Minor Warning: Slight Relena bashing? I don't think so, but you be the judge.
Another Murder of Crows: Part 31
"Quatre, are you hungry?"
I feebly cracked one eye open and was met with Wufei's black one. I opened the other one and rolled onto my back, stretching until the bones in my back popped. I rolled back onto my stomach and yawned in Wufei's face (bad breath and all) and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. "No Wufei. I'm not hungry. I just feel really drained. I don't know why."
"That's easy to figure. You've been through hell lately."
"Well, so have you. How come you're not passing out all over the place?"
He chuckled. "Because I know how to ration myself out so that I can rest and still be able to function."
"You make yourself sound like food. ‘I know how to ration myself'. Ha. You're weird."
"Shut up. It may sound that way but it's the truth."
"I guess." I yawned again, and scratched my head. "I'll just take your word for it."
"Yeah, well take my word about this too. Your breath stinks. Watch it when you open your mouth, or else you might peel the paint off the wall."
"Huh, looks who's talking. I'm not the one with the girlfriend who nicknamed me ‘Godzilla breath' because of the morning after. You shoot flame with yours." I started to chuckle, but it only made me more tired. "We'll finish this battle later. Sleepy. Nighty night."
"It's morning ass, and please go to sleep. I can't stand it when you talk that way."
"Mm hm," I mumbled, and buried my face into my parachute–made–pillow. You know, that's a really interesting idea. I might make some money off of this. These things are really comfortable.
Expelling a deep breath, I pointed my toes and stretched my hands above my head, relishing in the way my muscles were relaxed. For the first time since we've been here, my sleep had been restful. My body was almost up to speed, and my mind was cleared from any immediate danger. Duo being back has been a huge relief for me, so I'm nearly dreaming of cows jumping over the moon and all that other stuff in those American stories he tells me about.
Sighing into my pillow, I felt a hand lightly caress the side of my cheek. At first I ignored it, thinking it might be Wufei. But then I heard a watery cough and knew from the sound of it that it couldn't possibly be him.
"Duo!" I nearly bolted out of my blankets and latched onto him, wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed my face against his chest, listening the quiet beat of his heart. "I'm so happy you're okay."
His chuckle vibrated against my face. "I'm happy you're okay too buddy. I was worried that you wouldn't be able to get out of there when you came for me. Those things were pretty strong." His loose hair veiled us when he rested his chin on top of my head. "Plus, it was stupid of me to get caught like that."
"No Duo, it wasn't. Nobody here is psychic you know." I sat up to face him. "Look, we made it out of there. You're okay, I'm okay, everybody's okay, so let's not think about it anymore unless it's to figure the portal system thingy out. Other than that, I don't want to hear another word about it."
"Yes sir," Duo said in that mocking tone of his. "It will be as you say, master."
"Don't get him started. He'll be bitching for the next hour if you do." Wufei came from the kitchen and sat two foams bowls down in front of us. "I want you both to eat. Neither one of you has been up for more than a few minutes. I'm not taking ‘no' for an answer either."
"You won't hear anything from me. I'm starvin'!" Duo started to wolf down his food. I ate mine at a more sedate pace. Of course, the others always make fun of the way I eat. They say it's too dainty, almost woman like. But I don't mind it. At least I'm not the one that needed to have the Heimlech done seven times during one meal. I still have the stain on my shirt from where the fish stick flew out of Duo's mouth and bounced off my clothes.
"Thank you Wufei. I appreciate it."
He laid down on the floor next to me, fluffing up the pillow underneath his head. "No problem. I know you would do the same for me, except I'd throw things and raise hell. At least you two are calmer, and less life threatening."
I snorted softly and continued with my food. Duo nodded his head halfway in our direction and continued to shove ramen in his mouth, even though he hadn't swallowed what he already had. I rolled my eyes and turned to Wufei, but he had his eyes closed. "Wu, you're the doctor tonight."
He cracked one eye open. "If he chokes, his ass is grass. I don't want to get up unless someone's here to help us or if this house is on fire."
"I hope you heard that Duo," I said as I took another cautious sip. I swear, Wufei likes to make sure our food is so hot it takes the tar off of a roof. Seriously. But I won't complain. It's good to have something to put in my stomach, and it felt good to have some warm clothes on. By the size of it, I'm guessing it's one of Wufei's sweat suits. He and Heero were the thickest among us. From the way Duo's clothes were clinging to his body in a vain attempt to stay on, I think those were Heero's. Speaking of which... "Wufei, where is everybody?"
"What are they doing?"
