Another Murder of Crows: Part 3
I wish I would die already. I really do. Even though I closed the blinds in my office, the sun's rays are shining through brightly, as if intent on making my hangover worse. This has to be some sort of a conspiracy against me, since the angle from the sunlight to my eyes are clear of obstructions from buildings, trees, etc., even though I'm on the third floor.
Duo actually came in today too, looking about alive and awake as a dead rat. What surprised me the most is that he is on Relena's detail with Zechs. I suspected it would be Noin and Zechs, with Duo covering for them both, but since he only has two weeks left, I'm guessing they are going to work him for it. And me for that matter. The stacks of paper on my desk from yesterday are enough to warm my estate for a week!
Also, when I came in, Relena wasn't in yet, but I didn't want to leave my resignation on her desk. That would be cowardly of me. However, as I turned to leave her office, Zechs came in and took the letter for her, since if anything ever happened to Relena, Zechs would be the one to take over her position. He wasn't too happy either. To be truthful, that is an understatement. A big one. The face he made would've wilted flowers, but I don't care. It's because of everyone's attitude that Duo and I are leaving anyway.
Popping another two aspirins in my mouth, I tried to read over the newest proposals the delegates came up with when my secretary buzzed me.
"Quatre, I'm sorry to bother you, but the Vice Foreign Minister wants to meet with you in the conference room....in five minutes."
"Five minutes?!" I asked incredulously. Who does she think she is, queen of the world? On second thought....uh...crap. "I understand. I'm on my way. Don't call me out of the meeting unless it's one of my sisters, 'kay?"
I can hear her smile over the intercom. "Sure thing."
I popped another two aspirins in my mouth, knowing for sure I will need them, grabbed my uniform jacket and made my way to the conference room. We weren't scheduled for a meeting today, we had one yesterday, and we only had meetings on Monday's or whenever there is...an...emergency. Not good.
I came to the entrance of the conference room and straightened out my uniform jacket, trying to look somewhat presentable considering the ‘all you can drink' binge Duo and I had last night. My eyes were blood shot red, with gray bags under my eyes, and I was unusually jumpy, because I felt like someone has been watching me all day. Most of the morning I was in the office by myself, and no matter how good Heero is at concealing himself, there are only so many places one can hide in my office, so I know it's not him. This feeling isn't very familiar, but I recognize it from somewhere. I just can't place where.
I swiftly opened the door and closed it behind me, keeping my eyes on the doorknob. Once the door was fully closed, I turned to face Relena, Zechs, Noin and Duo.
The first words out of my mouth were, "Duo, what did you do now?" I know, very professional. Let's not forget classy.
Relena didn't even bat an eye. "Please have a seat Quatre."
Well, Relena sat at the head of the table, with Zechs on the right hand side and Noin on the left. There was an empty seat between Zechs and Duo, so not to break the pattern, I sat next to Noin, but there was an empty seat between us. By the time I sat down though, I wished I seated myself next to Duo. It would've made me more comfortable at least.
Holding onto the last bit of my self control, which is seriously clouded over by lingering alcohol, I sat up straight in my chair and folded my hands neatly on the desk. Risking a glance over at Duo, I could see he was doing the same thing, and I could feel his apprehension. It's one thing for him to guard and protect Relena, that's easy for him. He wants peace as much, if not more so than the next man, but it's different when he feels confined in a room with her where she doesn't need to be protected. He described it to me once, that he feels like a dog being backed into the corner. But hopefully my presence will make him feel better.
Relena cleared her throat, trying to get my attention. I turned and smiled to her, hoping it was reaching my eyes. "Quatre, I am concerned about you and Duo."
Did she just say what I thought she said? Of course. Relena and I have always been friends. I'm really being unfair to her. None of this is her fault–well–hasn't been her fault, recently.
"Yes," she added, taking a sip of tea. I can't stand that. I know how it works though. You take a sip of tea to stall and organize your thoughts. My father used to do that all the time and I hated it. Not only are you trying to collect your thoughts, you have to drink at the same time as well as not spill it all over yourself. It's just easier to pause. "I received Duo's resignation yesterday, and was shocked to learn of yours this morning." She finally put the cup down. "Is there a problem?"
"No," I said as pleasantly as I could, considering I had a headache the size of Jupiter.
"Oh?" I wasn't sure how to interpret that, but luckily she clarified it. "Are you sure?"
