The Final Murder: Part 5
I hoped that one day I will understand how the mind and body truly worked. Especially when you were asleep. I didn't understand the transition from being in deep sleep and unaware to being asleep and yet knowing what was going on around you. Several people had been in and out of my room for some reason. A small bundle was tucked underneath my left arm as someone held my right hand. Besides the guys and Trowa, only Kitty could get that close to me without my reflexes kicking in, and those callouses I recognized as Trowa's. This wasn't my bed, so obviously we weren't at home. Okaaaaay, so where were we?
Opening my eyes, I saw a ceiling that I immediately identified as one only a hospital would have. I mean come on. They all looked the same, as if there was only one company out there that specialized in hospital ceilings. Well, judging by my view of the ceiling I was pretty sure I was the reason we were here. I just couldn't remember why.
Suddenly, several images flashed like lightning in front of my eyes, causing me to jump. It was just like a movie, where the flashbacks shot through your mind fast and not in any particular order. I could pick out that the images were dark but in a familiar surrounding. There was hostility. Pleasure too, but not from me. I was afraid. Afraid of who? There was a large shadow where there shouldn't have been. I couldn't breathe. Fight fight fight!
That was Trowa's voice.
I opened my eyes and was blessed with his concerned, loving face. His eyes were opened widely, so I guess he had caffeine recently put into his body. Besides looking tired from his travels, he was still as beautiful as ever. "Hello Trowa." Wow, I sounded terrible.
He relaxed. I didn't realize I was tense until I felt my body relax too. "Quatre. How do you feel?"
Trowa's smooth, lilting voice had been replaced with a rusted pipe apparently. He sounded just as bad as I did, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the hospital staff and anyone else unfortunate enough to have contact with me today. Trowa was quiet and thoughtful by nature, but the man was fully capable of having a screaming fit when it suited him. And judging by his hoarseness, it sounded as if he had raised some serious hell.
I did a quick body assessment. Didn't feel any skin tears, nothing was broken, but I was sore with a lot of bruising, and everything from my neck up was not feeling very good. If there was a way to amputate my neck and leave my head, I would've had it done.
"I'm pretty sore, and my neck feels like a totem pole. What happened?"
"We'll give you details in a little while once everyone's calmed down," he said, removing his hand from mine to run through my hair. "What do you remember now?"
"Not much. Just snatches here and there. I'm not even sure what they are."
Trowa nodded, not saying another word. I slightly turned my head to the left, watching my son's even breathing as he laid curled up against my side. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully enough. He had his thumb in his mouth, his Heavyarms plushy under his arm, and his little leg was thrown across my stomach. "How has Kitty been handling this?"
"Like a big boy," Trowa said, voice filled with amusement and pride.
"He looks wiped out."
"He should be. He played hard at Cathy's, had a long flight then came home to hear that-"
"Someone tried to kill me last night."
Trowa went silent. I didn't look at him but kept my eyes glued to my precious boy, watching his chest expand and fall with breathing. I didn't mean to say that out loud, but when the memory finally surfaced I just blurted it out. In the silence of the room, I realized that it was really silent. No beeps or hookups to machines or anything. "Hey Trowa," I started, glancing at him and just as quickly turning away. In his eyes was pure, unchecked rage. He knew without a doubt someone tried to kill me. "Where's all the thingamajig's? I'm surprised they don't have me hooked up to an outlet."
"They tried," he said quietly, though another glance showed me the rage was still there. "They failed." Uh huh. So that's why he sounded like a muffler. "I don't trust anyone to examine you except Sally or Iria. But neither of them are one of the hospitals doctors, so the hospital wasn't willing to let them take a look at you. Sally is setting up some stuff at her and Wufei's house and we'll take you there. I only wanted to remain here to let you sleep. Or in case something happened."
Solid plan as always. "Who else is here? You've said ‘we'll' a couple of times."
"Relena and Dorothy are here. Hilde is taking care of your public relations stuff."
"Good. I don't feel up to making any statements."
I felt Kitty stir, and looked down just in time to see his eyes open and widen with fear. He moved Heavyarms to sit on my stomach as he crawled further up, finally taking his thumb out of his mouth. With his small hand he gently touched my neck. "Does that hurt daddy?"
