Author: Enchantress101
see part 1 for warnings, disclaimer

Author's Note: (sigh) I did some research--besides watching Law and Order, that is, but I'm still nervous about the legal aspects of this chapter. I hope nothing is horribly wrong, but let me know if it is.

Shades of Obsession + Chapter 20
Paranoia!

Later on, we all would joke about how the New Year started off with one hell of a bang, but at the time, seeing my best friend handcuffed and hustled out of the building for supposedly trying to kill me was just not funny.

I stepped forward quickly but Walker's backup blocked my way. "What the hell are you doing!" I demanded. "Let him go! He hasn't done anything!"

I was ignored, of course. One of the other cops gripped Quatre's shoulder and began leading him away when I heard a startled exclamation from behind me. I whirled around to see Wufei and Trowa pushing through the crowd that had gathered to witness the latest office drama.

"What is going on?" Trowa demanded. His face was twisted into the most furious death glare that I'd ever seen on him.

Quatre tried to turn around but was forced forward by the cop. "Trowa! Help me, they're--"

"Don't say a thing," he instructed. "I'll call a lawyer," and he stalked off to do just that.

I watched helplessly as Quatre was taken away. Almost immediately the office filled with the thunderous noise of gossip spreading throughout the building. People were looking at me curiously--I gave them the finger and a nasty look.

"Duo," Walker said sternly, pulling me to the side. "You need to come with me. I have some questions--"

"Yeah, well, I have some questions for you, too, buddy. Better believe that one." I gave him the evil eye. "Will I need a lawyer or something?"

"Do you have anything to hide?"

Alright, smartass, I was so not in the mood. "I'll call Alex and meet you down at the station in ten minutes, okay?" Without waiting for confirmation, I found Wufei, let him know whether I was going and left, phoning Alex on the way to the precinct. He met me there where Walker immediately ushered us into a room.

"If you think that I'm going to say something to incriminate my best friend, you're dead wrong," I said steely the second that Alex and I sat down in the cold questioning room.

Walker's eyes flashed as he leaned over the table. "And if you think that I won't toss your ass behind bars for obstructing justice, then you're dead wrong."

Alex bristled next to me. "Watch your mouth."

"I don't care that you want to jump his bones, Alex," Walker said rather bluntly. "Just because we were partners once doesn't mean that I'm going to cut you--or him, any slack."

Since when had he been such a bitch? I guess arresting a prominent man like Quatre would go to your head, but seriously, come on now. He must've taken Wufei's stick from up his ass when he wasn't looking and put it in his own. "Fine, I'll answer your damn questions."

"Good." He produced a tape recorder and hit the record button. "You met Quatre Winner during the war, correct?"

"Duh. Everyone knows that. We've been friends ever since," I said confidently. "He wouldn't ever--"

"And you've also known Trowa Barton since the war?"

" . . . yeah, but not as well. It wasn't until after the war and when he and Quatre started seeing each other that we became better friends."

"Why is that?"

"How the hell should I know? That's just the way it turned out. I kind of helped them get together, and since Quatre and I are best friends, it would make sense for me to get to know Trowa more." I paused. "Look, are you going to tell me what the hell is really going on? What makes you think that Quatre tried to hire someone to kill me?"

Walker hesitated. "Have you heard of Gregory Weston?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "Should I know him?"

"Think a little harder. Surely you know of Tonik."

Oh! Quatre's hair product company! Okay, but what did that have to do with . . . anything . . .

Hot damn. That guy had been arrested for trying to hire someone to off his wife! I blinked frantically at the table top. What could this mean? Surely a coincidence! "Okay, so, this Weston dude was arrested for trying to do his wife in."

"For hiring someone to do it," Walker clarified.

"What the hell does that have to do with Quatre or me?"

"Weston is claiming that some time ago, Mr. Winner asked him for the name of the hit man that he was hiring. Said that he was interested in using his services as well. We're thinking that that night in your apartment, when you were attacked, was supposed to be--"

"That's ridiculous! That guy is just looking for a plea bargain!" I exploded. "First of all, Quatre has no reason to want me dead, and secondly, if he did, then he'd do it his damn self because--" Ahem. Maybe I should stop right there. That tape was still rolling.

"Have you found any evidence supporting this claim?" Alex asked. "You have to admit that this man's statement isn't enough for a prosecution, and barely enough for an arrest for that matter."

The detective looked annoyed. "I cannot divulge anymore information about the case."

In other words, no, there wasn't any evidence to support it, or at least not much. How the hell had he gotten an arrest warrant for Quatre then? That just didn't make any sense.

"So you're saying that you have no idea why Winner would want you out of the way?" Walker asked doubtfully.

"That's what I'm saying. We're friends."

