Author: Enchantress101
see part 1 for warnings, disclaimer

Shades of Obsession + Chapter 16
Just When You Thought It Was Safe...

"I thought that would get your attention."

Oh man, this was bad. Relena was just too important to die right now, she had stuff to do--speeches to make, peace conferences to attend, pink things to buy in bulk . . . As much as I hated to admit it, the world freaking needed her.

"David, let her go," I said cautiously, stepping from behind Zechs despite his best attempts to keep me hack. I approached him slowly with my hands in plain sight. "She doesn't have anything to do with this."

But he wasn't looking at me. His eyes . . . oops again, his eye was bearing down on Zechs like nobody's business, seriously, and in his arms, Relena began squirming, her eyes wide with fear.

"David, please. Let her go." I took a deep breath, prepared myself to use my best puppy dog voice, and added, "Please, for me?"

The sucker just had to fall for this, he had to.

After what seemed like an eternity, he roughly pushed Relena to the side, the blade, inadvertently or not, digging into her skin and cutting it. She screamed and fell to the floor, clutching at her neck and gasping for air as red liquid streamed from between her fingers. Zechs lurched at Rankin, and the two wrestled their way into the kitchen, leaving me to rush to Relena's side. I tried to pry her stubborn hands away from the wound, but she just would not let go for anything.

"Let me see . . . let me see, damn it!" When I got a clear view, I let out a sigh of relief and tore away part of my shirt, pressing it to her neck. "Listen to me! It's not that bad. It's not deep at all. Take the keys and get into the SUV. Drive to the hospital and call the police, okay?"

She was shaking slightly, but doing her best, I could see, to maintain some sense of composure. "But--but my brother--!"

"Just go! I'll take care of him." I hauled her to her feet and practically shoved her out of the door.

Once she was safely out of harms way, I rushed back to the kitchen just in time to see Rankin slamming Zech's head against the counter top. Both of them looked pretty messed up, but Zechs wasn't doing too well--his head was bleeding pretty badly, and he looked a little disoriented. If anything happened to him, I knew that I wouldn't ever forgive myself.

But what could I do? What should I do?

And then I remembered something that Quatre always kept hidden in the living room under a loose floor board. I ran to it, yanked up the piece of wood and took out the pistol. In a flash I was back in the kitchen, and the sound of the safety being clicked off made Rankin freeze, just as he was about to plunge the knife into Zechs' stomach as the man leaned helplessly against the counter.

"Stop right there, Rankin," I said in a deadly tone. "Drop the knife and back away from him or I swear to everything that is holy that I will shoot you."

A heated, angry look crossed Rankin's face. "You would shoot me? And not him?"

I took a step closer, the gun remaining steady and level. "Tell me why the hell I would shoot him."

"Because he raped you! And I saw it all!"

Wha?! Okay, I hadn't been expecting that one. But he was looking so crazy (crazier than usual, anyway) that I decided to go with it. "How . . . how did you know?"

"I had someone place a camera in your room when those men came in the replace the door," Rankin said, obviously pleased with himself. "I slipped one of them fifty credits and they put it in." Oh great. Yeah, reeeealy nice. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Zechs shifting slightly, reaching for something. I had to keep him distracted.

"O-oh? You've been watching me this entire time?"

"Yes. I saw the way that he forced you to be in his arms, and the way that he forced you to kiss him, and I wanted to go after him then, but . . ." Rankin gave Zechs an evil glare. "You asked me not to hurt anyone else because of you. Do you remember?"

Er . . . "Vaguely, yes."

"I tried. I really did, and I thought that I could put up with it because I would have you in the end, when it mattered and not him, but he went too far! He raped you!"

Oh, jeeze, that again? "David, please! Just put down the knife or I'll shoot."

"You wouldn't. You want to be with me, remember? You're not going to shoot me."

Wanna bet?

The man raised the knife above his head and I pulled the trigger. Rankin let out a roar of pain and grabbed his hand as the knife flew from it, and then sank to the floor and moaned.

Zechs was on the other side of the kitchen island, reaching for the cordless phone and dialing 911. "Where did you get him?"

