"Quatre, answer me."
"Look, you said you needed some time to yourself and we've given you that. Now open the door. I don't want to hurt you to get it open, but you have to get up so that we can deal with this."
"Leave me alone Wufei. I'm not angry with you, but I don't want to talk to anyone right now." I was sitting on the cool floor and leaning heavily against the door, using my weight to keep it closed. So far I'm doing pretty good. Despite the fact that Heero and Trowa both tried to push it open, I still won. But every victory has its price. My butt is going to be sore for weeks!
I ignored Wufei and concentrated on the necklace I was holding in my hand. The cuts in my palms stopped bleeding hours ago, but the scabs themselves haven't fully hardened yet. I used my sweat pants to wipe the cross clean of my blood, and allowed myself to wallow in self pity ever since I made it back to this room. After the initial shock wore off the others, Trowa finally picked me up and carried me to my room. The second he and Wufei turned their backs, I shoved them both out and closed the door behind them. Since then, Heero and Trowa have tried to break the door down, Relena and Dorothy have tried to sweet talk me out, and now Wufei was taking his shot.
"Quatre, damnit, don't make me hurt you! It's not safe for you to be alone with the necklace and the cross. We have to get rid of them before--"
That's the most he was able to say before I tossed the jewelry on the bed, jumped up and threw the door wide open. I grabbed him by his collar and yanked him in, slammed the door and pressed his back against it. "What do you mean by that? How is it not safe?"
Even though I was close to strangling him, he didn't bat an eyelash. "It's silver."
That knocked me out of being angry for a second. I was totally unprepared for that answer. "Okay. So it's made of silver. Big deal. What does that have to do with anything?"
"It has to do with almost everything," he said quietly as he removed my hands from around his neck. "Duo wanted to draw the most attention in order to protect you, and I agreed with his decision. I must say now that I wish I was more adamant about what I wanted to do."
"And what was that?"
"To destroy them both. I know how much that cross means to him and how much the ring means to you, but we must get rid of them before something else happens. I expected some complications, but nothing like this."
Somebody started to bang on the door. It could only be Heero. "Quatre, open the damn door."
"In a minute!" Wufei and I shouted.
"Wu, I don't understand. Explain."
He sighed. "Silver attracts spirits."
My face fell. "What?"
"Silver attracts spirits. There is something in the metal that calls to them. It reels them in."
"Then what repels them? Gold?"
He bowed his head. "No."
"What?! No, you have to be mistaken. How can silver attract them, but gold not repel them?"
"Quatre, has any of this stuff made sense from day one? That's the way it works, and no amount of wishful thinking and logical who ha is going to change that."
"Okay okay. So silver attracts them. Does gold?"
"No. As much as Duo and I have researched, we couldn't find any significance with gold."
"Then why did he take my ring?"
Wufei sighed again. "Because you have two little silver crucifixes on both sides of the gem, remember?"
I turned my head to the mentioned ring, and watched it sparkle on the sheets before returning my attention back to Wufei. "So, when Du–he and I were together, with his cross and my ring," I slumped against him and whispered the rest, "it's like sticking a lit flare up his ass."
Then it really clicked. "Remember that day when Odin and I were at the mall, and that guy was there that kissed me?"
"He was wearing silver. A whole lot of it. Now that I really think about it, I know that poor guy was possessed by Krahe. Because of all the silver, I guess he was able to do that. I wish I would've known then."
"Even if you did, there was nothing you could do about it."
"Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" I whispered hoarsely. It had been three hours since Du–he disappeared. I didn't have a clue on what to do. None of us did.
"I wanted to tell you, but Duo thought it was best to leave that bit of information out. Quatre, if you knew, you would've demanded that you wear it instead of him."
"But Wufei, this is all my fault."
This time it was Wufei's turn to throw me against the wall. "Quatre, you stop that! This is not your fault! We know who's fault it is and you know that we will do everything we can to get him back. *I* will do whatever it takes to get him back."
I slumped heavily against the door and started to cry softly. I couldn't help it. Weakness or no, I didn't care anymore. This whole thing wasn't about pride, or about who's the toughest soldier or anything like that. This was about who was willing to sacrifice the most. Krahe had absolutely nothing to lose. But I had everything to lose and then some. He had taken the most important person to me, and I was helpless to stop him. Hell, I couldn't even say his name. It hurt too much just to think about it. Worse yet, even if I did give myself up, that still wouldn't be enough. He wanted my soul and my heart, and that was something he couldn't possibly have. That already belonged to someone else. "I…I can't do this."
