Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence
No, not a fox, Duo saw with a sickening lurch in his stomach. It was furtive, frightened, and sad at the same time, its face, neither male nor female, a horror mask of twisted lines, an open mouth, and white fish like eyes. Duo had mistaken the glow around it for white fur and the light it left behind as it moved, a tail, but this thing seemed caught suspended in a sunspot. It was a horror face on something beautiful and natural and Duo knew this had significance. His subconscious was trying to tell him something.
The horrible creature turned and zipped through a break in the bushes as if it didn’t have any substance. It didn’t, Duo told himself sternly. Now was not the time to fall down the rabbit hole trying to argue their reality or lack of it. He did that often, but in his apartment with a few bottles of Jack and his gold fish for sounding boards. There he could safely posit the frightening notion that he might not be schizophrenic after all.
“This way,” Duo ordered as he shoved his forensic kit and the plastic bag of evidence into his pocket. He followed the creature with Heero on his heels.
They had trouble getting through greenery some evil landscaper had decided required thorns and impenetrable barriers of branches to keep park visitors on the main paths. Their clothing quickly became disheveled and their skin was marked by numerous scratches where it was unprotected by cloth.
Duo expected Heero to question his judgment, but the man dutifully followed, only making sounds when he was scratched particularly viciously. Duo was more colorful in his expletives. It helped express his hurt and calm his nerves. It was difficult to choose to follow a nightmare.
Duo was seeing the wisdom of following though, it was clear that someone had been there before them. He saw many instances of broken branches and greenery that had been smashed down by being trampled. That these signs were still there to be seen even after so much time had passed, attested to the severity. Duo imagined a woman fleeing and a heavier, clumsier man, pursuing and doing most of the damage. A dog would have simply slipped through and under, its padded feet hardly leaving a trace. Beauty and ugliness, the very thing the apparition was trying to tell him.
The creature faded into a clearing full of sunspots, but its direction was plain and Duo continued until he found a narrow well-worn track that cut horizontally across his path where the undergrowth wasn’t so thick. Duo turned and followed it until it ended at a break in an old sagging chain link fence that was slowly becoming one with the morning glories and kudzu. Beyond it was a busy city street.
The investigators had stopped at the supposed murder scene, lazily concluding that it had been a dog attack, open and shut. Nothing to see here; literally. Without friends or family to push the investigation, it had been filed and was ready to be forgotten, except by one person on the case who couldn’t lay it to rest with Carla’s poor body when it lacked crucial evidence. A dog had seemingly magically appeared and disappeared, leaving no tracks after the attack.
Duo stared at the street thoughtfully and said aloud, “Take notes; suspect’s possible escape route; a small path that leads to a chain link fence and Martin street. No tracks because of the recent rain, but broken branches and crushed leaves are still visible. Yuy-Heero, take photos of the broken and crushed greenery.”
Duo expected silence, despite the fact that even a rookie should have asked why he thought there was a suspect. Duo felt compelled to turn and check to make sure Heero was following his direction. He wasn’t. Heero was absent.
Furious, Duo took a deep breath to shout for him. Heero appeared out of the bushes at that moment, cradling something close to his chest. He was speaking to it softly in reassuring tones. The dark scowl on his face was at odds with that tender attention and Duo wasn’t sure what to make of it. A graduate of the violent streets, Duo had a suspicious nature hard wired into his psyche. A man might look like that, speak like that, when he was trying to lure in some mark to murder, rob, and toss into a dumpster. Duo felt the urge to save whatever the man was holding, imagining those strong arms squeezing some delicate creature to death after he tired of playing with it.
The man’s arms lowered though, before Duo could act, showing that they were protecting a tiny black kitten. The man gently brushed a blunt fingertip over the tiny head. The scrawny, dirty ball of black fur purred and butted its head against it.
“What the hell?” Duo exclaimed. “If you wanted a new pet, we could have swung by the Humane Society for Christ’s sake! I’m trying to do a serious investigation of a crime scene. You are supposed to take notes and support me.”
Heero didn’t look up, still giving the kitten the full intensity of his dark stare. He replied shortly, “I’m your partner, not your secretary.”
Heero turned and walked back down the path towards the park, snapping photos with his cell phone one handed as he went.
Angrily, Duo dug a pen and a notepad out of his pocket and scribbled down his own notes. He grumbled, “I have seniority here! I’m the lead investigator! I’m older than you! I’m the one with the reputation! The mojo! The magic!”
Duo finished his notes with a hard scrawl of his pen and looked up. Heero was nowhere in sight. His tirade had not impressed his new partner apparently or even the squirrels busily gathering nuts.
Duo jammed his notepad and pen into his pocket and went in search of Heero to deliver his caustic opinion of the man’s performance, or lack of it, to his face. He stopped abruptly when he almost collided with Heero’s broad back on the other side of a tangle of bushes and vines.
Heero was holding the kitten close to his breast, cell phone lax and dangling in his hand. He was staring at the ground.
Duo snapped sarcastically, “What? Find a puppy too?”
Heero motioned to the ground. Duo dropped his annoyance at once and became pure detective as he rounded Heero’s body and saw what he was pointing at. He crouched to take a closer look. Sticking out of the dirt were several little bones and tufts of white and black fur. It was mostly likely another kitten, but one not as lucky as Heero’s.
“Take pictures,” Duo ordered. “Lots of them.”
Heero didn’t argue. He slipped the live kitten into his coat pocket and began taking cell photos of every angle. When he moved to take photos of the surrounding area, Duo took out another evidence baggie and collected bones and fur. After he zipped it up and labeled it, he held it up to examine it more closely.
A dog’s face suddenly appeared on the other side of the bag. A deep dark black, with blue eyes, its mouth was crunching down on a kitten. It was there and gone within seconds, so quickly in fact, that Duo almost doubted he had seen it. The spray of blood and the dog’s frighteningly human eyes, full of evil intelligence, were engraved on his mind though. He could recall it perfectly.
Duo straightened with purpose. “Heero, look for more kittens.”