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Habitat for Redemption (part 7)

Ravyn Fyre

Duo sighed mightily as he walked down the sidewalk towards his car. As he slipped into his Camaro and slammed the door, he considered his next move.

He'd originally been planning on visiting each of the five people he'd researched before hitting the computers anymore, but after this visit, he knew he had to change strategies.

The first place he'd been to, Miss Winter's home, had been enlightening. But this second place had been downright insightful.

He stared back up the sidewalk to where the young lady was standing on her porch, watching him start his car.

Her name was Leigha Stover. Nothing really striking about that name. But she'd been orphaned in the war, when her parents had been killed during a Gundam battle. She, too, had just gotten a gift from both the Habitat Company, and from an “anonymous” donor. That was too big of a coincidence for Duo's mind.

As he pulled out into traffic and peeled off towards his hotel, he cued up his com unit and dialed a familiar number. After a few rings, a tired voice answered.

“'Lena! I'm sorry, you asleep?”

“Not anymore, Duo. What happened?” she replied, her voice now lively and curious.

“Eh. Nothing, yet. I've hit a bit of a snag. Those withdrawals he's been making, they're actually going to people. He's not using it for himself. At least two of these people have a common tie, too. Have you ever heard of the Habitat Company?”

There was a moment of silence and the rustling of cloth.

“Yes. “

“What? That didn't sound right, Ojosan. What's wrong?”

“Nothing, Duo. Nothing. I've heard of it.”

“Don't lie to me, Relena. You're upset. What has Habitat got to do with it?”

She sighed before answering.

“I'm not upset, Duo. I'm just… bruised. My ego is that is. I contacted Habitat some months ago and asked if they would be interested in coming here to the Sank Kingdom to work.”


“I was very politely, but firmly, refused. The representative informed me that he didn't seem to think that the Sank Kingdom needed their kind of help, and if I was that interested in making a difference, that perhaps I should form my own company to do that kind of work. He hinted that perhaps I wasn't utilizing my resources as fully as they could be. Which is true.

“I just thought I'd grown up and gotten over the whole selfishness thing. I hate finding out that I'm wrong, and about such a petty thing.”

“OI! You? Petty and selfish? What the hell? That was a crummy thing to do! Ojosan, don't believe it. Yeah, you used to be that way. Now don't hit me, you'll admit it too. But you haven't been that way for YEARS! Man, if it hadn't been' for you and your support, I- I- I don't think I'd be here anymore,” he finished in a whisper.


“I mean it. You've been great. Now I feel guilty, cos I need some more help.”

“Don't be. Name it, Duo. It's yours.”

“Heh. I'll keep my hentai thoughts to myself on that one, Ojosan.”

“Really, Duo. We both know that your particular door doesn't open that way. Now what was it that you needed?”

“Don't be too sure, 'Lena. You never asked,” he leered.


“Okay. Okay. I've got some more stuff I need to check out before I blow this town. I was wondering if you could do some cross-referencing for me?”

“Of course. I'm guessing you want me to check every one of the transactions in his account against the Habitat records and see how many of them match?”

“Yer a genius, 'Lena. Thanks.”

“Of course, Duo. I'll get it started. It's going to take a bit, though. There were an awful lot of transactions.”

“No prob. I'll call you back when I'm done checking stuff out here, okay?”

“Be careful, Duo.”

“'Course, 'Lena. Ja ne!”

He cut the com line and concentrated on driving. He refused to believe that Heero had never been in town. Some gut feeling kept egging him on. Maybe if he checked with all of the hotels and motels in town, he could dig up a lead. With a satisfied grumble, he switched directions, and headed off towards the far end of town. He'd start on one side and work all the way across town, hitting every hotel, motel, and flophouse if he had to. Someone had to have seen Heero.

 Relena padded across the room to her desk and booted up her computer. After it was warmed up and ready to go, she typed in the search parameters, and settled back to wait.

It would take a while to compile the whole list, but the individual results would pop up as they were found. Duo had keyed her up; she was too nervous to go back to sleep. She decided to stay up and wait.

 Duo was trudging out of the thirty-third hotel when his com unit squawked. Almost jumping out of his skin, he flipped it open and answered.


“Duo! I have that search info for you,” Relena said, her voice carefully, almost painfully, controlled.

“Wha'd'ya find, Ojosan?”

“A one-hundred percent match.”

“Huh? What?!”

“There has not been anyone in the Habitat program who has not received money from Heero. Nor has there been anyone who has received money from Heero who wasn't in the Habitat program.”

“He's shadowing them??? Wow!”


“What? There's something else. What is it?”

“Duo, when the results started coming back, I got suspicious. I started doing a little research on Habitat.”

“And?” Duo asked, dancing with impatience.

“And… I couldn't find out anything about the company's founder. The security was too high to access.”

