I felt so warm and safe. The air smelled lightly of burnt wood and my stomach was still full from the night before. I pulled the blankets closer around me in an effort to chase away a breeze that seemed to have gotten in my cocoon somehow, and tried to crawl my way back into darkness. I didn't want to wake up yet– "Ah! Duo! I know you didn't put your cold feet on my back!"
"Well, what else am I suppose to do? I'm freezing my ass off here, along with my feet! I could've put my ass on you, so stop complaining!"
I frantically thrashed about, trying to uncover myself from the many blankets that all of a sudden wanted to tie me down like cling wrap. "Duo, get your feet away from me or else."
"Or else what?"
"Or else I'll...I'll bite you!"
"Get real. You wouldn't...yeouch! Quatre, you bit me!"
"Serves you right. I told I would–ouch! Duo! Stop kicking me!"
"You shouldn't have bit me!"
"You started this whole mess!"
"I see you two are awake and well."
Duo and I turned in unison to the slightly nasal voice. "Good morning Wu. Sleep well?"
"Hn," he grumbled, pushing a loose strand of hair behind his ear. "No, Quatre, I did not sleep well. How could I between Duo snoring and you whimpering in your sleep?"
"Hey, I don't snore that loud!"
"I was whimpering?"
"Yes," Wufei replied, exasperated, as if *I* was suppose to know I was whimpering in my sleep. "I couldn't tell if you were having a wet dream or if you were in pain."
Forgetting where I was for a moment, I peeled the blankets and the parachute off of me, and padded myself around my groin area. Nope, I was dry, and soft. My muscles also weren't very strained. When I had a dream like that the last time, I woke up sticky, sore, and in a closet. If that happened last night, I would've been an ice cube by now. "I don't think it was a dream Wufei. And if it was, I don't remember it."
"Whatever. I'm sorry I brought it up then," he said, scratching his head. "That's irrelevant now. In a few minutes, we'll all be moving to another place for shelter. It's getting too cold in here, especially at night."
"Oh great!" Duo cheered. "But what did you find? We're in the middle of nowhere as far as I know, and I don't remember the co–ordinates from when we crashed. Where are we?"
Just then the door opened and Heero and Trowa waltzed in. I jumped up to my feet and stepped back a little in shock. There was an anger rolling off of Heero that I hadn't felt in a long time. Not only that, but frustration too. "Duo, Trowa and I need to talk to you privately," he said to him, but looked at me. "Quatre, we'll be out to join you two and the girls in a second."
"Sure, whatever." I threw my hands up in the air in an half attempt of surrender. There was something VERY wrong here. It wasn't only the fact that I felt such emotions from him, but also the way he looked at me. I don't know how to describe it. His eyes were harder than a rock. He held such pure and adulterated hatred in his eyes, but I knew that it wasn't directed at me. I didn't move at first. I couldn't. His feelings were so strong that I thought if I moved, I would fall down.
"Come on Quatre, let's go." Wufei gently held me by the shoulders and guided me out. While walking past Trowa, I had to stop again to stare at him. He was afraid. He emitted so much fear that I could smell it. His face was as stoic as always, but my heart never lies. He glanced at me briefly before he walked further into the plane and squatted down on the other side of Duo. Wufei squeezed my shoulders and nodded in the direction of the door. I exhaled and tried to brace myself for whatever may come.
I hopped the short distance down from the plane, probably no higher than six inches from the ground, and was not surprised to see how hard the snow was. Wufei ambled briskly in front of me and I followed him the two feet to where the girls were waiting. The emotional strain appeared to be weighing them both down, but other than that the girls appeared to be fine.
Wufei started talking to them, about what I didn't know, but I couldn't get myself to care all that much. This whole scenario is wrong. Duo can't stand Trowa-–well–-he can't stand Trowa because of the way things broke down between us. Trowa and I have never been together. Not just in the way that we've never had sex, but that we never dated. I'm attracted to him. I know he knows that. And he's attracted to me. I know that too. What I don't understand is why he told me not to ever see him again. And Duo's upset at Heero too. So, two of my best friend's enemies are alone with him, supposedly talking. I don't like that. Not at all.