My smile faltered a bit but I quickly regained my composure, hoping it wouldn't be noticed. I'm sure Relena wouldn't but the others in the room caught it for sure. I could see Noin furrow her eyebrows a bit.
"Yes, I am positive." For some reason I had the false hope that my simple statement would end this conversation. It didn't work.
"If that is the case, then why are you quitting?"
"I need to pay more attention to my company, as well as prepare for my son." Which is true, but my time is manageable between me and my twenty nine sisters, plus the fetus is only three months old.
"I see." I could tell by her tone that she didn't believe me, but it doesn't matter. "So, this has nothing to do with my relationship with Heero?"
/ Don't get mad don't get mad don't get mad / My brain was running in an endless little circle as my temper was starting to come undone. My heart hurt, I was hungry since I barfed up everything I ate for the past week this morning, and now I am being interrogated about my employment decisions. My infinite patience is very finite today. And the argument from last night was still fresh in my mind, so I didn't need the extra aggravation. "No, your relationship with Heero is inconsequential to my decision."
"So, it has nothing to do with the dispute you and Heero had last night?"
I saw red when she said that, and I know Heero too well to know that he wouldn't tell her something like that. Somebody snitched. Well, maybe not. Relena has her ways of finding things out. How else did she find Heero all those times?
I didn't want to very well lie to her; it was the confrontation that sealed my decision, but I also wanted to leave terms open and friendly between us, so I decided to go for the offensive. "What dispute?"
I heard Duo snort across the table, and I turned to see him trying to hide his smirk. Relena narrowed her eyes, maybe disappointed in my answer or frustrated that I'm taking this so easily. "I mean, Heero was very upset when he came home last night," she seemed to punctuate this remark, "and I know that he went over to your estate. I assume you two had a disagreement, and I want to know what happened and have it resolved."
Okay, that did it. I leaned forward in my chair, trying to keep my face impassive, but I know I'm failing miserably. "Relena, I know that in your policies, it's okay for employees to date other employees, and marry if they want to, as long as it doesn't interfere with their work. You consider that their personal lives." I stood up and rested my hands on the table, leaning towards her. "Well, what happened last night, in MY home, is personal, and doesn't concern you." She looked at me like I told her her underwear was on the front lawn. "What ever happened last night happened between me, Duo and Heero, period. It does not concern this office. I appreciate your concern, I really do, but we have made our decision."
The room was silent except for my rapid breathing. I could feel my heart hurting a little bit, but I tried to ignore the pain. There were too many emotions coming too quickly. Duo must've sensed this because he came over to me and held me by my shoulders, trying to stand me up straight.
"Is it your heart?" he whispered.
I couldn't say anything. I just nodded. The pain is steadily getting stronger, and my breathing shallower. Noin got worried and jumped up from her seat. "Quatre, do you need anything?" Zechs stood up too, but for what I don't know.
"No, he doesn't need anything," Duo answered for me. "He just needs to relax for a while, that's all." Duo then started to turn me around, and threw one of my arms over his shoulders. He was use to this. It starts out with my heavy breathing, then the pain increases to where I can't even stand up and walk. Sometimes I even pass out, and this might be one of those times.
We were almost to the door, when it opened to reveal Heero. Super. This is exactly what I need. And he felt in good form, giving me the death glare times ten. I could only huff in his face, considering the fact that I wasn't even standing on my own two feet anymore. His face quickly changed from ‘how many ways can I kill you using my finger' to concern; he too was familiar with what was happening. Saying an extremely foul word, he picked me up in both arms and carried me away. Duo's face was set in an angry scowl as I closed my eyes and welcomed darkness.
I opened my eyes and closed them shut again. The light was bright enough to make my eyes want to roll out of my head. Cautiously, I cracked one slowly open, then the other so that they could adjust. I noticed the sparkled white tile wall, with white curtains to match. The infirmary. That's the only place I could be. Sitting next to my bed was Sally, on one of those stools that roll around, with her arms crossed, looking VERY mean.
"Sal?" I sounded like a mouse.
"Quatre how could you?! Were you two trying to kill yourselves or something?" I tilted my head a little bit, confused. I had no idea what she was talking about.
She sighed loudly, completely frustrated. "You had enough alcohol in your bloodstream to kill a cow! There was no way that you could drink that much last night and be sober enough this morning for work. There is still enough in you now that is pass the point of being legal! Speaking of legal, the age is eighteen, not seventeen. You still got a while to go."
