Chapter One - The Memory of Destruction Suffered
Alright, so you may have noticed that this is my first one of these. Here are the first two chapters which are obviously a bit of a set-up, I promise things will get very different from here on out. Also, as is standard: I obviously do not own any of the elements used in this story.
Heero Yuy leaned back in his chair and looked out the door of his office. Several of the younger officers were standing around a desk gawking at a menu as they prepared to order their dinner. It was incomprehensible to him that anyone could desire food on this day. Sitting up again, he glared down at the case file in front of him, well part of it anyway. The file was possibly the largest ever put together in the Preventer's five year history; the rest of it was piled up on various parts of his desk. He started blankly at the words on the paper in front of him barely registering what they meant. In truth he need not have looked at the file at all. After three years of reading every word over and over again he knew nearly all 10,962 pages by heart, having typed a fair share of them himself. He knew that nothing had changed on these pages; there had been no additions to the file for almost a year and a half now, the tips had stopped coming in, the task force had been dissolved, and case was considered closed. He knew all these things, but on this day he felt especially obligated to pour over them in the hopes of finding even the tiniest of clues, anything that could give him a lead to go off of and reopen the case. Witness statements, surveillance camera footage, forensic reports, evidence logs, lists of tips and suspects, findings sheets, and reports written by Agents and Officers lay in piles before him. None of them changed anything; he knew any hope of recovery had long since faded. Sighing a little louder than he intended to, Heero began putting the papers sprawled out before him back into a neat pile.
Heero mentally chided himself for not hearing the arrival of Duo Maxwell, who was not notorious for entering a room quietly. He turned to the man standing in his door looking him over from head to toe. Duo's long braid hung down his back, his eyes were still as bright as ever but they now held a weary touch one did not typically find in such a young man. His face looked tired; Heero knew the look well at this point as a similar one often greeted him in the mirror. Duo watched Heero's quick scan of him with mild interest and plopped himself down in the chair opposite Heero's desk. "Well don't I at least get a 'Hello'?"
"Wow, that was something. Did you hurt yourself on that one buddy?"
"What do you want Duo?"
Duo gave a small laugh. "Some guys never change, always straight to business with you, and here I was about to extend the offer for a little pleasure."
Heero turned his head towards Duo and met him with a questioning expression. Duo seemed to have realized what he had just said and began sputtering and nearly fell off his seat. "N-No, not, t-that's not what I meant." He stopped and gave a small sigh. "Look Heero, Hilde, Quatre, Dorothy, Trowa, Catherine, and I are all getting together tonight. You know, go find a bar, have a few rounds in remembrance and all. You should come with us. Sitting here all night reading this stuff isn't going to change anything . . ." He trailed off.
Duo wasn't entirely sure that Heero was actually paying attention to him. After a moment of silence Heero looked up at him as if to check and make sure he was done talking. "I'm not going to stay here all night."
"You're not?" Duo's remark came out sounding slightly more surprised than he intended it to.
"No." Even as he said this Heero began put the files into desk drawers and lock them. Duo sat in the chair an only watched him, somewhat stunned.
"So are you going to come out with us then?"
"So what is it exactly that you're going to do then?"
"Hn." Heero stood up and pushed his chair under his desk. Duo continued to stare at him as he took his Agent's jacket off the rack by the door. Heero would never admit to the fact that he was actually considering Duo's offer now. The idea of sitting in his apartment brooding all night had never been that appealing but he had nothing else to do. On the other hand, spending the night at a bar watching his friends get slobbering drunk recounting days long since gone wasn't all that high on his list either. As he moved his badge from his shirt to the front of his jacket he continued to consider this dilemma. "Quatre and Dorothy are on Earth again?"
Duo started a little at this question. Somehow telling Heero that he had asked the two of them to come in hopes of making his offer more attractive didn't seem like a good idea. "Yeah well, you know Wicked Brows, she's an Earthling if ever there was one. I mean she likes space and all, but I guess she really craves that whole terra firma thing. I think she secretly is a little on edge in the colonies, course she'd never admit to it, knows I'd never let her hear the end of it. Big, bad Dorothy Catalonia afraid of outer space."
"It's Earth she should be afraid of now, she'd probably be safer on the colonies."
Duo smiled sadly. "Yeah, never thought we'd see the day huh?"
Heero turned to Duo, who was now staring at the floor in front of him. The man in front of him was not the same he had met those six year ago. They had all changed, especially in the past two years. At 22 years old Duo was still the same joker he had been; always walking around with the same goofy smile, same twinkle in his eyes, cracking jokes whenever the opportunity presented itself. Sadly, those opportunities had become few and far between. The strain had been felt by all of them but for some reason it stood out most in Duo. Maybe it was because of his cheery demeanor, something the rest of them had never really possessed, that he had had the most room to change. Heero looked at his friends now and saw somber, battle weary people.
