"Where?" Duo opened his eyes and found Heero looking down at him. His leg still hurt, but it as a manageable pain, now.
"Don't move too much," Heero told him in concern and helped prop him up on pillows. "The doctor worked on your leg and put it in a cast, but the bones need to be still to knit properly. A few more days."
Duo felt down his leg and touched a metal cast and a line of monitors. It wasn't a basement hack job. It was an expensive cast that was healing his broken leg with a re gen field. He wasn't in a hospital, though, but a bedroom that looked very much like Heero's. Medals, in frames, decorated the wall next to a gun cabinet, and a very large chunk of a Gundam was attached to another wall, blackened from re-entry, and pitted with weapons fire. After blinking at it, in shock, for a long moment, Duo recognized the bits of paint still left.
"Wing," Duo managed in a very dry throat.
Heero looked over at the piece of his past heroics and then smiled slightly as he turned back to Duo. "You recognized it," he replied.
Duo felt a blush amidst his confusion. "Yeah... I have a good memory." then he asked, "This is your place?"
Heero nodded as he arranged the blankets to cover Duo better.
"Why... What about jail?" Duo asked bluntly. "You're supposed to turn in criminals, aren't you?"
"Only when I know that they are, in fact, a criminal," Heero replied.
Duo frowned, trying to clear his head enough to think properly. "I told you what happened. I'm a confessed murderer and thief."
Heero's blue eyes were serious as he replied, "You told me a story. I have to investigate it. Without evidence-"
"My 'husband' hasn't turned in the tape yet, to the police?" Duo wondered in disbelief.
"Not yet," Heero replied.
"He will," Duo assured him. "He'll wait until he looks his best. Wouldn't want to announce that your husband was committing serious crimes. He'll probably... I don't know... announce that I'm crazy, I've divorced him, and then produce the tape so he gets sympathy and looks like a hero of some sort. Sorry, couldn't take the terrorist street orphan out of the man, despite giving him everything. Not his fault."
Duo's voice gave out and Heero reached to a nightstand and a cup of water. Duo saw a pile of his gold jewelry there as well. As Heero helped him to drink, he considered that he had enough to run for it, a small fortune that might convince other people, with enough bribes, to forget that they ever saw him.
"You can have all of that," Duo said bitterly, after Heero lowered the cup. "I won't need it on moon base prison. I'll be paying for things with my ass."
Heero looked troubled as he put the cup aside. "I've had time to consider your story. I don't think that you should be so eager to face prison time."
"I'm not 'eager'," Duo retorted. "I just think that I should pay for what I did, that I should finally get what I deserve."
"Did you steal anything?" Heero asked.
"After shooting a guy who was just doing his job?" Duo snarled. "Of course not! I just got out of there."
"The man was going to shoot you," Heero persisted. "He didn't attempt to arrest you, to give you any chance to surrender? It was clear that he was squeezing the trigger when you fired?"
Duo felt ill as he replied, "He didn't say anything, just went to shoot. Facing a Gundam pilot, I would have done the same thing."
"How did he know that's what you were?" Heero asked. "Could he see your face, your braid?"
"No, I had a hood and my hair was tied up," Duo replied irritably.
"Then how did the camera show Duo Maxwell shooting a guard?" Heero persisted.
Duo grimaced. "I yanked my hood off when I knelt to see if there was any pulse. The camera had a good shot of me."
"After the guard was dead," Heero pointed out. "He couldn't have known that you were a Gundam pilot."
"I was armed," Duo retorted. "Look, I don't know where you're going with this!"
Heero's smile was almost predatory, a tiger on a scent. "Did you have your gun drawn when the guard appeared, or did you draw it when you were in danger of being shot?"
Duo stared at Heero, trying to fight past dizziness and the pain in his leg to follow Heero's train of thought. "After," he finally replied.
"Self defense," Heero declared at last.
