Alliance in Blood
Chapter 1: Alice in Not-So-Wonderland
The sentence penetrated the fog in my mind, snapping me back into the present. The sound of the shot that went between Noin’s eyes continued to echo in my ears.
Meizer had finished his turkey sandwich and fries. All that was left on his plate were crumbs and a destroyed paper napkin. I looked down at my plate. My food was still there. Untouched. And, I had no desire to eat it. Damn. Hilde was gonna be in my ass when she found out I was skipping meals again. She always did. “What?”
I scratched the back of my neck. “Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately, from a lot of different people.” Just as I said that Sylvia walked by, depositing a refill for the table across from us. Turning around with a worried look thrown my way, she placed a styrofoam container in front of me before moving on to another customer.
“Yeah well, it’s because you’re getting worse.” There was a second where it seemed Meizer wasn’t going to push the issue, but I saw where he decided that holding back wasn’t going to do it. “When you got back from… where ever the hell you were, you weren’t okay. It was obvious you had gone through some shit and were trying to get a handle on it. I didn’t want to pressure you, so I let it go. But lately Duo, you’ve been tanking. Seriously. Blackouts, jumping at sudden noises, weight loss, insomnia… What’s going on?” He leaned across the table as if imparting some secret. “Are you… are you doing drugs?”
I smiled. “Cob, the only drugs I do are Excedrin and Shiner Bock.” Having said that, I took a swig of the latter. Whatever else may happen in my life, my love of beer will never be affected. Ever.
“Chang treating you okay? He’s not kicking your ass?”
I grimaced into my beer. “No, he’s not kicking my ass. Come on!” I banged the bottle down on the table. “Really? You think I’d put up with that shit? If he was, you’d be arresting me for his murder.” Exasperated, I threw my hands up. “The hell, Cob. What, do you want him to be kicking my ass?”
“What? No!” Meizer ran a hand through his hair in agitation. “I’m just asking because something is wrong and I know he’s the source of it.”
I leaned back, running a hand along my face. “You know, you’ve never liked him. Not since day one.”
“I’m a cop, Duo. I know trouble when I see it.”
“Oh? And what laws has he broken, huh? Not that he would, because he’s a fucking lawyer!”
“Yes!” Meizer threw his arms up in the universal sign of a touchdown. Two women at an adjacent table glanced our way, thought we were talking about sports, and promptly went back to their own conversation. “Exactly. He’s this big time labor lawyer making all of this money working in San Antonio and yet he lives out here in Pike Creek? The only people who live here are those who are born and raised here, or those who are hiding something.”
Unfortunately, Meizer was right on that one. Pike Creek wasn’t exactly the hot spot, and Wufei had one hell of a something to hide. “So because he chose to live here makes him no good?”
“No! I… I just… you know what? Never mind.” He threw some money down on the table. “I didn’t invite you to lunch to argue, okay?” He stood, staring down at me. Again, he decided not to hold back. “You know, ever since he came into the picture our friendship has deteriorated. Do you realize that? We used to be as thick as thieves.” He shook his head. “Now, we never talk.” He gave me a direct look. “Do you even want to be friends anymore?”
“Of course I do!” I said heatedly, feeling eyes from other tables on me again. I sighed and grabbed his wrist. “Sit back down, okay? I don’t know who’s making a bigger scene, me or you.”
He looked at me warily before he sat back down. He was on the edge of the seat though. I sighed again. I’ve known Meizer my entire life. We cared deeply about each other, but that didn’t mean that he would take any shit from me. One wrong word and I’d be eating his dust. “Cob… yes, things are rocky with me right now but I’m working through it. And I… I know that we haven’t been talking lately, but in my defense much of it has to do with your opinion of Wufei. You’re making him out to be some sort of possessive villain. He’s not.” Most of the time anyway.
