Blood in Siberia
Chapter 7: Trouble Is Already Looking For You
When I woke up again, it was to the vibration of a vehicle. I was reclined in a seat and wrapped up tightly in the quilt, with the seatbelt securing me down. I was distracted by the feel of... crud all over me. Digging into my ear, I flipped a chunk of dirt out. Yuck! Feeling around in my hair, I pulled out some twigs. I was tempted to dig into my ass, to see what I would pull out of there. Money would be nice.
After I was done doing a personal treasury hunt (I ended up finding two pebbles and an earthworm), I realized that I couldn't have been alone, because the vehicle was moving and I wasn't driving it. It was dark, but the light that shone in from the streetlights gave me sporadic views of someone's thigh. I followed the thigh up to the waist, chest, and then face. It was Trowa. He wasn't looking at me, but the vibe he was giving off made me want to disappear. Earlier, I thought it was funny when I thought about how pissed he would be that I came to Yantis. I didn't find it funny anymore.
"You can read me that easily?" he asked, but it wasn't meant to be a question. He was leading me on. He wanted me to acknowledge out loud how much of a dumbass I was, without him having to say the words.
It was going to work. "Umm... yeah."
"For you to be able to read me that easily, it must mean that I am pissed to the point where it is spilling out to you."
"And considering that I am the strongest werewolf in the Pack under Wufei, and am at all times in complete control of myself, I must be pretty pissed," he finished, sparing me a glance before focusing again on the road. "You have no idea of what you have done. I have no doubt now that the werewolf will find you. You have also put your family in danger."
I sat up. It was a struggle, between the quilt and the seatbelt, but I was so mad I made it work. "How would he know I was even there?!" I yelled. "He had no reason to come back!"
"For your information," he sneered, "the Were did come back. He knew who owned those vampires, and was expecting me, or someone of the Shenlong, to be there. Every supernatural creature in the United States is either under Wufei's sphere of influence, or on their own." He growled low in his throat. "Do you have any idea what could've happened to you if you weren't found by the gnomes?! Wufei's scent is all over you! With one sniff, he would've known what you were to us! He would have to be a fool if he didn't, and the Ice Alphagué is no fool."
I was feeling a bit chagrined, but that didn't stop me from trying to prove he was wrong. "Then why am I still alive, huh? Why didn't the Were kill me, or take me hostage?"
He glanced at me again. My question (along with my snippy tone) seemed to make him angrier. "The gnomes hid you," he told me in a patronizing way. "They felt him coming, and had the Earth swallow you and your car to protect you."
Oh, so that's why I had an earthworm in my armpit. "If they hid me, what's the problem?" I asked, trying to play it cool. Yeah, no worries man. Trowa's just overreacting.
"The gnomes couldn't do anything about your scent!" he snapped. "You had blood and vomit everywhere! They also told me you passed out, and that allowed your scent to become absorbed even more!" Right now, Trowa had no love for me whatsoever. "You couldn't have made it easier for the Were unless you were standing there, saying 'hey, I'm the guy you're looking for.' "
I smiled, despite the seriousness of the situation. I never took Trowa for a smartass.
"Now he has a strong lead on you, and the gnomes are involved."
I frowned at him. "Hey, I like them! They're great! What's wrong with having their help?"
He snorted. His anger seemed to be dissipating. "Gnomes are notorious thieves. They don't understand the concept of ownership, so they take things without regard to whom they're taking it from." It was just then that a corner of the quilt flipped over. I was clearly able to see someone's initials. "They're also bad about obeying the laws of other species. Even though they had to touch you to help you, there was no reason for them to be as... free with you as they were. They should not have been touching your hair, or playing with your shoelaces. But it's impossible to punish them because they are the Earth's caretakers, and the Earth won't allow harm to come to them."
I mentally cheered. Yay Earth! You kick ass!
"I have to admit that we were lucky they were there," he said in exasperated fondness. "There aren't too many creatures resourceful enough to find Wufei's number."