"Maybe you see it that way," Duo sneered, "but I see it as shooting a guy dead, who's only crime was being scared shitless and being unlucky enough to have the night shift."
"A man who would be alive, if he was where he should have been," Heero pointed out. "You aren't sloppy. Why was the guard there to discover you in the first place?"
Duo frowned. "I don't know. Maybe he was bored and took a walk?"
"Why would he walk to that particular bay, when the place had hundreds of bays in a mile long stretch of warehouse?" Heero wondered.
"You already did some research?" Duo asked in confusion. When Heero nodded, Duo asked, "Why? Why go to the trouble?"
Heero leaned in close, expression warm, "Because I care, Duo, and your story doesn't make any sense."
Duo scowled. "Are you calling me a lair?"
Heero chuckled. "No, of course now, but, perhaps, someone else is?"
"Someone else?" Duo rubbed at his forehead. "I can't think. I'm still getting used to the fact that I'm in your bedroom and not in a lock up clinic."
Heero gripped his arm, wanting Duo's full attention. "Milliardo knew enough to get the tape of the crime. How did he know? Perhaps, your information about the shipment, and the guard's sudden appearance where he should never have been, weren't random events. I think, if I can find the proof, that the most that you will be charged with, is breaking and entering."
Duo's eyes were wide, totally confused now. "Is this some sort of weird dream from the broken leg?"
Heero's hand slid shyly up and down Duo's arm, and then he withdrew. "It's not a dream. I do care. I am going to prove your innocence. You aren't going to suffer because of my stupid decisions."
Duo's head was pounding. "Now you're saying that this is all your fault? I'm not following you at all, Heero. I'm going to sleep some more. Maybe this hallucination will be all gone when I wake up again."
"You do need to rest," Heero told him. "Heal and let me take care of everything."
Heero wasn't home when Duo awoke next. There was a note, on the bedside table, that told Duo that Heero would be gone for most of the day, and to expect a nurse, to check on him at midday. It warmed Duo, to know that Heero didn't think of him as the weak 'husband' that Milliardo had tried to portray him as. Heero fully expected him to be able to take care of himself, even with his injuries. Neither of them had grown up with soft lives. No one had ever given quarter, and certainly never coddled them, to give them a basis to do those things now.
Duo found pain pills beside the note, water, a wrapped sandwich, and a bedpan, everything that he needed if he found leaving the bed too difficult. Duo wasn't about to have Heero find him there, though, when he returned that evening. Forcing his body to move, Duo ignored dizziness, and a warning wave of pain from his leg, to sit up. Tucking the pain pills into the pocket of his sleep shorts, he used every available support to move from the bedroom, to the bathroom, and then out into the living room.
Duo was sweating by the time that he settled onto a brown leather couch. He stretched out and closed his eyes for a long while, trying to manage a pain that was more than physical. It was easier to live with his failures, when he had only had the man, that he hated most, to witness it. It was something bordering on agony, to know that Heero had saved him, had literally scraped him off of the ground and taken him away from his intolerable situation. Heero now knew how much he had been willing to pay to stay out of prison, how much he had not wanted to escape into the far reaches of Space, away from the peace that he had paid so dearly for. Even from his self imposed cage, Duo had been able to share in that peace, and it had made his life worth living, despite everything.
Opening his eyes at last, and turning his face to warmth, Duo blinked in the sunlight from a window. It showed a filtered image of the green leaves of bushes and a roll of green lawn beyond. Duo had expected Heero to live in the city, close to work, and close to the rapid pulse of what was happening in the world. This simple living room, with a few pictures of green fields and soothing forests, and plain pine furniture, was offset by a thick pile carpet, with an intricate pattern, and a wall filled with mementos from an enjoyment of sporting events involving horses.
"Weird," Duo murmured to himself, as he reassured himself that Heero wasn't in any of the horse photos. He couldn't imagine Heero riding professionally. The man had a full career already.