"In the hand." Despite all that he'd done, I couldn't . . . I was through killing people. I'd let the cops lock him up for the rest of his pathetic life.

Rankin slowly rolled his head up to look at me, his eye wide with disbelief. "You . . . you shot me . . ."

Well, duh. "I said that I would."

"I . . . I . . ." Rankin, glanced at Zechs. A look of realization crossed his face. "You love him."

" . . .Yes."

"Then I have no chance with you whatsoever."

Man, he was on a roll today. "No, I'm sorry."

He hung his head momentarily in what I'd assumed was defeat, and then his eye met mine. A strange sense of apprehension welled up in my throat. I didn't like that grave _expression on his face, nor that really weird, shiny look in his eye. What was going on in his head? What was his next move?

I didn't have to wait long to see what it would be--his head turned so that he was looking at Zechs. Rankin's face turned dark and dangerous. His uninjured hand moved--he was reaching for something behind his back and my mind began whirling. Did he have a gun or something? Was he going to hurt Zechs?

The next thing I knew, the sound of a gun firing one, twice, three times exploded in my ears, and then everything was silent.

I stood there, stunned and unable to move until the smoking gun was gently and carefully removed from my hand by Zechs, who placed it on the counter.

"Is he dead?" I asked softly.

Zechs crossed the kitchen and bent down to feel the man's pulse, even though that probably wasn't necessary, given the hole in the middle of the man's head. Zechs nodded gravely and gave me a concerned look over his shoulder.

My mouth was dry. Why was Zechs looking at me like that? I hadn't done anything wrong! Right? "He-he was reaching for something, I swear," I rushed out taking a small step forward. "Check him! It was probably a gun or a knife or--"

"Duo." Zechs' voice was firm but soothing as his hand's checked Rankin's body. "There isn't anything."

" . . . what?" I blinked rapidly. "What the hell do you mean, there isn't anything?"

Zechs sighed and stepped away from the body, icy eyes glaring down at it. "There's no gun, no knife, not a damn thing. More than likely he did that on purpose. He knew that you would fire that gun again if you thought that he was coming after me."

Selfish bastard. I'd broken my vow of never taking another life because of him . . . A mix of rage, sorrow and disgust welled up in my stomach and threatened to come up through my throat, but luckily, I was able to force it down.

"It's not your fault," Zechs said softly, coming to my side. "You had no other choice. You were just defending me."

Those words should have comforted me, but they didn't. Well, not much anyway, but the supportive hand he placed on my back was better.

Numb, I turned to him. "Are-are you okay?"

"Minor injuries. I'll be fine." He took me into his arms and didn't let me go until the cops were beating at the front door.

Zechs was immediately taken to the hospital, and the paramedics at the scene gave me the okay, but with some skillful persuasion I managed get them to let me ride in the back of the ambulance with him, on the pretence of needing to give Alex, who was also there, my statement. I was separated with him, though, as they took him away to be examined. I sat in the waiting room, staring at the floor until Alex came up to me.

"How are you doing?" He asked softly.

"Fine, I guess. I . . . I didn't think that he would die," I said honestly. "I didn't think that he do something as stupid as basically killing himself because I didn't love him."

Alex gave me a rueful smile. "Don't underestimate yourself, kiddo. Is there anything that I can do for you?"

I was just about to shake my head when I got an idea. "Yes, actually there is . . ."

+

"Damn . . . Duo, are you sure that you want to do this?" asked Alex warily.

I couldn't help but shiver, but not only from the cold, but also because of where we were. Jeeze, I must've been out of my flipping mind, but there I was, standing in the city morgue staring at the giant window with its blinds down that separated me from . . . urg. Screw it, I'd come this far, so I might as well.

"Yeah. I want to see. I need to see."

Alex sighed and rapped on the window, and the blinds went up with a whoosh.

A medical examiner was standing next to a metal table, and on that table laid the body of David Rankin. I stared for a while. "He's really dead this time? I mean, really?"

The examiner called out, "Dead as can be."

I nodded and turned away. "Thanks, Alex. Can you take me back to the hospital now?"

