Blood or Chocolate?
Chapter 21: No Ordinary Love
I got up for good four days later. I spent the majority of my time sleeping (about 99%), and the time I wasn't sleeping I was eating or bathing. My back had healed completely within two days, except now I had two shiny stripes from where Darlian's claws tore into me, and my shoulder had four indentations from where Darlian's fangs went through the muscle into the bone. (No wonder it hurt like a son of a bitch).
My bruises had all been gone the following morning of my 'ordeal,' and once everything was healed up, I felt the best I have ever felt in my life. The day after I was up for good, Hilde and I moved back to our house where we found all of our new furniture, including 'Susie' intact. We also had a new addition: Bonnie. Bonnie was a sleek, black flatscreen computer, with I didn't know how much storage space, a CD burner, speakers, cable modem, and a whole bunch of other shit I was sure I would never use.
The sun was setting, making the sky so intensely yellow that it was hurting my eyes. I was sitting in the rocking chair on my front porch, rocking gently with the breeze as I listened to Hilde get ready for work. She was still pissed at me about the vibrator, and to get even, she made me drive into town and buy her another one. The colors this time were purple and pink. The guy at the register was trying to be professional, but it didn't help. In the end, he took one look at me and started cracking up. I swear to god if Hilde wasn't my sister, I would've kicked her ass. If she kept giving me shit about it, I might just change my mind.
Howard's been doing okay, for the most part. He's been...pensive lately. The...adventure we had because of the werewolves really knocked my uncle off his foundation. He had gone through his entire life believing that the boogyman stories were only stories. Now he learned at his tender sixty five years of age that that was not true. To me, the existence of werewolves was a hard pill to swallow, but I did it. To Hilde, she didn't care what they called themselves. As long as they didn't fuck with her, she wouldn't fuck with them, quote unquote. For Howard, I was afraid he would question God's existence.
I've hardly seen Wufei since that night with the vampire. He's been busy getting his Pack situated and making sure that there was enough evidence popping up (courtesy of Trowa) to ensure Darlian's guilt and conviction. It was tricky, but doable. There was no way Wufei could punish Darlian himself. Since the murdered were human and off werewolf territory, Darlian had to be caught by police and punished by human laws. There was no way around it without someone innocent getting caught, or the wolves admitting their existence. Ch' right. Like hell they would let that happen. So, off to jail he would go.
I snapped out of my musings when Howard pulled up in his new dark blue metallic Chevrolet Avalanche, courtesy of Heero. (I was wrong. They became best friends in a week). He got out of his truck and hopped up the porch, opening the screen door to holler inside. "Hilde, I'm here!"
"I'll be out in a minute!"
He shook his head before letting the door swing close, and turned his attention to me. "Hey kiddo, feeling okay?"
"Not growing any fur or fangs, are ya?"
I chuckled. "Nope. I'm as right as rain. How are you?"
He smiled. It was like having the old Howard back. "A lot better actually." He leaned against the wall. "You know, the more I think about it and the more I accept it, the better I feel." He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure why."
"Because they're behaving more like humans and not like werewolves," I told him. "At least, that's how I feel about it. It's easier to forget that part of them when they're not threatening to eat someone."
This time Howard laughed hard. "Yeah, I guess you're right." Howard turned back to the screen door, but didn't bother opening it. "Hilde, will you hurry the hell up?! You're beautiful enough, let's go!"
"Alright alright," she grumbled as she came out the house, putting on lipstick. "I don't know why you're in a hurry. You own the damn bar."
"Because I'll lose half my customers if I don't get there before Long does. He'll charge folks for drinks they haven't even bought. Oh, Duo." He turned to me briefly. "Tell Heero and Trowa tomorrow night around midnight in Austin, if they want to go drag-racing."
What the hell? "Okay Howie." The two of them then hurried to the truck, bitching the entire way, but paused long enough to wave as they left. I closed my eyes and went back to rocking.
I snored so loud I woke myself up. Momentarily disoriented, it took me a while to figure out what that noise was. As my brain started to catch up, I discovered it was laughter I was hearing. I blinked a few times to get my eyes to focus, and when I did I was ready to bash some heads in. Heero and Trowa were on the porch, leaning against each other to support themselves as they--of course--laughed their asses off at me.
"What's so funny?"
