Another Murder of Crows: Part 21
I blinked several times before my eyes were able to decipher the light in its various colors, but I kept them closed anyway. I wasn't totally weightless, but I couldn't tell if I was lying on a bed or on the floor. I felt something soft and light against my skin, but my mind wouldn't register whether it was a blanket, my shirt, or something else. I didn't feel any pain though. I wasn't afraid or happy either. I just existed right then and there, and that sat perfectly fine with me. I wasn't in a hurry to get back to reality.
Of course, somebody else thought otherwise. "What is it Wufei?"
"Hn," he snorted, a little bit stung. "Well hello to you too."
I didn't say anything. Whatever was under me shifted, so now I'm sure I was on a bed, and I felt myself lift even higher. I guess Wufei got up. I exhaled deeply and tried to crawl my way back into la la land when again somebody else thought otherwise. "Quatre."
"What?" I snapped, and sat up to see that I wasn't in my room like I thought. I looked around and noticed the black fireplace, then the huge window to my right. At the foot of the massive bed was Dorothy, wrapped up in blankets with pea green hair, and her eyes were red as if she had either cried for hours, or didn't sleep at all. Wufei, despite how calm his voice was, had the facial expression of a bull right before it decides to gut you with its horns. And that expression was directed towards me. Uh oh. "Good morning Wufei. Did you sleep well?" I batted my eyes for good measure. Wufei is a good friend, one of my best, but he wouldn't think against hurting me if I really pushed his buttons.
"Quatre," he said, his voice breaking slightly from his anger, "now is not the time for you to play innocent. There was a huge problem last night–"
"You were always here when I woke up."
He stopped mid–sentence. "What?"
I smiled. "You were always here when I woke up. Except once, and that was because you and Heero tried to go get the carriers. After Duo shot him, and when I was assaulted in the car and he kicked you on your cheek," I used my index finger to outline on my face the bruise Wufei had on his cheek when he was hurt that night, "you were always with me when I woke up."
Wufei seemed surprised that I remembered, but the shock died as quickly as it flared up. "Well, I was afraid that you wouldn't...wake up." He shrugged. That was good enough for me.
But is wasn't good enough for Dorothy. She flung the blankets off of her and got up, glaring at both of us. "Look, I don't care about what happened those years ago or what happened last night, though I will admit that it shook me up." She wrapped her arms around herself and a tear fell from her eye. "But I refuse to stay a moment longer. I want the hell out of here." She transferred her entire glare to me. "All of this has something to do with you. Besides Trowa telling Relena and I the facts of what happened here the first time, it all comes down to you somehow. What makes it even worse is you all don't know why. I have nothing against you Quatre, you know that, but I'm not willing to die for you because of some," she flailed her arms in the air, "I don't know what it is, but I'm not going to die here because of it."
"Dorothy, don't go there–"
"It's okay Wufei," I intervened smoothly, while I climbed off the bed. I am not in the mood to clean up any blood, whether its from him or her is anyone's guess. "She's afraid. That's all. Believe or not, I am too."
He grumbled under his breath, but at least the raging bull face was gone. "Whatever you say. Anyway, the others are down stairs. So far there isn't any word from Zechs or anybody else." I sighed sadly for my friend. His longing was so obvious in his voice. "But we could've and not known it because any message would be sent to the plane, and of course, we're in here and its out there."
"Well, one of us could go out there and check, or at least try to give our coordinates. We know where we are."
"I'm not going out there," Dorothy piped up from the doorway. "Duo's in no condition to do anything regarding movement, and I doubt Heero would leave Relena's side for anything. So the three of you will have to fight about it amongst yourselves." Dorothy quietly stormed out the room, the pale pink ends of her hair the last visible thing I saw dash through the doorway.
"I'll go," I volunteered. "I'll try to stay out there for an hour or so. Hopefully something will come through then. It will at least give him and Sally some time to find and translate the signal. They could possibly show up before nightfall."
"Quatre you can't! There's a blizzard outside. Look!" I glanced at the window and only the furious wind and snow white flurries greeted me back. Well, I didn't say that I would like to go. I just said I would.
"Wu, we can't sit back and wait this time. We know what we're up against, and know that he's capable of much more. No crap this time. I want to leave, as in last week." I bent down to slip into my shoes and tie my shoelaces when I noticed that something was missing. More specifically, my ring. "Wu, what happened to my ring?!"
