Violence, as in 'hacking something off' violence. But not hacking THAT off, know what I mean?
The Final Murder: Part 8
I didn't have a trenchcoat on with an arsenal strapped to my chest, but I wish I did. I didn't feel too apt with just my little gun, no matter how powerful it was. I walked into The Oasis and nearly had a panic attack. The place was completely empty. No patrons, no bartender, not even a paper napkin on the floor. The chairs were set around the tables, waiting for people to fill them, but that wasn't going to happen right now. It was almost noon, and this place was quieter than a graveyard. Eeh! Not a friendly thought. At least with the other, if nerdy, patrons here, someone would be able to hear me scream for help. Ugh. That wasn't a good thought either. I'm just creeping myself out.
I had on a T-shirt and jeans, snakeskin boots and pulled my black cowboy hat further over my face. I didn't bother with a real disguise; for one, there were so many blondes with cowboy hats it would be a needle in a haystack search, and two, I expected to be greeted by Duo and wanted him to be able to recognize me. Was I ever disappointed.
I stepped further in and waited, still completely stunned at the lack of life. This could not possibly be a setup. There was nothing, absolutely nothing that could be held over Duo's head to make him trick me in such a way. However, something was going on. This had to be Duo's doing. The door was unlocked and it was obvious someone started to work; the ceiling fans were going, the jukebox was on, and the floor had been swept.
I pulled my hat further over my eyes and pulled out my gun. My Bowie was in my left boot, uncomfortable but not unbearably so. I stalked quietly across the floor as I listened for anything unusual (as if this entire situation wasn't unusual) before deciding that I was not in any immediate danger. I locked the front door then headed towards the back, where I knew a staircase would lead me to the basement. This part of the building was not known to anyone except for a select group of people. I didn't know if even Heero knew about it. It was one of those rooms where ‘matters' were handled, you can say. I knew about it because I control much of this colony. There wasn't much I didn't know. How Duo knew...that was beyond me.
I reached the far wall and pressed my hands against it in a certain gesture before it exhaled and quietly swung open like a door. Gun still in hand, I descended the steps and came quickly into a smoky room. There, I made out two shapes in the dark that I guessed were human (that had to be a hat that one was wearing) and another odd-shaped lump jutting up from the floor. I held my gun out as the door closed, ready to shoot. The room would be pitch black for approximately ten seconds until the lights kicked on. "Don't move," I said. They didn't.
When the lights came on, I was surprised yet again. Duo was leaning against the wall, holding his left shoulder like it was about to fall out of its socket. He looked, quite frankly, like shit on a stick. He really did. His face was bruised, his jaw was swollen, and he was just all around not happy. But that wasn't what surprised me. The other person, wearing a beautiful red and gold kimono dress with a black straw hat, was Relena. She stood there, I swear on my love for Trowa, looking like the devil. Beautiful, innocent, but dangerous. She did not exude her usual aura.
On the floor were two men, but one was obviously dead. His head has been twisted completely around, and his opened eyes and slack jaw almost grossed me out. The other man was sitting up, glaring at me with everything he was worth. Too bad he wasn't worth much. I could smell the fear radiating from him. He knew who I truly was. A gundam pilot. He knew about me and he knew about Duo. He knew he was in danger and knew he was about to die. He knew that despite the fact that the boy was injured, he never had an opportunity to get away from her.
I took a closer look and almost fell over. He had a small device around his neck that I recognized as one of Duo's bombs. In Relena's hand was a tiny, blinking remote control which was the detonator. Her eyes bore into that man, and I couldn't tell if she was truly angry at something he did or if that was hate in her eyes.
I stepped further into the room, put my gun away and shouted, "What the HELL is THIS?!" I waved at the floor.
"Sit down please," Relena said, serene as always. The entire situation was really bizarre, her being so sweet sounding with a detonator in her hand and dressed like she was expected on a runway.
I sat nonetheless, on a couch that felt suspiciously like it was made from camel skin (which was illegal) and watched as Duo sat down on another couch, opposite of me. Relena remained where she was, but leaned back against the wall. I noticed then that the gold on Relena's dress were actually tigers, in prowling and growling poses. For all of the stars in the sky...I must've crossed an interdimensional line somewhere. Please let that be the case.
"These are the fuckers who hit you last night."
My head snapped to Duo. "What? How did you find that out so quickly? Zechs and Trowa--"
"They attacked me," he interrupted. "I was getting ready to go out with," he nodded in Relena's direction, "her to an opera matinee when that asshole," he pointed at the dead one, "tried to inject something into me. He jabbed me, but that's as far as he got. I broke his neck." He sneered at the corpse. "That's what you get for attacking a man while he's on the shitter."
I turned to Relena. "And how did you get involved in this?" Over the years, Relena and Duo have actually become very good friends. He wouldn't dare jeopardize her in any way.
"I heard them fighting when I arrived," she said. "I hit him over the head with one of the lamps. That one was already dead."
It just made everything more certain for me. We had no choice. We would have to kill this man.
"Okay." I covered my face with my hands and sighed. This was getting too complicated. "How do you know it was," I waved at the two men, "them in the truck?"
