A Murder of Crows: Part 3
I broke free of the mental restraints that kept me unconscious. The dark red tint at the back of my eyelids danced to the inaudible music being played by a nearby candle. For a brief moment I laid completely still, as to get my bearings. My heart said that I was safe and have been cared for, so I started to relax.
My whole body was one dull ache. Everything felt like it was thousands of years old. Stretching out, the muscles in my arms and legs were strained. They weren't sore exactly, but it was the type of feeling that let me know that every fiber in my body tried to turn into a little ball before releasing itself. But the tension was not totally gone. It was like when you got a Charlie horse; after it went away, you could still feel the muscle trying to get back into place. If I ever felt this way again, it would be too soon.
With much effort, I managed to turn my head slightly to the right and cracked my eyes open. The first thing I saw were a pair of bright violet eyes that were slightly wet. Of course, I wasn't going to tell him that.
"Uh, I'll get Trowa. He'll be happy you're awake."
"I said, 'I'll go get Trowa,' and, 'he'll be happy you're awake.' He wouldn't let anybody near you 'til about ten minutes ago, and that was so that he and Heero could figure out how to get outta here."
"N-no, don't disturb him. He and Heero need to concentrate." I paused, then blinked. "Duo, what are you doing?"
Duo had his chest on the bed, and he was on his knees. He had his cross in both of his hands, his forehead touching his thumbs.
"I was praying."
"You were praying?" I couldn't help being shocked. The self-proclaimed God of Death was praying? What was going on when I was out?
"Yeah, I know I know. Wayyyy outta character for me." He grinned sheepishly at me. "But, um, I was scared...that...that I was going to...lose you."
I couldn't help but feel... I didn't know how to describe it. I felt touched, warm even. I knew we were close, but to hear Duo say that was the best thing I have ever heard.
"No, I can't go anywhere yet. We still have work to do."
He smiled beautifully at me. "Yeah, I know. But don't scare us like that again. Trowa actually said more than four words at one time!"
That shocked me more than Duo praying. "What?"
"Yeah, I swear to Death he was having a cow, bossing everybody around, telling Wufei and Heero to get out of his way. He wouldn't let anyone help him take care of you, either."
"Really?" I couldn't help but be excited. I remembered the look in his eyes right before I passed out, and the fact that he wouldn't let anyone help him take care of me... he was taking care of me?
I turned my head up to the ceiling, trying to remember the last remnants of this morning. I remember playing, then falling through the ice, then Trowa--wait--the boy.
"Duo, was somebody else there with you all that you didn't recognize?"
Duo tilted his head to the side like a puppy would, and furrowed his eyebrows. I already knew the answer before he even said anything.
"Somebody else? No man, it was probably the trauma of the situation. You probably shook hands with the Reaper while you were down there. Plus, between me screaming and that damn bird that was in the way and-"
"A bird?" I didn't mean to cut him off, but I was trying to remember that detail.
"Yeah, a crow. He was cawing so god damn loud that nobody could hear themselves think. Heero shot it, like, twenty-five times, but it's still here. It's been sitting outside on your windowsill ever since Trowa brought you in here."
"A crow? I remember hearing something right before I blacked out. I guess that was it, besides him."
"Him? What do you mean 'him'? Who's 'him'?"
I guess Duo hasn't figured out that if he waited long enough between questions, I could possibly try to answer one of them. "Duo, remember yesterday on the pond?" Not giving him the chance to reply, I plowed on. "Well, I saw him. It's a guy. He was down there in the water... with me. He's the reason I survived."
"What? Ah shit man, not again. Look. You are under a lot of stress. We all are, but it's really getting to you. Just stay in bed and rest. Me and Wu will take care of everything else. From what Heero was saying, the three of them are going for the carriers, and I'll stay here with you to make sure you EAT and STAY in bed. Besides, Trowa will have my nuts if you don't."
"And how do you know that?"
"Because he said he would have my nuts if I let anything happen to you."
Now, I was REALLY shocked. Nothing will ever top that. Ever.
"I'll do whatever you tell me to."
"I'll love you forever if you do."