"Yes you can." Wufei gently pulled me away from the door and into his own arms, hugging me closely.
"I can't do this alone--"
"You won't be alone," he whispered softly in my ear. "I'm going to be there right beside you every step of the way. We won't let anything happen to you. Not me, or Odin, or even Trowa. We will do whatever it takes."
I sighed tiredly into his neck. "I don't want to see him."
"I know, but you must. He did what he did because…believe it or not, he couldn't stand the fact that something could've happened to you."
I sniffed twice, and lifted my head up to look him in the eye. "Really?" I couldn't believe I sounded so pathetic.
"Yes Quatre. When you were gone before…he was a totally different person. He was extremely quiet, unobtrusive, and cold to everyone in general."
I scoffed. "He's always been that way Wu."
When he actually thought about how he described Trowa, he had to laugh at himself. "True, but really, what I meant to say was that he was the shell of the person that he used to be. The spark that made him human was taken away, leaving him empty. He's not going to let that happen again."
The gentle knock on the door made both of us jump, but I still clung to Wufei, and his grip didn't loosen a bit. "Quatre?"
"Come on in Trowa," he said, the defeat completely apparent in his voice. "I know Yuy's about ready to shoot the door down. That's all we need is a couple of infected bullet wounds to add to our problems."
I couldn't help it. I laughed. It's not like Wufei to crack a joke. Of course I knew that it wasn't meant to be a joke; he's as sarcastic as he gets, but the mental picture itself was almost too much to bare. He pulled me back and held me by my shoulders at about an arm's length while I was still chuckling away. "Are you better now?"
I was shaken to the core, but that was it. Shaken, not defeated. "Yeah, I'm okay."
"Good, cause it's about to get ugly. If you like, I will do all the talking."
I just nodded vigorously. I didn't want to think right now and I wasn't up to any argument either. The door opened swiftly and Trowa walked in. I felt my anger and betrayal start to rise and I tried to squash it. Tried being the key word. Heero walked in next, and his appearance shocked me so much that I almost ran to him to perform CPR. He was a walking zombie. His unruly hair was no longer unruly. It seemed as if gravity had finally figured out how to pull his hair down. His eyes were no longer a fierce Prussian blue, but pale and lifeless. He had deep, dark gray bags under his eyes and he slouched when he walked. He was no longer a proud, fearless ex--soldier. Instead, he was a broken man. Relena and Dorothy trailed in last, walking together and holding each other's hands tightly. I'm pretty sure Dorothy knew all the details, but I didn't want to bring it up, especially if she found that booger that magically appeared on her arm.
"Oh no. Nuh uh." Everyone turned their attention to Wufei when he spoke up. I couldn't help but look at him. He started to squeeze my shoulders so hard that I was afraid he would crush them.
"Excuse me?" Relena asked, a little unsure if he was speaking to her or Dorothy.
"Relena, you shouldn't be here. Neither should you Dorothy. We're going to find a way to help Duo. It's safer for you two to keep your distance from Quatre if at all possible. Besides, the less you know, the less need the spirit will have for you."
"Well, we want to help too--"
"I understand that Dorothy, but the best way you can help us is to do what we say and to stay out of the way."
"Wufei, you can't be serious—"
"God damnit Relena!" Everybody jumped at his shout except for me--well--I couldn't jump. His grip on me was so tight I was on the verge of passing out. "This is NOT a democracy! From now on, you all will do what I say. Shut your trap Yuy!" Heero started to say something but closed his mouth when Wufei told him too. By Allah, I thought it would be an extremely cold day in hell…well…it was cold in Frankfurt, and our lives have been a living hell since we've been here…close enough. "I don't want any whining. You will do as I say, when I say, how I say, without any lip or questioning. I have my reasons which I am not going to explain to you. Go downstairs or in the room somewhere and relax. But whatever you do, don't you dare leave this house. I don't care if Satan himself comes in here wearing a pink bunny jumpsuit complete with the ears and a white tail, you will do what I tell you."
Relena and Dorothy stood there and gaped at Wufei in total disbelief. I could understand their feelings; it's not every day that you see this side of Wufei, and more than likely they probably never saw this side of him. But still, them disobeying his orders was not very smart.
