Another Murder of Crows: Part 16
We certainly weren't a happy bunch at dinner. Of course Duo and I missed breakfast and lunch; we were in a coma until about three in the afternoon. When we did get back the night before, I was unconscious. So Duo and Heero carried me up to bed, where Duo spent the night in there, and Heero took turns with him watching over me. I guess they postponed their fight for another day. When I did wake up, I rolled over to see Sally sitting by the bed with a cotton swab in her hand. She took blood from both Duo and I to measure how much alcohol we had. Basically, we didn't drink enough to even have a hangover, yet I felt as if my head would cave in at any minute. She used a cotton swab and took a sample from my mouth and found out that I had been drugged. It was just a simple agent, Restoril I think. Pharmaceutical companies use it all the time in sleeping pills, so it wasn't harmful. However, it was extremely concentrated, more so than it should have been.
Another problem is that it is pretty common, so that leaves only...oh...every company that manufactures sleeping pills under investigation. That's pointless right there. The other thing is that it wasn't completely dissolved in my mouth. So that means that it wasn't placed in my drink, otherwise it would've dissolved completely. It had to have been inserted directly into my mouth, and the only way that I could've gotten it in my mouth is if I perhaps sucked on a finger--maybe?
I screwed up. Big time.
Noin and Heero were about to go raid Frog's Lane, but with much coaxing from Zechs and I (Zechs is an excellent negotiator, he should have MY job), we were able to convince them that it was a random act of violence. Whoever it could have been, thought that I was a weak target and went for it. Noin reluctantly believed us, but Heero went out there anyway, with Trowa right alongside him. I made him promise not to shoot anybody, or else I'd tell Wufei and Duo he saw the Nutcracker. Let's just say he made good on his promise.
So now we're at dinner, trying to ignore the tension that seems to hang over us whenever we are together. We were in one of the smaller dining rooms, this one about the size of a large bedroom, but the walls were very hollow. You had to speak softly or else your voice would echo across the room. Duo and I sat on one side of the table while Heero and Trowa sat on the other. Sally sat at the head, and Wufei was still asleep. To be honest, I was hoping he wouldn't wake up for a while, especially if he remembered his ‘Full Monty' stunt last night.
Zechs and Noin took Relena and Dorothy out for a movie and dinner. They probably wouldn't be back until later on tonight. The servants were doing what they do, so that just left us to our own devices. Not a comforting thought.
All during dinner though, Heero kept giving me hard looks before going back to his food. He knew something happened. He and I think too much alike. I'm just hoping that whatever he wants to ask he'll wait until after dinner. If he's going to argue with me, I at least want to be where we won't disturb the rest of the household.
"You have some explaining to do." So much for not disturbing the rest of the household.
"Odin," Sally began. I keep forgetting that he told her his real name too. He really does trust her. "Why don't you wait until he finishes his dinner okay? You two might be too upset to eat afterwards."
"No," he said stubbornly, "I want answers now."
"So who are you now, super soldier?"
"Duo, no, don't start this, please–"
"No Quatre! He's not the boss of you, or anybody else! Heero, Sally is trying to tell you to shut up nicely. I don't have manners, so I'll say it in a way that I know you'll understand. Get off his back monkey boy."
"Duo no! Insulting him is not going to–"
"Duo," Heero growled dangerously under his breath, "what is your problem? You are always on my case!"
"Odin, don't encourage him. He's only–"
"I'm on your case because I know you think I'm weak and incompetent."
"Duo, you're asking to get your feelings hurt–"
"What? What gave you that idea? Why would you think that I think you're weak and incompetent?"
"Odin, we can talk in the garden–"
"Well, why else did you follow me last night, huh? Is it because you knew that I would get plastered, or go off with some guy that I didn't even know, what Yuy? What? Tell me to my face you coward!"
"Duo stop it!"
"I followed you because I was worried about you!"
Heero shouted this and at the same time flew to his feet, knocking his chair back in the process. It seemed like nothing else made a sound in the room, except for the last three words of the sentence, which echoed itself over and over again in the tiny expanse of the room. I don't think any of us so much as blinked in fear that whatever spell had been cast over us would break. I don't know what to make of Heero's statement. He could've followed us because he was worried about our mission. But that's not what he said. His motive for driving the forty five minutes to Frog's Lane, not to mention finding what club we were in, then to find us in the alley, was not because of the mission, or Relena's protection, or me. That only leaves one person.
