I paced in front of my bedroom window for the umpteenth time. My irritation and anger had only grown in the past hour, and relief didn't seem to be coming my way any time soon. I thought that I would be able to relax once I slipped into my favorite pajamas. When that didn't work, I had Rashid bring up my favorite drink as I watched my copies of Scooby Doo. That didn't work either. I was really tempted to claim blood. I just didn't know from whom.
The weather provided the perfect background for my mood though. All of my lights were out in the room and the hallway, and it was raining. Not bad mind you, but enough to be comparable to Earth. The moonlight was the only illumination into my room, but the dark black sky made it less silver than usual. The rain was coming down nice and hard, where the thunder would rattle the windows and scare small animals into their homes. The only thing I missed was the lightening. That would've fit my mood perfectly. But since our weather systems were controlled by machinery, they didn't want the lightening to haphazardly hit something important that could cripple our section of the colony. Figures. I had a taste for destruction.
Especially right now.
I slumped back into my leather chair and gripped the armrests, trying to cool down and figure things out. It has been quiet since our escape from the mansion at Frankfurt, and that has put me seriously on edge. I have been terrified that something would happen to the others simply because they were around me. Krahe continually using Duo for his schemes and his ability to hurt everyone else indirectly has just made me a nervous wreck. I was afraid to speak to Duo because I thought that time I opened my mouth he would be whisked away again. And every time I saw Wufei I couldn't see him as he was now, only as he was when he was attacked by the crows. The image of him curled up in a corner, bleeding and nearly lifeless made me sick.
I rested my elbows on my knees and dropped my face into my hands. I was mentally falling apart and having a hard time keeping myself together. I had to figure this out, but I didn't know where to begin or how. It was all my fault that I didn't know anything. When I sat down to explain everything to Zechs, I realized I didn't know a thing! Nothing! It was like telling a summary on a book half read! How could all of this have happened to me and I remain clueless?
I jerked myself out of the chair as if it was suddenly hot and started to pace in front of the window again, but this time I thought about my rescue. I still wasn't sure what happened after the crash, and neither were the others. In fact, Sally was the only one still conscious after everything was done. In the reports, all Sally could say was that I screamed and suddenly we were sitting in the middle of Relena's dining room on the table, but Heero, Wufei and I were knocked out. What was it with me and landing on tables? Anyway, Peygan was able to confirm it since he was in the room at the time. Our abrupt appearance nearly gave him a heart attack. Literally.
The only thing I remembered in detail was when I woke up in the hospital. The first thing in my line of sight was my left hand. I remembered lying in my bed, trying to get my vision to focus on whatever that thing was. It wasn't painful, it just felt weird. New. That was when I saw that on my ring finger was my engagement ring. That's right--MY engagement ring! My engagement ring from my future husband!
Trowa was asleep in a chair next to my bed, so I crawled on top of him and kissed him awake before kissing him breathless. I must toot my own horn though. Our kiss was so hot he just about begged me to let him take me right then and there. Unfortunately, a spawn of evil referred to as a candy striper saw us and ran to the nurse's station, saying I was ‘harassing' another patient. When the nurses finally managed to lay me back down, both of us had goofy smiles on our faces, not that we cared. Oh no. All of the crap we've been through, the least we could have done was to kiss ourselves breathless, among other...things.
Damn those nurses. And that candy striper too.
I absolutely love my ring. The band was made of jade, a few shades lighter than Trowa's eyes. Then there were two thin strips of gold wiring that would cris cross each other so that they made little ovals around the entire ring. Then inside those ovals the jade was cut out so that my skin actually showed through the openings. It was really beautiful, and no matter how much I whined he wouldn't tell me where he got it from. Of course I knew he had to have had this specially made for me. I've been around the privileged all my life and I've never seen anything come close to this. I missed him so much.
Another clap of thunder brought me out of my sweet thoughts. I slumped back into my leather chair, not angry anymore but still irritated. Trowa, Heero, Wufei and Zechs left for Earth about an hour ago. They were going to go back to Frankfurt to do something about the house. What they were planning to do was a mystery to me, and probably an even bigger mystery to them. We knew blowing up the house wouldn't work, so my next guess would have to be the portal doors. If we could close it up with Krahe behind it, then we wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. Only problem was, how would we do that?
"Hey Quatre, you alright in there?" Hilde's voice was muffled through the door.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just watching the storm."
"Oh. Alright then. Iria and I are about to play Clue. Wanna play? We're dressing up like the characters too, and I would love to see you dressed up as Miss Scarlet." I swear I could hear her smiling through the door.