+

As I stepped quietly into the hospital room, I couldn't help but think that despite the fact that he was covered in enough bandages to wrap up a mummy and as white as the hospital bed sheets, Zechs was still one handsome man. I grinned at him as he turned his head so that he was facing me, and his eyes lit up.

"Duo . . ." he moaned, trying to sit up.

I was at his side in a second. "No, no, stay down silly."

Zechs stared up at me with drowsy icy blue eyes. "Are you . . . okay?"

"Yeah, Daddy, just fine. I don't have a scratch on me."

Zechs frowned. "I wasn't talking about physically."

" . . . I'll get over it. Not the first time, you know?"

That seemed to bother him, but he didn't comment. "And . . . Relena? How . . .?"

I shrugged and squeezed his hand. "I don't know . . . But I can try to find out if you want me to."

"I . . . thank you."

Alright, Duo Maxwell was on a mission! Where to start, where to start? I left Zechs with a kiss on the lips and went out into the hallway. Her location would most likely be confidential for security reasons, but there had to be some way . . .

As I wondered down the hall and past the nurses' station, I heard some women giggling softly amongst themselves. And then the name Relena came out of one of the women's mouth. I slinked back and leaned against a nearby wall, trying to look all cool and suave and nonchalant.

"You mean she's here?" one of them whispered urgently.

A tall blond nodded, looking all smug and stuff. "I took her vitals just a few minutes ago. Something was wrong with her neck."

"And you got to meet her? Oh, I am so jealous of you!" A red head crowed. "What room is she in?"

The blond looked around to see if anyone important was around, and then went over to her desk where she pulled out a clipboard and showed it to her friends. I had to see that. I just had to.

I pushed away from the wall and approached the group of women. The blond tossed the clipboard back onto her desk quickly. "Hey ladies, just thought you'd like to know that I think some kid puked down the hall over there." I pointed for them.

The blond stuck her nose up in the air. "That is not our job. Go find a--"

"Say, what was that you were looking at?" I asked innocently, gesturing towards the clipboard. "Confidential information or . . .?"

The woman turned pink and stomped off. I turned to the rest of the women and said, "It was pretty big. You all should go and help out." I gave one last significant look to the clipboard, and that was enough to get them hustling off.

Yes! I swooped down on it and began scanning. What room . . . what room . . .? There! On this floor, room 759, which should be on the other end of the hall--

"Hey! You! What are you doing?!"

I jumped back and looked up to see a security guard frowning at me. "I, ah . . ."

"Come here, kid!"

Who the hell were they calling a kid?

I turned away and began walking quickly down the hallway towards room 759, and as I heard the guard shouting for me to stop, I took off running. I was pretty damn fast, so when I made it to Relena's room, the guard was just a speck down the long hall. I threw the door open and burst inside and--WHOA!

Just as I came through the door, Relena was been getting out of bed, and you know those damn hospital gowns with no back . . .

Her bare naked ass stared me right in the face!!

"Oh shit, oh shit, I did not just see that," I moaned, covering my eyes and slumping against the door as Relena whirled around and screamed, clasping the back of the gown.

The horrors! My poor, poor, poor eyes! I would never get such a frightful scene out of my mind. Her brother's smooth, round and fine ass was one thing, but hers . . . the absolute and utter horror!

"What on earth are you doing here?!" she demanded, her face bright pink.

"To check up on you for Zechs! He was--"

I heard the footsteps of several angry individuals approaching the door, which I locked in just the knick of time. A man began banging on the door.

"Ms. Peacecraft! Ms. Peacecraft! Are you alright?!"

She stared at me, trying to decide whether or not to turn me in to the cops. "My brother, you said?" she asked quietly. I nodded. "Yes, I'm fine!" Relena shouted back.

"Are you sure?! Open the door--"

"I said go AWAY!" Relena yelled furiously. And what do you know--they actually complied. "What is this about Zechs?"

"I'm here to see if you're okay," I said and then added quickly, "for Zechs, I mean. I, ah, was just thanking him for his good work, and he asked about you, and I figured that the least that I could do is come and see you for him. So, you're okay, I guess I'll be going--" I began slipping out of the door, and then she said--

"Wait! I think . . . I think that I should apologize."

