"Son of a bitch!"
I didn't even have a chance to open my eyes before someone grabbed my wrist and started to drag me down the stairs. My chin hit the top step, which woke me up as you can imagine, and every time I tried to put my free hand down to at least push myself up, I would get pulled away and end up nearly plowing face first onto the step.
Finally, we made it to the bottom of the staircase (thank you Allah!) where I was then dragged along the kitchen floor, but this time I managed to pull myself up to my knees. That turned out to be a mistake. Basically, I had to run on my knees on the hard floor or else have my arm ripped off. Yeah, my sentiments exactly.
Once we made it into the dining room, my wrist was released and I stood up, my knees and lower belly sore from the abuse, and angrily clawed my hair out of my face. I glared at Wufei, but he only glared right back at me, totally unimpressed.
"Wufei! What is wrong with you?!"
He ran his fingers through his unbound hair, clearing it from his face as well. "What is wrong with me?! What's wrong with you?! I wake up to see that you aren't in bed or anywhere else!" He took a step towards me. "I'm thinking that the little bastard whisked you away somewhere so that we can't find you, and then just to be thorough, I decided to check upstairs and I see YOU asleep on the stairs! Quatre, you scared the hell out of me!"
Now how could anyone be mad at that? "Wufei, I understand that but you didn't have to pull me down the stairs–"
"Christ Quatre!" Heero thundered down the stairs with the others trailing behind him, minus Duo of course. "Where the hell were you?" Not giving me the chance to answer, he seized my face in both of his hands and checked to make sure I didn't have any more bruises (besides the ones I already had) and circled around me for any new signs of injury. After a few rounds, he seemed satisfied that no harm had been done to me. I guess Wufei's caveman impulse didn't count. "Are you alright?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," I answered back, just as quietly.
"Where were you?"
"On the attic stairs," Wufei answered, a slight touch of anger spilt out between his lips. Trowa came over to us then, and stood between Heero and Wufei in our little circle. I will admit that I was slightly disturbed by Trowa. He actually had an expression on his face. It was one of a deep frown. I don't know what gets me more–-his expressionless face or this frown. Both cases irritated me to no end, that's for sure.
"What were you doing there?" he asked.
As if a light bulb came on above my head, I remembered the whole ordeal from the night before. The last time I had been that terrified was when we were trapped in Heero's room, with no place to go except through the crows...
"I need to talk to you...all of you," I said, as I stared blankly in front of me. "Duo has to hear this as well. I know that he talked to you and you two have some scheme going on to protect me, but I want him to hear what's going on from my mouth instead of you relating the information to him."
"Quatre," he started, his jaw locked. I don't know why we always have to get into the ‘strongest pilot of the universe' contest. "He's to stay as far away from you as possible."
"Well Heero, that wasn't a request," I said shortly as I broke our little circle and made my way to the bottom of the staircase. "Duo!" I shouted. "Get down here now!" I could see in the corner of my eye where Relena and Dorothy were standing, confused on what to say or do. "The girls should hear this too," I continued, watching as Duo slightly limped down the stairs. "I doubt that it will concern them at all, but I know that they would like some answers for all of this." I glanced briefly in their direction and both girls nodded their appreciations to me. I offered a weak smile back as Duo reach the last few steps and everyone filed into a straight line to seat themselves.
Relena and Heero planted themselves on the Victorian couch, where I saw her touch his hand as he held hers in both of his. Wufei took one of the matching chairs as Dorothy took the other, Duo laid across the dining room table on his stomach (still keeping his distance), and Trowa stood next to me, facing me. I stood in front of everyone and for some strange reason, felt nervous. These were the people that knew me the best, but I felt like I was standing there naked and without my homework. Now was not the time. "Late last night I went upstairs to see what I could find," I started, "in case something could be shown to me since you all weren't there. Well, something was told to me but," I held my hand up, "please don't ask me how. I really can't explain it myself and I really don't want to." Silence met my request. Good enough for me. "This was what I learned. This mansion is full of pain and animal cruelty. I know for a fact now that we all are in extreme danger." I heard Wufei snort softly, but ignored him. "I know that seems stupid, but believe me when I tell you that things will get much worse if we don't leave. As in yesterday."