"Relena," I started to plead with her, more for the welfare of my shoulders than anything else. "Please do as he asks." I know. He didn't ask, but that's not the point. My lack of circulation is. "If anything were to happen to you, it would be a seriously crippling force to peace--"
"Relena, you got three seconds to get moving or I'll personally boot your ass out." That was all the coaxing she needed. She and Dorothy were through that door in half a nanosecond. As soon as the door closed behind them, he released my shoulders and I gratefully hugged them with the little strength I had left. "Everybody sit down." Trowa, Heero and I immediately dropped butt first to the floor. Trowa sat across from me, and Heero was more to my right between Trowa and I. We were forming a little half circle. Wufei sat down at a more sedate pace, completing the circle, and carefully crossed his legs. He opened his hands and laid my ring and Du–Duo's necklace on the floor.
"I'm alright Quatre, just a little frustrated." He smiled weakly at me. "But I'll be fine. Don't worry." He patted me on the head like I was a little boy, but I welcomed the touch. It reminded me of Iria, my sisters and Father when I was younger. I miss that unconditional love.
"Okay, look. We don't need to rehash on what happened, and I don't want to play the blame game either." He looked especially to me and Trowa. Wonder what he's trying to say. "But...I don't know what we should do. I don't know where to go from here to find Duo. However, I know that he can't be far. I think he might be around the house somewhere. We've checked everywhere except the attic. Quatre, I'm afraid we need you to do that, because now it's unbearable for us to even get near the door."
I nodded. "That won't be a problem. I'll do whatever it takes."
"Great. Now, if we don't find him there...I--I don't know what to tell you Quatre."
I nodded my head again, letting the tears spill from my eyes as well. If he's not there, I don't know if I can take it. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
"I got a transmission from Sally." Heero's voice was monotone as always, despite how he looked. But still, he seemed a bit...distracted. "I don't think she heard me, but at least something is starting to come through. I'll try later on tonight, when the weather dies down. In case we get help soon, the rest of you should go with Relena and Dorothy and I'll stay behind–"
"Fuck you Odin! Don't you dare try to pawn your girl on me!" Wufei didn't even fly to his feet. Superman would've missed it, he moved so fast. "You go with her if the opportunity presents itself. I'm not stepping foot off of this place until I find Duo!"
Heero was on his feet as well, and both of them were just about nose to nose. "Go to hell. You may be telling us what to do now, but don't think for a second that I'm going to follow your orders like some lackey of yours. Get that straight right now."
I snapped. No matter what I've learned in school about biology or the human brain, I've never figured out what the breaking point was for any person. I never knew what thin line it was that made someone snap. It's always something little though. The big stuff gets sucked up and breathed out in counts from one to ten backwards or taking a walk while laughing the offence away. But why does a small phrase, short comment, or a gesture cause someone, let's say me, to leap to my feet, and punch Heero in the eye?
The sound of my fist colliding with the corner of his eye socket almost made me throw up right then and there. But I didn't see Heero anymore. All I saw was Krahe. I saw him taunting me. I saw him teasing me, laughing at me to come and get him while he held Duo above his head by his neck. I saw him dangle Duo in front of me like I was a cat playing with a toy. I saw him kissing him, touching him in ways that he shouldn't, just to get to me. Duo should be here arguing with Heero on how to get me back. Not the other way around.
I realized then that someone was holding me back. I remembered that my right hand stopped abruptly against something hard, then when I tried to follow up with my left fist, it wouldn't do it. I blinked a couple of times and was able to see Heero was actually the one standing in front of me and not Krahe. I saw that his left eye was starting to swell. He didn't do anything though. He just stared blankly at me. I don't even think he acknowledged the fact that I hit him.
Then I noticed why I couldn't hit him again. Trowa had his left hand covering mine, and his other arm was wrapped around my waist, lifting me off of the floor some. I know I could've kicked him in the shins or elbowed him, but I didn't want to waste the energy. Besides, I might try to kill Heero if I get loose. "No, you go to hell," I said calmly.
"Quatre, I want to find Duo. I can't do that if I'm bickering with you."
"No, see, that's what I was trying to tell you Odin. I told you earlier that you have to choose, and you've already made your choice. If help comes, YOU go with Relena, because you chose her and she's your responsibility now. Wufei and I will stay behind to find Duo. This was what I was trying to explain to you in the garden. You chose her. She is your future. Whether we find Duo or not is not relative to your future, because you've already chosen it. Understand now?"
"Fuck you. He's my friend too Quatre."
"But I am a better friend to him than you are, and so is Wufei. But some things are more important than your friends, and that is where I'm going to help you draw that line." By this time Trowa had let go of my fist and put me down to where my feet touched the floor again. "Wufei is right. Don't pawn her on us. Take care of her and protect her like you're supposed to do."
"Who are you to give me lectures?"