“Too high? But you're … You're Vice Minister Relena Derlian…”

“Exactly. You may want to focus on Habitat, rather than that bank account, Duo. See if you can hack any information, because I certainly can't access it. Not legally. At least not without setting off some incredibly flashy warnings.”

“Damn, 'Lena. You really ARE a genius!”

“I know,” she replied with a chuckle.

“Good luck, Duo. Ja ne.”

Duo opened his car door and dropped down into the seat. Disbelief played across his features as he shut down his com unit.

“Damn… Are we really getting this close? Hrm…I wonder- SONUVA- Damnit! Maxwell, you are such a freakin' IDIOT!” he yelled, slamming his hands down across the dashboard.

Starting his car up, he stomped on the gas and laid down a strip of rubber as he peeled out into traffic.

He made it to his hotel in record time, and amazingly, without arousing the suspicion of any police officers.

He ignored the odd looks he got as he sprinted across the lobby. Unwilling to wait for the elevator, he ran to the stairs and took them two and three at a time. He was so excited, that he wasn't even out of breath when he got to his room.

Once in his room, he booted up his own computer and the visual com unit. While they were “waking up”, he grabbed a file folder and keyed in a number he found in there. A few moments later, Miss Samantha Winter's face popped into view over the com.

“Mr. Maxwell. Hello. I didn't expect to hear from you so soon.”

“Miss Winters, I'm sorry to bother you, but I just realized what a dope I've been-“

“How so?”

“I never showed you, or anyone else a picture of him. Tell me, do you recognize this man?” Duo asked, holding up a snapshot he had of Heero.

Miss Winter's hand flew to her mouth as she gasped.


“What??? You do? Who?”

“The Master Carpenter. Kenji. The one who built my cabinets that you were admiring… That's him. That's Kenji. Kenji Lowe.”

“Well, I'll be damned. He was right there under my nose…” Duo murmured.

“Mr. Maxwell?”

“Miss Winters, believe me. There is nothing I can do or say right now to thank you enough for the help youve given me… I- “

Her radiant smile interrupted him.

“I understand, Mr. Maxwell. I wish you luck. The last I heard, they were heading to a little town called Muscatine. It's in Iowa, Mr. Maxwell. God speed.”

“Thank you. Thank you so very much!”

Duo broke the connection and stared at the computer in silence for a long, long minute. With a sudden scream of joy, he began to dance around the room, spinning in circles until he collapsed across his bed dizzily.

When he'd gathered his wits again, he sprang back to his computer and did a little checking. Within half an hour, he had booked a flight into the sleepy Midwestern town.

“Two hours to get to the airport and check in. No problem!”

At that he started flinging all of his clothing haphazardly into his bag. Ten minutes later, he was at the front desk reckoning his bill, and another ten minutes after that found him out on the interstate fairly flying down the road.



He slipped each of the flight attendants large denomination bills as he left the plane. Even he had to admit that his excitement had made him terribly annoying during the flight. He wasn't entirely sure why they hadn't simply dragged him off to the bathroom and strangled him with his own braid.

“Guess there are advantages to flying first class,” he chuckled to himself.

With that thought, he collected his baggage and considered his transportation options. He'd need a car. He'd given his last car to Leigha Stover, and she'd taken him to the airport.

She, too, had recognized Heero as this Kenji Lowe guy.

Well, the most logical place to get a car would be at a dealership. With a grin bordering on the scary side of maniacal, he hailed a taxi.



By the time he'd finished signing all of the paperwork and had handed over the money for his new Camaro, it was dark. There wouldn't be anyone at the new Habitat house site anymore, he figured, so it was off to find a hotel.

“What the hell am I doing?” he asked himself as he sat in dealership parking lot, considering which of the four hotels he could see that he should stay at.

“Three years, and this is as close as I've come… Why aren't I camped out at the house site, waitin' for him to show up tomorrow? Here I am, buying a car, and getting a hotel. What the hell is wrong with me?”

As he asked himself that, he broke out into a sweat, and his heart began to beat rapidly.

“Shit… I'm scared. What the hell am I scared of? He- He can't kill me for finding him… Can he? I mean, he wouldn't, would he?”

“I refuse to be scared of Heero Yuy!” he yelled, banging his hand on the dash.

“Damnit, Heero! I won't give you that pleasure!”

Duo started his car; the tires squealed as he accelerated out of the lot. He got lost twice trying to find the Habitat house, before he finally drove sedately down the quiet neighborhood street it was supposed to be on.

Habitat had already been here for two weeks. They were almost finished with most of the structural stuff. Duo was surprised to see a truck parked in front of the house, and lights blazing from the windows.

