A Murder of Crows: Part 2
Now that it was daylight, I was able to see the mansion clearly. Whoever lived here was obsessed with crows. The ends to the couch, chairs and table were carved in the shape of crow heads. The fireplace also had several crows on vines carved into its surface. That, combined with the ebony furniture, gave the room an elegant feel.
My room was the same way. The headboard had the body of a crow carved into the wood, on the ends of the bed, and on the fireplace. Actually, the fireplace was the best one. It had a boy, around my age, holding his arm out, as a crow rested on his wrist. The boy stood next to a tree that resembled the tree a few meters from my window. I couldn't imagine the time it took to do that. I tried my best to be patient, but there was no way, emphasis on the 'no,' that I could be that patient.
What I liked the most was the view from my window. To begin, the window was as tall as the wall, save a few inches from the top and bottom. To the right of the tree there was a pond, about ten meters away. What was so great about my room's position, was that I would be able to see anyone approaching the house...as long as it was daytime. But at night, it would be impossible for the mansion to be seen from the road, due to the lack of lights. We were well hidden, for the most part.
Thinking through all of this, I absently stared out of the window, twisting the ring on the middle finger of my left hand. It was a thick gold band with a stone sitting in the middle of it. The stone was about the size a tiny marble. It was a light aquamarine color, so light it was almost a pale lime green. It was so large and bright, oftentimes I had to take it off while doing reconnaissance work. I've had this ring for so long, I couldn't remember who gave it to me.
"Trowa," I murmured to myself, as I continued to stare at the landscape. Lately, that name, and the person it belonged to, occupied more and more of my thoughts. I couldn't help myself. Right now, he and Heero were probably doing something nearly suicidal, just to cross the street! It was in his nature to be risky, and that was why I worried. He could be hurt, and he wouldn't say a thing. I just wish I knew how he felt about me. Sometimes, I wanted to throw myself at him and tell him how I feel. Sometimes, while I did my homework, I would catch a glimpse of him watching me before he tucked his head down to whatever book he was reading. Was he looking at me? I hoped so! What I would give just to have a moment alone with him, and the courage to... what the hell was that?
I threw my body against the window. The warmth of my breath fogged it up, so I held it. Someone was skating on the pond. Who would be way out here, skating? I could tell it wasn't Duo or Wufei, and it couldn't in any way, shape or form be Heero or Trowa. I squinted, and tilted my head to see better. The figure stopped and stood still. It took me a moment to realize that the person was trying to see me too.
I ran from the window to fling my door open. I heard it slam against the wall. As I ran down the stairs, I couldn't help but mentally scream out. I couldn't believe this! We haven't even been here twenty-four hours, and we've already been compromised! Focusing back on the present, I jumped the last three steps, landing squarely on my feet. I bounced back up, and ran past Duo and Wufei. They were sitting on the couch, playing Chinese Checkers. I slid and crashed into the front door, flung it open, and ran outside to see... nobody?
"Huh?" was all I managed to say. Nobody was out here! Maybe, because I was still tired, my mind was playing tricks on me. Or maybe I was on the verge of a psychotic breakdown. To be honest, I wasn't happy about either choice. But if I had to choose, option one sounded good.
"Quatre, what the hell are you doing?" Wufei and Duo looked at me like I suggested the world was flat. Not that I blamed them, but still...
"Uh, nothing! Just getting some fresh air." As you could see, lying was not one of my talents.
"Cat, your lying is like Heero being talkative." Duo had a point there.
"I'm not doing anything. I was just feeling a bit tense all of a sudden. That's all." They looked at each other, then at me. Wufei just sighed out loud and turned to go back inside. Duo followed behind him, lingering a bit to do a once over on me. Then he sighed and went back in. I followed suit. But before I closed the door, I looked out one last time.
Nobody was there.
As I ran all possible scenarios through my head, Wufei and Duo watched me from the couch. When I started to feel their eyes poking me in the stomach, I snapped out of my daze. They were concerned. So I decided to tell them... a little tale. "I thought Trowa was back."
