Blood or Chocolate?
Chapter 15: I...Didn't Put That There
"Jesus Christ Quatre!" I screamed as we flew (literally) down the road. I had tightened the seatbelt as tight as it would go. I braced my feet against the floor, and I held onto the seat as tightly as possible. Despite all that, I didn't feel a bit secure. I was just waiting for Quatre to wreck this car. If I didn't get ejected, seat and all, from the car and killed, then I was going to be crushed because I wouldn't be able to get out. "Will you slow the fuck down?! I'm shitting here!"
Quatre toned it down a bit, going from what felt like two hundred miles an hour to about one hundred and eighty. Oh wow, big difference there! "You bastard! Not all of us can survive smashing into a brick wall!" When that didn't get a response, I tried what I used to do to Hilde when we were kids. "If you don't stop I'm tellin'!"
At that, Quatre slowed down to about eighty. It wasn't anywhere near as slow as I wanted, but it was a hell of a lot better than before. I was actually able to breathe. "Shit--on--a--stick! What was that about?"
"You have to be more cautious with your words Duo!" Quatre hollered over the wind. He sounded mighty pissed. "You may not believe this, but your words hold a great deal of weight!" We came to a curve, where he had to slow down to about forty five miles an hour. Much better.
"I heard what you said Quatre. I just don't understand it."
"What is there to understand? You told Wufei you thought Darlian is the murderer."
I stared at his temple, hoping he could feel my eyes on him. "I do think Darlian is the murderer."
"Because of what you 'saw?' " he asked in a condescending tone.
I got pissed. "What does it matter anyway? When I told Wufei he just blew me off!"
"He didn't blow you off Duo! Darlian is under watch under further notice."
My jaw dropped. "What?"
"That's what he wants to see Wufei about." He sped the car back up to fifty. "After the Packmaster got off the phone with Prince Milliardo, he called Rashid into a meeting. The Maguanacs that were with Darlian today are to keep him under their supervision. Darlian is not to leave Wufei's property until further notice, and disobeying him has only one punishment: death. This is going to cause a huge problem because he has a few fumigation jobs lined up that are prepaid, and his mate won't be able to handle those alone."
I was confused. "But, Wufei said...if I touched all of you, I would feel--"
"The same things, yes," he finished for me. "That was true. But Duo, he's going to follow through on finding out if Darlian is the murderer. He may not agree with you, and frankly, neither do I, but you have one lead, whereas we don't have any. At least this way, we'll be able to find out who isn't the murderer, and narrow it down from there."
I stared at him. "You said you don't have any leads?"
He passed someone on the right. "No. Not a one."
I thought that was kind of...odd. "You mean there isn't anyone in the Pack that would want to take over Wufei's position? No suspect?"
"No," Quatre said with full confidence. "Who the Packmaster will be is something that is determined at birth. Only a specific family will ever be eligible for that position. And if something were to happen to the Packmaster and there isn't any offspring or sibling, then whoever was 'made' by the Alpha would become the new Packmaster."
I didn't understand a word Quatre said. But it sounded interesting and important, so I filed that bit away to ponder later. "Isn't there at least someone who wants to hurt him?"
"None at all," he said confidently, again. "Every werewolf in this Pack is devoted to Wufei, blindly. They would die before harming him."
That just did not make any sense to me. "If that's the case, then why is...whoever, killing humans?"
Quatre sighed, as if he was tired of explaining something over and over again. "Just because they wouldn't hurt him doesn't mean they can't be displeased with him. Please understand Duo, and I'm sorry if this sounds degrading, but humans...are human. Your kind is at the bottom of the food chain. Humankind are to us like cockroaches are to you. Squash one, and there are two more coming to take its place. Humans are pests." He shrugged.
I let the comment sail right over my head. But damnit if Wufei wasn't going to hear me bitch about this! "I just don't understand how you don't suspect anybody! I mean, what about your sense of smell? Wouldn't their scent be on the premises?"
Quatre was silent for a good minute. Without warning, he swerved off the road, and pulled up to park behind a large sign that advertised a restaurant sixty miles up the road. We were hidden from sight. He turned the car off, turned in his seat to face me, and gave me a long, considering look. In a fit of nervousness, I tried (stupidly) to see his thoughts. I met that brick wall again, but something unusual happened this time. Instead of running headfirst into it, I only bumped it. It hurt, but the pain was tolerable. I also found that right before I tried to ride in on Quatre's brainwaves, I was able to see that he was made up of a pulsating, red energy. When I saw into a human's mind, they became transparent, and their thoughts were nearly written in big, block letters for me. But with Quatre, everything seemed to disappear, leaving us alone in a black void where instead of Quatre, a mass of red smoke was encased in his body, obscuring him from sight. It was just like the first time I met Trowa and Wufei. That night, as I thought about them, I saw in my mind's eye the same red essence, except it was darker. Redder in hue.
