smart enough and knew exactly what to do to cover their tracks."
"Presumably. We're doing the best that we can with what we've got," Alex said to me, ignoring Zech completely. "This person knows what they're doing--unless they slip up, we're going to have a hard time finding out who this is."
I nodded. "I know you're doing all that you can. It's fine."
"Thank you for understanding. Has Rankin contacted you yet about a possible meeting place and time?"
"No. But when he does, I'll let you know immediately. And Zechs can record the phone conversation so that you guys will be able to hear exactly what he said."
"Good. I will ignore the slight illegality of the tap, tracer and recorder on the phone for the sake of catching the bastard. That's all we have. Unless you have anything else you'd like to talk about?"
I shook my head and we all got to our feet. I stared at Alex for a while. Poor guy, here he was putting in a hell of a lot of overtime for me, and he looked like a total wreck. I gave him a quick hug and said, "Try to get some sleep, okay? You won't be able to catch Rankin if you collapse from exhaustion in mid-chase."
Alex smiled at me, and he looked a little better as he did so. "I'll try. Stay out of trouble."
Once Zechs and I were in the car and on our way back to the mansion, I said, "Will you lay off of the guy a bit? He's doing his job the best way that he can."
"I'm just trying to make sure that the police don't miss anything, Duo. For your sake."
For my sake? "So you do care about me."
Zech's hands gripped the steering wheel a little bit tighter. "I never said that I didn't."
After that comment, I was anxious to get back to the mansion and listen to the disk that was still in my pocket, but once Zechs and I had final returned, Quatre ushered us to the pool house before we could get inside.
"We've got some men doing some work in your room, Duo, and we think it would be best if you stayed away," Quatre said. "We're having that balcony door replaced so that it won't be so easy for someone to get inside from the outside."
I sat on the couch and rested my head on the back of it. "Er, I wasn't aware of any of this. When did you get this idea in your head?"
"While Trowa and I were . . . um, relaxing in the hot tub, I thought I saw something or someone walking around outside. Trowa went to look around, but he didn't see anything." Quatre sighed. "Well, better to be safe than sorry, I figured."
Zechs nodded. "That was a good idea."
"I thought so." Quatre began to leave, but before he did, he asked, "Do you guys need anything? It might be a while."
"Oh! Hey, can you bring my laptop and my earphones please?" I asked quickly. In ten minutes I had the thing up and running in my lap. With a quick glance over my shoulder (Zechs was sitting in the small kitchen reading another newspaper), I inserted the disk and pushed play.
"What the hell is going on, Merquise? It would take a Gundam to cut through the tension in this room."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Is that your response to everything?"
" . . . Duo . . ." Quiet chuckling. "He said something like that to me once . . ."
"Oh, so his has something to do with Duo?"
"Of course. But you already knew that."
"Maybe, maybe not. Look, I'm just going to come out and say it--this fight, argument, squabble whatever that you two are having is stupid and frankly, quite dangerous. We cannot afford to have the two of you at odds with each other at a time like this."
"I know that."
"Then what the hell is the problem?"
"What do you know about the situation?"
"You kissed Duo. And then you ran away like a frightened girl."
" . . . I will not ask how you knew that, but I did not run away. I was being sensible--this is a job and becoming romantically involved with Duo is not a good idea."
"I'll tell you what isn't a good idea. Trying to get in the way when Duo wants something isn't a good idea.
"Getting in the way of Duo period is a bad idea."
" . . . what does that mean, Merquise? Do you wish that you'd never taken this job, never met Duo? Because if that's true, then you should pack your bags now and--"
"No. Of . . . of the few things that I do not regret in my life, meeting Duo is one of them."
" . . ."
"Are you feeling alright? Your face is purple."
"What? Er, I'm fine, just fine. But you, Merquise, are an idiot."
" . . . excuse me?"
"I said that you're an idiot. You want him."
"I never denied that. It was his assumption that I did not."
"And did you try to clarify that?"
" . . . no."
"Like I said, an idiot."
"I'll give you a piece of advice, something that Heero likes to say, because you seem to be conflicted between listening to your head and your heart. Act on your emotions. That's the only way to live."
"A bit hypocritical, isn't it Chang? Shouldn't you take that advice for yourself?"
"I'm working on it. Besides, what the hell do you think I'm doing right now? I'm not talking to you because I like you or anything."
". . . point taken."
"So what I'm saying is to stop listening to whatever your brain is telling you to do concerning Duo, because it is, as he would say, screwing everything up."