Hold up, stop the presses. This was major.

"I had not . . . realized how serious that the stalker issue was, and I had not believed that Zechs' . . . services were needed that desperately." She looked down at the floor. "And thank you for being so kind to my brother. He really needs a good friend."

I stared at her, mouth wide open. The thing is this--she sounded totally sincere. I guess staring a mad man in the eyes while he had a knife at your throat was enough to get her to change her opinion of me. Well, hopefully, because I wasn't planning on leaving her brother any time soon. "Well, uh, thanks. I like being your brother's . . . ah, friend."

Relena nodded with a small, tight smile. "Now, if you would excuse me, I would like to get dressed."

"Oh, sure. And . . . we'll just keep the fact that you mooned me between the two of us, alright?"

"Mooned? What does that mean?"

I snickered. "Never mind."

Quickly I returned to Zechs' room where I found him sitting up in the bed, trying to get to his feet. "And just where do you think you're going?" I asked him. I plopped down on the bed next to him.

"I was just coming to find you. You took to long."

"Don't be silly. Get back in bed." I forced him down, much to his chagrin, and began tucking the covers around his body. "Hey, how the hell did you get pajama pants? Why do I always get the backless gown and you get pants?"

Zechs smirked. "I'm good."

"Oh, yes you are." I made sure that he was comfortable before I settled down in the armchair next to the bed. "How long do you have to stay here?"

"Overnight, they told me."

"Overnight?"

"Observational purposes only."

"Oh."

Zechs reached over to squeeze my hand. "I'm fine. I promise."

I just nodded. "If you say so." I reached for the remote and flipped on the TV, immediately passing over the news, which was sure to be featuring a story about me, and turned it to the comedy channel. We sat together in silence, and I guess I was more physically and emotionally drained than I though, because eventually I drifted off without even knowing it.

+

When I woke up, the first thing I realized was that my neck felt like total and utter shit from being in a weird position the entire night, and the second was that Zechs was already dressed in a pair of kakis and a white sweater, sitting on the bed with his laptop and cell phone up to his ear. I was about to ask him where the hell he got that stuff, but then I remembered--he was good.

"Wah . . . what are you doing?" I mumbled, massaging the kink out of my neck.

He glanced over at me. "Shopping."

Ooohhh, shopping. "For what?"

"A place to live."

A place to live? So he really was staying. My heart began slamming in my chest. "That's great!"

"Umm. I think I've found the perfect place. Would you like to come and check it out with me?"

"Of course. Now?"

Zechs nodded. "Come on, get your lazy ass up before someone takes this place."

"Hey!"

+

The place . . . was . . . oh man, rich people!

I'm sure that my chin was down at my feet as I looked around. This flat was--

"Very nice, yes?" the real estate agent asked with an uber-perky voice. "Lovely open floor plan and everything is new! Look at these shiny hardwood floors, and the beautiful cabinets in the kitchen. Granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, fireplace in the living room--"

"Zechs," I interrupted, going over to a wall covered by curtains. I pulled them back and gasped at the view of the skyline that the wall of windows provided. "How much does this place cost?"

"Don't worry about it," he said from the kitchen as he opened the cabinets and examined the cabinets. "Do you like it?"

I wanted to turn around and ask him if this was a request to move in with him, but with that damn real estate guy there, I couldn't. "Er, it's nice for you. A little too expensive for my taste, but you should fit right in."

"Hmm . . ." Zechs came over to me and looked out of the window. "I like it." He turned to the agent and said, "Would you give me a moment?"

"Ah . . . sure." He gave us weird looks and quickly left the flat.

"So . . ." I looked up at him. "This place is really nice."

"Umm, hmm."

Did he not get my hint? He just stood there, staring down at me. Oh jeeze, did I have to be any blunter? Apparently so--okay, Duo, just go for it. "You . . . do you want . . . are you asking me to move in with you? Because that's what it sounds like."

Zechs sighed and pulled me close so that he could rest his chin on the top of my head. "I would like for you to, yes."

