Authors: TB and Marsh
Category: yaoi, drama, post-EW
Pairing: 2x3x2
Rating: R
Warnings: lemon
Notes: Inspired by Law & Order and Billy Joel.
Disclaimer: We are holding the characters of Gundam Wing hostage. They will be released, unharmed, upon receipt of feedback.

Code of Silence + Part One

It was already dark when they paid the evening manager to tell them which room. It was pitch black as they crept silently up the stairs, badges clipped to their belts and guns coming out, loaded and unlocked, pointed low in their hands. A burnt-out bulb hovered over their heads as they slipped to the end of the dingy hall that smelt of cigarettes and worse. In hand-signals they charted their path, planned their entry. With the heel of his boot to the brittle wood, Heero kicked open the door, and Wufei at his back leveled his weapon and shouted, "Preventers! On the floor now!"

The moon in the window was bright, bright enough anyway. It lit a braid as it swung about, long hands as they raised defensively. Lit the body stretched out on the floor, and gleamed in the spatter of blood on the wall.

"It's not what it looks like," Duo Maxwell said.

+

The call woke him up well after midnight.

"I need you," Duo said.

Trowa was a professional free-lancer. He did things here. There. Wherever he felt like it. And he earned a lot of money doing it. Why wouldn't Duo call him? Except that Duo was a Preventer, decorated and law-abiding, two things Trowa was not, and a damn decent detective himself. Maybe the question was why would Duo call him?

Well, there'd been the sleeping together. But Trowa was fairly sure he was not the only person on that list.

Except that the other person most likely to say yes was Heero, and Heero had been the arresting officer. There were ironies at work. Trowa didn't like irony much -- he had no trouble recognising it, but appreciation was lacking.

I need you.

Trowa found that cumbersome.

Duo glared at him through the screen. "You know I wouldn't say that unless it was true," he added. "And not for the sake of your stupid ass, either."

The phone call was lengthy, though it didn't really need to be. Trowa agreed right away. But Duo didn't seem to want to hang up, and since he was in jail, Trowa made the appropriate assumption and let Duo run out his clock in the last privacy he was going to get. It might have been more comforting if Trowa knew how to, well, be comforting.

But he didn't, and somehow he ended out saying, "It failed because you're too needy and I'm an asshole."

Yeah.

"I agree with the asshole part." Said drily, in that fine-martini voice Duo had, Stolichnaya vodka. And eyes roaming, unsettled, and it was tempting to think things like he looks fifteen again or I used to fuck his lights out, asshole is right. They weren't true, so Trowa exerted himself not to.

Eyes landed like tiny bird-feet clutching a wire, on him, on his face. "It's not needy to want some expression of affection after two years, Tro."

Trowa licked his lips before he answered, but only because they were dry. "We fucked," he said.

"Exclusively. For two years. Some might call that a relationship."

"I did call that a relationship. I'll refer you back to the too- needy statement."

Duo sighed deeply. But maybe it was only a play, a show, because his hands were still, and Duo was many things, but still had never been one of them.

"Okay," Trowa said.

+

"CSI has a preliminary ballistics report," Wufei said, punching off his phone line. "One bullet ricocheted and ended out in the couch. The other killed our victim. They'll retrieve it during autopsy and get back to us on what kind of gun we're looking for."

Heero stared down at the pictures he was slowly clipping into his new case file. "Rene Vasquez," he said. "Everyone wanted this guy. Locals, Interpol, ESA narcos. At least seven murders, drugs, child slavery."

Wufei straightened his tie as he stood. "Apparently somebody got him," he said. Heero looked up, not sure if that was sarcasm. It was always hard to tell with Wufei. Wufei met his eyes as he unrolled his sleeves and buttoned the cuffs. "Finally," he added.

Heero closed his file and stood. "Let's get started."