Wufei just snorted and went back to the game, but Duo continued to stare at me, unimpressed. I knew he didn't buy it, even though he turned back to his game. Sighing, I started making my way to the room. On my way up, I could feel Duo's gaze on my back.
I cooked dinner, so that I wouldn't have to talk. It felt kind of weird. We had to cook our food in the fireplace, with a pot that we usually took with us. (Or more accurately, when we stopped at a store somewhere, Duo 'liberated' it because all it was doing was sitting on a rack). Anyway, I felt like a witch hovering it, adding salt or whatever. All I needed was a black hat and dress to match.
Heero and Trowa got back nearly twenty minutes ago. They looked like snowman as they stumbled through the door, right into Duo's and Wufei's blanket-covered arms. Hot water and tea was being used to warm them from the inside out, while the blankets and the fireplace took care of the rest.
I had given everyone their bowl, and started to make my way upstairs. When I was right at the top, Duo stopped me.
"Hey Quatre," he said nonchalantly, even though I knew he didn't feel it. "Aren't you eating?"
It was obvious that I wasn't eating. I ate as much as Duo did...well...not quite that much. But you could say that I was the challenger, and he was the champion. I never missed a meal.
Except for tonight.
"No thanks, I'm not hungry," I said, which was true. I was irritated for no reason that I could figure, and it ruined my appetite. "Just holler when you're done, and I'll do the dishes." I tried one of my 'trust me' smiles, that I used to give my father when I would get caught wearing one of his expensive shoes or ties. It didn't work.
"Hell no man, not with me. Let's go." He stormed off, towards my room, holding his food in one hand as he dragged me along with the other. I felt like a little kid being pulled along by my big brother. I toddled after him, my eight million steps equaling his one. The harder I tried to pull free, the tighter he held on.
When we entered the room, Duo released my arm... sort of. Actually, he flung me inside. The momentum was so strong, I ran into the bed. Gnashing my teeth, I sat at the foot of the bed, rubbing my shins as he closed the door. It was then that I noticed the hole in the wall. It was in the shape of the doorknob. Duo, automatically, followed my gaze. He looked at it, then at me, with his eyebrow raised.
After the mesmerization of the hole, Duo jumped on top the bed and plopped down. Settling his food to the side, he crossed his legs Indian-style, and leaned forward with his elbows digging into his knees. Folding his hands, he rested his chin on his fingers. When he exhaled, he was ready.
I said it all in a rush. "I saw someone on the pond."
"What?" Both eyebrows shot up to his hairline, I guess. It was hard to tell through his bangs.
But the amount of surprise in his voice made me repeat myself. "I saw someone on the pond."
With this, he sat up and unfolded his hands, letting them hang between his thighs. He just looked at me like I'd claimed to be Santa Claus. "You saw someone on the pond?"
Didn't I just say that? "Yes."
"But no one was out there."
I tried my best not to sigh, and succeeded. "I know that, Duo."
"Then you couldn't have seen anyone," he explained to me, as if I was mentally slow.
"But I did."
He frowned at me. "No, you didn't."
"Look," I started, lowering my voice to a whisper. "I know what I saw." My shins weren't hurting anymore, so I stood up and started to pace. "Someone was out there skating around, as plain as day. Then whoever it was saw me, and... must've taken off as I ran downstairs." I glanced at Duo. His face was expressionless. Even his eyes didn't reveal anything. I sighed. "Didn't you say you had a bad feeling about this place? Well, here's proof."
"That's not much."
"Well, what kind of proof do you need? If you need something as obvious as the house being on fire, we're going to have a problem."
"No no, that's not what I meant. It's just... I don't know." He threw his hand up in the air, as if that would dismiss this conversation. "I don't know what to think anymore." He picked up his food, and started to eat. "I believe you Cat, but this doesn't make any sense."
"Tell me about it," I said, right when the door opened. Wufei came in first, followed by Heero and Trowa. All three of them looked to Duo first, then to me.
"What doesn't make any sense?" Heero asked, flatly as always. Sometimes, I wondered about him.
