Warning: Extremely slight 2x4. I know, I just can't help it!
This chapter is also a slight songfic. To hear the song, click here.
Another Murder of Crows: Part 48
"What the hell do you mean you don't know where they are?!"
Une pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. Duo was so unreasonable when he was upset. "It's just like I said Duo. We don't know where they are right now. Their last verified location was when they left the shuttle landing from the airport two weeks ago."
"But that was here on this colony."
"So ever since they left, no one's been able to find them."
He was silent for a second before he shouted, "This is bullshit!"
"The operation is a secret and all four of them are capable of infiltrating anywhere without leaving a trace to find them by. Especially Trowa."
"So what you're saying is four of the galaxy's most gorgeous men are walking around unnoticed." He turned to me. "Like I said, this is bullshit!"
"Duo calm down," I said, trying to keep my own emotions in check. I was on the verge of running around in circles and screaming while pulling my hair out! "They're fine. You know how stubborn Heero and Wufei are about informing others where they are. Zechs too for that matter." I turned to Lady Une. "Duo does have a point though Lady. They did leave in a Preventers' aircraft. That alone would attract attention. Their mission was a secret from the people of the Earth and colonies, but they weren't trying to be secretive in their travel arrangements."
"I know Quatre." She exhaled a deep breath. "I want to do more, but this was a personal matter they decided to do on their own and I can't divert much manpower to find them. I didn't know much about what they were doing in the first place. Zechs signed his own orders so he didn't need to get permission from me." She slowly sat down behind her desk. "I'll do what I can when I can. Believe me, I want them back just as much as you two do."
She wanted us to leave. I knew a kind dismissal when I heard one. "Thank you Lady. I know you'll do the best that you can. Come on Duo." We turned as one and walked out of her office, where I gently closed the door behind me. We continued down the hall, getting curious glances thrown at us as we walked by. I was sure everyone had heard Duo's yelling but none of Lady Une's responses. Not only that, we were no longer employees of the Preventers. Technically, we weren't supposed to be here and if we were, we should've been escorted out wearing handcuffs.
Soon we were outside of the building, where my car had just been pulled up to the sidewalk. I gave the valet a hefty tip as he handed me the keys and eventually we were on our way back to my home. After spending the night at Wufei's two weeks ago, Duo has been staying at my house with me. We really didn't see the point of being separated anymore. If we were together, Krahe would try to get us. If we were not together, he would try to get one of us. At least we can fight him better two on one. One on one was impossible odds with him. I knew that from personal experience.
"Do you think she's hiding something?"
I was shaking my head before he even finished his sentence. "No, she isn't. Think about it. She has just as much to lose as we do if they don't come back. Zechs, Wufei and Heero were the top executives in their departments."
"Yeah I know, which is why I don't understand why she won't send some crews to look for them."
"She can't. Since they were the elite, she doesn't have anyone qualified enough to replace them in their stead. She could be put in a very vulnerable position if something were to happen while they were away."
"Morons don't work at the Preventers. Hell, more than half of them were hand picked by Zechs."
"Yes, but that doesn't mean they can fill his shoes."
"I suppose so." I heard him lightly punch the dashboard. "But that doesn't mean we should wait around for an answer either. I know something happened. I can feel it. And yeah, Odin can be a secretive prick when he wants to be, but Trowa wouldn't let you wait around for two weeks with no word from him."
"Yeah." I frowned. "I know."
"Guess I don't need to worry."
"What makes you think that?"
"I can tell by your expression."
I glanced at him briefly to see him smirking at me before returning my attention to the road. There was mass construction going on. Again. "What are you smiling about?"
"You're plotting something."
"What makes you think that?"
"I told you. I can tell by your expression."
"You know, that ‘I'm--smiling--in--your--face--while--shitting--on--your--lawn' expression." I rolled my eyes at this point. "You're going to figure out how to find them. But just be sure to let me know what you want to do. Don't you dare think you're going to pull this off without me. That's my man out there too you know."
"I know I know."
