The Mouse Arc
Part One: Bell The Mouse
by D.C. Logan
The clock nailed to the far wall read 16:32. Which meant that it was about three in the morning if he had his translation of Duo-time right. Duo maintained that it was easier to remember to subtract the hours from the current time than it was to program the damn clock.
Duo had gone off on another mission three days ago. Heero had been looking forward to being on his own again when Trowa had come knocking at his door late last night. He had no idea when or even if Duo would be back before he had to move on to the next location. Well, his loss.
He groaned and rolled over in bed, dragging his arm over his eyes to block out the light creeping in from the overhead fixture in the hall. "Sleep would be good now," he muttered to no one but himself.
He uncovered an eye and tilted his head just enough to see if any incoming messages had hit his inbox. Sure enough, the cursor was blinking. With an inarticulate groan, he pulled himself into a seated slump at the side of the bed and rotated his shoulders in an automatic stretch. The joints popped and cracked with the relieved stress of movement, and Heero grunted in soft satisfaction.
Wide awake now, he stood and moved to his desk in anticipation of springing the electronic trap he'd set.
Good. The mail tracer was from the contact he was tracking down. He'd finally responded to the bait Heero had been dangling in front of him for the past two months. He'd finally found him. Yes the message had been deleted, but he'd opened the file prior to doing so. Now Heero had a name he could run though his system.
The problem was, that name didn't exist more than a few months prior. "What the...?" Hn. So it looked like OZ had found him.
He'd been keeping an electronic eye on the local credit transactions every time he moved from one safe location to the next. One name had turned up just often enough to gain his attention. He suspected that OZ had an investigative agent trying to track down the revolving safe houses of the Gundam pilots or colony-sent terrorists—whichever description was popular these days.
He knew that OZ had sent people into the general population to find both him and the others. He'd met two of them, they wouldn't be reporting back any time soon. But it was dangerous and drew attention to his mission if he terminated an agent, so he wouldn't do it unless absolutely necessary. And so far they'd proven to be not as intelligent as their titles would indicate. But this one was different. Charges against that particular account traced back to an ID account that was only a few months old. And although the purchase pattern was random, each transaction had been for food, housing, or mechanical supplies. He wondered what OZ was up to, trailing him from a distance like this. Well, it was an old and proven strategic tactic to keep a wary eye on both your enemy and your friends. Maybe they were simply tracking his activities from a distance until they knew what they were going to do with him. But he'd inadvertently put Trowa in danger this time, and he already owed him a favor.
There was a soft tap at the door. Heero spun around and checked the clock again, before issuing "enter." He knew who it would be. Only one person of his acquaintance slept less than he did.
Trowa pushed the ajar door the rest of the way open with a hand leaden with a hot cup of coffee. "I was up and saw your light," he said while moving into the room. "Any news on Duo?"
"No, but I've uncovered something else that may interest you."
He showed Trowa the files he'd accumulated over the past few months, pointing out his path and where the charges intersected with his missions and activities.
"Okay Heero, what did you have in mind?"
"I can't take him out. I thought about it, but at least I know now how to track this guy. If he's replaced, it may take me another month or two to track down the replacement's credit signature."
Trowa was silent, considering the options he was aware of. "Well, for starters, how about getting some idea of what this guy looks like, his background, finding out who he's working for"
"He's good Trowa, or he has friends in high places who have set up his alias for him. Nothing goes back further than four months; the name isn't registered in any system I've hacked into—either Earthside or Colonyside. He's a damn shadow—but he's my shadow now. I can find him. All I have to do is wait for him to make another tiny mistake."
"And then what?" Trowa was sitting on the edge of Heero's desk, coffee mug balanced perfectly on his thigh. It made Heero nervous, that close to his computer, but he trusted Trowa's abilities and respected his input too much to ask him to move.
"Well, I have an idea. But I'll need your help to do this right." And he ran through the list of what he'd need, and the two of them worked into the morning light constructing and troubleshooting their plan.
Now all they had to do was wait for the mouse to nibble at the cheese one more time....
Trowa looked up from the sofa as the light clicked on in the room. Heero was standing completely dressed with his jacket slung over his shoulder. The pockets of which bulged interestingly.
"Going to catch a mouse Heero?"
"Sure, ready to come along? He just reserved a room across the city quadrant from here. One night only, all meals. This may be our best shot at tagging him."
Thirty minutes later, Trowa left Heero watching the lobby while he moved over to the concierge. She eyed him distrustfully, and he put on one of his better expressions and smiled warmly at her before inquiring on a business associate he'd come from out of town to meet for dinner.
"Heero, it's not a he, it's a she." Trowa said as he collected Heero and moved with him from the lobby onto the bright sidewalk. The concierge said she checked in without any luggage and headed out for dinner just a few minutes ago. We probably passed her on the way in. She's wearing dark jeans, a gray turtleneck, and a floor-length black coat. She's in her twenties, got long red hair and she's wearing a black fedora and sunglasses. With a description like that, she shouldn't be hard to spot."
