I splashed more water on my face in an effort to calm myself down. I thought that I would at least loosen up a bit by the next morning, but I was wrong. The sunlight made my nausea ten times worse, and for the life of me I couldn't stop crying. Just seeing one of the others out of the corner of my eye made me sick and sorrowful all over again. But I was finally starting to get control over myself.
As coolly as I played it the night before, it took everything I had not to vomit all over the floor. It wasn't the blood that bothered me. Not even the smell bothered me. It was the fact that the people I loved the most were hurt, slowly dying from their injuries. Relena, once Krahe disappeared and I cut her loose, tried her very best to strangle me to death and nearly succeeded. I refused to fight back. It was Dorothy, when she woke up, that pulled her off of me and forced her upstairs to one of the rooms. After a few minutes, both Relena and Dorothy came downstairs with the first aid kit to help me tend to the others. That brought out another discovery. We were almost out of medical supplies.
I started to treat Wufei first because he appeared to be the worst off. My suspicions were confirmed when we got most of the blood off. He had been stabbed all over his body: arms, legs, stomach and chest, with a blow to the forehead as well. It seemed that the vitals organs were missed, but at the same time he had lost a great deal of blood. If his blood pressure were to drop, there would be nothing we could do for him except watch him die. It didn't appear that he was stabbed with my Bowie though. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was sharp, pointed and long. Dorothy later concluded that it was the crows' beaks.
Next was Heero. He had been hit in the back of the head with something flat, but with rounded edges. I believe he was the first one to get knocked down, because his blood was halfway dried whereas Wufei's was fresh. He also didn't have any other injuries to his body unlike the others, just the one blow to his head. I thought that was odd. Heero wouldn't pass up an opportunity to fight and kill these things. He had to have been caught off guard, and had to have gone down first. But when Relena and I moved his body over to the fireplace to lay him next to Wufei, I caught a glimpse of the door out of the corner of my eye. The doorknob and door had blood on it. When I came in, his body was near the door. I see it now.
I then went to Trowa. By this time, Duo was awake somewhat, swearing up a storm and then some. Dorothy was trying to calm him down and stop the bleeding, Relena was with the other two, finishing their wrappings, and I was looking over Trowa with a panicked eye. My hands were trembling as I reached out to touch his face. The clothes fitted loosely on his thin body, so I couldn't see whether or not he was breathing. It was his neck. It was turned at a somewhat unnatural angle, and I was frightened to see if his neck was...broken or not.
I whimpered and withdrew my shaking hands as I touched his chin. I didn't want to know the truth. I didn't want to acknowledge it. But it was alright. Dorothy came over, reached under his neck and pulled the key out from under him. He was laying on it, which caused his neck to appear that way. I was ready to kiss Allah's feet.
Trowa only had bumps and bruises for the most part. He wasn't bleeding much, just a trickle out of the corner of his mouth, but he was completely out. I think they beat him to the point of unconsciousness. Other than that he should be fine.
Once we got Duo calmed down, we laid all of them in front of the fireplace, but not too close. First was Heero, then Wufei who was more towards the center of the fireplace, then Trowa with Duo on the other end. I had them arranged so that their heads were pointing towards the fire, keeping them warm and the blood flowing. I had Heero a little further from the fire so that the clotted blood wouldn't start to bleed again. I didn't know what I was going to do with him.
Relena laid down next to Heero, refusing to leave his side, and Dorothy laid between Wufei and Trowa to keep an eye on them. I was heading for the attic to lock the door myself when I spotted my ring and Duo's cross on the kitchen floor. My hands clenched into tiny balls as the rage swelled through me. How did my ring get inside?
That will have to wait. I went through the kitchen and passed the archway to the attic when I spotted the walls of the staircase. They came through alright, and there seemed to have been a lot of them. The stone walls had deep gashes and cuts, as if the creatures were clawing their way to and from the attic. The stairs had buckled under their weight. A...smell I want to say, of pain and torture hung in the air, making my stomach do somersaults.
I quickly ran up the stairs and locked the door. Much to my relief it behaved like an ordinary door. It didn't try to reach out or back away. It didn't do anything. I guess it could tell something wasn't right. There was a light cloud of anger in the air, and a great majority of it didn't come from the girls or myself.
I went back into the kitchen and picked up my ring and the cross, went to the front door and tossed them outside. I didn't know how they got back in here, but I didn't care either. I wanted them out, and I wanted them to stay out. I was to the point where I agreed with Wufei. We should've destroyed them a long time ago. I don't know why I held onto that ring, especially since I couldn't remember who gave it to me and when.
