The feel of my head against a cold surface was the first sensation I was aware of. The next was the feel of my fingertips resting on the snow, followed by a rock or something under my knee and the gentleness of the snowflakes collecting on my eyelashes. I tried to turn my head, but it felt heavy, and my eyes were glued closed. I vaguely heard myself moan, but whether it was from being in pain or weariness was a different matter entirely.
Somebody was calling my name. They weren't shouting, but they were obviously worried. I couldn't blame them. I was scaring myself.
/Quatre. Get up./
If I was able to open my mouth, I know I would've given them a smart remark. As it was, I couldn't do anything expect lay there like a bump on a log, if I said the phrase correctly.
/Quatre! Shit! How's Wufei? Has he moved yet?/
That fired every single nerve I had in my body. Wufei was here?!
"Quatre? Jesus Christ! Why didn't you say anything before?" I felt a shadow loom over me, and that's when I was finally able to open my eyes. Duo was over me, franticness clearly written all across his face. Just behind his head I was able to see Dorothy looking at us, showing a great deal of concern as well, with Relena in the far background, acting as a lookout. I squeezed my eyes closed in an attempt to shut out the pain as I sat up, first to my elbows and then pushing myself fully up. Opening my eyes again, I saw that it wasn't a rock that was under my knee, but Wufei's hand. He was gripping the back of my knee, still hanging on as if he would disappear if he let go.
My body shook with relief so profound I thought I was going to fall apart. Wufei was here. He was safe now. The worst for him was over. Thank Allah and his prophets. "Oh Wufei, you scared me," I whispered to myself.
At that time I felt him stir, gripping the back of my knee more forcefully than before. He cracked one slanted eye open, then the other, before rolling them up to see me. Other than that, he hadn't budged. "Wufei?"
"I didn't let go," he said in a hoarse whisper.
"I didn't let go," he said again, this time with a tiny smile. I was confused for a moment until I realized what he was referring to. ‘If you love me, don't let go,' was what I told him, and he didn't. I guess I will forever know the truth.
"Aa," I said, mostly to him than the others. "Then I will never doubt you for as long as I live."
He smiled again, this one smaller than before, then passed out. Duo, surprised at the turn of events, climbed over me (nearly nailing me in the crotch I might add) to get to Wufei. I lifted my leg away from Wufei's still fingers to allow Duo better access and also to prevent him from breaking my leg. One broken limb per party was more than enough.
Dorothy came over to me then, crouching beside me as she helped me to stand. "Quatre, what happened?"
"I don't know but there's no time to explain," I grunted as I stood. "Let Wufei sleep. He needs the rest."
"So do you."
"Yeah, I know. Give me about twenty minutes to rest up, then I'll bring back Heero and Trowa."
"Alright. Be careful."
I closed my eyes, let my mind do what was required, and before I knew it a pair of warm arms caught me around the waist. I didn't even try to remain standing. I let my entire body weight fall against him without a second thought and believe me I was NOT sorry. Trowa gently eased both of us to the floor while Heero threw some of the furniture into the fireplace. How he even started the fire was beyond me, but at the time I didn't care. All that mattered to me was that Wufei and the others were safe, Heero was okay, and Trowa was holding me.
"Give me about twenty minutes and I'll be ready to go."
"Not if I can help it," Trowa said quietly as he kissed my temple, tightening his grip around me. "You will rest as long as you need to."
Heero sat down with a grunt in front of the fire. "Trowa's right. They'll just have to wait."
Deciding not to argue (it would be pointless with these two), the three of us sat in silence as Trowa rocked me from side to side to an inaudible melody, occasionally kissing me on my hair. For about ten minutes, everything was fine. The crows were coming outside since it was dawn and the mansion was relatively quiet. But I should've known better than to think that I would go through this day without any significant event. I was asking for too much.
At first, I thought I was the only one that heard it. The moan was so low that I thought I imagined it, so I blew it off. But when I heard it a second time and Trowa stopped rocking, I knew that it wasn't just me. Even though the three of us were relatively still in the dining room and the fireplace was going, tension seemed to seep into the air and the temperature dropped maybe ten degrees. I opened my eyes and saw Heero looking at me, absolutely terrified. He was sitting on the floor with his legs drawn up to his chest, gripping his shins as hard as he could. I don't think I've ever seen him that pale in all the time I've known him. I couldn't see Trowa, but he was so scared his muscles shook from the fear. I also noticed that all of us had held our breaths. We knew something was coming, and we knew we weren't prepared for it. It was only a matter of seconds.
