My ribs. They hurt like hell.
It's cold. Real cold. My fingertips are numb. I can't move.
I'm swinging. Slightly. The leather of the seatbelt is creaking. I can hear it. It's all I hear, besides the wind blowing.
I don't want to open my eyes. For all that is holy, in every religion and region, I hope I'm blind.
I don't want to see, oh, I don't want to see. I don't want to open my eyes. I won't. I won't I won't I won't...
Allah, take me, please.
No, no, don't do this. I don't want to stay.
/Quatre, open your eyes./
No, I won't! No no no! Please, let me die!
/Quatre, I know you can hear me. Open them./
I want to go...
Slowly, very slowly, I opened my eyes. The wind was louder in my ears, and the cold bit harder. From the pressure on my chest, I determined that I was at a ninety degree angle, and my seatbelt was trying to hold me to the chair. My arms and legs felt numb, but heavy as I dangled from the seat. My neck felt like it was ripped off and put back on, and my arms and legs probably weren't all the way in their sockets. And I was cold. Beyond cold. This chill dug deep within my bones, in my tissues, in my cells. I wanted to die.
"Quatre?" I blinked quite a few times to clear my vision, trying to see who was calling me. Whoever it was sounded very concerned. "Quatre, open your eyes. Look at me."
Suddenly, something hot was placed on both sides of my cheeks, and my eyes shot open from the unfamiliar touch. There was a fuzziness in my vision, but it cleared away somewhat and I was finally able to stare into deep, black, slanted eyes. "Quatre, do you know where you are?"
I knew that I was hanging from a seat, and more than likely freezing to death, but other than that, your guess is as good as mine. "No," I rasped.
"We're on the plane. It crashed. You and Duo saved our lives."
"Hn?" I whimpered, not willing to try to open my mouth.
"Yes," he said sadly, cupping my face in his hands more, alleviating some of the pressure off of my neck, "Duo got one engine to rotate and slow the plane down, and you managed to pull the nose up so that we didn't crash straight down. But it didn't get up soon enough and broke the plane in half. The rest of us are fine in the back, just some minor bruising, but you and Duo absorbed the impact."
He stepped up closer to me, and his hot breath burned my face. I noticed then that my eyelashes had heavy frost on them, and so did my hands. They looked like the hands of a dead person: blue, ice blue, stiff, with large chunks of frost deposited on them.
"Now, understand this, okay? Both of you will be fine, alright? Just hang in there, and we'll get you out of here."
I could see the fear behind his eyes. "Fei," I started to cry slightly, "Duo, where?"
He brought his forehead up to mine, touching. In a shaky voice, which is unheard of from Wufei, he said, "it's better that you don't see him right now. He's not in a stable condition of any kind, and neither are you. Stay calm."
"Duo?" My breathing became very fast and irregular, hurting even more since all of my body weight rested on my chest. "Duo, he's...oh no. Fei help him. Help him help him...."
"Quatre, calm down, don't do this to me. Shit!" He screamed in my face and stepped back, looking up to the sky but not removing his hands from my cheeks. "Heero! Trowa! We gotta move him now! He's starting to hyperventilate!"
There was another shout, that sounded like it came from above me, but I couldn't make out what it was. In Wufei's face, I could see the confusion, anger and hurt. It appears he was trying to make a decision. Finally, with a loud curse, he let go of my face, and quickly scrambled out of sight. I glanced around the cockpit, trying to find what had been destroyed and what could help us. Then I saw what Wufei was hiding from me by standing so close. In a blood curdling scream, I let the world know that what I saw just about killed me. "DUO!"
He didn't have on his seatbelt. When we hit, he was splattered against the window. He laid on it, as if it was a bed, the window itself broken, with various spider web cracks snaking its way around his form. There was blood everywhere. Everywhere. It was on the wall. It was on the window. It was on the monitors, the screens, the panel, the steering wheels. It caked around his head like a halo. A blood halo. If I didn't know any better, I would've guessed he went to sleep in a pile of red paint.
His body was as blue as Dorothy's eyes. His skin was incredibly blue. I could see it from where I was stuck. His skin had even more frost on it then mine. Snow actually partially covered his left leg. His braid was completely frozen; half from snow and half from blood. I don't know how Wufei knows he's still alive. He doesn't look it.