The room was personalized and Duo remembered his own home with Milliardo, and how he had never really moved in. Nothing there was his, except his sports car. Nothing there could be pointed at and remarked on as, 'Of course, that belongs to Duo.' He had been enduring, only, getting from one day to the next, dreading Milliardo's more intimate visits, and only too happy when the man left him completely alone.
Hard time, on a moon base, with men who would have liked nothing better than to teach an ex gundam pilot to do tricks for them, began to seem less and less like the worst possible scenario. At least, then, he might have, at least outwardly, have kept some respect. Heero might have hated him for murder, but he wouldn't now be seeing a man, who had spread his legs, and traded every shred of his dignity, to stay free.
"Fuck!" Duo moaned and rubbed at his eyes. How had he gotten from respected war hero, to having the choice of either being seen as a whore, or a hard time murderer? He felt as if his life had always been a runaway roller coaster, very few major choices being his own. These, though, had been entirely his to make.
Knowing that, it seemed even more bizarre that Heero would want to help him. The man had seemed concerned, eager to prove Duo's innocence. His odd words ran through Duo's mind and he tried to make sense of the man. Why he was blaming himself, for Duo's choices, Duo couldn't understand. It was almost as if he was admitting to having caused Milliardo to take his course of action. It was all blurred, though, the things the man had said, with pain and shock, and Duo couldn't be sure of anything. He only knew for certain, that Heero intended to prove that he hadn't set out to kill a man the night of the robbery. Proving that wouldn't keep Duo from prison. It would only keep him from serving a long sentence. Robbery, with a weapon, was still punishable by jail time.
Duo ran a hand over the cast on his leg, checked the monitors, and the charge, and then took some of the pain pills. He waited until the numbness made him sleepy, spending the time finding one thing after another, in the living room, that made him question whether he had ever really known Heero Yuy.
Pulling an afghan from the back of the couch, and spreading it over himself, Duo had to grin at it's stitched image of a polo horse. He ran a hand over it and tried to imagine Heero, bent forward on a bleacher, or along some corded sideline, cheering his team on to victory. As sleep claimed him, he wondered if his own racing car hobby would surprise Heero, but then discarded that thought as he realized that Heero might never find that out. What ever Heero intended, there was only going to be one end for Duo Maxwell, and that end was inside of a prison cell.
"Mr. Maxwell?" the voice wasn't close by and Duo flinched and started up, floundering in the afghan, and his pillows, before he could blink eyes awake enough to see an elderly woman at a safe distance.
The 'Mr. Maxwell', had sounded almost as if she were calling someone else. Duo hated that he had grown that used to being Mr. Peacecraft. "You're... the... nurse?"
The woman nodded and said slowly, as if he might not understand, "Agent Yuy sent me. He gave me a pass code to the house, anticipating that you might not be able to answer the door."
Duo looked her over. She looked strong and confident, with a heavy case in one hand. Graying hair was pulled back in a no nonsense bun and her clothes looked almost as starched and perfectly creased as a uniform. "Preventers?" he asked, trying to pull his drug addled brain together.
"Ex- Preventers," she corrected as she judged the situation 'safe' and proceeded to open her case on the coffee table. It was filled with medical instruments. "I perform physical therapy now, in a private practice. Agent Yuy used to be a constant patient of mine, when I worked for Preventers."
"Why did he...?" Duo floundered.
"I suppose that he called me to check on your injury, because he trusts me to keep my mouth shut, and to do my job well," she supplied as she began taking out instruments. "I warn you, though, if this smacks of anything illegal, I will turn you in to the authorities. I may be ex-Preventers, but that doesn't mean that I've hung up their ideals as well."
Duo frowned as she began checking the monitors on his leg. "As far as I know, being a runaway husband, isn't illegal." The rest was still his secret, and Milliardo's, to tell.
Her gray eyes flicked up to his face, and then downward, as she continued to work. "I recognized you. You're not as... pretty... as the photo spreads made out."
