Pygamalion + Part 2 (cont)

+

It was actually something of a relief to be able to share the burden of my troubling thoughts with someone, even if that someone was Wufei. To my great surprise, the Chinese youth took it unusually well.

"A very interesting story, Winner," he said, as he tied off the bandage around my wrist. "It is no wonder that G is upset. He's losing not just his greatest work of art, but an obedient slave as well -- "

"You believe me then?"

"Of course. I may not have your empathic abilities, Quatre Winner, but I know when someone lies to me. Outlandish and as improbable as your story is, I've heard wilder."

The lunch bell rang then.

"I believe we dine in the south wing today," Wufei said. "Come along quickly, it is not a good idea to aggravate G by keeping him waiting."

G was in a sour mood all through the meal, and it cast a distinct pall over all conversation. From the glares he sent in Heero's direction, H had not been able to calm him down any. I could scarcely touch my food, too much affected by the tension gathering in the air.

A storm was coming.

Almost immediately after lunch I saw G stand up, heading in Duo's direction with a purposeful stride. Duo saw him approach, and his eyes set in to a hard, almost Heero-like expression. Not angry, not malevolent -- just hard.

I stood up, knowing I had to stop this.

"G!" I exclaimed, dashing forward to grab his arm. "You can't possibly leave so soon! I have been waiting all morning to ask you -- you simply must give me a tour at your art collection, particularly your own works. I've heard so much about them from H -- "

"What a marvellous suggestion!" S spoke up. "Trowa, you'll enjoy this too."

"May I accompany you?" Wufei asked.

With a grimace of displeasure G gave in. "Fine. We'll start in the summer room."

"Will you not accompany us, Heero?" J asked.

"No thank-you. I'm already well acquainted with G's work," Heero answered with a smirk.

G scowled as he led us away. "This way, please."

It was most unwise of Heero to bait G like that. I followed the little tour group, with a great feeling of doom.

+

It turned out I wasn't the only one.

"Quatre?"

I looked up to see Trowa hovering outside my door. "Good evening Trowa," I smiled. "What can I do for you?"

"I don't feel comfortable staying here anymore. S said I could go back to the circus, so . . . I've come to say goodbye."

"Oh. You're going now?"

"I've already packed. S has a car waiting."

I stood up, and walked over to shake his hand. "I'm sorry to see you go, but I have to confess, a part of me is hoping H will say the same thing."

"G is just in a terrible mood -- I think itís only going to get worse." Trowa gave his opinion quietly.

"I think you're right. Here, before you go -- " I found one of my calling cards on the bureau and scribbled something on it. "Take this with you."

Trowa looked at the card. "Master Quatre Winner, Montmarte, Paris -- " he turned it over. "Any time the circus is in Paris, just stop by -- " He looked up at me with a smile. "Thank-you Quatre. I will."

"Good. I look forward to seeing you again, Trowa." I grabbed my coat. "Wait a moment, and I'll come down to see you off."

I couldn't help feeling wistful as I waved goodbye to Trowa. To get out of the choking atmosphere of this place --

"He has the right idea," Wufei observed from the shadows behind me.

"Yes," I said.

How right -- we didn't find out until the following morning.

+

I passed a fitful night, on dreams that were full of shadows and hidden threats. I woke to screaming.

I pulled on a dressing gown as I stumbled out of bed and into the hallway. H emerged from the room next door in a similar sleep tousled state. "What's going on?"

"I don't know -- "

"The noise is coming from this direction," Master O passed us. "Follow me."

The screaming cut off suddenly, only sobbing was heard. We quickened our paces to G's private study. A maid was kneeling on the floor, a hand to the obvious slap mark on her cheek, sobbing. Wufei was there, using G's phone.

"Yes, Professor G . . . I understand. Someone will be at the door to meet you." Wufei put the phone down and looked at us. "I've just called the police. G is dead."

"Dead?" H repeated, horrified.

"Murdered," Wufei clarified. "See for yourselves." He stepped aside.

With a kind of grim fascination, I stepped forward to peer over the desk. G's body lay there, face twisted and purplish --

I shuddered and stepped quickly away.

"How terrible!" H murmured.

O was more practical. "We must make sure this room is not disturbed. Come on woman, pick yourself up -- " this was addressed to the sobbing maid.

H gently offered her his arm. "There, there, come with me. You've had a nasty fright but there's nothing to be worried about -- "

I hung back to talk to Wufei as O locked the study door.

"You found the body?"
"The maid did. I was practising in the garden and heard her screaming -- " Wufei shrugged. "I climbed in through the window. I saw him right away."

"Poor G," O shook his head. "I shall wait for the police. Perhaps you two should wake the others."

"You're thinking what I'm thinking?" Wufei asked as we started toward the guest quarters.

"Heero and Duo," I nodded grimly.

We didn't bother knocking as we reached Heero's room.

"Heero?" I called as we entered.

"Quatre." His voice was so shaken, so weary, I almost failed to recognise it. "They've found him then."

I gasped. "You mean -- you were involved. Heero -- "

"It's my fault." J's pupil sounded tortured, almost pained by the very words. "I didn't mean it to happen, but itís my fault -- if I had listened to you -- "

He had his back to us, sitting on the sofa. I walked around to face him and discovered Duo sleeping peacefully against his side.

