The Final Murder: Part 11 Sidestory
Thank God I already had my cigarette, or else I would've went ‘postal.' I think that was the term. But I was pretty fuckin' close. I mean, Quat and I went through a whole lotta trouble to breeze out of L 4 to here, and the people we were going through hell and high water to avoid were not only here, but they had time to commandeer a house and were already snuggled in. And as if that wasn't enough, the one person we came to see that no one should know about was damn near having his life story told by none other than my other supposed--to--be--best--friend Hilde. Might as well drop your pants and bend over Quatre, we're obviously about to get screwed.
He didn't hear my mental bitching though. No. He had this concentrated look on his face. Either he has to focus a lot of attention just to eat his sandwich or he's constipated. With Quatre, it could be either one. Honestly. But as I reached the wall and turned about-face for the other wall, I noticed Trowa staring intently at Quatre. Yikes. Trowa's the worst person in the world for reading facial expressions, hands down. Yeah, Heero's a bitch to read, but you could see what he felt in his eyes. Trowa's just a fuckin' mystery to me, even after all these years. I've seen him raise hell to the point where grown men begged for forgiveness, and I've seen him level Lady Une with a blank stare so cold she told Wufei it gave her nightmares. In both instances, he was just as he is now; calm, seemingly staring into space, and then boom! He'd either bite their heads off or freeze them with his eyes. I wonder what this look meant. Hell, he could be thinking about where to hide Quatre's murdered body or what kind of dessert he would like to have. I couldn't tell the difference. How Quatre--and Kitty--did was beyond me.
"Is that right Quatre?" Hilde asked. He just nodded.
She gave him a curious glance, then continued. For him to do something that he would consider rude (he wasn't completely listening, that was obvious to everyone) Quatre must've been pretty distracted. He probably had the same concerns as I did; how did they find out, how were we going to finish this without the others interfering, what's going to happen after everything's said and done...
Wufei was sitting in the chair, legs crossed and leaning forward slightly, completely focused on the words from Hilde's mouth. Dorothy was sitting as primly as always, her attention more on Quatre than on Hilde. Trowa and Quatre were in their own worlds, and Hilde was our little stool pigeon for this adventure. I didn't look at him, but as I paced I could feel the weight of Heero's eyes roaming up and down my body, and it wasn't in a fun way either. He was unhappy, to say the least. And believe me, Heero being ‘unhappy' was as bad as a pissed-off King Kong. In fact, I'd rather deal with King Kong. On a hot day. After he's been shot a couple thousand times.
I was ready to go completely apeshit when Hilde told them what she thought was going on. She told them her suspicions of Hrncir laundering the charity money, what our intentions were and the lack of evidence to suggest we reported this to the police. It damn near made me sick that she was right. Sometimes, it really disgusted me how well my friends knew me.
When she started talking about Zuern, I was getting tired and losing interest. Today was long and stressful, especially with Krahe popping up, and this surprise was completely unwelcome. I lost count of how many cigarettes I went through, but a trip to the nearest convenience store was going to be a necessity during the next outing or I will end up going postal. Quatre's barriers were also going down. The stress was getting to him too. He let his hair loose and started massaging his temples and neck, a clear sign of a headache coming and grouchiness to follow.
I jumped at the tone. Apparently, neither me or Quat were listening.
"What?" He looked bewildered. Slightly.
"I asked if I was right about Zuern. You haven't seen him in some time, right?"
Ahhhh shit Hilde. Of all the things you could've asked!
"Yes, that's right."
Great. There's no way they're not going to follow us around like hounds.
"Maybe we should finish this tomorrow-"
"No, I want to know this now."
Hearing that nasal, superior tone in Heero's voice and me being so tired...I just snapped. "Oh, don't start that shit!"
"What shit, Duo!" Wufei jumped up so fast he knocked the table. He came damn near nose to nose with me and I shifted my weight to my back foot, ready to whoop some ass if I thought for a second that he would lay so much as an eyelash on me. As good of friends as Wu and I were, we've had some throw-downs in the past that would put the wrestling profession to shame. "You two think we're stupid, or naive? Your behaviors these past few weeks have been very odd, and the attacks on Quatre were too coincidental. Despite how good you are Duo, we can tell when you're covering up for something, and Quatre's a god damn open book! What if something were to happen to US because Hrncir wanted to hurt you, huh?! Think of us damnit, think of Kitty-"
"Don't. Don't go there Wufei. They think of him above all else."
Thank you Trowa. I didn't know what I was about to say, but it wasn't going to be nice. Taking a deep breath, Wufei's silence along with the stillness of the room gave me the opportunity to calm my ass down. I hate fighting, and squaring off with Wufei was something I most certainly did not want to do. Neither one of us would've walked away unhurt, nor would the idiots that would try to break us apart.
