My eyes snapped open of their own volition. Staring up at the ceiling, I realized that I was no longer in the living room. I sat up and looked about, seeing the fireplace, the window, and my view to the tree and pond. I'm in my room! My hands wound themselves in the blankets as I sucked on my front teeth and tried to recall details about last night, like how did I get here?
I remembered Wufei and I talking. I remembered going upstairs to get Heero. I remembered Heero and Duo having sex, and Krahe showing up after that. I remembered sitting in the dark, afraid to get up even to help myself. Everything after that was a mystery.
A quiet sound caught my attention and I strained my ears, trying to determine how dangerous it was before I left the safety of the bed. Hearing it again, I knew that someone was in the bathroom, taking a bath.
"Bath," I whispered, as if it was some holy ritual that would be destroyed if I said the word too loudly. Well, I hoped that whoever was in there wasn't body shy, because I'm coming in, whether they liked it or not.
Rolling out of the bed, I walked into the hallway in destination to water, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Suddenly, a pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and swung me into the bathroom, where I heard the door being locked behind me. My vision cleared and I saw Dorothy in the bathtub, looking strangely at something behind me. Thinking the worst, I swung around and saw that it was only Wufei.
"Wufei," I said around a yawn, "what are you doing? You almost gave me a heart attack."
"Not to mention nearly scaring me," Dorothy complained. "What are you up to now?"
"Dorothy, not now," he said with a lot of anger in his voice. "This doesn't concern you."
His tone definitely woke me up. "Wu, what's happened? Is everyone alright? Where is everybody?"
"Relena is in her room, Duo is in his, and Heero is at the plane with Trowa, trying to contact Zechs." He gave me a strained look.
"Oh, so they don't know–"
"No, they don't." He gritted his teeth.
"They don't know what? What are they supposed to know? Do I know?"
"You don't want in this Dorothy."
"They don't know that Zechs' plane crashed," I said.
"Quatre, shut up."
"How the hell do you know that their plane crashed? And don't tell him to shut up!"
"It's okay Dorothy." I turned to Wufei. "Wu, what's the matter with you?"
He popped the bones in his neck. Not a very comforting sign. "You wanna know what's the matter with me? Last night, I came downstairs to throw some more logs in the fire to keep it going, and guess what *I* saw." He said this as a statement, not a question.
"What did you see?" Dorothy asked.
I closed my eyes tightly when he said ‘last night.' The second he said that I knew where his remark was going. I thought that it was bad enough I was down there. Now Wufei knew. More than likely, Trowa did too. Not to say that Wufei can't keep a secret, we all know he can, but he has a problem...well...keeping his thoughts to himself. "I should've stabbed myself in the eye with that candlestick."
"No, you should've stopped them, said something, made a fuckin' noise, anything! I knew damn well you weren't asleep!"
"Should've stopped who?!"
"Wufei, I'm not a babysitter! Who am I to say who can and can't sleep together?"
"Who slept together?!"
"Quatre, you know how badly this complicates things, right? Don't tell me I'm the only one that sees something very wrong with this. I swear, I'm in the fucking twilight zone."
"Who slept together?! Answer me!"
"Wufei, if you were so concerned, why didn't you interrupt them? Hm? Why leave it to me? You saw them!"
"Quatre, Duo is more responsive to you than me. He listens to you more. So does Heero."
"Heero and Duo slept together?!"
"Well, they would be more responsive to you if you would stop yelling at them instead of talking. That would work wonders you know!"
"They slept together and Quatre saw it?!"
"That did it. I'm sick of this shit." Wufei turned and grabbed the knob, yanking back hard on the door without unlocking it. When he did, the knob let loose, falling off and landing with a short ‘clang' against the tiled floor. The three of us stared at it in shock.
"Oh hell," Wufei finally said. "This is bullshit."
"Wu, it's not that bad. They'll be back soon, and Relena and Duo are here. They can kick it open from their side."