"What happened?" I asked.

Heero sighed. "G came in here last night. Whether to threaten me or to take Duo back, I'm not sure. I was asleep. I heard noises, I woke -- and there they were." He shuddered.

"It was horrible -- horrible -- "

"Pull yourself together, Yuy," Wufei ordered. "Tell us what happened. If I have to slap you into sensibility, I will."

Heero seemed not to have heard the threat altogether. "G was choking." He stretched his hands out, his eyes gone distant. "Duo had him by the throat. G was begging him, pleading him to let go -- and Duo said he had to be stopped, that no-one could take him away from me -- " Here, Heero broke off into a sob.

Wufei and I stared at the quiet figure, resting so peacefully by Heero's side. Duo -- hadn't --

Heero got himself back under control. "He snapped his throat. Just like that. And he dropped the body and returned to me . . . I naturally was horrified and recoiled from him. He was bewildered, he didn't understand -- he thought I'd be happy, that with G gone I would have nothing to worry about. He killed G, out of a desire to do what I wanted -- "

The room was silent for a few minutes.

"The police will be here soon," Wufei said. "They will never believe that Duo killed out of misunderstanding."

"They must not take him," Heero said. "Can you imagine what the harsh environment of the prisons would do to him?"
He stroked Duo's hair softly. I stared at him as I realised.

"You still love him!"

"Yes, Quatre," Heero answered softly. "I love him -- but I cannot feel the same way as before about him. How can I love these hands when I know what they've done?" He sighed. "Wake, Duo."

Instantly, the violet eyes fluttered open. Heero stood, drawing Duo with him.

"Duo," he whispered, cupping the slender face. "I'm afraid I must say good-bye."

Violet eyes brimmed with tears. "But -- "

"No words, my love." Heero kissed him on the lips, then on the forehead. "Be stone."

Behind me, Wufei swore. I don't think he had quite believed me before --

"I must go quickly, before the police arrive," Heero said. "My flight will be taken as a sign of guilt, and with any luck, Duo will be left out of it."

"You will protect the murderer?"

Heero glared at Wufei. "He's not a murderer! He did not know what he was doing! Even when he killed G he looked like an angel . . . his face had the calm expression of someone fulfilling a duty -- " Heero shook his head. "He must not go to prison."

"But how will you -- " I started.

"I have many ways of hiding, Quatre. I will be fine. Perhaps some day, in the future, we will meet again. But please -- " He took my hands. "I entrust Duo to you. Please . . . see that he's happy."

I shut my eyes, trying to block out my tears. "I'll do my best."

"Come with me," Wufei said. "With my help you can scale the wall in the garden and be out of here before the police arrive."

Heero nodded and the two of them left. I stared at the statue of Duo, before shutting the doors to Heero's room and going to wake S and J.

+

Coping with G's funeral and the aftermath of his murder, particularly the police investigations, was very trying. I am surprised I didn't break down and blurt out the entire story to the investigators. The thought of Heero's strength in becoming a fugitive stopped me -- if he had courage enough to undertake such a sacrifice, the least I could do was support him. It happened as he'd hoped, the police took his flight and Duo's subsequent disappearance as sufficient proof of guilt to pursue them, and the rest of the investigation was called off.

They never found him. No one has seen him since.

H and the other collectors were all shaken by G's death, more so than some of them let on. Strangely enough, J was the hardest hit, seemingly inconsolable. G's house was gloomy, and when H announced his intention to depart, I was relieved.

I had no trouble in receiving permission to bring the statue found in Heero's room with me to Paris.

I had it set in a quiet drawing room, out of the way in my house.

"What are you going to do with him?" Wufei asked.

The Chinese youth had decided to accompany me to Paris, to take up the offer of the chess game, he said.

"I have not yet decided. To leave him as a statue feels wrong to me, and yet -- I would not repeat G and Heero's mistakes."

"Bringing him to life at all will only invite tragedy," Wufei said, leaving the room.

"What do you suggest?" I asked, following him. I hesitated a moment over whether or not to turn the light off. In the end, I decided to leave it on -- just in case.

"Be not." Wufei eyed me as I protested the harshness of it. "He is a murderer. He may be beautiful, but he has killed. You forget that."

"As Heero does, I do not believe he can truly be considered guilty. What does a statue know of how humans live and die? He was made -- perhaps he does not know humans cannot be fashioned so easily."

"Would you be making excuses for him so easily if he were not so pretty?" Wufei bowed goodnight to me. "Be careful, Winner. You may not be thinking altogether objectively."

Perhaps I wasn't, I reflected as I returned to my rooms. But Duo's plight had struck a chord and I wanted to protect him --

I shivered as I remembered Wufei's words -- 'Be not.' I would not let those words be said to Duo --

I turned aside from my rooms as I reached them. I could not sleep. Instead I wandered the corridors and rooms of my house, trying to put my thoughts in order.

One o'clock found me outside the room in which Duo had been placed, the glimmer of light beneath the doorway beckoning me.

He was so beautiful still -- I sighed as I realised what must be done. I stepped in front of the statue.

"Be."

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