Wait, didn't Gob say... "I thought they contacted you."
I thought about that. "How did they do that?"
"They called me."
I thought about that, again. Yantis wasn't exactly a current-with-technology town. "How'd they call you?"
"On their cellphone," he said, in a tone that told me I was still being a dumbass.
"Gnomes have cellphones?!"
"Duo, I think it would be best if you went back to sleep." He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I am so mad at you, I am tempted to bite your head off and blame it on the shape-shifters."
"Humph," I said, sticking my nose up in the air and turning my back to him as if his presence were a nuisance instead of mine. Once I was comfortably curled up again, I thought about what I was told. Apparently, Trowa didn't know the gnomes were there. And if Trowa didn't know, Wufei probably didn't either. I bet the vampires didn't know.... hmm. So they just decided to pop up when I was in trouble? I couldn't see that. The vampires were in trouble, and it was obvious the gnomes didn't help them. The little tykes seemed to be aware of what was going on too, and that wasn't something they could've found out about in one day. No, they've been here a while. They've just gone unnoticed.
Once I was satisfied with my line of reasoning, I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that I had been swallowed by the Earth. It was just... wow! How amazing! I was so pissed at myself for missing that! I couldn't imagine how they did that. Did the Earth open up with cracks and smoke like in the movies? Or did me and my car sink in, like quicksand? Did a spell have to chanted, or was the song the gnome was singing the password?
I drifted off to sleep, with the different possibilities feeding my dreams.
"Gnomes have cellphones?!"
I threw one hand up in exasperation. The other shifted the ice pack on my cheek. "That's what *I* said, and Trowa made me feel like a dumb shit for saying it." Howard, Hilde and I were at the table, eating breakfast and discussing what I've learned.
The sun was just rising when Trowa pulled up in my driveway. He was in the nick of time too. Howard, when we were kids, never slept the whole night through if he was worried about us. He would wake up and check on us periodically. Apparently, that hasn't changed. Howard woke up early, and went to my room to make sure I was alright. He found (big surprise) an empty bed. Well, let's just say that my uncle freaked. He assumed that the anonymous Were had found me and kidnapped me.
Long story short, when Trowa pulled up, Howard was leaving the house with guns, guns, and more guns. He had so much machinery on him, he was his own damn armory! He also wore a dark green tank, fatigues, and combat boots. His sunglasses were super shiny, and the muscles in his arms and neck were swollen with strength. He was ready to kick ass. My uncle looked like a sixty five year-old Rambo. He was hot. Yeah.
Hilde was right behind him, dressed similarly with guns of her own. As soon as I got out of the Hummer, she walked right up to me, and smacked me in the face--well--I take that back. My feet hadn't yet touched the ground. She smacked me out of the Hummer. She then proceeded to kick my ass in front of Trowa and Howard. Worse of all, the assholes let her do it! I mean, come on! She's my sister! I wasn't supposed to hit her! But that sure as hell didn't stop her from hitting me! Heaven forbid she restrained herself once in a while.
Anyway, when that humiliation was done, Trowa took off for Wufei's, and I crawled into the house to take a shower. I spent that time listening to Howard, as he screamed and ranted about how big of an asshole I was for scaring him like that. He continued his screaming and ranting as I limped to my room and got dressed. When Hilde hollered that breakfast was ready, I limped to the kitchen with my head down, expecting to be fed moldy bread and water. I was pleasantly surprised to find a country-style breakfast, complete with biscuits and gravy.
"Whether or not they have cellphones is irrelevant," Hilde said, in her no-nonsense voice. "What matters is that now this Were has a scent on you. So what does that mean to us?" She shrugged. "I mean, you certainly didn't walk to Yantis, so it's not like he can follow a trail that way. And you car is still... er... buried, so it's not like he can get the license plate number to find where you live. Besides having the living hell scared out of you, and some blood loss, I don't see any harm done." She went back to eating.
"No, there's more to this," I said slowly, after a few moments of silence.
"What makes you think that?" Howard asked.