All four of us turned at the noise. It came from the plane. It sounded as if someone had either kicked or punched the wall. It had to be either Duo or Heero, but whoever did it probably broke their hand, the contact was so loud. Other than that, it was complete silence again.
"What the hell was that?"
I swirled around to Wufei. "Beats me. Let's go check on them."
He grabbed my arm before I even had a chance to finish my sentence. "No. Don't."
I could feel my forehead scrunch together and my eyebrows pull down. I felt like this was a conspiracy. The four of them were plotting something against me. Wufei showed concern for the others but didn't do a thing to make sure that they weren't killing each other in there. I snuck a peek over to Relena and Dorothy, but they looked about as clueless as I was. No help there. So I have to go to one of the sources. "Wufei..."
Before I finished grounding out his name, the plane door flew open and Duo stepped down, trying his best to carry a duffel bag. He's still too weak from the crash. Heero followed behind him, carrying a few bags as well, followed by Trowa. Probably half of the stuff we brought with us on the trip, those three were carrying. So I ran in and grabbed two duffel bags and a box of food. I was still pretty sore and my back screamed against it, but I managed to hold everything without a problem. Wufei grabbed a few more things, while the girls carried the rest of the food and first aid supplies.
We walked about ten feet, over a small hill, where then I could see where we were headed. It looked like a house. Mansion actually. It appeared to be three stories. It seemed old though. The wood, even from a distance, was rotten, and loose boards hung haphazardly off the wall. As we got closer, I could see a small pond iced over, but judging from where we were walking, we were going to walk around it, instead of over it, which would be faster. And I was very interested in that, since I felt like my arms were going to fall off any second. "Hey Wu?"
He didn't glance my way. "Yes?"
"Why don't we go over the pond? If would be faster–"
"No." Heero didn't even let me finish my sentence. Everyone is cutting me off today.
"But Heero, it would be faster. Duo is worse off than I am–"
"Damnit Quatre, I said no!"
Heero had to come to a dead halt to keep from running into me, I spun around and faced him so fast. I really didn't want to argue, but I couldn't help myself. "I'm sorry Heero, if I gave you the impression that I needed your permission! What I meant to say was that I'm going that way, so I'll see you all at sundown, jerk!" And just like that, I started trumping off towards the small pond, whistling away like I didn't have a care in the world. I heard hurried footsteps and glanced to the side of me to see Trowa. I was shocked to say the least. But he didn't say anything; he only walked along with me over the pond, silently, as I continued to whistle ‘I'm a little teacup.'
Dorothy and I sat on the bed, eating popcorn, and talking about whatever we pleased. The sun was beginning to set, so the sky was painted that light purple and pink. It was incredibly beautiful when set as a background against the pearl white snow. The room we were in was amazing. The headboard of the bed had the body of a crow in the wood. So did the ends of the bed and the fireplace. Now the fireplace had a boy, around the age of 15 carved in it, with his arm stretched forward and a crow on his wrist. The boy was standing next to a tree, which resembled a tree that was a couple of meters outside of the window. But anyway, Trowa and I made it over the pond just fine. I was surprised when we first entered the house. It was dusty yes, but not as dusty as I thought it would be. There were tiny cobwebs in the corners, the table and fireplace looked a little worse for wear, but other than that, it would suit us nicely for the time being.
Whoever lived here beforehand was totally obsessed with crows though. The ends to the couch, chairs and table were carved in the shape of crow heads. The fireplace had several crows on vines carved on it also. It actually was very beautiful. I walked around in awe for a bit as I stared at the massive black staircases, one to the left and the other to the right, that led up to the second floor. There appeared to be five bedrooms. That will work. Relena would be in Heero's room, and Dorothy will probably choose Trowa's.
I shook my head to clear that thought as a pang of jealousy stabbed me. Exhaling loudly, I peered at Trowa out of the corner of my eye to see him just standing there, taking deep breaths and not actually looking around. I didn't know if he was in pain or if the walk wore him out. "Trowa, are you okay?"