"Tell us what's going on. Everything." He sat down, sounding tired. I noticed earlier that he still had his Preventers uniform on. Probably got hauled here by Heero.
"We can't do that," Quatre said. "Hilde, Dorothy and especially you Wufei. Your positions at your jobs would be in jeopardy if this ever got out-"
"You let me worry about that," Wufei said.
Those words hit something in me that made me almost punch him in the face. "What, let you worry about the fact that we will be jeopardizing your job if you don't act accordingly once we tell you what shit we're up to? Not to mention you'll face charges because you're a Preventer! Think of Sally, Chang."
"Don't," Wufei growled. "Don't mention her to me."
"Besides, we have an idea of some of the things that's already occurred," Dorothy said. "Quatre, she was afraid you'd never trust her again, but Relena...we know about that day at The Oasis, Quatre. We know he tried to have Duo killed."
Ahhhh shit. Heero is going to be so pissed off.
"Don't think she betrayed you, but she was really worried. Duo was hurt, and the look on your face-"
"Just tell us what's happening, okay? We want to help you. Let us help you. Please."
A pause, then I heard Quatre say, "Okay." Then he said it again, as if he wasn't sure he said it the first time. I looked to Quatre. He gave me this soul-weary look that just tore at me. He's felt like hell on legs all day. I could tell. I could always tell with him. "I--"
"I'll tell them," I said.
He looked surprised. "What?"
"I'll tell them," I repeated, and snuffed out my cigarette on my boot. "You need to rest Quatre. I could tell you didn't get any sleep last night. You looked like the walking dead this morning." I smiled as much as I could. "Go take a nap. I'll tell them."
I think he got my hint. "Okay," he said. But when he stood up he swayed a bit. I was about to jerk into motion when Trowa jumped up and grabbed his shoulders. Quatre gripped the hold Trowa had on him and was able to steady himself. After a moment I heard a quiet, "I'm alright now," and Trowa released him. All of us watched as Quatre slowly left in search of a bedroom, each of us waiting patiently as he got out of earshot. The whole atmosphere was weirding me out. It was like we were his parents, and we were waiting for him to leave the room so that we could talk about adult stuff.
When it felt like everyone was ready to hear the Duo-edited version, I turned forward again to face the room and found instead that I was eyeball to eyeball with Heero. I didn't have the chance to step back because of the death grip he had on my shoulders, and it didn't seem to me that he was going to sit back and take whatever garbage I was going to give him either. As if he ever would in the first place. "Odin, let go," I whispered.
"No," he whispered back. "Not until you tell me what the hell Dorothy meant when she said ‘he tried to have Duo killed.' How?"
"Duo, you said that you'd tell us what was happening," Dorothy said carefully, trying to break the tension. "Perhaps you'd feel better telling the story if you were sitting down?"
Damnit, she was determined to have me sit. I must've been breaking some social grace law or something.
"Here, have my seat." Wufei got up and cradled my elbows, guiding me to his chair. Yes, this surprised the shit out of me too. I could've sworn a minute ago I was ready to throw his ass through a window, and I was sure the feeling was mutual. Our friendship worked in mysterious ways, I guess. Unfortunately, Heero's grip was still nice and tight on my shoulders, so I was sure the three of us looked like a three-way tango. In my mind's eye the whole thing was amusing as hell, but I didn't have the energy to laugh. But as soon as I was seated, Wufei, with some effort, managed to extract Heero's fingers from my shoulders and got him settled on the couch. He then sat on the arm of the couch, conveniently between Heero and myself. Damn, you're the best Wu!
"Now," Wufei gestured, in an attempt to get the conversational ball rolling.
So I started from the beginning. I told them how and why I wanted to start the charity, how Quatre loved the idea, the number of sponsors we got and the celebrity involvement. It grew to the point where Quatre's people couldn't handle the donations on their own, so he opened a branch on L2, Zuern being the head honcho with Hrncir as the sidekick. That was the last time he heard from Zuern.
I neglected to mention our meeting with Hrncir. That little detail I was leaving for Quatre. After all, it was him that threw a knife through his ‘sugar' tin, not me.
I also neglected to mention that he threatened to go public with everything if we didn't continue to send him the charity money. I didn't say anything about the time limit either.
And I almost, almost, didn't tell them that the guy who strangled Quatre worked for Hrncir. But one glance at Trowa's unreadable face, and the thought that he could convince Heero that my death was truly an accident, changed my mind.