"This moron," Duo kicked him. He flinched, but that was it, "when I asked, told me so that I wouldn't put the bomb around his balls."
"You bastard!" Crook number two yelled. "We had a deal!"
"And I stuck to it!" Duo nearly laughed. "They're not on your balls. But you never said not to put them around your neck. Unless," Duo had a leer in his eye, "you changed your mind?"
"Don't fuckin' touch me!"
"Enough!" I told him, watching as he gave me his most disgusted glare. That glare changed from disgust to fear as I stood and walked forward, towering over him. "You know, you endangered my husband and my six year old son with that stunt last night." He started to scoot back, completely forgetting about Relena holding the detonator. "I don't understand how your boss could think that endangering those important to me in such a way would make me want to do business with him." I snatched the bomb away from his neck and it was thrown somewhere across the room.
"Christ! The bomb!"
"Relax," Duo said, "it's a fake." The look the man gave Duo should've killed all of us. It was just that hateful. "So, what do you think of her?" Duo nodded in Relena's direction. "She's a great actress, I say. That's just me though." He winked at her, she smirked back at him.
The man switched his glare to Relena. "You...you bitch!"
She actually snorted. "Oh, as if I haven't been called that before."
"You must've thought that killing my best friend would be more persuasive, right?" I continued, getting back to the point. "Well, did you?"
He continued to scoot back, not saying anything.
"Okay," I said, taking another step towards him. He moved back one more time before he was backed into the corner. I braced my foot against his chest and put my weight on it, preventing him from moving forward. "I'm very unhappy, and I think I need to send your boss a message to express how unhappy I am with him."
"Relena," I heard Duo say, "you need to leave. Now. You can't witness this."
"Yeah yeah, sure, a message. I can deliver a message. Just don't kill me and I'll tell him what you want me to tell him."
As Relena ran up the stairs, I got down on one knee, pressing my other foot harder against his chest. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you won't be able to tell him anything."
"What, why not?" he asked. Duo came to stand right behind me.
"Because," I started as simultaneously, the door closed, I pulled the Bowie from its sheath, and the room went black, "you can't talk if you don't have a tongue, now can you?"
The next forty five minutes of my life were filled with the sounds of gurgling screaming.
"Is there anything else sir?" the clerk said as she put my package in a mail cart behind her.
"No, nothin' else ma'am," I said in my perfect Texan accent. "Jus' wont'n to git that gift to my nephew on L 2. He goin' to have a fit, le' me tell ya'."
"Great sir. You have a nice day!"
"You too ma'am!" I tilted my hat to her, successfully keeping my face obscured. I sang some completely hillbilly tune that I was making up as I went along, appearing to everyone to be this cheerful southerner visiting from Earth. I climbed into the white Camino (what the crooks were driving when they abandoned the truck I presume) and sped off towards our meeting point. It was half an hour away, but I wanted to be as far away from any cameras as possible. I didn't want to implicate anyone in this mess, not even myself.
The horror of what I've done was slowly creeping into my mind. That man died. He choked to death on his own blood and I sat there and watched it happen. We buried both of the bodies underneath The Oasis in an air tight bag meant to be used for Duo. Worst of all, in my insanity, I placed the man's tongue in a Ziplock bag and mailed it to Hrncir, with a note. ‘Your man has something to say,' it read.
I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw myself off of a bridge, or shoot myself in the head. I wanted to take away the last hour and a half of my life. I wanted to turn back time and have a second chance. If I did, I wouldn't have answered the phone when Duo called. I wouldn't have let him start the charity. Goodness, I would've done a million things differently. Oh Allah, forgive me. I don't know what I was thinking.
But at the same time, those bastards nearly killed us. Nearly killed the two most important people to me. It was fortunate that Trowa was such a skillful driver. And that's the point I kept coming to. It smacked me in the face every time. Their recklessness would've killed anyone else, but it seemed like they knew we could handle it. How?
I arrived in about twenty five minutes. We met along a seldom used road, right off of the main highway. The air was hot and dry, and the humidity was not much nicer. Duo was in Rashid's Suburban, taking a nap. He woke up when I knocked and climbed out, not happy about the next part of our plan.
"Quatre, I don't want to. It's crazy!"
"Duo, how else are you going to explain looking the way you do? Huh? There's no way to hide those bruises. I already told you. Odin suspects something. What's it going to look like if he comes home and finds a broken lamp and you all beat up? We have to say that we had a fight and accidently knocked the lamp over."
He frowned. "I don't want to hit you Quatre."
I sighed. "It wouldn't make sense if we had a fight and you're all banged up while I don't even have a scratch!"
He put his hands on his hips, looked up to the sky and exhaled. "You could always hit yourself."
I smiled sadly. "The angle wouldn't be right. You know that." He started biting his lip, and looked to the side, obviously upset. "Duo, it's going to be okay."
He looked at me then. "I don't want you to go down for this. For any of this. If anybody asks, I killed both of them. You and Relena were never there."
"If you go down, so do I. We're accomplices. But we can handle this Duo. If we could save the world from itself, then we can save ourselves." I walked up to him, nearly face to face. "Are you hearing me?"
