Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence
Duo and Yuy looked out of place among people in colorful jogging suits and those spending some leisure time in the park. The sun had finally come out and, though it was still chilly, it was turning out to be a nice day.
“I didn’t know there was a park like this around here,” Duo said as he walked the jogging path with his hands in his pockets and his combat boots making solid sounds on the cement. Wearing his dark sunglasses, he looked around appreciatively at the thick trees, shrubs, and well-maintained grassy areas. The park was designed to look natural, but not so natural that people used to a concrete and a high rise lifestyle would be made to feel uncomfortable.
A blonde, over weight woman in a red jogging suit, with three excited pug dogs on leashes, almost tangled with Duo. They briefly did a dance until she had negotiated herself and her charges around Duo on the narrow path. With an annoyed frown, she continued on her way.
Duo stared after them. “Who would want little dogs like that? Useless.”
“My last partner, Juan Ramirez, has a little dog. It’s a good companion.”
Duo started and looked at Yuy in surprise. He looked over the top of his sunglasses at him. “He speaks. Your ex-partner has a Chihuahua?”
Yuy frowned. “Why do you think it’s a Chihuahua?”
Duo stared, discarded several responses and then shrugged. “No reason.”
Yuy didn’t look convinced.
They continued down the path. Duo looked for a marker and didn’t find it. They backtracked to a curve in the path that was closer to a road. They could clearly hear traffic. Duo could see where shrubs had been brutalized.
“Here, I think," Duo said and led the way off the path and through the space that had been forced through the bushes. After a few yards he spotted the badly tattered crime scene tape hanging loosely from between bushes and tree trunks. It was impossible to tell if anyone had contaminated the area, but it was a safe bet they had. The clueless and the morbid, who had heard about the dog attack, wouldn’t have allowed a flimsy taped warning to impede them.
“This is it,” Duo said unnecessarily.
Standing outside the perimeter, Duo pulled off his sunglasses and put them in his coat pocket. He took in all the obvious details of the crime scene while Yuy stood silently at his elbow and played with his cell phone. Duo could hear his thumbs tapping keys. It was an annoying distraction as well as unprofessional, Duo thought. All of Yuy’s attention should have been on gathering evidence missed by the first investigation.
Duo said, “The body was found five days ago by a jogger’s dog. After a preliminary investigation turned up nothing, and some strange facts presented themselves, it was dumped into my IN file.”
Duo slowly circled the crime scene with his eyes on the ground. Yuy followed him closely, finally looking around as well. Their feet crunched on dead leaves and twigs. Bird song and traffic noise mingled. Sunspots dappled the ground. Rain had washed away the blood and nature was recovering from the trampling of investigators and the coroner. It didn’t look like the place where a gruesome murder had taken place.
It seemed disrespectful to speak loudly because of the gravity of the scene. Duo said softy, “Poor Carla Metzer, the woman who was murdered here, was considered one step above a Jane Doe. That means nobody reported her missing, she didn’t have any friends, they couldn’t find any family, and no one claimed the body. A week is not really due diligence in an investigation, but they were 100% sure it was a dog attack… until something weird presented itself. Naturally, they turned it over to me, the expert of weird. If you think that’s unusual, you would be wrong. My IN file overfloweth with weird cases.
Yuy was silent but looked thoughtful. Duo sighed. Their partnership was done before it was begun. When they returned to headquarters he intended to tell Merquise he could send Yuy back where ever the hell he had come from. He was a dud as a detective, maybe even mentally deficient. It wasn’t any wonder he had been ‘loaned’ to Duo’s department. It was obvious his own precinct had wanted to get rid of him.
Duo mentally tuned Yuy out of his thoughts. He didn’t usually let a crime scene ‘speak’ to him with others present, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell Yuy to go back to the car and wait. Duo was going to feel bad enough when he had Yuy sent packing later.
