"> When Death Comes Calling Part 3

When Death Comes Calling
Part 3


It was a long day of pavement pounding, and I was feeling the frustration and
pressure of the unemployed. My first unemployment check wasn't due for
another two weeks and all I was surviving on was the charity of my beloved
parents.

Rent was due, and I was too proud to give up and go home.
Besides, with Duo around, I'd have a great deal of explaining to
do so I avoided them.

Closing the door behind me, I entered my little house and searched
around the kitchen for something to eat. As expected Duo has tossed
something together and was cooking it in the oven. It looked like
something with chicken. He was feeling better and was getting a little
more elaborate with what he was making.

I didn't mind. In fact, after hours of walking, I was actually
rather happy to find food waiting for me. Even if it was made by a free loading
spy.

How long had it been since he stumbled in on me, a week? It seemed
much longer and I was reluctant to let him go, fearing his health would
decline if facing the uncertainty of a street kid's life. In fact, only
now was he starting to show signs of health. With steady meals, he was
over coming the malnourished state he arrived in, and working on healing
his more serious wounds. Wounds that would have killed him if I let him
back out.

I was actually pleased I let him stay. Eager to find my
guest, I searched about the house until I discovered him sitting in the
living room, leaning over with his arms on his spread knees. On his lap was a
blanket. The pallor had left his features and he was pink with health.
Even his braided hair was shiny and brilliant with luster.
He'd be ready to go soon. Perhaps, we could remain friends.

"Hi." I said, standing in the door frame, eager to join him, but
not wanting to disturb him.

He glanced away from the TV set and smiled broadly, then waved for
me to enter. "Hi yourself! It's your house, come on in..."
With a nod, I entered, straying a glance to the images flickering
on the TV. Mobile suits were clashing in conflict on a grassy field as a
women announcer spoke about the current status of the war. "Humm, the
news again. Can't get enough of that war, can you?" I said sitting on
the arm of the couch, beside him.

Grim, he shook his head and sighed, then flicked off the TV with a
remote. "Sick of it actually.... I'm sick of death, I'm sick of killing,
I just want to be free of it.... Unfortunately the damned thing won't go
away..."

Sympathetic, I placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry Duo."
"So am I." He took a long breath and tossed the remote to the end
table in front of him. "Have you ever looked in the eyes of death?" He
asked distantly.

Haunted eyes peered through shaggy brown bangs.
For a moment, I thought of those glassy unseeing eyes masked with
death's fog, staring up at me after the academy demonstration. In my
position, I believed I had no other choice. The kid was supposed to be
armed and motioned to pull something from his coat (or so I believed). I
killed him in cold blood.

"Yes I have seen death, but it was very different when you were on
the winning side. You were a war orphan.." I said softly.
He nodded, wordless.

"Then no, not like you have." Tentatively, I took his hand in my
own and cupped it in my palms.

He didn't seem to mind the touch, and gave me a heart full
squeeze. "Hey, kiddo, I was death for a while." He said. Fingers touched
my face, and traced gently down my cheeks. "I don't want to fight. I don't
want to be in the war any more. I'm sick of being a pawn."

"Then don't." I said firmly. "No one's stopping you."

Ruefully, he chucked. "All this emotional bull doesn't get you a
job, does it?"

"No, it doesn't, Duo."

Guilt washed over his face, and Duo brushed his bangs from his
eyes. He sincerely felt responsible for my current position and I could sense
he wanted to do something about it. He looked away, consideration strong on
his brow. "Well then, lets go into business together."

I barely knew him.

Let's go into business together...

Somehow I imagined he'd ask for something other than a working
relationship. A part of me was disappointed.
I stared at the long haired rebel and wondered what he was
attempting to talk me into. Sex would have been so much easier. Especially
sex with him.

"The last time you sweet-talked me into listening to your plans, I
lost my job, Mr Maxwell." I said suspiciously.
He waved it away, then leaned into the couch. "It's nothing
illegal."

"Oh?" He said that as if he had walked the line between legalities
before (well, besides being a terrorist and spy). I was very dubious.
yet from the wide innocents in his gaze and the fond smile on his face,
I sensed he meant well.

I rubbed my chin weighing the trouble he could theoretically get
me into.

A lot, but then again, I was already in a lot of trouble. How
could things get worse?