"No thanks. I think I'll stick this one out. Besides, I think I'd make a better Colonel Mustard."
"Okay. Well, if you change your mind, we'll be making a mess in your ballroom." Then like that she was gone. Ever since I made it back, my home has been a hotel. Every relative I think I possibly have has been staying here since my disappearance. Hilde, Iria, Sally, and Noin have just about moved into the bedrooms surrounding mine to keep tabs on any ‘supernatural' occurrences. A breeze couldn't have blown through without its source being investigated. That made me feel better, knowing that they were looking out for me while the others were away. I needed to be looked after though. I was attracting more bad attention than someone walking naked down a public street with a used diaper around his head, all thanks to the media. Ever since our crash in Frankfurt, they've been going non-stop about what could've possibly happened to us, from speculations of kidnaping to being abducted by aliens. If it wasn't for my lifetime of diplomatic relations I would've beaten every reporter to death with their microphones. How anyone could remain a pacifist in their presence was beyond me.
The thunderclap was louder than the others, causing me to jump slightly. It also covered up the sound of the door closing as she entered my room, but the smell of her light perfume gave her presence away. Thank Allah she never wanted to be a soldier. "Hello Relena."
I folded my hands and braced my elbows against the arms of my chair so that I could rest my chin on my fingers. I closed my eyes and waited as Relena apparently gathered her thoughts. She didn't say anything to my greeting, but I didn't mind. She wasn't trying to be rude, it was just that when she was around me, she didn't try to be diplomatic or polite all the time. Around me, she knew she could be herself, and that meant showing her anger if she was angry or crying when she was sad. We didn't have any pretenses between us, and that was what I liked the most about our relationship.
It wasn't too long before she pulled a chair from a nearby corner. My eyes opened to slits as she sat down in front of me, crossing her legs at her ankles and folding her hands in her lap. She kept her eyes glued to her hands as she began to speak. "Quatre, besides my brother and Heero, you are the only other person I really trust. I need your honestly now more than ever, I just hate bothering you at a time like this."
It didn't bother me any. I needed the distraction. "No time like the present."
She sighed, still watching her hands. "I know you're sick of hearing about this, but it's about Heero and Duo."
I figured as much. We haven't talked of much else for a while. "Go on."
She now started to fidget with her fingers. "While you were....gone, I've noticed some things that made me start to think about my relationship with Heero. You see, I thought that what happened at the mansion between him and Duo was because of stress. I mean, he blamed himself for Duo being taken away the way he was by that boy. Anyway, that didn't change after they were discharged from the hospital." I let my eyes fall closed. The strain from looking at her in the dark was starting to bother me. "Duo was devastated by what you did, and Heero did anything to support him. When he wasn't doing that, he was doing everything he could to help Trowa figure out how to get you back. I understood that, you know. They're your comrades and I expected them to get you back."
"But things were never like that between us. Between Heero and myself."
I leaned back into my chair, letting my hands fall into my lap. "I'm not following you."
"I don't know if he's ever told you this, but on the Libra battleship, Heero saved my life. That's nothing new, but...it was just how it happened." She stood up and turned her back to me, facing the window. "He got into Wing. I followed him to the cockpit of course to try and stop him. But when he talked to me, he pulled me face to face with him, promising me that everything was going to be okay. Then when he pushed me away, the look he gave me was of the purest love and endearment."
I dropped my forehead into my hand. I knew where this was going and I didn't want to be the one to say it. "Yes, I know of that. Heero told me about it."
"I figured he did." She took a deep breath. "He loves me, doesn't he?"
My stare bore right into her back. "Yes."
Her shoulders slumped. "But he's not ‘in love' with me, is he?"
My eyes closed on their own. "No."
"Then he was stupid to ever turn Duo away." She suddenly straightened her posture and started to walk out of the room. But she stopped right beside my chair, where she was facing the door and where I was still facing the window. We couldn't see each other's face and we didn't need to. This conversation needed to stay in the dark. "I won't bother you with this again Quatre. It's closed. He doesn't want to make a decision but I think it's quite obvious." She placed her hand on my shoulder, where I reached up to squeeze it.
"Please don't do this to yourself Relena."
"No. This triangle between us and Duo is stopping as of now. Tell Odin he can get his stuff whenever he's ready." I took a sharp breath. "It's okay Quatre. Dorothy overheard you calling him that once, and so did I. I know that's his real name, and that's the problem. I want to know the truth, not just find out by accident as I have always done. You gundam pilots know everything about each other while everyone else is left in the dark. That is something between you all that will never change, and I couldn't live like that. Not if I'm his wife."