I came back to myself so suddenly I jumped. "Huh?"
He tilted his head towards me. "Your nose is bleeding."
Without sparing a thought, I wiped the blood away with my arm. "Quatre, why are we sitting here?"
He was silent for a moment longer. "Duo, don't breathe a word of this. If so...I may not be able to protect you. Maybe not even Wufei." My eyebrows shot up. He continued. "Whoever is doing this does not understand the true extent of your power, and that has been to your advantage. If they did, they will have no other choice but to kill you to keep their secret."
I nodded. "I understand."
He nodded back. "We don't have a suspect because we are unable to find a scent."
It took me a while to process what he was saying. When I did, I was dumbfounded. "What do you mean you're unable to find a scent? How come you can't? Hell, I know Wufei's scent and *I'm* human!"
"That's the problem," he interrupted before I could begin my 'I'm Hot Shit' song. "Whoever is doing this has been able to erase their scent totally. The Darlians and the Maguanacs can't find it, Heero and Trowa can't, Wufei can't, I can't..." He trailed off, frustrated.
I sighed. "So you need someone who has something other than a sense of smell to 'snuff' this one out."
He nodded gravely. "There is nothing that can remove an emotional stain Duo." His look intensified. "Nothing."
Ah ha. "So that means I'm the only one that can possibly find a trace."
He blew the air out of him slowly. "It looks that way."
I nodded, and thought about what I wanted to do. "Let's go to my job," I decided at last. "I have an idea."
Without a word, we shot off.
As we made our way to the gas station, I explained everything that I had found since Luna's murder. When I told Quatre about the hydrogen cyanide, he was just as clueless about it as I was, although he did say it sounded vaguely familiar. With a promise that he would keep an ear out, I focused on the task at hand.
When we arrived, the police still had everything taped off, although there weren't any cops around to make sure no one went tromping across the crime scene. And since there weren't, that's exactly what Quatre and I did.
As the lion went sniffing around, I did some sniffing of my own. I gently laid my hands on the grass as I crawled. I caressed trees, and touched anything that was broken or possibly treaded on. I kept running into the same emotions as before, including the feelings of haste. This was definitely connected to Harvest's murder. So, in my inexpert opinion, I concluded that whoever it was had been in a hurry to leave the body here, and dump the head on my car before going into hiding. Just as I figured that, a thought jumped at me from a patch of grass. It said: 'They'll be checking on him soon.' I didn't understand it.
I jumped slightly. I felt smugness rolling off of Quatre, but I ignored it. "Not much. I did get a 'thought' though. 'They'll be checking on him soon.' I don't understand why someone would be checking on Harvest. Who would've known he was out here?"
"No," Quatre said darkly. "Not checking on him. Checking on you." He pointed to my shack. "Wufei has us check on you often, roughly every fifteen minutes, and usually three or four of us at a time." He gave me a concerned look. "This wolf knew we would be checking up on you, and that we would catch him if he took too long."
I gulped. This conversation was becoming too much for me.
"Have you been coming to work?"
"No, not since this murder."
"Good. Don't." He had that 'don't argue with me' tone to his voice.
I changed the topic. Somebody was barbequing; I could smell it lingering in the air. "Hmm...smells like hot dogs."
Quatre raised an eyebrow. "What does?"
I was about to get back to work, but that stopped me. "You don't smell that?"
He took a few sniffs. "Smell what?"
I waved his questions away. "Nothing. Never mind."
"Whatever. Hey, let's get this done," he said grumpily. "If I miss General Hospital, I'm going to be very pissed off."
"Yare yare," I said, but got my butt into gear. I did not want to deal with a pissed off lion.
The next twenty minutes passed by uneventfully. I was just about done when I touched a rock and shrieked in surprise. I couldn't pull my hand away. Suddenly, I saw images of horror and screamed out in pain. But it wasn't my pain. It was Harvest's. He was able to see clearly that a werewolf was about to kill him. He knew I was in the shack a few yards away, but he couldn't call for help because the creature had its paw around his neck, and was squeezing it to keep him quiet. God...the last sound he heard was the bones in his neck breaking right before he died...
The scene in my mind was torn from me when Quatre kicked the rock from my hand. I sat there on my knees, breathing heavily as I tried not to throw up.
"Duo?" Are you--"
"Stay the fuck away from me!" I hollered, with tears rolling down my face. "Don't get near me you monster!" I stumbled to my feet, and ran like a girl that was trying to run in broken high-heel shoes.
"No!" I screamed, tripping on the rocks and sliding down the incline. "Don't come near me! Any of you! You, Trowa, Heero, Wufei...all of you stay the fuck away from ME!" I ran onto the road, and nearly got run over by a car of rowdy teenagers. I jumped back, and my jump combined with the speed of the flying car sent me tumbling down hill. My roll was stopped abruptly by a tree.