"W–what?" The fork dropped to the table from Duo's suddenly still fingers, sending a loud ‘clang' throughout the room. Heero placed his hands palm side down on the table, and rocked himself a little bit, allowing two ragged breaths to escape from his lips.
"You heard me. I didn't stutter."
"Heero, say it again."
"Please. I need to hear it."
"You said it once already."
"I didn't mean to."
"Why not?! Is it because you still have feelings for me and you don't want to admit it?!"
"Duo, you and I are through, and have been for a while now! Anything and everything that I do for you is because you are my friend–"
"Oh, so we're friends now, huh? Is that it?!"
"Will you two shut up?! I've got a splitting headache!" Wufei barged in the dining room, and all five of us froze in our various positions. Wufei stood, in the doorway, wearing one of Sally's white and black cheetah house shoes, and I mean one as in ONLY one, on his left foot, and that was it.
The expression on Sally's face was priceless. It looked like she was torn between being upset at Wufei for embarrassing her and himself, and wanting to laugh at him. To be honest, that's a tough decision.
I, on the other hand, went into brain freeze. If anyone's ever had it, they know exactly what I mean. There has been too much information given to me, and too many weird things have happened in a short period of time. And now Wufei is standing, naked as the day he was born, in the dining room, like its an everyday thing. The cosmos must be in a complete state of anarchy. There's no other explanation for it.
"What the hell are you guys looking at?" He snarled. I almost choked.
Sally stood up, that expression still on her face. "Uh, Wufei, don't you think you're missing something?" She pointed to his chest.
He looked down to see what she was pointing at, and the realization immediately dawned on his face. "Oh shit!"
He tried to cover himself with both of his hands, but unfortunately it didn't do any good. Sally is a VERY lucky girl. "Damnit damnit damnit!" He chanted as he backed out of the room and down the hall. I could hear a servant gasped in surprise and a tray or something hit the floor, with the various items rolling around. Sally, still perplexed, got up and excused herself from dinner to follow Wufei to their quarters.
The four of us remained that way for another instant, before Heero's gaze broke away from the door and found me. I stood up abruptly and reached back instinctively to catch the chair before it fell back as well. Not even bothering to excuse myself, I waltzed around Trowa and Heero, through the dining room doors, down the hall, and out the back to find the garden that I was in when Heero and Wufei had their ‘discussion.' Once there, I sat down on the cold stone bench and waited. While I waited, I massaged my temples, trying to calm myself down and clear my mind. I have to be in the twilight zone. Have to be.
Sooner than I had wished, I heard footsteps on the soft grass, and a light grunt as Heero sat down on the bench next to me, placing one leg over one knee. We sat that way for a few moments, watching the birds fly across the sky, enjoying the sun's rays soaking into our skin, and just enjoying the peace. Peace. What a funny word.
I sighed audibly and stretched, hearing the bones in my back pop. We sat side by side, but both of us faced forward, not looking at each other. "We went to the club, and everything was fine. This guy started dancing with me, but was behind me so that I didn't see his face..."
"How did it get in your mouth Quatre?"
I snorted. "You don't want to know."
"If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't ask."
This time I smiled. "Well, let's just say that he and I went into the alley, but it wasn't for a fight or a restroom break."
"I see," he said calmly, but I heard him grit his teeth together. "He is becoming more persistent, and you are behaving like a slut."
I turned to face him, but he didn't look at me. "What?! Oh, so we're name calling now? Huh? Well, you been acting like a prick for a while now--"
"No, you don't get it, do you Quatre?" He turned to face me. "Did you know who that guy was? It was him!" He cried. "Him him him! The one from Frankfurt, the one that tried to kill us! The one who tried to kill you!"
My mouth closed with an audible click. "W-w-what?"
"Yes!" He said exasperated. "The one you've had nightmares about! The one who you see when your eyes are closed. The one that drove you crazy to the point that you had to be hypnotized!"
