Another Murder of Crows: Part 45
Have mercy on me.
That was my first thought as my eyes snapped open. I didn’t know how I knew, but I did. I was going to suffer very, very soon and very, very much for my slip up last night, and it was going to be something that will make every physical injury I’ve ever had as minute as the size of a thimble. I did not like waking up feeling this way. Last night, on top of my few hours of bad sleep, did nothing to help me keep my courage, and especially did nothing to keep my body healthy enough to survive whatever was going to be thrown my way. The supernatural forces of Krahe and this house were many things, but gentle and considerate were not one of them.
When my eyes focused, the first thing in my view was a tiny spider, about the size of a pearl, that was black all around except for on his back, which had a gray design of some sort. What was left of it anyway. The two back legs and one on its right side were just about dust, and its head had fallen off. It was still pretty, which I thought was interesting considering it had been dead for who knew how long, but it was. Too bad the human body couldn’t decompose as nicely.
As quickly as I had slid under the bed the night before, I slid back out, breathing heavily and trying not to be sick. I didn’t know where that thought came from, and it sure wasn’t comforting in the situation I had placed myself in. I didn’t need thoughts like that. No no no no no. I needed to think smart and be strong. Smart and strong, nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. Right. Sort of.
I rose from the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to get my wits together. There was this...essence hanging above my head, one that was making me nervous to the point of being sick. Something was VERY wrong this morning, extremely out of place, and it was up to me to find out what. And since I didn’t want to find out what that something was, that didn’t make me feel any better.
“Ugh,” I whispered to myself as I got up and made my way to the bathroom. Yuck. My breath was so bad my tongue was trying to run away. It had to be.
“Good morning Quatre.”
That stopped me cold. I looked up to see that Krahe was standing in the hallway, just in front of our bedroom door as if he was leaving it. He had on his usual outfit: khaki pants, white shirt and a vest, but there was something about the smile in his eyes and on his lips that I did not like.
They were both fake.
His eyes were not shining with tenderness or lust that I was used to seeing. Rather, they were calculating. Not exactly cold, but something very close to it, whatever that could be. Maliciousness most likely. Then there was his smile. Not a genuine smile, but a smirk that managed to stretch from ear to ear. It was mischievous, but not in a playful kind of way. He had planned something in the night. That had to be it. “Good morning Krahe,” I said, lowering my chin and looking at him through my bangs. I tried to appear as innocent and pitiful as possible, but he didn’t seem to be going for it. I was still naked, not yet getting some clothes on, and so far his eyes had not left mine. Not even a glance straying away from my face. “How are you doing?”
His smirk widened. “I’m doing just great. How about you?”
He planned something. I’m sure of it now. “Bad, actually. From last night, I mean.” I lowered my head and tried to pout. Just slightly though. “I’m really sorry that I hit you and that we fought. It was my fault and I feel terrible about it. I don’t want you to be angry with me, and I promise from now on I’ll try to be more of what you want me to be.”
I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to send waves of sincerity that I didn’t feel at him, but it might not have worked. I didn’t hear a sound come from him. Opening my eyes again, I saw that Krahe was no longer smirking. In fact he wasn’t doing much of anything, only staring at me with a flat face. But his eyes hadn’t changed. Not one bit. “Krahe,” I tried again, “I want to absolve this. I don’t want us having hard feelings.”
He frowned a little. “I agree.” He started to walk away, but turned to face me right before going down the stairs. “But you’ll have to make amends for it.”
I started to feel hopeful. “How?"
He nodded towards the bedroom. “You can start by getting cleaned up and dressed. I’ll be in the dining room.”
He then went downstairs without another word or sound. I stood there for a moment, trying to keep my stomach from leaving my body as that strange essence hung itself over my head again. He knew I was lying. Whatever he planned he intended to carry it out, for better or for worse.
I tied my shoelaces as tightly as possible. It was irrelevant if the circulation was cut off or not. If I had a chance to run, by everything holy I was going to take it. Damn our deal. You can’t have a deal on prearranged circumstances, so as far as I’m concerned this whole thing was null and void to begin with. I could care less if he didn’t see it my way.