"Winner, there is nothing to do except freeze to death if we leave without knowing for certain how we can get from point A to B."
I turned to Wufei. "Fei, we'll have to take that chance. I'm telling you, if we don't do something and do it quick, we WILL die here. The first time around was bad enough, but from what I learned, the only reason we made it out of here was because he allowed us to. We were all just entertainment for him. This time however, he's playing for keeps, and the cost of this game is going to have a price we can't afford to pay."
Nobody said anything still. I guess they were too absorbed in their thoughts. That will work for the time being. There were things that still needed to be done. "I'm going to the jet to see if Zechs has tried to contact us on the radio." I glanced outside to see the snow coming down in sheets. Good thing I like snow, but I think that might change very soon. "It will take me a while, the weather's pretty bad, but hopefully we'll get lucky."
"I'll come with you." Heero was on his feet instantly and started to put on a thick coat as I tried to wiggle into another pair of pants.
"I'm coming too," I heard Relena say as she put on one of the smaller woolen coats. I think the one she had was one of Trowa's.
"No!" Wufei flew out of his seat and stood before Relena. I thought he was going to tackle her and pin her to the floor. "You're staying here. So is Heero. I'll go with Quatre."
"No, I'm going!" Her voice raised a little, and I gritted my teeth. I really didn't want an argument, and if there's one person you don't argue with, it's Wufei. "I need to learn how to do these things Wufei, in case for some reason YOU can't."
I'll admit it. I folded. Relena had a very good point, and the fact that something could happen to us or kill us was quite possible. Actually, very possible.
To my surprise, Wufei folded also. He knew that her point was a good one, and that there was no way in heaven or hell that Heero would let her go out there without him. This was the briefest disagreement we have ever had. Now that I know such a thing was possible, I'll try to have that more often instead of our little mini–wars. "Fine," he said, the resignation apparent in his voice. "We'll keep things going here."
She nodded and was pulled to Heero as he started to button up her coat and cover any exposed skin. Wufei turned to me, irritated beyond belief. I smiled at him. Poor Wufei. He's always trying to protect everybody–-well-–I think he believed that him staying behind was a sign of weakness. I snorted. Why stop there? He probably thought sleeping was a sign of weakness. "It's alright Fei. We'll be fine."
He glared angrily at Heero and Relena, where the former was whispering to her about what to expect to see in the jet, before returning his attention to me. "You better be, or there will be hell to pay."
I let out a short laugh as Wufei turned and headed towards Trowa and Dorothy, whispering something to them. Duo was at the base of the stairs, on his way back up when our eyes met. We stared at each other for a moment, I guess both of us re--memorizing the other's face and features. I could see in his eyes the fatigue and pain, some mental, the rest physical. When I felt that we were just about ready to go, I closed my eyes tightly and screamed in my mind ‘I love you!' as loud as I possibly could. When I opened my eyes, I saw Duo mouth out to me ‘I know.'
We were in a straight line. Heero was leading, I was last, and Relena was in the middle so that she was protected by Heero's body and mine. The wind was extremely harsh today; the snowflakes whipped down on us so violently that it cut into our skin. The snow was incredibly soft, softer than it was yesterday, and that's very dangerous.
It took us longer to reach the jet, which wasn't really surprising, but it also bothered me that it took so long and that we were going with the direction of the wind. Meaning, when it's time for us to go back, we would be going against the wind, plus we'll be tired and extremely cold. This wasn't a good day for Relena to come with us to say the least.
We finally did reach the small plane, after a short eternity, and hopped down into the cockpit. This time, there was more snow inside, but still not enough to where we wouldn't be able to function. I was grateful for it though. It covered the remaining blood on the walls and windshield, and other pieces of evidence that would give Relena an idea of how bad we were actually hurt.
Immediately, Heero was on the radio, calling for anyone to respond. Relena was watching attentively, making sure that she knew and understood exactly what Heero was doing and why. I only kept watch over our heads to make sure that Krahe didn't want to make another appearance and if so, I at least could distract him long enough for Heero to finish up what we're trying to do. At least I hope I can distract him. I don't know how I would, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.
