Murder Has Blue Eyes
When Duo awoke later that morning, he was once again alone. Quickly sitting up, hoping that Heero hadn't gone without at least saying goodbye, he was met with a cool breeze from the open screen to the balcony. He remembered shutting it at some point during the night when it got too cool in the room, but it was open again. Pulling himself out of bed, Duo slipped into a pair of sweatpants that had been draped on a chair next to the dresser, and went to investigate. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, his long, unkempt hair swaying behind him, Duo walked out onto the balcony. There he found Heero, slouched in one of the patio chairs, staring out to the beautiful estate on an equally beautiful, sunny morning.
Heero was silent as the other man approached. Duo came from behind, resting a hand on his shoulder briefly, then sat in the adjoining chair. For a few minutes they both sat, watching the birds play and flutter about on the dew-covered, light green lawn which was just starting to grow back for the season, and said nothing to each other. Then after a few minutes, Heero spoke.
"I have to tell you something."
Duo turned quickly to face the other man, surprised to find him sitting, holding a handgun in his lap. His gasp brought Heero's attention to him immediately, and their eyes connected.
"W-what is that, Heero?" Duo suddenly felt very cold out on the patio with no shoes and no shirt, but he wasn't sure whether his goosebumps were from that, or from the sudden surprise and fear that had filled his being after seeing what the other man held.
"It's a gun, Duo." Heero replied very matter-of-factly, his face like a stone, and then he turned away. "It was meant for you."
His eyes wide, Duo opened his mouth to say something, but no words came.
"I have to explain some things that are going to be very upsetting to you," Heero continued, facing Duo once more, and noting the desperate fear in the other man's eyes.
Duo nodded. "Y-you're supposed to kill me?" His voice was weak and shaky as all sorts of crazy thoughts flooded through his mind. Was his and Heero's chance meeting planned? Had the past two weeks been nothing more than a set up? And if so... who? Was William really THAT desperate to get him out of the way? Duo second guessed himself a dozen times in what could only have been a minute, trying to convince himself that there was no way that someone out there wanted him dead.
"Yes." Blue eyes were hard and piercing as he said the word. It was a look that Duo had never seen before in Heero, and it frightened him. Cold, calculating, a mask signifying that nothing could stand in his way as long as it was in place.
The longhaired young man sighed. "If this is true, and the past two weeks have been a farce, then just go ahead and do it, Heero."
"Huh?" Heero was caught off guard.
"I've lost so much in the past few years, Heero, that really, it doesn't matter to me anymore. I guess I did a stupid thing by allowing myself to think I was falling in love with you." He paused and breathed another long, deep sigh. "If you're telling me now that you aren't who I've been lead to believe you are, then just go ahead and do it. It will save me a lot of torment in the end."
For a few moments, Heero just looked at the other man, stunned. Then he raised his gun, pointing the pistol at the side of Duo's head, his hand trembling the whole time. He aimed, squinting one eye closed as he looked down the barrel of the gun, it's site poised over the soft temple just under the hairline, and watched as Duo clamped his eyes closed, committed to his words, remaining motionless otherwise. His heart pounded in his chest, as did Duo's, and he squeezed gently on the trigger.
It didn't move.
After a minute or so with his eyes shut, his mind filled with question and suffocating fear, Duo blinked, wondering why nothing had happened, and spied Heero out of the corner of his eye. The gun was still at arm's length, still aimed at his head, and Duo looked on, paralyzed, as the other man squeezed the trigger once more. Once more, nothing happened. Duo then turned to look into Heero's eyes, his own filled with question and hurt.
"The safety is on."
Letting go of a lung full of air that he had been tensely holding back, Duo relaxed slightly.
"You really would have let me do it," Heero said, more as a statement than as a question. "I could have killed you right here, and you wouldn't have even tried to stop me."