I walked away from the bench and started to pace in front of it, trying to organize my thoughts. And then it clicked: his eyes. They were a extremely light shade of blue. Duh! How big of a warning do I need? Why didn't I think about it?
The drug. It was the drug. I couldn't have known him from Adam, I was so gone. I stopped pacing and ran my fingers through my hair, trying to calm myself down. "I'm a danger to the mission...."
Heero slid off the bench and walked up to me, resting his hands on my shoulders. "No, you're not. You're a danger to yourself. For some reason, when you and Duo are together or when you are by yourself, he seems to make his move then. So, we'll have to keep you two apart, or if you two are together, someone else should be with you. There seems to be something about me or Wufei that is a turnoff to him."
I shrugged. It appears that way to me too. "What about Trowa?"
Heero looked thoughtful for a moment. "I don't know. He hasn't been around for me to see how his presence influences him, but I don't want to test that theory."
I shrugged. I really didn't want to test that theory either. Heero seemed to look around the garden, I don't know for what, before he fixed his eyes on me. "You were here last night, weren't you?"
I nodded my head once. More than likely, he knew I was there all along. "Yes, I was, and I want to talk to you about a few things."
He snorted. "Oh, so I was too hard on Duo, huh? I should've stood up for him, is that what you're going to say, because if so, I don't want to hear it." He started turning to walk away when I grabbed his wrist and roughly pulled him back to me. The surprised expression on his face let me know I caught him off guard, so I have to act fast.
"No, I don't think you were too hard on Duo. We all have different ideas, and sometimes those ideas clash, but we can't let it get out of control the way it always does." I let go of his wrist and he crossed his arms, seeming mildly interested. I continued. "What bothers me is that you want to propose to Relena."
He raised an eyebrow. "I thought you of all people would be happy for me."
"I am!" I shouted. "But Odin, I believe you are doing this for the wrong reasons. Wufei was right, you have to make a choice between the two."
"I choose Relena...."
"Yes, that's what you say, but you're actions dictate otherwise! You are always with Relena, but always ask me what Duo is up to, what he is doing, who he's seeing...."
"That's because I want to make sure he's okay and not doing anything crazy–"
"Then call and ask him yourself! Don't ask me! I'm not his keeper. I will tell you what I think." He seemed amused by that statement, but I don't care. "I know that you love Relena, okay? She's smart, pretty, and strong. I know that Treize told you he thinks Relena is better than you and even you think so yourself, but that doesn't mean you owe her anything, Odin. You inspire her as much as she inspires you. I can't see you loving her as intensely as you loved Duo."
"What makes you so sure?"
I rolled my eyes. "Has Relena ever made you laugh Odin?
He didn't say anything.
"Has she ever caused you to go to Earth because there was a Donkey Kong game she wanted but it was all out in the colonies so you went to Earth to find one because you couldn't stand to see her pout?"
He still didn't say anything.
"Have you ever watched her sleep? Does she dance around in the kitchen, in bunny slippers and a penguin apron to cook your favorite breakfast, which you then eat off of her?"
"Do you make such passionate love to her that she wakes the whole house and half the block with her screaming?"
"I said stop it."
"NO! I want you to think about these things before you do something you will regret."
"I won't regret my decision–"
"But its not all about you damnit!" I stamped my foot in anger. "It's not all about you! This concerns Relena's feelings as well! How would she feel if her husband did whatever she wanted him to do for the sake of an argument? What's the point of being married if you only have sex, do your duty and raise children that you might have because its expected from you, not because it's what you want in your life? How can she live with the fact that her husband loves and would rather be with someone else?"
"You need to shut up!"
"Wrong. YOU need to hear these things and think about the answers and what they mean. Some one is going to get hurt either way, so you have to be sure you are where you wanna be and that nothing else could ever change your mind."
"So, are you on Duo's side or mine?"
I blinked. "What?"
"You heard me."
"What kinda question is that?"
"Are you my enemy or my ally?"
"Oh Odin, don't do this."
"I'm not choosing between you and him. No."
"Well I have to choose."
"My relationship to Duo and you are the same! You two don't have to compete for my love. He and Relena want something from you that only one person can have, and that's your heart. That's why you have to choose."
