Author's Notes: I've been dying to do a fic like this for quite some time, but while I had vague ideas and scenarios, I had no plot whatsoever. So thanks to Mami for the plot idea XD
As in all my GW fics, Endless Waltz never happened as far as I'm concerned. This story occurs some time after the GW timeline.

Warnings: This fic contains yaoi. If you don't like that, don't read this fic. This fic also contains dark overtones and occasionally graphic, twisted scenes. If you have a weak stomach or don't go for that kind of thing, you might not want to read this fic.


ChApTeR 1
'TwO DoWn'

    It was a hell of a way to spend his twenty-first birthday.
    Most young men his age would be out with their friends, living the night life and discovering the limits of their alcohol tolerance. In fact, Heero was sure that had he been back on earth, he would have been dragged out to the nearest bar to do just that.
    Instead of scanning the labels on bottles of booze, however, Heero's eyes were sweeping over the bulletin board covered in crime scene photographs. Instead of rowdy laughter and drunken songs, the only sounds in the small office were the occasional nervous cough of one of the officers and the slow, steady ticking of the clock on the white-washed wall.
    There were two officers in the room with him, one of them picking agitatedly at his half-eaten sub while the other leaned against the far wall, arms crossed as he watched Heero with an unreadable expression. Heero ignored them both. He was fully aware that they were still against letting him in on their case. He was too young, in their eyes, to be let in on something this big. His connections were good enough to get him inside, but that didn't mean these men thought any bigger of him. He was a punk kid with mysterious credentials who they'd been told to cater to, like it or not.
    Heero's eyes flicked from one photo to the other. Perhaps they were waiting for him to retreat or vomit. The pictures were graphic. But Heero had seen dead bodies before. He'd made some of those bodies himself.
    But those men had died from gunshot wounds, oxygen deprivation, explosions. It was easy to distance yourself from a death when the weapon was something so far removed from your own hand. Squeeze a trigger, and several feet away or many many meters away, something exploded. Someone fell over dead. Rip the hull from a ship, turn your back and let the cold empty mercilessness of space do the rest as the oxygen is torn from the inside.
    But these men had not died simple, cold-cut deaths.
    Someone had done these personally and up close. Mostly with a blade, sometimes with something a little more inventive.
    Heero peered at one photograph of a man with his throat cut so badly the head was nearly severed. Wire. He glanced at the notice below the picture. Piano wire, to be precise; they'd found it a few feet from the body, tossed there carelessly by the suspect. No prints.
    No prints ever. Not at any of the crime scenes.
    Heero glanced over his shoulder at the two men silently waiting for him to speak. "You said there were never any prints," he said crisply. "Forensics has been unable to ID the killer. What makes you think it's the same person?" He had his own theories, but he wanted to hear theirs first. He wanted to see if they'd done their homework.
    The man leaning against the wall sneered slightly as if Heero had just insulted his intelligence. The shiny badge on his belt said Peterson.
    The large man at the table-- he'd introduced himself with a nervous handshake as Matthews --began to roll a crumb of bread between thumb and forefinger, glancing from his partner to Heero constantly. "Well, for one thing, there's a connection between the victims. They're all politically involved. Some of them actually hold political positions, while others are supporters or contributers. The murders started shortly after the Gorgenstern Bill was passed two months ago. So far all the victims were ones who approved the Bill."
    "It could be a terrorist cell," Heero pointed out.
    "Well, yeah." Matthews flicked the crumb away and began picking unconsciously at a piece of cheese protruding from the sub bun. "But the murder weapon is usually a knife; forensics is pretty sure it's the same knife every time. And whoever it is, they've managed to sneak past the alarms and security surrounding each victim. He's one sneaky bastard. The victims never see 'im coming."
    Heero nodded slightly, then reached up to tap his fingertips against a photo of a man sprawled atop his own desk, each organ lined up in a neat little line on the floor, his intestines tugged out and tied in a playful knot. "And he's been leaving his mark at each scene."
    Peterson finally spoke, his eyes narrowing a little. "Mark? What mark?"
    Heero pulled the picture from the wall and tossed it onto the desk. "It's a game," he said flatly, pulling down another picture and dropping it by the first. "He's enjoying himself." He retrieved a third photograph and came over to the table, lying it beside the other two and pointing at each one in silence.
    Peterson came over to look, peering suspiciously at each photo.
    "Umm..." Matthews blinked heavily, looking from one picture to the other. "I don't--"
    "Crazy bastard," Peterson hissed under his breath.