I told them we killed the two drivers that hit Quatre and Trowa that night. Unfortunately, I didn't have a choice about that one. Dorothy said Relena told them what happened, but Dorothy didn't say how much she was told. If I asked, I bet she'd give me her edited version, and would listen for gaps in my story. Hell, she was probably doing that now anyway. Leaving out some things about that situation was probably a mistake, but it was a mistake I was willing to make. There was the possibility she didn't know much. So I didn't tell them about Quat cutting out that one guy's tongue or that the bodies were currently buried in the yard of the house Wufei shot up.
Lastly, I told them what we were doing here...sort of. Actually, what I said was, "We're here to stop him." End of sentence. I'll let them make of that whatever they want.
Silence reigned for what felt like a year before Trowa raised his hand slightly, as if he was in class. It was so cute that I wanted to laugh, but once again I lacked the energy. "What Tro?"
"How did he try to have you killed Duo?"
Ahhhh shit. I forgot about that. "Ah, something stupid," I said in the most nonthreatening way possible. "Sent some guy to try and inject some stuff into me. Total moron. I broke his neck like that." I snapped my fingers.
"If it was like that," Wufei snapped his fingers, mimicking me, "then how come you were hurt?"
I glanced at Heero. He looked very, very unhappy. Shit. "He caught me off guard, okay?" I threw my hands in the air. I knew one of them would ask how he caught me off guard, so I just plowed on. "I was on the can when he tried to get me. It's kinda hard to kick someone's ass when you're trying to take a shit, ya know?"
"No, I don't Duo," Trowa said, standing. I could see a slight smirk on his face, the bastard. "I think only something like that would happen to you."
"I agree," Wufei said, standing as well. He was chuckling. "I think that's everything. We can discuss our plans in the morning." He gave me a significant look.
I didn't flip him off. Go me.
Dorothy stood and was leaving behind the other two, Hilde slightly on her trail. She was giving me a look that I didn't understand, but it seemed it was really important.
"What, you're not going to give me a kiss goodnight?"
Hilde came over and said quickly in my ear, "Time you're leaving?"
Like I said earlier, I hate that my friends know me so well. "That's five kisses you owe me." I got my pecks before she dashed off, catching up with Dorothy on her way out. Good god, Dorothy's in on this too? This will be interesting.
Then I became suddenly aware that I was alone in the room with Heero, my homicidal, suicidal, pissed husband, who was currently shooting steam from every orifice in his body. I kept my eyes focused on the table as I tried to figure out how far I would get before he tackled me to the ground and caved my head in. I figured I'd make it seven paces. It would be only three and a half seconds before he caught me, but I wanted to live for those three and a half seconds.
Springing to my feet, I made it a grand total of five paces before he grabbed one of my arms and yanked me back towards him. I slammed into his chest (hurting just me, I'm sure) and found myself being crushed in his arms. His hold on me was so strong I was seriously struggling to breathe. Then it took me a second to figure out he was hugging me for all of my worth.
"Odin?" I managed to squeak.
"Duo. I'm so mad at you I don't know what to do with myself," he said, kissing my temple. "But at the same time I'm so relieved...you damn idiot!" he whispered harshly. "That...that fucker could have killed you!"
WHOA! I didn't think he had that word in his vocabulary. Talk about surprise... "I was okay. I wasn't hurt that bad. Honest." I snickered at the memory. "I was well enough to kick Quatre's ass." 
"I figured that," he said. "You two wouldn't let a fight go that far. And Quatre wouldn't hurt you that badly." He kissed my neck. "You were in pain all night, especially your left arm. I was so worried." He sighed into my hair, which brushed against my sensitive ears. His hold loosened and he kept one arm around my waist while the other rubbed my back gently. Oh boy, he was starting something I wouldn't be able to finish. As it was, I buried my face in his neck and tightened my hold around him, feeling safe and sound. He tightened his grip again, thankfully no where near as tight as before, and continued to rub my back.
"You're tired," he said after forever.
Still encased in his arms, he led me out of the sitting room (I guess that's what it was) and out into the ballroom. Getting an eyefull of the wallpaper, I just had to ask. "Odin, what the hell is this place?"
"A mansion of Dorothy's late grandfather. One of her cousin's lives here now but she has gone to Earth for a couple of months on business, so we're able to stay here as long as necessary."
"Jeez, this woman has the worst taste in the free world."
He grunted his agreement.
After we made it up the staircase, we passed by a room that had a lot of noise coming from it. I didn't know what the hell it was, and I looked to Heero to see what he thought. He didn't seem to be concerned, so I just let it slide as well. 
We passed a few more doors and then he opened the one on the left, ushering me in. Just as if we were home, I walked and stripped at the same time, climbing onto my side of the bed. Heero crawled in after me and wrapped me up tight in his arms. I snuggled in, deliriously happy for the first time in...I didn't know how long. It was so comforting to me, the fact that I was this happy to be near him, to know that I was still as crazy in love with him as I was the day I said ‘I do.'