His voice was so heartbroken, I couldn't help but lay him on top of me, holding onto him as if I was six and he was my teddy bear. "No son. I'm sore but that's it."
He was silent for a minute. "Is the bad man coming back?"
"No Kitty," Trowa said, reaching out and smoothing our son's hair from his face. "The bad man is not coming back ever again."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Daddy scared him away for good."
He didn't ask anything more than that. He put his thumb back into his mouth and was asleep in a matter of minutes. Trowa crawled into the bed with us, and for a while we just laid in silence, allowing the love to flow between the three of us. Other than a nurse popping her head in to check on us, we were left pretty much undisturbed. That was good and bad. Good, that Trowa wouldn't kill a nurse, but bad because that allowed me time to think of every ‘what if' scenario. I couldn't help but be grateful that Trowa and Kitty weren't there. The thought that they could've been had me so worked up I started trembling.
"Don't." Trowa's voice, though quiet was firm.
"But what if-"
"Don't," he said again, kissing me gently on the lips. "Don't think that. We weren't there."
"Yeah, but I will have to talk to the police, won't I? And go through a trial and all to convict him. What if he posts bail and jumps it? He could hurt or kill someone."
"Police yes, trial no, and if he posts bail I'll be impressed. He's dead."
My neck muscles protested VERY loudly, but I just had to turn my face to look Trowa in his. "Dead? What do you mean 'he's dead'?"
Trowa had the nerve to look amused. "You're joking, right?"
"Dead, D-E-A-D, as in 'no longer alive' dead. Corpse. 'Stick him in a coffin' dead."
He raised an eyebrow. "Yes."
"Oh Trowa," I moaned, turning my face to the ceiling. "I haven't killed anyone since I was sixteen years old."
"That was different Quatre. That was war. This was different. He was trying to..." Here he stopped, and his body grew rigid with anger. I understood how he felt. If someone had tried to do the same to him...oh boy, I would be on fire. Instead, he said, "I don't see how you thought he was alive."
"What do you mean?"
"He didn't have a face to speak of. And the left side of his head was crushed. The only thing remaining of the coffee maker was the spine that was still in your hand. Odin had to pry it out."
"Odin found me?"
"No, the exterminator did. He walked around the house when no one answered and saw you on the floor through the kitchen window."
"It's a good thing I never close those curtains. And I guess the roach was a blessing too."
"No kidding. Then he radioed from his truck for help and for the fire department to break down the door. Recognizing who you were, they informed the Preventers who called Odin. He made it there in time with the police. By the time we landed, Relena was already at the port waiting for us. She filled me in on the way."
Wait. "If the exterminator couldn't get in, then who was there before the police and Odin?"
That didn't make sense. "No. Someone else was there. I woke up once, and someone was standing there. I couldn't tell what they were doing. I just saw their shoes."
His grip tightened painfully. Very painfully. Ow ow ow... "Someone else?"
Ooooooh shit. I recognized that tone. He was going to kill something. "It was probably an hallucination. You know, when your brain doesn't get enough oxygen? You see things that aren't there."
"Maybe," he said, clearly not convinced.
At this point I decided to shut up and keep my thoughts to myself. I've already upset him twice. But the entire situation still bothered me. If there were two of them, why didn't the second one help his comrade? Was he only there to make sure the job was done? No, that couldn't be. If it was, he would've had to kill both of us to make sure HIS job was complete. But the exterminator couldn't get in, so the door was locked. Did the criminal lock the door on his way out? He would've had to have a copy of the key then. Maybe he did.
"That man is lucky he's already dead," Trowa whispered. Okay! Time to go. I didn't care if Sally was ready or not. We needed to leave or else Trowa would do something really, really bad.
A knock interrupted my inner monologue. Relena stepped in, smiling gently. Either she didn't notice the anger radiating from Trowa or she choose to ignore it. I was leaning towards option two. "Quatre," she started in greeting. "You had us worried."
"I know. I seem to be good at that."
She rolled her eyes. "You're as bad as Duo." Then she turned to Trowa. "Sally's just about ready. By the time we get there she'll have everything set."
He nodded, sliding off of the bed and taking Kitty from me. The baby's little body twitched, but other than that he remained asleep. Dorothy came in just then, walking backwards with the wheelchair so that she could push it straight out the door. I made a face like it smelled bad, and turned to Trowa. The look he gave me clearly said that I will sit down without argument. Hn.
