Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing, wish I did own something that would make me rich though since I'm so very poor...
Ok, I know you people out there are patiently waiting for me to write more of Beyond the Grave, but this idea hit my brain last night. And it won't leave me alone. So, bare with me while I try and unblock my writers block.
Odd Man Out
Chapter 1: Perfect Disguise
Duo sat in the desk chair of an empty house, pulling absentmindedly at the "borrowed" uniform of a gas technician. He typed fast, planting a little virus on the computer that had been left on when the family had fled the house. He was on his twelfth house already and the area had only been deserted for an hour and a half.
He was anxious to get out now though, officials would start sweeping the area soon, and his disguise would be more likely to be noticed. It was a race against the Preventers now, so Duo quickly finished typing and decided to call it a day. The bomb scare he'd learned about earlier that day had been quite a find. He didn't exactly approve of the scare tactics some extremists were trying to use to make their point. But that didn't mean he wasn't going to take advantage of them once he'd found out.
And at the end of the day, that group was going to take all the blame. Really though, Emerald Oblivion should have hired themselves a better tech for their net activity. Hell, if they'd offered him the right price Duo would have done it himself. But they hadn't bothered to look for the best, so Shinigami saw no problem in reaping the fruit of their labor if they were going to be sloppy about it.
It was a wonder that Preventers hadn't already figured out who they were and put an end to these bomb threats.
They'd only started three months ago. The first one had been an actual explosion, but ground zero had been a big old pile of rubble left over from what had once been part of the city. But after that, after they'd been sure their threat was going to be taken seriously, Emerald Oblivion had started to threaten to target the parts of the city that were mostly residents.
Duo had watched and quickly hacked them after the first threat that had evacuated a large area but hadn't actually yielded any bombing results. So Shinigami had gone to work, figuring out right away that there wasn't going to be any more explosions until the city let its guard down again. Which meant a lot of empty houses that were unguarded for a lengthy amount of time. Houses were people left as quickly as they could in fear, leaving everything behind. Open and unguarded.
And with a little effort, Duo Maxwell had created his best bug ever. A virus that snuck in and quickly stole any information he might need before erasing any trace of it's exsistance and then returning home. All he needed was a few minutes to plant it.
Which Emerald Oblivion had been so kind to provide him with. Way. Too. Easy.
Heero rolled his neck and felt the satisfying crack as his bones creaked back into place. Stress. A new part of his steady job that he hadn't anticipated taking such a toll on him. Sure, there'd been plenty of stress back during the war, but that had always come with a quick and easy solution. Just destroy the source of your stress and feel instant relief.
Beside him in the car, Wu Fei also stretched, rolling his shoulders and flexing his back. "They're fools at headquaters to think that we can asses this threat with only a dozen men. The areas are simply far too wide."
Heero agreed, but stayed quiet. They were getting close, already traffic had died and the only cars he saw were driven by other Preventer agents.
"If we relax security measures regarding these threats now we are simply asking for the terrorists to return to using live explosives." Wu Fei complained. And Heero knew it to be true, but there was simply no way for them to express this idea to those in charge without sounding paranoid and slightly unstable apparently.
Heero had already tried submitting a report stating his similar ideas on the situation at hand. But had been told, in no uncertain terms, that his job was to follow orders and leave the decision making to the higher ups. Of course, it had all been said to him very politely.
"Our hands are tied unless the Netwears can get a bead on Emerald Oblivion." Heero reminded him quietly. Though he probably didn't need to, everyone knew how lacking their tech department was. And that it was the reason no one had been arrested yet.
"Juvenile name." Wu Fei spat.
"I was told that the name might be derived from an old novel that also references OZ as being another plane of exsistance." Heero stated, really just filling up the silence now.
"Ridiculous." Wu Fei also cursed, growling low in his throat as Heero pulled the car over so they could get out and look around.
"Let's start with some of the residences and then stem out." Heero checked the gun at his side and Wu Fei nodded, also checking his before they walked towards a house.
