Disclaimer – If you recognise it… I don't own it.
This story was inspired and the first few chapters heavily influenced by cHixOr Neko's work, titled "Sunrise, Come Again"
Seven years. Duo had been missing for seven years. No message. No sightings. Nothing. He'd just vanished. He'd left my estate about a month after the Marimia incident. He'd left nearly everything behind. The only things he took with him were his weapons, his stealth kit and maybe a change of clothes. He'd even left his cross. I'd never seen him take the cross off before. Allah, I had barely even seen it before, unless I was bandaging wounds. He usually kept it around his neck, underneath a top. And he had left it behind. If that didn't say a great deal about his mental state, I didn't know what would. It had been left on top of a one line note:
Heero had found it. I'd given him the room next to Duo. He'd noticed that Duo hadn't come down for breakfast, and had gone to wake him. I only realized when I felt Heero's shock, followed by grief and then anger; finally overwhelming loss.
"He's gone." Were Heero's first words to me as I crossed the threshold to Duo's room; Trowa and Wufei were right behind me. "He left his cross."
"When did he leave?" I whispered.
"Why?" Wufei demanded, "Didn't he leave any indicator?"
"Nothing." Heero answered.
"He didn't act like he was going to leave." Trowa pointed out.
"I'm going to find him." Heero declared, "I am going to find him and drag him home. Kicking and screaming if I have to. He does not get to run away!"
"And we'll help you." I agreed.
Seven years since that day. We miss him. Heero most of all. I think he'd been on the verge of trying to start a relationship with Duo. He was certainly that way inclined. And I wouldn't have said that Duo would have been uninterested. But that was then.
I know for a fact that Heero runs a search for Duo every month using the Preventers' computer system. It had been weekly, but Lady Une had protested against the use after six months. There are also electronic flags on each of Duo's bank accounts, including his hidden ones from during the war. Or at least all those we could find. He hasn't used the money.
He hasn't contacted the Sweepers. Howard hasn't heard from him. The Maganacs haven't seen hide nor hair of him. It is like Duo had just disappeared that night.
All I really want is an explanation. No… That isn't the only thing I want. I want to see him again. To have my big brother back. For him to tease Wufei about marrying Sally in a 'white wedding'. For him to try to make Trowa laugh at every opportunity. To break into my office, just to drag me out for a meal; and scare the security staff every… single… time. For Heero to relax more.
I could tell that the others feel guilty. We'd become much closer since Duo had vanished. Not because he wasn't there to interfere… But because we were almost scared of losing anyone else.
We had finally realized what Duo had been offering each of us. Friendship. No strings attached. And we wanted it. So we found it in each other. But we were still missing one piece. We need Duo to complete us.
Lady Une has been dropping subtle hints for about three years that we should stop looking. That we should just declare Duo legally dead. But we can't do that. I know he is alive. I would know if he was dead. Sometimes I feel an emotion from my 'Space Heart' that I know is not mine or anyone else's. It feels like Duo, for lack of a better explanation.
I almost thought he would turn up for Wufei's wedding. I know Heero was expecting him to come, despite everything. And I can't say that he wasn't there. I'm not sure if it was my imagination or not, but I could almost feel him smiling and cheering. I could have sworn I heard his voice as they kissed:
"That's how you do it, Wuffers. You hang onto her."
Seven years, and not a word. Heero and Wufei both work for the Preventers. The top two agents. A greater closure ratio than anyone else. Trowa, technically, is in charge of my security. But our relationship goes deeper than that. I, of course, am still running Winner Enterprises. I donate money to orphanages and other child related charities. I don't know, I think I'm hoping that if I visit enough of them, I'll find Duo hiding out at one.
I haven't moved since Duo disappeared. I still use the same estate as my main residence. Sure, I go on small trips to various places, but the house is always staffed. And every member of staff has a standing order that if Duo Maxwell turns up, I am to be contacted immediately no matter where I am, or what I am doing. If I have to be woken up, I don't care. If I have to come back from holiday or an important negotiation, I don't care. Family comes first. Whether it is family by blood or spirit. Duo taught me that. The staff also knows that if Duo turns up, he is to be tended to. The Maganacs joke that if Duo turns up and tries to leave again, before I see him, they will break his legs. At least, I hope they're joking. Although if got Duo to stay… I shouldn't be thinking that.
I remember during the Eve War, Duo and I had to hide from OZ while on L4. I thought it would be so easy. Just hide out in one of my family houses. Just keep our heads down. But somehow OZ was checking everywhere. I didn't even think about the fact that they knew Duo's face. Allah, it had been plastered on every vid-screen and there were still posters up.
"I can't stay here." Duo told me to my face, "They'll find me. And then they'll find you."
"We're supposed to stick together." I countered. Indeed those were our orders.
"Well, I can't let them rumble you, little bro." Duo shrugged, "So either I don't leave this house and I hide from your staff… One of which, at least, is undercover OZ. Or you come with me. I know some places where we can hide."
"I'll come with you." I declared, "They shouldn't have worked out my identity, but it is possible."
"Cattie," he looked at me seriously, "If you do this, you're going to have to do what I say, when I say it. No arguments. We're lucky this is L4. I wouldn't even think about doing this on L2."
"I'm not tough enough?" I asked, slightly indignant.
"I know you're tough enough." Duo shrugged, "But to street-eyes… You're prey. I wouldn't do it with the others either. Heero and Wufei scream predator. Even Trowa is too much predator for the streets. I'm just right. Like that story about Goldilocks. I'm sort of prey with an edge. I know the rules."