Plopping down, I made sure to glare and look all-around miserable. It was bad enough I got my butt kicked, I didn't need to be wheeled about. Talk about injustice. So Dorothy pushed me to the nurse's station, telling me the different and naughty uses of bubble gum flavored g-strings. I tried to fight it, but in the end she had me laughing. Once we made it to the front desk, Kitty was handed to me and Relena was armed with his plushy. After Trowa nearly bit a nurse's head off because she was crazy enough to try and reason with him, I signed my discharged papers and got out of dodge.
The night air felt great against my skin, cool and gentle as it blew. Some of the smoke seeped out of my mouth as I blew it out of my nose, watching it form some listless pattern in the air before dissipating. I took another drag from the cigarette and the smoke did the same thing as before. I was bored but not tired, and I was antsy with nothing to do. After we got to Wufei's place, Sally ran every kind of test she could without needing to steal equipment from a hospital. It turned out I was only bruised, but the bruising was so horrifying she wanted me to stay here for a few days. It was just as well. My house was now a crime scene, even though I was the victim and the perpetrator was dead. We just didn't have murders very often and when we did, the police took it very seriously. Especially attempted murders on important people like me.
If I didn't think Trowa would have a fit, I would sleep out here. The temperature was perfect for sleeping outside. I might anyway. It was too crowded in there. Sally and Wufei had their room, Trowa, Kitty and I had the other bedroom, Dorothy and Relena were sharing the guest room, Hilde was in the den, and Iria and Catherine, who had arrived about four hours ago, shared the pullout couch. Une left a few hours ago, and Heero and Duo were supposed to arrive some time tonight. All and all, tomorrow morning was going to be a circus of people.
What was I talking about? Today was a circus of people! Cops and reporters were tromping in and out, Une was giving orders like she owned all of these people, Trowa and Heero kept going back and forth trying to find where this guy came from, Sally inflicted x-rays and whatnot on me, Relena babysat a cranky six year old who wanted his pets, Dorothy and Hilde prevented said pets from eating each other, Wufei was trying to kill aforementioned pets because one of them peed on his white carpet...and other stuff went on that I didn't want to think about.
I wished Duo was there through all of that. I could've used a laugh at his expense. It was a good thing he wasn't though. When he got angry, it was best that he was alone and far from any human contact. Especially when he was cleaning. Over the years, Duo developed a habit of cleaning, I mean really cleaning, when he was mad about something. Of course he and Heero took care of their house, but it was different when he was upset. If he was waxing the floor, you had better disappear. If he was painting the walls, you better move to another colony. One time I went to his house and found he had replaced the entire roof by himself. Only true anger can make someone do something like that in the middle of summer without dropping dead. Heero told me earlier that he was worried because Duo was infuriated. I expect him to have built me a new house by the end of next week.
Turning today's events over in my mind, I couldn't help but laugh at it all. Much of it was so absurd I couldn't do anything else. There was nothing to be bitter about. Sure, I regret taking his life and I really didn't mean to, but it's over with. My husband was safe, my child was safe, my friends were safe...that was all that mattered.
A car was coming up the road, and as it got closer I recognized it to be Duo's Wrangler. Parking behind the eight million other vehicles in Wufei's driveway, Duo sauntered up the walkway and climbed on top of the Montero, next to me. I waited patiently as he took out a penlight and did a quick assessment on me. He growled, but that was it. Afterwards, we sat and looked on the night for a bit in relative peace.
He spoke first. "Was today really that bad?"
I gave him a confused look, although I figured he couldn't see it. "What makes you say that?"
"Well, it's after one in the morning and your sitting on Wu's car, having a smoke."
"Oh." I shrugged. "I don't know. I just wanted to be alone, that's all."
"Oh." He started to slide off the car. "Sorry."
"No no! Don't leave. I haven't seen you all day."
He repositioned himself. "So, was it bad?"
"Er...not really. Just noisy. And frustrating. Everybody was stressed, that's all."
"Following a lead he and Trowa might have. Where's Tro?"
"In bed with Kitty."
"And how's the baby doing?"
I sighed. "Okay. He understands what happened, but he's afraid the guy will come back. He doesn't know he's dead."