Duo swallowed hard, his throat suddenly dry as he heard voices coming from outside. Well, he had a good disguise, time to put it to the test. He checked the knife he had hidden in his utility belt and tucked his braid down the back of his shirt. Too easy for someone to grab on to. Something he really didn't like, especially while he was running in the other direction.
Duo straightened, part of the guise was knowing deep down in your bones that you belonged there, people tended to ignore you if you looked like you knew what you were doing and seemed like you should be there.
Duo walked out the front door and came face to face with two men. But the one in front, the guy closest to him. The one directly in front of him that had him stopping in his tracks... well jeeze. That had to be just about the best looking guy he'd ever seen.
Damn, a Preventer. Duo checked in his perifrial vision, it was just the three of them. Two Preventer agents and one, seemingly, gas technician. Shit, this was going to require something fancy. Or maybe, something a little distracting?
The gorgeous guy was staring back at him. Duo gave him his best grin, letting it reach his eyes. He was probably the exact reason people used the term tall, dark and handsome. He had chocolate brown hair that defied his otherwise regulation appearance. It was wild, would not be tamed hair. Almost like just-had-sex hair, but natural in a way that made Duo want to run his hands through it. It hung almost in his eyes too, framing them. And they were the kind of eyes that needed to be framed. Something had to distract you from them, otherwise you might just find yourself sinking into and drowning in that cobalt blue that blazed there.
His physique was to die for as well, muscles that were obvious even under his uniform. Oh, and like that uniform didn't just beg to be peeled off that body. Duo tired to dazzle, even as his heart raced. Evil, evil thoughts of a bedroom at dusk were trying to distract him, but Duo was dead set on getting out of this in one piece and hopefully not in the back of a Preventers car.
"Hey." He smiled, sparing a glance for both men and realizing that the sexy officers partner wasn't anything to sniff at either. He was also in great shape, obviously the job demanded it, and had the sort of stoic thing going on. Almost like he was out of anyone's reach, but Duo could already plainly see a no nonsense attitude lying in wait in his dark eyes.
Not to mention the fact that despite his impeccable dress and immaculate appearance, he actually had long, silky black hair, that was deceptively pulled back in a pony tial at the base of his skull. Well, as long as he had good eye candy, Duo was going to spin this as a happy accident. All he had to do was convince them of his story.
If only he could stop staring at the man in front of him.
"What are you doing here? Everyone should have already been evacuated." Wu Fei's demands snapped Heero back from his mental earthquake. Shaken to his very core, fault lines exploding all over the place. It was a moment that was filled with a rush that Heero didn't know what to do with.
He'd frozen the moment he'd come face to face with... well, there was just no explaining him in simple terms. He was tawny muscle and violet eyes that shone like jewels. He had a pixie face with a mischievous grin. He moved like the world was playing him his own theme music and he was dancing around instead of simply walking like the rest of them.
And that smile... Heero had almost forgotten Wu Fei was there, he'd nearly just forgotten his whole reason for existing. Not that he had let anything show on his face.
And now that Wu Fei had smashed through his reprieve, Heero closed his eyes tightly and then looked at the stranger anew.
He wore a uniform, a local gas company uniform.
"Everyone was evacuated." The man told them, a smile bright on his face. No worry there at all. Did he not know the danger? No, he was aware of the evacuation so maybe there was another reason he didn't seem perturbed by the fact that he was in an area that had gotten a bomb threat. "I'm going around checking the gas meters now. Boss said to get it done quickly so that people could come back home." He shrugged easily.
"No." Wu Fei shook his head, he was now standing even with Heero, who couldn't seem to find his voice. A thought had drifted through his mind just now. Maybe the reason this man wasn't worried was that he knew there was no danger, because he was one of the terrorists? It was possible, and if it was true it would explain why they hadn't been able to catch the perpetrators earlier. He was wearing almost the perfect disguise.
"No." Wu Fei continued, and Heero wished he had a way to signal his partner without giving them away. "There is still a danger of this area being bombed, you shouldn't be here."
"What?" The way the mans face fell, the hint of fear in his eyes. It suddenly made Heero doubt the thoughts he'd had just a moment ago. How could he have thought that this man would be one of the bombers? "Seriously? But Bert said that the area was clear and all I had to do was check the meters to make sure they hadn't been tampered with during the evacuation."