We stayed that way for a little longer, I guess letting the weight of our conversation soak into our heads. This was such a huge step for her, and I didn't want to do or say anything that would make it harder for her than it already was. I knew how she felt. I went through what she was currently going through, except she wasn't going to have the fairy tale ending like I was.
"Thank you," was all she said before I heard my bedroom door open and close.
Left alone again, I just stared out the window at the rain, seeing it and yet not. Then I jumped out of the chair again and started pacing the room with my hands over my ears and my eyes tightly shut. I didn't know why, but I felt as if all of the memories of the past four years started to come at me all at once. The pain Trowa caused me over the past year, the trouble Heero and Duo were having, the fights, the heartbreaks, the sleepless nights, the people I killed, the screaming, the smell of burnt flesh, my father's death, Krahe...
Krahe. Your name has been on the tip of my brain for days. I started to claw at my eyes in an effort to tear away the image of your smiling face. I've woken up surprised that I wasn't sleeping next to you. I've turned around in the middle of an empty hallway, thinking that I'd just heard you call my name. I spent much of my time awake and all of my time asleep with you in my thoughts. What was the matter with me? I loved Trowa!
Straying too far, I ended up walking into an end table and knocking it and the vase on it over. I stepped back awkwardly, tripped over my own feet and fell to the floor. I let out a sharp yell which was cut short by another loud clap of thunder. That, on top of hitting the back of my head against the floor, opened some kind of door that let every memory I just had flood my vision. I screamed again as I rolled onto my stomach, cradling my head with my hands. I wished it would stop.
I looked up to see that the light was on, and that Rashid had pulled me to my feet. Sophie was right alongside him, trying to shove some water down my throat. I gratefully took the cup from her as Rashid sat me down on my bed. Both of them exchanged worried looks though when they saw that I was shaking so badly I was spilling the water.
"I'll get a straw."
"That won't be necessary Sophie," I said with a slight stutter. "I'll be alright. I just need to calm down. And relax." I laid down and stretched out on the bed. "Yeah, relax a little." I didn't know if I said that for them or myself.
"Master Quatre, what brought that on?"
"I'm not sure."
"I'll go get Iria."
"That won't be necessary either Sophie."
"Master Quatre, we should do something--" "I just need to be left alone," I said quickly. "I just need to be...left alone."
"That's a bad idea and you know it Quatre. What happened that you broke the end table and vase?"
"Don't be upset Sophie. I'm only worried about Trowa."
That stopped them both. Looked like I had an excuse to use for the future. "Well, I'll make you a sandwich."
"Thank you. I'd appreciate that."
"Yes, and I have something to attend to at the moment. I will be back shortly." Rashid was right behind Sophie, but he paused in the doorway, looking over his shoulder at me. "Are you sure you're alright Master Quatre?"
I hated lying. "Yes Rashid, I'm fine."
He raised an eyebrow. "So you say." Then he left, switching off the light and closing the door behind him. I let my head plop onto my pillow and just laid there in my dark room, listening to the rain hit my window. As I stared at the ceiling, I couldn't help but think about the guys, Trowa, my son, Allah, my future and life itself. As much as I wanted to have a blank mind, these thoughts kept barging themselves in. Not only that, they were flying at me again, going faster and faster in front of my eyes....
I couldn't stand it anymore.
I flew out of my bed and into my closet, grabbing a small jacket. Slipping into it, I snatched my keys off of the dresser and shoved them into my jeans pocket. I opened the door and pushed past Sophie, who had a tray of food in her hands. "Quatre, where are you going?"
"I can't take this any longer. I'm going out."
"Out? Out where?" I could hear her following me, trying to keep up. "What's the matter with you? It's pouring outside!" I didn't bother answering her. I just picked up my pace. That didn't deter her either. When I was halfway down the stairs, I heard her drop the tray as she started shouting for help. "Rashid! Noin! Somebody come quick! Quatre's lost his mind!"
I jumped the last few steps before I threw the door open, flinging myself into the rain. I ran around to the side of the house to where the garage was, but I stopped myself just before it came into sight. By now, Rashid would've activated the alarms to have the doors locked after I've opened them. So I abandoned that idea. Turning ninety degrees, I took the path that lead straight through my gates to the road outside.
I could hear Noin and the others screaming my name, but I didn't bother stopping. I kept running, even though the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see more than two feet in front of me. I tried to keep as far to the side of the road as possible, so that cars wouldn't likely run me over as they drove by. Plus I had no idea where I wanted to go or where I was going. I just wanted away.