After that was done, I ran upstairs to the bathroom and threw up. I wasn't sick, but I was upset. I don't know if anyone else has ever been upset to the point where they vomited, but I would hate to be the only one. I was waiting to see the boots I was wearing come out of my nose followed by the pants. It was horrible. Not only that, I couldn't stop the tears. I couldn't breathe out of my mouth, and now I couldn't breathe out of my nose because there was snot in the way. I don't think I've ever been this low in all my life. I was wrong. Krahe could still hurt me. I did have something left, and it was the others. He would hurt me by hurting them, and I didn't have any power to stop it--well--to be more precise, I refused to use my power to stop it. Now, I don't have a choice. It has to be done. Besides, ‘a deal's a deal' Duo used to tell me. But that didn't mean I had to like it.
So I spent the entire night by the toilet.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was the rusted rim of the toilet, watching me with what resembled a smile if it had a face. At that very second, I knew that my existence was a sham. I spent my youth training for privilege, then training to be a gundam pilot, and now I was reduced to this. I've helped save the galaxy twice, used my financial assets to help the world, and I was laying here with my head propped against the lid like a loser. If I knew how I would've died.
Now we're back to the present as I splash water into my face and mouth. Looking at the mirror, I could see that my eyes were puffy and red, with bags underneath as a symptom of my insomnia. My cheekbones were a deep blue, either from bruising or just from lack of good circulation. My hands kept trembling uncontrollably, but there were too many factors involved to single out what was the exact cause. Most of all, I felt dead. Quatre Raberba Winner didn't exist anymore. He was gone. All that was left of him was this pathetic shell.
"Quatre, I don't know what to do. Only Duo is awake...Christ, you look awful. What the hell happened to you?"
I turned empty eyes to Dorothy. At least I thought they were empty. She blanched a little and stepped back. I guess I did look awful if I scared Dorothy, of all people. "They need to get some medicine in them, but we can't afford to try and insert an IV. We'll have to forcibly wake them up. Wufei should have a fever by now. Does he?"
She furrowed her eyebrows and cocked her head to the side. "Yes he does. I don't how high his temperature is though. We need a thermometer."
"No we don't." It took a lot of effort, more so than I thought I had, to walk away from the sink. I just felt frozen to the spot. I made it downstairs however, where I saw Duo sitting up, staring blankly before him. I bent down next to Wufei and touched the side of his neck with the back of my hand. She was right. He did have a fever. "I'm estimating around 102° F. We have to do something quickly."
Duo leaned over and touched Wufei's neck in the same manner I did. "I agree," he said in a raspy voice. "There's no way we can get him something before it gets worse. And it's too much to try and move him."
"Duo, don't question me, but I need you to come with me. We're going to get medicine and other supplies." Whenever push gave way to shove, I could always count on Duo. Without any resistence whatsoever he got up and started to get warmer clothes on. I still had on what I did yesterday. Yes, I know I probably smell, but I was beyond caring. My main concern now was them. This had gone way too far and got completely out of control.
Relena was laying beside Heero. She shifted, but remained asleep. That was good enough for me. At least things would be quiet. "Dorothy, I need for you to stay here and look over them. Right now you're the only one who can defend them, but you shouldn't need to. I'm going to attract him away from you all."
I turned to Dorothy as I waved Duo over to me. "Yes?"
She exhaled. "Be careful. I can't handle this by myself."
I smiled, or at least I hoped I did. "Sure thing." I thumbed the Bowie and the key that were in both of my pockets. Since last night, I was afraid to leave the key around, why I don't know, but anything could happen at this point. And my knife I was afraid to leave around because it could be used against one of them, and that I couldn't let happen. It was my fault things got as out of control as they did, and it was time *I* started to be responsible for my lack of action.
"Duo, come here." He came and stood in front of me, about an arm's length away. He had a flat expression on his face, but the curiousness in his eyes betrayed how nonchalant he was acting. "I need you to hold onto me." He held onto my elbows as I held onto his. "Now, close your eyes and keep them closed. You'll know when you can open them." He closed his eyes. I closed mine, took a deep breath, then released it slowly. This was the only way.
"AH!" I yelled as I landed hard on the floor. Something landed on top of me then rolled off of me, landing on the floor as well. I curled myself into a ball and held the back of my head, trying ineffectively to stop the pain in my stomach and at the back of my head. It wasn't working very well.