I thought I would never stop screaming. I didn't realize how much of a voice I had left after the crash. I cried as if I was the one laying there instead of him. He's dying right in front of me and I can't even help myself. The last thing I saw was that sad look in his eyes when Heero walked away. The last thing I heard him say to me was to brace for impact, and that was a shout. The last time he touched me was when we walked back to the plane before takeoff. We walked back hand in hand. The last thing I got out of him was a smile when I took the copilots seat. I don't ever want to take his friendship for granted again.
"Quatre! Stop that, you'll make yourself worse!" Wufei jumped down from somewhere, landing shakily on a navigational screen. Right after him came Heero and Trowa, both of them carrying what looked like a bunch of coats tied together and my suitcase. Rummaging through it, Wufei found my Bowie and cut me down from the seat. I landed hard on him, gritting my teeth in pain as all of the tension in my muscles screamed to be heard. I realized then that I couldn't move my arms or legs because they were nearly frozen stiff.
"Fei," I finally said through chattered teeth, biting my tongue. He and Trowa were wrapping me up in the coats, and tying rope through the sleeves. They were making a pulley, "how l–l–l long w--ww--were we, out h--h--here?"
He frowned darkly. "Forty five minutes. It was hell getting out of the bubble since you broke the zipper, then another problem was getting out of the plane, then getting down in here to you guys. Now shut up. You're seriously hurt. When you get better, then we'll talk."
I looked past Wufei and up to see the sky. The plane broke apart about two feet behind my seat. The sky was bright and clear, but the breeze kept blowing in snow. Wufei stuck a foot in Trowa's hands and hopped up to the ground (I assume the snow's frozen) and Trowa picked me up, cradling me tightly in his arms before lifting me up and Wufei pulling me up the rest of the way with the rope. Once on the hard ground, even though I knew it was a bad idea, I let my eyes slide closed and fell asleep, knowing that I might not wake up again.
I'm warm. Really warm. I'm still. It's quiet. I'm comfortable. So comfortable. I don't want to move. I don't want to wake up. I...
"Hnnnnn..." I moaned through tightly gritted teeth. Taking in that deep breath was a very bad idea according to my ribs. "Anyone....here..."
"Shhhhh, calm down. You'll only make it worse," someone whispered.
I opened my pain filled eyes, squinting a bit until my vision cleared. "Relena?"
"Yeah," she said tiredly. "How do you feel?"
I sighed carefully, mindful of my chest, and groaned. "I feel like I got kicked in the chest by Epyon."
She smiled weakly and nodded. "You're doing better. Earlier, you asked us to kill you."
I started to sit up, but stopped immediately when my head tried to fall off. "What?"
She laughed softly. "Heero's afraid that you might have a concussion, so we've been waking you up every two hours. The last time we woke you up, you asked us to kill you."
"Oh," I said. What else could I say, ‘thanks for not doing it?' No, but I am the master at changing the subject. "So how many hours has it been?"
My heart sped up. "Where's Duo?" She jerked her head to the side, and I looked to the side out of the corner of my eye. There was no way I was going to try and turn my head. But Duo was laying right next to me, wrapped up tightly in blankets and parachutes. Glancing down at myself, I saw the same. Flicking my sight back to Duo, I saw that his breathing was even and steady, while the right side of his head was patched up with a few pieces of gauze, and that he had many cuts and abrasions. "How's he doing?"
She shrugged. "The best he can in his condition, I guess. Heero keeps waking him up every hour, but he only blinks a few times then goes back to sleep. He hasn't done anything else."
I let my eyes close. "Hopefully by tomorrow he'll start waking up on his own. If not then, perhaps the day after."
"I hope so," she whispered.
I started to go back to sleep when I realized it was too quiet. "Where is everybody?"
She sighed. "They're...out, investigating something. Well, Heero is at any rate. Dorothy and Trowa have been trying to find anything that could help us and Wufei is tearing the cockpit apart for anything useful. By morning we should be found." She smiled cheerfully. I knew better than to believe that though. Things don't ever work out smoothly, or according to plan. If you expect something to be done in twenty four hours, add another forty eight to be sure, at the minimum.