Duo grunted. "Well, makeup, and lots of jewelry, will do that for you."
"Usually the princess doesn't run away from Prince Charming," she chuckled as she adjusted a monitor.
"There wasn't a Prince Charming," Duo admitted, still fuzzed enough by the drugs not to watch his tongue.
"Well, if he was Prince Ogre, he still had a lot of money to make that worth it," she replied.
Duo growled, "Not enough, honey, not nearly enough."
She shrugged and then began taking readings on his temperature and heart rate. "Running away from a marriage might not be illegal, but you, and Agent Yuy, still seem concerned enough, by something, to have bypassed a hospital, and a physician. Care to share?"
"No," Duo replied shortly.
"Avoiding the tabloids?"
She was fishing to set her suspicions at rest, Duo guessed, and he didn't blame her. He couldn't tell her the truth, though. She was going to find out, eventually, like everyone else, that she had aided a criminal.
"Yeah," Duo admitted. "I don't want the guy finding me and... getting all mooshy trying to get me back in front of the entire world, and space."
She nodded, as if relieved, but then frowned, as she finished up and began packing again, "I don't remember you and Agent Yuy being such close friends..."
"I think you've wandered into the area of 'none of your business', a little too long, now," Duo told her, without any anger.
She blushed, slightly, but didn't apologize, for trying to get information. As she finished packing her case, she gave him a long list of do's and don't's with a bored tone, as if she had repeated the instructions many times, and probably had. "And do see a proper physician when it's time for the cast to be removed. Doing it improperly can cause damage to the healing area."
"Yes, ma'am," Duo replied with a grin. "I have been on the wounded end of things a few times, so I know how it goes. I've just never had anything this fancy helping me to heal."
"Don't get me started on the inequality of care, for rich and poor," she groused. "I'll be here all day."
Duo watched her go, liking how she locked the door behind her, but then he was left to wonder just how Heero Yuy had afforded such expensive care. Limping back to his bedroom, he sifted through his jewelry and found a few pieces missing.
"Damn," Duo chuckled evilly. "Milliardo's family heirlooms, too. Well, if you stick your best on your whore, you shouldn't be surprised what happens to it."
It didn't sting, though he had meant to put himself down. Duo wondered about it, briefly, and then dismissed it. Whoring himself, to save himself jail time, was pretty small compared to being a cold blooded murderer.
Heero arrived home with an assortment of take out, and spread it on the coffee table for Duo to choose from, while he asked questions.
"Of course, but the drugs help," Duo replied as he picked out some fried potatoes with marinated meat strips.
Heero pulled a chair close and picked out rice and beans. As they both ate, he ask questions around his mouthfuls of food.
"Yes, but I'm starving, so I'll chance the upchuck."
"I can get a prescription for that," Heero assured him.
Duo only nodded as he concentrated on keeping his food down.
"Did the nurse arrive on schedule?" Heero continued.
Another nod and then Duo was looking at Heero over his food container, thoughtfully. "So, how did you know that I liked marinated beef and potatoes?"
"I saw you order them on several occasions," Heero admitted. He shrugged. "Being on a security detail, can be tedious. It gives you a great deal of time to look around."
"I was that interesting?" Duo snorted.
Heero ducked his head and there was a slight blush on his cheeks. "Yes," he replied softly.
"I don't mind that you took the jewelry," Duo told him. It seemed like a change of subject, yet wasn't, really. They were both admitting to something, in their own way. "The leg, room and board, the food... it's damned expensive, right?"
Heero looked embarrassed. "I don't make enough, on my Preventer salary, to cover those kinds of expenses. I didn't see any other way."
"Bribing a nurse gets expensive, too, I suppose," Duo pressed.
Heero didn't deny it, merely declined to respond.
Duo settled into his pillows, after finishing his meal, and regarded Heero. "So, polo?"
Heero smiled, took a last bite of food, and worked on it longer than it needed.