"What about Barton?" Huh. It was quite obvious that that was the conclusion he wanted me to draw. Should've just come out and said it, damn it! "There were rumors going around that maybe the two of you had something going on together." He produced several tabloids from a manila folder, all with speculation about the nature of my relationship with Trowa on the front cover.

Damn, I hadn't realized that these rumors were that serious. I mean, there was that stupid online poll, but . . . none of us read those trashy tabloids, so we wouldn't have known what was being said. I raised my eyebrow at the detective. "So your proof consists of a bunch of tabloids? C'mon, you're gonna have to do better than that, buddy."

"You're denying it then."

"Of course I am! There is not, has never been, and never will be anything between me and Trowa. Quatre knows that, we've already talked about it!"

"So this has come up between the two of you?"

Oops. "Yeah. Like, once or something. There was this poll on my fan club. It was really stupid. That was a long time ago, we talked and we settled the matter." I laughed a bit. "You think this is about Trowa? That's dumb."

"How so?"

"In case you haven't noticed, detective, I have my own man." I glanced at the tape recorder. Who would be hearing this? "I'm not telling you who, because it doesn't matter. But the fact is that for months now, I've been seeing someone and I haven't been spending a lot of time with Trowa since then. Quatre has no reason to suspect that I'm secretly after Trowa or anything."

"What about Barton? How does he feel about you?"

"We're friends!" I exclaimed. "If you want to know more about what Trowa feels, it seems quite obvious to me that you should ask him . . ."

Alex pursed his lips. I guess he didn't like my insolent tone. Well, tough nuts. That's what you get for arresting my buddy on b.s. charges. "Don't worry, we will. If he indicates that something more is going on than you're admitting to--"

"You'll put me in the slammer, yeah, yeah whatever. Are we done here? I'd like to go find my friend."

Walker glared at me. "Get out of here, but make sure that I'll be able to find you for further questioning if needed."

Alex and I left the interrogation room where I immediately turned on my cell phone. As I expected there were several messages from the guys, and apparently Quatre was already being taken in for arraignment! Alex and I sped down to the court room and made it there just in time to see Quatre coming in, looking dejected and stunned. I made sure to sit on his side and at the front. I wanted the judge to see me sitting there. Maybe it would help.

The judge on the bench--the honorable Judge Paterson--was a fairly young looking African American man, who was giving Quatre the eye. Good or not? I couldn't tell.

"Alright," Paterson began as he shuffled through the case papers on his desk, "Let's get this over with. How will the defendant plead?"

Quatre's lawyer, a tall and thin lady with dark hair said fiercely, "Actually, we're asking for this case to be dropped with prejudice, your honor."

Argh, I hate legal jargon. "What does that mean, Alex?" I whispered.

"That means that the charges won't be able to be brought against Quatre again. Without prejudice means that they can."

Oh, okay. With prejudice, then!

The state's lawyer, a fat guy with gray hair, puffed up like a bird. "Dismissed? I don't think so! We are very confident about this case, and the state wants Mr. Winner remanded without bail. Mr. Winner is a very wealthy man, with his own private jet, space shuttles, not to mention at least one house on every continent--"

Quatre's lawyer huffed. "There is no reason to punish my client for having money. Mr. Winner is an upstanding member of this community. He's participated in many peace conferences, and he's one of the top ten philanthropists in both the colonies and on earth--"

"He's also a war criminal who knows the ins and outs of concealing his identity and escaping from captivity!" The prosecutor's face was bright red now, and I was sure that little specks of spit had flown from his mouth.

"My client resents being called a war criminal! He fought for peace!"

The judge rubbed his face. "Enough! We are not here to rehash old wounds from the war. On what grounds should this be dropped?"

"We are appalled at the state's gall to arrest my client on such flimsy evidence. There is simply not enough against Mr. Winner. All they have is speculation and a few statements from questionable sources. This has been nothing more than a witch hunt brought on by the state--if you just look at the evidence before you I'm sure--"

The judge opened a folder in front of him and skimmed it. "Ah, I see. You do have a point."

The other lawyer began to squirm. "Your honor--"

"I am in agreement that this is not enough for an arrest." Paterson gave the prosecution a level glare. "There is as of yet no indication if this is indeed a "witch hunt," but I advise the state to tread a little more carefully. I'm afraid that they've jumped the gun in their excitement to nab such a high profile individual; however, since this is a serious charge, I am dismissing this case without prejudice. If the state can get their act together, they can file again. Mr. Winner, you are free to go for now. "

Letting out a relieved sigh, I stood and watched as Quatre was released from the handcuffs, but before I could say a word to him, Trowa swooped down and ushered him away, most likely from the prying eyes of the press that lay in wait outside of the courtroom.