"Quatre said he saw someone on the pond today," Duo said, picking at his food as if he was looking for something.
Okay, here we go again. "I saw someone skating on the pond. Then when he or she saw me watching, they stopped."
"And that's when you ran outside," Wufei finished.
"What happened next?" This was asked by Trowa.
"Well, when I got outside no one was there. Wufei and Duo followed me out. All three of us can agree that no one was there, right?" Wufei and Duo nodded almost simultaneously.
"How long did it take you to get outside?"
"Not even ten seconds, Heero."
"And no one was there?"
I tried not to sigh, and succeeded. Barely. "No. No one."
"That's not possible."
Instead of pulling all of my hair out, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled. I could feel the weight of the others' eyes on me, as they debated with themselves to say something more or let the matter drop. Slowly, so as not to startle Heero and catch a bullet in my back, I turned around to face the wall. Then I leaned forward, until my forehead touched it. I decided that bashing my head against it wouldn't help. However, I wasn't convinced.
Light footsteps stopped behind me, and a long, slender hand was placed on my shoulder. I turned around so that I could face who it was. It turned out to be Trowa. He gave me a close-lipped smile, and a slight squeeze to my shoulder. "Let's go Heero," he said over his shoulder, his eyes still focused on me. "We've had a long day."
I felt the warmth seep from my body as Trowa pulled his hand away, and I was ready to howl at the loss of contact. Wufei was the first one out of the door, with Heero right at his heel. Trowa paused at the door, and gave me a look that I didn't understand. Before I could 'sense' what he was feeling, he nearly ran from the room, closing the door quickly behind him.
I turned to Duo. He was giving me a look that clearly stated he knew something I didn't. "What?"
He gaped at me. "What do you mean 'what?' How could you miss that?! If that wasn't an obvious 'I want your body,' then I'm a fuckin' crown prince!" His eyes rolled up in his head as he thought, and I became suspicious when he narrowed his eyes at me. "You really are a blond, aren't you?"
I stepped forward, about to grab a pillow to beat Duo senseless for the insult. He was prepared for the attack. He moved his food to the floor, and grabbed a pillow to defend himself. Then the door suddenly opened again, shocking me into stillness. Duo and I jerked around to see that it was Heero. "There is a storm coming over from Moscow," he said without hesitation, "and it should hit tomorrow afternoon. We will wait until after it's gone to go get the carriers, since you and Duo feel we should all go."
I shot Duo a surprised look. When did he have time to talk to Heero? "Fine." With that said, Heero nodded and left. I followed behind him to close the door, pausing for a moment. Then, without warning, I ran at Duo, and knocked him to the floor. He rolled on top of me, reached up to grab a pillow, and began beating me mercilessly with it. I managed to push him off of me, then jumped on the bed to grab another pillow. I held it above my head, grinning evilly. Duo was on his knees, pillow raised to deflect, grinning evilly as well. I knew that he could see this for what it was: a distraction. A ploy to forgot what had happened today. And despite that, he was going to play along.
With a war cry, the Battle of the Pillows was underway.
As I drew open the enormous black drapes that covered my window, I received a hit to the back of my head from a pillow. It landed with a soft thud on the floor. Duo was a very, very, very, very, VERY unpleasant person in the morning. After a few grunts and groans in the Neanderthal language, he rolled over and went back to sleep.
After I took what was probably the coldest bath in the history of mankind, I got dressed and felt that the day would start out better. For some reason, I was in a really good mood. Maybe it was from Trowa's concern for me. But anyway...I went downstairs to see Wufei practicing his martial arts, Heero on his laptop, Trowa watching Wufei, and Duo sipping on a lukewarm cup of coffee.
Nobody said anything when I came in the room, which was normal, really. But when Duo looked up from his emptied coffee cup, he gave me the I'm-the-devil type of grin. Oh no. I knew that look. That grin only meant one thing: trouble.
"Quatre!" He bounded over to me in two steps, grabbed my arm, and yanked me out of the kitchen to the back of the mansion. Standing outside, freezing to death I might add, he grinned at a rusty sled, then at me, then at the sled again. With chattering teeth, I managed to choke out, "W-w-what are y-you plaaannninngggg?"