"Don't ‘hn' me. Make a decision."
"I already told you who I choose."
"Then stick with her, and don't disappoint me."
"What about you?"
I blinked again. "What about me?"
"You keep getting caught in compromising positions with this guy. What about Trowa?"
"What about him?"
"Do you love him?"
I paused. "You know the answer to that."
"Then why aren't you two together?"
"He doesn't love me."
"Yes he does."
I paused again. "Now you're being cruel. Stop it."
"You don't believe me?"
"Hn. That's your mistake."
"And marrying Relena is yours." I said that a little harsher than I intended. Heero didn't say anything, just glared at me briefly before turning around and stalking away, mumbling to himself in Japanese. I smacked myself in the forehead, and sat down on the bench, berating myself for letting that slip.
"Yeah Quatre, way to go. Now all you need to do is accuse Wufei of streaking and you'll be set," I said out loud to myself. What a lousy day.
A small sound caught my attention, and I quieted so that I could hear it more clearly. Waiting perhaps a minute longer, I heard it again. It sounded like a sniff or something, as if someone was crying.
I got off of the bench and walked behind it, where there were a bunch of rose bushes. Sitting behind one, with his knees up to his chest was Duo, softly crying to himself. He must've heard everything. I wanted to jump head first off of a cliff.
His looked up sharply at me, completely startled. He didn't hear me coming. Suddenly, he bolted up to his feet and started to run. Fast. In the previous life, Duo must've been a track star. Seriously. That boy could possibly out run a gundam if he tried. "Duo, wait!"
He didn't stop though. He continued to run, and soon we reached the end of the garden where we were treading on part of the shoreline. This part of Relena's land was made like a cliff: instead of grass, there were rocks, some as big as your body. The trees were spread far apart, tall and scarce, and the sound of the water hitting the shore was almost deafening in your ears.
Duo, still going at an all out flight, suddenly slipped on one of the wet rocks. He didn't fall, but started to slide and lose his footing. A tree was nearby, and unable to stop he ran into the tree with his shoulder, and fell hard onto the ground.
"Duo!" I slowed my own pace and carefully stepped down the steep hill, unable to prevent knocking some rocks loose, with one of them hitting him in the head.
"Well, hopefully it knocked some sense into you!" I hollered, and helped him up to his feet. "And lets get you to Sally. It looks like you hurt your shoulder." He turned to face me, and I could see why he ran. His eyes were bloodshot red and puffy. His face was stained with tears, and his nostrils were flared a bit. What got me were his eyes though. The sadness they held in them made my stomach turn.
Once he realized I was staring at him, he smiled. It was a weak, small smile, but one nonetheless. I smiled back, wanting to ease his pain. He then leaned forward until our foreheads were touching, and sighed. "You are the greatest friend and brother in the universe, do you know that? You fought hard for me back there, and I'm just happy that someone cares so much that they would go through all that trouble, since talking to Heero is like talking to a dead ant."
My eyes widened at that, and my smile got bigger. "I was only telling the truth." I pulled back and wrapped an arm around his waist, helping him up the cliff. He seemed to have a limp as well when he walked. Probably twisted his ankle. "How much did you hear?"
"Well, when I snuck up on you two, you weren't even talking yet, so I heard everything."
"So you know–"
"That he wants to marry her? Yeah, I know." We made it maybe another three steps up the cliff before Duo pushed me away from him and ran towards a tree, and started to throw up.
"Duo!" I ran as quickly as I dared to him and grabbed his braid, throwing it over my shoulder and pulling his bangs back while rubbing his back. This lasted maybe a moment longer before he finally straightened up, and rested his forehead against the tree. "Duo..."
"He wants to marry her," he whispered, the words forced through his sobs. I sighed out loud and moved to the other side of the tree, away from the mess and sat down, pulling Duo into my lap. I placed his head in the crook of my neck, and wrapped my arms around him, allowing him to cry. He pulled out his cross and held it tightly in his hand, as if he didn't it would blow away. I rocked from side to side as I heard his muffled sobs and hiccups, playing with the end of his braid. Looking up at the sky, I saw the fluffy white clouds in the shapes of ponies, and the cool breeze ruffled my hair, almost tickling me with its fingers. The ground was cool but comfortable, as the sun hung low in the sky, its red orange color streaking the west a brilliant gold.