Duo sat in the interrogation room exactly as he had been left, cradling an empty styrofoam cup between hands now decorated with steel cuffs. Wufei stepped into a corner away from the two-way mirror where their supervisor and a forensic psychologist would be watching. Heero tossed his file to the table between himself and Duo, and felt about in his pocket for a keyring. He picked up Duo's wrist, and unlocked the cuffs. "We don't need these, do we?" he asked.

Duo looked tired, strained. His voice was thin. "Thanks."

Heero retrieved a water bottle from a cooler in the corner near Wufei, and handed it to Duo as he sat in the only other chair. "Unless you want more coffee?"

"Why don't you just order him a pizza, too," Wufei snapped.

Duo's eyes skipped between them. "Are we really going to do this?"

"Do what, Maxwell?" Wufei countered. "File charges?"

"I'm a good Preventer. It'll go on my record and my rep will be shot," Duo said forcefully. He ripped off the cap of the water and dropped it to the table. "Things like this ruin careers."

Heero answered before Wufei could. "We're aware of that, Duo." He touched the folder. "You have to admit, we walked into something pretty incriminating."

"Ballistics will back me up," Duo said.

"We'll get to that. Why don't you start with what you were doing?"

Duo sipped from his water. He was gazing at his hands now, rubbing his thumb against his other fingers. "Following an instinct."

Heero waited. "Go on," he said finally.

Duo exhaled heavily and leant back in his chair. "You know I have contacts in the neighbourhood. One of them told me there was a big shipment of chiva floating around. It made sense it was tied to Vasquez; he's the Big Boy in the barrio. He's Almighty Latin King Nation officially, but he's got his hands in everything. We've been watching him in Narcotics for twelve years, and he's been operating for at least fifteen."

"Why didn't you call for back up? Why isn't there some record?"

"I was running silent." Duo tilted the bottle toward him. "As I'm sure you were."

Wufei's voice was a grumble, but it was still clearly audible. "Running dirty."

Heero glared at his partner. "That's not necessary, Chang." But Duo ignored it anyway. Heero rubbed damp hands over his trousers. "So you went where your contact said, expecting to find what?"

"Expecting a deal going down," Duo said. "The place was open. Vasquez was dead as fuck and there was blood everywhere. Several pints -- I figure at least one other body, but they took it with them, whoever killed him. And no heroine, so we can guess motive."

He wasn't sure he bought it. "Why were you there alone?"

"Because I was. We don't do partners in Narc."

"This is ridiculous," Wufei interrupted. "Just book him. He's hiding things."

Heero turned to stare fiercely at the other man. "You can leave this interrogation any time, Chang," he said flatly. He waited until Wufei looked away, trying to regain his own calm. It was difficult. Duo was hiding things, and his answers, though delivered with the confidence of truth, gave away nothing they didn't already know. Duo had drunk half his water. He met Heero's gaze, but he just wasn't acting normal. Too -- breathing just a little too fast, blinking not quite often enough.

He thought he had it under control, but he heard his frustration when he spoke again. "You know -- you've always known that your refusal to follow procedure would get you into trouble."

"Not following procedure is not the same thing as being guilty of murder," Duo retorted. "It's not even the same thing as incompetence."

He hated that he had to ask. He hated that he wasn't sure. He wanted to just know, one way or other. But the one thing he did know was that Duo would not lie to him when he answered the question. He laid his hand flat on the table, sucking up the cool feel of the metal surface.

"Did you do it, Duo?" he asked softly.

Duo's eyes did not flinch away. "No."

Heero swallowed drily as relief flooded him. "Okay," he said. His hand clenched, and he straightened consciously, tugging the folder to him. "Then we'll help you." He pulled a pen from his coat pocket, and smiled at his friend as he opened the folder to a blank sheet for notes. "When did you last discharge your weapon?" he asked, moving along brusquely.

Duo was hesitating, though. "I was at the range today for mid-year testing."

Shit. Heero glanced at Duo's hands. "Tell me you were wearing gloves."

"Who wears gloves at the range?" Duo slammed his bottle to the table, his tension boiling over into anger. "I wasn't expecting to be accused of murder tonight!"