By this point, Duo was at a loss for words. Between the gripping fear that was consuming him, combined with the crushing betrayal and emotional pain that he now felt, there was nothing at all that he could say to convey his thoughts. He just stared at Heero motionlessly, his eyes wide and distant, while his mind raced on, thinking so many things that he couldn't understand any of them. When he finally did speak, all he could muster was one word.
When William showed up in the kitchen a day ahead of schedule, to say that there was a look of surprise plastered on Jonathan's face would be an understatement.
"M-Mister Banes! Why... you're home early! How was Aruba?" The Englishman immediately gathered up his morning edition and stuffed it away in the corner of one of the kitchen cabinets. William hated to see "the help" doing anything that wasn't pertaining to taking care of the premises. He would complain to Jonathan that he should be reading the paper on his own time, not during the work day, when there were things to be done. He never did bother to take note that things never went undone in the home, so Jonathan just assumed, probably correctly, that William just enjoyed giving him a difficult time. William seemed to get his jollies by giving everyone a difficult time. The man was in love with power, and in love with himself as well.
William, dressed casually in khaki's and a golf shirt, sporting a new tan and a resort cap, dropped his windbreaker on the center island and went to the refrigerator to get a bottle of spring water.
"Kathryn came down with food poisoning a few days ago. We got back yesterday. But it was a wonderful trip, Jonathan. Aruba is beautiful this time of year. You really should go some time." William laughed sarcastically as he opened the bottle and took a mouthful of water. "So, what's new around here?"
William's feigned interest was easily detectable, and Jonathan was becoming uncomfortable with the man's uncharacteristically jovial mood. "Things have been rather quiet, actually."
"And how is my dear stepson?" Again the sarcastic chuckle.
"Mister Maxwell is quite fine, than you. As a matter of fact, I should go upstairs to alert him that you've returned early. He has a guest with him."
Before Jonathan had even finished his statements, William's expression turned from happy-go-lucky to one of aggravated disbelief. "He WHAT?"
Jonathan jumped with a startle at the loud tone to William's voice."
"He has a gu..."
"Why that little..." Before William finished his statement, he placed his bottle of water on the counter, and was off and running in the direction of the stairway. Jonathan trotted behind him, wondering what the ordeal was just because Duo had a guest, since William had never reacted this way before. It was more along his style to just harass the two young men until Duo's friend had decided that he'd had enough, and left on his own accord.
The explanation, as detailed as it was, didn't take anywhere near as long as expected. Heero told Duo everything - about the organization, minus the little details that he didn't need to know, about his position there for the past three years, and about the hit. He explained to Duo about what he'd been doing for the last month of his life, following him and trying to come to terms with what he was supposed to do after he'd realized that he didn't want to do it. He also told Duo that, from what he'd learned about him, he suspected that William may have been the one who paid for the hit, although Heero would have no way of finding out that information. Duo reluctantly agreed with him about William, still not wanting to believe it, but in his gut knowing that nothing else made as much sense.
Heero also admitted the truth about why he couldn't carry out his duty this time. Because he'd been closer to being happy than every before when the two men were together, and it caused him to rethink his life, and what he was doing with it. Luckily for Heero, considering how upset Duo was, it did carry some weight. Duo believed his remorse, and was willing to try to work through the initial shock of the whole scenario if they could get some issues cleared up.
"So... what are you going to do? About the organization?"
Heero sighed. "I don't know." They got up and walked back into the room, and Heero placed the pistol down on the dresser next to Duo's picture frame. "I honestly have no idea how to smooth this over, Duo. You're supposed to be de..." As he said that last statement, stopping short, Heero looked at the picture, the picture that had been sitting out on the dresser the entire time that he'd been in the room and he never noticed. "I..." Heero's heart abruptly turned cold.
"That's my mom, my dad and I. Before... well... I already told you all of that."
Heero swallowed a lump in his throat that was big enough to choke an elephant. Trying to speak, he could only produce a whisper, staring at the picture. I know her. "H-er name? Wh-what was her n-name?" The little hairs at the back of his neck stood, turning into tiny needles that pricked his skin. Oh God... please tell me this isn't turning into what I think it is.