"But Duo, seriously, someone was down there with me. He was holding my arm, and he... he kissed me."
"What? Q-baby, sweetie, I think your wet dreams are starting to run a little wild on ya. Some kid was in the water with you, even though it was below zero, in water, playing shark games, and decided to kiss you. Is that right?"
"Quatre, I'm startin' to worry about ya."
Oh well. Time for a change of subject. "Did you and Wufei ever get that door open?"
"No." Crossing his arms, he pouted. "He started complaining because when we fell down the stairs, I landed on top of him, nose to nose, so he got all pissy. As if. He's not my type anyway."
I managed a weak chuckle at that. I was sure Wufei didn't take it as well as Duo was letting on. That man acted like we carried leprosy half the time. Then it struck me. "Why is a crow still here? It's winter."
"Why don't you ask him yourself?"
Duo stood up and moved towards the foot of the bed, to be on his way out. Sure enough, I could make out the outlines of feathers against the window. The reflection off its eyes was the only thing giving away its location. He just sat there on the sill, looking at me looking at him.
That was when I noticed it was totally black outside. "How long have I been out?"
"Well, you got hurt around nine thirty, and it's a quarter to midnight, so a little over fourteen hours. It took a while to get your body temperature back up, and I don't even want to think about that. You were shaking so hard, you looked like a fish that was thrown out of water. I really thought you were... anyway, I'm gonna get Trowa, okay?"
I could feel Duo's heart hurting, and the struggle not to break down and cry. There was a war raging within him, emotion versus logic.
"Duo, this wasn't your fault."
He had already opened the door. He stopped, and stood in the doorway with his back to me. "Yes, it was."
"You couldn't have known this was going to happen."
"That's my problem Cat, I don't think. I'm an idiot."
"If you're an idiot, then how are you a gundam pilot?"
He didn't say anything to that, just quietly closed the door. But I could feel the relief in his chest. He knew this wasn't his fault, but he will still blame himself.
When he finally left, I closed my eyes to drift off into space. I could hear the crow tapping lightly at my window, every few seconds. It was comforting, actually. It wasn't too quiet in the room. Some noise always made me feel better. And after a minute or so, I heard the doorknob turn and the door close. The footsteps were so light, they were hardly audible. The bed shifted, so I knew Trowa was sitting on the corner of the bed, next to my head. Then, warm, callused fingertips brushed my bangs out of my face, and rested on top of my head. I went back to sleep with the comfort of my beloved watching over me.
"Caw, caw, cawwwwwww!"
"Will you shut up! He's trying to sleep. Why aren't you dead yet?!"
I rolled over to the pleasant sight of the crow flapping its wings against the window, and Duo slamming his hand against the window frame and yelling. Between the two of them, I honestly couldn't tell who was making more noise.
"Duo." Talk about synchronized; both Duo and the crow quieted at the same time, practically in mid-tirade of attempting to kill each other through a window. How cute.
"Hey Cat. I'm sorry, but he wouldn't shut up. He's been making noise all morning. You are truly a heavy sleeper. He could've woke the dead, but unfazed you were, Sleeping Beauty." With this, he placed his palms together, and laid the side of his face on top of them as if they were a pillow.
"Yeah, everyone tells me that. With the Maguanacs, I never worry about someone getting to me in my sleep."
"I believe that. There were a few times I thought Rashid was gonna finish me off himself. Talk about scared."
"Yeah, well, what do you want for breakfast?"
"Ohhhh no. You're staying right where you are, especially since my anatomy is on the line. *I* will make breakfast. You stay here and get beautiful, okay? Great."
With that, he spun on his heels and glided his way out, braid trailing behind him. After about ten seconds, I could hear him slip and fall down the last five or six stairs. A few choice words later, the sound of clanging pots and pans rang throughout the house.
He left the door partly open in case I needed something. The sun was really bright through the window, suggesting it was early morning, around nine or so. I assumed that the others were off already. If anything was to be done so that we could get out of here, we couldn't wait for daylight. I just hoped they were okay. Especially Trowa.