"Where's your head, then?" Heero demanded. "You're not an independent op, you're a Preventer. We have procedures and rules for a reason. I can't help you if you don't -- " The room seemed to narrow suddenly. "You're covering for someone."

Duo's code name was Dodger. Heero saw the instinct rise immediately -- but Duo was too tired, too wired. He hesitated too long searching for the right evasion. Heero felt a sinking feeling take over his stomach just as Duo began to talk.

"We both know they didn't hire us to follow rules, Heero," he was saying, a forced noted of deprecation in his voice. "That's not who we are and that's not what makes us useful."

"Who, damn it."

They stared at each other. Duo's eyes were wide and dilated. Heero almost thought he had him, felt the answer hovering in the air between them.

Then Duo glanced, eyes flying suddenly away, to Wufei.

He said, "I want a union rep."

"I think that's a good idea," Wufei answered soberly. "And an attorney." He pushed away from the wall and walked to the door. "You're going to need one."

+

Duo had bailed him out once. Flown all the way to Morocco to do it, arriving less than thirteen hours after Trowa'd contacted him. And by some miracle Duo had had pull with the local police -- or maybe he'd just walked in, the way Duo could, bought them all coffee, grinning the whole time like he was the best friend they'd never had, the way Duo could. Duo spun him a tale later about a reciprocal intell agreement made during a hash smuggling bust, but Trowa knew he owed his present freedom to some fast talking and cool heads. And then Duo had taken him home -- escorted, technically --

He'd had Duo in his house for about five minutes before they began to screw.

It was -- God. They'd started against a wall and ended out on the floor, knocking elbows and cracking heads on coffee tables and for a while Duo had been in him, until he'd flipped them and then Duo was taking him in with this gut-wrenching groan. They'd both got off before they even got out of their trousers. Duo always looked best with sweat dripping off him and his hair going to frizz and his dick hanging out of his pants. They'd managed to make it to the bed for the second round, sucking each other until they were hard enough to fuck again. It was glorious, maybe the best it had ever been for them; all teeth and scrapes and fists. Almost as good as I-hate-you- sex, but in a way, it was.

He'd always hated it, just a little, that Duo made him want more than a fantastic fuck. And he never managed to remember how much a little was until he was on his knees plugging Duo so hard he couldn't see.

Duo had never asked if he was guilty. Trowa was, of course. And even if he'd been caught, the blackmail on Ambassador Anastasios had still been good. Nothing was a total waste.

He did a little nosing about, calling in friends who had connections in law enforcement, trying to figure out what had gone down. Duo hadn't explained, and the more Trowa learnt, the less he understood why Duo was sitting in the cage at Preventers Plaza. Duo was a good cop with a clean record. This whole situation rang wrong on every count. Duo was no vigilante, and neither Heero Yuy nor Chang Wufei were idiots. What the hell was going on?

Two months before they broke up, right before it got really bad, Duo had laughed at him for reading mouldy old poetry, and Trowa had laughed back, in his way. It was one of the best days he could remember, lying in bed with Duo, just drunk enough to be naked and stupid, Duo shouting shepherds and nymphs at the ceiling, and Trowa...

He was packing a spare set of clothes for Duo on the off chance they were needed, and making sure he had identification and a credit card ready when the phone rang. None of his informants had indicated they had anything else to give him, and Trowa didn't get many casual calls, so he answered with some suspicion. They wouldn't let Duo call again --

"Wufei," he said.

"Yuy and I processed Duo in on a homicide an hour ago," Wufei told him abruptly. He leant toward the phone, absently patting the front pocket of his coat as if searching for something. "He's going for arraignment as soon as a union rep arrives."

Trowa blinked. "Are you informing me, or asking me to do something about it?"

Wufei didn't find whatever he was looking for in his jacket. He dropped his eyes to the desk instead, but they were still, not roaming, Trowa noticed. He said, "Please come."

Trowa nodded slowly. It wasn't exactly unlike Wufei to go out of his way for people, especially when he cared for them. But that tone was new. Guilty. It couldn't feel good to arrest a friend. "He already called me," he admitted. "I was on my way when you rang."