We just barely lasted twenty minutes when the wind started to blow incredibly hard and forced the snow to blow in on our heads. "Heero!" I shouted, otherwise he wouldn't have heard me, "we gotta get out of here! We'll be buried if we don't!"
"Alright!" He shouted back at me.
I was the first to get out, which took a couple of tries considering how slick everything was, but eventually I was out and next was Relena. I pulled her up to the ground level (the snowy ground, that is) and yanked Heero up right after her. The force of the wind was almost enough to knock us back down! That's all we need. Another adventure.
"We won't make it to the house! Go for the other half of the plane!" I barely registered Heero's shout over the howl of the wind, it was so strong and deafening. It felt like a tornado made of snow decided to sit down on us and stay there until it felt like moving again. The snow wasn't snow anymore. It was glass. The ground was too soft to walk on. We were no longer trying to move through snow, but quicksand. And worse yet I haven't seen any crows today. At all. Even though we're moving around and doing what we need to do, they have always been here since we arrived, either watching us from trees, flying about over the pond, or just nesting at one of the many windows, curiously peering at us. Today I haven't seen even a feather, and sudden behavioral changes like that make me nervous. Something was up.
But right now that's not important. We were making good time to the plane considering the circumstances. However, there will be a new problem once we get there. We left it in the first place because it was too cold to stay in there. Yes, we would be protected from the snow, but then we could freeze in there all the same and who knows how long the storm will last. It could be days before it slows down enough for us to make it back to the house, and even if Zechs did get a transmission from us, he wouldn't be able to find us with the weather being what it is. We were so screwed.
"Come on Quatre!" I snapped out of my thoughts when Relena called me, and was shocked to see that she was actually ahead of me. I would've never thought she could move that fast. I was maybe two steps behind her, but considering that I was taller than her, thereby having longer legs, I was amused by the fact that she was outrunning both Heero and I. He was maybe three steps behind me.
I heard a squeal, and looked up to see Relena smiling back at us. The plane was within our line of sight a few meters ahead. Excited also, I picked up my pace and managed to catch up with Relena. Heero was now two steps behind us, but I was sure that he would make it. That man doesn't know how to die.
As we ran to the plane, we laughed and shouted as if we were children playing in a field instead of fighting for our lives. I only kept telling myself that we were going to be okay. No matter what happens, in the end we will all be okay. But at the back of my mind, I could hear myself shout that it will be okay later on, but at what cost? It's the price for things that scares you. Yeah, we won peace, but there were thousands of people out there who paid for it with their lives, and will never get to enjoy it. It's those types of things that worry me.
I shook that thought off and continued to run alongside Relena, just another meter or so to the plane. Almost there...
I saw Relena get sucked into the ground out of the corner of my eye. It was like the Earth opened up her mouth and swallowed her whole. A split second later, if that long, I was swallowed right behind her and plunged into a world of darkness.
It took me a few seconds to comprehend what happened. It wasn't an avalanche by any means, but the snow was so deep and so soft that when our combined weight was on it, we fell through it. And from the way I fell, I didn't land with my feet down. I was on my stomach, face down, and Relena (I could hear her screaming) was right underneath me on her back. I could feel the back of her hand pressed against my arm. And Heero was...Heero?
"Quatre! What's happening?" Relena's scream was muffled by the snow covering her face.
"I don't know!" I tried to scream back, but coughed when some flakes entered my nose. "Don't talk! Wiggle your head around so that you can create an air pocket!"
I heard her muffled whimpers as she did what she was told. I tried to do the same, but realized that the snow was too heavy for me to move because of the way I was positioned, and then I would be dead in fifteen minutes. Worse yet, Relena was stuck underneath me. So if I do die, she wouldn't be able to get out at all. And I didn't have a clue where Heero was, whether he was caught in the snow or managed to dodge it. So it's up to me.