It didn't hurt to listen. "It depends on your definition of
illegal, Mr. I dont tell a lie."

He became serious, then met my gaze, knowing I had called his
bluff..

"Salvage. In war time, its perfectly acceptable to scavenge on
both sides and sell weapons. Hell, what do you think the big corps do?"
This was true, and being a small business, one could make a great
deal of money and go virtually ignored.

"You were a sweeper..." I said firmly, recalling my own morals and
how they often dealt with the black market.

"It isn't a black market if they win the war." Duo explained
sincerely.

A technicality. I loved how he managed to lie to himself without
exactly lying. I shook my head. What was I getting into?

"No fighting, but you want to salvage weapons and sell it to the
people you worked for?" I folded my arms unconvinced. The boy was a
revolutionary at heart. That was why I admired him so. "That isn't
getting out of the war, Duo."

He shrugged. "They won't be our only clients. Think about it.
That's all I ask."

*************

I thought about it.

And thought about it.

Three weeks crawled by, and I still hadn't a job, but decided
aftermy first unemployment check, that in light of our friendships (two odd
balls in a world gone insane)Duo was definitely staying. We were both
sick of the war, and content enough with each other's company to decide
it was in both of our best interest to stick together and weather
whatever turbulence life tossed at us.

Moving to a new location was the first agenda at hand. Duo picked
out a small place in a salvage yard at the other side of the colony. He spoke
often of starting the salvage business and I gave up trying to object
to it. After all, Being a cop was now out of the question, and my current
company left me out of the security business. So, without much adieu, we moved
and made a nice little home for ourselves.

The move was very quiet, so not to clue in my parents. My mother
was positive I was having a nervous break down, and was ready to lock me up
at any sign of instability. When moving day came, I mailed a quick,
reassuring letter to her, then disappeared. I'd contact her after the
war and once my life was together.

Inside I knew her fears for my mental state were not unwarranted.
Maybe I was having a nervous break down.
But an institution wasnt going to be my instant cure. Especially
one they'd lock me up in.....

Once Duo and I were settled, I wrote out a long contract with
rules in bold ink for him to follow. The company was a go, but only if wed kept
to civilian clients and stay out of the war. Duo seemed a little flustered by
the agreement, but wordlessly signed it.

In truth, I should have seen it.

He was a soldier at heart and wanted to help his allies in the
war. It was rather cruel of me to push him into neutrality. But he claimed it
was what he wanted and in the end he seemed content with it.
I certainly was.

I felt I saved his soul, after all, he was one less delinquent on
the street.

A few weeks passed and our lives were starting to pick up. I ran
the up front part of the business, making clients, dealing with money and Duo
of course obtained the salvage. He'd disappear for days, then out of the
blue bring in mobile suit parts, radar, computer and other useful
equipment.

The mobile suits were in high demand among many of the civilian
construction companies, so they quickly became our biggest clients. It
brought money fast, though, not as much as it would have if we dealt
with military or rebel clients.

It kept food on the table, which made me happy. In time, after the
war, I knew our company would be in high demand, but for now, we were
building a hell of a foundation.

It was a bright sunny Sunday morning, when I first noticed them. I
returned home from a long drawn out shopping trip and spied three men
hovering near the gates of our salvage yard, speaking in low voices and
looking around suspiciously at everything that moved. Their attention
particularly seemed uneasy when looking at me.

I pleasantly smiled, nodded to them as I fumbled the keys to the
door of my house. "Good Afternoon." I said in my best cheerful voice.
"We're closed on Sunday, come again tomorrow." I knew they weren't
potential clients, they behaved too nervous for that, but decided to play
stupid on the matter in fear of my life. Rebels didnt take well to ex Oz
officers.

"Is Mr Maxwell at home?" One of the fellows ask. He was tall, with
dark hair and had a long hawk like face. He spoke gruffly and didn't seem
the kind gentle sort. Most of all, he didn't seem the kind of guy Duo would
enjoy hanging out with. "I'm an old friend."

"Old friend eh? Duo has many old friends, many he'd rather not see
anymore, Mr?"

"Lance, JD Lance." The gentleman approached me, then handed me a
business card.

I noted a gun tucked into his pants, concealed behind his leather
jacket, but feigned ignorance. By the look in his buddies' eyes, I knew
they were killers. The only reason they were tolerating me was Duo.
In their eyes I was Duo's squeeze, mess with me, and they'd never
get Mr. Maxwell to do them any favors. "Very well." I said in my
cheeriest, squeakiest voice. "I'll be more than happy to tell Duo you
called. I bet he'll be delighted to see all of you..."