Even though his bangs are shorter, they still covered half of his face. "Yeah Quatre, I'm fine. Just tired."
"Oh, okay. Well, since we're here, I could scout around upstairs and you can scope out down here since you're tired, that way we could have everything secured by the time Heero and the others get back." I placed the bags and the box down on the floor and started for the staircase.
"Quatre! Don't. Wait, please."
The ‘please' at the end of the sentence got my attention more than anything else. Trowa wasn't rude by any means, but he wasn't in the habit of saying things like that. He also didn't have a habit of raising his voice like that. He didn't necessarily yell my name, but his voice was excited. "Huh?"
"Don't go. Odin and the others will be here shortly. Besides, he and Wufei went through this place like a tornado earlier. There is nothing to check out."
"Oh. Okay." I sat down on the last step of the stairs and waited. The rest really isn't worth mentioning. Trowa and I sat and stood in our various ways until the door bursted open and Heero came barreling through it, straight for me. I know him too well. I managed to duck at the last minute, thereby avoiding the blow, and punched him in the ribcage. But I left my back open and he ended up elbowing me in the spine. Before I could return another blow, I felt myself being jerked out of his reach, and held securely against a bunch of hard buttons, presumably from the front of someone's coat. The girls were standing a few feet back, but I could see that Wufei had a hold of Heero's arms, so I know he's not going anywhere. Duo was sitting on the floor, legs sprawled out, too cold and too tired to care about what we were doing.
"Are you crazy? Are you trying to kill yourself?" Heero screamed at me.
I laughed back at him, and pulled my arms out of Trowa's grasp. "Look who's talking. Mr. Self Destruct and I'm-gonna-jump-and-not-open-my-parachute Yuy! Walking over a frozen pond is not suicidal the last time I checked!"
"Oh, so you wanna go there? I'm not the one who almost killed–"
"Don't go there Yuy." Trowa's clear and hypnotizing voice cut through our argument. I spun around so quickly to face him that I lost my balance, stumbling over my own feet. He easily caught me though, thank Allah, and helped me sit down on the floor.
"Quatre!" Duo, as quickly as he dared, crawled over to me. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," I said, haphazardly swatting his hands away from me. That dizzy spell certainly knocked me out of my anger. "I'm fine. I just got dizzy."
"Wufei," Trowa's quiet voice called, "why don't you take Quatre upstairs, and I'll bring in the rest of the stuff. I think Heero and Duo have some things to talk about."
He did as he was asked, for once, and helped me up to my feet, acting as a crutch. Dorothy also took my other arm and both of them got me upstairs and to the room in the middle in record timing. After I sat down on the bed, Dorothy and I started to talk, while Wufei stood guard at the window. I guess he's hoping Zechs or Sally will find us.
I shook my head to clear it. I certainly have taken up daydreaming. "What is it Dorothy?"
She smiled. "I asked what happened between you and Trowa?"
"A gentleman," Wufei interrupted from the window, "doesn't discuss such matters."
"Well, it's a good thing that I'm asking this soldier to soldier then." She winked at me. "Or from fencer to fencer, which ever you prefer."
I shrugged. Why not? At least she asked me instead of Wufei's gossiping secretary, or Duo. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure which one of them is worse. "What makes you think there was something between us?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh please, spare me that innocent look. When you and I were fighting on Libra, and I...hurt you," I snorted, she blushed slightly, "he came to your aid, and he was much more gentler and caring than any comrade should be."
"He didn't want to aggravate my condition."
She leaned forward to the point where our foreheads touched, and whispered to the point where I almost didn't hear her. "I saw the love in his eyes when he looked at you. Quatre, if I had killed you, he wouldn't have hesitated to break my neck." She sat back, and spoke in her normal tone of voice. "But what happened to make you two not speak to one another for almost a year?"
"Well," I shrugged, "I really don't know. I would see him every other weekend or so, and often times took Duo along with me. It was just that when it was us two alone, Trowa was very uncomfortable. So I started to bring Duo along to liven things up, but he seemed to become even further withdrawn. Then one day he took me by the lion's cages, and asked me not to ever see or visit him again."