My heart soared . . . only to crash and burn seconds later.

"But--"

"Woah!" I pulled back, giving him a look through narrowed eyes. "But what?"

"I would like for you to move in, but I have to think of how that would affect my sister."

Oh god. And I was just beginning to make piece with the girl, and now it appeared as if she would still be in the way! "Zechs, come on. Relena's a big girl--she can handle it."

"Her job is too important and you know that."

I took several deep breaths. I didn't want to lost this man, and if keeping him meant dealing with an annoying sister, then so be it. "Okay. Fine. If that's what you want."

He seemed to sense my annoyance at the situation--he was at my side in a second, caressing my hair. "Please don't be upset with me. She's vital to the peace that exists right now, and anything that I do will reflect heavily on her."

"I know. And I'm not upset with you," I said honestly. Well, I wasn't. How could I be upset with him for caring about his sister and about peace? "You're staying here, in town. You're staying here with me. That's all I can ask for."

Zechs nodded, relieved at my reply. He looked around the flat briefly, and then back at me. "I'm thinking about buying it. What do you think?"

"It's great. I'd get it if I could afford it."

I saw a little something flash in his eyes (anger? frustration? annoyance?), but as soon as it had appeared, it was gone. He didn't say anything else to me, and went and got the real estate guy. The papers were signed, the place was now officially Zech's, and when the two of us left, I was sure that we were going to a furniture store, unless he was going sleep and eat on the floor while staring at the wall all day, but when we got into his car, he turned to me and said, "Where is the apartment complex you stayed in before you moved in with Quatre?"

"Why?" I asked suspiciously.

"You'll be moving back there, right? I'm just curious."

I directed him to it. When we arrived, I could tell that he was less than thrilled with what he saw. The place wasn't that bad, but it wasn't the best. Growing up on L2, I was accustomed to a hell of a lot worse, so this place was like the Ritz to me. Just good enough for Duo Maxwell.

"There's at least one burglary every week in this neighborhood," Zechs commented lightly after we'd sat there (quite stupidly, if you asked me) in his car, which was parked outside the rental office, for about five minutes. "And a murder around here every year."

Okay, so this wasn't exactly Q's neighborhood, but there were worse places around here. "How the hell do you know that?"

"I did some research."

I looked around, amazed. "What, is your brain running Internet Explorer or something?"

He smirked. "No. I did it before."

I wasn't going to ask him what exactly `before' meant. "So you already knew where this was."

"Yes. I asked Quatre."

" . . ." I blinked at him. "Okay, what are you trying to get at here? If I can't move in with you, where the hell am I supposed to go? Continue to mooch off of my best friend? Or do you want me to move in with my ex?"

"No. Let me show you something." We pulled out of the parking lot and back onto the expressway, and soon we were pretty much right back at Zechs' fancy apartment building. After a fifteen minute drive from there, we arrived at a group of really nice apartments, where Zechs parked and got out.

I already knew as soon as I got into the rental office that there was no way that I would be able to afford one of these places. The buildings were newly constructed with a nice brick facade, and from the office I could see three men outside dragging a tarp over a gigantic swimming pool. It reeked money. Er, money that I did not have.

I was yanking on Zech's sleeve when a very pretty young lady approached us. "Welcome to The Hillside. I'm Amy, how may I help you today?" I noted that she said this to Zechs as she gave him her best sexy smile--I was practically ignored.

"I was wondering if you had a unit that you could show us." Zechs said. "One bedroom preferably, and the best that you have."

"Oh of course! Let me get a key . . ." As she shook her hips over to a cabinet, I tugged harder.

"Zechs! What--"

"Right this way, gentlemen. Follow me please." Amy took us over to one of the buildings and all the way up to the top floor. The door was bright red and had one of those fancy electronic locks where you didn't need to turn the key or whatever--that was a sure fire sign that my Preventers budget didn't have any room for this.

Zechs dragged me inside anyway, and I almost groaned out loud at the sight of the place. New-apartment smell hit me smack dab in the face, and before the lady could begin yakking, I excused us and pulled Zechs down the hallway and into the bathroom, where I shut the door and turned to him, giving him the Evil Eye.

