Disclaimer: If I owned GW, I would be happy. I am happy. But to draw the conclusion that I own GW from those statements would be to affirm the consequent, and would therefore be an invalid argument. See?

Pairings: 1+2+1/1x2x1; reference to past 1xR, R+1
Warnings: Part 21 has no warnings, except for a very brief mention of past 2+4+2... Should I put my running shoes on now? *hides* This is an AU fic.

Notes: I apologise for Trowa in this... I did my best to keep him IC. I actually don't think I've done too bad a job, but hey, he don't come off as Mr Nice Guy, y'know?


Escaping
by Elyndys
Part 21


Heero was not entirely surprised that he found it more difficult to leave the house that morning. Of course, Duo was there, making polite and intelligent conversation with his hostess, and looking on while Relena kissed her departing husband's cheek with what Heero could only describe as... envy.

He had felt guilty ironic, because it was Duo he felt he was betraying. He had pushed aside the knot of events and feelings, instead spending the morning pursuing tooth-grindingly dull cases to appease his senior officers.

Dull now, anyway, after what he had seen, touched, felt.

After what he knew... It was like water wearing down a stone, trying to get these people, so afraid of conflict, to accept the possibility of it. But then, Heero considered, they didn't even really know what this was. He thought, he *knew*, they weren't able to deal with it. To Heero, though, it was a challenge; a mystery, an unknown. A made-up war with an invisible enemy... Heero didn't like the odds of winning such a thing; so his objective was to prevent one starting before it was even a real possibility.

He fully acknowledged that it wasn't his job to do that anymore. Nevertheless... it was his responsibility. Just as it had been before. he would prove he was more than a soldier; prove to Relena he wasn't just the Gundam pilot.

Show a way between war and peace...

Heero was suddenly struck by the overwhelming desire to be back home... on the colony. He'd never really felt that, before Duo had come into his life. But he had been reminded of how he started, what it had been about.

He had a vision of himself back there, in space, with all this solved and behind him, the path out a memory. He knew that, in some fashion, Duo would be there; he was satisfied with that.

Heero was quite surprised to turn from his imaginings of Duo, to come face to face with the real thing. "What are you doing here?"

Duo rolled his eyes. "Nice to see you too. I got some news you might be interested in."

"And you couldn't have used the phone?" Heero smirked.

Duo looked a little affronted. "Well, that's nice! I didn't have to come all this way and see you! He moved closer, sitting on the edge of Heero's desk. "But hey, any excuse will do." He winked and Heero smiled.

"So, what is it?" Heero was glad of the distraction.

Duo made himself more comfortable, pushing Heero's things to one side on the desk and leaning back against the wall. He laid a disc on the surface in front of Heero. "I've been asking some of my most trusted friends in space to keep both eyes open for anything I thought might help us. And now, I think we've found some interesting stuff."

Heero put the disc in his system and viewed its contents.

"That's our correspondence over the past few days, plus a few articles he pointed me towards. Seems like there's quite a lot of stuff you don't hear about down here: for all that `Unified Nation' shit, it's still like a foreign country." he shrugged. "Earth still doesn't pay that much attention. You'd have thought that they'd have learnt by now, but hey, some people just don't want to learn." He was silent for a moment before pointing at something on Heero's monitor. "This one's the thing that made me come round here. I got this mail from my old buddy he... Well, let's just say he's been involved in a lot of the same stuff as me. He knows where to find things out. He has a talent for it. So I asked him to look out, and he did." Duo peered through the blinds out into the main office, where curious glances were coming from. "Hey, d'you think we could go somewhere, get some lunch or something? I don't like how those guys out there are eyeing me up."

Heero grinned at Duo's choice of phrase. "If you like." He had read the mail, and carefully ejected the disc, placing it in his pocket and shutting down the system.

On the way out he took care to lock the door of his office, amused at how everyone's eyes quickly returned to their work when they felt his gaze on them.

They bought lunch and headed to the park, under an unspoken agreement that Heero found... comforting.

"What was all that about back there, anyway? Everyone seemed pretty interested in me."

"People don't often just wander into the office. Especially people known to be colony representatives. And especially not looking so cheerful."

Duo laughed a little. "I'm sorry, I couldn't help being pleased to see you."

Heero smirked. Duo grinned back a moment, before the expression faded and he sighed. "Even though it's not exactly great news I was bringing for you. You read Quatre's mail? The latest one?" Heero nodded, noting the name. The email hadn't been signed. "Well, you saw then. It just confirms our suspicions. There *is* someone up there out to get us." He chuckled, just a little.

Heero shook his head at the allusion. "When did you first ask for his help?"

"Just after you asked me, I got in touch with a few friends. A couple of days later, Quatre got back in touch. Said he'd had a feeling something weird was going on; just a general sense of unrest. Posters advertising lectures, meetings, demos, that sort of thing. So he went along to one."

"And?"

"And, there were a few people there, just one or two, not many, but some, who were definitely more serious than the rest. So he got talking to them. Quatre has this way of making people talk to him, making people trust him. Of course, they didn't tell him all that much - but it was enough to male him start looking himself. He's clever that way. He has the resources, and knows how to use 'em."

Heero was beginning to build up a picture in his head.

"So, guess what, he finds out there definitely is a group with some sort of big ideas of revolution, rebellion or whatever. There's not many of them, but it seems they're determined."

"Yeah. That was the impression I got from that email."

"They're organised. Organised enough to keep everything so quiet and mysterious... And that shows how serious they are too."

Heero nodded. It was strange. The urgency of the situation turned to excitement, to compulsion.

Duo voiced Heero's own thought. "So, what are you going to do, Detective Inspector?"

