"What a nightmare," Wu Fei groaned as the metal cell door clanked shut behind them.
"Guess we're here for the night," Quatre sighed.
"If not for life," Wu Fei grumbled.
When the police brought them to the station, they thought it would be pretty straightforward. Obviously, the guys who were tied up were the looters and they were the heroes, end of story. The looters, apparently, had told a different version. After Quatre put out an alert the day before, the Cretan police went searching for the missing archaeologist. They found Mr. Claustrophobia tied up at the entrance to the labyrinth and he told them that the American professor had masterminded the entire looting plot, hired them to round up artifacts from the labyrinth, and then brought in his five younger partners to capture them so they could claim all the spoils for themselves. Of course, this was the story the Cretan police wanted to be true since it looked better if the foreigners had been the ones attempting to loot a site of national heritage.
It had been an exhausting afternoon of questioning and accusations. Detectives had built quite a story on the looters' claims. Quatre's presence proved that Winner International somehow had to be connected. Duo had been found holding a stone tablet, which they construed as caught in the act of looting. Both Trowa and Heero had been carrying guns, and Heero still had the golden bull in his pocket. Jay was with Harvard, which had to be the destination of all the artifacts. Quatre called in some of his lawyers from Rome right away, and they had arrived by early evening. They had argued with police and investigators all night and it was now quite late.
"They should be looking for the antiquities ring the loot was supposed to be sold to, not wasting their time with us," Heero griped as he sat down on the bench against the wall. If he had one thing to be happy about if was that his uncle had received medical attention and something to eat.
Trowa seemed calm as he settled on the lower bunk against the opposite wall. "The story won't hold up," he said.
Wu Fei climbed over him to the top bunk. "You're assuming they're even going to investigate," Wu Fei said sarcastically as he flopped down on the squeaky mattress. "I'm supposed to be writing a term paper right now."
"Come on, isn't the Iraklion jail on everyone's travel itinerary? It got quite a write-up in the Lonely Planet guidebook," Duo tried to humor them from the bench next to Heero.
"Yes, I was really looking forward to this leg of the trip," Quatre answered him and told Trowa to scoot over on the bottom bunk.
"I'm sorry I got you all into this," Jay sighed. "It would look a lot less suspicious if I had notified the authorities instead of exploring it by myself. If it comes down to it, I'll confess and take all the blame."
"Absolutely not," Heero spoke up immediately, "you're not throwing your career and reputation away over this. Forget it."
"Don't worry, my lawyers are still working," Quatre tried to assure them. "They're calling the US Embassy in Athens and every contact we have back home. I hardly think Harvard will stand for this."
Duo was fairly certain he was right. After meeting Quatre's lawyers, he was sure there would be enough pressure that the investigation would have to be done properly and the truth would come out. He was still concerned about the tablet he had found. It needed to end up in the hands of someone who recognized what it was and could study it. If he was right, that tablet could lead to the decipherment of Linear A the same way the famous Rosetta Stone had led to the understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Linear A was not as common to find as Linear B, but there were tablets in museums around the world that could be translated if the script could be deciphered.
Eventually, the lights in their cell went out. There was some friendly bickering from the bottom bunk as Trowa and Quatre negotiated how to share it, but everyone managed to get settled. A bit later, some rowdy college aged boys were brought in for public drunkenness and put in the cell next door. Despite that, Heero was slumped over and appeared to be fast asleep on Duo's shoulder.
"You can shove him off if that's annoying," Jay chuckled as he sat down next to Duo.
"Nah, it's ok," Duo said quietly. He wasn't going to admit this to Heero's uncle, but he liked it. After all they'd been through, if Heero needed his shoulder to get some rest, he'd happily lend it.
"We're in a dirty Cretan jail cell next to the drunk tank, and my nephew is sleeping like a baby," Jay noted, shaking his head.
"I don't think he slept any since we left London," Duo told him.
"Now, how did you end up in London with him?" Jay asked.
Duo took a deep breath. He didn't know who else in the cell was listening, but he decided he didn't care. "I was hoping I'd get the chance to explain this to you," he said to Jay in a low voice, "I know it doesn't make a difference either way, but I feel like I should apologize. All this time, I thought you had kicked me out of Ashkelon because that's what Father Maxwell told me when we left."
"He lied to you, eh?" Jay grunted.
"Yeah. I hated you," Duo admitted, "and I struggled to stay in Father's good graces because I was so afraid he would despise me the way I thought you did. I became a priest like he wanted me to, even though I had never wanted to."
Jay rubbed his goatee as he took all this in. "What about all those letters Heero sent you? He was obsessive, you know," the man said.
"I never got them, they were intercepted," Duo said. "Father died without ever telling me the truth. Just a couple weeks ago, Heero showed up needing a translation. He tried to tell me the truth, but I didn't believe him. When I found the letters, I begged him to help me get out of there and so he let me come to London."