I rolled my eyes again. It wasn't worth the breath. But it felt good to be like this. It was like there was a temporary truce between me and Krahe. Duo and I have been together for a while and nothing has happened. Also, I feel very much at ease and it appears Duo and Wufei feel the same way. Duo was steadily snarfing away while Wufei took a short nap. I faced the fireplace, enjoying the heat as it danced across my face and warmed the room. It was peaceful.
Like I said, it WAS peaceful. "Yes Relena?"
She was standing by the foot of the staircase. After a moment's deliberation, she walked over and kneeled in front of me, placing her hands timidly on my lap. I knew something was wrong then. "Relena? What's wrong?"
"Quatre, I need to talk to you. Alone."
I cringed internally. I had a very bad feeling about this. "Sure."
"Woman," Wufei actually sat up on his elbows to yell at her. So much for not moving. "Can the man finish his god damn dinner first?"
I jumped up as fast as I could and pulled Relena to her feet. "Let's go into the kitchen where we can talk in private," I said quickly and almost dragged her behind me. She resisted a bit because she was trying to glare Wufei to death. I need to restrict her time with Yuy.
We sat down at the kitchen's table on opposites sides so that I could see her face to face yet keep some distance between us. She did seem a bit upset, but I didn't have a clue why. "Okay Relena, what did you want to talk to me about?"
She wouldn't look at me, but kept glancing over her shoulder to the living and dining room where Wufei and Duo were. "Actually Quatre, do you think we could take this outside? I'd rather not risk anyone overhearing us."
Oh boy. "Uh Relena, wouldn't you rather go upstairs and talk?"
She did seem to think about it, but shook her head in the end. "No. I'd rather be outside."
I sighed. There's no point in arguing. The sooner we get out there, the sooner we'll be back. "Alright. I'll go get your stuff." I rose from the table and headed for the dining room, shaking my head at Duo as I saw him start to gobble down MY food. I picked up a few articles of clothing and our boots before heading back to the kitchen.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?"
I paused. "Relena and I are going outside to talk."
Wufei scoffed. "No you're not. You can talk upstairs."
"Yeah really, unless you two are trying to be the first joint human popsicle," Duo said around a mouthful of food.
"I know I know, but I'd rather be outside. It's okay."
"Hm. Well, I'm giving you half an hour. If you're not back then, and I have to get up to go get you, there's going to be hell to pay."
I turned to Duo and saw him smirk at me. "You know Cat, I think you might lose your mother hen title to Wufei."
"I was thinking the same thing."
"I don't think so," Wufei interrupted, laying back down on the pillow. "I could never be that damn sappy on a daily basis."
I started to laugh and headed for the kitchen, handing Relena's things to her. We both started to suit up as fast as we could, anxious to get this over with. I couldn't begin to guess what Relena had on her mind. Anyway, after we were dressed, we went out the back door (as soon as all of the crows got out of the way) and went around to the side of the house. Once there, I leaned against the rotted wall as casually as I could and let a stray crow bite on my shoelace as I waited for Relena to say what was on her mind. "Alright Relena, what's troubling you?"
She still wasn't looking at me. Instead, she was facing the snow, messing with her fingers. Okay then. I remained relaxed and faced the sky, opening my mouth to taste a few snow blurries. The weather was at an absolute standstill, except for the slow fall of flakes. The sky was the clearest I have ever seen, with the stars shining so brightly it made the sky look black. The snow was at its purest white, allowing plenty of light for us and the crows to see. I'm glad she wanted to come outside tonight. It was beautiful out here.
"Quatre." I dropped my chin to face her. She was still looking at the ground. "I know how...you always try to protect me, and I appreciate it. But right now I don't want you to protect me. I want the truth."
I was at a complete loss. "What?"
She sighed, then looked at me. "I want you to tell me the truth, no matter how much you think it will hurt me."
What could I say to that? "Uh...sure, Relena. Just talk to me. What's going on with you? You're not making any sense."
She took a deep breath, then launched her question. "What's going on between Heero and Duo?"
I choked on my spit. "W–What?"
She seemed to grow defensive. "Quatre, don't do that with me. What's going on between them?"
"What do you mean? Nothing is going on between them."
She scoffed. "Come on, do you think I'm stupid? Or naive?"
I shoved myself off of the wall. "No Relena, I don't. And I don't appreciate you getting an attitude with me. I'm not their keepers, no matter how much you all think I am. If you have a problem with Heero and how he interacts with Duo, tell him yourself. He's YOUR boyfriend."
"Soon to be fiancee," she corrected. "I know he plans on proposing to me."
I threw my hands up in bewilderment. "Then what's the problem?!"
Her eyes narrowed. "I saw you three."
I put my hands on my hips. "I saw you three what? What?!"
"I saw you three that night on the plane! Heero was feeding Duo, and after he wiped his mouth off, he was going to kiss him and you weren't going to stop them!"
