"Jay is missing?" Duo repeated.
"He hasn't checked in with the department in two weeks," Heero relayed.
"Wait, where was he?"
"Apparently, they don't know," Heero bit out. "He was using his sabbatical to make some visits and find a new place to dig."
"He didn't tell you anything?"
Heero looked distinctly uncomfortable. "Jay and I haven't spoken in almost a year."
"Why?" Duo asked, shocked.
"It's just like I told you years ago," Heero shook his head. "I did my undergrad at Harvard because Jay wanted me to, but I wanted to go away for graduate school. Jay wouldn't hear of it. I decided it was time to make my own decisions. We had a falling out and haven't spoken since I left. He and I, we're just
"Too damned stubborn," Duo supplied knowingly.
"Yeah, pretty much," Heero frowned, pushing his hair back.
"So, you don't know where he is, and they don't know where he is," Duo summarized.
"Right. I'm sorry, Duo, but I have to go to Harvard. You can stay here, of course. I'm really sorry," Heero said.
"Save it," Duo said, "I'm coming with you."
"Duo - "
"Don't argue with me," Duo said, and crossed his arms over his chest, "I owe your uncle a lot, I'm not going to sit around while he might be in trouble."
"Duo, your job at the library
I don't know where this will take me, or how long," Heero warned.
"Doesn't matter. Everything else can wait. I've got a year of salary from the church that I haven't touched. It's time for me to make my own decisions, too. I'm going to live my life the way I want to now, and I want to help you find your uncle."
Heero knew Duo had done a lot of thinking about his life in the last two weeks, and he wasn't about to stand in his way when he made a decision. It could be nice to have Duo as moral support. He might need a third party when he walked back into Harvard. He was sure everyone he knew there was aware of the situation between him and his uncle.
"I'd appreciate the help, Duo," Heero said finally.
"You pack, and I'll get us plane tickets," Duo offered.
"We'd better get one-way," Heero said, "I don't know how long we'll be there, or where we'll go next. Hopefully, it won't take more than a few days to track him down. We probably won't have to fly anywhere else, but I can't make promises."
Duo nodded and picked up the phone. "Red-eye?" he asked.
"The next flight out," Heero said.
Duo got non-stop tickets that would arrive in Boston at nine the next morning. The hasty travel plans reminded him of when he had left New York with Heero two weeks ago, although Heero had kindly taken care of those. He had not thought he would be going back to America so soon. He did feel regretful about cutting out just when he was settling in, but he wanted to help Heero somehow. Duo was still living out of his bags, so he had little packing to do, he simply tossed a few things in a backpack. He milled around in the living room, trying not to listen to Heero on the phone with his advisor.
They made a few last minute provisions and then got on the tube to go to Heathrow. The flight was mostly quiet. Duo tried to think of something he could say or do, but there was just nothing. It felt like he was losing Heero. All the warmth and closeness he'd felt growing between them the last couple weeks was dissolving away. It wasn't as if he could blame Heero - he was a position everyone hoped they would never find themselves in. He couldn't count on Heero to be his support now, it was time to return the favor. Duo didn't know what he could do for Heero in this situation, he didn't even know if he could be a very strong friend since he was still struggling with some of his own issues, but he was going to try his hardest. If nothing else, he was a good listener and his training did include some counseling. He would do whatever he could.
For now, he simply tried to rest on the plane. When they finally arrived in Boston, they got a cab to Cambridge since it was faster than the train, and went straight to the Anthropology department. Sure enough, Heero was cleared with security and an ID tag was waiting for him. Since everyone knew him or his uncle, just saying that Duo was with him was enough.
Heero heard his name and turned around to find Rita with open arms ready to embrace him. He hugged her with relief. She felt tiny in his arms, but she hugged him fiercely.
"It's so good to see you, kid," she said when they finally released each other. "We've missed you around here. You don't know how many times I tried to make the old bear call you. He's stubborn as a damned ox. But you probably know that."
"All too well," Heero grunted. "Rita, you remember Duo Maxwell?"
Duo stepped up from behind him and shook her out-stretched hand.
"Duo Maxwell, after all this time!" she said in amazement. "Of course I remember! It's wonderful to see you! How are you?"
"Doing fine, thanks," he smiled at her. Her hair was more white than blonde now, and she wore different style spectacles, but otherwise, she was almost exactly as he remembered. "I've been helping Heero with a translation project in London," he said to explain his presence.