She laughed softly. "That was stupid of you."
"Stupid of me?! I'm not the one who–"
"You gave up too easily. You should've fought harder."
I slipped off of the bed and stood beside it, resting my hands on my hips. "I don't want to be around those who do not want to be around me. I respect others' wishes, no matter how much it'll hurt me. Dorothy, I can't believe you said that."
There was a hard knock on the door, which was immediately opened by Duo. "Hey Quatre, I got a favor to ask you."
"Yeah?" I tried not to sound too miffed, but Duo does interrupt at the most inconvenient times.
"I'm about to take a bath, and I need help washing my hair, but I figured if we all took baths two at a time, we could save some hot water, since we have to boil it and all."
"Yeah, sure, let me grab some clothes and I'll be right behind you."
"Oh," moaned Dorothy, "can I bathe with you two? I don't believe I've ever seen you two wet and naked before. That would be a treat."
"What? Are you–" I shut up in mid–-sentence as this insane thought hit me. I glanced to Duo out of the corner of my eye and I saw him fighting to keep a grin from spreading across his face. He was losing, badly, and obviously thinking the same thing I was. So, I whipped up the most innocent look I could. "Sure Dorothy. That would save even more water, and," I leaned towards her, where our noses almost touched, "I'm sure Duo and I could...entertain you."
"Well, I'm sure you could." She got up and went to her suitcase and started to gather some clothes. I looked over to Wufei, and he only shook his head and mouthed to me, ‘I don't want to know.' I quietly snickered and followed Duo out the room, hustling to his duffel bag to where he hid the hair bleach. At first we were going to use it on Wufei, but I like this target better.
I'm awake. If you snap your fingers, that's how long it took me. Just like someone flipped a switch. Only moving my eyes, I looked about the room. Nothing but the dark shadows welcomed me. So far so good.
I sat up and stretched, but covered my ears in irritation. That noise was driving me crazy. I don't know what it was. I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only one that heard it, because Wufei was lying right next to me and he was sound asleep. Maybe it's in my head. Yeah, that's it. My imagination. Right.
I laid back down on the bed and sighed, hoping that sleep will claim me soon. But I heard the sound again. It's the same one. The sound of tapping from upstairs. Tap tap tap. It doesn't have a rythmn though. It's completely sporadic, but all the same it's getting on my nerves, and I can't sleep because of it.
"Whatever it is better be dying," I murmured to myself as I crawled out of bed and wiped the sleep from my eyes. We all went to sleep in jeans and sweaters because it would be a bad idea to leave a fire going all night, even though the windows were so thick that the chill didn't reach us. I slipped into my boots and tied them loosely, then stepped out into the hall. As stealthily as I could, I tried to tip toe to the stairs, but of course the floorboards have to creak and crack as loudly as possible. I felt like I was trying to sneak out on my father. Of course, I never had the chance to do that. But anyway, as I made it to the first step, I almost woke everyone up with the noise I was making.
"Quatre!" Someone whispered harshly.
I tripped over the next step and grabbed the rail to stop myself from barreling the rest of the way down. Dorothy quickly helped me to my feet, and I tried to glare at her but it was squashed immediately when I saw how the moon reflected off of her pea green hair. I don't know what else Duo mixed with the bleach and toothpaste, but whatever it was sure did a number on her hair. I don't even know if it'll come out! "Dorothy, you scared me!"
"Well, you deserve it! And what are you doing up? Where are you going?"
I sighed and started walking down the stairs. I could hear her soft footsteps behind mine. "I keep hearing a noise, and I can't sleep because of it."
"What noise? I've been up all night and I haven't heard a thing."
"What? Why?" We made it down the stairs and were passing the fireplace.
"Well, I'm rooming with Trowa, and it's hard to sleep with those legs next to you. You should understand what I'm feeling. Besides, I'm trying to think of a way to get even with you and Duo."
I stood at the entrance of the kitchen, holding my hands to my head in concentration. This whole place felt so familiar, and it was driving me mad. "Dorothy, it's from comments like that that got your hair green in the first place."
