see part 1 for warnings, disclaimer
Authors Note: Oops. Looks like I confused some people as to whether
chapter 16 was the last one or not. Guess I shouldve left you all
a note. Well, as you can see, it wasnt. Um, April Fools? Hehehe
. . .
of Obsession + Chapter 17
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
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.
I stared down at it, totally dumbstruck and frozen in place. Quatre ripped
it from my tight, sweaty grasp and frowned. "What is it, Duo? Why are
you looking like that?"
Was the fear that evident on my face? Apparently so, because now Quatre
was gently pushing me down into my office chair, which I narrowly missed
and almost hit the floor. "Rankin . . ."
"What about him?" Quatre demanded.
"That's his handwriting!" I managed to get out.
" . . . Duo, that's impossible. Rankin is dead--"
I leapt up and took the note from Quatre and waved it in front of his
face. "Don't you think I know that? I'm the one that put the freaking
bullet between his freaking forehead! And since he was the one stalking
me, don't you think I'd know what his freaking handwriting freaking looked
Quatre clamped a hand over my mouth--we were getting strange looks
from people in neighboring hell pits. "Calm down! Now, are you sure that
this is his handwriting?"
"Yes! Yes, I'm positive!" And I was. It was that same crazy man chicken
scrawl that I'd seen before. I knew it.
"What's going on?" Heero came by the desk, and began glaring at the roses.
"Will you move those? They're making me sick."
Okay, déjà vu all over again. Didn't I already say that I hated that?
I shoved the note under Heero's nose. "Look. It's from Rankin."
Heero didn't even look at it, he just scowled at me. "Impossible. The
man is dead. He is no longer capable of thinking, writing, walking into
a store and ordering you flowers. Rankin sending you a note defies all
laws of science and logic as we know it--"
"Thank you, Bill Nye," I muttered. "Then how can you explain the fact
that this is his handwriting?"
Heero took a closer look at it. "Are you sure?"
Oh my god. What was wrong with them? "Yes! You know what, never mind.
I'm going to call Alex, he'll know what to do with this." I turned my
back to them and began rummaging through my desk. I was sure that I had
one of his cards in there some where, even though I hadn't called him
since the Rankin case closed months ago.
I heard Heero mutter, "Go find Merquise and the others," to Quatre, who
quickly went off to do just that.
Damn, damn, damn. Where the hell was that card? I continued to shuffle
until Heero picked up the phone and gave it to me, reciting the number
that I needed from memory. I glared at him and dialed.
"Hello, this is Detective Walker. How can I help you?"
I hesitated for a minute. "Walker? Is this . . . I thought this was Alex's
" . . . Duo? Is that you?"
"Yes, it's me."
"Oh. Well, after Rankin, Alex quit the force." He gave me a dry laugh.
"Turns out he had a law degree hidden in the back of his closet. He traded
his badge for a corner office, a six figure salary and a snappy suit.
He's a lawyer now."
Wow. Okay, that came as a surprise. "Ah."
"Is there something you need?"
"Yes. Unfortunately, I think I have another problem. I just got a delivery
of roses at the office with a note. Written in Rankin's handwriting."
"Are you sure?"
What the hell? "Yes!"
"Alright, alright. I'll be over as soon as possible. Stay calm, and don't
"Okay. Bye." With a heavy sigh, I sat back in my chair and rubbed my face
I didn't see Zechs approach, but I heard his deep demand, "What's all
this about Rankin?" He stooped down at my side and took my chin in his
soft grasp. "What's going on?"
I told him, he looked at the note, and then sighed heavily. "Did you call
"Yes. Detective Walker."
Zechs raised an eyebrow. "Not that Benito man?" he asked. Did I detect
a hint of relief in his voice?
"No. He's not a cop anymore. He's a lawyer."
Quatre, Trowa and Wufei joined us, and now it was like we were having
a Gundam Pilot convention. I had to fill the newcomers in once again,
and of course no one believed that the note was from Rankin. But it was
in his handwriting, no one could deny that.
Not even Detective Walker, whose face went a little white as he took in
the message. Obviously, he recognized it too. He slipped the note into
a plastic bag and said, "Well, I'll get this down to the lab right away
and have someone take a look at it. Rankin couldn't have possibly written
this, but someone did a pretty damn good imitation. I'll call you all
with what I find out right away." He handed me a card and was about to
walk away when I called him back.
"Hey! Do you have Alex's number? I'd like to talk to him." Next to me,
Zechs stiffened. It wasn't what he thought. Seriously. Walker flipped
the card that he'd given me over, wrote a number on the back and left.
Needless to say, none of us felt like sticking around much after that,
so we all left, except for Zechs, who stayed behind because he had real
work to do since he was of-age. I went to Quatre's new mansion where we
sprawled out in the living room and lazed about.
Quatre and I were on our laptops, making the arrangements for our special
Christmas getaway that was coming up in a few weeks, which conveniently
took my mind off of the note. Quatre had this fantastic cabin up in the
woods that we'd be staying at for the holidays. All of us would be going--yes,
even Heero and Wufei. I know! Can you imagine how difficult it was to
get them to say yes? Basically I called them every five minutes asking
them to come, and eventually they gave in. Haha.