Jay nodded. "So why did you want to apologize?"
Duo shrugged his free shoulder and smiled embarrassedly. "For hating you for so long?"
Dr. Jay chuckled again and patted him on the knee. "If there's one thing I've learned," he said, "it's that looking back with regret doesn't get you anywhere. You can't look back and hate parts of your life, even if you feel like certain years were totally wasted or you gravely regret decisions that you made.
"Like all the years I spent being angry at Heero's father for abandoning him and my sister. The man was dead, where did that get me? And all those years I thought that love was a waste of time. Maybe three days in a cave has turned me into a philosophical old fool, but I've realized that there are things I've got to set straight in my life. Look how old I am, and I'm still fixing things!" Jay chuckled a little at his own foolishness and looked at Duo. "It shouldn't be nearly as much trouble for someone less than half my age, like you Duo," he said.
Duo just smiled a little and looked at the floor, thinking.
"Mostly, in that cave, I realized that there are people in my life who deserve to know how important they are," Jay said seriously.
"Like Heero?" Duo asked pointedly as he looked up at the older man again.
"Especially Heero," Jay said, glancing around Duo to his sleeping nephew. They were silent for a moment before Jay spoke again. "I'll say just one more thing, Duo. Don't hate where you come from, it's part of who you are. You're young, you haven't even lived a quarter of your life yet. Everything's up to you now."
Duo just nodded.
"Think about it this way, you may hate the man for lying to you, but would your life have been any better if you'd never met him at all?" Jay asked.
Duo thought about that. "No, I'd just be sitting in a jail cell in America instead of on Crete," he joked.
The six men in the cell had no idea what was going on outside, but overnight, the story of the discovery of the Minotaur's Labyrinth and their arrest broke in news sources around the world. Quatre's lawyers made short statements, calling the accusations preposterous and insulting. The American Embassy in Greece jumped to their defense, citing Jay's international renown as a scholar and archaeologist, and his close ties to some of the most prestigious institutions in Israel and Italy. Harvard big shots got on the phone to authorities, defending the integrity of their students and professor.
The following day brought still more questioning and a more intensive investigation. As they had hoped, the looters' story began to fall apart. The smaller details that emerged matched their account and not the looters'. Testimony from the guest house owner and a few guards at Knossos corroborated that the young men had not seemed to know where Dr. Jay was. The medical exams of Dr. Jay after his ordeal indicated that indeed he seemed to have been tied up and nearly starved for three days like he claimed. Fingerprints from two of the Greeks were found on the guns, overlapped by Heero's and Trowa's, backing up their story that they had lifted the guns from the Greeks. These clues didn't prove anything, but they supported Jay's story. Finally, one of the looters took a plea bargain and the whole truth came out. They were released and the Cretan police agreed to put them up in a nice hotel until all investigation was complete.
After two days of arguing and interrogation and a night in jail, what they didn't expect was the media frenzy that awaited them. They got their first taste of it that evening as they got out of the car at the hotel. Cameras and reporters with microphones swarmed them, calling out questions and taking pictures. They were followed to the lobby doors where the journalists were turned away by hotel security. They were shown to a suite and found all of their belongings, which had been seized by the police from Jay's room at the guest house, waiting for them.
"What a nightmare," Wu Fei grumbled as he flopped onto the couch in their shared sitting room.
"I am going to sleep for twelve hours!" Duo announced, stretching his arms over his head.
"What, you didn't sleep like a log in that lovely concrete jail cell?" Wu Fei asked dryly.
"Remember they want us back tomorrow," Jay said.
"What more could they possibly want from us?" Quatre asked.
"We're to go onsite with Knossos authorities and archaeologists from Athens and Iraklion Universities," Jay said.
"Do we have to wear leg shackles?" Wu Fei snorted.
"I hope they'll release us after that, this has been fun but I do have to get back to work," Quatre said.
They ordered room service for a late dinner and relaxed before retiring to their shared rooms. There were three rooms in the suite with two queen sized beds in each. Heero followed his uncle into one and shut the door behind him.
"Mind if we share?" he asked.
"I thought you hated my snoring," Jay said.
"I do hate your snoring. I thought we could talk in private," Heero said. He didn't feel much like yelling at Jay anymore, but had made up his mind that if he found his uncle alive, he would tell him all the things he'd been thinking, no matter how pointless it seemed after the fact.
Jay looked down at the floor as he dropped his bag on the bed. "I should be the one to instigate that conversation," he said, "I owe you an apology, Heero."
"Just let me say something," Heero interrupted and swallowed. "For a while there, I was convinced that we were not going to find you alive and I regretted every day that I didn't try to call you and patch things up. I'm sorry Jay, I shouldn't have left, I was being headstrong and selfish."