"You're probably right," I told her, just wanting to keep her spirits up. To tell her that we might die here wouldn't be good, would it? Besides, I wanted to go back to sleep, and to tell her that we would freeze to death before morning didn't sound like the best way to do it.
I kept my eyes closed. "Yes?"
"You saved me, again."
My eyebrows raised to my hairline, even though I kept my eyes closed. "No, I didn't. Heero and Zechs' bubble device saved you, and Duo saved all of us."
"You know, you never accept credit owed to you."
I sighed, a little bit irritated. I wanted to go to sleep, not argue. "Relena, we do what we do not only because we want to or that its our job, but because we don't want to see you hurt. It would be a shame for you to survive the war and Romafellar, not to mention Mariemaia, then die in a pathetic plane crash when the best pilots of the universe were on board. Now I don't want to be rude, but please leave me alone? I want to go to sleep."
I heard her laugh softly. "Sure thing Quatre. I'll make sure Heero knows you're okay."
"Um, yeah, do that," I said dryly as I drifted off to sleep. Finally. Women can be so talkative.
Three days. Its been three days. We haven't made contact with anybody, nor has any plane flown by. And I'm very, very close to killing everyone here. Especially Heero.
Dorothy is fairing very well. She hasn't complained, whined, or slacked. She has been extremely helpful taking care of Duo and I, and has been helping Heero try to reach Zechs. Relena is, well, she could be better. When we weren't rescued by morning, (like I thought we wouldn't be) her feelings were a bit hurt but other than that okay. Since then she has become very tense and snappy. I guess she's never been stuck in the middle of nowhere before.
Wufei is doing okay. He has endured Relena and the others fairly well. If he's not in the cockpit messing with the radio, then he's with Duo and I, watching over us like a hawk. I think he misses Sally though. And worries about her too. This will be the first time they've been separated like this since they got together. Trowa is being, well, Trowa. I haven't heard a peep out of him. Of course, I haven't been awake much of the time to tell otherwise anyway.
And last, but the biggest pain, has been Heero. Where the plane broke in half, that section buried itself in the snow, thereby acting as some kind of wall. The tail end sticks up slightly at a twenty degree angle, so its slightly slanted but not too much. The emergency exit door is our way of getting in and out of the place, but of course Heero doesn't let me leave. The whole two times I had to go to the bathroom, he escorted me outside and right back in. I couldn't even walk around and see where we were! I know I got hurt, but I'm not crippled!
Duo woke up on his own about two hours ago, damning everyone and everything on this planet in the name of God before he worked himself to exhaustion. I was just happy and grateful to hear his voice, even though he was telling Heero to go to hell. Can't be picky in situations like this.
The sun was just about set, the western sky light blue and purple, with a few stars sparkling. All seven of us have been scrunched up together. Duo and I have been sleeping in the bubble, allowing us plenty of room to stretch out and be comfortable, but the rest of them have been sleeping in the chairs. They do recline, but I guess a reclining chair can't compare to a waterbed.
I rolled to my side, wincing a bit as a sharp pain ran up my side. None of my bones were broken, as far as I could tell, but they, without a doubt, were grounded to the point of breaking by the force of the crash. I have no idea how bad Duo's injuries were. I think Heero told me it was just a bunch of bad cuts, maybe cracked facial bones. That's about it. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt though. No no. Nothing is further from the truth to say that if this is what they feel like when bones are not broken, then breaking one will probably kill me.
Opening my eyes, I met the cool gaze of violet ones, which held a bit of humor in them. Duo probably farted again and is waiting for someone to scream in agony at the smell of twelve day old rotten eggs. "G'd mornin' sunshine."
I rolled my eyes. "Good evening, Duo. How do you feel?"
He shrugged one shoulder. "I feel like I just got run over by a steam roller, driven by a grizzly bear wearing a pink tutoo."
I nodded. "That's an improvement from earlier."
He smiled back. "Yep, sure is. I'll be ready to arm wrestle Wufei in no time."
"You two are supposed to be resting."
Both of us turned, very slowly I might add, to the sound of the voice. "Odin, just because we're resting doesn't mean we can't talk."
He stared at both of us as if by doing so, we could heal faster. "The more you rest, the faster your recovery time. Besides, you two need to eat something."