Duo craned his neck to look at the photos and posters. "I mean... I wouldn't have guessed... ever."
Heero finally swallowed and began gathering the containers into a tight grouping."I've always enjoyed equestrian sports. Polo takes a great deal of skill."
Duo heard an odd note in Heero's voice and turned his head to look at him again. "There's a story behind this, I can tell."
"Sometimes, interests are born on the back of life changing events," Heero admitted.
"Were you traumatized by a polo horse, or something?" Duo snickered.
Heero gave him a look to quiet him, and then admitted, his eyes on his growing tower of empty containers, "I had my first crush, hiding out in a school. The boy enjoyed polo, and fencing, but he played polo very well, and often. I followed his career in the sport, long after the war ended."
Duo looked at the photos again, feeling a strange mix of emotions. "He? You had a crush on a guy?" He noticed then that one man had center stage in many of the framed photos. "Why didn't you hook up with him, then?"
Heero shrugged his shoulders."I didn't love him, Duo. He just made me realize, when I was very young, that I was... gay."
Duo blinked at Heero again, shocked. "You are... for certain?"
Heero nodded. "I've had other, life changing, moments, since then, that made my interests change."
"Yeah?" Duo felt confused. "You WERE gay? Now you're straight?"
Heero frowned. "No, not that. I meant, my interest in men." His eyes came up at last and regarded Duo meaningfully.
Duo blushed hotly and said, in a voice he hardly recognized as his own, "I don't see any photos of me up there with your polo boy."
"That's different," Heero replied and looked uncomfortable. "There aren't may public photos of you alone... without... him."
"Ah." Duo felt his nausea grow stronger. "I guess not."
They were quiet, for long moments, and then Duo asked,hardly believing it and ready for a strong, negative, response,"So, that's why you 're doing all of this, because of the way you feel about me?"
Heero stunned him by nodding, but then stood, with his stack of containers, and said, "I don't expect you to feel the same way, and I don't expect anything in return for the care, for my efforts to clear you of murder, but you should know why I'm doing this. I've told Relena, and I suspect, that she, in turn, told Milliardo. You have a right to know it, too, and why I think you're suffering has all been because of my... interest... in you."
It gave Duo a great deal to think about until Heero returned from the kitchen. "I can't blame you," he told the man as Heero settled in his chair again. "I mean, I can be pissed more at Milliardo for wanting to use me against you. You... I can only get mad that you never told me. When did you know?"
"When you married," Heero admitted. "It's easy to hope for some day, until that someday becomes an impossibility. I hadn't realized that you were gay until then. I didn't know that I had a chance." His mouth quirked ruefully. "Not that I have one now, but... I could have at least talked to you about it."
"I wished that you had," Duo lamented with a heavy sigh. "Things would have been a lot different for me." He shrugged dispiritedly. "Now it's all in the crapper. I don't think you can look at me, now, without seeing Milli doing me, or me dressed up like his bitch, or even without knowing that I popped some guard trying to steal shit. You did have a chance, Yuy, pretty big one."
Heero was quiet for long moments, staring at Duo as if he could hardly believe what he had just heard. "It can't be too late," he finally said with strong emotion. "I won't let it be too late. Maybe you will do some jail time, but, when you come out again, I want to to be there, waiting. I want to take my chance... with you."
Duo smiled, but it was sad. "Nice dream, Heero, but reality sucks."
"Kidnapping?" Duo swore. "He really wants to take you down, doesn't he?"
Heero was standing beside the couch, car keys in a tight fist and expression tense. "He's also said that you are mentally unstable, and easily manipulated because of it. He's submitted doctor reports, claiming that you have the mental capacity of a child and very little grasp on reality."
"So I'm the poor, stupid, ex Gundam pilot that he's taken in, out of the goodness of his heart," Duo growled, "and I have to be saved from the big bad Preventer agent?"
"Yes," Heero replied. "I've already spoken with Une and explained my side of the story. We have to go in, now."