"No Quatre, you don't understand." He looked over his shoulder to me. "Being stuck in here, with you wearing your Power Puff pajama's and Dorothy's naked, wet ass is my idea of hell."
I turned my back to him and started to untie my pants. "Well my idea of hell was the position I was in last night," I said hotly as I pulled my shirt over my head. "I don't know what it would take for you to understand my position, how I always feel stuck between Heero and Duo and Heero and Relena." I laid my shirt across the sink. "They're all my friends, and you're asking me to choose what's best for Heero, and I can't do that." I pulled my pants and boxers off, laying them across the sink as well.
"Quatre, what the hell are you doing?"
"Taking a bath, what does it look like?" Dorothy scooted back, allowing room for me to get in. I sat down in the warm water, feeling my body start to relax. "You forget Wufei that it's none of your business what they do. Let them fight it out. They have to suffer the repercussions of their actions."
Both of Dorothy's eyebrows shot up to her hairline as Wufei finally turned to face me. "That doesn't sound like you Quatre." All of his anger was gone, leaving only his sense of concern. "That doesn't sound like you at all."
I shrugged, sliding strands of Dorothy's hair that floated my way through my fingers. "No, I guess it doesn't."
He was quiet for a moment. "Is that all you have to say?"
I flicked some strands off my fingers. "Yep."
"Quatre," Wufei said gently, "what is going through your head? Look, you're right." He sighed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten on your case. I just don't know what to do about this. You know the shit's really going to hit the fan now."
Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Krahe's face in the candlelight. It wasn't that he looked beautiful, that wasn't the message he was trying to get across to me. It's the symbolism of the situation. Things kept dying around us. We're running out of supplies. The candles were being used up and dying out. The batteries in the flashlights were dying out. Time's running out. Either I will extinguish the light, or he'll do it for me. "We can't worry about that now," I said, as if I was a thousand years away. "We have to do something." I looked at him. "Today."
He stepped up to the rim of the tub, giving me a very cautious look. "Quatre, what's happened?"
As I started to say something, the door to the bathroom swung open, with Duo holding what looked like a couple of hair pins. Even when there wasn't a knob to work with, he could still pick a lock. I looked up at him and tried to smile warmly. Personally, I was very disappointed in him. Of all the pain he had been put through with Heero, he let last night happen. I felt like he was letting himself be used.
"Thanks Relena," Duo said as he handed the pins back to her. She took them sharply from his hand, nearly snatching them from him. That action quickly caught my attention, and I could see it caught Dorothy's as well. Could she have heard us?
"I. Hate. You." Relena was shaking with rage, but that's all she said before she turned stiffly and walked away. Duo stood there for another moment before swearing under his breath and walking back to where ever he came from.
I looked to Dorothy, who was looking at me. She shrugged so we both turned to Wufei. "Wu, where was Relena when you saw Heero and Duo?"
He scratched his head. "Standing next to me," he said, before he turned and walked out, going to his room.
I leaned back against the cold rim, letting all of this information go over my head. It had nothing to do with me, so I was going to stay out of it. Yes, that's uncharacteristic of me, but if we don't make a serious move to get out of here very soon, something terrible was going to happen.
"I'll help you," Dorothy said quietly as she started combing through her hair. I was surprised at her answer. She seemed to know what I was thinking without me saying a word. I looked at her, trying to determine if she was just joking with me or not, but she returned my look, completely serious. I sighed and smiled wanly. I was going to need her help and then some.
"Thank you, Dorothy."
I was in a very bad mood. Wufei's little tantrum this morning threw me completely off balance, more so than I already was. His apology didn't help in the slightest, sad to say, because even though he did apologize, his attitude hadn't improved. In fact, everyone was in a bad mood. Relena stayed in her room, as I figured she would, and Duo stayed in his. Wufei was unpleasant to everyone in general. I really didn't know what his problem was. We have fought and argued in the past before, but he's never attacked me like he did this morning, and I've never been that blase about it either. But with Wufei, I think it might be a side effect from him going through the portal. That's the only thing I can think of. If not, maybe Krahe was trying some trick on him. Who knows.