I tried to cover my ears, only to find that moving made my head hurt. I tried to turn my head to the side, and my face almost fell off. I never noticed how every movement made in my body was linked to my forehead. My head hurt to the point where it was overwhelming, and my chest felt like it was trying to pull itself apart. "Sal, please whisper."
"I will not!" she hollered, thumping me on the head. Why couldn't I just die? "I think you and Duo have alcohol problems, and it needs to be dealt with. Later on this week, I will be assigning you two to some kind of detox counseling."
"Oh Sal, you can't be serious." That's it. The first chance I get, I'm going to Egypt. Rashid will keep me hidden.
"Yes, I am serious! Quatre, you have a company to manage, and world peace you are responsible for keeping. This behavior is not like you in the least bit. I know it's against your religion to even drink, let alone being an alcoholic! This is not acceptable for a Winner heir, a former gundam pilot or a member of the Preventer team. Think of your son!"
When she said that I sobered immediately. She was right. I was being selfish, childish and irresponsible. I need to stop thinking about all this other stuff, and focus on the company and my child. "You're right Sally. I'm sorry." I tried to get up but she pushed me back down into the bed.
"Not so fast. Wait until Duo and Wufei are finished with some things, then they will take you home. Besides, I'm not done with you yet." Her voice softened greatly, and sadness invaded her eyes. "I'm sorry about last night," I tried to interrupt, but she placed a finger on my lips. "No, Quatre listen. I'm sorry that we all managed to tear you guys away from each other, and I want to do whatever is necessary to fix this. I love you guys, and it hurts me to see you all like this, and it hurts me to see Wufei torn."
"Torn?" Since when is Wufei torn about anything, besides Khushrenada?
"He is torn between you guys. He would do anything to protect you all, anything at the drop of a hat. But it's hard when he has to choose. He respects and cares for Heero deeply, and he loves you and Duo like brothers, so it pains him that he has to fight either of you to protect the other."
"He doesn't have to protect anybody. It isn't his fight."
"When it concerns you guys, it is his fight," Sally admonished, gently.
I sighed loudly, and closed my eyes. Hopefully, they will come and get me soon. I didn't realize that Wufei was taking this so hard. It didn't even occur to me. I should sit down and talk with him, that way I could be aware of his feelings more often. If it's not one thing, it's another, I swear.
"Wake up, sleeping beauty." Even though that was said to be funny, there wasn't any humor in his voice. I opened my eyes to see the sad smile on Duo's face, with Wufei's glum one. Sally was right, he is taking this hard.
"Are you ready to go, Quatre?" Wufei asked gently.
Wufei helped me swing my legs over the side of the bed and pulled me to my feet. I'm glad he did, my coordination was not there at the moment, or for several moments after that, now that I think about it. Anyway, I felt strong enough to walk by myself, but I was using Wufei as a crutch so as not to strain myself. Duo held the door open for us and soon enough we were outside, crowding into one of the shuttle buses from the Preventers' headquarters. I truly do not like the shuttles. For one thing, it has the signature ‘P' for Preventers on top of the vehicle, in bright gold lettering, so the enemy would have a clear target on where to drop their bomb. Relena is too trusting for her own good. Another thing is that it's actually a small bus, meaning it drives too slow, takes forever to make a turn, and every bump on the road that we hit is amplified ten fold. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if my stomach didn't feel like it was going to run out of my body through my throat, or that my heart felt as though I tied it up with yarn and was pulling on strings to make it tighter, and somehow during all of this Duo fell asleep, snoring very, very loudly.
I definitely, had better days.
Finally, we reached the garage where I could see Rashid waiting for me in the limo. The look on his face was anything but welcoming. Oh man. I am going to get it.
I tried one of Duo's acts, what he calls ‘feigning exhaustion', hoping Wufei would play along. It didn't work.
"Not with me Quatre. You're a bad actor."
Darn, maybe if I go with the chibi-eyes. "Ha! That might work on Rashid, but not me. You don't have the face for it as far as I'm concerned."
No! I'm running out of ideas. Maybe if I pout, batting chibi-eyes. "Quatre please, you look like a fish. Stop before I start laughing." Well, at least I tried.
Rashid opened the door and ushered us in without so much as glancing in my direction. Not good. Wufei came after me, then Duo. Once the door was closed and the limo pulled away onto the street, I tried to absorb everything about this afternoon. I expected a reaction out of Relena, but this was out of character for her. I didn't expect her to be so aggressive or even so much the in-depth questioning she did. Of course she would ask questions as to my reason for leaving, but I feel that how she went about it was unacceptable. And with Duo in the room, I found that strange too. The whole thing seemed.....wrong. She's not telling me something.