"No, you weren't," Jay said as sat heavily on his bed. "You have every right to choose the direction of your life. The truth is," he sighed, "that I wanted to share this with you. I thought I was going to have a good chance at finding the labyrinth and I wanted you by my side. I just didn't know how to tell you. I don't know how everything got so messed up."
The younger man nodded a little. He didn't know how it had gotten so bad either. There was still one more thing he wanted to say to his uncle, he'd even practiced to himself how he wanted to say this. His hands tightened on the strap of the bag over his shoulder. "I thought I might never see you again and it struck me that I never thanked you for taking me in and raising me. I would not be what I am today if it weren't for you, so I want to th-"
"Stop, I don't want to hear any of that," Jay cut him off. "You're a fine man and a damned fine archaeologist, Heero. I know I say a lot that you're just like your father," Jay said gruffly, "but you should know that
it's always a compliment. You would have made him as proud as any father could possibly be."
Heero felt his face pinch up and his throat tighten. His uncle got up and came over. He put his hand on Heero's head like used to do when he was a little boy, except now he was almost as tall, and then pulled him into a hug. Heero hugged back fiercely for a moment and then stood back, digging into his pocket.
"This belongs to you," he said, holding up his uncle's watch. "The police found your wallet and everything, right?"
"Right, I got everything but the cash I had," Jay replied and reached for the watch.
Heero held it away. "Now, no more running off without telling anyone where you are, or I'll keep it and put a GPS locator in it," he said.
"Just give it here, insolent brat," Jay groused and grabbed his watch.
The following day, Duo was more than ready to go back to the labyrinth. Before he had been escorted out by the police officers, they'd made him leave the tablet at the top of the stairs and he'd thought to drop his spool of string next to it. That way, it would be easy to identify the farthest point anyone had reached in the labyrinth and find the tablet. The six of them were picked up very early in the morning and driven directly to the Knossos ruins where they met the university scholars and Knossos authorities. The police were there too since they wanted a full account of exactly what had gone on inside the labyrinth.
This time, as they passed under the archway with the Linear B script, Duo took a moment to copy it down for translation later. The large collection of loot had been left as it was by the entrance to the maze. Jay took the archaeologists through a quick inventory of it, trying to remember where certain pieces had come from. They took the experts into the great maze and Duo was able to present his find to some fellow linguists who agreed that it was indeed Linear A and Linear B on the same tablet. It was to be catalogued and brought to the university for study as soon as possible.
It was a long day of questions and explanations and trying to remember the sequence of events, but at least they were being listened to now. It was exhausting, but afterwards, the police felt they had enough information to release them from custody. Jay was invited to stay with the experts so he could help them replace the artifacts that had been moved and analyze the labyrinth.
Heero was looking forward to returning to London. After all the attention from the media, he was probably not going to come out of the classics department basement for the foreseeable future. Overnight celebrity just wasn't his style. Back at the hotel, they fought their way through the press, guided through the melee by security personnel and police officers. They were shouted at in at least ten different languages; reporters called them by name, pleading for comments, answers, clues, anything. Cameras flashed and microphones were shoved in their faces. Heero was largely able to ignore the incessant questions, but one he heard very clearly.
"Heero!" a woman shouted in English, "tell us about your father! How old were you when he was murdered?"
Things quieted for a moment when Heero stopped and turned. It wasn't often one of them managed to get Heero Yuy's attention.
"Heero, here, wear this!" a man shouted and plopped a brown fedora on his head. Cameras flashed like crazy. Duo thought Heero looked ready to reach out and choke somebody so he snatched the fedora and put it on his own head before grabbing Heero's arm and dragging him into the hotel, cameras snapping the whole time. He had noticed that Heero seemed to be the press favorite among the six of them. Honestly, he was surprised that the reporter who asked about Heero's father hadn't gotten killed. So, they'd dug that up, had they? He wondered if they had dug up his past as well.
The six men were deposited safely in their room. Quatre had gotten on his phone with his travel agent while they were still in the elevator. Wu Fei and Trowa went straight to their room to make flight arrangements back to Connecticut.
"What is it with the press? They know about my father now?" Heero groaned as he fell onto the couch. "I just want to get my doctorate in peace, like everybody else!"
"Is Heero Yuy whining?" Duo teased.
"Yes," Heero admitted, "but I'm done now." He watched Duo kick off his shoes and come around to sit on the arm chair next to him. "Would you take off that hat now?" Heero grumbled, "I've heard enough Indiana Jones references to last me five lifetimes, don't encourage them."
"I think I like this hat," Duo said defiantly, but he took it off and set it in his lap.
"So," Heero said, rolling onto his side, "should I get us on a plane back to London?"
"Yeah, I suppose so," Duo said and chuckled a little, "back to our real lives."