Much to my annoyance, he just looked around appreciatively. "This is very nice. Is that a jet tub?"

"Zechs! I can't afford this," I hissed at him.

"Yes you can."

"Ah, no I cannot. I know my finances, and this place does not fit."

"You've got me."

" . . . what are you suggesting?" When he didn't reply, I stepped closer to him. "Zechs . . ."

"I don't want you staying in that other building. It's not safe and . . . and you deserve better. Let me help you pay the difference between that apartment and this one."

I poked him in the stomach and looked up at him curiously. "The difference?"

He grinned and rubbed the top of my head. "I figured that you wouldn't let me pay for all of your rent, so I thought you'd like this compromise."

"You don't have to buy me anything, Daddy," I told him softly. "I hope you know that."

"Of course." He turned his back to me and began examining the bathtub, and then the separate shower stall with gleaming, clear glass door and walls. "Very nice. Jets in the tub, and a steam shower." Then he smirked at me. "Hopefully we'll be making good use of these?"

I figured that that translated into, "will you let me get this for you?" and not, "let's have hot and steamy man sex right here, right now." I crossed my arms over my chest and thought. I didn't want it to look like I was with Zechs only because he had money because, to be honest, that was just about the last thing that I wanted from him.

But I was touched by his effort and concern. He'd obviously done his homework while I'd been sleeping, and I didn't want to upset him. I could see it in his eyes how much this meant to him, so . . .

"Okay. Okay, that sounds like a good arrangement to me."

Zechs nodded. "Then let's go sign the papers."

The apartment lady was surprised that we wanted to sign an agreement without her showing us around, but while she went to fetch the lease paper, I had ample time to look around at all of the very nice, very new amenities. I went over and peeked out of the window. Ah, perfect.

"What are you looking at?" asked Zechs from the kitchen.

"A bus stop. I can see it from the front window," I said as I joined him at his side. "I'll need to check the schedule." He looked disturbed at this. Oh boy. "Didn't you know that I don't have a ride of my own? That's why I'm always bumming off of Q or Tro to get to work and back."

"Why don't you just get one?" he asked me curiously.

"Because I don't need one."

"Hm." Zechs stared off at the far wall thoughtfully.

I narrowed my eyes at him. "You better not be thinking about buying me a car. You are not thinking about buying me a car."

He gave me a small smile. "No, I'm not."

"Good. Cuz if you were, I'd have to smack you."

"Is that so?"

I didn't have a chance to reply because Amy waltzed back in and sashayed her way up to my boyfriend and handed him the lease and a pen . . . which I made sure he slid my way so that I could sign it. We left after that and headed back to the mansion.

It was still flooded with cops, and Quatre was hovering around outside of the kitchen as the cops began wrapping up their investigation and cleaning crews started moving in. I threw my arm around his shoulder and pulled him into the living room where Trowa was reading the newspaper and Zechs was in the far corner whispering on his cell phone. What the hell was he up to now? I didn't have time to bug him about it, because Quatre commanded my attention.

"I bet you're feeling a lot better now that this is over, huh?" Q asked me with a small smile.

"Yeah. I just wish that it hadn't ended that way," I said, curling up in an armchair. "I was hoping that I would never have to off another person after the war."

Quatre nodded. "I understand. You're okay?"

"Yep."

"Are you sure?"

I tossed a pillow at his head. "Yes!" Pretty sure anything. The man was dead, there was no changing it, so why go all angst-y over it? It bothered me a bit, but I'd get over it.

"Good. How's Zechs?"

I glanced over at him--he was concentrating on his phone conversation. "Oh, just fine. We went on a spending spree today, where he did all of the spending."

Trowa looked up from his paper. "Oh? What'd you get?"

"Nothing major. Just one fancy, high-end flat for him and one moderately high-end apartment for me," I said casual as I plucked a loose piece of lint off of the chair.

Quatre gapped. "What?"

Grinning at him, I replied quietly, "Didn't I tell you? He's sticking around now. Une's going to give him a job with the Preventers, so he needed a permanent place to stay. And before you ask why I'm not living with him, it's because of his sister." I made a face.