Heero looked sideways at him; Duo often liked to refer to his rank. It was a reminder of his responsibilities... His current responsibilities. He was silent for a long moment, thinking; Duo spoke again first.

"What are you gonna tell your bosses?"

Heero already knew the answer to that one. "I'll tell them the truth. If they ask me."

"And if they don't?"

Heero turned to face him. "This is my investigation. They've made it clear from the start that they want nothing to do with it. That suits me. That's their problem. I can handle this."

Duo grinned, resting his hand casually on Heero's knee and giving a subtle squeeze. "I know." They were quiet for a few moments before Duo spoke again. "Something Quatre didn't say in that mail... I gave him a call after he sent it, to make sure I had everything right before I told you, and he said he's thinking of coming down to Earth himself."

Heero raised an eyebrow.

"He wants to see if he can do anything to help. I thought, the more people the better! I told him it would be great if he came and worked with me. See, me and him work well together - I might be all determined and not afraid to get things done the hard way, but Quatre sees stuff differently to me, he's a more lateral thinker. And if there's both of us working on this, then you've got more time for doing your real police work."

Heero smirked at Duo's sarcasm, but was soon serious again. "So, when is he going to get here?"

Duo shrugged. "I'm not sure yet. I wanted to make sure you thought it was a good idea." He nudged Heero playfully. "But seeing as you do, I'll call him as soon as I can. He has a house round here somewhere." Duo rolled his eyes. "He'll find an excuse for a convenient business trip or something like that." Duo grinned. "It'll be good to see him again, I haven't for a while."

Heero gave him a long look, considering. "There was something between you, once, wasn't there?" Heero said it out of genuine interest.

Duo stared. "Man, you're not a detective for nothing, are you. Yeah, there was once, very briefly. We found we didn't love each other like that, though... We care about each other, but... there wasn't that constant consciousness between us, that knowledge... Not like..." Duo was serious, his voice lowered. "Not like with you."

Heero felt hot inside.

He could sense Duo's frustration, knew Duo wanted so much to just lean in and kiss him... But that was one of the rules of an involvement like this...

"I love you Heero." A verbal kiss instead, in a half-whisper.

"I know," Heero replied desperately.

Duo smiled lopsidedly, reached and held Heero's hand like he often did. "So you've no need to be jealous." He gave Heero a wink, and Heero raised an eyebrow. He reflected briefly on the irony that it was Duo warning *him*, albeit jokingly, against jealousy, when it was Heero who had proved himself unfaithful... Still, the thought didn't seem to worry Duo.

Heero smirked. "Don't worry. As a matter of fact, I'm looking forward to seeing him again myself."

Duo's jaw dropped. "*What*? You *know* him? Quatre Winner? How do you even know it's the same guy? I never told you his full name."

Heero almost laughed aloud at Duo's expression. "Like you said, I'm not a detective for nothing. Rich, intelligent, fits the description you gave... We met during the war. A couple of times, when I... didn't have the Gundam."

Duo nodded, though he still looked incredulous. "I can't believe it! But" his eyes narrowed a little, and he tapped Heero good- naturedly in the shoulder "you might've told me sooner, before I went on about the guy, like an idiot. But I guess I don't mind telling you a bit more of my life story." He smiled. "No, I don't mind that at all." They were quiet another minute before Duo looked at his watch. "I guess you need to be getting back now?"

Heero shrugged. "I suppose so." They stood, setting off back in the direction they came.

"Y'know, it'll be interesting, the three of us together. Hopefully we'll get further faster. That'll be some weird reunion." Duo laughed.

They were back at the police station now. "Are you going to come in?"

Duo considered for a moment. "Nah, I don't think I will. They were making me edgy before. Like they were dying to arrest me for something. I'm gonna head back, call Quatre. Tell him to charter his private jet as soon as he can." He laughed. "I'll see you later." He gave Heero a lingering look; Heero had learned by now that Heero couldn't part from him without some touch, and this time it was a squeeze of the shoulder that left a warm impression on Heero's skin.

He watched Duo leave and headed back up to his office.

"Heero."

He was surprised to hear Trowa calling him by his name at work; he found it strangely ominous. Trowa's expression was hard, his eyes cold; it made Heero uneasy. "What is it?"

"Maxwell. I know you've been involved in this case from the start, Heero. I know you've invested a lot of personal time and commitment. And now I think I know why."

Heero looked back at him, unfazed. "Yeah?"

"I think you're the last person I'd ever have thought would get involved with a witness."

"What?"

"I saw you with him. When I think about it, all those other times as well, I've never seen you react like that with anyone. I can see there's something going on between you."

Heero wasn't going to deny it. He remained silent, waiting for Trowa to continue.

"I guess it's deeper than I thought. I thought it was strange for you to get so close to someone involved in a case. I thought it was just that he'd managed to win your trust. But, if it's more than that..." Trowa looked away. "I don't care about your personal life, Heero; if you want to break up your marriage then that's up to you. But I don't think you could have made a less appropriate choice of person. You told me this case was based on feelings and emotions; you're right, I know. But I think there has to be a point where that can go too far. I don't know if you're suitable to work on this case anymore." He folded his arms and looked Heero in the eye.

Heero waited to speak, thinking hard. "Trowa, you're my most trusted colleague and friend. I don't want to have to say those words back to you, but it seems like it's you who isn't right for this case. You keep talking about Duo as if he was a suspect; but he might be one of our best links in solving this. I don't want to discuss this any more with you. I want you to work on this case with me. But I think it's you who's crossed the line between letting feelings guide you, and letting them prejudice your thinking." He slammed the door to his office and went to the window, letting the broad view of the city reassure him that it was more than simple feeling telling him he was right.

on to part 22

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