I was really excited about this trip. Zechs and I would be free to be
ourselves, we'd share a bed again, and no one would care if we sucked
face all over the place. Well, okay, maybe Wufei, but so what? He needed
to liven up a bit.
I was all done ordering stuff off of the internet, and now there was something
else I had to take care of. I took my cell phone, hid in the corner of
the room and dialed Alex's number. I had a hunch about something, and
if this hunch paid off, then I would be one lucky bastard . . .
The next day, by the time our work day ended, we still hadn't heard anything
from Walker. I headed over to Zech's place and after an enthusiastic romp
in the gigantic bed followed by a steamy shower, we decided to order some
Chinese. Only ten minutes after we called the restaurant, there was a
knock on the door.
I checked out the little hole in the door. Oh damn. Relena!
I must've forgotten to mention that Miss Pink Princess was still around.
I didn't get it. Surely she had other places to be and other things to
do, you know, like babies to kiss and old white men to pass legislation
with or something, but here she was, renting a place somewhere near the
city. I'm not sure what she wanted, or what she was trying to do, but
it was annoying. I opened the door and plastered a fake smile on my face.
"Hello. How are you?"
"Just fine," she replied, stepping into the living room.
This was not the first time that we'd met like this. She was probably
getting suspicious as to why I was always at her brother's place, but
we always blamed it on work. I couldn't tell if she bought it or not.
Zechs came from the back of the flat, and thankfully his hair was dry,
because mine certainly wasn't. "Relena, what are you doing here?"
She started to open her mouth, but then she glanced over at me. "Can I
have a moment with Zechs please?"
"Ah, sure." I went into the kitchen and turned on the small flat screen
TV there. I pretended to watch it, but out of the corner of my eye, I
sneaked peeks at the two. Yeah, I'm a sneaky, suspicious bastard. So sue
Relena took something--a baby blue envelope--out of her
black handbag and handed it to Zechs without saying a word. He took it
and stared down it warily.
"Tell me you'll read it," Relena pleaded.
Zechs sighed. "I don't know. There isn't anything that could be said to
change my mind about this. I've moved on."
Relena hesitated at that. "Moved on? You mean you've found someone else?"
"Relena . . ."
"Read it, please. Promise me you'll read it."
"I will. But as to what will happen after I do, I make no promises. Is
She sighed with relief. "Oh, yes, of course. Just consider it, please?"
"Of course." Zechs tucked the letter into his pocket and then artfully
changed the subject. "Duo and I ordered Chinese. Would you like to have
Oh jeeze. This was bad. I knew that she was up to something, and it just
had to be that she was trying to get someone to come in between me and
my boyfriend! Of course, she didn't know this, but still! Back off! Zechs
was mine, damn it, and no other man was going to break us apart. I would
see to that.
Dinner wasn't all that great. I was itching to look at the envelope that
was folded up in Zech's back pocket, but I very well couldn't feel him
up to cover my pick pocketing it because his sister was sitting right
there! I never got my hands on the thing, because Relena and I left at
the same time. Darn!
I didn't like it that my man was getting strange letters from an ex. I
didn't like it one bit.
You know what was great about Zechs being older than me? No, it's not
that he can buy beer, but that he doesn't sit in a cubicle--he
has his own office! Une put him in charge of training a group of new members,
and he's got his own office with a window, a rolling chair and a big desk.
The best part is the desk, of course, because unlike Q and Tro who are
forced to go into the public restroom if they ever got that . . . ahem,
urge, Zechs and I can easy duck into his office and make use of that wonderful
desk. And we have, plenty of times, I can assure you.
We were just about get busy on it, I was lying back on the desk and I
had his shirt pulled out of his pants when someone knocked on the door.
Zechs growled into my neck.
"Who is it?" he demanded gruffly. Oh, he sounded so hot when he was angry.
"It's Quatre! Detective Walker is here to talk to you, Duo," Q called
from the other side of the door.
We were up, our clothes straightened out in seconds, and we were back
out in the main office where Trowa, Quatre, Heero and Wufei were waiting
with the detective. As we joined the group, my hands began to sweat like
crazy and my heart raced.
"What's up, Detective?" I asked cautiously.
"I've got some good news for you, I think. We had the note analyzed,"
Walker said with a small smile. "It is Rankin's handwriting, but then
again, its not."
I scratched my head. "Wait, what?"
"Let me explain. Apparently, someone checked out several pieces of evidence
from our storeroom a few days ago," Walker said. "Among this evidence
were several of Rankin's journals taken from his cabin, along with other
things that he wrote. With those, it would be fairly easy for someone
to scan in the materials, do a little cutting and pasting and cleaning
up, and they'd be able to make a pretty good imitation of his hand writing."
I let out this huge breath that I hadn't realized that I'd been holding.
"So . . . it's not real?"
"No. The lab analyzed the note--the paper is standard printer paper
and the ink is from a normal printer."