Somehow Wufei did not seem relieved. Perhaps it was as bad as Trowa's informants had said, and it wasn't just rumour. In that staccato voice, Wufei added, "Whatever he tells you or whatever he doesn't tell you, he's clean."

"And... what aren't you saying, Wufei?"

A dark little smile creased Wufei's mouth and was gone a moment later. "I don't think I need to say anything more than we both already know."

Trowa jangled his car keys. "It's a bit of a drive. I'll be there in about two hours."

"Good." Wufei hung up without missing a beat, and Trowa was left looking at a blank screen.

+

Heero watched the door close behind his partner. He fidgeted with the cap of his pen, touching it to his lips thoughtfully. "Now tell me what's going on," he said to Duo.

Duo rubbed his neck wearily. "No," he sighed.

That stunned him. "What?"

"Either you believe I killed Vasquez or you don't. If you don't think I did it, cut me loose."

"I don't know what to think, Duo," he retorted. "Aside from the fact that this could be exactly what you say -- or it could be the most recent in a string of vigilante killings!"

"I have a right not to incriminate myself," Duo said venomously. "And at the moment I have to place that at a higher priority than earning your trust all over again."

His fist connected with Duo's face. Hard enough to make the chair skid and dance back a few inches. Duo caught himself on the table before he fell out, one arm half-raised in a defensive gesture. Long seconds passed before Heero realised that the loud noise he heard was his own laboured breathing.

"I'm your friend, stupid," he said, and slowly sat. "Try to remember that."

Duo didn't touch his cheek, already going red. But his head bowed.

Heero scrubbed his mouth, and retrieved the pen cap from the floor; he must have dropped it when he'd hit Duo. It stung, it genuinely stung that Duo thought Heero didn't trust him. After all these years, after everything they had done together, Duo was at the top of a very short list of people that Heero did trust. And it made him furious that Duo didn't acknowledge how much trouble he was in. Trusting his friends might be the only way out for him -- trust was a two-way street, and Duo himself had said that to him more than once. "When you're ready to be straight with me, I'll still help you." He shook his head. "But there's not a damned thing I can do for you until you talk to me."

The door opened again. Wufei. Who stopped where he stood, looking between, wary of the obvious tension in the room. He followed Heero's guilty silence to Duo's bruising face. "What did I miss?" he asked sarcastically.

Duo looked up, at Wufei. He said, "We're waiting for that lawyer you called for me."

+

They were staring at each other. They'd done that, had their moments, mostly when the other wasn't looking. It was strange, it felt almost improper, to both be looking at each other at the same time; they had no practice in getting it right so it didn't look asinine or goopy -- which it wasn't. Certainly not for Trowa, and not Duo either, because Duo in need was Duo with claws extended and ready to kill or die trying.

Half a minute became a whole. He wanted to say things. He just didn't really know how. What. When he spoke, it was stupid, but it filled the air at least. "So, you're in trouble. Okay."

"I need a way that... I need a way out that doesn't incriminate anyone else."

Duo was out of uniform. But in another kind, the clothes he wore when he carried his badge in his wallet in his back pocket like a condom. Black shirt, fitted, hot. Snug pants. He looked like a fashion model. He looked like someone who killed for a living. Trowa curled his fingers in the stiff rim of Duo's collar and somehow they tripped a path down along skin to snag in the first button. "Like who?" he pressed.

Duo didn't answer. He wasn't the quiet one, but his silence was expert. It gave nothing away, absolutely nothing. It was an absence, and almost innocuous, so that Trowa almost doubted he'd even asked a question.

They'd taken his belt. And his shoes. Were they idiots? Duo didn't need help to kill. But with that bruise growing dark on his cheek and his eyes red with strain, he did look wild under the skin.

"You're not telling me everything," Trowa said.

"No," Duo acknowledged.

"Maybe you should."

Duo's fingers were curled exactly like his, on the edge of the cot he sat on. "I can't."