"Fuck! God damnit! Son of a bitch!" As you can tell, Duo was having similar problems.
With a groan I opened my eyes, squinting against the bright light in the men's bathroom. The tiled floor wasn't as clean as I had hoped, but it was better than how we have been living these past few days. I reached up and grabbed the sink, using it as leverage to pull me off of the floor. My body didn't uncurl itself yet, but I didn't mind waiting. It seemed that Duo was worst off than me. "Duo, are you alright?"
"Yeah, just fuckin' peachy," he said, spitting blood on the semi--pristine floor. "Don't worry, the sink broke my fall. Ain't there a way you can control that shit?" He grabbed onto my pants leg and started to pull himself up. "I mean Christ, that hurt like hell. How I landed, I think I got the faucet shoved up my ass."
I sighed loudly and helped him the rest of the way up. When I stood completely up, I noticed a sprinkle out of the corner of my eye. Looking, I saw that the faucet was broken at the base, allowing water to shoot up in little squirts. "Uh oh. You broke the sink."
Duo didn't share my concern however. "What? Man, fuck the sink! They can always get another sink. I can't get another ass. Where are we anyway?" I grabbed Duo by the wrist and led him out of the bathroom. "Oh my god. This place looks like Piggly Wiggly."
Yep, I was back at the store again. This time though, I knew exactly what I was after and I didn't care who saw me or not. "Duo, follow me." I followed the signs that hung from the ceiling in the store until I came upon the pharmacy. I ran my thumb across the buckle of my sheath and slid the Bowie partially out. I didn't want to hurt anyone, and I didn't want to threaten anyone either, but I was not taking ‘no' for an answer today.
There was a sign at the counter that read ‘Out To Lunch, Back In 20.' That sat perfectly fine with me. I jumped over the counter, waiting for Duo to do the same, then made my way through the various aisles of medications. "Duo, grab as much Tylenol as you can for Wufei. He can't take anything else without it thinning his blood, then he won't stop bleeding." Duo turned and quickly got what he was told to. I just started reaching for anything that resembled an antibiotic. I didn't know much about medicine, only what I saw or what Iria and Sally happened to mention. But something was better than nothing, and I knew that none of us were allergic to anything of this nature. I just felt that we weren't going to get through all of this without at least one of us getting stoned from the wrong dosage.
"Quatre here." He dumped the bottles of pills on the counter. "I'm going to get one of those handbaskets."
"Good idea, and grab some bottled water," I called back as I started to collect gauze, antibacterial cream, iodine, and vitamins. We weren't getting all the nutrients we needed, and that would either slow down the healing process or deform it. I didn't want either.
I jumped back over the counter, scooting everything across it when Duo arrived with three handbaskets, two gallons of water and a small package of paper cups. We left the pharmacy (in a complete mess I'm afraid) and headed for the center of the store. Duo just about carried everything except a gallon of water, which I carried. My left arm wasn't strong enough to hold anything at all.
"Okay, let's get some sandwiches and we're out of here. I took enough bags of chips yesterday to last us a lifetime." Down aisle six, in the refrigerator section, there were shelves of nothing but packaged ham and cheese sandwiches. They may be processed, but it's still food. I snatched the sandwiches off the shelves so fast I'm surprised I didn't toss them across the store. "Don't worry about how many to take. Just keep filling up the empty basket until we can't fit anymore in there." I didn't realize how deep those little things really were. We just kept stuffing sandwich after sandwich after sandwich. People that walked by us paused briefly to give us questioning looks before I glared at them and they moved on. Finally, it was full and we were ready to go.
I pushed the three baskets together and stepped over them, placing the three between my feet. I reached out for Duo to grab my elbows as I held onto his. "Okay Duo. Close your eyes."
"Hey Quatre, try and aim for a bed or something in case we don't land on our feet again, eh?" I decided to do that, but that set my nerves on fire even more. When we're alone, usually Duo calls me by my dubbed name ‘Cat.' He didn't. Even Wufei calls me that occasionally when we're alone. I guess I wasn't the only one harboring some...animosity.
I closed my eyes and exhaled, bringing up the knowledge and the power. It was harder to concentrate since there was noise around me and the possibility of someone seeing us bothered me somewhat, but I wasn't willing to move. I have to learn how to control this.