They were all very different; even himself who for the first time in his life was beginning to feel the effects of constant fighting. He had never before fought beside other people, certainly no one that he could call a friend and he supposed that might have something to do with it. He had friends now, people he cared about, people he did not want to see get hurt. This was something that his training had never prepared him for. The horribly images he would see and the terrible decisions he would have to make were one thing when it was only him that he had to worry about. Six years ago they would barely have registered with him; charred, mangled, and bullet ridden bodies were nothing new. What changed that was knowing who the person was, working with them, fighting with them, and then watching them die; caring about what happened to other people had changed that, it changed him. The decisions he made were no longer ones that would always yield the best outcome; now they were the ones that kept his friends and comrades safe and alive. It had taken him entirely too long to realize that a life alone was no life to live, and he had paid a terrible price to finally learn this. The last day of their lives could be any given time in this day and age, time with the people you cared about was not something that should be squandered. He again regarded the man in front of him; Duo Maxwell, the best friend he had ever had and the only person he trusted more than himself. "So where are we going?"
Duo immediately straightened up and turned to Heero with a huge grin on his face. "O'Malley's, you know the place over in Old City." He saw Heero about to open his mouth. "Don't worry, they've cleaned up the area, it was the building across the street that got hit, O'Malley's is still in one piece. We're all meeting in about half an hour."
Heero sighed in spite of himself. He knew why Duo had picked this particular bar, it was always her favorite place for an after work drink. "I'll be a little late."
"Oh, right. Okay, well we'll be waiting for ya. Just be careful man, it's been quiet today and all, but you know how things get on anniversary days. Every nut job with a vendetta decides to make this the day they're going to get their point across."
He stood up as Heero turned off the lights and they made their way to the elevator bank. The various officers and agents sitting at their desks barely noticed them as they past, all of them too engrossed in whatever it was they were working on. As they waited in the elevator Heero began trying to think of the nearest place he could get some flowers that was still open. They made their way through the lobby, flashing their badges and walking around the security check point. As they got to the front doors, Heero shouldered his bag and turned to say good-bye to Duo.
"Oh, yeah Heero, it's civilian attire only at O'Malley's. After what happened across the street, he doesn't want anyone attracting a lot of attention in his place, and well, bunch of people in Preventer's uniforms . . ."
Heero made his way down the street carrying a dozen Calla Lilies. People skirted out of his way some casting a frightened glance at his uniform, some simply hurrying to their own destination. Picking up his pace a bit he rounded the corner at the end of the street. The huge black gate before him was now locked and had been since sunset several hours ago. He stared at the small piles of cut flowers heaped against the sides of the gate; apparently he wasn't the only person unable to visit during the day. Tucking the flowers into his pocket as best he could he pulled himself up and over that gate landing softly on the other side.
It was like stepping into another world, everywhere before him were candles lending their glow to the dark, illuminating countless memorials and markers, many of them covered in flowers. He strode across the damp grass towards the back of the cemetery. The memorial he was looking for was shrouded by a large Weeping Willow tree. The actual plaque was barely visible under small mountain of flowers that had been deposited there that day, candles, stuffed animals, and religious icons littered the ground around it for a radius of several feet, but there was a small path that had been cleared that led to the actual memorial.
Heero walked closer to the marker; he saw the offerings his friends had left earlier in the day: A dozen pure white roses left by Millardio Peacecraft, a bottle of Baileys placed by Hilde, a Chinese talisman from Wufei and Sally, a rosary no doubt left by Duo, a smiling mask that could only have come from Trowa or Catherine, and a small vial of red sand Heero knew that Dorothy and Quatre had brought back from Mars. These things were the only ones laid on the actual monument; a three foot marble obelisk with a dove etched into the front. Underneath the craving read the simple inscription:
In Memorial of Relena Darlian Peacecraft
Heero stood before the stone marker considering its surrounding company of the dead. To call it a grave would be inaccurate for it did not designate a final resting place, there was no body beneath this earth. There had been nothing to bury, no one to actually say goodbye to, and no way to be sure that this person was truly dead. However after three years, there was absolutely nothing to indicate she was still alive either. People do not typically disappear for three years and suffer no harm, especially people like her.
Heero laid his flowers next to the other things his friends had left; he paused for a moment before taking the small teddy bear from his jacket pocket and laying it next to the flowers. It was hard to believe that she had been gone for three years. Protecting her had been one of his only two failures and in his life long career as a soldier, the second had been not finding her. The disappearance had been unprecedented, baffling every agency that had volunteered their services; never had there been such a high-profile case that left so few clues. There was nothing to even indicate where to start looking, and to this day Heero could not even come up with a well conceived educated guess detailing what happened to her. That night three years ago, it had all been a blur but he would never forget a single second of it. The night Relena Peacecraft vanished off the face of the planet.