"Why didn't he use the tape?" Duo wondered. "Why all of this crap? It's not like he wants me back."
"He does," Heero replied.
"Why?" Duo wondered in furious anguish.
"To prove that he can take you... away from me," Heero told him. "I'll get you some clothes."
"I'm not being handed back to him!" Duo exploded. "I'm not his goddamn slave!"
Heero said nothing until he returned with some of his own clothing for Duo to wear. "He has a legal right, he's your husband. He has documentation claiming that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The law is on his side."
Duo clutched at the clothing. "I'm not going back to him. I'm not going to be his fucking toy and his way to get to you."
Heero's jaw worked. "I don't have any choice... and neither do you. There are Preventer agents waiting outside."
"Why did you tell Une?!" Duo exploded. "Why did you have to be such a 'by the book' asshole? I'm turning myself in. I'm telling everyone that I murdered that guard."
"They already know," Heero explained. "Without proof, that you were there, though, Milliardo's claim that you are unstable, keeps your confession from being admissible."
'Fuck you and them!" Duo swore. "After you hand me back, Milli is going to get his jollies off making me pay for putting him through this. Are you going to enjoy picturing me getting gangbanged by his men? or sent to Moon Base prison to be 'taught a lesson'? I'm sure that's part of his plan, too, to let you know that he's making me do whatever he wants."
Heero's eyes were molten blue: anger, frustration, and anguish throbbing through his entire psyche. "I don't know what to do."
"Yes, you do," Duo told him firmly. "If you care about me, like you said, then you will get me out of this. You will get that tape and play it, so everyone knows that I'm telling the truth. A trial will get me another psyche exam. I can prove that I'm not an idiot, that I'm in my right mind, and that Milliardo doesn't have a right to 'take care of me'."
"Do you know where he keeps the tape?" Heero asked as he moved to get a pair of scissors as Duo struggled to dress.
"No," Duo admitted, as he took the scissors from Heero and cut Heero's pants to get his leg cast through. "He shows it to me, once in awhile, to reinforce that he has it, but I've never seen him take it out from anywhere."
"Format?" Heero helped Duo to sit.
"Info button," Duo replied as he raked a hand through his bangs.
"It will have a trace signature," Heero said as he helped Duo put on shoes. "Not much to use in a search, but enough to pinpoint if he has it concealed."
Duo's eyes met his. "I can't tell you how much I want to be with you, Heero, but my life is messed up. It may never get straight. Understand? I only have two choices, right now, and I'm not looking good either way. Even if you get me that tape, and get me away from Milli, there's probably never going to be an 'us'."
"I'm not giving up hope," Heero replied firmly as he hooked an arm around Duo's waist and helped him to stand. Slowly, they limped to the door.
"You need to," Duo told him as the door opened and the agents started coming forward to help, "because I'm really not worth it." With that, he drove the scissors into his own abdomen, up to the handle, point first.
Duo adjusted his brace, giving the thing a tug to settle an itch underneath, that it wouldn't let him touch. The alarm on it binged and a bored voice on an intercom said irritably, "Stop messing with it, Peacecraft."
"Can't help it!" Duo called back. "It itches like a bitch!"
"I'll have the nurse look at it, during your hourly," the voice sighed.
"Can I have a female nurse this time?" Duo wondered.
"Let's see," Duo ticked off the points on his fingers, "I'm stark naked, in a padded room, and I have to have a guy feel me up every hour for an 'exam' to make sure that I didn't try and choke myself with my hair, or pry a piece of my leg brace off to shive myself. I'd rather have a nice lady do that, thanks much."
"I bet you would," the voice sneered.
Duo scowled. "I am gay, you know. A woman would make it feel a lot less like I'm being molested."
"Hmmm. I'll see what I can do."
Duo tried not to scratch to show his appreciation, but a few minutes later his fingers were digging under the brace again. The alarm sounded and the voice again said, "Stop doing that."