"With the sled, we could go out and play on the ice. It's thick enough." Duo waited wide-eyed for my response. And you know what? That sounded like a good idea to me.
"Alright." I darted inside of the mansion, grabbed my coat and a warm cup of tea, to head out to the ice. Surprisingly, Wufei and Trowa were getting their coats on too. Duo was pulling on Heero's arm, and what's even more amazing, Heero got up and went for his coat!
I was so happy. We were all going out to have fun like normal kids our age did. I ran out back to grab the back end of the sled, and Trowa grabbed the rope on the front end. He smiled at me. I could feel the blush coming back to my cheeks, but at least I could blame it on the weather.
Heero and Duo were running in front of us, throwing snowballs. Trowa was pulling ahead of me, while Wufei stood on the sled with a stick, waving it around. (I think he was pretending to be Napoleon). My heart was beating a thousand times a minute. Finally, I was going to get Trowa to open up to me.
It was even better on the ice. Wufei, Trowa and I were sitting on the sled, while Duo and Heero pushed and pulled, trying to knock one of us off. It was great. I've never really heard Heero laugh outside of destroying an OZ base, and Trowa's laughter made my heart sing.
I was the first to fall off, sliding across the ice toward one of the corners. Not too much in the corner though. All I could do was sit on my knees and laugh. When I finally opened my eyes, Heero and Duo were still working on knocking the other two off. They stopped for a moment so that Duo and Heero could change places.
When our eyes met, Trowa gave me a look that made me blush ALL over. It was not the typical face he made, when he made them. It might have been... lustful? I didn't know, but whatever it was, I liked it. A lot.
Then disaster struck. I had just enough time to take a deep breath before I fell through the ice. Once in the water, it was the worst type of pain I have ever known. It was like a thousand knives were stabbing me all over my body. The pain was so intense that it felt like my lungs had tightened into a little ball. I could feel my heart beating to the point where I thought it was going to beat its way out of my chest. All that could be heard, besides the roar of my heart beating in my ears, was muffled screaming. Looking up, I could faintly see the hole I fell through, and the bright blue sky above. Not a single cloud.
Suddenly, the pain stopped. I knew I wasn't dead yet. But something was pulling me down. I looked towards my left to see... a boy?! There was someone down here with me! And in the time it took for the thought to pass, he had floated up to me, face to face.
Wow. He was beautiful.
He had icy blue eyes, the kind that sent shivers down your spine because they looked so cold. His hair was short, about my length, but a light brown color. He might have been tall, but there was no way of telling. And his hand was firmly clenched around my wrist. I could only stare at him. He had to be who I saw on the pond yesterday. Had to be. Then, as if things couldn't get any stranger, he pulled me close to him, and gently kissed my lips. At first, my eyes shot wide open, looking dead into his. He just kept kissing me while looking at me. Then, he brought both of his hands up, and cupped the sides of my face. After a minute or so, my eyes started to close, and I felt a peace that could only mean that the end was coming. And it was beautiful.
But then, my bliss was abruptly cut off when something grabbed my arm and pulled me up. His lips were quickly torn from mine, and he made a grab for my wrist, missing. The pain had returned and hit me like a ton of bricks. I was hurting too much to even scream.
I could tell I was out of the water, because the light of the sun caused my eyes to clamp shut. I could vaguely hear Trowa screaming my name. I never thought I'd ever hear him scream. He was holding me in his arms, shaking me. Then the pressure on me felt lighter. I assumed that he took my jacket off and put his on me. I could smell the soap on it from his skin.
Out of curiosity, or whatever I was thinking (or not thinking) at the time, I carefully cracked one eye open to look at him. His face seemed calm but his eyes...he was scared. Very scared. He must care after all. With that, I let my head fall back over his arm, and exhaled deeply. I was just happy to know that Trowa actually cared about me. And I carried that thought, along with the sound of cawing, with me into unconsciousness.