Our feet landed on something soft, but both of us ended up dropping to our behinds because we weren't expecting it I guess. I bounced twice on the bed, trying to grab at the bottles that went rolling out of the handbaskets and skittering to the floor. Duo managed to get a hold on the gallons of water, thankfully, so everything that did hit the floor wasn't devastating to us. We were in my room, where the beautifully carved fireplace did nothing to comfort me anymore. Even the view to the tree seemed sinister, and the pond itself had the appearance of a broken piece of glass. I became even more determined to succeed.
"Take a gallon of water downstairs and the cups. I'll bring everything else down."
Duo didn't say anything as he did what I told him to do. But just as he neared the door, Dorothy busted through, swinging a broken off chair leg. She nearly knocked out Duo. "Whoa Dorothy! Chill, it's just us!"
She looked at Duo, then me, then Duo again. "How on Earth did you end up in here?"
Duo answered for me. "Magic," he said with a grin on his face as he went around Dorothy and started down the stairs. I finished collecting what I thought we immediately needed and gestured to the rest of the bed.
"There's some sandwiches in this mess somewhere. You and Relena need to eat."
"What was your deal Quatre?"
"The chips I got yesterday are downstairs. There's another gallon of water up here for you and Relena to have, that way you don't have to wait on us."
"What was your deal, Quatre?"
"And let's try to keep the gallons by the window to see if the water stays cool. I'd rather not leave them outside. We would have to constantly check up on them." I had everything I needed, so I walked out the door and started down the stairs.
Dorothy came behind me, but stopped in the doorway, screaming at me from where she stood. "What was your god damn deal Quatre?!" I jumped the last three steps, pausing for a second to avoid dropping the bottles before I rounded the staircase. "What was your deal?!"
I didn't answer her.
Duo wounds weren't nearly as bad as I thought they were. That was a great comfort to me. Everyone else was pretty much defenseless, and that only left us and the girls to take care of everything. I needed Duo. I needed another warrior's eyes to evaluate the situation and either agree with what I would do or come up with something better.
We cleaned all of Wufei's wounds and managed to wake him up. He was so out of it that he didn't even fight. He just took the Tylenol and antibiotics like we told him to and went right back to sleep. I've never seen Wufei like this, and it scared me to the point of no return. We couldn't get Heero to wake up at all. Needless to say, Duo hadn't spoken a word. Trowa, I left alone. There wasn't anything I could do for him. By this time Relena was overwhelmed so she went upstairs. Hopefully she'll eat something. Right now, everything was quiet as the sun started to set in the sky. I couldn't get myself to care though. No matter what was happening, the world kept turning.
I was cleaning one of the gashes in Duo's chest as he stared blankly in front of him, watching a movie that only he could see. I went about what I was doing, not really feeling any tension from him or around us, just feeling this strong sense of indifference. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way. I didn't hold grudges. Why was this time so different?
"We didn't hear them coming," Duo whispered out loud to himself. "We didn't even hear them coming. Trowa, Wufei and I were upstairs in your room, waiting for you and Dorothy to return. Heero and Relena were downstairs, talking. We heard her scream, and ran down the stairs in time to see Heero fly across the room and hit the door with this sickening sound." He paused in his narration. I continued to treat his wounds without a word. "I remembered them from the portal. They almost killed me."
I pulled out the gauze and started to tape them into place. "Wufei told Trowa to go get the key. He knew where Heero had hid it. Trowa took off, and Wufei jumped over the stair rail to fight them. I froze. Treize and OZ were nothing compared to these things. I didn't know what to do. Then Wufei pulled out your Bowie, and tried to cut them to shreds. But for every hit he made, they returned on him double. Then Trowa jumped over the rail, calling for Wufei. He started to fight, but four of them ganged up on him and started to use him as a treadmill."
Tears began to run down Duo's cheeks. I had finished what I was doing, so I dropped my hands into my lap and just listened. "I finally unfroze, and did the only thing I thought I could do. I ran to the door, and," he started to choke on his tears, "and, I had to pull Hee...Odin's body away from the door. There was blood all over the back of his head and his shoulders, not to mention the door. I ran outside and got the ring and cross, thinking I could draw them away. I mean, if it could do that for that bird fuck why not them, right? Wrong. I ran back inside, and as soon as my other foot went through the door, one of those monsters grabbed me by the neck and started moving towards the kitchen. They were going to take me back through the portal. I knew it. So I started to claw at them. Wufei was trying to help me, but he was getting cornered. I...used the end of my cross to stab the one that was holding me in the eye. That was a bad idea. He swiped at me with his rock hard feathers and didn't stop until I dropped the jewelry and couldn't hold my head up anymore."