Duo cocked his head to one side, stopped walking, and opened up his ‘talent’. The trees seemed to sway and flicker. His braid swung gently in a breeze and his amethyst eyes became unfocused as he brought all of his senses to bear on the crime scene. He caught an impression of low moaning, a dog growling, and the voice of a woman making terrifying sounds that might have been words but were too faint to make out properly. Duo took a deep breath and tried again, tapping deep into his psychosis as if it were a radio he needed to tune into a station. Sounds that were not really audible, but more a vibration along a sensitive strand of consciousness, as thin as spider web, became clearer.
Suddenly a woman’s voice cried loudly, “Don’t. Stop!”
Duo forced himself not to reach for his gun. He had never fired it outside of practice, but he was a trained detective and a drawn gun was often enough of a threat to stop most aggressive actions by suspects. In this situation, a gun wasn’t going to frighten anyone. He couldn’t harm the demonic creations of his overactive mind even though they sometimes seemed as much flesh and blood as anyone. He had several bullet holes in the plaster of his apartment to prove it.
Nothing else was forthcoming even though Duo tried to leave himself completely open to receive the slightest mental vibe. Frustrated, he chalked it up to Yuy’s presence. Even though the man was silent, Duo couldn’t tune him out of his thoughts.
Joyous birdsong and playful, dappled sunlight highlighted the fact that despite sad crimes like Carla’s murder, the world went on without pause. It took close acquaintances to care about her death and to remember her life, Duo thought as he carefully skirted the crime scene until he stood where the sound of the woman had seemed the loudest. It was up to him to make sure that at least her death wasn’t a forgotten, dusty file folder with a question mark.
A spreading oak tree with a gnarled trunk covered in vines and moss seemed out of another era. It was an ancient among younger saplings and thorny undergrowth and beyond the well-ordered plantings of shrubs and flowers of the park. Looking closely among the small leaves of the vines hugging the trunk like a skirt of green, Duo saw the smallest scrap of something dark. Pulling an evidence kit out of his pocket, he told Yuy, “Photograph this and take notes.”
In a clear, monotone, Duo said, as he peered closely at the find, “Black, coarse fur and a slight scrape, possibly from the nails of a dog, on a large oak tree to the left of the crime scene facing away from the jogging path. First impression: the low level of the mark, its distance from where the body was discovered, and the direction of the scrape prove that the victim fled into the forest pursued by the dog and was not immediately killed as the forensic report suggested. The lack of footprints and other evidence of a dog arriving on the scene or leaving the scene suggest to me that the dog’s owner covered up the evidence and brought the body to the clearing where it could be discovered. We may be looking at a murder, not a simple dog attack, and certainly nothing supernatural... Are you writing this down, Yuy?”
Duo looked back at Yuy and then started when he found the man bent very near him and aiming his cell phone at the evidence. Duo had a disorienting view of the man’s strong neck, there was a small mole there, and he caught Yuy’s scent. It hinted at a spicy aftershave and the crisp, male scent of a man perspiring in a suit coat on a sunny day. It wasn’t unpleasant.
Without comment, Yuy turned the cell to show Duo that he was taking photos and recording.
Duo said, flustered, “I guess that works if you’re lazy. Shit happens to electronics, though, so you better save that somewhere in your ‘cloud’, Yuy.”
Duo blinked in confusion. “What?”
Attention on his phone, he said, “Call me Heero.”
Duo glared and throttled the urge to tell the man that he soon wouldn’t be around for Duo to call him anything except ex-partner. “Whatever.”
Heero nodded once, neither looking pleased by the concession or annoyed at Duo’s flippant response. Duo wished he could get a read on the man, but he was a brick wall. Duo shook his head sharply to clear it of idiotic thoughts as he took the sample of fur and put it into a small evidence baggie. He labeled it carefully.
Goose bumps on his skin warned Duo a moment before he looked up in trepidation and saw it. Past the tree trunk, half hidden by shrubbery was the apparition of a white fox.