The Final Murder
I wanted nothing more than to take my Bowie and gut the man from his nuts to his nose. He radiated evil, his unattractive brown eyes looking at me and seeing nothing but dollar signs. I could see in my heart's eye how his pudgy fingers had touched the skin of innocent girls. His smile was as comforting as sitting on a cactus, full of nothing but malice and selfishness. It was written all over his face, how he thought he had me backed into a corner. And in a way he did. But he was making the critical mistake of underestimating me, and that was all the help I needed. It had been a long time since I felt the need for violence, and even longer since I felt the need to kill someone. And right now I felt both.
"So Mr. Winner, do we have a deal?"
Through the whole conversation I kept my face closed and neutral. Any derogatory statement or comment he made passed through my skin to settle in my soul until I felt like dealing with it. Duo was practically doing the same thing, just in his own way. He had his grin in place as usual, laughing and slapping the table occasionally in good humor. But his eyes were hard, and the grin he was wearing was one I equated to danger, not humor. It was obvious to me that Mr. Hrncir had upset Duo, and that wasn't a smart thing to do if you wanted to keep breathing.
"Maybe," I said quietly, trying to keep my emotions in check. "I will have to think it through some more. I will not be rushed."
"Don't tell me you're afraid to take risks, Mr. Winner." There went that smile again.
"On the contrary," Duo piped up, his grin bigger than ever. "He loves nothing more than to take profitable risks." He leaned forward, almost conspiratorially. "But he has to make sure that this particular risk is worth his time and investment."
He batted Duo's rebuttal away with a wave of his hand. "So you say. But I will want an answer by the end of the month." He stood, and one of his henchmen materialized out of the air to put his fur coat around his shoulders. "And I hope that it's a positive answer, for your sake."
Duo stood, his grin nearing the sun in intensity. "Don't worry. We'll have an answer for you. Just trying to keep things low key."
"Uh huh," he said as he opened up a tin can and used his pinky finger to help sniff some of the substance up each nostril. "Whatever." He looked at me again, and his trademark smirk emerged on his face. "So, how old is your son now. Last--holy shit!" It took a couple of blinks, but as my vision cleared I saw that Mr. Hrncir was standing, shaking but standing, and staring down at his tin can that had a large knife pierced through it. A five and a half inch Bowie to be exact. I didn't realize I even threw it until I glanced at Duo and saw his smile strain a bit, before he started to laugh as if it was some joke. I was lucky to have him here. He needed to play the fool now. I had just blown any attempt I had at appearing innocent and weak.
So I stood gracefully, walked to his side and with a violent jerk removed the knife from the can. The white powder spilled to the floor, making slithering sounds on its way out of the tin. Looking him straight in his muddy eyes, I let my face open for a second so that he could see my inner turmoil. "Don't ever mention my son," I said evenly, as if I was noting that the sun was out, "or I will kill you." Sliding my knife into its sheath, I turned and strolled out of the abandoned auto garage. I heard Duo saying a couple of farewells to Hrncir and his little group, before he came running to my side, bouncing around me as if he were a child at an amusement park. He kept up this act until we were about two blocks away, which was where we parked the car. Just as he walked up to the driver side, he noticed that I kept on going.
I didn't answer him.
"Quatre? Where are you going? The car's right here!"
I shouted over my shoulder. "I'm walking to the port!"
"Don't be stupid!" I heard the car door close and his footsteps quicken until he was right beside me. "Look, I know that you're pissed, okay? I'm pissed too. But walking to the port from here is going to take two and a half hours."
"Wrong. Not good. We need to get the hell outta here. Wheels go faster than legs, now come on!"
"Let me walk. It's safer that way."
I heard Duo huff, swear, and stomp back to the rental car. Shortly thereafter, there was an old gray Oldsmobile in my peripheral vision, and its driver tried to stay within my sight while I walked to the spaceport. Unfortunately for Duo I kept my two to three mile an hour pace, letting all of my emotions and frustrations slam from one side of my skull to the other. I had seriously screwed up back there.