I stood up, shoved a biscuit in my mouth, and paced distractedly as I thought it over. "This just isn't adding up." I wiped the crumbs from my mouth with the back of my hand. "Yeah, the Were is looking for the Untouchable, but why? There has to be one hell of a reason to come gunning for me. He's not getting into a fight with some Joe Blow down at the bar. He's about to come head to head with one of the most powerful werewolf Packs in existence, and he's not running scared."
"I still think it's one of Wufei's Were's," Hilde threw in. "I don't think they like having a human as their... whatever you are."
"No no," I said calmly, dismissing her theory with a wave of my hand. "I'm telling you, it's not them."
"How can you be so sure?" Howard leaned back in his chair. "It was one of Wufei's Were's the first time. Why are you so resistant to the possibility that it may be them again?"
"First of all, I knew it was Darlian who murdered the others." I stared both of them in the eye for a moment, to allow my declaration to sink into their thick skulls. Of course, I didn't mention the fact that everyone doubted me (including myself), but that's a moot point. "But mostly, I'm sure it's not them because of something Darlian said." I started gesturing as I worked out my thoughts. "He said that an action like this is retribution for something done. At first, I didn't believe that Wufei would purposely harm someone. Now, I'm not so sure." I stopped pacing and looked at them. "Did I ever tell you that Wufei was the one that killed the hobo?"
"WHAT?!" they shouted.
Oh. I guess I forgot to mention that.
"You ass!" Howard yelled. "That happened two months ago, and you're just now telling us?!"
"But Darlian confessed to that murder!" Hilde shrieked, standing up. "It was on the news! The police said he confessed!"
"He did." Although I didn't hear his confession myself, I was sure he did. He wouldn't want Wufei's name brought up for anything. "He probably did it because he guessed that Wufei was the one that killed that guy."
" 'He guessed?' " Howard wisely picked up on the words I used. "Did Darlian tell you he thought that Wufei killed that man?"
He nodded. "Did Wufei tell you he killed him?"
He wasn't going to like this. "Erm... no."
"Then how did you find out?"
I reeeeeeally didn't want to answer. Damn. I should've kept my mouth shut. "It was the day Darlian was arrested. I ran off, and Heero followed me. We somehow wandered to the area where it happened, and I was able to... feel it in the ground." I shrugged lamely. Hell, I didn't know how else to explain it.
"I see," Howard said, getting quiet. So did Hilde. I wouldn't peek at their thoughts (I was still reeling from the visions of the vampires), but I wouldn't have needed to if I wanted to. I could feel in the air surrounding them how angry they were, and I was truly afraid that they would kick me out of their lives.
"Don't talk to me right now," Hilde said, getting up and leaving the kitchen. She went into her bedroom. Howard remained where he was, staring at me like he could see through me.
"Wufei did it because he loves me," I said stupidly. Yeah, love justified murder. Ch'.
"Then he would kill to protect his interests," Howard said in a dangerous tone. "He would kill to scare others, and he would kill to gain something. I bet that's why the Were is looking for you." Howard stood up. "Wufei probably screwed with the wrong person, but it's going to be you that'll suffer for it." He started to walk away, but stopped. "Of course, he'll probably kill this Were because he was coming after you. But what then, Duo? Will there be others? Are you willing to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, for freaks in human skin? You were lucky enough to be warned by Darlian this time, but even that warning came too late. If you don't believe me, ask the vampires." With that parting comment, he walked away.
Shit. What could I possibly say to that?
I remained in the kitchen after that, pissed off and depressed. My family was mad at me, Trowa was mad at me, and I was still hurt and exhausted from all of the ass-kickings from yesterday. I was wallowing in misery as I stared at a glass of iced-tea, and watched in detachment as the ice cubes floated. They bobbed up and down, clinked against the glass, clinked against each other, became smaller and smaller...
Something was trying to worm its way to the front of my mind. I remained still and kept my head empty, so that whatever thought I had in my subconscious would float to the top.
Ice cubes. Ice. Ice Alphagué.
