Blood or Chocolate?
Chapter 6: Hi Ho, To The Morgue We Go
/ He knows what I am /
That was my first thought when I woke up. The blinding light and sterile-smelling environment could only be found in a hospital. There were two shapes looming above me, and after blinking a few times, I was able to see that the shapes were Hilde and Howard. Both of them were on either side of me. I was overwhelmed by deja vu, and my world stepped back into time. I was ten years old again and had just woken up from the accident that killed my parents. The following thirteen years of my life seemed to have been a dream.
Hilde's voice brought me back to the present. She didn't have the voice of a scared little girl anymore. She had the voice of a strong woman. "Yeah?"
"Oh thank god!" she whispered hoarsely, squeezing my hand. "Thank god."
"Damnit Duo, you scared the shit outta me!" Howard bellowed. "Christ, you can't even go to the damn store without gettin' into something!"
"Leave him alone Uncle Howard!" Hilde said harshly, slipping into 'protective sister' mode. "How was he supposed to know what would happen? At least he looked for Luna. That loser Alex didn't even bother to check the suspiciousness of the situation, and he's a cop!" Howard grumbled something incoherent under his breath, but didn't comment. It was pointless arguing with Hilde when she was in her 'mode.' "I'm just glad his new friend was there to help him."
Clearly confused now, I sat up and saw what she was talking about. Hilde and Howard were sitting on the sides of my bed, blocking my view of the room. In the corner sitting in a chair was Wufei, as cool and calm as Jell-O.
Hilde and Howard both caught my look. Howard swivelled around and fixed Wufei with an absolutely baleful glare, and Hilde grabbed my shoulders, ready to shake the answers out of me if necessary. "Duo, what did he do to you?!"
She thought he attacked me because I was gay. That has happened in the past to others who were found out. "He didn't do anything to me. It's...complicated." I glanced at him. He looked perfectly neutral. I turned my attention back to Hilde. "I'll explain later. Now's not the time." I saw the shadow of shoes in front of the room's door. We would have company soon.
"I must be going," Wufei announced, standing up. God, his movements were so elegant I felt like a clumsy fool. He gave me a gentle smile. "You have questions."
This was a statement. He was absolutely right. "Yes."
He nodded to himself, then his attention turned to the ceiling as he mulled something over. "I have questions myself," he admitted, looking back to me. "But I'm sure I can answer the majority of what you need to know."
Need to know. So he thought I needed to know. I believed him. "When?"
"Tomorrow night, about eleven in the evening is best. My place."
"No." My voice sounded authoritative. Huzzah for me.
He raised an eyebrow. "No?"
"No." Guess that was a word he didn't hear often. Howard and Hilde moved closer to me, thereby placing themselves between Wufei and me. Yeah, real subtle that was. "We will meet somewhere that's neutral. They will accompany me," my eyes flickered between Howard and Hilde, "and you bring two others with you as witnesses."
"Hmm..." His gaze lowered a fraction as he thought it over. It didn't take long. "You're right. Neutral ground is best." He gave me an appraising look. I pleased him again. "Where?"
There was only one place I could think of that both parties will feel comfortable and safe. "The pet cemetery," Wufei and I chimed, smirking at each other. He then gave me a slight bow, which I mimicked, and he left, quietly closing the door behind him. Howard quickly got up, grabbed the chair Wufei vacated and shoved it under the door handle. Oh boy.
"Okay damnit," Howard snarled, damn near crawling into my lap as he sat back on the bed. "What the hell happened tonight?"
I felt my heart sink to my stomach. I didn't want to tell him. "Well, when I found Luna, he--"
"No, not about that. I don't want you to think about that ever again. Ever!" he said, and nearly reached out to him to comfort him as I heard the slight tremble in his voice. He cleared his throat and tried again. "I mean, what the hell happened to you tonight? Christ Duo." Howard stood up but kept his back to me as he tried to regain his composure. "Do you have any idea how I felt when I saw that man on your doorstep? I knew instantly he was there to tell me something happened to you. And god damnit I was right. I thought that whoever killed Luna got you too, and they needed me to identify your body." He shook his head. "Lord, these kids are all I have. What am I gonna do if something happened to them?" He was silent for a moment, and in the silence I heard his sniffling. Hilde and I remained where we were, holding hands and waiting. When Howard cleared his throat again, he was back to normal.
He turned around and sat back on the bed. "Epileptic my ass. I don't believe a damn word those docs are saying. You've never had seizures before. You're as healthy as a horse."
"Well, I--I....I did have a seizure," I mumbled, knowing that once they found out why I had it, who caused it, and why I allowed him to leave without any bodily harm, they were going to kick my ass.
Hilde was quick on the uptake. "You tried to read one of their minds, didn't you?"
"Damnit Duo!" Hilde's shout made both of us jump. "You were shot across the bar because you tried to do that. Why the hell would you do that to yourself again?"
"Because I heard one of them moments before!" I answered. The rest of the details I left unsaid.