The thing that got me the most was how black it was. I never expected this. I'm use to seeing it in the movies, you know, how they are trapped under tons and tons of snow, but it has enough light for you to see their over dramatic performances. Nothing was further from the truth. Under the snow, it was completely black. I couldn't tell if I had my eyes opened or closed. The view was still the same. And even though I was on my stomach, I really didn't know if I was up or down. Your entire sense of balance was thrown completely off. I could be standing on my head and not realize it.
Anyway, I tried to move my arms but I failed. They were stretched out in front of me like I was going to dive into a swimming pool. That wasn't doing me any good. My legs were even worse off. They were spread wide apart, so I couldn't even bring them together and push up with my toes. Relena was screaming. Still. She wasn't doing it out of fear though. She was not afraid to die by any means. No, she was calling for Heero to help us. I don't think she understands that if he could've helped us, he would've already. Or maybe she just didn't want to accept it.
Besides Relena, all I could hear was the soft howl of the wind in the background and my irregular breathing, which was becoming louder because of the amount of snow that was getting sucked into my lungs. Any movement that I made caused me to breath in harder, thereby breathing in more snow, but to not try at all was just as condemning. What do I do?
/Duo. Duo./ There was nothing else to do. I couldn't do anything. I was completely and utterly helpless, and I cursed myself for my mistake. It wouldn't be so bad if Relena wasn't here. Now, the world would be without the Vice Foreign Minister, and there wasn't anyone to take her place.
I heard something rumble and shift over my head, then a fist wrap itself in my hair and started to pull me up. Suddenly, the pressure that was on my body vanished and I could breathe deeply without snow going up my snoot. The light from the sun was shining brightly, and the storm wasn't as strong as it was before, but still enough to let me know that we couldn't last out here much longer.
I pulled one arm out, then the other, and started to push myself up and out when I opened my eyes to spout out orders. I stopped mid–breath. Krahe was squatting in front of me, his hands on his knees, studying me with a cool but professional eye.
"YOU pulled me out?" I asked incredulously. I didn't have the energy to do anything else.
"You can't die here," he said, a bit distracted. "There's no portal."
"There's no what?!" I said, exasperated.
He laughed at me then, and I swear that when he laughed, the whole world stopped to hear it. He was different from how I remember him. When our paths crossed before, he was more aggressive, sinister, and violent. Now, he lets everything roll off of him like water. He wants to play more, take his time. Tease. "You'll see what I mean, when you come to me."
I didn't get a chance to say anything else, because he slowly disappeared. As he dissolved into the air, I could see Trowa and Wufei running towards us. "Quatre!"
I made my arms work and continued to push myself free until Trowa and Wufei ran up to me, and pulled me the rest of the way out. I dropped to Trowa's feet as he held me by the arms, completely spent. If he lets go, I'll fall on my face. "Where's Odin and Relena?" Wufei shouted, excited.
"Relena's down there, and I don't know where Odin is!"
"He's right there!" Trowa called to Wufei as he started to search. "Look at the snow, it's sinking in. That's probably where he fell." He looked to me. "Stay here. Don't move." He released me and just as I thought, I face vaulted onto the snow. I was totally lost, and I don't know if I'll ever be found again. He saved me. I almost died and he saved me. I don't understand. He did that the first time, when I fell through the iced surface of the pond, but it's like he wants me dead, then he doesn't. I don't know what to make of this.
Another body was roughly laid next to me, and I turned my head to see... "Odin!"
His lips were blue, as blue as his eyes. I could see he was breathing, just unconscious, but that didn't stop me from acting like a nut. "No!" I screamed from my toenails. "No, we gotta help him! Damnit Wufei, do something!"
"Quatre, stop he's okay!" Trowa grabbed my shoulders and shouted in my face. "Stop! You're not much better off. We can't help him fighting out here. Let's go!"
Relena was freed by this time, a little wobbly on her feet but otherwise okay. She took one arm as Wufei took the other and they both half carried/half dragged Heero back to the house. Trowa held me by the waist as my arm was thrown around his neck and we lightly jogged behind the other three. The cold still nipped at our ears and noses, but I ignored it the best I could. I had other things on my mind. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew it was the truth.
Krahe didn't cause our accident. So why did he help?