He started to tremble. Very visibly. I wanted to reach out to him, wanted to comfort him for what he suffered, but I couldn't. Duo didn't want comfort from me. He didn't want me to hold him and tell him that it was alright and that I would make it better. He wasn't saying this out loud for my benefit. He was seeking absolution for something.
"I failed him. I let Wufei down. That thing threw me in the corner but I was still awake. I just couldn't move. Wufei was the last to fall. He finally succumbed, but god damnit he gave them all he had and then some. We just couldn't physically hurt them. I mean, when I hit that one in that huge eye of his, he didn't bleed. Nothing. Wufei stabbed them again and again, yet there wasn't a mark. The only blood on them was Wufei's. I was too weak to even help him. I don't deserve his friendship. And Relena..." He chuckled, but it wasn't healthy in the slightest. "Relena Relena Relena. She was under the table, screaming at the top of her lungs the whole time, even when the damn things left. Christ, I didn't think she would ever stop screaming. I guess even crow boy couldn't take it, because he appeared and tied her ass to the chair, threatening to kill her if she didn't shut up. Then you came, and that's all I remember."
I hung my head, trying to fight back the nausea that was sweeping through me. Why was he telling me this? I didn't want to hear it. I saw the carnage myself, I didn't want the viewer's accounts. I didn't need the playback of it. I didn't want to know how much they suffered for me. I didn't want this. I didn't want this!
"I know what you're thinking of me Quatre." I looked up to see his eyes focused on mine. It was intimidating how little compassion was in them. "I know you must think I'm a slut, and that's okay. But whatever little lecture you have you can shove it."
I felt my eyes narrow dangerously. "Duo..."
"You can't possibly understand what I'm feeling and what I have felt. Sure, you and Trowa didn't work out, but you weren't together either. You didn't know what you were missing, if you were missing anything at all. Trowa wasn't out there fucking somebody else over you, or going about town with someone on his arm, while others looked on and said ‘finally, he dumped that American.' You are respected no matter what you do. I WAS a gundam pilot. That's all I have. And even then, people looked at me like ‘whoever let you pilot must've been crazy.' So whatever you got to say, don't, ‘cause I don't want to hear it."
My eyes narrowed even further. "So what do you want, a pat on the back?"
His expression never changed. "No. I just wanted one last piece and I got it. You think I'm not kicking myself for being so weak? Do you think I meant to hurt Relena, or cause them to break up? No. It happened, and I'm sorry that it did, but that's between us and her."
My attitude changed as I processed all of Duo's words. "I didn't know you felt badly about it. I just thought..." I sighed. "You're right." He didn't seem to be impressed, but he did relax a little bit. "I just never knew that people said those things. I never knew that they were pleased you two didn't work out."
He scooted under his blanket. "I didn't want to tell you. The people who said that do business with you, and I didn't want you to harbor any feelings against them on my behalf. Business should be business."
I scratched my hand, and saw what was left of the scars from when we cut our hands open to become blood brothers. I wanted to laugh, remembering how my left hand and Duo's hand were wrapped up in dirty gauze, us grinning like children who knew a secret. Now, my elbow was wrapped and his entire torso was wrapped. Not the same exactly but there seemed to be a theme that we had to carry on.
"You still should've told me though," I said as I reached out and touched his palm. I tried my best not to straighten my arm too much. It was stiffer than ever.
"Yeah, you're right. I should've." He gave me a small smile, and slipped his fingers between mine. We were now holding hands, palm to palm, just like we did that day when we mixed our blood.
He was right. I was right. An eye for an eye. "Forgiven?"
He didn't hesitate. "Forgiven."
"You're my brother."
"You're everything to me."
"Go to sleep."
I snorted as he released my hand and laid down into his blankets. I waited for a few moments as he fell asleep, watching the sun set in the western sky. The house was quiet, which was normal, but my soul was quiet too, and that didn't happen very often. I was convinced that I knew what I was doing, and that what I was doing would be for the good of everybody. This wasn't about me anymore, but about all of us.
Forgiven. That was such a powerful word. It gave me a peace of mind that I didn't think I would have to go on with what I intended to do. I just hope that when I put my end of the bargain into action, Duo and the others will be able to forgive me. Especially Trowa.