Someone came to the door and tried to open it. As you probably guessed, that didn't work. Whoever that was then tried pulling repeatedly on the door as if that would magically do it. Howard growled, got up and removed the chair from under the doorhandle. Yanking it open, he barked in that person's face. "Nothing wrong here. Family business." He closed the door in their face. When they began to open it, Howard grabbed the door, halting its movement. "I said nothing is wrong, family business, bugger off!" This time he slammed the door, rattling the walls. No one tried to open it again, but I heard whomever tell someone else to call security.
"Duo, you have to stop this. You can't do this to people just because--"
I didn't want to, but I had to tell my story. And fast. "Shut up for a second Hil. Look, the reason I tried to read Wufei's thoughts--"
"Wufei did this to you?!"
"Howie please! I tried to read his thoughts because he was upset at the store, but it wasn't the right kind of upset. He wasn't mad that someone killed Luna, but at something else that pertained to him, I think."
"He killed him?!"
"No Howard, I don't think--"
"Then he knows who did kill him."
"No Hilde, I don't think--"
"He doesn't know who, but he knows that person is affiliated with him."
Fuck yes! "That's right Howie. That's what I think." Then I dropped my other bomb. "And whoever murdered Luna possibly murdered Mooney too."
Hilde's eyes went wide. Howard lowered his shades. "What?" they said.
"That's what I heard." The activity noise outside the room was increasing. Everyone's brains were buzzing with excitement. Bad news was coming my way. "I picked a thought out of one of Wufei's friends. When he looked at me he was thinking of Mooney. I think there's a connection and I want to check it out."
"How?" Hilde asked.
God, they were going to kill me. "I want to go to the morgue. Tonight."
They were quiet. Then Howard said, "Okay."
"Okay? Not okay Howard!"
"Hilde, think!" he snapped. "Duo is involved in this shit now. If there is a way to find a connection and get his lunatic caught, let's do it." Despite the fact that I won't read Howard's and Hilde's thoughts, I couldn't help the flash of a vision Howard had. He imagined they would find another mangled body, and it would be me. He was terrified. "The better we understand what's going on, the better we can prepare for it. We hit the morgue tonight," he gave us a stern look, "we meet with Wufei tomorrow, fully loaded and ready for war," he reinforced this with a pointed finger in our direction, "and if anyone suspicious crosses our path, we shoot first and ask questions later, friend or unknown. Understood?"
"Yes Uncle Howard."
"You got it Howie."
"Good." He grabbed our heads and pulled us forward. He kissed me on my forehead. Right then there was a brief knock and the door opened. The doctor stepped in just in time to see him kiss Hilde's forehead. The three of us turned and faced the doctor as if getting interrupted during a tender moment was an everyday thing. The doctor, 'Saddler' his name tag read, cleared his throat uncomfortably. There were two security guards at his elbows. "I've been told there has been a disturbance in here," he said snottily. "Is there a problem?"
"Yes," I said, throwing the covers off me. "I demand to be discharged. Now."
The ride to the hospital's morgue was tense. We had a sketchy plan drafted that I thought was good, but still we were nervous. How could we not be? We weren't professional thieves or anything like that. Hell, I never even skipped class in high school! Breaking into a morgue was not something on my 'Things To Do Before I Die' list.
Right after I was discharged, we stopped by the house so that Hilde and I could change into some dark (and in my case, clean) clothing. We also had a couple of messages. One was from Meizer, who was nearly frantic at what happened and was going to ‘ream Alex's ass' for being so unprofessional and not taking care of me. He also left his private cell if I needed anything at all, and I better not hesitate to call or he will ream me too. Another was from Septem, damning me and my entire family to hell. He also admitted on my answering machine that he hated me with a passion, and prayed every night that when I die, I will become the devil's personal sex slave. The last one was from Mariemaia, who said she was sorry I was hurt, and that they had plenty of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream if I wanted some.
Wow. And the night was only half over.
Okay, once we got to the morgue, Howard was going to provide a distraction (what that was not even Howard knew), while Hilde and I took the stairs down to the basement where...you know what was. After I did whatever I needed to do (whatever that was) Hilde and I would jam out of there, grab Howard on the way out and haul ass. See? Good plan.
The butterflies in my stomach turned into bats when we pulled into the parking lot. It was nearly midnight. I felt like I was going to throw up in Hilde's car. I managed to contain it at the last minute, but I still felt queasy. In fact, this was downright perfect. "Let's ask to use the bathroom," I said.
Hilde and Howard were not slow tonight. "I'll lead the way," Howard said, and he walked on as Hilde helped me along. We entered the hospital through the sliding glass doors, and noted that the lobby was completely empty. At the admissions desk was a security guard that was also an old friend of Howard's. This was looking up. "Hey Gus!"
"Howard. Hello!" The chubby man waved. Then he saw us. "Oh no, he didn't seize again, did he?"
"Oh no, he's alright. Just ate something that didn't agree with him. Hilde, go ahead and help him to the bathroom."
"Oh, uh, wouldn't it be better maybe if *I* helped him?" The words sounded like they were dragged out of him.