I went into brain freeze. "Y–You saw?"
"Yes!" she screamed. "All you did was sit there like you didn't see them. Thank God Wufei walked in then, otherwise who knows what would've happened."
"Oh come on Relena. That's not fair–"
"Oh it's not? Quatre, you were going to let it happen!"
"Let what happen? Relena, you're being completely unreasonable. I doubt they were going to have sex on what was left of a plane with Duo hurt and Heero wanting to marry you. Besides, getting on my case is not going to make things better."
"I just can't believe you were going to let it happen. I thought you were my friend."
"I AM your friend. But I'm also Duo's friend and Heero's friend, and whatever is going on between those two or you and Heero is none of my business. I can't seem to stress that enough around you. I'm not a babysitter, and I'm not involved in whatever love triangle you're trying to imply here. Besides, that one thing doesn't mean there's something going on between them."
"What about the way Heero was acting when Duo was taken? Huh? He was acting as if the love of his life died."
I rubbed my forehead. I was getting a headache. "He felt he was responsible for the kidnapping and it was eating at him. You have to understand that Heero and Duo went through many things together and were once in love. Their relationship, even as friends, is going to be close and different than from what you would expect between two male friends. And Relena," I tried to say this as gently as I could, "if you didn't realize that, then you don't understand Heero at all."
That gave her pause, and she stepped back as if I had grown another head. "Oh, like you know him so well."
I shrugged. "I know him better than you do."
"I have always understood him! I understood him best during the war."
"Yes, but we're not in war anymore, and we're not the same people we were back then. Heero especially is not the same. I think you're still holding onto that person, but he no longer exists."
"Quatre." She clasped her hands together. "I don't want to argue. I just want to know what I did that turned everyone against me."
"Relena, no one is against you. Why do you think that?"
She took a deep breath. "Wufei was going to kill me if you couldn't get Duo back."
How in... "How do you know that?"
"Because he told me so."
"What?!" I screamed into her face, blowing her bangs back a bit. "Oh, sorry Relena. What I meant to say was...wait, he said that to your face?" I asked incredulously.
That Wufei! "Where was I?"
"You were in the attic with Trowa."
I smacked myself in the forehead. "I'm going to kill that man."
"And I guess you knew about that too."
There was no way of getting around that one, so I said, "Yes."
She didn't say anything at first. She took another step back and hugged herself, trying not to cry in front of me. I let my eyes fall to the ground, where I saw that not only did the crow manage to untie my shoelaces, but the string was also half--eaten. Glad I'm not him. I had to look back up again, because Relena said something but I didn't hear her. "What was that?"
"I said I can't be your friend anymore. Out of all of them, I never thought you would be the one to betray me."
"I didn't betray you," I said, reaching out to touch her shoulder. She jumped back at the contact, and glared at me with a wild look in her eye. "Relena?"
"Don't touch me!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. I jumped back, startled that she raised her voice like that. She has never yelled at me before, so it took a slight toll on me. I was both surprised and hurt. I guess that's how she felt too.
"Alright people, what's going on?" Duo appeared just then, wrapping his loose hair into a bun with Wufei trailing right behind them. I'm so glad they're here.
"Nothing Duo," I said, giving Relena a chance to compose herself. "It was nothing, just a heated discussion. That's all."
"It sounded like a fight to me," Wufei said unhelpfully. "Since when do heated discussions involve shouting?"
"This is all your fault!" Relena shouted at Duo. "You did all this to get attention! You're trying to break me and Heero up!"
Duo was stupefied. "What?"
She lowered her voice to a harsh whisper. "You heard me. You know Heero would be filled with grief if he thought that you being hurt and taken was his fault. You knew he would react the way he did." Now, Heero, Trowa and Dorothy were outside, looking around to see what the problem was.
"Relena," Duo took a step towards her, trying to calm her down with will. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know how he reacted, and I don't know who I'm faulting. You're gonna have to rewind for me, because I've obviously missed something here."
She sneered at him. "Don't give me that innocent crap. It's all about you Duo! You were flying the plane when it crashed, and you made sure that you were the closest to be taken. You're doing this on purpose to get attention."
He laughed good heartedly. "Relena, trust me, there are easier and less painful ways of getting attention than that, I assure you."
I saw Wufei turn to me out of the corner of my eye. "She's lost her mind."
But that didn't matter to me. I was angry. I couldn't believe that she would go there. After everything Duo had done to protect her, even in the plane crash, where he almost died, all she could say was that he did that to get attention.
I stared at Relena, who was just as surprised as I was earlier when she screamed. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see five stunned pairs of eyes on me. I might as well make an exit since I stole the show. I turned my back to all of them and made my way for the pond. I wanted to be alone.