Heero watched him physically shiver, as if he was thinking about being blown up that very second. "Shit man. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry."
Wu Fei nodded solemnly. "You should go, after this area is secured you may return to work, but you should consult your superiors about being sent out before the officials have cleared the area."
"Y-yeah. I will." The man nodded, his hand nervously reaching up to tub on his messy bangs that were poking out from under his hat. "Shit man. They're going to hear from me, you can count on it. I'll go all the way to corporate if I have to."
Heero nodded, he felt a rush of satisfaction. They'd saved this mans life. Well, if there turned out to actually be a bomb this time they had. But knowing he would be safe, Heero wondered why it made him so glad.
The technician hurried to his van parked just on the other side of the street, Heero noticed now, and he and Wu Fei started to walk into the house.
But the feeling that if Heero let him go now he'd never see the man again, nagged like a nettle in his brain and he found himself stalled just inside the house. Wu Fei had just gotten a call over the radio, he was distracted. Heero found his feet carrying him around and back outside, almost against his will. But he had to know. He couldn't let it go.
It was a twinge and a poke while it was also a burning need. It got him across the street just as the technician was starting his van. He found the driver side window down and came eye to eye with the man.
"Your name." Heero demanded. He waited, his breath trying to hitch up in his chest.
"Duo." The purple-eyed stranger told him. But, was he a stranger? Heero's inner voice screamed that he should know this person. That he name, the face and the scent should jog some sort of memory in him, but that information was just out of reach.
"How about you?" There was that smile again. Duo's smile.
"Heero Yuy." Heero replied automatically, cringing inwardly at how deadpan his voice sounded. He wanted to smile at Duo, to have the leasure to stare at him. To talk with him. To be able to listen to his laugh. It was there, waiting in his eyes.
"Heero. Nice." Duo laughed, his hand gesturing to his Preventers Uniform. Heero had heard the joke before, though no one had ever dared to say it to his face. It was always just around the corner from him, or in his wake as he walked away.
Heero wanted to see him again, wanted to ask him to dinner. No, coffee first maybe? Lunch tomorrow? During his break. If he could get Duo to come to the deli next to Preventers Headquarters maybe he could-
"Hold it right there. Yuy, don't let him leave." Wu Fei's voice snapped from behind him.
Heero almost turned back to look at Wu Fei in confusion, but years of training and being on the job kept him facing Duo. He watched as Duo's eyes lost their humor and became a little manic instead as he deftly reached for the gearshift and started to pull away.
Heero reacted instantly on instinct, reaching inside the van and grabbing hold of Duo's arms while picking up his feet ever so slightly so that he wouldn't be dragged. He was close enough to hear Duo breath out a curse and also, horribly, to inhale Duo's scent. Spicy with a scent of oil and cinnamon.
"Hey, let go buddy. I don't want to hurt ya, ok?" Duo's left hand let go of the steering wheel and Heero almost lost him there, the movement changing his balance and making him drop towards the moving road under him. But, true to his word, and ultimately his undoing, Duo took a sharp intake of breath and pulled Heero back up and halfway into the van.
The van lurched to a stop and Heero used the pause to reach over and slam the vans emergency break into place.
"Don't suppose you'll let me go on account of my good looks, will ya?" Duo asked, his face millimeters away from Heero's. Heero tried to control himself, his breathing, the way his heart was slamming around his chest and the new anger rising in him. Wu Fei would not have demanded this without a good reason. Who was Duo?
"No." Heero told him, his voice low and stern. He was in complete control here. And despite the inexplicable attraction he had to this man, he was going to remain professional.
"It was worth a shot." Duo shrugged and Heero slowly let himself ease out of the vans window, keeping a good hold on Duo's wrists. They were surprisingly small, and his fingers were long. Heero fought the urge to drop Duo's hands as if they were burning him.
Wu Fei caught up though and reached in the passenger side door to take the keys from the ignition so Heero could let go without the chance of him just driving off again.