He sighed. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm hearing you."
I don't know where I took charge along the line, but I did. I was surprised at myself. That seemed to be happening a lot today. "Alright then." I took two steps back and raised my arms out to my sides. Duo had his left side turned towards me, both hands raised into fists. He was ready.
"Now Duo," I said as calmly as I could. "I want you to try your best to take my head off." I raised my chin and closed my eyes. Then I heard an intake of breath and a curse before pain exploded in my jaw.
"You and Duo WHAT?" Heero's voice bounced off of my tile, and I wanted to drill a hole in the wall to stop the echoing.
"Duo and I had a fight." I placed the bag of ice over my eye, and the other one on top of my head. I put a heating pad at the back of my neck and sat on the couch with a pillow under my butt. My left knee was wrapped with an ice pack under it, and I managed a brief sigh of relief before the interrogation continued.
"You two had a fight at my house."
I got a glimpse out the kitchen window. Rashid and Kitty were outside playing. Rashid was shooting me curious glances, but was otherwise unconcerned. "Yeah."
I didn't like this, but it was Duo's idea. "I confronted him about his strange behavior lately. I didn't think he would be cheating on you, but you had me worried. He misunderstood my intentions and thought I was accusing him," I lied. "He got hostile, I got angry, and things got out of control." I paused. "You know, it would be a good idea for you two to leave for a while and spend some time together. Go to Jamaica or take a tour of Saturn. What do you think?"
Heero wasn't totally buying it. I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to believe me, he really did, but he couldn't see around my closed expression.
"Hn," was all he said to me before he said goodbye to Rashid and Kitty and left. I went upstairs and spent nearly an hour in the shower, trying to scrub away the grime of my deed. When I went back downstairs, a late lunch was made by Rashid, and for the rest of the day Kitty watched his Terminator movie over and over again. I was too mentally worn to care. Trowa came home around nine o'clock and tried to explain the progress he and Zechs made, but understood my inattention because of Duo's and mine's ‘confrontation.' We all turned in at eleven o'clock, and I laid awake for another four hours before I gave up all hope of sleeping.
I wanted to talk to someone. I wanted to tell the truth and be rid of this entire mess, even if I had to go to jail. The deeper the secret, the more complicated the coverup. That's why serial killers were always caught. The only way to cover up a lie is with another lie, until you have told so many lies you can't keep track of them all. Duo and I weren't there yet, but we were weaving some stories that we would have to blend into reality if we didn't want to get caught.
But I had the worst feeling that we would. Duo was breaking his life long motto to protect me, and that was a major sacrifice for him. His esteem was low enough, and this would make it even worse. As for me, I was lying to everyone I knew, and that was going to eat away at me until I came out. We needed help in the worst way, but I was afraid that if we involved somebody else they might get hurt. I needed to do something drastic.
That's what I'll do. I'll send Kitty off where no one would look to find him. Trowa would be harder to get around, but I could convince him to stay with our son. Wufei will be okay, Heero will probably watch over our house...that should work. Yeah. Knowing Duo though, he'll want to be in on this too. Better the two of us together than apart. Of course, if Krahe's nearby...
One problem at a time Quatre. One at a time.
I pulled away from Trowa, which woke him up. After assuring him eight thousand times that everything was okay, I slipped downstairs into the kitchen to call Duo. After I told him what I thought we should do, he agreed and started to do his part. I launched into my part of the plan, calling different airlines and resorts to set up reservations and scattered them all over L 1. Once Duo ‘breaks' the story that I will be on L 1 for business, and that his ‘sources' told him I should be there in a week, what's remaining of Hrncir's group will probably be preparing to leave. After all, the package with the tongue should have arrived by then. That meant Duo and I will have to leave the day after tomorrow to get to L 2, do whatever we'll have to do, then get to L 1 so that I could act like I had something important to do. Right. I could do this.
Duo called me back a short while later to let me know he had the ID's and clothes we would need. When we finally hammered out the final details, I hung up and wobbled my way back to bed. I felt so drained of life I thought that I could easily drift to death in my sleep. I didn't want to be awake all night by myself...so I woke Trowa up.
"Trowa? Trowa. Wake up."
He snapped awake. "Quatre? What's wrong, what is it?"
I laid my head on his chest and wrapped my arms around him. "I can't sleep."
I made myself more comfortable. "Talk to me."
He started to run his fingers through my hair. "About what?" he asked softly.
"I don't care. Anything. I just need to hear your voice."
He froze. "Quatre, what's going on?" He was stern.
I purposely misunderstood. "I told you. I can't sleep. Your voice is soothing. I've told you that before."
"Uh huh." He wasn't buying my excuses either. He and Heero were too much alike. "Something's bothering you. What is it?"
"Just...everything," I said, to sum it all up. It was true too.
"Alright, I get it. If you want to talk though...." He left the sentence unfinished. "Well, I don't have anything to say, so I'll just have to tell you a story. Is that okay?"
"I don't care," I said, snuggling closer. "It could be Goldilocks and the Three Bears as far as I'm concerned."
And just to be funny, he told me the story.