"I'm glad you're here," she said firmly, "the more heads the better. I've got a lecture to give now, but I'll be around later. Wu Fei and Trowa are up in his office right now." Her calm face pinched with worry that she had successfully been keeping under wraps until now. She squeezed Heero's arm. "Just find him, Heero. Bring him back to me," she pleaded before turning to go to the lecture hall.
So, Jay hadn't said anything to Rita either? That was a surprise. Duo saw the muscles in Heero's jaw clench again. He followed when Heero turned towards the stairs and they climbed to the second floor.
Dr. Jay's was a spacious corner office lined with over-flowing bookshelves. There were two young men in the room, one going through the drawers of the large, beat-up oak desk and the other on the floor flipping through a book. Both looked up when Heero knocked on the doorframe.
"Heero," the man on the floor rose and greeted him, "I'm glad you made it." The black-haired man faltered slightly like he was unsure if he should try to hug Heero or shake his hand or neither. Duo thought Heero's rigid body posture probably spoke for itself.
"Me too," Heero nodded briskly, "Wu Fei Chang, this is Duo Maxwell."
Duo offered his hand. "Pleased to meet you."
Wu Fei shook it. "Likewise," he said. "I believe I've heard the name."
The other young man joined them. "Trowa Barton," he said, also shaking Duo's hand.
Heero impatiently stepped into the room. "Have you found anything in here?" he asked, surveying the cluttered space.
"Nothing that might tell us where he went," Wu Fei relayed. "He's got books on everything. You don't have a key to his house, do you?"
Heero pursed his lips and shook his head. "No, not anymore," he said tightly. "His computer?"
Everyone just looked at each other wordlessly until Duo asked, "Well, should we, ah, help you?"
"Please," Wu Fei spoke up. Duo followed Trowa back to the desk and the file cabinets, and Heero attacked the shelves immediately. Wu Fei returned to flipping through the books, but Heero read the spines carefully, trying to mentally catalogue what was present, and think of what might be missing. He used to know Jay's library so well, he'd grown up exploring and absorbing it. He even knew how it was organized and which books should be where. Of course, there were still more shelves at the house.
As Duo dug through pencils and sifted loose papers, he couldn't help worrying that he was missing something because he didn't know Dr. Jay as well as the others. After looking through all the drawers on one side, he flipped through the rolodex. He was also very worried about Heero and had to stop himself from glancing up too often. Duo was kind of afraid to touch him or talk to him, he just didn't know how. Like reaching for a doorknob you know is charged with static electricity.
He kept his sigh to himself and gave up on the rolodex; the others would know which of these people should be called. He started on the next set of desk drawers. In the top drawer, a plain white card caught his attention. It was situated on top of an address book.
"I've got a business card here," he announced, holding it up. Trowa took it and studied it.
"Winner International? What would Jay be doing with that?" he asked, puzzled. Winner International was a large company that owned many important and profitable businesses around the world. Their beginnings were said to have been in petroleum.
Heero frowned. "The Winners give Jay extra funding. They have a history going back a century of being financial backers of archaeological digs. They used to be in it to fill a private collection, but these days, there's nothing they love better than having their name on as many impressive museum pieces and possible."
"Then they might know something about where Jay is," Duo suggested.
"I'll give them a call, then," Trowa said.
"I've met Mr. Winner before when he came out to visit Ashkelon," Heero warned, "He and Jay got on, but I can't say he's a very nice person."
Trowa just nodded and went out into the hall. A look at the card didn't reveal much, there wasn't even a name on it, just the company's crest and a phone number. He shrugged and dialed the number on his phone.
A woman answered. "Winner offices."
"My name is Trowa Barton, I'm with the Harvard Anthropology Department," he said coolly. "Who might I speak with about recent research of archaeology professor Dr. Jay?"
"Oh, do you have an update so soon?" she asked.
"Yes," Trowa lied. They had to know something, he was sure of it.
"I'll tell Mr. Winner you're on the line," she said. "He's in a meeting, so you may have to hold."
"That's fine. Thank you, ma'am."
Some elevator music came over the line and Trowa leaned his back against the wall, prepared for a long wait. He had counted half of the narrow hallway's ceiling tiles when the other end picked up.