I pulled the chain out from under my sweatshirt, so that the cross and ring could swing freely. I liked how the light glinted off of them. Reaching under the bed, I took out my Bowie and stuck it in my boot (I refused to put it up my sleeves anymore). Exhaling a deep breath, I strolled out of our bedroom, feeling ready to fight. Yep, fight. All the pretenses were gone. He was not going to be forgiving this time. I was not going to be submissive. He’s mad, I’m furious, and only a battle could settle this.
I took measured steps down the stairs, all the while trying to calm myself. My body tingled with excitement, the type I’ve always felt right before a battle began. It was the same each and every time. For one, there was always silence. No matter what we were going to do, even if we were there to blow something up, it was silent. Even though your blood was rushing in your ears, and your heart was beating hard enough to beat itself right out of your chest, it was totally silent. Then, after a split second was the bang. The bang was either an explosion of some sort, an enemy out of nowhere, or a gunshot. That’s when the battle begins. Right now it was silent as I reached the bottom of the stairs. Then I turned around the staircase to find Krahe.
And there was my bang.
I didn’t know how I made the sound, but it came from my throat. I just know I screamed. It wasn’t a scream of fear though. It was one of rage, anger, and hatred that I wasn’t even aware of having. Krahe didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. He was probably expecting me to react like that. It didn’t matter though.
Duo jerked awake at the sound of my voice. He was tied down to one of the dining room chairs, but sitting in the archway to the kitchen facing me. I could see all of the bright red hickeys Krahe purposely left on his neck. His shirt was unbuttoned and wrinkled, and his pants were undone and wide open, exposing his black boxers. Thank Allah nothing else. He also had a huge black eye, and said eye was swelling as if it had been punched. I supposed he would have to. Duo would never come quietly or nicely, not even for my sake. But it was obvious that Krahe molested him while I was upstairs, and that was the source of my anger.
I started to run towards him, bent on tearing him to shreds when he wrapped his arms around Duo’s head in a position to break his neck. I stopped immediately in my tracks, but I didn’t stop screaming. No way. It was the only outlet I had to express my anger, and even that wasn’t sufficient.
I continued to holler for another minute, and as I did Duo said words that made me believe he’ll never make it to heaven. My screaming died out slowly, as my throat became raw and my breath was giving out. Krahe took it all in stride though, never showing a smile or a frown, never making much of a move for anything. When I stopped running towards him, he let go of Duo. He only stood there, waiting for me to finish.
It took a while, but I finally managed to calm myself down enough to become coherent. Krahe still stood there, looking blank as usual while Duo glared at everything. More precisely, me. That didn’t matter either. I did all of this for him and the others. I won’t back down now.
Not only that, I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed that Duo was here because I was stupid enough to think that I could challenge Krahe and win. There was no possible way to win. I should’ve known that. But I was also ashamed because I was happy, too happy, that it was Duo and not Trowa that was tied to the chair. What kind of a friend am I?
“Krahe, what the hell do you think you’re doing?! And what is HE doing here? We had a deal!”
“And you’re breaking it!” He circled around me before standing back next to Duo. “You don’t think I can read you, do you? I’ve seen you thinking about running. The way you look at me, the tone in your voice, everything you do you do it in spite of me.”
I took a deep breath and blew it out. Fighting him now won’t help Duo. “Why him?”
He started to run his fingers through Duo’s bangs, but he jerked his head away and spat on him. In return, Krahe grabbed the nape of Duo’s neck and jerked his head back, exposing his bruised neck to my view. “Why not him?”
“He has nothing to do with this.”
“What does it matter?”
“What do you mean ‘so?’ I can’t believe you said that!”
“I meant just what I said. So. It’s of no importance anymore why he’s here. Don’t get hung up on that right now Quatre. You have more...immediate things to consider.”
I heard myself gulp. In fact, I was almost certain that the sound echoed across the room, since everything was on mute again. The wind seemed to have stopped blowing, and I felt the presence of the crows but they were eerily silent. Something was about to happen, and that thought became obvious when I looked at Krahe. A gleam shone in his eyes that could only be from malice, and that fake smirk from earlier spread itself on the left side of his face. My heart felt like it sank into my stomach, because whatever Krahe had planned was about to happen, and it was unfortunately going to involve Duo. Duo seemed to have sensed this as well. He exhaled a deep breath and remained quiet, expectantly looking at Krahe while preparing himself for whatever was to come.
I swallowed again, and hoped to the heavens that I wouldn’t vomit all over the floor. “Oh? And what would those ‘things’ be?”