"You can't make me a prisoner in my own home!" I shouted at Wufei. This is insane!
"Quatre, you act like I want to do this. I have other things to do besides babysit you! Do you believe this is fun for me? Huh?! While on your way to the infirmary you almost had complete cardiac arrest. It took Sally almost three minutes to get your heartbeat regular again. How do you think she would feel if you died on her table?! You are staying right here in bed until she says otherwise, and if you need anything, one of us will get it. I will deal with your work at headquarters, and I contacted Iria, so she and the others will deal with anything major that might occur at Winner enterprise for now. Are there any questions?"
I can't believe this is happening. Well, Wufei told me I could've died while we were on our way to the house, but I didn't think any more of it. We almost died a thousand times in battle, and I tried to self-destruct once, so what's a heart attack to me? I'm alive, and with Sally's care I know I'll get better soon, so what's with being under house arrest?
I crossed my arms across my chest and frowned. It was the only thing I can do. Wufei doesn't take no for an answer, and since my health is on the line, I'm sure this time won't be any different. "No."
"Good. Now Rashid and Sophie are pretty pissed you and Duo got so wasted last night. Right now Rashid is probably an inch away from strangling Duo, and Sophie says you are getting nothing but ramen tonight."
Oh no, anything but that. I can't stand ramen. "Can you tell her I'm really, really sorry?" I tried the chibi eyes and pout again. He just laughed in my face.
"Oh please, she is not going to fall for that Quatre. She's only known you your entire life." Then his smile faded and he turned serious again. I can't stand that look. I turned my attention to my light blue comforter that was across my waist, smoothing out the invisible wrinkles. Wufei lifted my chin so that my eyes were on the same level as his, and scooted closer to me. "Quatre, what's going on? You're getting sick all over again. I remember you started complaining about chest pains when you had to consider what to do about an heir." I turned my head away from him and he grabbed my chin again, making me face him. "You have made your decision. It is done. You haven't had any heart problems for a while now, but they're starting again, and your temperament has changed drastically. I hope you're not stressing out over this crap with Relena and Duo and Heero. If so, drop it. They have to figure out what to do themselves."
I dropped my face into my hands, rubbing my jaw absently. Yuck, stubble. I need to shave. "I know, I know."
"Yeah, I know you know, but will you do it?" he asked, knowing I could never do that.
"Well, it's hard when Heero comes over to talk about Duo--"
"Then tell him to walk east until he floats in space," he stated matter of factly. "This is your house Quatre, and he had no right to get upset with you or demand anything of you like that. This crap is his fault as far as I'm concerned."
"I guess you're right." I sighed and laid back into my mound of pillows, wiggling around a bit to make myself more comfortable. Once it appeared that I was comfortable and ready to hear more, Wufei made to leave.
"Get some rest, you're going to need it. Relena wants to come by and talk to you tomorrow. More than likely Zechs, or whatever he is calling himself now will be here."
I groaned. Please don't get me wrong. I adore Relena, but it's like nobody wants to be bothered with you until you're sick, tired or busy. And I'm all of the above. I want to crawl in my hole and hibernate for a while.
"Don't sweat it, I'm sure it will be brief. Rashid is not in the mood for company, and Sophie never has been very tactful when it came to your welfare. Abdul is ready to scream bloody murder, so I wouldn't worry. I give them an hour max."
"Thanks." I let my eyes slide close.
"No problem. Rest now." He squeezed my hand and quietly left the room.
It might have been an hour since I fell asleep when I heard the door click close. I used to be a heavy sleeper. The dead would wake up before I did. Now, every little noise and creak would have me jump up into wakefulness. I wonder what happened to change my sleeping habits that way. Anyway, I sat up quickly and saw Duo trying to tip-toe his way to the bed. "Duo, what's wrong?"
"Sorry Cat, didn't mean to wake ya. I wanted to stay in here with you, if that's okay."
He must've had another nightmare. "Sure."
He slowly crawled on top of the mattress and easily slid down under the sheets, slapping the pillows to fluff them. "What's up Duo?"
"Huh? Oh nothing. Rashid is really pissed, so I thought that maybe if I stayed in here with you, he would have to kill me quickly."