"We're leaving straight from Iraklion airport tomorrow, Trowa's on the phone now," Wu Fei said as he joined them in the sitting room.
"That's probably a good idea," Heero said, sitting up to give him some room on the couch.
Quatre emerged from his and Duo's room with his small carry on bag. "Well, it's been a blast, guys," he said, "sorry I can't stay but I've got some people meeting me in Athens tomorrow morning. I'll be flying there tonight."
Heero got up to shake his hand. "Thanks for everything, Quatre, you were indispensable," he said honestly.
"It was no problem, I'll call you again when I need a break from work," Quatre joked smoothly. Duo and Wu Fei shook hands with him and said their good-byes. "Dr. Jay has my number if any of you ever want to discuss funding," he told them and then ducked into the other room to say good-bye to Trowa. Jay thanked Quatre and saw him to his cab downstairs.
Heero got himself and Duo tickets to London for late morning the following day, leaving right from Iraklion. Room service dinner arrived for them shortly and Duo received a phone call a bit later in the evening.
"Some of the university professors are down in the lobby for me," he told them after he hung up.
"Are they sure it's not reporters?" Heero asked skeptically.
"Yeah, the woman on the phone said security checked them out and everything," Duo shrugged. He went downstairs and Heero followed Jay into their room.
"Have you called Rita yet?" he asked.
"I was about to," Jay said. He thought for a moment and then said, "You know, Duo told me about what happened after Ashkelon. Kind of incredible."
"You really like him, don't you."
"Yes," Heero said plainly. There was no sense in hiding it from his uncle, he knew about what happened between the two of them before anyway.
Jay smoothed his grey hair back. "Well," he said gruffly, "it's not my place to say and he'll probably tell you after he gets back from his meeting, but he's being asked to stay here and study the so-called Linear Rosetta with the university experts."
Heero couldn't find anything to say about this and just sat down on his bed to think. Duo was being asked to stay. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, it was wonderful. He was going to be on cloud nine when he got back up here, and he had every right to be. Heero was happy for him, but at the same time, he knew this meant he would be losing Duo. Damn, but it felt like he'd just gotten Duo back! All the things they'd quietly agreed to wait until they got home to explore would have to be put off. He'd have to find a new photographer for the summer. Heero completely understood that some things had to come first, career defining big breaks being one of them. Decipherment was a big deal, when he broke the code Duo could probably travel the world for months translating fragments of Linear A. He raked a hand through his hair, wondering when he would see Duo again. How long would they be separated this time? Would they ever end up back in his cramped London flat together?
"Now, if you don't mind," Jay hinted, holding his phone, "I'd like to grovel in private."
Heero got up and threw his few belongings back in his bag. "I'm going to toss my stuff in Duo's room," he said, going to the door, "see if I can escape your snoring."
Jay shooed him out and closed the door behind him. Heero dropped the bag in Duo's dark room and went to the sitting room. It seemed like a long time before Duo came back. He lounged with Wu Fei and Trowa, only half paying attention to the TV. After a bit, Jay handed him the phone and he talked to Rita, enduring still more Indiana Jones jokes. It seemed she had seen the fedora photograph.
The TV was off when he sat back down. None of them could understand it anyway and they were sick of seeing themselves on the news.
"The plan is for Trowa and me to finish out the semester at school and then join Jay here this summer," Wu Fei spoke up. "Do you think you can make it this summer, Heero?"
"I'd like to, but I'll be in Libya this summer, digging in Lepcis Magna," Heero replied.
"I've heard of that city, that should be interesting," Wu Fei commented.
"I didn't know any projects were digging there," Trowa said.
"King's College opened their excavations again, my advisor and I are heading it up," Heero explained.
Wu Fei raised his eyebrows. "Any idea what you'll do your thesis on?" he asked.
"Not yet. I'll be making some decisions after I take the preliminary team out this summer," Heero answered.
"Well, if you ever find any remains you need identified, give me a call," Wu Fei said somewhat stiltedly, but earnestly.
"And you've got my number if you dig up some interesting architecture," Trowa added.
Heero couldn't help a small smile at his friends, and yes, he knew they were still his friends. "Thanks guys," he said, "and thanks for your help finding Jay. It could easily have been too late if you guys hadn't done anything. It means a lot to me that he's got people looking out for him."
"Not that he lets anyone look out for him," Wu Fei shook his head. Trowa snorted.
The lock on the door beeped and the handle moved. Heero looked up, holding his breath. Duo was back.
"We were beginning to think you'd been kidnapped," Wu Fei said to him when he entered.
"I've been asked to stay and work on the Rosetta," Duo told them excitedly as he shut the door. "I had some arrangements to make, so it took a while."
Both Trowa and Wu Fei congratulated him. Heero stood up from the couch and locked eyes with him.
Duo's face fell just a little. "We should talk," he said.