He let his fingers trail down Duo’s neck all the while looking at me. Duo didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. I wanted to cheer for him. “You still owe a debt from last night.”
I nodded. “I know, and I understand.”
Krahe then lowered his eyes and shook his head, as if he knew something that I didn’t get. “I forgive you Quatre.” He looked back up at me. “I can’t hold a grudge against you, but the fact remains that you still have to pay for your mistake.”
I sighed. I was getting tired of the game he was playing. “Alright already!” I blew my breath through my bangs. “What’s the cost?”
My confusion was genuine. “What?”
With a quick flick of the wrist, Krahe untied Duo’s left hand and held it out to me for viewing. “Duo’s hand. It will be cut off, and you are going to be the one to do it.”
“WHAT?!” I exploded. “You can’t be serious!”
“BullSHIT you’re cutting off my hand!” Duo started to struggle, but one sharp jerk on his arm from Krahe made him cry out in pain and stop. He then turned to me, pleading with me through his eyes to do something. I stepped towards Krahe, but stopped about two steps away when he glared at me. “Krahe, look. This doesn’t make any sense. I hit you so you cut of HIS hand?” I placed my hand over his, the one that was gripping Duo’s wrist. “This is insane. And you’re demanding too much.”
“I told you the price would be steep,” he said, matter of fact. “And this DOES make sense.” He turned to Duo. “You are left handed, aren’t you?”
That’s when I realized that he was serious. The smirk was gone, the gleam was gone, and all that was left was a coldness void of any feeling. This was strategically planned however. Yes, Duo was left handed, but that was also the hand Duo and I had cut when we made our vow to become blood brothers. In a way, cutting his left hand off would be like breaking our bond. There wasn’t any way I was going to allow that.
My grip tightened on his hand. “And what if I refuse?”
Krahe’s hand tightened around Duo’s wrist, but he still didn’t make a sound. “If you refuse, then I will rip off his left hand and severely burn the right so that he won’t be able to function with either.” At this point I felt Duo’s eyes turn on me, but I refused to look at him. I kept my gaze on Krahe. “But let me remind you that we don’t have any narcotics here, so he will be fully awake and aware when we do this. It is more humane to just have you cut off his hand rather than me rip it off and burn the other one. That way, his vocal cords won’t be as badly damaged from all of his screaming--”
The next thing I knew I was being slammed on my back. I didn’t even remember what had happened. I think...I think I tried to attack him. My rage exploded so fast that I couldn’t even see straight. Well, I also couldn’t see straight now because stars were dancing in front of my eyes from my head hitting the floor. But my hearing was just fine, as Duo was proving. He was cursing Krahe with every profane combination that I could and would never think of.
I managed to get up on my hands and knees when I heard Duo cry loudly before a loud snap rang across the room. Then Duo started to scream even louder, unimaginably so, as if the pain he was feeling was so great it was completely intolerable. I looked up and saw that Krahe was...
“STOP!” I pulled my Bowie from my boot, jumped up and skidded to a halt right before I ran into them both. Krahe glanced at me, smirked, then turned back in an attempt to rip Duo’s hand off when I jumped on Duo’s lap, straddling him, jerked his head back and placed the knife right against his throat. “Don’t you fucking dare! You can’t use him against me if I slit his throat myself, now can you?”
Much to my surprise Krahe froze, and shock was completely written all over his face. I glanced down at Duo, and saw that his eyes held too much pain and fear. The tears were still freely running, even though he wasn’t making a sound anymore. And the shaking. Wow. I inched the Bowie away a little bit. His shaking was so bad that I was afraid he’d inadvertently cut himself.
“Krahe, please.” I supposed it was the tone in my voice, because Krahe immediately loosened his grip on Duo and waited for me to continue. “I don’t want this. I don’t. I want to keep this between you and me. There has to be another way.”
He frowned. “No other way will satisfy me.” “Now that’s not true.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Because I know you.” I exhaled a deep breath. “What do you value more, his hand or my life?”
His eyebrows furrowed. “Your life.”
“Then take it.”
“I already have it.”
“No, you don’t.” I tried my best to pass my intention to him through our eyes. When I saw his eyebrows rise to his hairline, I knew he understood. “Do you accept my proposal?”
He didn’t seem angry, but he didn’t seem happy about it either. Nonetheless, he said, “Yes.”