Duo sighed and crossed his arms over his bare chest tightly. "Trying. I'm trying!"
The hour ticked by and a nurse, accompanied by a guard entered his room. Duo knew better than to move as she crouched with her instruments and began checking his bio bandage on his stomach.
Duo studied her intently, trying not to twitch as her fingers found ticklish spots alongside sore ones. "You're not scared?" he wondered.
Her blue eyes flicked up to his and then back down at her work, as she replied, "You do have a reputation."
"As?" he prompted.
"A hero," she told him with a small smile.
"Well, apparently, I'm crazy now and suicidal," he pointed out. "That could have changed things."
Her eyes came up to regard him again. "I work with the mentally disturbed, all day long Mr. Peacecraft. I know crazy when I see it. You are not it."
Duo chuckled. "Keep that to yourself, okay? I need to stay in here for a little while."
She seemed puzzled but accepting. "I've got nothing to say, I'm not your psychologist."
"It itches," he complained, tugging at the brace.
"I'll adjust the field. See here, it's gotten uneven. They probably jiggled the controls when they brought you from the hospital."
Duo watched her work for a few moments and then asked, "Has my 'husband' tried to see me?"
She glanced at the bored looking guard and then replied, "He's a hard man to miss. He seemed very upset when he was told that you were under observation and that you weren't allowed visitors. He had a big argument about his rights, your rights, and he wanted you under the care of his doctors. The government has clear laws about attempted suicide though. You have to stay here until you're deemed, 'safe to yourself and society'."
"Good old government," Duo snorted, pleased.
She gave him a curious look. "You planned this, didn't you, to get away from him?"
Duo frowned at her. "Why would I want to do that?"
She shrugged as she checked the power and the readouts on the brace. "Maybe you fell for the pretty face and forgot that he tried to wipe out the Earth?"
He grinned. "Yeah, something like that."
"Someone else tried to see you too," She said. "Heero Yuy. He was flashing his badge around. He almost got in, but someone wised up and made a few calls. He wasn't authorized."
"I wouldn't mind seeing him," Duo admitted.
She winked at him as she finished and stood up. "If you ask me, he's the better choice. Two heroes, falling in love, romance, intrigue, the jilted ex... It's like a novel."
Duo made a face. "I wish it was like that, really I do, because then there might be a happy ending."
"You don't know. There could be one," she said hopefully.
Duo leaned back against the padded wall and closed his eyes. "Happy ending. Honeymoon on L3. Forever together. I like you. What's your name?"
"Jenny," she replied.
"If you see Heero again, Jenny," he told her sadly, "tell him... tell him I'm sorry."
The man had stood before him, eyes on his computer pad and two guards behind him, as he had read. "You have been accused of breaking and entering, with a deadly weapon, and murder, Duo Peacecraft. You will be moved to a security lock up, until your appointed court date. Would you like to call a lawyer?"
Duo's answer had been to call Quatre Winner, especially when his divorce papers had been delivered in the next hour. Milliardo, unable to have Duo under his care, had, it seemed, decided to follow through with his threats. Duo could guess why. Heero Yuy had thrown himself completely into Duo's life. What better way to show his control over what Heero wanted most, than to destroy it utterly before the man's eyes? A lengthy public trial, video evidence, and an ex husband playing the clueless, wronged, man, who hadn't known that his beloved had stooped to murder, would guarantee that Milliardo would come out of all of it, untouched and smelling like roses. Duo intended to throw a monkey wrench into that tight plan, though.
"Post traumatic stress syndrome?" Quatre repeated. His face on the vid was frowning, the scene behind him, through a picture window, one of construction. The hard hat on his desk, next to him, was dusty, attesting to his hands on involvement with his rebuilding projects."You'll need experts to sign off on that and a good lawyer familiar with those sorts of cases." His blue eyes seemed to bore into Duo's, taking in his pale face and rat nest hair. "Did you do what you're being accused of, Duo?"