It took a while, but Trowa was the first to get it together. "It was...just...whew! To snore so loud you wake yourself up...gosh, you're hysterical Duo." Heero sniffed a few times and wiped his eyes, nodding his head in agreement. Asshole.
"Howard said tomorrow night around midnight in Austin for drag-racing," I said snottily. "What am I, your damn secretary?"
Heero ignored me, turning to Trowa. He waggled his eyebrows. "My car or your Hummer?"
"What's Howard racing?"
"His truck. I had a few...modifications added to it."
"Could we win?"
"I can. You can't in your vehicle. It's too big."
"Hn. I'll bet on you two then, or use your car. Let's not run the same races."
"How much you wanna bet?"
"No more than three thousand dollars. We've gained too much attention already."
"Hello, guys!" I waved my hand in front of their faces. "Did you have a purpose coming here or what?"
They both turned to me like they forgot I was there. In fact, I think they did. Heero looked a little sheepish. Trowa put his hands on his hips and looked at me as if *I* was the one being rude. That man was more like me than I thought. "The final bit of evidence is in place," Trowa said. "Meizer won't have a choice but to arrest Darlian as soon as possible. I thought that you may want to confront him, or not," he said quickly when he saw I was about to protest. "It's entirely up to you. But we don't have much time."
At first, I didn't want to. I mean, what could I say? What could Darlian say? What could he tell me that would make me feel better about all of this? I wanted to beat, kick and scream at him, throw him through a window or...or something! Three men and a Were were dead because of me! I...I was still trying to come to grips with that. That was something I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
"Duo." Heero's voice was soft. Calming. "I know you don't want to do this. You may even feel betrayed." I thought about that. Yeah, I did a little. I thought Darlian wanted to be my friend, not my killer. "And you may not want to hear what he has to say. But I think that he needs to say what he has to, and you need to hear it." He put his hand on my shoulder. "You also have things you have to say to him that he needs to hear. This is a two-way street."
I was shaking my head. "There is nothing he can say that will make it better."
"No, he can't," Heero agreed. "But I think it's best that you get answers, even though you won't like them. Years from now, when you're thinking of this week's events, you'll be wondering ‘why,' and you won't have the means to find that out." His eyes turned inward. He was talking of himself. "Forever is a long time to never know why."
I still didn't want to, but something about the way Heero said that convinced me. We always looked back and wished we did things differently. I didn't want to feel that way about this.
Without a word, I got up and went into the house, slipping into some tennis shoes and grabbing my house key. I came out and locked up. "Okay guys, let's go." Heero and Trowa were on either side of me as we took the path at the back of my house, trudging up to Wufei's. It was busy as usual; the Maguanacs were building houses like they were going out of style, and the air was consumed with noise. I was escorted into the house, then up the stairs. It was deathly quiet inside, and I wondered where Quatre was. Once up the stairs, Trowa opened the door to the antechamber, and gestured that I enter. I did, and he closed the door behind me. The two wolves remained outside the door. I took stock of my surroundings.
Darlian was there, kneeling on the floor with his head down. He didn't look any worse for wear. Wufei was there too, sitting on his elevated platform and leveling his werewolf with a glare that should've set his hair on fire.
"Duo." I turned to Wufei. "You can sit beside me."
Trusting my instincts, I sat to the right of Wufei, but not on his miniature dias. He nodded in approval. Focusing my attention on Darlian, I couldn't help my anger and bitterness dying at the sight of him. He looked so old and worn, as if he had been a slave his entire life and had just missed his chance at freedom, never to have another. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He was so...empty inside that I felt if I tried to read his thoughts, I wouldn't hear a thing. I would be reading the mind of a corpse.
"How-how could you?" I whispered. Screaming at him, berating him for being such a horrible creature didn't even seem like the thing to say. "How could you kill Mooney, Luna and Harvest? What did they do to you?"
He looked me dead in the eye. "I didn't want to kill them. Truly. Humans are not as fortunate as me to be born a werewolf. No creature can help being born as they are. Even so, humans are filthy creatures, just like cockroaches. So are you. You're a special human certainly, but still human. My Packmaster deserves much, much better."
"You forget your place Darlian," Wufei said angrily. "I will not tolerate any disrespect to the future Primus of the Shenlong Pack."