Trowa said it last night. I was so bent on justifying my actions that I let an important detail sail over my head. He said that the Ice Alphagué was no fool. In order to know that the Were wasn't a fool, he had to know something I didn't, like–
"--who it is!" I shouted, jumping to my feet. "That fucker!"
Suddenly, I heard the stampede of feet. I was on my way out of the kitchen, when Howard and Hilde ran into me. I was sure we made a very comedic performance when we bounced off of each other and fell to the floor. "What the hell is going on?!" Howard shouted, sitting up. He looked hysterical screaming at me, with his sunglasses all crooked on his head.
"Trowa knows who the Were is!" I yelled while I stood, then helped Hilde up with a grimace. When I fell, I landed on my elbows in an attempt to catch myself. They were aching like a son of a bitch. "It didn't click until now." I stuck my hand out and helped Howard up. "Last night, when Trowa was ranting at me about how much of a dipshit I was, he called him the 'Ice Alphagué.' Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like a nickname to me."
"Sounds like it to me too," Howard said in a whisper.
"Howie," I said, in as much in a child-like voice as possible. When Howard spoke in a soft tone like that, it meant that he was at the end of his rope. "Whatever you're thinking, don't."
He didn't even acknowledge that I spoke. Turning on his heel, he walked out of the kitchen.
"Uncle Howard, where are you going?" Hilde was walking after him.
"I'm going to my house to get Shinigami."
Awww shit! "Howard, no!" I ran after him, but he already picked up his keys. "You can NOT go over there and shoot them!"
"I'm not going over there to shoot them," he said sweetly. "Me and Shini are going over there to have a nice conversation with Trowa." He stomped into his shoes.
"But Howard," Hilde interrupted, grabbing his arm. "You don't have any silver bullets! What good is shooting him going to do?"
"I may not have silver bullets," he gently disengaged her hands from his arm, "but a bullet in his ass will make him uncomfortable, regardless." He gave us a jaunty wave, walked out, and whistled all the way to his truck. Still whistling, he started it up, backed out, and pulled onto the road. Hilde and I only stood there in shock.
When his truck was no longer a speck in the distance, we turned to each other. "We have to go after him!" we said at the same time.
I ran off in one direction to get my shoes, as she ran off in another to get hers. Grabbing our cellphones, we ran to Hilde's car (which was a purple PT Cruiser), jumped in, and burned rubber as we shot onto the road. Turning everything in my path into roadkill, I pushed her car as fast as I could. Howard's truck was nowhere in sight, and I had the feeling we weren't catching up.
I shook my head in disbelief. In only twenty four hours, I had lost complete control over my life.
In record time, we made it to Howard's house. As Hilde and I pulled up in his driveway, we knew right off the bat that something was wrong. If we had missed the broken-in door, then the broken windows, torn garage door, and utter destruction around the house would've clued us in. The only way I could describe it, was to say that it looked like a tornado had hit my uncle's house.
I saw Howard's truck parked in its usual place, and caught a glimpse of my uncle going around the corner of the house. I pulled up beside truck, and barely shut the car off before Hilde and I shot out. Quickly but cautiously, we ran up the steps to the front porch and went inside. Straight ahead of us, in the wall, were the remains of the front door. The doorknob was imbedded in the wall, and the splinters from the door were harpoons in the furniture.
"It's supposed to look like a robbery attempt," Howard said, as he came into the dining room. "They broke the door to make it look like the entry point." He shook his head. "But they overdid things. Plus, they didn't take anything valuable." He held up his shotgun, Shinigami, and his gold coin collection, to prove his point. "It seems like their only intention was to wreck the place."
My uncle was right. It did resemble a robbery attempt. But what I was proud of, was the fact that Howard knew right away that a human didn't do this. He knew without a doubt that it was someone of the... supernatural persuasion.
"But why?" Hilde asked, looking around. "This doesn't make sense. Why your house? You haven't been here more than twice in the past two months, and Duo and I don't come here at all. It could've been weeks before someone noticed what happened." Hilde was staring in the distance, trying to find a connection. "I don't get it."