Not only that, Heero hasn't taken too well to things either. I don't know how, but when he came in, I guess the air smelled of anger and bitterness, because he poked his head into the bathroom while Dorothy and I were in there, frowned at me, then went about his business. Trowa, I haven't seen hair or hide of him all day. I don't know what's going on with him, but I can't worry about that now.
You would've thought Dorothy and I had been best pals since birth, the way the two of us have been slithering around together all day. After our bath, we got dressed and spent the rest of the morning in my room, going over the clues we had and trying to come up with explanations on them. Actually, I couldn't think of why I didn't consider talking to her before. She knew as much as I did about the place, and thought along the same lines as me, especially concerning the portals. She and I made a great team.
"Okay," she said, licking her lips. "This is it. It's outlined as: the window to the stairs, the pond to the tree, and the attic door is both ways."
"Yeah, that's it."
"Right. So, something happened outside of the window, but we don't know what that is." I nodded. "Alright, so his mother died on the stairs, breaking her neck, and that leads out. He died in the pond and was buried under the tree. I see the correlation there. I also see it that way in the attic." She looked over her shoulder to the window. "I just don't see how...or why, that one is the way in. And," she glanced back at me. "How did he disappear with you in Oslo? We don't have any theories whatsoever about that."
I stretched further across the bed on my stomach, biting on my inner cheek. "I don't know, and there's only one way to find out."
"Quatre," she said quickly, "think about this, okay? You're putting yourself at risk. Plus Wufei is acting like a damn psycho. Why did he explode this morning like that? I've seen you two fight before, but he's never treated you that way."
I rolled on my back and looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know. Something must be going on and he's not telling me. That wouldn't be a first." I flipped back onto my stomach. "I don't know Dorothy. I can't even tell you how I got in here this morning."
"Oh, Trowa brought you in," she said, as if she was talking about how cloudy it would be. "He and Heero found you sitting against a chair, asleep, with a crushed candlestick in your hand." Her eyes turned to me. "It's very obvious that you didn't sleep. You look like shit."
I shrugged, picking at a loose thread on the blanket. "Thanks for the compliment."
"Christ Quatre, don't go there. You look terrible as in you seem to be an eight hundred year old man who's half dead instead of a rich, nearly eighteen young man. What happened last night, besides the hot topic of today?" She crossed her arms and waited for me to say something.
I interlaced my fingers and laid my chin on them. "Krahe came to me last night, and told me that time was running out."
She paused. "That's it?"
"Yeah, that's it."
She made a puzzled face. "What kind of a message is that? First, he has Relena tell us that crap and now this. You know what I don't understand? Why is he playing with us?"
I pushed myself up to my side. "What do you mean?"
She gave me an incredulous look. "Why is he playing with us? It's quite obvious that he could've taken you anytime he wanted like he took Duo. He could have you, kill us and be done with it. I know *I* wouldn't explain what a portal is or anything to you if I was in his shoes. You'd know too much about me, including my weaknesses."
I nodded. She had a good question, but she didn't understand what he was trying to do. "It's more than that Dorothy. See, he wants me to be with him. If he doesn't ‘train' me properly, I could die in the plane like Duo almost did. I have to know how to function there, and to move in and out at will. That's why he's doing this for me. That, and testing out my weaknesses as well."
She violently stood up and walked to the window, pretending to stare out of it. I could see the steam rising off of her head. I moved to sit on the edge of the bed, looking her over.
She was certainly prepared to leave. She had a fuchsia snowsuit on, with a thick purple strip that ran the her sides. Her hair was tightly braided, held together by a broken rubberband. She also had on her ruined snowboots, but one boot was now a totally different color: orange instead of fuchsia. I'm sure every time she looked down at her feet her blood pressure shot up.
This time around I wore dark blue jeans. I hate to wear jeans in the winter, because it felt like they absorbed the cold instead of shielding you from it. But it's better than nothing. I had on a dark blue sweat shirt, this one actually belonging to me. I bought it shortly after I burnt the other one at the school all that time ago. I really liked it, and wanted one very similar. I just couldn't keep the other one, especially when he smelled like him....