    "What?" Matthews leaned forward more. "I still don't--"
    Peterson tapped a finger impatiently against the first photo. "Here-" he moved his finger to the others. "Here, and here. He makes a joke of it. Look, with this guy he ties the guts up like a bow. This one, he pulls the hair back in a tail. And here--"
    "I see it," Mattews interrupted, looking disgusted. He gazed down at the picture of the victim, cheeks sliced all the way back to the jawline so that all his teeth showed in a fiendish, skeletal grin. "Jesus." He looked quickly towards the bulletin board. "I'd noticed a couple weird things," he admitted, "but didn't think it was really a pattern."
    "That explains that other shit," Peterson muttered.
    Heero glanced up at him sharply. "Other?" he repeated.
    The two detectives exchanged a look. "We were keeping it from the press," Peterson admitted after a moment. "The first few victims, we got nothing. But I guess when the guy realized what an uproar he was causing, he decided to flaunt it. Or maybe the sick son of a bitch thinks it's funny that we don't know who's comitting the murders." He walked over to a file cabinet and pulled open one of the drawers, pulling out a manila envelope. He tossed it on the desk by the pictures. "Six victims so far," he said as Heero took the envelope and shook its contents onto the desk's surface. "The last two had these damn things with 'em. See a connection?"
    Heero lifted the first note, holding it up to the light with a slight frown. It was a scrap of plain white paper; could have come from anywhere. The handwriting was sloppy and careless, and read:

    He looked up with an arched brow. "Which victim was this found with?"
    Matthews pointed wordlessly towards the board. Heero stared at the picture of the man with his skull split in two, the gray matter inside clearly visible.
    "Hit him with one of his own golf trophies," Peterson snorted. "Sick."
    "We did some research," Matthews added. "The guy didn't make that shit up. Some guy named Harry Graham did a whole book full of morbid little poems like that back in the late 19th or 20th century I think it was."
    Heero looked back at the note, frowning, then set it aside and picked up the other.

    "Two down?" Heero read, frown deepening.
    Peterson shrugged. "Don't look at me. This note was found with the sixth victim. Why did he only claim responsibility for two of them when it's obvious the same guy took all of them out?"
    Heero looked from the note to the board. "Which victim?" he demanded.
    "Ah, that was Senator Young." Matthews pointed out the picture.
    Heero stared at the picture for a long moment, then strode quickly to the board. He looked over each picture with narrowed eyes, then turned sharply on his heel, face like a thundercloud. "I need a planetary line," he snapped. "I need to call back to Earth."
    "What?" Matthews blinked at him. "Uhh... the commissioner has one in his office. Why?"
    Heero tapped one of the pictures on the board with his knuckle and strode towards the door in long, quick strides. "Because," he growled, "I know who his next victim is."
    "What are you talking about?" Peterson hastened to the board to inspect the photo Heero had indicated. "Gertrude Halls? She's just a contributer..."
    He was speaking to himself. Heero was already gone. Peterson scowled at the open doorway, hands on his hips. "Uptight prick," he muttered. "I still don't see why the commissioner let that kid in on the case."
    Matthews heaved himself from his chair and came over to study the picture. He looked over each other others, frowning. "I don't get it," he admitted. "How does he know who..." he trailed off, eyes widening.
    "What?" Peterson snapped impatiently.
    Matthews glanced at his partner, face grim. "Two down," he quoted, pointing at the picture of Gertrude Halls, her head placed neatly beside her stripped body. "Ms. Hall and Senator Young... they're both--"
    "Women," Peterson hissed in sudden comprehension. He looked sharply at the photographs again. "How many politically involved women helped push the Gorgenstern Bill through?"
    Matthews' mouth tightened into a thin white line. "Three."
    "The Prime Minister," Peterson said in horrified realization.
    Matthews hastily tucked the notes back into their envelope, then hurried after his partner to the commissioner's office.
    Heero was already on the phone, back rigid as he gazed at the wall with a face of stone, waiting impatiently for the line to connect on the other end.
    Commissioner Ruth met Peterson's gaze, eyes puzzled. He rose to his feet and beckoned for the two detectives to step outside with him, pulling the door partially shut behind himself.
    "What's all this about?" Jeremy Ruth, an overweight man close to his mid-fifties, would never be a field man again, but his mind was a sharp as a tack. He was a no-nonsense man who didn't like being left out of the loop, and it had been a surprise to everyone when he'd allowed the enigmatic Heero Yuy access to the case with hardly a murmur of opposition to the idea.