"Shut. Up. Heero." I accentuated each word with every step I took. I couldn't believe this.
I was finally at the pond and walked on the ice towards the corner where I fell those years ago. As much as my mind screamed at me that it was a bad idea, I needed the comfort right now. It's like my footsteps were working independently of my mind. Even though Krahe has done so much to hurt me, he has also become a slight addiction. When I feel lost or vulnerable, I tend to feel better when I know he's near. I just have to watch my step.
I stood over the spot and watched my reflection on the black ice. It was murky, being distorted from how the water froze, but otherwise pretty clear. I could see the pile of snow on top of my hair from standing outside so long, and how rosy my cheeks were from the cold. I looked like one of those porcelain dolls. Not a very pleasant thought.
I stopped looking at the ice and faced the sky, watching the twinkling stars instead. I shook my head a little to get the pile of snow off and stuck my chilled hands in my pockets. I couldn't quite place the feeling I had. I was confused and stunned to say the least. Relena had finally broken down. I couldn't believe she accused Duo of seeking attention by crashing the plane. Nevermind the fact that Heero was the co–pilot, but I guess that doesn't count. I guess I was in on it too, since I took over after Heero vacated the chair.
"You really miss flying through space, don't you?"
I managed not to jump at Trowa's voice. I didn't hear him come up. "Yeah, I do. It's the closest we'll ever be to birds. They have the gift of flight. They don't know how lucky they are."
We stood there for a while, both of us facing the sky and allowing the awkward feeling to surround us without acknowledging it. It's funny how yesterday morning we were purposely trying to hurt each other, and now all I wanted to do was spend the rest of the night out here with him, star gazing.
"Quatre, I'm sorry–"
"Don't apologize. I meant what I said, and I know you did too. It's just...we didn't mean to say it the way we did. But now it's out in the open, so...mission accomplished, I guess." We continued to stand there in silence. An occasional shout was heard from the mansion, but other than that, it was totally quiet. A little too quiet. After a few more minutes, I flickered my sight over to Trowa to see that he was still standing there, staring at me. "Uh, Trowa, I don't think it's safe for both of us to be on the ice. I don't want to fall through."
"Well that's good to hear, considering that you're here, by yourself, where there's a great possibility of something happening to you."
"It's my risk to take if I want too."
He shook his head. "Just like those birds, I don't think you know how lucky YOU are. There are many who would be crushed if something happened to you."
"Would you?" The question was blurted out before I had a chance to think about it. My heart started to speed up and I started to shake. I didn't mean to say that. Embarrassed, I continued to watch the sky. In fact I stared harder at it, wanting to disappear than stay here another moment. Then Trowa reached up and gently grabbed my chin, guiding my face so that our eyes met. His eyes were half lidded, showing only a sliver of lime underneath. And the look on his face was nothing short of predatory, even lustful....
"Especially me," he whispered softly, as he bent down to kiss me.
That's when the ice broke.
The next thing I knew, I hit the snow and something was thrown on top of me. Slightly dazed, I looked around to see that we were off the ice. Actually, I was on the ground and Trowa was laying halfway on top of me, looking over his shoulder for something. The things it takes to get him on top of me.
"He's alright Wufei." He stood, reached down and offered me a hand up. I swayed a little on my feet, but Trowa held me steadfast. If he keeps this up, I'm going to claim that I can't walk. "The ice cracked but I was able to throw us both off before we fell through."
"Well that wouldn't be a problem if you two weren't on the ice, now would it?!"
That's when it dawned on me. "It's a portal."
‘Portal' was the magic word around here, I swear. "What?" they both said.
"That's another portal. Right there." I pointed to the spot. "Remember? I fell through the first time, then when he possessed Duo, he tried to take me here again. It makes perfect sense now."
"Look," Wufei dropped a hand on my shoulder. "Let's talk about this tomorrow, okay? Relena has lost her damn mind, Odin is being useless, Dorothy is being even more useless, and Duo thinks this is the funniest damn thing in the world. I agree with you Quatre, but now's not the time. Let's go." He turned and headed for the house.
I stood there and looked at the ice as if seeing it for the first time. I wanted to laugh. Trowa and I were finally going to kiss and this happened. There's no way this was a coincidence. I honestly wanted to laugh, but I couldn't bring myself to it. As ironic as it seemed, it was also a warning.
"Krahe, leave us alone for tonight. Please," I begged to the hardened water.
"Come on Quatre." Trowa gently put a hand under my arm and pulled me along with him. I stumbled blindly across the snow, not looking ahead of me but behind me at the pond. Even though nothing serious happened, I knew that that was a warning for all of us. He was getting impatient. Despite everything that had happened, the worst hadn't.
We still haven't hit rock bottom.