Trowa snickered and disappeared behind the paper again--Quatre rolled his eyes. "That sucks."

"Doesn't it? But I'm glad he'll be around. If I have to put up with Relena, so be it."

Quatre stretched out in his boyfriend's lap. "You said moderately high-end. Er, can you afford that?"

"Hell no. But with Zech's help, I can. He didn't feel comfortable with me living at my old place so . . ."

Q's eyebrows shot up. "Oh wow. That's nice."

Before I could reply, Zechs came over, hauled me to my feet and covered my eyes. What the hell had he had for breakfast this morning? He was acting very strange.

"What are you doing?" I asked as I stumbled over my own two feet.

"Do you trust me?"

I laughed. "Have you been watching Disney movies behind my back?"

"Come on." He guided me past the cop-filled kitchen and outside, where I heard the gates opening up and something coming in. Zechs removed one hand and told me to hold out one of mine.

I did so and felt something small, cold and metal hit the palm.

"Okay, open your eyes."

They flew open and--holy crap, I couldn't believe my eyes!

Sitting in the drive way was the Sex Machine version 1.0, the beautiful black sports car that Zechs had originally arrived in, and in my hand was the key.

"Are you serious?" I demanded, turning to him. "Are you fucking serious?!"

"I'm dead serious. It's yours."

I smiled. "Thank you." I turned to the car and rubbed the exterior. "But I thought I told you not to get me a car, silly."

He gave me a throaty laugh. "No, baby, you told me not to buy you a car. And I didn't. I'm giving you one that I already had."

Sneaky little devil, twisting my own words! Hey wait . . . did he just call me what I think he just called me? "Baby?"

"Daddies need babies, you know."

Oh jeeze. This guy was priceless. "Let's go for a ride, Daddy. You've got to teach me how to drive this sucka!"

We got in and drove off, and seriously, I just felt like going and going until there were no more roads to follow because Zechs was next to me. That's all I wanted, and at that moment, that was all that mattered.

+

For the next two and a half months, everything was fantastic. Zechs settled into his new flat and filled it with obscenely expensive things, I found that I really didn't feel that out of place in my kind of ritzy apartment, and Quatre, due to the fact that he believed that Rankin's ghost was haunting the kitchen (boo! haha), moved into a newer, bigger and better mansion a little closer to the city. Wufei and Heero, the stiffs, were in their same old place, with their same old junk and doing the same old stuff. Oh well.

My relationship with Zechs was . . . amazing. Although I couldn't live with him, I was over at his place all the time and usually only returned to my own apartment at night. At first the set up had been stressful, with the transit and the late hours and what not, but seriously, those jets in that tub and a butt naked Zechs with a bottle of champagne in his hand really made all of that go away.

We still had some lingering, unanswered questions in the back of our minds, of course. Who had helped Rankin? How had he gotten past Q's security system? Was everything really over? No one could really say, no more evidence had been uncovered, and things were pretty quiet and peaceful, so . . .

But as you know, all good things must come to an end. Yeah, that sucks, doesn't it?

It happened on a work, sorry, play day, one fine, cold, and snowy December morning. Quatre and I were watching old Japanese flicks with subtitles on my computer when a voice called, "Duo! Duo Maxwell?"

I looked up from the computer screen, and my heart nearly stopped. It was like déjà vu or something, and I really hate déjà vu. A young man with a large vase of roses was wondering around the office. "Oh jeeze," I muttered. "Over here!"

As the guy placed the vase on my desk, Quatre's eyes grew big and round. "Do you think . . . Zechs maybe?"

I shook my head and slipped the delivery man a couple of credits, and waited until he was gone to say, "Hell no. He knows better than to send roses."

Quatre visibly gulped. "Duo, there's a card."

Cue the scary, suspenseful music.

I yanked it from its place among the flowers and flipped it open.

I'm still watching . . .

Yeah, I know, something straight out of a bad horror flick, right? Nothing to be scared of? Well, not really.

The terrifying part was that I recognized the handwriting.

It was Rankin's.

[chap. 15] [chap. 17] [back to Singles a - k]