"Poor pumpkin. I'll take him to the park or something tomorrow. He needs to get away from this stuff for a while."
"I think Catherine might have planned something with him too for tomorrow."
"Then I'll tag along just to make sure he has some fun."
I raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that? You can't stand Catherine, and she can't stand you."
"I could give a damn about her. My concern is the baby. He's enough that we'll get along just fine."
I shrugged. "Alright." Truth be told, I already knew that. They wouldn't do anything to endanger Kitty, no matter how badly they wanted to stone the other to death.
Speaking of which.... "Duo, that man was here on behalf of Hrncir."
"I know, he was one of his bodyguards," he said, taking the cigarette from my hand. "I recognized him from what was left of his face. Which wasn't much by the way."
I snorted. "It wasn't intentional, but I'm sure as hell not sorry."
"I know." He blew smoke out. "Did you tell the police?"
"No. I didn't even remember that until after they left, and I wasn't in the mood to call them back. Besides, if I told them that I would be forced to tell everything else."
"That son of a bitch. He said we had until the end of the month. That's still three weeks away."
"He knows I'm not going to agree with his terms Duo. He also knows I'm going to try and nail him. So that guy probably didn't mean to kill me. He might've been trying to force me to agree with the terms."
That shut us both up. That had to be it. There were so many easier ways to kill someone. Hrncir couldn't get his money if I was dead. "Once he finds out his guy is dead, someone on our side is going to suffer the consequences," Duo said in a far away voice.
"I don't think so," I said coldly, taking the cigarette back from him. "But let him try. I will annihilate him regardless." Puff. Exhale.
"It's going to be hard. He's tricky."
"So are we."
He took the cigarette back. "And he's a rat bastard."
"So am I if someone tries to mess with what's mine."
I turned to Duo, glaring at him for all I was worth. He had his grin in place, but it was Shinigami that looked back at me, not my best friend. And I was not Quatre. I was a soldier, one that would destroy anything to succeed in a mission. Slipping back into that former role felt so good. Despite anything that could happen, that was the one thing no one would ever be able to take away from me.
The moment passed and soon we were back to normal, just two guys having a smoke in the middle of the night. I didn't know what Duo was thinking about, but my thoughts started to drift and wander around the neighborhood. I had a meeting Monday morning that I'd been dying to cancel, and now I had a great excuse. Halloween was coming up, so we needed to go shopping for a costume or else Kitty will never forgive me. Laundry was done, dishes were clean, and the cactus was planted. I needed to balance my checkbook though-
I jumped. I'd forgotten Duo was even there. "Where?" I looked around, startled.
"No not here. I've been feeling this vibe, and finally figured out today it was him."
"Uh huh. Well, I know he's back. I've already seen his smile," I said sarcastically.
"Ah shit, we don't need this again," he mumbled into his hand. "Why is this happening?"
"I don't know Duo. I just don't know. It's gotten to the point where I don't even remember how all of this started. It was so long ago."
"That would explain a few things," he said cryptically.
"Like," he took a deep drag, nearly finishing it off. "Us." He blew it out.
That was a thought. "Well, yesterday at the house when we were in the bedroom....did you feel him?"
He seemed to relax then. "Not very much. If he was there, he was, like, ten thousand feet underground or something. It was really faint."
Okay. "Do you feel him now?"
He shook his head. "Not at all."
"So...how do you feel about us now?"
He was silent for a moment. "I'll call you later."
He slipped easily off the car and made a fast retreat to his. "I'll come by tomorrow about noon or so to hang out with Kitty okay?"
"Duo wait!" I whispered hoarsely. "We need to talk about this."
He flung himself behind the steering wheel. "Bye Quatre."
Without another word he backed out of the driveway and was down the street before my brain could process he was leaving. After my eyes verified for the hundredth time that he really did leave, I made my way back into the house, slipping quietly pass Iria and Catherine as I went upstairs to the bedroom. Once there I sat outside the bedroom door, letting my thoughts scream at me for my stupidity for...I don't know. I just let them scream at me. And when I was about to take my last drag, I realized something very important.
Duo took the cigarette with him. Now I'm depressed.
"He runs and he hides," I said to myself, staring at the wall. "But he never lies."
And I wanted him to lie, even when we both knew the truth.