They glanced at each other as if I were the biggest bubble head
around, then smiled. Just as I wanted, ex-Oz officer or not, I was Duo's
bed bunny and most likely a disgruntle underpaid secretary who dropped Oz
for a good screw.

Men never thought very much of women in this world.
Especially gals like me.

I fumbled with my keys once more, balancing my groceries on my
poised knee as I went, then pushed open the door. I caught the groceries in the
nick of time, and swiftly entered the house. Only after the door was
closed and I was safely concealed behind a curtain did I dare look out
the window for the three goons.

Sure enough, they were chuckling among themselves and walking away
from the house.

With a heavy sigh, I pressed into the wall, with realization
dawning on me.

Duo was up to something, something his old buddies wanted to know
about.

And most importantly, something underneath my little nose.

Feeling incredibly stupid I crossed the kitchen to the table and
began to silently unload my bag of groceries. I expected honesty from Mr
Maxwell, and since he never lied I received it most of the time.

However, he often avoided the truth and was almost never up front with
me on how he obtained his salvage. Aware I made him uncomfortable, I
stopped asking. Foolish yes, but I didn't believe I had a choice in the
matter, and decided Duo would eventually come around to explaining
things to me in his own time. Perhaps I had him judged wrong.

With a sigh, I put away the food, and roamed around the house. Duo
was nowhere in sight, but I wasn't surprised. He often disappeared, a
drifter at heart, so I gave him his space hoping that some day he'd
trust me enough to tell me what he was really up to. The boy didn't need
a baby sitter, he needed a friend who cared, and I was determined to be
that friend.

Besides, from the life he described he didn't need to have
another person telling him how he should live his life.
Even if I wanted to save his soul.

"Mr. Maxwell." I said aloud, fingering the buttons of my jacket.
"How can I keep the street safe from a cad like you if if I don't have
sense enough to come out of the rain."

My jacket, I frowned looking down at my trench coat. The thugs
made me so nervous, I had forgotten to remove it when I came in. Without much
thought, I shrugged the thing off and opened the coat closet.

In the distance, I heard the door open, and Duo's familiar gate
clatter across the kitchen floor. "Hilde!? Hilde?! Are you home?" He
sounded breathless.

I smirked thinking about his bright cheerful face as I parted the
coats and reached for a hanger.

Two uniformed corpses lay like a stack of boxes on the floor of my
closet, behind my long leather jacket and my former Oz uniform....
Bodies, two young men, both battered and bruised and deader than
door -nails in my closet....

I heaved in a deep breath.

Duo was definitely hiding something from me.

I felt betrayed.

I turned on my heels to meet him nose to nose.

Large violet guilt-filled eyes stared back at me.

My lips trembled on the verge of pure unadulterated rage. "Duo..."

My Romeo was demon, a murder, a con man, a....... "Duo Maxwell,
why are there bodies in my closet?"

Innocently he looked down, and shuffled his feet, then peered up.

"They were in the mobile suits I salvaged." He said honestly. "And I
didn't have time to dump them, so I had to bring them home. I'm sorry,
Hilde."

Thats why Mr Lance wanted him. He was still working with them. He
was fighting and unable to tell me in fear it would get me in trouble if he
was caught. Ignorance and a wealthy family would protect me. I licked my
lips feeling the tension from my anger slip away some. He cared. "You're
crazy."

He reached over and closed the door behind me, nodding sadly.

"Yes, I am, sociopath I think, not very sure, only met one once, Yuy is
the name, and they say it takes one to know one. So I reckon I'm crazier
than a beg bug..." Cocking his head, the boy swirled his fingers near an
ear to exemplify his point.

Speechless, I gaped, unable to process my next action. I should
have called the cops and reported him. He was a killer pure and simple.
He hid things from me....

I bit my lip tasting iron. "Leave."

Duo twitched and nodded. "Yes miss, I'll leave."

With That, I watched him turn away and walk to the door. A second
later, he paused and looked back. Those lovely violet eyes were dead
now, the eyes of a killer. "What do you want me to do with the bodies?"
"Jettison them." I said flatly. "And I never want to see you
again."