I almost fell out the bed laughing. "Duo, he's not going to kill you, he's upset that we drank so much and that I...hurt myself today. That's all. He worries about you as much as he worries about me. We're his kids."
"Oh yeah? Well, hasn't your father ever told you, ‘I brought you in this world, I'll take you out'?"
"Mine hasn't either." How this man can make me laugh. I thought I busted an intestine the way I was roaring.
"You are too much sometimes, I swear."
He gave me his signature smile, the one that only Duo Maxwell can do, before giving his response. "Yeah, that's what they all say. Can't help it, I'm a big boy."
I know for sure I ripped something now. That's too funny. "Duo, go to sleep, see you in the morning." I managed to get this past my pants.
"Goodnight blondie." He smiled back. Within minutes he was asleep, and I followed a short time after.
I sat up fast. My breathing came in quick, short pants, and I was sweating like we were on the sun. I brought my hand up to my forehead to move my sweat plastered bangs away from my face. Quickly taking in the room, I realized I was at home, not underwater. It was that dream again. Actually, nightmare is the correct term for it, the same one I have had for the past two years. It's always the same: I fall through the ice and the other pilots watch me. Actually, Trowa waves goodbye, and Duo runs to me but stops at the edge of the hole, reaching out. I used to get it every once in a while, but now it's starting to come more frequently, and so are my chest pains.
I shook my head some to clear the image out of my mind. Whatever it was, it's over, and has been over for quite some time. However, many of the details have been erased from my mind. I worked a lot with one of my sisters who is a psychologist, and managed to hide many painful memories. The war I didn't want to forget, or my father's death, but something happened two years ago that involved....crows? I think so. It sounds crazy, I know, but I think that's it. I don't remember what happened, but whatever did happen is trying to force its way out of my subconscious. The only things I have to show for it is a key, a black one, that I don't remember buying from anywhere and it doesn't fit any door in the house. But I take it with me every where I go incase I find out where it fits.
The only other thing I remember are eyes. A pair of ice blue eyes. Sometimes I see them at the back of my eyelids. I asked the guys if they had any idea what I was talking about, but all they said was that it was from another lifetime. I know they wouldn't lie to me, but something tells me that they are hiding something from me. When I asked Duo, he didn't answer me. Instead, he only said never mention it to him or anyone again. I thought that was weird.
I slowly slid out from under Duo's arm, since he insists on taking up the whole bed, and tip-toed my way to the bathroom. I decided to leave the light off, so as not to wake Duo, and hear him whine for who knows how long. The moonlight was bright enough to provide enough light from the bed to the bathroom, so it wasn't a big deal.
I stepped up to the sink and turned on the cold water, allowing it to run in between my fingers. I rubbed my hands together to feel the grit between them, before I turned the back of my hand up and let the water run across my wrist. The bubbles that formed on my skin refracted the moonlight into a creamy white color and silver, all the while emitting the lime green that dances off of my ring out at irregular intervals. Exhaling deeply, I stared at my reflection in the mirror, analyzing my face. I don't see what all the women and half the men see. Blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, nothing special.
/ You are special, Quatre /
I stood up straight for a moment, letting the cool water run into the marble sink, and dripping on the floor from my hands. I held my breath momentarily to rule out any noises that I could be creating without knowing. Doesn't sound like anything I'm doing. What was that? Sally is right, I'm stressed out. I'm hearing things. Ack.
I shook off the voice as part of my dark, overactive imagination and continued to splash some cool water on my face. This is so refreshing and calming. I think we should leave town for a while; maybe go to a spa. I've never really been to one, might as well try it now. Of course, I can hear Wufei demanding blood from here.
Duo grumbling in his sleep brought me out of my reverie and I turned off the water to listen. I caught a few words: gundam, shinigami, corndogs, and Heero. Heero. What are you thinking? No matter what I do, my space heart can never tell me what he is truly thinking. I'm glad that he managed to let go of his past and try to live in the here and now, but too much has changed too quickly. He and Duo use to be inseparable. Literally. They would even go to the bathroom together. Now they can't stand the sight of each other. What is going on?
I can't fret over it now. There is nothing I can do about it right now, and this line of thinking is not getting me to bed any sooner.
As I was toweling my face dry, I looked in the mirror to see a face looking back at me....but it wasn't mine. It was those ice blue eyes that I always see in my dreams, and a smile that made my stomach turn.
With a scream that I know for sure woke the dead on Earth, I punched my wet fist into the mirror, shattering it to pieces.