"Hey Duo, do me a favor? Find out what company is doing the construction. That sign is too far for me to see."
"Sure. Why? You gonna kick the owner's ass?"
I stared out the windshield of my car as I saw one of those neon orange garbage cans lying in the middle of the road, blocking my path. The construction worker was too busy scratching his crotch to notice. "Oh yeah, and that's if I'm in a good mood."
I was at a complete loss as to where to go from here. It was driving me and everyone around me crazy. I was supposed to be the strategist of the group, and yet I was unable to come up with anything. So I spent the rest of the day in my music room, hoping that something was going to come to me. First I was on my flute, then the clarinet and even a harmonica before I went for my violin. After a few hours of that I settled myself at the piano where I've been for the past two hours. Music has always soothed my soul, but right now I was having a hard time doing that. My mind was just too restless.
Duo remained at my side the entire time, just listening to whatever I played as he stared into space. He loved music as much as I did, but he refused to allow me to teach him. He seemed happier at my side as I played. He wanted to be soothed as well, but just like me he was having a hard time finding that place. It couldn't be helped. We wanted to do something to help those we cared for, but realistically there was nothing to be done. Sure, we could go out right after them, but that wouldn't solve anything. What could Heero and Trowa do that we couldn't? Not much, if anything.
I finished playing my piece, letting my fingers rest as the piano key's tone died away. As sore as my fingers were I didn't want to stop playing. I've managed to calm down considerably and Duo hadn't threatened to stab anyone with a straw for the past few hours. He stood calmly next to the piano, leaning lightly against it as he stared out my window at the moon. Once again I didn't bother turning any lights on because the moon's rays were so bright. And once again it fit my mood, but I had Duo here to keep me from freaking out.
I wiggled my fingers for a second, trying to stretch them out to make them less sore. Settling them back on the keys again, I decided to play something I overheard Duo listening to on one of his CD's. It was a very short piece, perhaps two minutes long, but it was very pretty.
I could tell he recognized the first few notes, because I saw him stiffen out of the corner of my eye. I continued to play, and bowed my head slightly as I saw him shake his head to himself. I didn't know whether or not he would be upset by it, because the song had become very personal to him since Relena told him she was leaving Heero. Instead, he surprised me when he started to sing the lyrics.
/There will never come a day
You will never hear me say
That I want or need to live without you/
He took a step closer to the window, but stopped a step before it and hugged himself.
/I want to give my all/
He held himself tighter, and sang at his reflection.
/Baby just hold me
Simply control me
Because your arms
They keep away the lonelys/
He continued to sing as he walked away from the window to have a seat next to me on the piano bench.
/When I look into your eyes
Then I realize
All I need is you in my life
All I need is you in my life/
I felt his thigh press against mine, but I didn't pay it any real attention.
/Cause I never felt this way about loving, no
Never felt so alive, baby/
I knew he turned his head to see me, but I didn't want to look at him. I didn't understand what was happening between us right then. I just continued to play.
/Never felt this way about loving
It feels so good/ *
I let the music fade, and I turned to my left to see a look in his eyes that I didn't understand. I also didn't understand what I was feeling. Duo and I had been best friends since we just about met. We weren't attracted to each other. What was going on?
"Quatre?" The questioning note in his voice made me realize he didn't understand what was going on either.
"I don't..." My eyes started to fall close on their own as Duo leaned forward to kiss–
"Hey Duo, can you do me a favor? There's a scorpion in my room I need you to get out. You know I'm terrified of those things."
Hilde's interruption cause us to jump away from each other before our lips had a chance to meet. I stared wide eyed at her as Duo gave a grunt in her direction that passed as a yes. He got up and left quickly. If it had been anyone else, I'd say they were running away. And I felt the blush in my neck rise to my cheeks as I plopped my face into my hands. I knew Hilde had seen us and what we were about to do. I also knew she stopped us on purpose.
"Don't beat yourself up over it Quatre. You two are lonely and scared. It's not surprising you two would go to each other for comfort."