"This is Quatre Winner," a young man's voice said in a practiced professional tone.
Trowa repeated his introduction.
"You have an update then? So soon?"
"Well, no actually," Trowa said and then took a deep breath. "Dr. Jay hasn't checked in with us in almost two weeks."
"Oh dear," the young man said with concern.
"Did he tell you where he was going or contact you?" Trowa asked.
"No, he didn't. He said before he left that he was onto something very interesting, and I will say he was acting rather secretive about it."
"Hm, we got the same from him," Trowa frowned. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Winner."
"Wait, Mr. Barton, I may be able to help you," the young man said hastily. "You see both my name and Jay's are on the bank account that we use to transfer funds. I'm accessing it now. The detail report should tell me where he's using the cash card. If not specific businesses, then at least the city where he's using the automatic teller machines."
"And the dates?"
"Yes. Yes, I have dates and places where he's used the account card."
Trowa held his breath.
"The most recent purchase was an airline ticket, and there are two cash withdrawals from ATMs in Greece."
"Yes, one in Athens dated three weeks ago, and a second in
Iraklion a week later."
"Mr. Winner, I can't thank you enough," Trowa breathed.
"Will you be going there?"
"Huh?" Trowa asked
"Will you be going to Greece, then?" the young businessman repeated.
"Yes, I'm sure we will be," Trowa told him uncertainly.
"I'm in Rome for business now, please call my secretary again when you make your travel plans, and I can meet you in Athens."
Trowa was too startled to speak for a moment. "Really, Mr. Winner, you don't have to do that. You've helped us enough already."
"Don't be silly. I speak Greek with near fluency and know many people there. I would like to help find the Doctor any way I can."
"But - "
"Just call this number and leave your flight information with my secretary. Thank you very much for alerting me to the situation, Mr. Barton. I'll see you in Athens."
Mr. Winner hung up then without letting Trowa protest again. Trowa just looked at his phone and listened to the dial tone for a second before turning it off. Well, it looked like they'd have another member in their party.
"What did you find out?" Heero asked as soon as he saw Trowa in the doorway.
"I got Mr. Winner to look up the bank account he gave Jay. He's been withdrawing cash in Greece."
"Greece!" Duo exclaimed, looking up from the files he was paging through.
"You got Mr. Winner on the phone?" Heero asked.
"That number went straight to his secretary," Trowa explained. "He's even offered to meet us in Athens."
Heero narrowed his eyes. "Mr. Winner did?"
"The Mr. Winner I talked to was a young man, Quatre, I believe. Could he be a son, perhaps?"
"Probably," Heero shrugged, pulling another book off the shelf.
"Anyway, he said money had been withdrawn in Athens and Iraklion," Trowa continued. "I'm not sure where that last one is."
Heero went still and stood up straight. "I do," he said.
"Good," Trowa nodded. "Oh, and Mr. Winner will be meeting us in Athens."
"What?" Heero snapped. "We're looking for my uncle, not running a travel agency!"
"Heero," Duo spoke up, "we'll need as much help as we can get. He probably has a lot of connections."
"And money," Wu Fei put in.
Trowa crossed his arms. "Look at it this way. How many of you speak Greek?"
Duo, Wu Fei, and Heero all raised their hands. Trowa rolled his eyes.
The other three put their hands down.
"So it's settled. We'll meet him in Athens."
"He's probably only in it to save his investment," Heero grumbled to himself.
Trowa shot him a glare. He didn't get the feeling Quatre Winner was concerned about that, but he didn't want to fight with Heero at the moment. "Any new developments on what he's looking for?" he asked.
"There's just nothing here," Wu Fei said.
"He probably took everything important with him," Heero said, putting the book back, "I bet he's got a place in Greece."
"We should get plane tickets then," Wu Fei said decisively.
"I agree. You're all coming?" Heero asked. No one was willing to stay behind. All four managed to get on the same flight for the next morning, and it was decided that Trowa should be the one to call the Winners again. They scoured the office for the rest of the afternoon and were eventually joined by Rita. In the evening, she managed to get the four of them over to her house so she could cook some dinner for them. She offered to let Duo and Heero stay with her for the night, but ultimately they went home with Wu Fei because they would be getting an early start the next morning.
"The couch folds out into a double bed," Wu Fei told them as he pulled some blankets out of the closet, "and I've got an air mattress for the floor if one of you wants to sleep there."