"Don't get excited! Duo has it. He took it off of you last night and put it on himself. I tried to tell him you would be upset about it but he just blew me off and said that he knew what he was doing." Wufei shrugged. "Bitch to him about it. I don't want to hear it."
"I'm not ‘bitching' Wufei," I said defensively, though I don't know why I bother anymore. It just ends up upsetting me more instead of him. "I was only afraid that I lost it somewhere and just noticed it now. That's all. Don't you get excited."
After we bickered back and forth a few times, we finally descended down the stairs. Heero and Relena were on the Victorian couch, but they sat square in the middle, so I couldn't see the red rose that I remembered being there. Dorothy sat in one of the chairs, Trowa was at the window, staring at the snow as if he could change the weather, and Duo crouched in front of the fireplace, poking the brewing flame with a chair leg. I could see in the corner the broken chair that he used. Of course he is a demolition expert, but heaven forbid he goes somewhere without destroying something. We would hate for that to happen.
As fluidly as I could move, I slid into some extra jogging pants, sweaters, scarves and a few pairs of gloves, completed with several pairs of socks. At the last minute, Wufei and Trowa decided to accompany me. To be honest, I'm glad they were. I had no problem going out there by myself, but I knew that it would be a bad idea if I did.
I retrieved my Bowie from Wufei, since he was the last one to have it, and stuck it in the waistband of my pants. And true to his word, I did see that Duo had my ring on, but I was a little hurt that he didn't leave his necklace with me like he would normally do. He also wasn't very receptive towards me; he seemed to be ignoring me on purpose. But I do know that he has some of the worst mood swings I have ever seen, and this is probably just another one of them, no matter how inconvenient it is to the rest of us. So I tried not to think about it.
Well, I know one thing for sure. Wufei wasn't kidding about that snowstorm. Heero had a tough time closing the door behind us when we were leaving; the wind was blowing hard. Not only that, but the snow was incredibly soft, not like it was earlier. Every step we took, we sank further down, and the snow rose higher. Another problem was the crows. They were everywhere: some were on the tree, some around the mansion, but the majority were on the ground, acting as a little runway for us to the cockpit of the jet. It appears that Krahe is not going to take any chances with us either. He has his eyes working for him, and that is going to complicate things tremendously.
After a short eternity, we made it to the smaller half of the jet. Wufei jumped down into it without a thought. Trowa was right behind him, and I followed, a little bit unsure. Trowa caught me by the waist before my feet had a chance to touch the bottom, which I'm thankful for, considering that even though he caught me, the landing still sent a sharp stab of pain up my spine.
The inside wasn't covered much with snow, which surprised me a great deal, but that worked to our advantage, so I'm not going to complain. But when I looked around, I couldn't help but notice the dried and frozen blood on the windshield and walls. Checking over my shoulder, I could see the seat that I was trapped in, and my seatbelt hanging down, swinging lazily from where Wufei had to cut me loose...
I balled up my fists and shut my eyes tight, trying to will away that image. It's over. I'm not in the chair anymore. Duo is fine. He's inside right now, fine. I'm fine. We're okay....
"Quatre." Trowa's breath blew harshly against my ear. I felt his hands settle on my shoulders. "It's okay. You're okay. So is Duo. It's over. You aren't trapped anymore. Wufei got you out. We wouldn't leave you that way..."
Trowa repeated these sentences in a litany that I bathed myself in. His sultry voice was soothing to my nerves and he knew what I was thinking and what I was afraid of. He knew how to calm me down. He knew exactly what to say.
After a few moments I managed to open my eyes and glance at him. I smiled as best as I could, and that in turn made him smile. Just a little. That made me smile even wider, to know that my comfort made him happier. Then, he lightly squeezed my shoulders and stepped over to the windshield, where he started picking up the loose snow and packing it against the dried blood, thereby covering it up so that you couldn't even tell it was there. He was doing that to make me feel better. If we weren't in freezing temperatures and facing the possibilities of starving or freezing to death, then I would've started making snow lions for him.
That's when I heard it. Silence. While Trowa was talking to me, I could hear Wufei in the background on the radio, trying to call for help. Now it was totally silent. I turned to Wufei only to see him staring over my head. I glanced to Trowa and noticed the same thing. So, against my own wishes, I looked up to see what the other two were gawking at. What I saw did not make me happy in the slightest. It was Krahe, dressed in his normal khakis and green vest, khaki coat and black feathers to match, looking down on us with amusement dancing in his eyes and on his lips.
There is only one point in your life when you realize that you are totally crazy. It's like you step outside of your body and you are watching yourself react. Certain situations call for certain behaviors. You can respond with fear, anger, or desperation, unless you're crazy. Then anything goes.