With nothing to do, I began reflecting on the dream I had. Of course, it was about the accident from yesterday. That was to be expected. But throughout the entire dream, every action was in slow motion. So, falling through the ice, I could see the faces of the other pilots. Actually, Trowa was waving goodbye to me. Duo ran towards me but stopped at the edge, his hand reaching out for me. Under the water, the boy was there again, but in the dream I could see him more clearly. Especially his eyes. He had on a white collar shirt, with tight blue jeans and hiker boots. Once again he kissed me, except this time his arms wrapped around my body, holding me tightly against him. His kiss was warm and slightly hard. It was the kind of kiss I would want to enjoy with Trowa. Next, when I opened my eyes, we weren't under water any more, but in a forest. Even though everything was covered in snow, I wasn't cold. I couldn't see the guys, but I knew that they were leaving me. Why?
The dream didn't get much further than that due to Duo and the crow, but it felt very real. The only reason that it really bugged me was because I didn't have dreams. Even after battles. Why start now?
Okay, the sun was really, REALLY bright. I decided to close the drapes. Sitting up wasn't too bad, nor walking over to the window. No problem. Easy. But when I got to the window, the crow was just perched there. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought he was a statue. From what I could gather, the crow was sitting there, staring at me, with two...no wait...three of his friends across from him on a gutter. Four crows in winter?
The worst thing about being a gundam pilot was that you analyzed everything. I won't be able to forget that there were four crows perched outside my window in the dead of winter. It will bother me until I think of a solution, and deal with it.
Sighing, I turned my back to them. It was time for me to go take another freezing bath, which, because of the state I was in, did not seem too appetizing.
Entering the bathroom, I was surprised to find that there was water in the bathtub with steam rising from it. I guessed Duo or Trowa boiled some warm water for me. Thank Allah. The next mission was getting undressed, which was a challenge in itself. After I took everything off, it came to four tank tops, three t-shirts, three sweatshirts, four pairs of boxers, two pairs of sweat pants, five pairs of socks, and a pair of gloves. I felt like I was on fire.
When I finally settled in the tub, I leaned back, rested my head on the edge, and let my eyes lose their focus. It felt good to actually be able to take a real bath. To my right was some soap (looked like Zest), and some herbal essence shampoo that Duo probably stole from somewhere. I could see the commercial in my mind, except instead of the three guys, it would be Trowa. I dipped my head under to wet it, squirted some shampoo in my hand, and started to wash my hair. I imagined it was Trowa touching me, being ever so gentle, yet firm. After a second wash, I grabbed the washcloth laid out for me, and turned to the soap. Starting with my arm, I began working off the invisible dirt, and whatever else that could've gotten on me. With my eyes still closed, I could see Trowa's face, his hands all over me, and... "Yeah Duo?"
"Hey, breakfast is ready! Come get it while it's still hot."
"Thanks." I see why Duo got so upset when somebody woke him up. He probably dreamt of Heero before someone brought him back to reality. His knocking at the door destroyed the daydream I was having, and I couldn't get it back. Oh well.
I finished up, more depressed than ever now, and got dressed in some dark blue jogging pants and a matching sweatshirt. By this time I was back in my room, putting on some black tennis shoes. Nike, I suppose. They were Duo's. My shoes weren't suitable in this type of weather. Nike wasn't my style, but I wasn't willing to run to the nearest Mervyn's to pick up another pair either. This will have to do.
Before leaving my room to go downstairs, I remembered the hole in the wall. It was a little bit deeper from yesterday. I guess I would fix it when I finished washing the clothes. I needed to keep myself busy until the guys get back.
A tapping at the window brought my attention back to the crow. He was still there. I guess he wanted some food. If anything was left over from breakfast, I suppose I could feed them. But that's a big IF.
We had ramen, chicken-flavored I think. Well, that was what I had. Duo had ramen, with barbeque potato chips, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Fruitloops, a pizza-flavored hot pocket, with corn nuts and a boiled hot dog. Americans. Ugh.
"Hey Cat, what's goin' on? You look kinda green in the face."
I wondered why. "Nothing. I think I just need some fresh air, that's all. Are you going to eat those Cheetos? The crows might be hungry. There's nothing for them to eat out there."