The rain was freezing as it soaked through my clothes and my hair, burning my eyes as if it was soapy water. I could feel my arms and legs going numb from the cold, and my feet felt heavier from my socks being drenched. That didn't matter though. I just felt the sudden need to run. I had to run. It didn't make sense to me, but with every step I took I began to feel better. The whole situation seemed to be symbolic. Running from my house and the others made me feel like I was escaping. I was taking my freedom and at the same time my escape was being erased by the rain.
I wish I knew how long I was running. It could've been for minutes up to over an hour. I didn't know how long it took to get to Wufei's apartment by foot, but that was where I ended up. I hadn't meant to go there, but it seemed to be an unconscious thing. I always felt comfortable and safe standing in front of his arch shaped window. Maybe that's why I came.
I let myself in, kicking off my shoes at the door even though I was dripping all over his carpet. Standing in front of his window, I watched the rain come down and enjoyed the silence of the apartment. Maybe because of everyone being in my home, I felt so uptight and cranky. I never had a moment's peace to myself because everyone was always keeping an eye on me. I appreciated their concern, but I didn't need a baby sitter for crying out loud. Geez.
I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I didn't hear the door open. I did vaguely feel rough hands peel my wet clothes off of me to be replaced with dry ones. A towel was used to dry my hair before those same hands grabbed me by the shoulders to guide me to the couch and sit me down. I couldn't see his face because the lights weren't on, but there was enough light coming in from the moon to see the braid float behind his owner. Duo almost immediately returned from the kitchen to sit down a styrofoam plate beside me with a glass of tea on the floor. Seating himself on Wufei's coffee table, he sat his bottle of Bacardi Rum next to him as he opened his plate. Lemon chicken as always.
"Duo, you know it's not safe for us to be together--"
It seemed he was in as good a mood as I was. So, doing what I was told for once, I closed my mouth and opened my plate. He got me the triple delight. Cool. We ate in silence for a bit, the occasional burp and smack being the only noise in the room. But I had the distinct feeling that Duo had a purpose here. I realized that Duo could drop by here just as I did, because he was checking on the apartment until Wufei got back. But for him to show up with two plates of takeout as if he was expecting me to be here was too much of a coincidence.
"Duo, how did you know I was here?"
"I got a call from Rashid as I was on my way to get some chow," he began after swallowing a mouthful of rum. "Is there some reason why you ran out in the god damn rain at night?"
I shrugged my shoulders as I picked at my rice. "No, not really."
He snorted. "You better have a reason. I'm missing a South Park marathon."
I looked outside to stare at the moon. "I couldn't take it anymore. I had to leave or else...I don't know what I would've done. So I ran away." I finally looked at him, where I could see that the part of his face the moon shone on, there was a dark looking bruise under his eye. His left arm was neatly in a cast, although it wasn't in a sling like it was supposed to be. I guessed he looked better compared to before. I hadn't seen him the whole time I've been back.
"The only problem with running away is that sooner or later you have to go back." He downed the rest of his bottle. "Running won't fix anything."
"I know that," I said a little too briskly, but I couldn't help it. "I just wanted a time out, that's all. If people would give me peace for five minutes it wouldn't be a problem." I picked up the glass Duo had set on the floor, and it turned out not to be tea as I had thought, but scotch. Thank you heavenly Duo.
"They were only worried."
"So were you, right?"
"But you stayed away."
"There were reasons for it. You and I both know that."
"And you're disregarding those reasons now?"
"To say goodbye in person."
That stopped me cold. "What?"
Duo rubbed his good hand on his pants leg. "I'm leaving Quatre. I'm going back to L 2. Things have gotten way out of hand and somebody has to be adult enough to stop it. For once I'm going to act my age."
I scooted to the edge of the couch, nearly coming face to face with him. "But that doesn't explain why you're leaving."
He scooted away from me, as if insulted. "You know dog gone well why."
I wanted to stand up and scream, but I really didn't have the energy for it. "If you're doing this because of Relena and Odin, I'm going to slap you."
"Hey, what's with your tone Quatre?! Ch'. You're losing it." He stood up and collecting his plate and bottle, he went into the kitchen.
"Of course I'm losing it! I come back and it's like I walked into the twilight zone!" He slammed his bottle into the garbage can. "And now you're leaving? You're complaining about how MY running won't solve anything but it's okay for you."
"Hey!" He pointed his finger at me. "You don't want to go there with me. You've got Trowa to take care of you now. I don't have anything to show for the crap I've had to put up with."
"Yes, I have Trowa now. But there was a time when I didn't have anything to show for the crap I've had to put up with either! And at that time things were good for you."
"I'm sorry Quatre but I couldn't help that."
"What makes you think I can help this?"