Duo looked at Heero, who looked very much like he wasn't paying attention and probably wouldn't care. "I don't mind sharing," Duo told their host as casually as he could. "Besides, I'm beat. I'm sure we'll fall asleep no matter what!"
Heero just nodded and they pulled the bed out. Wu Fei fitted it with sheets and promised to wake them in time for some breakfast before the flight. He disappeared to the bathroom and his bedroom door shut a few minutes later. It was a little early, and Duo felt like watching TV or something to take his mind off things, but Heero was already brushing his teeth. Oh well, the next morning would be early, so they may as well get some sleep.
He took his things to the bathroom when Heero came back. Heero was already in the bed on his side with his eyes closed when Duo returned. He simply followed suit and turned off the light. He tried to curb his concern and found that he had been very wrong about falling asleep right away.
The hide-a-bed was small and Heero tried not to do anything that might disturb Duo too much, but he just could not get comfortable. His mind refused to rest and he kept turning over in attempt to escape the scenarios his mind supplied him with since he'd gotten that phone call. He kept telling himself it was nothing, Jay had just buried himself in work and forgotten to check in. Maybe he'd lost his phone or there wasn't reliable internet access. They'd find him hard at work and he'd be cross at them for interrupting. Then maybe he could get a chance to talk to Jay alone.
Or maybe he was unconscious in a hospital where he was just another John Doe. Maybe there had been an accident on a train or ferry. He might have had a heart attack or a stroke. Perhaps he'd been arrested. He could have been mugged or kidnapped or murdered. Heero tossed again and rubbed his face with his hands. Damn it.
He heard Duo's voice in the dark. "As the sun progresses across the heavens, so shall these stars travel, and guide us through the seasons."
The progress of the sun and the traveling stars. Heero's breath caught and he rolled over to face Duo. "The temple dedication," he said, "you did it after all."
"Thought that would get your attention," Duo said gently. "Finished it last week. Took me a while to get the translation perfectly, 'guide' was a bit sticky. Uh, sorry it took me so long."
"We found someone else to translate it," Heero admitted, "but yours is more eloquent."
Duo scooted closer to him on the bed, and said, "We'll find him, Heero."
"I know where he is," Heero said abruptly.
"You do? Where?"
"As soon as Trowa said Greece, I had a feeling, but when he said Iraklion, I knew for sure. That's on Crete."
"Jay is on Crete?"
"He's after Minos."
Duo's brows knit in the dark. "But they've already excavated Minos' Palace in Knossos," he said.
"They never found the labyrinth."
"I thought that palace was like a labyrinth."
"But it isn't the labyrinth."
"Do you really think it exists?" Duo asked, unsure. As far as he knew, the myth of the Minotaur's labyrinth had come from the maze-like palace itself. There was no labyrinth, no traces had ever been found.
Heero rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands. "Doesn't matter if I think so or not, only if Jay does. The Theseus myths were his favorites. I should know, he practically raised me on mythology. I was the only kid I knew reading Ovid at ten."
"Besides me," Duo chuckled, "I was using Ovid to learn Latin."
"Ok, besides you," Heero acquiesced. There was a slight tint of humor back in his voice, but it soon disappeared again. "Anyway, he had everything on Minos, Knossos, and Theseus that there was, from Apollodorus and Evans to rarer texts. That's got to be where he went." He rubbed his eyes again. "God, Duo, what if something happened to him out there?"
Duo's heart lurched when Heero didn't remove his hands from his eyes. He moved closer and put a hand on Heero's arm.
"We've got a good starting point," Duo said firmly, "we'll find him."
Heero's hands fell from his face and his blue eyes shone in the dim light. "Duo," he whispered shakily.
Duo reached out and pulled Heero into his arms. Heero's arms wrapped around his waist and he felt Heero bury his face against his neck and shoulder. He held Heero tightly until he felt him relax somewhat. They had to find Jay. He would see Heero through this - whatever the outcome.
The "Evans" Heero is referring to is Sir Arthur Evans, who discovered and excavated Minos' Palace at Knossos in the early 1900's. He can safely assume Duo would know that from the last name.
Ok, two notes since I have some smart readers:
Ovid's Metamorphoses barely touches on Theseus and the labyrinth, Heero was just using it as an example of what he was reading since it has a bazillion other stories.