Unable to take it, I closed my eyes to shut out Heero's frightened face as if that would've helped anything. It didn't. So just like them, I waited for the bomb to drop. In fact, knowing Krahe, I could just about count it down.
"Trowa," Heero whispered.
"Did you hear that?"
He nodded as best as he could from his shaking.
The scream was so loud and so sudden it caused all three of us to jump to our feet. Whatever it was wasn't a creature of this universe. That much was certain, for nothing made by Allah could make such a horrible noise. The pitch was so high, I was certain that when I removed my hands from my ears there would be blood on them. And it wasn't a scream exactly. It was a howl of sorts, something that sounded more appropriate coming from the demons of hell. Worst yet, it wasn't just one howl. It was multiple ones, maybe three, four, ten or twenty. I couldn't tell. It would all blend into one, then separate into individual screams, as if to make sure the air was constantly filled with at least one voice.
I don't know why, but I started to run for the attic. I tripped and just about broke my nose, because trying to run while covering your ears wasn't the greatest way to keep your balance. But when I reached the attic stairs, I jumped against the wall, nearly backing my way through it from the sight.
The attic door was bending and molding itself with the movements of the crows trying to force their way through. A beak would push itself against the door, stretching the wood to fit the contours of its shape. A claw would come next, followed by several beaks and more claws, all seeming to reach for me. I continued to stand there, trying my best to melt through the wall just to get away from these things. I didn't even realize that I was screaming until I started to cough from my throat going raw.
Then suddenly it stopped. At the drop of a hat it stopped. The crows were gone, the noise was gone, and everything appeared to be just as it was before it started. I stood there for a moment, staring at the door, blown away and completely out of my mind. I knew that they wouldn't be able to get through because I locked the door myself, but I didn't understand why they were fighting it the way they were and why all of a sudden they decided to leave. What were they trying to do? Chase me away? Scare the others against me? What? What?!
There was a very shaky sigh to my left, and I turned to see Trowa standing in the archway to the attic, trying his best not to lean against the wall. He wasn't fairing very well. Heero was on his knees in the kitchen, still covering his ears with shaky hands, and paler than my whitest porcelain. My hands were still covering my ears, so I slowly removed one, then the other, checking them to see if I had any blood on them. I didn't. I took one step towards Trowa, careful not to fall as my legs were ready to give out from the stress and the fear.
Just before I reached him, he held out one hand which prevented me from getting close enough to hug him. "Get Odin first and get him out of here. Between the three of us he's hurt the worst. I'll stand by to make sure nothing happens." I started to protest but he quickly shook his head. "Quatre please. This is for the best. Just hurry. If I get you in my arms now, I won't be able to let go. Not even to save our lives."
With a silent sigh, I conceded. He was right. The sooner I did this, the faster we'd be out of here. But when he talked, I could hear a rough edge to his voice. Perhaps I wasn't the only one screaming to save my sanity. "Alright. Help me stand him up." Trowa followed me over to Heero, where we helped him stand to his feet. Just like Wufei, I pushed him against the wall, wrapping my arms around his waist and my legs around his. He crushed me to his body, breathing heavily into my neck as I tried to focus. The energy I gained from resting had been completely wiped away. I was glad his grip was so strong, because mine wasn't.
The force that nearly ripped Wufei and I apart came back, and pulled viciously on Heero. I did notice that despite my fatigue, and the strong will it was taking for me to hold onto Heero and vice versa, the force was not as intense or as frantic as Wufei's. Surely it was something to be reckoned with, but in comparison to earlier, it wasn't as violent. So I was fairly surprised when I found myself on my knees in the snow, holding onto a limp Odin Lowe Jr. It took me a moment to realize that he was unconscious, and that what was pulling on him now was not some majestical force, but Duo trying to get him out of my arms. I released him and sat back on my heels, looking ahead of me without seeing, and knowing that Duo was saying something to me but I couldn't hear him. "What?"
Duo looked at me as if I'd grown another head. "I said what the hell happened? You two look...there's no way to describe it. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought you all had just seen the face of the devil."
I shrugged one shoulder. "You're not too far off in your assessment," I whispered.
Duo glared at me before he started to drag Heero to the station. "Look, we'll talk later. Go get Trowa so that we can get the hell outta here!"