    "Yuy thinks he knows who the next victim will be," Peterson explained in a low tone. "He found some kind of connection. He thinks Relena Peacecraft is on the hit-list."
    "Well that's hardly surprising," Ruth snapped. "She helped push the Bill through. Even convinced some that didn't want the Bill to see the light of day to think otherwise. But why would she be next? It could easily be any of the other six that supported the Bill."
    "It was the notes, sir." Matthews dug the scraps of paper out of the envelope he was carrying. "Two down," he read, handing the note over. "It was with the sixth victim, Senator Young. We'd wondered why it referred to only two, when there were six victims."
    "But only two of the victims so far have been women," Peterson finished. "Senator Young and Ms. Hall. Which, if we're still going on the theory that the suspect is targeting those who helped pass the Bill, leaves only--"
    "Prime Minister Peacecraft." Ruth's face was grave. "That explains Yuy's haste to get her on the line."
    "He's head of her security," Ruth growled impatiently, squinting at the both of them. "Try to keep up with current events, Matthews. Evidently he's worked for her off and on for a couple years, but accepted the job as security manager at the end of last year."
    "Oh." Matthews frowned. "I still don't see how that justifies him being here," he admitted.
    Ruth scowled at him. "You stick to finding clues," he ordered. "Leave the bureaucratic bullshit to me."
    Peterson opened his mouth for another question, but just then the office door opened and Heero stepped out, eyes flitting instantly to Ruth. "I must return to Earth," he said with no preamble.
    "Of course." Ruth stepped aside to let him pass, looking a little relieved to see the young man go. "We'll keep you updated, as we agreed, on the case's progress."
    Heero nodded curtly and strode off without a backwards glance.
    "I didn't think you could reach such an important line from here," Peterson noted, scratching absently at his stubble. "The Prime Minister herself, I mean."
    "You can't," Ruth said shortly. "Though the number he asked to be connected to was nowhere near where Minister Peacecraft resides."
    Matthews frowned. "Then who would he call?"
    Ruth felt a sudden urge for a cigarette, a habit he thought he'd kicked years ago. "The shuttle won't get him to earth for another forty-eight hours. He doesn't seem the patient type. If I were a betting man," he said drolly, "I'd say he called for backup."

    "This is ridiculous," Relena sighed, watching with dismay as a patch of tulips was thoughtlessly trampled by the men hustling about, making the building more secure. "I still think Heero is overreacting."
    Trowa Barton barely spared her a glance from where he stood close by, eyes scanning the activity, hand resting firmly on the muzzle of the rifle slung over his shoulder. "I would trust Heero's instincts if I were you," he pointed out in a monotone. "He wouldn't have asked us to watch you until his arrival if he didn't have a good reason to worry."
    Relena shook her head, reaching up to push sweaty bangs from her face. She detested being outdoors lately. The temperature had been rising all summer, making it one of the hottest summers in this province in almost a decade. She longed for the cool air of the indoors, but felt obligated to watch as her home was transformed into a fort. "I trust him," she assured the taller man by her side. "But he has a tendency to see bad potential in even the most mundane things." She squinted up at him, raising a hand to shade her eyes from the sun. "And I feel bad that he pulled you here just to watch me."
    Trowa gave a one-shouldered shrug. "The next show isn't until next week, and Catherine saw no reason why I shouldn't do Heero a favor. He asked Duo, as well. He should be here by tonight or early tomorrow."
    "Duo Maxwell?" Relena pursed her lips in thought. "I understand your being here," she admitted. "The circus travels everywhere. But I thought Heero said Duo was running a mechanics shop in some backwater colony after he got banned from L2 for starting that protest."
    "Riot," Trowa corrected mildly, glancing at his watch. "Duo comes to earth once a year to personally supervise the shipping of certain parts and, from what I hear, enjoy Terran alcohol."
    "Jack Daniels," Relena said with a small smile. "I remember because that was the only thing Heero could think to send him last Christmas." She sighed. "They've kind of lost touch in the last year or so. They speak on the phone maybe once every few months, and haven't even gone to lunch together since shortly after Heero moved in here permanently. They were such good friends too."
    Trowa glanced at her sideways, but kept silent. None of the surprise he felt was visible on his face. Duo and Heero had remained close friends even after Operation Meteor, mostly due to Duo's insistent calls, e-mails, and letters. Slowly he had dragged Heero further out of his shell until the two had kept in touch regularly, even visiting each other every now and then.