"Nah, they're okay. It's better if they use the girl's bathroom anyway. More room."
"Yeah, that's true."
I looked at Hilde. She returned my look. How the hell would they know?
I forgot completely about the comment when we were out of sight of the cameras. Without hesitation, Hilde and I broke into a quiet run, skimming the hallways and praying to everything that we wouldn't run into somebody. The first stairwell we came across was on Hilde's side, and she grabbed my arm and pulled me with her through the door. We closed it with a soft click. The sounding in there was just awful, so Hilde and I damn near tiptoed our way down. When we came to the last landing, a big black door with 'Do Not Enter' written in red letters greeted us. Hilde shoved the door open without a second thought, and I nearly lost everything I'd eaten in the past twenty four hours to the smell.
I will never be able to describe it. Once you smell it, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Hilde and I covered our mouths and waited until our gagging passed. When I was feeling a little bit better, I started forward. The fridges for the bodies were ahead of me and to the left, in the wall. The metal tables and sinks were to the right.
Hilde held my hand and together we inched our way forward. I couldn't tell what doors had who, so I just started opening at random. Thankfully, they were placed in head-first. The first one I opened, I read her name on her toe tag. Nope. The second one was the same way. This was getting easier. The third one I opened was Mooney, so I pulled the sliding table out all the way. Thinking I was going to be okay, I unzipped the bag--
--and barely made it to the sink before I threw up.
As I wiped my mouth with my arm, Hilde was at the sink next to me, finishing. She used her arm to wipe her mouth too. Damn, there was no way Hilde could not be my twin.
"That was...horrible," she said in a tear-ridden voice.
"I know." Mooney was mauled to death. His face, his eyes, his ears, had all been scratched away. His chest was nothing but a mass of valleys. It really did look like a bear just used him to sharpen its nails. Hell, I wouldn't have known it was him if it weren't for the toe tag.
"Duo, what are you going to do?"
"I have to touch him," I said. "He's...gone. I won't be able to get an impression any other way." She sighed. She wasn't happy with that. Well, shit. Neither was I.
Deciding to be ballsy for once, I steeled myself and walked forward. I didn't look at his face or his body. I kept my eyes on his shoulder. The shoulder was scratched, but not mutilated thankfully. But once at his shoulder, I noticed a funny smell. He hadn't been dead long, so it wasn't the smell of decay. It smelled like...almonds, but foul. Spoiled almonds. How weird.
Ignoring Hilde, I balled my hand up in a fist and extended my pinky finger. I scrunched my eyes tightly closed. Ready to run screaming like a little girl again, I touched his cold skin with my pinky finger and gasped from the intensity of the emotions.
Whoever killed him was full of blinding hate. Rage. Disgust. Malice. This person wanted him dead. Him and everyone else like him. That was similar to what I felt the night I met Heero and Quatre. The feelings were held so tightly in check that I couldn't tell who they were directed to or from. Hell, that might not have even been anyone from Wufei's house. I didn't know who they were, and couldn't do anything about it now.
I pulled away from Mooney. The passion behind the crime was so intense it left its stain, but nothing more. No name, no image. "Shit."
"I don't know who did this."
I sighed. I reeeeally didn't want to do this. "I need to look at Luna. Is he here?"
"Yeah, I think so."
So we went through a game of 'Who's Behind This Door?' Hilde found him on her second try, and pulled the table all the way out. She started to unzip the bag. I felt that I was prepared enough since I saw him when his death was fresh. When I blinked I was surprised to find myself at the sink again, and this time I had to wipe my mouth with my shirt. Hilde was just finishing up, and wiped her mouth with her shirt, glaring at me.
"Damnit Duo, will you stop that?!"
"What?! I couldn't help it! What about you, can't you stop?!"
"I didn't start puking until you started puking!"
"Christ. Let's get this done so that we can get the fuck outta here."
I stomped back to Luna. Again there was the strange smell, only slightly stronger. On him, the almonds smelled bitter. "Hey Hil, do you smell that?"
She sniffed a few times, and her eyebrows crinkled. "Almonds?"
So it wasn't just me. Filing that detail away, I touched his shoulder, this time using my middle finger. I gasped again from the sensations, and found that they were the same. Whoever killed Mooney, and a person, not an animal, killed Mooney, killed Luna too for the same reasons. Satisfied with that bit of information, I zipped Luna and Mooney back up and shoved them back into their makeshift tombs. Hilde cleaned up the sinks. The two of us then scurried out of there as fast as possible, running out the door and up the stairs at full throttle, not giving a damn at how much noise we made.
Once to the ground floor, we walked out to the lobby and found Howard and Gus still yakking, talking about fishing spots. Not caring if we were being rude, we each grabbed an arm and dragged him out of there without so much as a 'goodbye.' Hilde got into the driver's seat and started to take off before Howard even had a chance to close the door. "Damnit Hilde, can I get in the car?"
"Howard," I snapped, gaining his attention. "We have a serial killer on our hands. You need to listen to me."
And he did.