Darlian lowered his head in the face of Wufei's anger, but his eyes never broke from mine. I met his challenge by refusing to look away. I didn't think he was insulting me, like Wufei thought. That was just the way Darlian thought. Werewolves were superior. Humans made cool squishy noises when stepped on. Hell, Quatre had that same attitude too. "But why target those specific men?" I asked, getting back on course.
"Truthfully Mr. Maxwell, it was random. I saw the opportunity and I took it."
I nodded as I thought that over. Yeah, that made sense. I really didn't see a connection between those three. "And...your mate?"
He swallowed thickly. I knew it. He loved her still. "She heard about your discovery with the hydrogen cyanide. She knew what it was because of the cleaning part of the business. To avoid being overheard, we went to the cemetery where she tried to talk me into admitting my guilt. I couldn't do that. If I was banished from the Pack, she would be too, even though she was innocent." He took a shuddering breath. "I had decided that night that I had to kill you. If you were stupid like others of your kind, I wouldn't have even considered you worth the time. Of course, you wouldn't have been courted by the Packmaster either." He gave me a look that said he wished I was stupid. I was flattered. "I think she knew it. Woman's intuition. She tried to stop me. I couldn't allow that." He looked at Wufei, chest proudly puffed out. "The welfare of my Packmaster is all that matters."
Wufei only nodded. So did I. I mean, what the hell could I say to that? "Was it you that ran into the fence that day, before the Packmaster visited me?"
"Yes. And I also placed the head on your automobile too, to scare you."
That was one part answered. "And you intentionally stepped on that trap at Septem's to throw everyone off your trail, didn't you?"
This was the first time he smiled. "Yes. Very good, Mr. Maxwell."
Well, that solved that mystery. "But why not kill me and get it over with? Why the...charade?"
He raised his head the highest he had during this entire interview. "To be honest Mr. Maxwell, I didn't want to kill you." My eyebrows jumped up. Could've fooled me. "I like you. You are unlike any human I've ever met. You're smart, your beauty," I made a face at the word, "is unlike any human's I've ever seen, and you are genuinely kind. But you didn't run away like I thought you would. You fought back." He frowned at me. "I couldn't risk you being a fighter. You would've found me out, which you did. And despite my bite, you still survived." His voice was filled with awe. "To survive such a thing is not easy, especially for a human. I can see that I was wrong. It should be you that is the Packmaster's mate, not one of our own. You will become a powerful Primus." Tears started to run from his eyes. "If by doing what I have done proves to the Pack that you are strong enough to be the Primus," he started choking on his words, "then I will die happy in the knowledge that it was because of me."
I started to shake. This was not how I imagined the questioning would go. I thought I would become angry, shout, scream, kick and punch him. But I didn't want to. What I wanted was to hug him and tell him that it was okay because I forgave him. What I wanted was to throw myself at Wufei's feet and ask him to do something to spare Darlian from the horrors he'll face alone in prison. What I wanted was to run out to Meizer and tell him that they had the wrong guy, that Septem and his crazy nephew finally cracked and went on a weird killing spree...
"You killed her in vain," I said in a stuttering voice, tears rolling down my cheeks as well. "However, because I lived, her death was not in vain, and you proved my worth." I took a deep breath. "Both of your sacrifices will be remembered. I will make sure of it."
"Thank you," Darlian whispered softly, hanging his head.
"Meizer will be here shortly," Wufei announced, signaling the end of this...whatever. "Darlian, be outside and ready to await the consequences of your actions."
"Yes Packmaster." He stood, walked to the door, then stopped. After a second, it was opened from the outside by Trowa. He stepped back and Darlian walked through, head low as if walking on Death Row. Not able to stand it anymore, I jumped up from my spot and ran to him, but stopped at arm's length.
"She loved you 'til the end too!" I shouted in his face, not able to hold it anymore. "Even when you broke her neck, your mate loved you more than anything else!" Having yelled that, I took off down the stairs at break-neck speed and out the door. I ran down the porch and through the yard, ignoring the 'hellos!' thrown my way. I ran through the cemetery, past my house, past my property, and on and on. I couldn't stop.
I was heartbroken.
Darlian and his mate were the weakest Were's in the Pack, but they loved each other intensely. Even in the end, when he snapped her neck, the last thoughts on their minds were that they loved each other. And nothing, absolutely nothing, could ever change that. Even if he killed her. Even if she killed him.
I wanted a love like that with Wufei.
To see a pic of Howard's truck, click here.