I sighed. "You stopped us from making a big mistake."
"Nah. It wouldn't have gone far, trust me. One of you would've stopped it."
"No problem blondie. That's what I'm here for. To keep an eye on both of you."
She began to leave when I called her back. "Hey Hil? Ask Duo if he wants to go to the library with me. I want to do some research."
"But Quatre, it's almost one in the morning. The library is closed."
"I know. I'm going to need his help breaking in."
I heard her sigh. "Fine fine. I'll tell him to get his ass in gear. But I'm coming with you."
"Great." I ran my fingers through my hair to comb my bangs away from my face. "I'm going to need all the help I can get."
"This is seriously pissing me off. I mean, I can't find a damn thing!"
"Keep looking Duo. We'll run across something eventually."
"Yeah sure, when I'm an old man."
"Quit being so negative Duo," Hilde said as she plopped another book on the table. This one was smaller than the last. It was about the size of a dresser drawer, which was surprising since it kicked up about twice as much dust as the last book.
"Bless you Quatre."
"Thanks." Sniffle. "What did you find?"
"Right here." She pointed to some smaller print towards the end of the page that I couldn't see. "It says right here, ugh, that on the last day of the seventh lunar month or the first day of the eight, the gates of Hades can be closed by a Taoist priest holding a seven star sword." 
Duo made a big show of thinking. "Gee, Hilde, there's a few problems with that."
"Oh? Like what?"
"Well, for starters, where in the nine circles of hell are we going to find a Taoist priest, then find a freakin' seven star sword! We aren't in the seventh or eighth month of the lunar year, whenever the hell that's supposed to be, and on top of that we aren't in Hades."
She snorted. "I think that last part is debatable."
"Hey guys, stop. Duo, she's doing the best she can just like we are."
"I know Cat. But I'm not finding squat about how to close a portal door. Hell, I can't find any info on what causes one to open!"
"Then we'll just have to keep looking. There's no point in us or anyone else going to Frankfurt if we can't do anything about it when we get there. Not to mention he can visit us whenever he feels like it, and I'm not very happy about that."
"You got that right."
"Quatre, Duo, hang on. The phone is ringing." Hilde darted off to the librarian desk as Duo and I continued to searched through books, references, periodicals, and other things that somehow managed to get on our table. So far we weren't anywhere close to finding what we were looking for, and that was extremely frustrating. We found things on where portals could be found and the speculations surrounding them, but nothing on what actually caused it to open and close. It was enough to make me strangle myself.
Hilde jogged back to the table with a sad smile on her face. "Okay guys, that was Relena. She said that so far she wasn't able to find anything. She just spoke to Sally and she hasn't been able to locate the guys, but she's not going to give up. In any case, Dorothy volunteered to lead a small group to find out what could've possibly gone wrong since takeoff and where they could've ended up. That will begin tomorrow."
I will admit that no one has better friends than I do. "Thanks Hilde. That would be a great relief."
"I know." She winked at me. "I'm going to the soda machine. I seriously need a Dr. Pepper. You guys want anything?"
"No thank you."
"Aright. Be back in a jiffy lube!"
I couldn't help laughing to myself as Hilde scrambled up the bookcase before easily slipping through the open window as if she was born to do it. We didn't have to really ‘break in' the library since they accidently left that window open, I guess. I just wish the windows weren't so high. It was a one story building, but it appeared to have originally been two story, considering how high the windows and ceiling were.
I inadvertently glanced towards Duo to see him looking at me, but he wasn't exactly looking AT me. More like through me. Things between us haven't been strange since we almost kissed in the music room, but he has seemed kind of distracted for the past hour or so. "Duo? Are you okay?"
Still looking through me, he said, "I don't know."
"Duo? What's wrong? What is it?"
Oooooookay. "Strange? Strange how?"
He blinked, and it was as if nothing weird was happening. "Sorry. Didn't mean to worry ya. I just felt funny, but it passed."