"Crows with an 's'? As in, more than one?" He slammed his hands on the table, and looked at me in total disbelief. "Quatre, if we feed them, they'll keep coming back! Maybe even more!" He narrowed his eyes at me. "Don't give me those doggy eyes. I created that, remember? FINE. Take the damn Cheetos, but don't come to me when they try to carry you away to the master crow or something, because all I'll say is I told you so!"
"Thank you, Duo." I gave him a quick wink as I grabbed the bag of Cheetos, and ran out of the kitchen before he could change his mind.
The thing about cold weather was that when you moved from warm air to cold air, the cold air will come up and smack you in the face. For just one instant, I couldn't breathe. The chill in the air was almost tangible as the breath in front of me fogged up into a tiny, white puff cloud. The cool air blowing against my cheeks and face, felt good conflicting with the warmth radiating from my body. I loved the weather on Earth. Did OZ know how wonderful it was to have changes in climate without it being regulated by machines?
After a short eternity, I drew in a deep breath, and with my oversized wool coat, I made my way outside to see the inhabitants of the area.
I walked about ten feet around the house, to where my window would be. Already, the crows were on the ground waiting for me. But there were only three of them. The one that was against the window wasn't there. I know you're wondering how I could tell the difference between the crows. I honestly didn't know. I just knew the one I was looking for wasn't among the three. He looked different from the rest of them. They seemed like birds. The other one had an awareness of himself and of the things around him. He had a soul. I knew that.
"Hello. Are you hungry?" I asked, as if they understood me. Not surprised when I didn't receive an answer, I poured a handful of Cheetos out on the snow, and stepped back so that they could help themselves. The three flocked to the spot where the food was, and began squawking and biting each other for the first helping. I laid out two more piles to solve the problem. Once the other two noticed that there was more, they stopped fighting and went to their respective lots.
I crouched down on my toes. When they were almost finished, I threw some more down. I laughed graciously as they each bit at my hand in thanks. But then, they stopped eating and focused their attention on me. I stared at them, and they stared back at me, unwavering. I was beginning to think I grew an extra head when someone answered my question for me.
"They like you."
I swear, I jumped sky high and landed flat on my feet, my fists up and ready to fight. My Kill Kill Kill mode was in full force. I didn't like to fight, but when I wasn't in the safety of Sandrock, I didn't like being surprised. That voice did not fit any one of us. It was too mature, too deep, and very ...sensual.
I had to look up; the guy was a good five inches taller than me, maybe around the age of seventeen or eighteen. He had on dark tan boots, some tan khaki pants, a white shirt with a green vest over it, and a thick, khaki coat with the hood surrounded by black feathers. But what caught my attention were his eyes; they were a very cold, icy blue.
My hands fell down to my waist. I was frozen, locked in his gaze. He smiled very sweetly, like I was telling a bad story, but he was smiling to keep my hopes up. I couldn't move. I couldn't call for Duo. I couldn't even fall down to break whatever hold he had over me. I just stood there, waiting for him to do whatever he was planning for me.
"They like you. You are very gentle and kind, with a good heart, and absolutely... beautiful. I have waited a long time for someone like you."
Oh shit. I didn't like to swear, but the exception had to be made this time. I was in a lot of trouble, and I didn't understand what was happening to me or how to fight it.
Then his hand reached up to stroke my cheek. His hand was colder than ice, but I still couldn't move. He slowly and softly allowed the back of his fingers to glide down my cheek, and under my chin. Then with his thumb, he lightly traced my bottom lip. My body started to quiver.
I wanted to... kiss his thumb. I want to kiss his fingers, but also I wanted to bite them. Hard. He had no right to touch me, or to make me feel the way I did. But still, I continued to stare into those beautiful orbs, enchanted. I was being swallowed whole, devoured by those ice blue eyes of his, and I honestly didn't care. It felt good that someone was touching me, intimacy and arousal behind it, but I knew this was wrong. I loved Trowa, and only him.
Allah, help me.
The next thing I heard was the cocking of a shotgun.