"Then I can't help you."

"Tro. I'm asking." Duo licked his lips, and this time it seemed to mean something. "I've got nothing to give you in return. I'm sorry. I'm asking anyway."

"I didn't ask you for anything except the whole story." He had to pull his hand back from Duo's shirt, a physical act that required planning and ambition and engendered a mix of anger and resentment after. He shoved his hands in his pockets to punish them. "Have they set bail?"

"Yeah."

He waited. Duo let him stew. He grimaced and asked it. "How much?"

"More than I got," was the succinct answer.

"How. Much?"

Duo's lips were thin and there was tightness about his eyes. "One hundred k," he said flatly. "I'm a flight risk."

Maybe. Probably. "I'll have you out in an hour," Trowa told him. "Then we're going to talk."

"You don't have that much either," Duo interrupted.

Trowa did nothing more than blink at the other man. "Back in an hour," he repeated, and knocked on the bars. The guard who'd been lingering just around the corner reappeared immediately to let him out. He wanted to look back as he left, so he made sure he didn't. "You got a private phone I could use?" he asked the man.

"Yes, sir," was the polite answer. "There are several private booths in the lobby."

"That would be fine." Trowa followed the guard's gesture, and they took the lift up out of the basement holding cells. Duo was in virtual isolation there; all the other men and women being held overnight were upstairs in public pens. Trowa was glad the court had taken the precaution. If they'd tossed a cop, even one out of uniform, into the general population, Duo wouldn't have lasted overnight. As it was, his solitary cell called into question the circumstances about the new decoration on his face.

It was late enough that the lobby was almost empty. The guard didn't leave the lift with Trowa, and he chose one of the promised booths, gratified to see that it locked from the inside. He settled onto the small leather seat, thinking through his options. Quatre was the obvious choice; he had money and influence, and Duo was going to need both working for his defense. The news media would pick up the story of a cop accused of killing guys very quickly; arraigning Duo at night had given them a few hours to dig the trenches, but it wouldn't be much. Besides, Quatre had always had a soft spot for Duo. They were good friends, going back to the early days of the war. And Quatre had set them up for their first date. Invited them both to dinner, then "had" to answer calls that somehow lasted hours. It hadn't been all that subtle the first time, but by the third time, it was pretty hard to ignore. Quatre had a deep and abiding urge to meddle, and absolutely no moral compunction about doing it. Insufferably pleased with himself when it worked, too. It was hard to hold it against him, though. You couldn't grow up with all that female influence, and not have that interfering gene.

It was still early afternoon on L4. He stuck his calling card into the slot, and dialed Quatre's office number, adding the extension that Quatre gave only to people permitted to bypass his security measures. The clicks as his call transferred always made him nervous. He knew Quatre's private calls weren't monitored, but he never quite trusted the extension to guarantee their privacy. It took a while for the signal to relay across the vast distance, and he waited it out impatiently. When Quatre's face finally appeared on the screen, the best Trowa could do for a greeting was a stiff nod.

"Hey," he said. "Listen, I hate calling in favours, and I don't even remember anymore who owes who, but I need you."

+

"It's bullshit and you know it."

"Of course it is." Quatre paused, rolling a pen between his fingers. "Has he told you what it is, though?"

Trowa's shoulders lifted in a little shrug, framed by the mahogany backdrop of a fancy private booth. "No," he said, "but he will."

Quatre raised his eyebrows, knowing the expression irked his old friend. "Sure of that, are you?"

"Yes." It was spoken flatly, and Trowa's eyes turned blank as they could sometimes. When he was cornered. Quatre had always wondered if Trowa knew that was his give-away.

He let it pass for the moment. "It'll get him points with the DA if he's got an alternative explanation," he added, returning to the reality at hand. "If he was running an independent investigation... got a tip-off..."

"I'll make sure he has one of those too."

"Why didn't Heero and Wufei ask him? It seems like a big step, arresting one of their own officers." He was musing aloud. He knew Trowa didn't know, by the flicker in his expression. Non-expression. Duo did it better -- he'd learnt it from Trowa, and improved on it.