“Good.” I removed my knife from Duo’s neck, and Krahe promptly let go of his hand. I nearly gagged when I saw how it hung limply from the rest of Duo’s arm at an unnatural angle. Hopefully it’s only broken and nothing more. “Here.” I held the Bowie out for him to take, but he only looked between the knife and Duo. “What’s the problem now?”
“No,” Krahe said, shaking his head. “I want him to do it.”
“Do what?” Duo groggily said. “I ain’t doing a damn thing, so leave me alone.”
“Why are you bringing him into this still? He doesn’t have a thing to do with us! And he’s hurt thanks to you, so just leave him be.”
“Wait wait wait. Quatre, what are you two talking about?” Duo looked from me to the knife, to Krahe to the knife, then me again. “Whoa now. Wait. Quatre, I know he doesn’t mean for ME to cut off your hand. ‘Cause I won’t.”
“No, that’s not what I mean.” Krahe smirked at Duo. “I mean for you to kill him.”
“Oh hell no!” He started to struggle wildly against the ropes that tied him to the chair.
“It’s the only way!”
“No god damnit no! This,” he started to pant, “is...not...right...God...”
I turned back to Krahe and held the knife before him again. “Come on. Just do it.”
“I already said that I want Duo to--”
“I could give a damn what you said!”
“Quatre.” His voice rose in warning. “Don’t forget who you’re talking to. I’m allowing this in exchange for not cutting off his hand. Don’t forget that he walks out of here alive only by my good graces!”
That stopped me cold. I didn’t even think about that. “What’s going to happen to him if he does do it? Will you take him to Sanc to get treatment for his wrist?”
He looked at me as though I said something completely stupid. Perhaps I did. “No.”
“Quatre run!” Duo managed to get one leg loose, and he was working on the other.
I was running out of time. “Will you take him to Wiesbaden?!”
“I won’t take him anywhere.”
“God damnit Quatre run!”
“We’re in Frankfurt! Can you at least take him to a hospital?!”
“The only way Duo will kill me is if you possess him! He wouldn’t do something like that on his own. And since you aren’t willing to help him for me, then I’ll do this myself!”
The noise in the room stopped all at once. I had the knife held above my head, between my hands, and aimed towards my abdomen. All that was before me now were two pairs of eyes: one in shock and the other in horror. I felt cold tears run down my cheeks as I tried to keep my anger in check. My breath came out in rasps between my teeth, and my body shook from all of the adrenaline. If we didn’t hurry, I was going to pass out from just the excitement.
“If I do this, will you at least...let him walk away?”
Krahe sighed loudly. I guess the excitement was getting to him too. “Yes.”
“Okay then, it’s settled.”
“But,” he held up his hand, asking me to wait, “he has to watch. I don’t doubt that you would do it if I let him leave first, but I want him to see that his and his friend’s efforts to rescue you will be pointless. Are we agreed?”
I glanced at Duo out of the corner of my eye. He was still struggling to get his other arm and leg untied, but he could see me. This he could live with though. He’s killed too many, just like I have, and he’s experienced more sorrow than I will ever know, but he can survive this as well. Better this than Krahe forcing him to do it. That would destroy him as well as me.
I didn’t bother saying anything to Krahe. He got his answer when I brought the knife down as fast as I could right into my stomach. I gasped out loud, not really readying myself for the pain. Tears clouded my vision as the pain intensified when I tried to pull it out. Once I managed to, I dropped down on my knees and raised the knife again, though not nearly as high. My hands were shaking so badly I’m surprised I didn’t drop it. Huh. But I did it. I stabbed myself a second time, more to the right of my first wound, and coughed up a little bit of blood that landed with a loud splat on the floor. I must’ve nicked a lung. This time I did drop the Bowie, not having the strength to either hold it or continue stabbing myself. I could only wrap my arms around my stomach.
Krahe appeared in my line of vision then and...hugged me. He squatted down to where I sat on my heels and held me close, before he started whispering to me in my ear. “You can’t die here.”
“What?” My voice surprised me. It was barely a whisper.
“You can’t die here. There’s no portal.” I remembered when Krahe first said that to me, when Relena, Heero and I fell through the snow after leaving the plane. “You know you can get to the closest one, but I can’t take you. You have to make it on your own.”