Heero didn't want to cuff Duo, knew how much it hurt to have your arms twisted behind you for a length of time, but neither Wu Fei nor himself were willing to trust Duo's "I'll be good" promises. So Duo was in the back of their car, handcuffed, in under five minutes and Heero was driving them back to Preventer HQ. Wu Fei had already radioed in that they were coming back with someone and replacements needed to be sent out in their place.
"So, You guys their top agents?" Duo's voice came from behind them. Heero had already noticed a need to fill the silence in this man. Neither him nor Wu Fei answered.
"I bet you are. Cuz, you know, you look familiar to me." Duo's smile was evident in his voice and Heero actually caught himself looking in the rear view mirror to see it. Duo's eyes met his and Heero looked back at the road.
"Yeah, I think I once saw a story about the two of you or something. Maybe got a medal from the mayor or something." Duo's voice was easy to listen to. Though a glance at Wu Fei showed Heero that his partner would not agree with that statement. "Did you guys rescue babies from a burning orphanage? Old ladies from a burning hospital? Kittens from a burning factory?" Duo's voice seemed to grate on Wu Fei like nothing Heero had ever seen.
"Are you an arsonist?" Wu Fei snapped back at him. "Be quiet."
"I thought that was how it worked." Duo continued, undaunted by Wu Fei's snap. "You save some kind of innocent person/creature and you got a big shiny medal."
Heero felt himself trying to smile back, but controlled his face and kept his eyes front.
"I had the authorities check with the gas company, they dispatched no workers to the area. You lied about your reasons for being there." Wu Fei told their detained man.
"Hey, maybe my boss is just covering his ass." Duo ventured.
"Then why did you try and run?" Wu Fei demanded right back.
"Maybe I just wanted Heero here to rough me up a little." The reply was quick and and clean. Heero's heart lurched, as did other parts of his body. And Wu Fei turned abruptly to look at him while Duo gave out a laugh from the backseat.
"You told him your name?" Wu Fei demanded, not really a whisper, but a lower voice than he'd been using to talk to Duo.
Heero shrugged. "I was suspicious" he was not going to admit to Wu Fei that he'd gone back to talk to Duo. To... flirt with him. As bad as he was at it, he'd felt that draw. And still felt it, though his job was overriding that now.
Heero did want to know something else though, and it could be justified as being part of his job.
"What's your full name?" Heero asked, keeping his voice steady.
"Well, since you asked so nicely, it's Duo Maxwell." Duo replied from the back seat. Heero savored it, even as he saw Wu Fei writing it down next to him. Probably to do a search on it, dig up all he could. But Heero just let it sink in.
"You guys should let me go and get after the real bad guys." Duo told them from the backseat, Heero just barely caught him as he leaned to the side and rested against the window.
"For all we know, you are the bad guy." Wu Fei said, almost dismissively, over his shoulder.
"Oh, no. Well, OK. So I wasn't there by coincidence. I'll admit I was absolutely taking advantage. But I'm not the one making those fake bomb calls." Duo chatted, running his fingers though his bangs. Wait.
Heero looked again.
"Obviously you have access to information on who was making those calls. Making you an accomplice for not coming forward and giving that information to the proper authorities. By not doing anything to stop them, you have allowed these crimes to continue and thus have broken the law." Wu Fei drawled, his voice taking on a haughty tone.
But Heero almost ran a red light realizing that somehow, without either of them knowing it, Duo had gotten his hand cuffs off.
"Yeah, I guess you're right." Duo shrugged and pulled his braid over his shoulder to play with the end of it. Wait.
"I knew it." Wu Fei whipped around in his seat to glare at Duo. "You know who's making these calls!"
Heero stole glances, being sure to pay attention to driving this time as well, at what looked to be a couple of feet of hair. Beautiful chestnut, laced with gold, hair. It gave him an ethereal quality that made Heero's throat go dry. What would he look like with all that hair down?
"How did you get out of those?" Wu Fei yelled, filling the car with his voice. Under which Heero could hear Duo's laughter.
Heero sighed and pulled into the Preventers parking lot.