But she was. They each took a different direction and scanned the busy crowd for anyone even partially matching the description. But to no avail. They met back in front of the hotel to compare notes.
"Nothing. She just disappeared."
"Nothing in my sector either. Best bet is to wait someplace inconspicuous and try to pick her up as she's moving through the crowd back into the hotel. Sound good to you?"
Trowa nodded. Per their original plan, he'd be the distracter in the crowd, attracting the attention and diverting their subject. Heero would be doing the actual planting of the transmitter. It shouldn't take them more than a few seconds to pull this off. But by doing this now, they'd be able to track this agent anywhere she went from here on out. The possibilities and possible returns well outweighed the risks of this small operation.
Then Trowa saw her. She matched the description he'd been given in a general sense, but she was taller than he'd expected, the hair was closer to brown than red and was very very long, and he couldn't make out her face—large sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat obscured most of her features. She walked with a lurching open stride that didn't quite fit with the rest of her appearance. But he couldn't put his finger on what about it bothered him. Well, time for action. He signaled to Heero and moved up alongside her in the crowd, keeping pace slightly behind and to her left until Heero was in position. Heero nodded, and Trowa moved quickly, stepping in front of her and dragging his ankle across the back of her foot—dropping her prone to the ground—her hair flying and her coat covering her like a shroud. Heero moved in like the professional he had trained to be, and jabbed the transmitter implant through the layers of fabric and deeply into her upper shoulder. The resulting scream was high pitched and very satisfying, as he and Heero ran off without a backward look.
They eagerly tested the range on their new victim as soon as they reached the apartment. It was working perfectly. Their mouse was holed up at the hotel. It quickly grew boring, just watching the small green dot pulse on Heero's monitor. But it looked like they'd targeted the right agent. They checked back on the movement of their target late into the evening, but the dot didn't move. Growing tired with the day's accomplishments; Heero turned off his monitor and sprawled fully clothed across his bed. And drifted off to sleep.
Movement in the room woke him a few hours later. It was a familiar shuffle and hum, which explained how he'd been able to sleep though the invasion. Duo was back from his mission and humming tunelessly while shoving his rucksack under the neighboring bed in the room. Trowa must still be camped out on the sofa.
Not in the mood to bring Duo up to date on the past week's events, he feigned sleep and ignored the noise Duo made as he stripped off clothing and crashed into his bed with an angry creak of springs. No, he hadn't missed having Duo around. He waited for Duo's breathing to even out and for light snores to emerge from under the pillow before he crept silently from his bed. Dawn was approaching, and hopefully with it would be movement from his mouse. He sat in the chair at his desk, taking care not to let the wheels squeak, and woke the monitor.
His eyebrows drew suspiciously together. Either something was seriously wrong with his program or...
He stood and moved over to the neighboring bedside and carefully moved the sheet away from Duo's sleeping body. An angry red welt with surrounding bruise was clearly visible even in the low light of the room. Damn. Well, Duo would have some explaining to do in the morning. He shut down the computer and went to find Trowa. He needed some coffee before he decided what he should do about this situation.
Duo opened a heavily lidded eye and checked out the bed across the room before stretching and getting to his feet. Good, Heero was out. He hurt like hell. One of the restraint straps in Deathscythe had broken under impact, and he must have slammed his shoulder into the console at some point afterward. It hurt like hell. He'd arrived back on the colony and decided on furthering the credit record of the alias Professor G had helped him set up—and getting a long hot bath at the local hotel in the process. It was either that or going back to Heero's and making do with a shower that didn't spray well enough to drench tissue paper. Now he was regretting his decision to leave the hotel as soon as he had, but Professor G had drilled him in limiting his use of the account. Oh well. He'd spied Trowa on the sofa late last night when he'd let himself in. Maybe he could bribe him into brewing up a pot of coffee for him. He loved Trowa's coffee. Heero's didn't bear thinking about.
He pulled on enough clothes to consider himself presentable and wandered out to the kitchen in his bare feet with the lure of caffeine motivating him. As he turned the corner into the kitchen, he surprised Trowa and Heero in deep conversation. They sprung apart when he tried a cheery "Good morning!," and he had a brief inkling that they'd been talking about him. "Ah, coffee." He inhaled deeply and scrounged a mug from the cabinet before helping himself. The kitchen remained eerily quiet. He added sugar to his mug and turned to look at the others. They didn't meet his eyes. Puzzled, he started to say ask what was going on, and then he caught them looking at each other with a hidden conversation going on between their eyes. Duo cautiously backed from the room, taking his prize with him.
Definitely, he wasn't going to ask...