Quatre was now out of police custody, but the charges could always be brought up again . . . Well, I'd just have to figure this out before that happened. And I would if it was the last thing I did.

I wanted to find and talk to Quatre, but there was something I had to do first. It was time to do a little research.

+

I could hear Wufei ranting before I even opened the door to Quatre's mansion. When I got inside, I found him stalking around the living room, spouting out something about the corrupt justice system, blah, blah, blah. Heero was sitting on the couch scowling at the wall and Zechs was no where to be found.

"Duo!" Wufei exclaimed. "What the hell is going on!"

I sighed warily. "Fei, if I knew, then I'd tell you." I plopped down next to Heero and kicked off my shoes. "This is all I know--apparently, the cops think that Quatre asked that guy that worked for him--the one that tried to bump his wife--for some assistance in doing the same to me. Because apparently, I'm hot for Trowa."

Heero's brow wrinkled even more. "Hot for Trowa?"

Jeeze, he needed to get out more. Seriously. "They're trying to insinuate that Quatre suspects that Trowa and I are or were romantically involved behind his back. Which is just false!"

Wufei shifted his feet and stared at the feet. "Well. I'd . . . always suspected . . . maybe?"

My eyes widened. That--that! Ohhh, jerk. I threw one of the sofa's pillows at him, feeling immensely satisfied when it smacked him in the face. "Shut up! I don't want Trowa. Never have, never will, got it?"

"Fine, fine! I get it."

Damn straight, you better get it. With nothing better to do, I turned on the television, but I should've known that Quatre's arrest would be the top priority of every station. I glared at the screen as the district attorney began spouting out crap about how Quatre was guilty blah blah blah and how he would be sure to re-arrest him once the case was "straightened" out.

"What the hell is his problem?" I muttered.

"Quatre's gundam destroyed the mobile suit that his son was piloting," Heero said. "He has fought to have us declared war criminals, taken to trial and sentenced ever since then. I suppose that he is desperate to destroy Quatre's life by any means possible."

I stared at him. Yeah, well, I wasn't about to go into how he knew that. My head was hurting enough already. Great, so this was a witch hunt brought on by a man fueled by revenge. Feeling just about ready to overflow with anger, I headed upstairs and into a spare bedroom to cool down. I needed to think.

This whole thing was crazy, so crazy that I began pinching myself to make sure that I wasn't having some sort of twisted nightmare. Ouch! Okay, no, I was awake. Damn.

How unreal . . . Quatre hiring someone to off me? He wouldn't. We were best friends, we talked about everything together--clothes, hair, food, bodily functions, sex, men . . .

Men. Love. Trowa.

Okay, so Quatre had gone a little scary when he thought that Trowa and I were fooling around, setting traps and junk to trip one of us up. Quatre would probably throw himself in the path of a rampaging Gundam if he thought that it would save Trowa's life. And Q would do anything to keep him . . . but did that include betraying his closest pal?

"I refuse to be paranoid of my own best friend," I muttered to myself as I paced around the bedroom, nibbling on a finger nail. "Quatre would never hurt me, and not certainly over something as silly as Trowa when there's nothing going on. He knows that I don't . . . he knows . . ."

But why was that image of him buying that chestnut brown dye stabbing at me from the back of my mind? So he'd gotten some dye, that didn't mean that he wanted me dead!

I passed by the mirror hanging above the dresser and glared. Okay, so my hair was chestnut. There were plenty of other browns out there, like, um, walnut or dirt or poop, whatever, but he'd specifically chosen chestnut . . .

I bit into my nail, taking off a bit too much in the process. "Shit," I swore, waving my finger around in the air. "You're making too much of a big deal out of some damn hair dye, Duo. That doesn't prove anything." That wasn't a smoking gun, quite far from it in fact.

No. Quatre wasn't . . . he wouldn't . . . would he?

Love is a strange thing. People have done crazy shit in the name of it . . . just look at Rankin. How many people were dead because of his obsession with me?

"One major difference there, Duo. Rankin was a crazy psychopath, Quatre is not. Er, as far as I know, anyway . . . not counting that Zero incident . . . ah . . ."

Okay, this was stupid. Seriously, like I was about to tell Walker, if Quatre wanted me dead, one, he'd do the job himself, and two, I probably wouldn't be standing in that room thinking about whether or not he was guilty because I'd either be six feet under or a vegetable in a hospital bed. So yeah, it wasn't Quatre. No way.

With a new sense of reassurance, I went back downstairs and joined Wufei and Heero.

It was around midnight when Trowa returned with Quatre in tow, shortly followed by Zechs. Q looked horrible, his clothes all wrinkled and his hair sticking up all over the place and his face scrunched up into a deep frown. When he saw that I was there, his eyes turned as big as the moon. "Duo!"