"Hn. Trowa," I said to myself before closing my eyes...and walking into the dragon's lair. My eyes shot open as I felt the low moan vibrate through my bones. Trowa was standing at the base of the stairs, eyes widening at the sight of the attic door.
As quickly as I could I ran to Trowa, throwing my arms around his waist and burying my face in his sweater. The last thing I saw was a claw reaching right for us and the beginnings of their screams....before blinking and facing the cold wind outside of the train station that was halfway between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.
At first he and I only stood there. I was afraid that this was some illusion, that I would step back from Trowa and he would be sucked into some void that I wouldn't be able to follow him in. I didn't have any problems transporting with him like I did with Wufei and Heero, but still the thought was at the back of my mind. Things were never the way they seemed. That's a natural law with everything, but one that I didn't want to risk at this moment.
"Are you alright?" I asked into his shoulder.
Trowa lifted my chin up so that he could look me in the eye, smiled, then bent down and kissed me. I guess I'll take that as a ‘yes.'
"Thank goodness you're back...Qua...tre..." The rest of Dorothy's sentence died on her lips as she caught us, well, kissing. I pulled back (very reluctantly I might add) to get going, but I took a moment of pause to look at Dorothy. It was nice to see her eyes bugged out of her sockets and the way her jaw unhinged itself. Some days, I really wished I had a camera.
"Yes Dorothy?" I said playfully, before turning serious at the sight of guards coming out of the sliding doors to stand on either side of her. The police. Perfect.
My posture straightened automatically as the strategist within me took point position. "My name is Quatre Raberba Winner, and I'm an officer of the Preventers." As soon as I said my name, the officers' eyes lit up in recognition. Bingo. "We're on a mission, and are in dire need to get to Moscow immediately. I assure you that your assistance on the matter will be rewarded accordingly."
It didn't take long for us to get our own train. The people pretty much asked ‘how high' when Relena told them to ‘jump.' It was comforting and peaceful though, because having the entire train to ourselves meant that we could relax without being careful over what we were saying or having the other passengers giving us curious or even frightened looks. Not only that, we smelled. I mean it. I think we were to the point of scaring skunks. I could almost see the fumes rising off of our heads. The fact that the employees on the train didn't jump out of the windows to get fresh air was a testament worthy of becoming a miracle. That's just my opinion though.
The sun had just about risen, so the sky had a nice yellow sheen to it. I rested my head against the window, watching the countryside as we raced past it. Trowa nestled around a little bit, unconsciously making himself more comfortable in my lap. Everybody was asleep except for Relena and myself. We all congregated into one cart, with Wufei and Dorothy stretched out and asleep on their own seats to the right side of me. Duo, Heero and Relena were in the seats across from me, where Relena had the window seat with Heero's head in her lap as Duo had the aisle seat, Heero's legs held gently in his lap. I was surprised when both Relena and Duo maneuvered Heero over them without any dispute. I guess they were worried. Heero nor Wufei had woken up since I managed to get them here. I'm a little concerned, but I'm sure they'll be alright.
For what seemed like the ten thousandth time, I felt Relena's eyes on me. She stared at me for a while before flickering her sight to Duo. She stared at him for a little while before glancing to Wufei, Trowa, and then Heero. She has been doing this ever since we left, and that was nearly an hour ago.
When I felt her gaze return to me, I rested my head against the seat, blinking my eyes to get rid of the white spots from looking at the sun too long. She watched me, occasionally running her fingers through Heero's hair as she kissed his hand. But what caught my attention was the way she looked at Duo. It was an expression I'd never seen on her face before. It was as if she was trying to find the hidden figure in one of those 3D pictures. At one point she even reached out and touched his hair. That definitely surprised me. She and Duo weren't enemies by any means, but they did have an air of carelessness around each other that made any observer realize that if they were together, it was for an intended purpose only.
"Quatre, what are they suppose to do when you're gone?"
I raised an eyebrow. "They're suppose to live their lives, Relena."
"Hn." She studied Duo some more before watching her hands run through Heero's hair. "Well, what if YOU are their lives?" She glanced to Trowa, Duo, then back to me. "How are they suppose to live then?"
I saw her grip tighten around Heero, and I fought the urge to do the same with Trowa. So instead, I looked back out of the window, just in time to see another snowed over landscape come into view as the silence reigned.
I didn't have an answer to her question.