So I saw myself look up at him, place a balled up fist on my waist, cocked my head to the side, and glared. "Um, is there something we can help you with?" I asked rudely.
He didn't seem surprised at my outburst. On the contrary, he met it somewhat. "Yes, there is something you can help me with. You can help me by giving me your loyalty, love, and commitment."
"Hn," I said, rolling my eyes, "I don't think so. You wouldn't get that from me even if I was your dog." My statement didn't discourage him at all. Quite the opposite. He actually grinned even more. I didn't care of course. "Now you'll have to excuse us. We are busy, unlike some people around here."
His deep and sensuous laugh carried lightly through the air before he stood up and walked away. I wiggled my nose some, a snowflake or something landed on it, before I turned my attention back to Trowa and Wufei. I noticed that they were very pale. Probably because of Krahe. Or the weather. Or both.
"We should head back," Wufei said finally, slowly beginning to climb up the wall. But he seemed a bit distracted.
"Wufei, are you alright?"
He didn't look at me, but rather at my feet. "Yeah, I'm fine. I only...I swear to the gods Quatre that I just pissed on myself."
My eyes widened when I heard that Wufei, the Wufei, was afraid. I could see out of the corner of my eye Trowa nodding, and I looked at him. He met my eyes cooly, but with a hint of embarrassment. "Yeah Wufei, me too."
We all laid around the fireplace in some loose form of a circle. Relena clung to Heero so tightly that she was suffocating me! Dorothy, I think, has had it with everybody, so she laid the furthest from the fireplace, glaring at the rest of us. Duo was in the middle of the circle, staring at his hands. He still hasn't said a word to me. Wufei and Trowa sat side by side, often throwing brief glances in my direction or simply whispering things to each other. Those two have become close awfully fast. I wouldn't think that if you claimed to have peed on yourself in fear, you would get a lifetime buddy. Guess I was wrong.
I sat near the archway of the kitchen, going through my things. After we got back, the three of us changed clothes. While digging through my duffel bag, I remembered the key and pulled it out to look at it. That was what I was currently doing. Now that I recall how I got the key, I tried to think of some significant usefulness for it. It's just a key. But of course this isn't an ordinary house, so that excuse is no good.
But then I got this insane idea. I would use the key for a magic wand. Why not? I could see myself tiptoe outside in the snow, wearing a pink tutu and tights, with the ballerina shoes and leotard to match. I would leap and prance my way to the jet where with a simple touch of my ‘wand' I could wish it back to one piece and fly us out of here. Yeah right.
I couldn't help it. I started to laugh. Not hard though, just a soft chuckle. We were facing a depreciating situation and I'm having weird daydreams of being a fairy godmother. I've had my life endangered too many times. If your own death doesn't frighten you, then what will?
I turned at Wufei's voice and saw that all of them were giving me funny looks, not that I blame them mind you, but I couldn't help grinning at their expressions. "Yeah Wu?"
He seemed afraid to ask. "Are you...alright?"
I wanted to jump up and scream ‘leggo my eggo,' but thought the better of it. "Yeah Wu, I'm fine, just thought of something funny."
I smiled warmly, the way I always do when I want to calm him down. He knows when I'm being genuine or not. "Yes. I'm sure. Just had a weird thought. That's all, I promise."
"Okay," he said finally, while Trowa whispered something in his ear. He still didn't believe me, but he let the subject drop anyway. They all complain about what a terrible liar I am, but they still don't believe me even when I tell them the truth. I can never win with this bunch.
Suddenly, Trowa jumped up and ran to me, yanking me up to my feet by my arm. I still had the chain of the key in my hand, so when he pulled me up, the key flung up and hit me on my knuckles. "Ow! Trowa, what's wrong with–"
"Ho~ly shit," I heard Relena say. That, more than anything, shut me up. Relena does not swear. Not by any means. I tried to look around Trowa to ask her what's wrong with her when I noticed that everyone was to their feet and looking at something behind me. I closed my eyes almost instantly. I did NOT want to look behind me. No way. But you know how it is. Even though you're mind is screaming ‘don't look! don't look!' you do it anyway.
The sun was setting, so it was dark outside but not too dark to where you couldn't see your surroundings. Along the kitchen window pane were crows nearly stacked on top of each other as they watched us. More stretched out across the snowy hill. A hundred of them at best. That wasn't the thing though. In the center of the kitchen, in the dying light stood one lonely crow. He chewed on his wings then looked up at us, totally disinterested.