Meizer was silent a moment, processing what I had been saying. “You know what scares me the most, Duo? What keeps me up at night? I’m afraid that you’ll finally realize something is wrong, and that you’ll come to me for help at a time where I might not be able to help you. Or worse, I could help you except I won’t know that you need help.” He stood again. “I know it seems like I rag on your boyfriend all the time, but I’m a cop. Cops have instincts, and my instincts say he’s dangerous.”
I reached out and grabbed his wrist. “Cob, I have an ‘instinct’ too.”
“Yes, I know.” He gently pulled his wrist out of my grip. “But is it any good?”
I stared into space as he walked away, upset that I had basically lied to my best friend. I knew that he knew it too. I was also lying to myself, as if my ‘instinct’ was of any good against the werewolves. Of course it wasn’t, that was one of the major things that attracted me to Wufei in the first place. Even if it was, I didn’t use my gift against people close to me.
Meizer knew that too, and had asked a rhetorical question.
I didn’t bother responding to Tsubarov. I kept on ringing his stuff up. “That would be forty-six thirty.”
He threw down a fifty. “Keep the change.”
I sighed. “I’d rather not.”
“Keep the change.”
“Whatever.” I slammed the register closed.
Tsubarov leaned against the counter. “Something the matter, Duo?”
“Look,” I said, as civilly as I could muster. Which wasn’t much. Fortunately, Tsubarov was used to me being a bastard. “Not today, okay? You can give me shit tomorrow, just not now. I’m… I’m not in a good mood.”
“Should I be surprised? You haven’t been in a good mood for months, Duo, and you’re never in a good mood around me anyway.”
“Well, that’s because you’re a cunt.” He snorted. “However, I’m extra pissy today.”
“Oh my,” he said in amusement. “Then I’d best be going. Don’t want you to give into temptation and shoot me.”
“That would be very likely.”
With another snort and a waggle of fingers, he was out the door. I watched as he got into the assholemobile and drove off for his home. Relieved that he actually listened for a change, I skirted around the counter and went outside. Using strength born of vampire blood and who-the-hell-knew what else, I ran up the side of the shack and onto the roof. I plopped down cross-legged and wondered where my rent-a-werewolf was hiding.
I looked up at the night sky. The one thing I loved the most about Texas was the night sky. It was always clear, and the stars were always bright. As a kid, a sense of peace would wash over me as I watched them twinkle. I used to imagine that it was my parents’ attempt to smile at me from heaven. I miss that sense of peace.
We had a full moon tonight that had any critter with canine blood howling into the darkness. Most nights the howling was haunting. Tonight, it only served as an irritation and made my headache worse. In an attempt to drown out their howls, I started to hum Ave Maria and let what was troubling me have free reign of my thoughts.
My life was falling apart.
The events of Siberia have made me into a fucking basket case. I had done things I didn’t know I could do, and I had done terrible things I never thought I would do. I had seen things never to be seen again, and heard sounds that chilled me to this day. All of that has made me question who I thought I was. The thought that I was not the man I worked so hard to be struck me in a way I didn’t know was possible. If I wasn’t who I thought I was, then who was I? How could anyone love me for me, if the me I presented to the world wasn’t real? Was I real, or was I something that had been born out of the dark and placed into a womb?
Since returning from Siberia I have felt a sense of being disconnected, especially with my family. It seemed as if a gap grew wider between Hilde and I every day. The gap wasn’t because of distance and time, but because we were no longer the same species. She was human, and I felt more and more like something else. Something ‘other.’
I was losing myself.
I sat on the floor of my room in the dark. My back was against my bed and my feet were planted on the floor. My beer sat next to my left foot and an ashtray sat next to my right. My elbows rested on my knees. My cigarette dangled between my lips as I screwed the silencer onto my Beretta. The windows were open, allowing a light breeze to blow my curtains in as the moonlight breached my windowsill. It was just enough light for me to see what I was doing. Vermillion Pt. Two wasn’t playing loudly, but the darkened house and tense atmosphere made the somber song fill every iota of air. It didn’t matter. I didn’t need to hear. I knew where she was.