Of course it couldn't have been Rankin. I'd gone to the morgue, I'd seen
him lying there on that table, it was me who but the bullet in his head.
Quatre looked very disturbed. "Why would someone do that? I don't understand."
"The police never did track down that person who was supposedly helping
Rankin," Trowa muttered.
Walker nodded. "That's what we think. We suspect that the same person
is responsible for the note. Unfortunately, who ever this was used fraudulent
identification to check the evidence out, so the chances of us tracking
this person down are slim at best."
So. Someone wanted to scare the hell out of me . . . before they came
to hack me to death? Whoever the heck this was had to want me dead--because
that had been Rankin's ultimate goal too. And here I was, just getting
comfortable with my life again, and now this . . . Damn.
"I'll advise you to be careful," Walker said to me.
I nodded. "Yeah. Thanks."
After a few parting words, I wandered back to my cubicle and stared blankly
at the computer screen. Zechs followed me, concern obvious on his face.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly, glaring slightly at two women who were
leering at us out of the corner of their eyes.
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. I should've known that--" My cell phone suddenly
began to ring, and when I looked at the caller ID, I knew that I had to
take this call. I flipped it open. "Yeah?"
"Hi Al . . ." I glanced at Zechs quickly. He looked very curious as to
who was calling, but if I told him that it was Alex, he just might flip.
"Alexandria," I said neatly. "How are you doing?"
There was a small cough from the other end. "Alexandria? Oh, let me guess,
Merquise is around."
"Hmm. Well, I got your message. You sure you want to do this?"
"I'm positive. You can help me? I mean, do I have a chance?"
Alex laughed. "Hell yes. This is going to be the easiest case I've had
yet. No problem."
Well, that was certainly good news. "Ah. So, what'll be your fee?"
"Ha. Very funny. How much?"
"Nothing! I don't charge for favors. Besides, I'll barely have to do any
work. I'd feel really wrong for charging you."
". . . If you insist."
"Okay. So when can we do this?"
"How about next Friday, nine a.m.? I'll set it all up if you can make
it to my office."
"That's fine. I'll be there. Thanks for doing this."
"No problem. I'll see you then."
"Bye." I hung up the phone and sat back in my chair. Great. Things were
going just as planned . . .
Zechs cleared his throat loudly. "What was all of that about?"
I turned to face him and smiled. "It's a surprise, Daddy. You'll just
have to wait and see."
He looked skeptical. "Is that so?"
". . . alright," he replied casually, turning away and walking towards
his office. Then he paused and said over his shoulder, "I trust you, Duo,
so that means that I have faith that you and Alex won't be doing anything
you shouldn't be at your little meeting."
I gapped at his retreating back. How the hell had he known that?!
Zechs was trying to be very cool about my not-so-secret meeting with Alex,
but I could tell that it was bothering him a little bit. He was a tad
bit grumpy, even after I explained to him that it wasn't a romantic meeting--we
weren't going to a Motel 6 with a box load of condoms and chocolate covered
strawberries or something. He didn't understand why I wouldn't tell him
what it was about, but I didn't think that was all that fair. I mean,
when I tried to ask him about past lovers in an attempt to find out who
the hell was sending my man love letters (!!), he just shrugged it off
and danced around the topic. Well, buddy, two could play that game, so
But didn't I mention that I was a sneaky little bastard? Yep, yep, there's
no shame in my game--I didn't mind doing a little digging to try
to find out what the hell was going on. While Zechs was conversing with
his sister on the phone in the kitchen, I wandered into the back of his
study, looking for that damn letter. I know what you're thinking, but
I just couldn't leave it alone. I had to know who that letter was from.
The drawers in his desk revealed nada, and I was just about to head to
the book shelf when something blue caught my attention. There, jammed
in the paper shredder, was a bit of blue something or other. The envelope
that Relena had given Zechs had been blue, right?
I was over there in a quick second. Sure enough, a bit of the envelope
was stuck in the gears. Carefully I yanked it out, and was disappointed
to see that the piece that I'd managed to find didn't contain anything
on the outside that would help me identify the jerk. Damn. I peeled away
the mangled bit of envelope and took out a piece of the letter. Only the
blank margin remained. No help there.
The rest of the envelope was shredded beyond hope, so I stuck the bits
back in their original position just in time. I heard Zechs coming and
dashed over to the bookshelf, grabbing the first book that I saw.
Zechs stood in the door frame. "What are you reading?"
"Ah . . ." I stared down at the cover of the book. Oh hell. My face caught
on fire. "Um, 50 Pleasing Positions. Yeah, real informative stuff here."
Zechs laughed. "Feeling adventurous?"
"Maybe. Or maybe I'm just wondering why the hell you have this on your
"To use with you, of course." The smile on his face was devastatingly
handsome and my knees almost turned to mush.
I sashayed up to him with the book close to my chest. "Then what are we
waiting for? Let's get to it--fifty is a lot."
Well, I hadn't found out the identity of that mystery writer, but you
know, I did learn some things--I was a lot more flexible than I'd
thought . . . and number 48 was pretty damn good.
[chap. 16] [chap. 18] [back
to Singles a - k]