"Quatre!" I replied, and we hugged just like in those movies, you know, all slow motion and cheesy music? It was a very touching reunion. All together now . . . aww

He stepped back and gave me a frantic look. "You can't believe that I would--"

"Hell no!" Exactly. That's what I really thought. Right. "But we all need to sit down and try to figure this out, okay?"

So that's what we did. After ordering a shit load of pizza, we gathered in the middle of the living room. Quatre and I brought a big dry erase board from his office and set it up.

With a slice of pizza in my hand, I scribbled on the top of the board in bright red SUSPECTS. Then I drew a rather crooked line down the middle of the board, and on the other side I wrote MOTIVE.

"Okay, gentlemen, time to put on your Hardy Boys thinking caps--Nancy Drew for you, Quatre. Let's do this. Who is a suspect?"

Quatre sighed. "Me."

"WHAT!" I demanded. "Shut the hell up, Quat. I'm being serious here."

"So am I! Let's face it, I have a motive. We have to cover all of the bases, and just because my name goes up doesn'tmean that it can't come down."

Fine. Whatever. I scribbled down his name, and under motive, I put Trowa's name. "Okay, who else?"

Everyone looked at everyone else--we were all drawing a blank. There was one person that I could think of, but . . . I snuck a look at Zechs. I didn't want to fight with him again, but this was so serious, and every possible suspect needed to be considered. Hesitantly, I turned to the board and wrote Relena.

Silence.

I couldn't bring myself to look at Zechs, so instead I stared at the fraying tip of the marker and shifted my weight from foot to foot.

Eventually Heero spoke up. "Relena?"

I nodded and stared at him, anything to avoid having to see what Zechs' face looked like right then. "I've had my suspicions for a while."

"And what," Zechs said dryly, "could possibly be her motive?"

I finally looked up at him. Uh oh. He didn't look too happy. "Oh come on, it's no secret that she's had issues with me ever since Heero decided to live with me and not join her bodyguards years ago. Maybe she's still angry about it!"

"Or maybe she doesn't like the fact that you're getting too close to her brother," Trowa added thoughtfully.

There was that. Relena was obviously trying to play matchmaker with Zechs and his mystery ex, with the letter-passing and the talks and whatnot. Had she somehow figured out that Zechs and I were dating? She hadn't given either of us any indication that she had, but she could've been covering it up. Hmm.

Reluctantly, Zechs nodded. "Fine. Keep her on there."

Under motive I wrote Heero, Zechs. "Who else?"

Zechs was about to have his revenge, and a pretty good one too. "Benito."

"Wha?" I shrieked. "You have got to be kidding me! That's just stupid!"

"Is it? Maybe he's upset that you rejected him. Did you ever think about that?"

Er, no, not really. "Ah, well . . ."

"You have to put him down too," Heero said bluntly.

"Okay, okay," I added Alex, and then took a step back to look at the board. "Three people? This sucks. Here we are, some of the best minds in the universe and stuff, and we can't do better than this?"

Wufei rolled his eyes. "As much as it pains me to admit it, you are a rather likeable individual, Duo. I can't imagine that you would really have that many enemies around here."

"Why don't we determine who's the most likely candidate?" Trowa suggested.

"Good idea. Who the hell would have enough power to have me framed? Who would give Gregory Weston a good enough reason to lie about me?" demanded Quatre angrily. "I can see only one person on that list. I hate to say it, but Relena is shaping up to be the best suspect."

Zechs didn't look offended. "I will admit," he said slowly, "that Relena has a motive. We should definitely keep her in mind. However, I am thinking that Benito is the one."

"Of course you do, Daddy," I said with a smile. I kind of liked it when Zechs was jealous. Made me feel loved.

After a while when it became apparent that we were all tapped out of ideas, we wrapped things up for the night. Wufei and Heero went home. Zechs and I only stayed long enough for me to reassure him that I didn't believe a word that the cops were saying and then left.

As Zechs and I got ready for bed that night, I couldn't stop worrying whether or not he was angry with me for suspecting his sister. I brought it up a few minutes after we were settled in the bed, wrapped up in each other's arms.

"Are you mad at me?"

"For what?"

"That thing about your sister."

He sighed softly. "No. You're right, she has a motive want you out of the picture. I have to accept that."

"Oh. Okay."

"Are you angry with me for suspecting Benito?"

"Not at all. S'okay."

"Good."

I couldn't stop thinking about all of my problems, so it took me a long time to fall asleep that night. But before I did, I decided that something needed to be done about Quatre's situation. I sure as hell couldn't count on the police, so it was up to me to get to the bottom of things.

Oh, yes. Mr. Gregory Weston was going to get a little visit from me before tomorrow was over. It was time for us to have a . . . friendly chat.

[chap. 19] [chap. 21] [back to Singles a - k]