    Quatre had once commented approvingly that it was probably due to Duo's efforts that Relena had managed to get close to the normally stoic ex-pilot.
    Relena looked back up at him as if reading his thoughts, face brightening in a smile. "You'll be able to make it, won't you?" she pressed. "To the wedding. You and Catherine."
    "Yes," Trowa replied, eyes scanning the grounds once more. "Catherine is rather... excited about it. Women get that way about these kinds of things, or so I've heard."
    Relena laughed. "Yes," she agreed, "we do." She tilted her head up and let the sun warm her face, smiling dreamily. "It's hard to believe it's really happening to me," she murmured. "When I was a little girl, sometimes I wondered if I'd ever get married because duty seemed so important. And when I found out who my real family was, I admit I had the childish fantasy of getting married to a prince." She laughed again. "A little silly, I guess. Did you know when I first met Heero, I thought he was a prince? A prince fallen from the stars, just for me..." She trailed off, eyes content and far away.
    Trowa studied her in silence, feeling the faintest suggestion of a frown tug at the corner of his mouth. It had been obvious to anyone with eyes that Relena had decided who it was she would be with back in the days of the war. Quatre had felt bad for her, pointing out once-- not to her face, of course --that Heero was simply too out of touch with his emotions to reciprocate her feelings. He seemed to view Relena as simply another duty, another mission, not as the potential mate she saw him as.
    Quatre had been wrong, evidently. Her long, patient work and Duo's efforts had proved sucessful. Relena was going to be a very happy bride.
    But, Trowa wondered with sudden cynicism, would Heero be a happy groom?
    He shook his head slightly to dislodge the thought. Just because Heero had a hard time putting his emotions and affections on display didn't mean he didn't feel. Relena wouldn't be so deleriously happy if he wasn't showing her some sign of affection, even if out of sight of the rest of the world.
    Yes, this was good, he told himself firmly. It would be good for Heero. Relena loved him. She would make him happy. Make him human.
    That makes two of us who were wrong, a voice in his subconscious murmured. Quatre had thought Relena didn't have a chance no matter how hard she tried.
    Trowa, though he had never voiced his suspicions aloud, had thought the same thing of Duo.
    Friendship after all, he'd finally decided when Relena and Heero had started cautiously dating. Americans were simply more openly affectionate and friendly than he was used to. He'd misread the other boy. Duo had congratulated the couple cheerfully enough when their relationship had finally been revealed.
    Funny, though, that his withdrawal seemed to coincide with the announcement of the engagement almost a year ago.
    Trowa firmly returned his attention to the grounds. Never mind. It was over and done with. Relena would be a happy Mrs. Yuy in a month, and Duo-- who was probably just busy with work --would probably start showing up more often when she started popping out kids. Duo had a soft spot for children.
    Trowa's nose crinkled unconsciously.
    Children of Heero Yuy. There was a scary thought.


    They were having supper when the dining room doors burst open and Heero came striding in briskly.
    Relena got to her feet hastily and spun around, dress floating about her as she ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. "You're home!"
    His arms went automatically around her slender waist, the tension in his face and frame slowly easing. He looked at Trowa steadily over her head.
    Trowa acknowledged the silent thanks with a small nod, wiping his mouth on a napkin fastidiously and rising from the table. "No disturbances so far," he reported. "And the place has been locked down tight, as you probably noticed. If or when this psycho tries to make an appearance, he'll find it impossible to get farther than the front gate."
    "Good." Heero nodded approvingly. "It took me nearly ten minutes to get them to let me inside, even with ID."
    "Oh, Heero, this is all so silly," Relena protested, arms still clasped around him as she looked up at him with the hint of a pout on her lips. "What reason would this man have for hunting me down?"
    "He seems to be going after the people who helped push the Gorgenstern Bill through," Heero explained, gently detaching her arms, visibly uncomfortable at allowing PDA in front of Trowa. "And there were clues that led me to believe you're the next target."
    "The Gorgenstern Bill?" Relena repeated in open surprise. "But... why? That Bill was meant to help people! Why would anyone be angry about it?"
    "That depends on your point of view," Heero admitted with a slight shrug. "You know some of the colonists are against it."
    "Yes, but that's only because they don't fully understand it," Relena pressed. "I can't believe someone would be so angry about it that they would kill for it!"
    "Then the war taught you nothing," Trowa said softly.