"Victoria," Duo said, approaching Heero, wondering what had caused the sudden reaction in him.
Heero's eyes remained locked on the framed picture, studying it. The woman's hair was the same coppery color as Duo's and her vibrant eyes were his too, except hers were blue. How could I have missed this? He recited gravely, without changing his glare, "Victoria Maxwell." How? How can this be? How can a coincidence like THIS happen? As if one final insult were due to make the situation even worse than it already was, Heero could never have predicted what he'd just come to realize as the sad truth.
Duo moved in front of the other man so he could see his face, which was still frozen to the picture. He looked down at the frame in Heero's hands, and then back at his face, examining it. When Heero finally lifted his eyes, they said it all.
"No." Duo walked back a step, his face paling, his heart about to erupt from what he was reading on the other man's face. There was a demented, sickened grin on his face, a grin of stupid denial. "No... no way..."
Heero choked back his emotion. "There's no way I..."
Duo was backing away from Heero now, putting an arm's length between them. "Don't EVEN tell me what I think you're going to say, Heero!" His voice was trembling.
"I didn't know! There was no way for me to know!" Heero was sympathetic as the picture left his trembling hands, falling to the rug. "I was their best," he pleaded as explanation. "They sent me to Australia last year...because I'm their best." He stepped toward Duo, wanting to hold and comfort him, probably more for his own benefit than the other man's, but Duo continued to back away.
"You killed my mother! You fucking KILLED MY MOTHER!" Duo screamed at Heero, any remaining shred of composure having ceased as his emotional state deteriorated into complete disbelief and agony.
There was nothing left that Heero could say until the other man calmed, so he didn't even try anymore. Closing his eyes, Heero simply stood and took it, the screaming being directed at him, each of Duo's pained words cutting into him like a lance, but knowing the entire time that it was just punishment, and nowhere near the pain that the other man was feeling.
"Just... just get the fuck away from me, OK? Duo pushed past Heero toward the bedroom door in a blur of chestnut hair, needing to get out and away from the other man before he completely lost his mind. He stopped just outside the door, turning to face the Heero, who was still just standing in the middle of the floor and cried, "You killed my mother, you bastard. How could you do that, Heero?" Face contorted, trying unsuccessfully to hold back an explosion of pent-up emotion, Duo turned and reached for the doorknob to leave the room.
The heart-wrenching display tore Heero's soul to pieces, but there was nothing he could do about it. As much as he would like to pretend that it hadn't happened, it had. He had killed Victoria Maxwell a year prior, and hadn't ever known that there was a connection between the two of them. Because unlike this latest job to exterminate Duo Maxwell, that which required him to get close enough to the victim to arrange the perfect hit, when he'd killed Victoria, all he'd been provided was a picture and an itinerary of activities - nothing else. He had no idea where she was from, what she did for a living, or that she was anyone special, let alone the mother of whom would become one of his future jobs. You killed her. As awful and guilty as he felt about it, it really hadn't been his fault, but the pain of seeing Duo suffer like he was, was enough for Heero to wish to end his wake of destruction by using the pistol on himself. You cut the rope holding her and sent her to her death. It wouldn't bring Victoria back, but might prove how sorry he was.
Now things suddenly made too much sense. Of course the hit on Duo had to be perfectly executed - wouldn't two suspicious deaths in the same family look awfully bad for William? Heero now cursed himself for not thinking of this sooner, though the outlandishness of the whole predicament was even a little hard for him to believe. It just boiled down to being one of those very unfortunate things.
Just as Duo was about to open the door to leave, it seemingly opened by itself, with none other than William behind it, barging his way in. Immediately it was pandemonium as the older man pushed Duo back into the room, preventing him from going anywhere.
Duo, his control completely gone now, immediately attacked William with scathing accusations. "You Bastard, William! Did you think you'd get away with having me killed too? The way you had Victoria killed?" Duo's voice was loud and pained as he yelled at William.