“I won’t let this build up inside of me...” I sang quietly, raising my voice an octave to be in harmony with Corey Taylor. “I won’t let this build up inside of me.” It was early yet, around ten o’clock. If I did this fast enough, I should be able to be back in bed just before Howard and Hilde got home from work.
Finished with the gun, I placed it next to me on the floor as I took a deep drag. Exhaling slowly, I closed my eyes and tilted my head back to rest it on the bed. I let myself be enveloped by the music as she crept closer and closer, completely unaware that I heard every single thought that went through her head.
The song finished and started again. It seemed appropriate for my mood tonight. Reaching upon my bed, I patted the sheets a couple of times until I found my cellphone. Flicking it open, I pressed three and call.
He picked up halfway through the second ring.
“It’s your turn.”
“Understood.” He hung up.
Enough time had passed. Tossing my phone back onto the bed, I stood and popped my back before shoving my feet into my shoes. Grabbing my book bag, I stuffed my cellphone into one of its pockets. Swinging it over my shoulder, I picked up the gun with my other hand and shuffled to the kitchen. I lowered my book bag to the floor and leaned against the sink, flicking my cigarette down the drain. Facing the back door to the porch, I waited for my victim to appear. It didn’t take long.
At first, I only noticed that a shadow was moving abnormally. It was slight, but had I not heard her thoughts I wouldn’t have noticed. She picked the lock easily enough, and quietly opened the door. I remained still as she stood from her crouch. Without hesitation I raised the gun and fired, putting two bullets in her chest. She dropped gracefully in the doorway. Stepping forward, I stood over her body to see her face.
Just like the others, she was beautiful. She had short, cropped hair that was so blond it was silver. Her skin was very olive with eyes a startling gray and a body like a goddess. Again, as with the others, it was a fucking waste.
As I heard Trowa and someone else approach, I touched her face.
/ What do they call you? /
/ Irma. /
I nearly cheered. Finally! Someone who spoke English.
/ Who sent you? /
/ I am a Hunter. /
I felt the honesty in her answer, but I saw the person in her mind like I had in the others. The individual was wrapped from head to toe in sapphire blue linen wrappings with a beautiful purple hooded robe. Their figure suggested that they were tall and female. Unfortunately, I was unable to learn anything more than that. This mummy could speak several languages, so I had no idea what nationality to start with. Irma didn’t know who this person was either, nor did she care. All she cared about was the information passed on about me. They weren’t speaking English, so I had no idea what the mummy said to her.
/ Were you sent here to kill me? / I asked instead.
/ Yes. /
/ Why? /
/ Because you are you. / With that, her soul left and she could say nothing more.
I stood and came face to face with Trowa and Quatre. Quatre had a bucket in his hand with cleaning solutions and scrub brushes. Trowa had a body bag.
“This is ridiculous!” Quatre snapped, body vibrating in anger. “This is the sixth Hunter in four months! This one actually found his house!” He turned to Trowa. “Trowa, we have to do something!”
“We are,” he said, placing a hand on Quatre’s cheek. “We will handle this.”
Quatre calmed, but it was obvious he was not appeased.
Between the three of us, it took no effort at all to get Irma situated in the body bag and into the backseat of the Hummer. With a wave to Quatre, Trowa and I jumped into the vehicle. The blond shape-shifter gave us an agitated wave back and started filling the bucket with soap and water.
“He doesn’t have to do that, you know. I will get it when we get back.”
“Let him,” Trowa said, rubbing his forehead as if he had a headache. “He has been... agitated lately. This will distract him for a while.”
Pulling onto the main road, Trowa and I started to make our way to Comfort. Comfort was this sleepy little town roughly thirty-five minutes south that was in the middle of nowhere. It was the perfect place to bury the bodies of women who hunted the supernatural.