"I get it," I murmured, flopping to the floor. I covered my face with my hands, and resisted the urge to run screaming for the hills. Oh my god...
"I said, 'I get it,' " I mumbled through my hands, before looking up to Hilde, then Howard. "Howie, this," I gestured to the destruction, "is my fault."
"I don't want to know," Hilde blurted out, beating Howard to the punch. "I'm already mad at you enough as it is, and I... I-I don't want to know." Throwing her hands in the air, Hilde turned and stalked off somewhere. Howard remained where he was, staring at me and waiting. After a moment, he sat down gingerly in a chair. It appeared to be the only piece of furniture not harpooned.
"Gob told me that one of the shape-shifters turned into a hawk." Howard nodded, remembering that detail. I took a slow breath, and looked at the floor. I watched an ant carry a crumb. "When we were leaving Bexar County Jail, I noticed a pigeon checking out your truck. I thought it seemed too... aware, for a bird. Looking back now, I suspect that it wasn't a pigeon, but a shape-shifter." I looked up to Howard, but his face was neutral, and his eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses. "Hilde's right. You haven't been here and neither have we. They don't know our names, and the damage here is fresh. The only way I can figure that they found your house... was from the pigeon getting your license plate number." My heart sank lower and lower when Howard didn't respond. "Howie," I began in a small voice, "I'm so, so sorry." He still didn't respond. "Howie, please! Say something!" He didn't. Instead, he got up and walked away. I covered my face with my hands, and tried to disappear.
God... why was this happening?
"Oh my god!"
Hilde's shout scared me so bad, I damn near teleported to the living room. She was standing in front of the fireplace, hands covering her mouth as she gasped. Howard came in a hot second later, shotgun armed and ready. He looked around, but didn't see anything threatening. "What, god damnit?!"
"Your picture!" she cried.
Howard and I both looked at the picture. It was taken right before I met Wufei. The three of us had gone on a fishing trip, and that night, Hilde had set the camera up to take a picture of us in front of our tent. Howard was in the middle, with Hilde to his right, and me to his left.
Only problem was, the third of the picture that had me, was torn off.
"I think I know why they tore the place apart," Howard said at last, glaring at me. "They came here looking for you." He turned bodily to fully face me. "They know what you look like, what you smell like, and now they have a picture of you to show to others. It won't be long before every--fucking!--critter in Texas, knows who you are!"
"Don't talk to me!" he screamed, then stomped off, knocking things out of his way as he went.
I was stuck in a whirlwind of hurt and despair. I distantly heard Hilde take out her cellphone, and call the police. "Yes, my name is Hilde Maxwell. I need to speak to Detective Meizer... yes, this is an emergency! I... I don't care if he's in a meeting with the chief of police. I... Put the call through now, bitch! They'll be hell to pay if you don't!"
That did it. Gasping for air, I ran outside. I tripped on debris, and stumbled down the stairs, landing on my knees when I reached the ground. I sat back on my heels, and covered my face with my hands, breathing heavily. I didn't want to run around kicking, screaming, and acting like an insane person, even though that's exactly what I felt like doing. Instead, I grabbed my hair by the roots, and pulled as hard as I could. I hollered from the pain, and tears of frustration ran down my face.
I damned us.
Darlian and Trowa warned me. They told me how dangerous this guy was, and yet I didn't listen. For some subconscious reason, it all seemed too unreal for me to worry about. Sure, he killed other creatures, and half of the vampires were dead--permanently--but I never thought that me or my family were in real danger! Even when I faced off with the bobcat, I wasn't afraid! Yeah, I thought I was going to die, but I didn't really believe it. No. It had to take the destruction of my uncle's home to get through my thick skull that this wasn't a game.
"Duo! DUO! No Meizer, he's not responding to me..."
I wasn't psychic, but I knew right then that Trowa was right.
That son of a bitch was going to catch me.
To see Hilde's car, click here.