Switching my attention between Duo and the sky, I kept wondering how such bad feelings could happen on such a beautiful day. My thoughts once again returned to my conversation with Heero, and how dinner with Relena that night went on as well. So far things have actually gotten worse. I couldn't do anything but growl in annoyance. Duo sniffed once and peered at me through his bangs. I didn't look at him though, just stared ahead as I complained to myself.
"A vacation my ass."
"Are there any questions?"
Relena wasn't there, but Duo, Trowa, Wufei, Dorothy and I were waiting for Heero to close the meeting. Duo and I stayed out there so long, Wufei (clothed) and Sally came out there looking for us. He ended up having a dislocated shoulder, which Sally popped into place, and a badly sprained ankle. He hurt his ankle and shoulder when he and I were ‘jogging' along the hill. But he explained to me that this was not a lie: technically, it could be considered jogging, just depends on the point of view. He may never lie, but he can certainly make the truth do a backbend.
Anyway, since Duo is hurt, I volunteered to be an extra person and go with him, Heero and Trowa when they talk to White Fang. Dorothy would take my position at the entrance, paired with Wufei. He didn't seem bothered about it at all. I think he was worried about Duo. I told him about what was said and what happened out there, so he only gave Duo all the sympathy he could offer, and Heero every dagger--eyed glare he could manage. And I saw that he could manage quite a few.
"Alright. Meeting adjourned." Everyone stood up silently, and filed out of the living room. My eyes and Trowa's met briefly before I tore them away and helped Duo out the room and up the stairs. Besides telling Trowa that his sister called, he and I haven't exchanged a word. That sits fine with me. After this is all said and done, he's going to go back to L–3 anyway, and things will be like they were before, so there's no point getting attached or talk about old times right? Right. If I keep telling myself that, I'll be okay.
Wufei, Duo, and I made it up to my room, and Trowa was a half step behind us. I opened the door while Duo and Wufei hopped in, and the amount of time it took for them to go in I managed to look up and see Trowa. He wore very loose sweat pants and a white t–shirt that had been through some extreme wear. His arms were extremely well developed, and his shorter bangs allowed just a hint of lime to show through underneath. He still had his stick legs, but I liked them that way. All and all, he was as gorgeous as ever. Why can't I just get over him?
I smiled wanly at him and went back into the room, closing the door quietly behind me. Wufei had already encased Duo in my bed and he was sound asleep. I padded over to the mini–bar and got two lemonades, then made my way over to the window sill where I seated myself. Wufei sat down across from me, and I handed him his glass, where we both took cautious drinks.
"Duo told me the details about what happened last night."
"Odin also told me it was our ghost buddy."
He sighed. "I don't know what to do anymore."
I propped my feet up on the sill, dug my knees to my chest, held my drink in one hand and my other held my legs together. "I didn't know what to do in the first place." He laughed softly, and I smiled. "Don't worry about it anymore tonight. It's late, and we got a rough and long day ahead of us tomorrow."
He nodded. "If you or Duo need anything, don't hesitate to get me."
I smiled. "Thank you." Silently, he finished his lemonade and placed it on top of the little bar and left, closing the door behind him. I stared out the window, watching as the moon's rays skimmed on the surface of a pond, and how it glistened like thousands of little lights on the water. Taking another sip, I exhaled and stared at my reflection, at a complete loss. I'm confused and hurt, sorry and angry, bitter and scorned, sick and betrayed. I wish I could vanish in smoke.
Soon, another figure's reflection appeared on the window, as he strolled carelessly to about a foot behind me. His eyes were bright and fresh in the moonlight, seeming almost like cat eyes. His hands were stuffed in his pockets, as he leaned back in a casual stance, completely relaxed. He looked at my reflection on the window as I looked at his. I could hear Duo murmur and shift in the bed, the cold chill that permeated the room causing him to cling tighter to the covers around him. I sat, unfazed, on the window sill. The cold doesn't bother me anymore.
And for the rest of the night, we stared at each other's reflections in the window.