"I will take your advice and consider it."
"But can I ask you a question? Why are you doing this, encouraging me? Yuy would be less than happy about this if he found out."
"Let's just say . . . well, really, that's none of your business. Just understand this--Duo has thrown away most of his masks, Merquise, and so should you."
Well. Zechs hadn't been the only idiot, that's for sure. I shouldn't have blown up at him like that. Maybe he wasn't ready for a relationship, maybe he did need some time. I sat the laptop on the table and tossed off the ear phones.
Zechs was still at the kitchen table engrossed in the same newspaper as the one I'd thrown away earlier that day. I crossed the room and yanked it from in front of his face.
"I was reading--"
"I'm sorry!" I exclaimed before he could continue.
"No, let me finish." I stared him straight in the eyes. "It was stupid of me to push you last night, okay? I was being sort of selfish. I'd been feeling so lonely before you showed up, and then you got here and you were just so very handsome and just everything that I'd always looked for in a man . . . I wanted you, and I didn't even think about how you were feeling about the whole thing. I didn't--"
I took a deep breath. "So, I'm sorry. I won't push you again. If you need some time, then I can wait. And if . . . if you'd rather wait to have something with me when this Rankin thing is over, then I can wait on that too. And . . . ah, if you don't want anything with me at all, then I'd have to call you crazy, but if that's the case, then I will just back off. So just let me know and I'll . . . well..."
I looked at Zechs, who just sat there in the chair staring at me. I shifted nervously, thinking that he didn't want me, and that I was about to get rejected, have my heart stomped on--
Zechs slowly got out of his seat and stood in front of me. His hands came to rest on my shoulders, our eyes locked, my heart began to pound and--Zechs leaned in and kissed me, not innocently like the other kiss had begun, but fierce and rough and full of the passion that he held for me.
I found myself being pushed back against the kitchen counter, one of Zech's hands roaming down my back and to my butt, and the other buried deep in my hair. Mine became tangled in his white blond mane, and my legs began hooking themselves around his.
Zechs' lips trailed down my neck and found a very nice spot, and I could do nothing other than moan. I brought my right hand down his back, underneath his shirt and across the warm skin on his back. The other hand slid across the leather on his belt and to his buckle--
"Okay guys, everything is WHOOPS!" Quatre stood in the living room with wide eyes. Zechs and I pulled apart and straightened our hair and clothes.
"Quatre, I swear, you have the worst timing," I grunted, giving him a very, very, very dirty look as I tugged on my shirt. "Learn how to knock."
"Really, I'm sorry guys." A goofy grin blossomed on Quatre's face. "So . . . you guys aren't fighting anymore."
I felt Zechs' hand on the small of my back. "Oh really? I hadn't noticed. See, we weren't fighting with words, fists, or Gundams, but our tongues sure were. I think I was winning before you so rudely burst into the room."
"I will have to dispute that," Zechs said good-naturedly.
"Oh, yes we will," I purred, imagining all of the future `tongue fights' that we would be having. Umm, couldn't wait. "I'm sure we'll have plenty of chances later."
And much to my pleasure, Zechs nodded.
Quatre's goofy grin widened. "Great! Fantastic! Ah . . . I think this merits a celebration. The door guys are gone, so let's order a bunch of food, get some movies and have a good time."
"Sounds good to me," I said with a smile. "There's this thing I wanted to watch called Underneath the Covers. Maybe we can get that . . ."
"Duo!" Quatre cried, giving me a weird look.
"What?" I asked innocently.
"Isn't that . . . a porno flick?"
"Yeah. And? I've heard that it is very . . . profound. Hey--how'd you know that anyway?"
" . . . um, never mind."
"I assume, Duo, that everything is back to normal over there, since you're calling me," Wufei said dryly.
I turned my back to Quatre, Zechs and Trowa, who were all in kitchen, gathering everything that we needed for our movie night. "Yeah, everything is just great. Thanks, Fei. But you didn't have to do that, you know."
"Yes I did."
"Why do you say that?" I looked over my shoulder to find Zechs staring at me. I winked at him and gave him a small sexy smile, which he returned tenfold. My heart turned to mush.
" . . . I owed you, didn't I?"
"Well, you're free and clear now. You've done enough."
"Good. Talking to that man is like pulling teeth."
"Ain't that the truth. Thanks again."
"Anytime, Duo. Anytime."
[chap. 12] [interlude] [back to Singles a - k]