The attic. That was the only one I could make it to. But... “The...key...upstairs...”
“You don’t need it. I’ll hold the door open for you. Just get there. It’s your only hope.” And like that, he was gone. I didn’t realize that he was actually holding me up while hugging me, because right then I fell forward, flat on my face. I also didn’t know what he did to our surroundings, because time my face hit the floor, sound flew at me from every direction. I didn’t know if he did something to mute out everything or if I all of a sudden became hypersensitive, but Duo’s yelling went through my head like a nail, and the sound of my skin hitting the wooden floor was too loud in my ears. The crows weren’t helpful either. They were making enough noise to be heard on my colony.
I pushed myself up and started crawling for the kitchen. Duo was even more violent now as he thrashed about in the chair. He started to scoot the chair back, I think trying to get it to the wall so that he could break it. ‘If you can’t get lose from whatever you’re tied to, the next step would be to break it if possible.’ That was what Rashid told me. I guess Duo was told the same.
I finally made it to the kitchen when Duo had the chair against the wall. He tried to stand up, which was nearly impossible since he was tied down at his legs, thighs, arms, stomach and chest. Krahe made sure he wasn’t going anywhere. Huh. Of course he had to. Duo would’ve bolted with me over his shoulder at the slightest inclination. That was something we both agreed on.
It took me a while longer to get through the kitchen. I started coughing up a lot of blood, which really slowed me down. This was worse than when Dorothy stabbed me with the foil! It felt as if my insides had been ripped in two, but that they were still pulling each other apart even further. Not only that, it felt like something had a grip around my lung and they were squeezing it, and my heart, which I haven’t had any problems with for weeks, started to thump erratically.
Finally, I reached the base of the attic stairs. I turned myself backwards, my feet going up the stairs first, so that I wouldn’t put any more stress on my stomach than I already was. From the corner of my eye, I could see the crows against the window, flapping and screeching at me. I guess they were trying to cheer me on in their own little way.
I needed the noise though. It kept me focused. Things were starting to get fuzzy, and I was ready to panic at the amount of blood that I had lost. There was so much it looked like a red carpet that was rolled out for a king to walk on. But thanks to the crows I didn’t focus on that too much. I needed to get there, just like Krahe said. It was my only hope if I wanted to live.
I knew I was nearly to the top when a blue light emerged from behind me, shining down the stairs. I was ready to sigh with relief when I heard a loud snap coming from somewhere in the kitchen. I figured Duo had finally broken the chair, and it would be a matter of seconds before he got here. Just as soon as I finished that thought Duo came into view, charging up those stairs as if he was being chased. I managed one last heave that put me at the top of the staircase when Duo dropped to his stomach to avoid something that was shot at his head. I didn’t know what it was. It just appeared to be a cluster of light. Nothing more.
Once again I became deaf to the things around me, but I figured it was because I lost so much blood. My eyes were not open all the way, but enough to see that Duo was lying on the floor with me, holding onto me by my collar. He was pulling me along as he backed down the stairs. That and he was talking. Fast. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but judging by the speed that his lips were moving he was VERY angry. I smiled, and reached out with one finger to touch his cheek. My smile disappeared when I saw the trail of blood that I left on his face. I didn’t mean to do that. Then for some reason he looked above my head and let go of me the second a large claw, the size of my body, came down around me and pinned me to the floor. I realized then that it was a crow’s claw.
The claw started to pull me through the portal and Duo, not giving up, reached out to grab my collar but instead got the chain his cross and my ring were on. That seemed to have worked, because the crow didn’t continue to pull and neither did Duo. For one second, time was kind enough to stop for me. In that second though, I was able to lock eyes with Duo, and that was all I wanted. Just an opportunity and I wasn’t going to waste it.
“I’m so sorry Duo.”
The tension was too much for the chain and so it broke, spiraling me through the portal while Duo’s hand was still reaching out, now with the broken chain in it. The last thing I saw was Duo hollering my name as the door slammed shut before me. Even through the portal I could still hear him hollering, and the pain in his voice almost brought me to tears.
That was okay though. He’ll make it back home. Didn’t matter what the odds were. The boy only knew how to succeed. The worst hadn’t happened, but this was as far as it was going to go. Krahe and I have reached our climax. I have had more than enough.
I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.
Everything was going to be okay.
Trowa is going to be pissed.