"What the hell is going on now?" I heard Wufei whisper to no one in particular. Besides that, the rooms were totally silent.
"He wants us to follow him," I heard myself say after a moment's pause, but it sounded as if I was light years away. "He is waiting for us to follow him."
"What?! Quatre, what are you–"
I cut Wufei's sentence short when I pulled my arm away from Trowa and walked towards the crow. He held his ground until I was maybe three steps away from him before he hopped and started walking towards the direction of the attic staircase. I continued to follow him, the squeaks and soft patter of feet from the others trailing behind me at a distance.
I stopped abruptly at the base of the stairs. Trowa and Wufei ran into me, but not hard enough to push me forward. Heero came in next, with Relena maybe a centimeter behind him at most. Duo came in, with Dorothy coming behind lastly, ready to bolt at the slightest inclination.
The crow stood on the third step from the bottom, still with a bored expression. Then, a light blue light swirled about him, just a little, before he extended his wings, which turned into arms, and kicked out his claws, which turned into legs. Lo and behold was Krahe.
This was the first time, besides the night before when he ran through me, that he actually looked like a ghost. He had a blue light that seemed to halo his body, and he was visible, but translucent. His eyes were very sharp though, not dull or flat like you would expect a ghost's eyes to be. Of course, I don't know what to expect from the world of ghost tales and phenomenon, but so far, they were at a zero right, three million wrong ratio.
Krahe stood there and smiled as pleasantly as he could, holding out his hand to me. Without even thinking about the consequences, I started to reach out my hand to his when another hand caught my wrist, stopping me. It was Trowa.
He glared with enough intensity at Krahe to the point where I could feel static electricity spark in the air. Krahe, still wearing a slight smirk on his face, only winked at me before slowly ascending the stairs. All of us watched him as he flowed the rest of the way up. That's the only way to describe it. There was a light mist that surrounded his legs, so we couldn't even see his feet! His steps were quiet, and all that I could hear was my fast heartbeat thundering loudly in my ears.
As he continued his ascent, the door started to open on its own, and a light blue light spilled out from behind it to shine down on us. It was so bright that I had to squint my eyes to be able to still see. But it was comforting in its own way. It wasn't very harsh, there wasn't any weird noises coming from it, and there wasn't any shapes in it, as if souls were the light, so I was feeling very relaxed under the circumstances.
Krahe stopped at the top of the stairs and turned around to face us. He wasn't smiling anymore, but stood there and stared at me, as if waiting for me to do something. Taking the bait, I started to step forward when this time four hands grabbed my arms and pulled me to a halt. Wufei and Trowa had my right arm, and Duo and Heero had my left. So much for that.
I saw him frown, his disappointment drawn clearly across his face before he stepped backwards into the blue light and the door slammed itself shut. The force of it rattled the walls and I could hear the crows outside caw in agitation. Not only that, all seven of us jumped sky high at the very least. You can't help but be jumpy in situations like this.
"Now I know for sure I pissed in my pants," I heard Wufei say shakily. Nothing met his declaration except the ragged breaths of the others and a slight, watery hiccup from Relena. Other than that, she didn't make a sound.
Still holding the key in my hand, and my mind made up, I started to go up the stairs after Krahe. He was gone, I was aware of that, but I couldn't shake this feeling. "Quatre, don't. What–"
"Wufei, not now," I called gently over my shoulder. I wasn't met with any resistance, but with the sound of feet noiselessly walking up the stairs. Once I was at the top, I couldn't help but stare at the door in wonder. It smelled so awful, and looked so brand new. I started to touch it with my fingertips but immediately drew them back because the coldness of it stung my hand and the wood flinched underneath my touch.
Wufei came alongside me, to my right, and stared at the door as if he saw something there that I didn't. Trowa was on my left, and glancing briefly over my shoulder, I could see Heero standing a step behind Wufei, Duo and Relena were three steps behind him, and Dorothy still waited at the bottom, ready to bolt. She wasn't kidding when she said that she was shook.
I touched the door again and had to draw my hand back, but this time it didn't sting as bad and also the wood didn't flinch. It actually moved towards my touch. I could feel the others' apprehension. They wanted to get away from here and go back into the dining room, but there was some unfinished business I needed to handle.
"He wants me to follow him," I announced slowly as I considered their reactions. Everyone had their poker faces on. "He wants to show me something. Only me."
With that said, I reached for the doorknob, turned it, and started to open the door.