But there was something else. As hard as I tried , my feelings for Quatre...wow. I couldn't be in love with him. I knew that. I was in love with Heero. But...I didn't know what to think! I wanted Quatre too. I lusted after him. Christ, I kissed him on the neck when I was dyeing his hair! And then that one time at the house, right before the phone rang...I didn't know what I was thinking . It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't want me back. That's where the complication lied.
This had something to do with Krahe. I knew it. Quatre and I have been tangled up in so much together that it seemed inevitable for us to develop feelings for each other outside of friendship. But the urges were getting to be painful if they were ignored, and that gave me all the evidence I needed that our emotions were being ‘helped' by something else.
I stretched out a little bit. "Is that better?"
I refuse to lie to Heero. Bending the truth was one thing, neglecting details was another, but to flat out lie to him was something I couldn't do. I just...I didn't have the courage to tell him I was sexually attracted to my best friend. "I'm...I'm mad at myself. And at Hrncir for putting us in this situation."
"This isn't your fault. Or Quatre's. This is Hrncir's fault. You two were trying to do something good and he took advantage of that."
I rolled towards him in his embrace, so now we were face to face in the dark. "Haven't you ever heard the phrase ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?' "
"Haven't you ever heard the phrase ‘charity begins at home?' "
"I wish you didn't come here. I don't want you involved in case something goes wrong."
"I'm going to be involved in anything that concerns you."
"This is going to get messy."
"So? We've been in messy before."
"This is my responsibility."
"And you are mine."
I was starting to get pissed. "I don't need a babysitter."
He sighed. "I know. I just want to protect you."
Damnit, there went all my self-righteousness. "I can protect myself just fine, and Quatre will be watching my back. You've trusted him with my life before, why not now?"
"You two put yourselves in unnecessary danger."
It was my turn to sigh. "It's never been unnecessary. Trust me Odin, we're going to be okay. If not, you'll be doing much ass-stomping, and the Preventers can't handle a pissed off you."
He held me closer. "You've been hurt already," he whispered.
"Yes, but it really was minor, and both of those assholes are dead because of it. Now we're on Hrncir's turf, turf I'm more familiar with than he is, and he doesn't know we're here. We've got the upper hand."
"Okay then." I snuggled into his chest, figuring the discussion was over, and was nearly asleep when he spoke again.
"When are you leaving?"
Damnit, was I that predictable?! "In a couple of hours. And," I rose to my elbow and tried to look him in the eye in the dark room, "I don't want you to follow. If you really want to help us," I paused, ready to smack myself in the head for not thinking of this before, "try to find out where that money went, and how we could get it back."
He was silent for a moment, then he said, "Okay."
"Thank you," I said sincerely, and kissed him as sweetly as I could to show how much this meant to me. And how much he meant to me. Then I wormed my way between him and the mattress and was out cold in no time.
I woke with a start. "What the hell?"
"Quatre's leaving," Heero told me unnecessarily. I heard what sounded like someone hauling ass down the stairs. "You probably want to get going too."
"Yeah," I said, clamoring out of bed and getting dressed as fast as possible. All I had weapon-wise was my shoulder holster and a couple of throwing knifes in my boots. By the time I was done, I saw Trowa moving up the stairs at light speed, and nearly choked on my own spit when I saw he was as naked as the day he was born. Wufei was at the top of the staircase, shouting at Trowa in Mandarin who in turn was shouting back in Cantonese. The whole scene was weird.
I waited the few seconds it took for him to throw on some clothes, run out to his bike and speed off after Quatre. Wufei, shouting to himself now, went back to the room he was in. After the coast was clear, Heero walked me to the door and gave me a kiss that made me weak in the knees (damn him, he did that on purpose). As I walked out to the Oldsmobile, I noticed the car's driver seat wasn't vacant. I jumped in, rolled my eyes at Hilde and handed her the keys. At least she had the decency not to hot-wire it.
As she backed out and started to drive away, I saw Heero standing at the window, watching us leave. I closed my eyes, trying to remember the warmth of his body in bed, and instead had a weird daydream where I was in prison and Heero was visiting me. I had the mental image of Heero ripping his shirt open and pressing his nipples against the window, trying to get me all hot before I had to go back to my jail cell.
I cracked up.
Hilde kept glancing at me out of the corner of her eye, repeatedly asking me what the hell I thought was so funny. I couldn't answer her. I just smiled at her, wiped the tears from my eyes, and fell asleep.
Damn, I'll have to tell Heero about that. He'll get a kick out of it.
 Refers to fight scene in chapter 8, where Quatre tells Duo to beat him up after mailing that guy's tongue.
 Refers to this chapter (11), where Trowa and Quatre are...busy.
 Refers to Duo and Quatre nearly kissing in chapter 4.