Wait, let me back up once again.
I still work as the head of WEI (for better or worse), so most of my days can be found pouring over countless documents on productivity estimates and stocks. I have grown since I was eighteen, and now proudly stand at five feet and ten inches. Because of all of the coaxing from my son, I allowed my hair to grow down to the back of my shoulders. I have come to find though that long hair is a chore to maintain, so most of the time I keep it in a loose ponytail at the back of my neck. Besides the maturation of my features, nothing else has changed.
Heero will always be the same. I have finally realized that. But there have been some changes in him that have really knocked everyone off their feet. He's still as gorgeous as ever, slightly taller than me at six feet. Believe it or not, Heero hasn't worked for the Preventers since my son was born. I didn't know if it was because of the time he spent with Kitty and with other children his age, but Heero is now a kindergarten teacher at L 4 Elementary School. The kids love him and so do the parents. (Some more than they should). He has been nominated for Best Teacher for the past three years, but has declined the nominations.
Trowa hasn't changed much either, although now he tends to hog the covers in bed. He shot past us all at six feet two inches, with his bangs cut even shorter than before. Now they were swept to the side of his face instead of hanging down. It was weird at first seeing both of his eyes, but we finally got use to it. He works at the circus during the summer when it's busier, and works as a part-time Preventer when Wufei needs his infiltration skills.
Wufei had changed quite a bit. In fact, many people claim that we were related, or possibly brothers in a past life. We have become very similar in our words and behavior. He was the same height as me, with the same hair length (thanks to Kitty again) and threatens to kill me weekly because I keep ‘borrowing' his hair ties. But he wasn't as forceful as he used to be. He was more willing to hear the opinions of others, took more time to think things through and was quieter. He also smiled more and liked to bake. (But that's a secret I'm taking to the grave).
Duo has changed some too. He's still as vibrant as ever, but now he takes it to the screen. He's a news reporter for channel three, and a darn good one too. Because of his past ‘profession' he was always able to dig out the truth and expose the guilty for what they truly were. He was also great at getting people to send money to charities and setting up charities as well. He has matured physically like the rest of us, and reached his height of five foot nine, three feet of that being hair.
My life these past six years has been so good I can seriously say that I've lived a fairy tale. I have the most wonderful husband in the world. I have a child that I would give my life for without hesitation, and no friendship between any persons will ever come close to matching mine. I have been nothing short of happy. But lately things have begun to change, and I haven't been able to tell yet if it's good or bad.
For one thing, Trowa and I haven't been spending much time together lately, and that has seriously put me off edge. Little resistance groups have been springing up all over the place, more so than has been normal, and he has jumped on a plane to where ever to help Wufei squash the problems before they start. I guess I've just felt lonely lately. Plus I want his help. No, not want. Need.
Duo and I recently got into some serious trouble. About six months ago, a charity was set up for a L2 colony after he broke a story on the poor conditions there. Well, money came from every direction into the charity to help improve the water, air, create jobs and everything. But when we flew there to look over possible sites for construction, well...I nearly had a stroke. The money was sent here, but obviously it didn't arrive. Several buildings had actually toppled over! The gutters were filled with the homeless, disease was running wild, and the people were so hopeless I couldn't stand up straight. I didn't understand it. All of the reports I had been getting said that things were actually improving, when in fact they were getting worse!
It turned out I was wrong again. The money DID arrive. To the representative in charge of this area. A pudgy, greedy, child molesting coward named Arthur Hrncir. I thought about how I would ‘take this prick to the cleaners' as Duo said, once I got all of the evidence that he was withholding the charity money for himself. That was until Duo and I saw that nearly all of the money was cash and untraceable, that all of the fraudulent reports were signed off by me, that Duo had hand delivered the donations, and that Hrncir was chosen by another representative who *I* had chosen to be his boss. Looking over it all, we found that the evidence pointed to us being the criminals, not him. To US, not that bastard who wanted us to continue sending him the money under the guise of a charity, or else he'll leak it to the World Sphere Alliance.