Duo blew his breath through his bangs. "Yeah yeah yeah. Where's the grub? I suppose you didn't happen to run across a Popeye's chicken while you were wandering around, did ya?"
That was the first time in three days that I saw Heero smirk. "No, I'm afraid not."
"Well damn," Duo said, with a little smirk of his own. Heero got two little foam bowls and scooted towards us, the rising odor of tomato soup very welcoming. "Who made the soup?" I asked.
"You did Odin?!" I asked incredulously.
"Yeah," Duo started, moving to sit up, "Heero could cook as good as any professional chef."
"How do you know that?" Duo only gave me a look. Oh yeah. Duh. Of course Duo would know. They were together for almost two years. Silly me. "Sorry."
He smiled. "I'll forgive you this time. But believe me, if I didn't feel like I've been pitched off the back of a horse, I'd hit ya."
I pouted. "Sorry."
Heero smirked again and handed me a plastic spoon and the bowl of soup, which I attacked enthusiastically. Then he scooted closer to Duo and laid a towel across his lap. "Heero, what the hell are you doing?"
I looked up from my bowl to Duo, seeing that he was angry. What happened now?
"I'm laying the towel across your lap."
"Boy, aren't you the Obi-one of the obvious. Let me rephrase then. Why are you laying a towel across my lap?"
He sighed. I wanted to laugh. It's funny to see Heero try to keep his temper. Nobody can rile him up like Duo can. "I'm doing that so that if I overfill the spoon, and some soup drips, it won't burn you."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "And why would you be filling the spoon?"
Heero looked confused. "Well, how else am I going to feed you?"
The look on Duo's face was priceless. I don't think he's ever been shocked like that before, and probably won't ever be again. "Oh no, the hell you are muscle man. I can feed myself. Thanks but no thanks."
"Duo," I interrupted. I'm going to get that boy some Ritalin. "You know you can't feed yourself. Remember this morning? You spilled grape juice all over yourself because you couldn't hold the cup up. The soup is hot, so you'll burn yourself if it gets on you. Your body is still in shock and off balance. Let him help you."
Duo, being the man that he is, of course, has to argue. "No way. I am not a baby! I don't need–"
Suddenly, I slammed my hand on the hard metal floor, the harsh sound reverberated through out the plane. I looked up to see Heero and Duo staring at me with surprised expressions on their faces. "Duo," I said through clenched teeth, "you WILL let Odin help you. I don't care if you like it or not, that is how it's going to be until *I* say otherwise. Is this unclear?"
He shook his head no. I could see out of the corner of my eye Heero trying not to smirk. Whatever. I continued to uneasily slurp down my soup, watching both men carefully. Duo remained quiet and started eating the soup, and his movements were about as co–ordinated as a drunk trying to walk a straight line. He can feed himself. Sure. He can feed his clothes, but that's about it.
I slowly swallowed the Campbell's soup in my mouth, enjoying (a little too much) the basil and oregano or whatever Heero put in here. The aroma was extremely comforting in my nose, reminding me of being at home, wrapped up in front of the fireplace, reading Beverly Clearly books to Mariemaia. I hope we get home soon.
I glanced back up to see what Heero and Duo were up to, since they've been totally quiet. What I saw was nothing short of sweet. I guess Duo spit some of the soup out or something, because he had a bit running down his lip. Heero sat the bowl down next to him and picked up the towel, wiping his face. I smiled and started inhaling my food again, bubbling internally. I wish I had a camera. But when I looked back at the two, I saw Heero was still wiping Duo's mouth, but there wasn't any soup on it.
Soon, the towel dropped from Heero's hand, and he was wiping the corners of Duo's mouth with his index finger. I couldn't help it. I froze. I stared. I watched. I waited to see what happened.
All too soon, Heero stopped wiping the corners of his mouth with his finger and started tracing his lips and chin. Duo only sat still and let him do what he wanted, meeting Heero's gaze for all it was worth. Mesmerized, I continued to watch. I couldn't believe this.
Heero's thumb paused on his lips, and Duo closed his eyes at the contact. "I shouldn't have left you," he said softly, cupping Duo's face with his palm. Duo opened his eyes then. "I should've stayed with you. I should've protected you. I failed you. I'm sorry."