"You care about him," she said flatly.
"You care about him." She looked over her shoulder to me. "Otherwise, we wouldn't be here."
I stood up and crossed my arms, getting on the defensive. "What are you talking about?"
"That's how you understand him so well. You care about him." She turned completely to face me. "See, there's a difference between knowing your enemy and understanding your enemy. Knowing them is predicting their moves, what they're going to say, and everything else in that territory. Understanding them is when you know what they might say or do not because you are able to predict it, but because you're seeing their thoughts and actions through their eyes. That kind of understanding is more...intimate."
I crossed my arms tighter around me, feeling myself get upset. "I don't see where you're going with this Dorothy."
She took a few steps up to me, almost coming nose to nose. "This is where I'm going. He wouldn't be after you unless he thought he had a chance. And it's apparent that he does." She raised an eyebrow. "Until you stop caring, he's going to keep coming."
I sighed. She was right. I did care. He did have a chance. "You should've killed me that day."
"No," she said tenderly. "Enough people died that day. Losing one great man was enough." I didn't say anything as Dorothy's eyes took on a blank stare. She did that sometimes when she thought about Treize and her role during the Eve's War. It didn't happen often, but enough to know that it did haunt her from time to time.
The door flew open, scaring us both half to death. Trowa stood there, panting slightly and staring at us with his eyes wide open. "We need you downstairs," he said quickly, before turning and heading back to the direction he came from.
Without another thought Dorothy and I jogged behind him, hurrying down the stairs to the living room. On the way down I could see everyone: Heero was towards the table, Duo was in front of the fireplace, Relena was at the foot of the stairs, and Wufei was by the window. When we made it down, I saw the sight that had everyone so quiet.
What greeted us was very hopeless. Everything we had left was completely destroyed: the food was opened and scattered across the floor, broken. The foam cups and bowls we had were torn in half and broken apart, totally useless to us. The candles were all broken, the flashlights smashed, and the batteries missing. The gun was destroyed, but my Bowie and the key were spared, laid carefully on the table. The warmest clothes that we owned were in the fireplace, merrily burning away. But the coats were safe, except for mine and Duo's. They were in the fireplace substituting for logs. So we had the clothes on our backs, a change of clothes, and that was it.
I walked around and surveyed the area, at an absolute loss for words. The depression struck at me hard, almost making me cry at the magnitude of what was happening. I felt so helpless and responsible that it was eating away at me, making my heart hurt from the tug. "How could he?"
"Trowa and I heard some weird noises from down here and came to investigate," Wufei started. "Heero heard the same, followed by Duo and Relena. We came down and saw the crows quietly tearing up everything. We were able to save your knife, and the coats along with some clothes, but that's it." He shrugged. "What now?"
"I don't know," I said softly to myself, trying to keep the devastation from overwhelming me. I glanced out the window and saw that my ring and Duo's necklace were still sitting outside, guarded by three crows. "I don't know."
"Man oh man," Duo laughed, half hysterically. "We are so fucked."
"Appropriate choice of words for you, isn't it?" Relena shot back.
"Well what can I say? I must taste better." Duo only smiled and winked at her, angering her further. Heero seemed to be surprised that she knew. She looked at him, complete hurt and anger in her eyes, then turned back to Duo to glare at him. He was watching the fire though, either oblivious or uncaring to Relena's stare. My guess would be he didn't care. Duo could be vindictive when he wanted to be.
"Don't start," I said, my voice sounding incredibly strong in my ears. "Bickering now is not going to help us." Taking a course of action, I grabbed my Bowie from the table and stuck the knife in its sheath up my left sleeve. I took Wufei's coat from him and slid into it, slipping some gloves on next. "Come on Heero, get suited up."
Heero raised an eyebrow, but started to get his coat on as well. "What are we doing?"
I stood up from double tying my shoelaces, making sure the knot would hold. "We're leaving."