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about!" William retorted arrogantly, finding himself suddenly on the defensive, realizing that Duo had somehow figured him out. William's poker face was good though, as he managed to hide his disappointment in the fact that his stepson was not only not dead, but alive and well indeed.
"You mother fucking liar! You killed her! I KNEW you killed her! And you tried to have ME killed to!" Duo rushed the other man actually swinging a punch, having completely snapped, and Heero jumped in just in time to hold him back. His arms pinned behind him, Duo fought like a caged animal, trying to get at William.
"You'd better watch what you say, asshole, because you're going to get yourself in loads of trouble if you keep up with those accusations!" William's face was red as he broke a sweat. He taunted Duo, who was still being held back by Heero.
"I have evidence, William! EVIDENCE!" Duo screamed, causing the William to sneer.
"And they'll believe you just like they did last time. You have proof of NOTHING!"
"You never planned on me sleeping with the hit man, DID YOU, WILLIAM? Was that in your little plan? That the person you hired might actually have a conscience?"
Suddenly both Heero and William's expressions went blank as their eyes met - Heero's deep blue matching William's dark brown, and Heero's gut wrenched.
"Evidence, huh?" William's words were cold and threatening as he stared at Heero, then quickly scanned the room. He immediately noticed the pistol on the dresser and his face lit up with surprised satisfaction. Heero pulled Duo further away from the other man, still holding him with both of his arms behind his back and keeping his eyes on William the whole time, trying to anticipate the man's next move. Then planning his own reaction, Heero checked the whereabouts of his duffle bag out of the corner of his eye. He'd moved it closer to his side of the bed during the night to keep it nearby, and fortunately it was still there, unzipped, just the way he'd left it before going out to the balcony with the handgun.
"I'll show you evidence." William muttered once more, his low voice laced with anger and vindictiveness.
When William lunged for the pistol on the dresser, which was only two or three feet from him, Heero anticipated it, pushing Duo to the floor, then rushing for the duffle bag. Duo, startled, picked himself up from where he'd fallen, unaware that William now held Heero's pistol. He looked to Heero first, who was rummaging in the bag by the bed, and then turned to face William straight on when he suddenly found himself staring at the barrel end of the gun, which was pointed at him.
"Just goes to prove... nothing ever gets done right unless you do it yourself," the irate man complained as he aimed the gun at the center of his stepson's chest, quickly removing the lock on the trigger.
Thing began to happened so quickly now, it was almost as if it were all in slow motion. In the few seconds time that it took for Duo to face the William, the pistol was fired - a loud, sharp bang resonating with an orange spark as hammer hit bullet and sent it screaming out of the gun. Before he even realized that the gun had gone off, the round struck Duo near the shoulder, sending him crashing back to the floor in surprised agony.
"NOOOO!" Heero yelled out, watching in disbelief as Duo flinched from the shot, then sank to the floor between he and William, who was now aiming at Heero. Eyes hard and emotionless, fixed on the older man before him, he squeezed the trigger of the second pistol, the one which had been sitting in the duffle bag the whole time. William fell where he stood, mere seconds later.
When Heero rushed to Duo's side after the shooting, he looked up to find Jonathan in the doorway, having just witnessed the entire spectacle.
"Oh dear," the Englishman said sympathetically, running into the room and kneeling beside Heero, who was holding Duo's torso up. "How badly injured is he?"
"Duo?" Heero called out, trying to shake the other man awake. Blood oozed from a bullet hole in the man's bare chest, just below the shoulder. Luckily William hadn't anticipated the power of the kickback on the firearm, which sent his close-range shot wide. A dead-on shot would have killed his target instantly. Though he was seriously wounded, Duo took the hit in a much less critical area than where the bullet was initially intended to go. "Duo, wake up." Heero slapped the side of his face gently as Jonathan looked on helplessly.