Duo didn't start lying now. He ducked his head, but didn't admit to anything on a monitored channel. It was enough to give Quatre his answer, though. Quatre looked pained when Duo dared to look up again.
"Are you worth saving?" Quatre could fool people into thinking that he was an innocent, an idealist, and a pushover, but a man didn't go through a war, killing that many people, civilian and combatant, without getting barbed wire wrapped around his soul. Duo could beg all that he wanted, but Quatre would know, somehow, the truth.
Duo could only meet those hard, blue eyes and say, with all honesty, "I don't think that I am. I think that I deserve what's coming. Heero... he makes me want to get saved. He believes he can fix everything and give me a future. I called because of that, but, really, no, I don't think that I should get out of what's coming. I'm L2 trash and always will be. I was only good in the war. Once out of it, I reverted right back to street shit. A guy like me can't make it except crawling around on the underbelly of society, you know? I should be locked up. Sorry, I called."
Quatre's frown hadn't changed, it had only deepened. He said, as if his thoughts had found confirmation, "I'll send the doctors and the lawyer, Duo."
Duo started, confused. "I don't..."
Quatre's frown turned into a sad smile. "You're an old friend and you need help. I won't turn my back on you when you need me."
"Even though...," Duo was floundering, unsure of his ground.
"You wanted a fake defense," Quatre explained as he picked up his hard hat and put it on. "It hasn't occurred to you, that it may actually be a correct one?"
Duo blinked, shocked and feeling his belly twist into a knot. "You think... You think that I really might be... nuts?"
"I think that you need help, not prison, and that Duo Maxwell never harmed anyone without good reason, without a war behind his actions, even in his most desperate need," Quatre told him, but then he looked despondent and distant, as if looking inside at his own past. "I can't say as much for myself."
"Where do you and Heero get this... belief?" Duo stammered. "What's in me that you all can't just write me off, when I've written myself off?"
Quatre chuckled, but it was bitter. "We have more faith, more understanding, in Duo Maxwell. We've seen you tested and we've seen you chose, time and again, the higher road, the better path, the side of what's good and noble. If you've turned from that, if you've failed, then there must be a reason. There must have been something to make you forget who you've always been."
"So I'm crazy?" Duo scoffed. "I don't feel crazy."
"Crazy people rarely know that they are... crazy," Quatre informed him. "Call me if you have anything more that you need. Are you being treated well?"
"It's a cushy prison, but still a prison," Duo told him, trying to think through his confusion. "I can only say that I'm not in the general population, and that the guards aren't people who need to get revenge for something that I did back in the day. Food sucks, cell sucks, and the doctor, here, doesn't know anything about my kind of leg cast."
"I'll send a medical doctor along, as well," Quatre promised.
Duo swallowed hard, trying to find words.
"It's okay, Duo," Quatre told him gently. "You're going to get the help that you need. I'll call Milliardo to get the whole story."
It came to him, then, that Quatre was clueless about the crime, and about his relationship with Milliardo, and that his opinion could change when he knew all of the details.
"I don't want you to call him," Duo told him. "We were never... close... really. Call Heero, he'll tell you everything."
Quatre was looking confused.
Duo said quickly, seeing an impatient guard coming towards him. "Look, Quat, when you do hear the whole story, and you change your mind about me, it'll be okay. I'll understand when help doesn't come."
Duo turned off the vid, unwilling to deal with Quatre's reaction. He stood with the small, cheap table as a support, and grinned shakily at the guard. "Time to go back to my 'room'?"
"Enjoy it while you can," the guard retorted. "Your next room will be on moon base, murderer, and you'll have some cell mates who'll just love that long hair."
"It is my best feature," Duo replied, widening his grin, putting on bravado, while he secretly felt sick to his stomach with self loathing and a crawling fear of just that very thing happening.
Back to Chapter one
on to chapter three