We were quiet for a few minutes as our words sunk into each other's heads. Duo was going to leave. He was going to go back to nearly the other side of earth, probably to be scarcely heard from again. I couldn't handle that. It was probably weak of me, but I've grown very dependent on the rest of the guys. It was going to be unbearable to break that.
In a split second he walked out of the kitchen, where he went into the front closet to get his jacket. I remained on the couch, glaring at him for all I was worth. He was making such a stupid mistake. As much as I wanted to keep quiet and let him find out for himself how much Heero cared about him, I would've said whatever I needed to keep him here. "You know it's over between Relena and Odin don't you?"
He paused briefly as he was slipping into his jacket, before continuing on like I hadn't said anything. "Oh Quatre. That was pretty low."
"I'm serious. She said so herself."
"Didn't I tell you not to go there with me?"
"You're about to make a mistake. You just don't know it yet."
"Not this time."
"You're testing my patience Quatre."
"Look how much I care."
"Fine then." He slipped into his boots and opened the front door. "You can talk to your damn self for the rest of the night." He slammed the door. I sat there for the next few seconds, staring at the door in disbelief. I didn't think he would leave me alone, and I certainly didn't think that he would get that upset with me. I was shocked speechless. But then, like a scorned woman, I ran to the door and opened it just in time to see him near the end of the hallway.
"Duo wait!" He kept on walking. I stepped out into the middle of the hallway, waiting for him to turn around and look at me. Two of Wufei's neighbors poked their heads out, giving each other curious looks before looking at Duo and me as if they were watching a soap opera. I thought one of them was holding a beer. "Stop!" He still kept going. "Duo, you can't leave! You're my best friend!"
He used his foot to kick the stairwell door open.
I must admit I was surprised he came back. In fact, I almost wished he didn't. I swear he had at least two packs of Marlboro. He absolutely reeked of it. I'll get over it though. I was just happy that he was back, and that he was in a better mood. I mean he had to have been. I was asleep in Wufei's bed when I heard the door close, and then I felt the weight of the bed shift as he laid down beside me. Not as close as we used to lay when we were younger, but enough to where I could feel his body heat and smell his awful cigarettes. Geez louise.
"Go take a shower."
"In a minute," he said softly. Then, "What did she say to you, exactly?"
I felt my eyes roll up in my head as I thought about our conversation. "Not much. Well, she didn't need to explain much to me. She just asked what I thought about Odin's feelings for her."
"And I told her. Then she said that it was stupid of him to turn you away."
"Oh." He snorted. "Never thought she'd ever say that."
"Well, she did."
"She didn't tell me that."
I rolled over to face him at this point. "When did you see her?"
"Just now." He didn't turn to face me. He remained on his back, looking to the ceiling. "After you said that it was over between them, I had to find out for myself."
"Duo." I glanced at the clock. "It's four in the morning."
"It was around two thirty when I went to see her."
"That's not any better."
"She was up though. And so was Peygan, strangely."
I raised an eyebrow, but I dropped it. If he said she was up, then she was up. "Where was she?"
"At your house."
Should've known better. "How's Rashid and my sister?"
"Pissed as hell at you. But I told them to leave you alone, so you won't be bothered tonight. But you're catching hell when you do get home."
"Nothing new there." He snorted. "So, what did you say?"
"I asked her if she and Heero were together."
"And she said that they weren't. She's breaking it off when he gets back, although she figures he will be able to sense it when he comes back."
"Oh. How do you feel about that?"
He tilted his head towards me, but glued his eyes to the sheets. "I don't know yet. I feel like I'm getting someone else's seconds." He sighed. "I don't know what to make of this. I don't know why she would just let him go after all this time."
"Well, she can't keep someone who doesn't want to stay." I snuggled further underneath the sheets. Wufei's apartment always made me feel comfortable. And sleepy.
"What makes you think he doesn't want her?"
My words were muffled through the pillow. "I don't know. You have to ask her."
"No. I asked what makes YOU think he doesn't want her?"
I could see that if I didn't answer him he'd keep me awake with this. "What makes me think that is, I guess, the way he looks at you."
I sighed. "He will never look at her the way he looks at you."
"Oh. What else?"
I sighed again, getting a little bit more miffed. "You know more about him that he willingly tells you than he would ever breathe to her. You've also always been his partner and he's always been yours. When I met you he was only a few feet away. You two have been together since the beginning, and that is something that's never going to change." I felt the bed shift as he slid out of his pants and under the covers. Forgetting about the shower, we both just make ourselves comfortable as we waited for sleep to claim us.
Finally, he said, "You're my best friend Quatre."
We fell asleep.