After a few minutes of prodding, the longhaired man's eyes began to flutter awake. "W-hahappened?" He coughed violently from irritation near his lungs, causing himself to cringe from the pain to his chest.
"Mister Maxwell! Thank God!" Jonathan called out.
Heero slid Duo around on the bloodstained carpet to prop him so that he was sitting on the floor, leaning on the end of the bed. "You've been shot."
Heero inspected the wound as well as he could without causing more discomfort to his lover. He looked to the blood on the carpet, then across the room to the balcony screen, which now had a perfectly round hole in it, about chest height. The pistol had been fired at such close range, the bullet went clean through Duo's shoulder, then perforated the screen.
Violet eyes widened with question, searching Heero's face for an answer. Then Duo looked down at the side of his chest to see an entry wound and fresh blood spilling from it.
"William shot you with my gun."
There was a sigh of understanding, but nothing more.
"I fired back at him. I tried to hit him before he hit you, but you were in my way. I hesitated." Heero felt slightly embarrassed, evident by the deep pink coloring on his cheeks, because he was unable to stop the other gunman before Duo had been shot.
Duo breathed heavily, forcing himself to conceal the agony even though it was futile. Clamping his eyes closed as his shoulder radiated with burning pain, he asked, "Is...William...dead?"
Heero looked over to see that William hadn't moved since falling to his bullet. He'd aimed for the heart, and Heero very rarely missed. "Yes."
For a few minutes, no one spoke, the room filled only with the sound of the injured man trying to catch his breath. Then with a disheartened look, Duo started again. "Heero...what are you...going to do?" Jonathan looked to the two men at as much of a loss as they were, and thoroughly confused as well, since he'd only appeared at the doorway just in time to see William go for the gun, having missed the argument beforehand. He wiped long, sweated bangs away from Duo's face and smiled weakly at the young man, wishing there were something he could do to help ease his pain.
Heero never answered the question.
Pushing himself into a straighter position against the back of the bed, Duo's eyes widened from the sensation as he moved his body.
"Easy, Duo. We need to call someone to get you to a hospital before you bleed out," Heero's words were soothing as Duo attempted to readjust himself. "I don't know what's going to happen to me now, but I have to stay. I want to stay. I caused all of this so, I have to fix it."
"No, Heero!" Duo said quietly, his voice catching at the end as his lungs hitched in his chest. "You have to leave. Take my car and park it at the airport, lot B, but you must to leave. You should go...now."
"I can't leave you like this."
Duo insisted, his effort causing him more pain. "You HAVE to go! Give me your guns..."
"Even better yet. Wipe them down... carefully. Then give me one..." Duo's breath was coming heavier now as thick blood ran down his side, dripping onto the carpet and the elastic of his sweatpants. "T-take the other one and...put William's hands all over it."
"Just DO IT, Heero!" He was demanding now. "Do it, take your things, take my car and leave. Please?" Duo's pleading eyes were enough to make him agree. "Say nothing of this. Go back as if everything was normal."
Heero sighed, but began dressing into street clothes and gathering his belongings.
"Keys are on the night stand. Lock them in it. I have s-spares." Leaning his head back, the longhaired man closed his eyes, concentrating on forcing his pain away.
When Heero was ready to leave a few minutes later, having carefully planted the guns which had been purged of his own fingerprints, he knelt beside Duo and the longhaired man opened his eyes.
"I'll call your wireless when things are safe."
Heero nodded. Then planting a soft kiss on the smooth, velvet lips of his lover, he stood to leave.
"Such a piece of work," Duo muttered under his breath just loud enough to be heard, giving Heero a weak smile and a wink to see him off.
With that, Heero disappeared out the bedroom door, his bags in tow. Half a minute later the front door could be heard slamming, and then the faint sound of the Audi's exhaust as it drove away. Then once he was gone for sure, Duo sighed, completely spent, although he didn't know whether it was more from his physical pain or from mental exhaustion. Either way, it had been a long, wild ride, and hopefully it would soon be over for him.