"Okay, let's get busy then. It's after four. We need to hurry up if we want to clean the place up before eight."
"Piece of crap machine!"
I turned my head at breakneck speed when I heard Hilde swearing up a storm as she crawled back through the window. "Hilde! What happened?!"
"The god damn machine ate my money!" That was all I heard as she started to go off on a tangent that could've been in English. Shaking my head as Duo tried to calm her down, I left our table and began going through the mountains of shelves that were stocked to the hilt with books. Just the idea of having to alphabetize all of them made my head swim. Good gracious.
As I started to turn down the aisle for Ghost Related Phenomena, I felt something strange, something that was almost menacing. Almost. Ignoring it, I kept walking down the aisle. Because I wasn't paying attention, my mind still on the thought of alphabetizing thousands of books, I walked right into the wall where I bounced off of it and landed flat on my back. I laid on the floor for a minute, calling myself every name I could think of for being so stupid. Tsk.
For no reason, I turned my head to the side where I saw a black book on the bottom shelf that didn't have any numbers or letters written on its spine. In fact, the title wasn't on the spine either. I wouldn't be surprised if it was misplaced and stuck there since no one knew where to put it. Hm.
Sitting up on my elbow, I reached out to grab the book–
I flew to my feet at the sound of Duo's voice as the bookshelf behind me crumbled. The only way to describe it would be to say it sounded and crunched like it was stepped on by Godzilla. The holler that came after it was deafening, blocking out all sound but leaving only the noise of its own voice. I followed Duo as he ran in between bookshelves, trying to evade and avoid being stepped on by whatever that thing was. We stopped for a few seconds at the end of the history aisle, waiting for another bookshelf to be crushed under the foot of the creature. That was the only way we knew where it was heading.
The thing was invisible.
When the bookshelf ‘Iceberg -- Iodine' was knocked over, both of us jumped to our feet and ran for the opened window. I could hear its footsteps land heavily on the floor, which caused a mini earthquake. As we neared the window I could see Hilde scale the bookshelf before shimmying out the window. Duo and I were next, him slightly ahead of me as we raced up the shelf. We didn't get a chance to make it to the window, as whatever the creature was yelled again, this time causing an explosion that blew the wall apart and us through it. I flew briefly in the air, but the time seemed to go in slow motion as Duo flew slightly in front on me, where he was feet first. It probably looked like I was swimming from Hilde's point of view. She was already on the ground, far enough away to where she shouldn't get hurt from the flying glass shards. But in a blink of an eye gravity took control and Duo landed on his back where I landed face first on the ground a millisecond after him. All I did was whine slightly in pain, as my face was literally buried in the ground. The least of my injuries would be a broken nose. That was a given. The rest I didn't want to even think about.
I could vaguely hear Hilde calling both of our names at the top of her lungs. I guess Duo wasn't in the mood to get up either. Right after that though, Hilde rolled me on my back and began dragging me away from the library. Cracking my eyes open a bit, I could see that Duo was crawling alongside me, one hand on his back trying to rub away the pain. He had enough glass in his hair and clothing to make a new window, but he appeared okay otherwise. I figured since Hilde was strong enough to drag me, she was okay. But when I looked at the library, (what was left of it) I was relieved to find that there weren't any fires to spread to the neighboring trees. All and all, it looked like no one would know what happened here except for the three of us and that creature. Even though it was invisible, I didn't feel like we were in danger anymore.
Whatever it was, it was gone.
* Alicia Keys - ‘Never Felt This Way' (Interlude). From CD "Songs In A Minor." Fantastic music.
 On the final day of the seventh lunar month or the first day of the eight, the Gates of Hades are closed, sealing the spirits back into darkness. A Taoist priest chants liturgies while holding a ‘seven star sword' to let the ghosts know it's time to return to darkness. When the gates are shut, the priest must cover his ears to avoid being deafened by the souls' wails. Quatre, Duo and Hilde were trying to find a way to close the portal doors, thereby trapping Krahe in darkness. How they finally do it won't come out until the third sequel.
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