I laid on the ground, wheezing, and watched as Quatre's shoes came into view. As he reached down, I started to fight, slapping ineffectively at him. He picked me up as if I weighed no more than an infant, and carried me to the car. He strapped me into the seat, and held both of my hands in one of his. I didn't realize how large his hands were until he held mine, making me feel inferior in every way possible. He could've easily crushed them if he wanted to.
He jumped into the driver's seat, and still holding onto my wrists, drove us back. I cursed, yelled and called him and the Pack every name I could think of, but Quatre did nothing more than blink. I soon recognized that Quatre was taking me to my house. I immediately tugged on my hands, and miracle of miracles he let go. I started to unstrap myself, and didn't even wait for the car to stop before I opened the door and jumped out. Quatre, unconcerned, just drove away. I walked the last couple of miles to the house. Howard and Hilde had just woken up, and were frantic when I busted into the house, bloody and scraped all over. After telling them for the umteenth time that I didn't want to talk about it, I went into my room and slammed the door shut, locking it. I laid down and instantly fell asleep.
When I woke up, night had fallen. I laid in my bed for a while, just letting my mind chase its own tail. Despite the fact that I remembered everything I've done since the first night I saw Wufei, I couldn't figure out exactly how the hell I got into this situation. I swear I could see the train coming, but I couldn't see how I got on the tracks.
The various aches and pains were waking up also, making sure I noticed their presence. I was able to ignore it for a good while, but when the muscles in my neck started to cramp up for fun, I decided that a warm shower was in order. It took me a while to get there; the muscles in my legs and back thought it would be fun to cramp up too. But once I got that hot water beating on me, I was the one having fun. Yeah, right.
When I was good and wrinkled I got out and dressed in my most comfortable pj's. The ones that I had on from Wufei's I tossed in the garbage. Just thinking about Wufei got me in a pissy mood. So I did some breathing exercises that I remembered from my yoga class, and managed to calm myself down. When I finished that, I thought that having a nice, cold beer would be a great soothing agent for my battered body. Stepping into the living room, I saw the stuff Wufei had gotten me and got pissy all over again. Growling to myself, I stomped into the kitchen, flicked on the light and-- "FUCK ME!"
I jumped back and landed on my ass. On my kitchen floor was Darlian, flat on his back, his lifeless eyes staring at the ceiling. His chest had been crushed in, as if a guerilla used his chest as a trampoline. The kitchen window had been open, so I guessed that was where his body had been thrown through.
Terrified beyond reasoning, I scrambled back, too disoriented to stand. My hand blindly reached up, and after knocking over one speaker, and all of my sisters figurines, I found the phone and pulled it to the floor. It wasn't cordless, but it had one of those long cords, so I was able to scoot about three feet back. When I was stretching the cord to the point of snapping, I dialed Meizer's number. It took me quite a few tries, between my trembling fingers and my teary eyes, but after two eternities the call connected.
"Cob?" I whimpered, as if speaking too loudly would disturb the corpse.
"Oh my god..." I started rocking back and forth, trying to keep the tears from spilling.
"Duo? What's wrong? What happened?!"
"Jesus fuckin' Christ!" I whispered hoarsely. I couldn't put into words what I needed to say.
"Duo, just hang tight. I'm on my way. Don't worry. Whatever happened, I'll make it better. I promise." He hung up.
I dropped the phone on the floor. I started to wonder why Hilde and Howard didn't come barging out here to find out what the hell was going on, when it dawned on me that they were at work. As glad as I was that they were safe, I was wishing that I wasn't alone. I didn't want to be alone. Not now, not with this.
Letting my head fall back, I hollered Wufei's name at the top of my lungs. I had never yelled like that before. It was one of those pained yells; ones only done when in extreme crisis or agony. Then I dropped to the floor in complete exhaustion, but I couldn't pass out even though I tried. So I kept my eyes focused on the frizziness of the carpet. I could smell the odor of feet. I heard the ceaseless 'doo-doo' from the phone being off the hook.
It wasn't even two minutes later when I heard the lock break and the door open. I didn't hear any footsteps, but suddenly arms were around me, lifting me off the floor and into someone's lap. My arms automatically went around Wufei, and I buried my face in the protection of his neck. He held me tightly, and growled something. I heard answering growls, and guessed that he didn't come alone. After a second I heard surprised gasps from the direction of the kitchen, and snuggled further into Wufei's warm body. He held me closer.
"Quatre told me you wanted me to stay away," he said softly in my ear.
My response to that was to hold on tighter.
"Okay Duo," he murmured, getting both of us to our feet. "Okay."
Wufei lead me out to the front porch, and sat me in the rocking chair. With a promise to be only a minute, he darted inside to see what was going on. I sighed, and let my face fall into my hands.
So much for Darlian being the murderer.