"You didn't fail me," Duo murmured against his finger, pressing his cheek further into the palm of Heero's hand. "I did that for you. I would do anything for you. Anything."
At that last bit, I found a great new interest in my soup. Yep. There were little green thingies floating in it. Must be the basil. I know, I'll count each piece of basil in it. What, can't be more than two hundred right? Right.
There was a loud creak, then a large gush of wind blew in as Wufei walked through the door and into the plane. I peeked back to Duo and Heero, seeing them finish up eating. Heero took the spoon away with the bowl and got up, grabbed a lighter and went outside to wash out the bowl. We heated the snow to provide us with water and all of our cleaning needs. So far so good. Duo laid back down in his bundle and in a few minutes, he was sound asleep.
I picked up my spoon and bowl and was about to join Heero when Wufei snatched them up, disappeared outside for a minute, then came back in and sat down next to me. "Don't worry about it, I told Odin to clean it."
"Thanks Wu, but I could've done it."
"Yeah, you could've, but I didn't want you to."
"Thanks. So, did they kiss?"
He didn't look at me. "No, but they were pretty close. I swear to Nataku, this shit is getting worse."
He flipped his glance over to Duo's form, watching him for a moment before peering at me out of the corner of his eye. "Odin has been crazy since the crash. He wouldn't leave Duo's side unless there was something that had to be done by him or to take a piss. He hasn't even eaten anything, afraid that if he did, Duo might not have enough."
"That's crazy!" I shouted quietly, making sure not to wake Duo. "How can he go on if he doesn't eat? Haven't you talked to him? Or at least Relena?"
He looked at me like I just jumped up and screamed ‘bubble baby buggy bumpers' while standing on my head. "Yes, I tried to talk to him. Even Trowa did. But talking to him is like telling Superman not to fly. It was a waste of time and breath."
Speaking of Trowa, "Wu, where is everybody?"
"They're outside the plane, making angels and whatnot. The girls, well, specifically Dorothy, want Trowa to climb a tree and jump from it, doing his flips or whatever. I don't understand why he hasn't killed Dorothy yet. She groped him three times while I was out there. As if I wanted to see that." He shook his head, then smiled. "Of course, I never thought I'd hear a sound like that come from Trowa either."
"I can't imagine." I smiled at him, and then my vision wavered a bit, becoming fuzzy. The edges became dark, and everything seemed far away. Wufei was no longer a form, but a black blob with a bronze blur under it. "I'm going to kill him."
"Kill who?" Wufei asked, his voice echoing in my head.
"O, uh, Odin," I said, slumping heavily on Wufei. He grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me off of him and onto my bundle of blankets that passed for a bed.
"Quatre, what the hell is the matter with you?"
"He drugged the soup," I slurred, fighting to keep my eyes open. "How, did he..."
He sighed. "He had no choice, Quatre. You two aren't sleeping like you should."
"Wu, what are you hiding from us?" My body collapsed, the darkness taking me captive. I felt Wufei's hands release me gently onto the blankets, covering me up and brushing the hair out of my face. The last thing I heard though, was the answer to my question.
I'm awake. Just like that. There is a low fire burning in the cabin, illuminating the faces of Heero, Wufei and Trowa. I could see the heads of the girls in the seats, sound asleep. Heero and Wufei were sitting against one side of the cabin, and Trowa was on the other. They appeared to be staring at the fire, but I knew better. I always knew better.
"So, are we agreed?" Wufei said. Trowa nodded. Heero grunted. "Okay, so we'll take them in there tomorrow, but Duo won't be happy about it."
"We're not happy about it either," Trowa stated lightly, "but it's getting too cold in here. We're running out of flares and things to burn. This won't do. Not with seven of us and no word from Zechs."
Heero stood up then and silently stormed out of the cabin. I laid with the blanket over my head, covering my face so that they couldn't see that I was awake. I could see Trowa staring at me, almost as if he knew that I was awake. Wufei stood up and walked over to Duo, brushing some hair out of his face. He then turned to me, and I closed my eyes and slowed down my breathing, pretending to still be asleep. I felt his hand run through my hair affectionately, as he whispered to himself, "protect them, Nataku."