"Just -- call someone," Trowa repeated. "Whoever you have to."

"I'll do my best," Quatre promised, already calling up his phone list on his PDA. "I should warn you both that it might be too late to make this disappear, but I will -- "

"Thank you."

Quatre was caught open-mouthed. Trowa rarely said that. Had only ever once before said it to him, and never for the kind of thing that Quatre was going to do anyway, that Quatre was perfectly capable of doing.

He stuttered as he replied, and his cheek was warm when he pressed his fingers to it. "Of course." He stared down at the screen of his PDA, selecting the number of his lawyer's firm on automatic. Then he queued his bank's. "What are they asking for bail?"

"One hundred," Trowa said.

"Thousand?" Quatre asked sharply. "He doesn't even make fifty a year."

"I can pay half right now. I can pay you back the other half within six months."

Quatre had few illusions about Trowa these days. He'd been in politics long enough to know when to ask and when not to. Trowa didn't volunteer information, and Quatre didn't go looking for it; but he understood that silence spoke loud enough, if you knew how to listen. It was not, perhaps, wildly beyond possibility that Trowa could have fifty thousand lying about legitimately. Not wildly.

"There's no rush," he said as lightly as he could, and started writing his request for a wire-transfer, punching the keys on the palm pilot with his thumb and opening a phone line. He plugged a small microphone into the PDA and pressed the earpiece against his canal. "He can stay with me," he added, and called the bank.

Trowa was already shaking his head. "He's coming home with me."

"They charged such a high bail for a reason. They'll want assurances that he's not still a risk. If I vouch for him, that's something." Quatre held up a hand to stop Trowa from speaking, and spoke into the microphone. "Philip," he said. "This is Quatre Winner. I need to arrange a transfer to an account number that I'm emailing. I'm sending the paperwork along in just a minute... Thank you. It's an urgent matter, so as fast as you can do.... thank you." When he'd closed the call, he returned to their conversation. He made his offer carefully. "You could both come here. It's not like I don't have the room."

The corner of Trowa's mouth went up. "You're managing us," he said. "Besides, you can't afford to be dirtied by this, and you would be."

He ignored the reproof. "What's the point of having advantages if you can't use them to help your friends?"

Trowa's eyebrows were climbing. "So, basically, the Vice Foreign Minister is using his resources to bail out a known terrorist."

"The Vice Foreign Minister is a known terrorist himself."

"A fact the world has conveniently forgotten, because he's made good." Trowa leant back in his seat. "I don't think you want them to remember, Quatre."

He struggled with it. He exhaled hard. "This habit you have of being right is really rude."

"I'm just better at seeing the long view than you are, Quatre. You get all blinded when it's your friend in trouble."

"Well... fine."

Trowa didn't have the grace to let it die. He looked just one shade off smug. But then, weirdly, it faded into that -- gratitude. Quatre had done many things during their friendship to please Trowa; money and lawyers were nothing new. And before that, it had been repairs on Gundams, safe houses, a decent meal and a sound night's sleep. He could count on one hand the times he'd seen that particular expression. Usually for offering help without asking questions; oh, Quatre knew how to keep a friend, didn't he? But somehow it hurt more to see it and know that Trowa was really --

"At least keep me updated?" Quatre asked. "Let me know if you need more back-up?"

"Sure. You know I will. Thanks, Quatre."

"Two 'thank-you's in one night." Quatre found a smile, but he couldn't quite make it stay. "You still like him, huh?"

"I owe him."

"What, sex? A Valentine's dinner?"

Trowa scowled. "Quatre, don't. We broke up."

"And it was stupid of you. And don't give me that 'you're managing us' crap. I wouldn't have to if you could manage yourselves."

"He's my friend."

"Go spring your 'friend' from jail, then," he said, and hung up first.

++

'Code of Silence' Lyrics

[part 2] [back to TB and Marsh's fiction]