"Why? Does me sleeping in the same bed as Trowa make you jealous?"
I pressed my hands harder against my temples. "No, it doesn't," I answered through grinding teeth. Something was trying its best to worm itself to the front of my mind. There's this great, big pressure at the front of my skull, pushing against my mind so that I will understand; doing all that it can to click everything into place. But it felt like something was there, blocking it, and I have to find a way to remove it.
"Quatre, are you alright?" /Tap./
"Shh! There it is!"
"There what is?"
Without even thinking, I ran to the center of the kitchen and paused. I slowly took in my surroundings, but all I could see was the way the moon's rays reflected a pale blue, soft, light off the walls. /Tap./
I glanced to the side of me and saw what looked like a large, dark gap in the wall. On closer observation, I realized that it was a doorway. I passed through it and saw that there was another door at the top of a staircase. Before I could even voice the question, Dorothy started walking ahead of me up the stairs. Annoyed that she got the jump on me, I started after her, going up two steps at a time. Within a matter of seconds we were at the top, and both of us were suddenly dumbfounded on what to do.
The door was what got us, I think. It seemed old and moldy, but appeared shiny and new. However, something was obviously dead. The smell was horrible. I'm surprised it didn't reach down the stairs, whatever it was. That must be it then. The tapping must be a creature probably eating the dead one. But what kind of animal would wait until the meal was decaying to eat it?
So I put my hand on the knob and opened the door. Biggest mistake I have ever made.
It happened so fast, I don't think I even saw what was coming. I twisted the knob and the door started to open. Then, the door flew open and slammed into the wall. A ghost, spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it, with the bluest eyes I have ever seen, ran through me. He just ran straight through me, and let me tell you, that was the worse pain I've ever known in my life. Nothing will ever beat this. It's not like in the movies, where a person walked through the ghost and felt nothing. No. That's not correct. Not at all. When he ran through me, he froze every cell and nerve ending in my body. All of them. Every muscle, including my lungs and jaw, tightened and locked as if I had tetanus. I couldn't breath. I couldn't scream for help. I couldn't even blink. My body shook with limbs that I thought were going to break off, and everything, including the hair on my head, burned with the deepest chill.
Then suddenly, it stopped. My heart started to beat again, and my lungs started to work. I exhaled and saw the soft puff of cool air flare into brief life before dying. In the distance, I could make out Dorothy screaming. I never thought I would ever hear her scream like that. She was calling for Heero and Wufei, I think. I'm not sure. Everything sounded far away.
I fell to my knees with my hands to my sides and my palms up, in a weak sign of supplication. My eyes were open and I stared right in front of me, but all I could see was a grey, murky void. But that wasn't what I concentrated on. This was all my fault. It started with me, the day I saw him skating on the pond, when I ran outside to find him. I invited him into my life, when I was stupid enough to fall through the ice and not die when he kissed me. I forced Duo to shoot him, and for him to take revenge. I provoked him to lash back at us when I set fire to the house, took the photos, his father's journal, and the key. He had to follow me to the train station. I had wronged him in many ways.
And now I have put the closest people to me in danger without even knowing it, and because of me they are going to suffer. I was always the weak link.
I turned my head slightly to see Duo. His hands were on my shoulders as he tried to shake me out of my trance, and his face was full of love and extreme worry. I couldn't help but smile to myself as I looked into his face. I love Duo so much. He's the best friend I could ever have and wish for. Heero and Wufei crouched at both sides of him, and Trowa was to my side. That much I could see out of the corner of my eye. But as soon as I smiled, the worry melted off of his face and he grinned back at me.
I slowly grabbed his hands and squeezed them, digging my nails deeply into his palms. He gripped my hands back, not nearly as hard as I did his, but it was enough for me to know I got his attention. "We're gonna die here."
Instantly, the smile on his face quickly turned to that of despair. However, my smile never wavered, even though I felt horrible that the last thing I saw was his despondent face as I passed out on the hard, cold, wooden floor.