He and I both knew it would ruin my credibility, and my father's company would crumble.
I couldn't tell Trowa. I didn't have the heart, even though I was innocent. Duo refused to tell Heero, knowing that he would charge off and kill the man on sight. We couldn't even go to Wufei because he would be obligated to turn all of us in, and I didn't want him to make that decision. Plus I didn't know where Hrncir's boss was, Zuern. He was the one I picked, the one I knew who had a good heart and genuinely cared about people. He had been emailing me progress reports, but I hadn't spoken to him on the phone or in person since he left for L2 six months ago. Yes, that especially left a bad taste in my mouth, and a feeling in my chest that I should've noticed something was wrong.
Insistent honking woke me out of my reverie. Glancing to my right, it turned out that Duo was honking the horn to get my attention. Looking up I finally saw that we arrived at the spaceport, and as I jogged across the street to meet up with Duo, I figured from the strain in my legs that the walk here was easily two hours. That was pathetic. I was still fuming as much now as I was when I took that first step here. The meeting between us and Hrncir didn't go well at all. It was the first time he met Duo and I face to face. He even had the gall to tell me how this charity was going to earn me money beyond my wildest dreams! I am the wealthiest person in the universe! What could he possibly give me?
Soon enough we were on a private shuttle (not mine, just rented) headed back to L 4. Duo and I sat across the aisle from each other, too angry and shocked to speak. This was supposed to help people, not grind them into the ground and ruin everything I've worked so hard to get. My company, respect of my peers, peace–
"He's the one contributing to the resistance fanatics I bet."
My eyes rolled up in my head as I thought about that. "You know what? That makes a lot of sense. Especially since he says that if I continue contributing, I'll earn more money than I thought possible ‘in my wildest dreams'." I snorted. "Could he be that stupid? Honestly."
"That's the problem," Duo started, reclining his chair. "He's an asshole of the worst kind, but he's far from stupid. He's making damn sure to cover his tracks, and if he's gonna go down, he's going to bring some powerful people with him." He flicked his glance at me. "If you go down, there's no way Relena's reputation won't suffer some backlash. She's always been your best supporter. This would hurt her as well."
"I know," I sighed, running my hand down my face. "Whatever we're going to do, it's going to have to be done very, very carefully."
"If not, your reporter days will be over."
"I know." He started to pick at the end of his braid. "Quatre, it's going to be harder now. You messed up back there, you know that. He's not going to take you for a spineless weakling now."
"I know," I sighed again, trying to squash my anger. If only I had aimed higher... "I'm sorry Duo. I know it doesn't mean anything, but I didn't even realize I did it until--"
"Hey, don't worry about it. Hell, I was about to choke him in all honestly." He let out a bitter laugh. "I guess either way, one of us was going to nail his ass. I don't want him to even think about your son, much less make him feel he can ask you about him like ya'll are friends or something."
"Hm." I paused. "He meant that as a threat you know."
"Yeah, I know." He turned and faced me with nothing but seriousness in his face. "But I don't care. If it means I have to ruin my life to protect Kitty, then so be it. I love your kid like he's mine. Nobody touches him, especially that pervert." I didn't say anything. I just tried to smile at Duo in an effort to raise his hopes as well as mine. But then there was that jolt when our eyes met, and for an instant I was lost in the pools of his eyes as he was lost in mine. Then we felt a jolt again, this one from the plane and both of us snapped our eyes away from each other and out of our prospective windows.
It happened again.
That was the most significant change as of late. Duo and I have been thinking of each other...intimately. I know I have been, but I've also seen my feelings mirrored in his eyes. The few times he had accidently touched me, his fingers had lingered longer than necessary. But the worst of it was that each time it happened, his touch left a feeling of want in me I hadn't been able to push away.