"What do I do?"
We hid out on the streets for a week, before the next mission came in. The whole of that week, Duo protected me from the brutalities of the streets. He didn't think I noticed that although I always had enough to eat, Duo was often sacrificing at least part of his portion of food for me. And that was only the smallest of the sacrifices he made for my sake.
That was the main difference between the two of us. I wanted to introduce him to my world. I wanted to watch him find his way among the people in my world. I wanted my world to see what I saw in him. He wanted to protect me from his world. He did not want me 'tainted' with his world. His words, not mine.
But I still could not work out why Duo would leave. He had seemed so happy around us. It wasn't just a mask. He really was happy. The day he left, he wasn't happy. But I didn't call him on it. I had a date with Trowa. What if I had? What if I had asked him why? I should of. But it was only one day of sadness mixed with determination. I should have known that something was wrong.
But life had to continue. So it went on. I still went to work. I still sat behind a massive desk and dealt with the affairs of Winner Enterprises.
It was seven years and about one week after Duo had vanished when I received a very strange call.
"Mister Winner?" There was a police-man on my vid-screen, utilizing my private line.
"I'm Detective Wilks of the L3 police," the man seemed embarrassed, "And you are recorded as next-of-kin of a person whom I can't imagine you being associated with. However as he has become involved in a recent case…"
"Just provide me with the name," I smiled, "I know every person who should have me as next-of-kin. So I should be able to inform you as to whether this person is a liar or not."
"Alright," Wilks shrugged, "But I highly doubt you'd know him. It's a Mister Maxwell."
"Duo?" I could have sworn my heart stopped beating, "Duo Maxwell? He's there?"
"You know him?"
"Allah!" My breaths were ragged now, "He's practically my brother! What's his involvement? Where is he? Can I talk to him? Is he alright?"
"I'm afraid I can't discuss details of an ongoing case on the phone." Wilks seemed apologetic, as well as quite startled by my reaction.
"Give me a number to contact you at and the address of the police station." I demanded, "Please. I'll be on the next available shuttle to L3."
Wilks rattled off the information, more in shock than anything else. I suppose I was being a bit more forceful than my reputation. But this was a tip off about Duo!
"Belinda," I opened the door of my office to speak to my secretary, "Please cancel all the rest of today's appointments. I have urgent family matters to attend to. Also call the Space-port and have them ready my shuttle for a trip to L3, asap."
"Yes, Mister Winner." Belinda nodded.
"That's Quatre, Belinda." I responded automatically, my heart not really in it.
"Quatre?" Trowa emerged from the security office, "What's going on?"
"There's news of Duo," I was almost floating, "On L3."
"You're sure?" Trowa lost his famous grace and nearly tripped over his feet. I had to fight the urge to giggle. I haven't giggled in years. I've laughed. But I've not giggled since Duo left.
"The police contacted me." I nodded, "He's gotten involved in a case. Only they won't give me any more details."
"I'll call Wufei." Trowa stated, "You call Heero."
"Do I have to?" I almost whined, "He'll kill himself driving to the space-port."
"And if you don't," Trowa countered, "He'll kill you. I'll try and get Wufei to drive."
I was still walking towards the car, Trowa right behind me. We both pulled out our mobiles and pressed speed dials.
I know for a fact that speed dial 2 on every phone we Pilots own was blank. That number is reserved for when Duo came home. It sounds funny, but a lot of things are waiting for Duo when he comes home. I'd left his room just as he had done, only one thing was different. Where there used to be a pile of dirty laundry, there is now a pile of presents. Presents I and the others have bought him over the years.
"Yuy." Heero answered the phone bluntly.
"Promise me you'll let Wufei drive." Probably not the best thing to say in retrospect.
"Winner?" Heero growled.
"Space-port," I decided just to give the pertinent information, "My shuttle. Going to L3. News about Duo."
"Mission Accepted." He hung up.
"He just dragged Wufei out of the office." Trowa informed me, as he put his phone away.
"We're going to need to make good time if we're going to beat those two to the shuttle." I realized, even as we entered the car.
The grilling I got from Heero before we'd even taken off from the space-port, made me think twice about having contacted him in the first place. I knew he was going to be insufferable for the entire flight. I was really regretting not having taken the extra moment to copy the recording of the conversation so that I could present it to Heero to pour over. He spent most of the flight trying to hack into L3's police records to try and identify the case Duo was involved in. But to no avail. Hacking without a solid connection isn't the easiest. Even for the Perfect Soldier.
We still had no clue, when we finally arrived at the police station. A quick explanation of why we were there got us shown through to Wilks' office.
"Mister Winner…" He rose from his desk, "And friends?"
"I may be Duo's next of kin," I smiled, "On all official records. But these are also his brothers. Duo has been missing for seven years. This is the first news we've had of him."
"I was hoping that you would know how to contact him." Wilks sighed. I felt the sharp spike of anger and grief that his words caused, "You see, he's our chief suspect in a double homicide."
Please inform me.
After much deliberation I have decided to keep this story posted here. At least for the mean time. While I have been accused of plagerism, I have consulted with the other author, cHixOr Neko, and they said: "If you believe you plagarised then you should remove the story. I think we both know where I stand on the issue of whether or not those chapters were almost identical. What you do is your decision."
My decision to leave this story here. I reserve the right to pull this story at any point... But for now it remains.