He pulled up to the curb and shut off the car, turning his lights off and watching the house. After a few minutes, a figure walked past one of the windows, hammer in hand. He was too quick; Duo didn't get a good enough look to see if it had been Heero or not, but Duo privately thought that was the only person it could be.

A few minutes later, a pizza delivery car drove up and pulled into the graveled driveway. The delivery guy hopped out and ran up to the door. Duo edged back into his seat, trying to stay low and unnoticed, but unwilling to give up the chance at a glimpse.

The front door swung open; Duo's breath froze in his lungs.

Heero paid the delivery guy and took the pizza. He watched the delivery guy drive away, and, apparently deciding to take advantage of the good weather, sat down on the front porch.

Duo's window was down, so he heard Heero when he turned around and called to someone still in the house.

“Pizza's here!”

Duo's heart fluttered. How long had it been since he'd heard that voice?

Another man exited the house and plopped down on the porch next to Heero. Duo scrunched down further in his seat, angling back so he could still see and hear, but could duck in an instant.

“Heh. What kind did we get this time, anyway?” The strange man asked.

“Looks like Pepperoni and extra cheese.”

Duo didn't miss the almost wistful tone of voice at the reply.

“Wow. You sound so enthused about that. Why didn't you order something you liked?”

“I do like this.”

“Yeah. Sure sounds like it. What's up, Kenji?”


“Bullshit. Why is it that every time we order pizza, you get depressed? Don't lie to me, Kenji.”

“It's nothing, Dutch. Just- I had this… friend. This was- his favorite kind of pizza. That's all,” he finished in a rush before he took a bite.

Duo gasped. Heero remembered that? Or was he even talking about him?

“What happened?”

“Nothing,” he replied sullenly.


“I just don't wanna talk about it, Dutch. Okay?” Heero snarled, dropping his half-eaten slice of pizza back into the box.

Heero stood up and stalked out into the yard, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans, and pensive gaze pointed up at the stars.

“Whoa. Sorry, Kenji. I didn't mean to push.”

Heero didn't seem to acknowledge him as he continued to stare at the starry night sky.

“Hey, Kenji… Man-“

“Dutch… Shut the fuck up.”

Duo gasped to himself. What was going on here? When had Heero gotten so expressive and closed off at the same time?

Dutch, for his part, didn't seem overly concerned by this. He simply stood on the porch and peered down at the Japanese man.

After a few minutes of silence, Heero turned back towards Dutch and sighed.

“Sorry. I- just don't want to talk tonight.”

“Nah. S'okay.”

“Get some sleep, Dutch.”

“Yeah, right. You coming too? Cos Axe has my truck, so you're my ride.”

“Take my truck,” Heero replied, waving at the big full-sized pickup truck in the driveway.

“And you'll get to the hotel how?” Dutch asked, crossing his arms.

“You're not my father, Dutch,” Heero said resentfully.

“Yeah, yeah. I know. 'Fuck off, Dutch.' I suppose your bike is out back?”

Heero nodded, tossing a set of keys at Dutch.

“Fine. Just make sure you actually get some sleep tonight, kid. Okay?”


Duo almost melted in his seat. How long had it been since he'd heard that? Who'd have thought that he'd actually MISS that noncommittal grunt?

“Whatever. G'night, kid.”

Dutch walked past Heero, careful to avoid touching him, or brushing too close. Heero didn't turn to watch him go, but stared back up into the night sky. The big truck rumbled to life, the motor low and menacing. With a deep purr, the truck backed out of the drive, and pulled away, leaving Heero alone.

:Now's my chance! I- I can go talk to him. No witnesses… C'mon, Duo!:

He remained frozen to his seat, his soul nailed to the inanimate steel and fiberglass of the car, and his heart beating a frantic tattoo in the cage of his chest.

:COME ON DUO! GET UP! Go talk to him! This is what you've been waiting for! This is what you've been searching for! This is the WHOLE FUCKING REASON!:

He was so busy screaming at himself, that he almost missed it when Heero sighed to himself before he turned to reenter the house.


“Someday. Someday, I'll be clean enough, Duo.”

The door clicked shut behind Heero, and the porch light went out. Heero passed in front of a window and vanished into the bowels of the house.

Duo's mouth worked, his throat struggling to produce a sound, any sound. For the first time in his life, Duo's voice would not come. His hands fumbled with the car door, his normally nimble fingers getting in his way as he fought to exit the vehicle. Finally, the door gave way, spilling him ingloriously onto the pavement. He tried to get to his feet, but nothing was working right. The sting of cinders under his skin broke him out of his daze, and he glanced down at his hands. He'd skinned his palms when he fell out of his car.

He managed to get his feet underneath himself, but he couldn't force them to move. It took forever to cajole his body into some sort of movement. Even then, he stared, horrified, a passenger in his own body, as he got back into his car, started it up, and sped quickly away.


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