"What are we going to do about the ring and the cross?" Trowa smoothly avoided the upcoming battle that would've lasted for a very, very long time. I have to admit, he always had perfect timing.
"Destroy them." Wufei didn't hesitate.
"No! Don't. Duo will never forgive us." Heero quickly stepped between us and put the cross around his neck and the ring on his pinky finger. It didn't fit. Oh well. "I'll wear this, because I know that Duo would do anything to protect you." He sneered out the rest of it, like that was supposed to hurt my feelings.
"You're an asshole Odin." I was surprised at myself that I was able to say that and have the whole conversation without my voice raising in the slightest. I must've went crazy again.
"Odin." Wufei turned to Heero and stood maybe six inches away from him, staring him squarely in the eye. "I will only say this once, so listen carefully." I started to get nervous when I heard the venom rise in Wufei's voice. "If, for any reason, we are not able to bring back Maxwell, I guarantee you that I will not rest until I kill Relena. I will make her sorry that she ever saw you. I will make her sorry that she ever met you. I will make her sorry she ever knew your name, or prevented Duo from killing you. That is a god damn promise. And if you try to stop me, I won't harm you, but it will make her suffering all the more unbearable. Do you understand?"
Heero didn't say anything. They only stared at each other before Heero finally commented, "we should get up to the attic," spun on his heels and waltzed out the door. I roughly pulled myself from Trowa's grasp, then angrily glared at his stoic face before stalking off after Heero. Wufei was right beside me as we thundered down the stairs.
"Did you really have to threaten her life?" I whispered to him as we passed by the fireplace and the girls, who were sitting on the couch.
"To make him commit to his decision. And I mean it too Quatre. If we don't find him...there will be hell to pay like you wouldn't believe."
I nodded. "I understand." The four of us just about ran up the stairs and made it to the top before I remembered. "Gah! I don't have the key. I haven't had it since the night I came up here by myself!"
"I know," Wufei said, handing me the mentioned key. That jerk. "I took it and kept it from you ever since then. I don't want you coming up here by yourself anymore. If you want this key, you have to take it from me." I can't explain how he did this, but it looked like he pulled it out of his pants. He must've figured out Yuy's trick too.
"Fine."I snatched the key from him and unlocked the door as fast as my frantic fingers would let me. I just about kicked it open and ran inside, diving into the task. I must've looked insane checking under the desks and chairs, trying my best to squelch my feelings. I knew he wasn't there. That would be too simple. He knew we would come here. Why go through that extravagant exit just to sit here and twiddle your thumbs waiting on me? Even though I didn't want the reality to kick in, it eventually did, and that left me completely drained yet full of hopelessness.
I fell to my knees in the middle of the floor and allowed my tears to flow freely down my cheeks. I didn't know what to do, and that was the worse thing I had ever felt in my life. I'm used to structure and protocol. If you couldn't defeat the enemy, you retreated to fight another day. If you couldn't get through the front door, you used the back. There was always another option available. It may or may not benefit you, but it was an option nonetheless.
"He's not here," I finally admitted to myself. "Du–Duo's not here." I covered my face with my hands and cried quietly, the only indication being my shoulders shaking. I could tell that Heero was the one who went stomping out of the attic, and that Wufei followed right behind him, screaming at him in Chinese. All I did was continue to sit there and cry.
Then, some warm hands tentatively touched my shoulders and caused me to jump. "Quatre? Say something. Please."
I didn't answer him though. I wanted to yell at him, to scream at him, to tell him to go away or to jump off a cliff. Anything. But I didn't. All I could do was cry.
"Quatre. Don't cry. It's going to be alright."
I didn't want to believe that. I couldn't believe that. I didn't want to be heartbroken again.
I could hear Heero and Wufei shouting at each other downstairs in their respective languages and the girls squealing in horror. They're probably tearing each other to shreds. But I couldn't do anything about it.
I was too weak. I was too tired.
And Trowa was touching me.
I felt his hands rest on my shoulders before they slid down to my back, making a comforting circular motion. After a minute of this, he carefully guided me against his chest, and rested my head in the crook of his neck. I kept my eyes closed and inhaled his natural scent with a touch of Cool Water, enjoying the feel of his lips pressed against my temple. I heard something fly and crash, followed by a cruel shout and a high pitched squawk. My guess would be that Wufei threw a chair but missed, then Relena screamed. All of that didn't matter though. Not right now. We had our hopes and now they have been partially destroyed. We came here to find Duo and discovered he wasn't where we could reach him. We were at the bridge, but we weren't ready to cross it yet.
So I let him hold me.