I frowned at the TV. "Another murder," I called over my shoulder. I heard Dan drop whatever he was messing with in the kitchen and rustle into the room behind me.
"*Another* Alliance officer?" He sounded almost incredulous.
I nodded. "Yeah. Shot in the head at his own home. No signs of a break in..." I put my hands behind my head and leaned back on the sofa. These murders were just too close to home - six in the same colony, ours, in the past five months. All ex-officers with the Alliance. It was commonly held that they were all linked, but so far the police had no evidence at all.
Dan's voice came from behind me. "If you ask me it's not too much of a loss. The Alliance were never exactly popular. I don't know why any officers would stay here, it was asking for trouble. No-one has any affection for the Alliance here, after what they did. A lot of people would say the bastards deserved it."
I shook my head. "But the war's over. What was the point if people are just gonna hang onto this sort of hatred? These guys obviously wanted to forget the whole thing, or like you say, they'd've left. They had lives here now. And you better watch what you say about it in front of Hilde as well, man - she doesn't like to be reminded of her involvement with Oz. She only joined up 'cos she thought she was helping the colony - maybe these guys did too. No-one deserves that end." I hadn't meant to speak for so long, but I meant it. I couldn't hate anyone... as long as they didn't give me a good reason... I wasn't going to generalise everyone just because of what happened a long time ago...
I realised I'd been drifting into my own world as I heard Dan's voice again. "I guess you're right, in a way. I don't know what to think about it really. But I'll make sure not to say anything in front of Hilde. Even I'm not that stupid!"
I snorted. "Yeah, you remember that time with the wrench as well, don't you?"
Dan winced. "I remember alright. Painfully." He disappeared back into our little kitchen as I grinned after him. It had been almost three years now since Dan had moved in, and I couldn't imagine the house without him. I had a suspicion that Hilde felt the same, though I doubt she would ever admit it except grudgingly - but despite her complaints about having to buy so much food, not to mention cooking it all (justified complaints I had to admit), I knew she didn't regret Dan coming to live with us. I couldn't just stand back while the guy got thrown out of his home though - I knew just what it was like to live rough and I didn't want my friend to go through that. So I, on the spur of the moment, offered him the spare room that was filled with various bits and pieces of mine and Hilde's junk. Our house wasn't big, but with three bedrooms it was clearly designed to be able to accommodate us all. And we managed easily enough. Dan, of course, had no money and no way of getting any - he was only 17 at the time, the same age as me, and with no qualifications - so I said he could pay us back by working with us in the salvage yard, and the rest was history. We'd all got along fine, comfortably off, happy with our work and the community we were living in.
Until... the beginning of the year. That was when the murders began. Ex-officers with the Alliance found stabbed, shot, strangled... One was ever tortured. Someone had a grudge. Someone who was also, clearly, pretty unstable. It was disturbing; and why should anyone target *our* colony above any other? And no colony is very big, either - the killer could be just round the corner, as Dan had helpfully pointed out.
That wasn't what worried me though. What got to me was that someone somewhere was taking lives for no reason. Causing suffering to families and friends when... they thought all that was passed. Thought they didn't need to worry anymore. Thought.. Shit, thought like I had thought, that *I* had done all that killing, all that fighting so people could live in peace and not be afraid!
Alright, not just *I*. Quatre, Wufei, Trowa, Heero as well. We'd made more of an effort to keep in touch after the second war; between the wars we had been in contact sporadically - Quatre and I had been in contact quite regularly, and I know he'd been in touch with the others, about the Gundams if nothing else... But I had only spoken with them occasionally, and even then it was usually only Heero. But after the Mariemeia incident I realised we'd made a mistake. Working together again, it was like we'd not been apart; we took up straight away where we'd left off. There was something about us that held us together, something similar in us all that meant we all somehow fitted together right, despite our differences.
I'd never told anyone that. They'd just've called me a sap; but still, it made me feel good to keep up with my old friends. It cheered me up a little after the gloom that had begun to seep into my mind after watching the news.
So, I thought. I must call Wufei at Preventers, get any inside information I could about the murders. Find out if I could do anything to help. After the wars I had made up my mind to live my life my own way, not getting caught up in any of this sort of business any more. But when it's on your own doorstep, it's different. Thinking that made me feel bad, in a way, but somehow when things are so far away you know there's not a lot you can do. Despite my protests that I didn't want to get involved, I could feel a sense of urgency at the situation that was unexpected and a little thrilling. I realised, grudgingly, that I did want to do what I could to help.
I wondered if I could find anything that would help the investigation. Of course, Preventers probably wouldn't be involved at this level, it would be a Colonial Police investigation, but I bet Wufei would have all the details, or at least access to them. He had probably made it his business, when he found out on what colony it was all going on.
I felt just a flutter of excitement. Maybe I could get hold of Heero, he could help me out. We worked well together, and it'd be good to see him again... Yeah, summer was coming up, he'd be out of college soon. He'd be graduating this year too. A proper degree and everything. I still had to smile when I thought about Heero in any kind of steady employment. I imagined he'd go into some sort of research or something, where he could do his own thing and randomly blow stuff up when he got bored. I smiled to myself as I pictured Heero in a dirty lab coat and goggles, quietly smirking amidst the smoking ruins of an experiment. He'd be good at that... Bu there were a lot of things Heero was good at; he had always seemed to be able to achieve anything he put his mind to. I think a lot of people expected him to go nuts at the end of the war, but instead he went back to L1, got himself enrolled in college and picked up his life.
I realised I'd been thinking to myself for a long time, the TV still mumbling in the background. I smiled at myself. I sometimes did that, drifting off into thoughts about the war. It was a difficult thing to forget. Heero was a difficult person to forget.
I made a mental note to give him a call. When I dreamt - or daydreamt - about my friends, as I sometimes did, it always made me think to get in touch with them. I* tried* not to let too long go by without doing.
I suddenly realised it was half past one and the news was over. I should get back out to the yard so Hilde could have her lunch. I heard Dan still tinkering in the kitchen, pulling something to pieces and then wondering how to fit it back together, no doubt. We'd been without a toaster for six weeks thanks to him, before Hilde got sick of it and bought a new one. I think that was his intention in the first place.
I grabbed my work jacket and called to him as I went out into the hall. "See ya later, don't forget to call that freelancer about those parts! I don't want to pay good money for shabby stock!" The knock at the door distracted me from hearing his sarcastic response. "I'll get that on my way out."
I made my way to the door intent on leaving the visitor in Dan's dubious clutches, I opened it, ready to step out, but found myself looking at a pair of sombre-faced men who looked far too smart to be the scrap merchants and salvagers I usually found on my doorstep.
I tried not to let my surprise show. "Hey, what can we do for you? I'm afraid I'm just on my way out, but my colleague will be able to speak with you..." I half-turned to where Dan was lurking in the hallway and began to step out of the door.
"Are you Duo Maxwell?"
"Yeah..." I didn't like his tone.
"Mr. Maxwell, I'm Detective Andersen and this is Detective Cullen. If you don't mind accompanying us... We'd like to ask you some questions."