    Relena turned to stare at him.
    "There are always people willing to die for and kill for their beliefs," Trowa reminded her a little sternly. "Don't ever forget that."
    "Could get you killed," came a cheerful, agreeable voice.
    Heero turned quickly in barely supressed surprise to face the young man that came walking jauntily into the dining room, duffel bag slung over one narrow shoulder, dark clothes dusty from the trip. "Yo! Long time no see!"
    While the years had changed all the ex-pilots to some degree, privately Heero thought the passage of time had been most obvious in his American friend.
    It used to be that the name Duo Maxwell brought to mind a short, skinny kid with a ridiculously long braid, a shit-eating grin, laughing blue eyes, and a priest outfit. A kid who had much on his mind, and even more on the tip of his tongue. Chatterbox, idiot, annoyance, brat... Heero had called the other boy by many scornful names in the days of the war, and always gotten a fond laugh in return. Duo had been immature, a loose cannon, someone who found the most inappropriate things funny, and in Heero's opinion was next to useless in anything other than breaking and entering and piloting.
    But Duo's constant attempts at friendship had won out in the end, even if Heero hadn't realized it until too late. He'd grown accustomed to his strange friend, both the past bubbly form and the present, more jaded one.
    He had hit his growth spurt with a vengeance somewhere around his seventeenth birthday. Trowa was still the tallest of the five, but Duo stood almost half a head taller than Heero himself.
    He still had the braid. Heero understood on some deep level that to lose that braid would be to lose a part of who Duo was. He didn't grasp the idea completely, but he'd accepted the fact years ago that the hair was there to stay.
    The priest outfit was gone, replaced by a small cross he wore around his neck. His clothes were usually more loud and flamboyant, now, a reflection of the constant cheer and amusement he carried with him like a shadow.
    Today he was wearing black: black jeans, black tanktop, black leather coat. There was a pair of cheap dark sunglasses balanced on the edge of his nose as he offered his old friends a familiar cheeky grin.
    It had been a long time, Heero realized, recognizing with a start the jump in his chest. He'd missed his strange friend.
    "The dudes at the gate were giving me a hard time," Duo admitted cheerfully. "So I slipped around back. You got a few weak points in the perimeter you need to beef up, Yuy." He laughed out loud. There was an edge of dry mockery to it; Duo had seen much in his young life, and his sarcasm was as sharp and caustic as Wufei's at times. But it was still familiar to Heero, and he felt more at ease because of it. Yes. Relena was definitely safe, now. He was home, and now he had Trowa and Duo to help keep her from harm.
    He felt her smaller hand slip into his and glanced down at her, feeling his expression soften. He would do anything to keep her safe, he admitted to himself. In the past, he would have done so out of loyalty to duty, to the mission. Now it was for another reason entirely.
    Relena was helping him day by day to become human, to explore his own emotions. Helping him to feel. He would always be indebted to her for that. She was the strongest woman he knew. His admiration of her had slowly, tentatively turned towards deeper feelings in the last few years. And to think that he could make another person so happy just by returning a touch or a smile made him feel calmer and more at peace than ever he had in his life.
    He had called in the big guns. But she was worth it.
    Trowa was watching Duo.
    Across the room, Duo's smile turned even more mocking and self-loathing, as if he were laughing at some private, twisted joke, his eyes glued to the interlaced hands of soldier and Minister.
    Friendship, huh? Trowa's subconscious jeered quietly. Trowa ignored it firmly and lifted a hand towards the table. "There's still some left if the two of you are hungry," he pointed out. "I'll go check on those gaps in the perimeter Duo mentioned."
    "I already ate," Duo said, tossing his bag carelessly into a corner and flashing a wolfish smile Trowa's way. "I'll show ya what I was talking about."
    Trowa nodded in silent agreement and let the other man lead the way out of the room and into the foyer.
    "...He loves her very much, doesn't he?" Duo asked abruptly, voice subdued.
    Trowa flicked him a quick sideways glance, hesitating.
    Duo chuckled humorlessly. "S'ok," he muttered. "You don't have to answer. I can see that for myself." He blew an exaggerated sigh. "It's good," he said firmly. "Good. I'm glad. He's happy now, right? Even if it's her.... well, it's good that he actually feels something, now."
    ".....Yes," Trowa agreed after a moment.
    Duo nodded, smile already in place, and quickly changed the subject, explaining cheerfully how he'd infiltrated the grounds and what was the best way to fix the problem.

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