This started four months ago on an ordinary day. I had been out walking, minding my own business when someone (driving a Lexus of all things) tried to run me over. Somehow, I knew that she was a Hunter. Using agility I had picked up in Siberia, I ran into a woody area and up a tree. She hit the tree, intending to knock me down but only managed to activate the airbags. As she climbed out of the vehicle, I let go of the tree to land on top of her. I almost wasn’t fast enough. She had pulled a gun out from behind her, just like in the cartoons. She aimed at me and fired, narrowly missing. To this day, I still heard the bullet screaming past my ear. If I delved too far into the memory, I would flinch from the remembered pain of superheated air.
I fell flat on top of her, knocking both of us out. Thankfully, I recovered first and called Wufei. He, Trowa and Catherine arrived in a manner of minutes and took both of us back to the house. I wouldn’t ever forget what happened next either.
I was in the living room getting patched up by Quatre on the couch. Trowa, Catherine and Heero were there as well. Wufei had taken the Hunter upstairs to the antechamber to interrogate her. We left him to it. It was obvious he was pissed that someone had tried to... er... kill me, and that was the number one thing that would get you immediately on his bad side.
Quatre had just placed some ice on my head when there was a blood-curdling scream. It lasted only a few seconds before there was a vicious growl, a rip (where the screaming abruptly stopped), and a victorious howling. Underneath the howl, I could hear what sounded like someone drowning in their own blood. The noises were all the more terrifying because everything froze; no one moved, no one spoke, no one breathed. Even the air stilled.
After a few moments of silence, Trowa and Heero went up to the antechamber. They were there briefly before Heero backed out and ran downstairs into the kitchen. He returned with a garbage bag and a bucket with cleaning products, and ran back upstairs to the antechamber. Quatre and I sat on the couch side by side as we listened to all of the commotion. If I had no idea what Wufei had done, I would’ve guessed that they were trying to move an elephant due to all of the racket that they were making. Shortly thereafter, Heero came back downstairs with the garbage bag over his shoulder, full of what I guessed was the Hunter.
I sent Glad an email. Their Flex garbage bags really flexed. They have no idea how much.
Since then this has become somewhat of a sick routine. I guessed when they figured that their Hunter had failed they would send another in her place. This was the first time that one has come to my house, however. Either they were trying to avoid my home and had finally upped the ante, or they just now learned where I lived. I didn’t like either option.
“What time did Wufei leave this morning?”
I thought about it. “Five thirty, I think. His flight left at eight thirty. He should be back at the end of the week. His client is innocent for a change, so it shouldn’t take long.”
Trowa snorted. “He’ll be back tomorrow night at the latest. He will not tolerate being away when a Hunter has attacked you in your own home.”
“She didn’t attack me. She didn’t even get her other foot over the threshold before I took her out. Besides, there’s nothing he can do about it now.”
Trowa snorted again. “You just tell Wufei that and see where it will get you.”
I smiled. “I know where it will get me,” I said, as Trowa turned off the highway. “No where.” I raised my hands and gripped the handles overhead. As I knew from experience, it was about to get bumpy.
Trowa drove another mile before turning off the road and driving through the hilly land. I hated this part the most. Right on cue, the body slid up and her head hit against the car door every time the vehicle tilted to the left. It... it grossed me out. It didn’t matter how we put them in. Whenever we would tilt one way or the other, their head would hit the car door. The time before last we sat the Hunter up in the backseat. That was worse than their heads hitting the door. When she suddenly fell forward, Quatre and I (it was his turn that time) freaked the hell out and nearly wrecked Trowa’s Hummer. We were since then forbidden to ever sit them up.
Not soon enough we were at the site. Turning off the high beam, Trowa and I slid out of the vehicle. I went to the trunk to get the shovels as he unbuckled Irma and pulled her out. I stood out of the way and waited patiently as Trowa sniffed out a spot not... occupied. When he did, he grabbed a shovel and made several short dashes. “Here to here, and here to here.”
Quietly, we dug Irma’s grave and buried her. Afterwards, I said a prayer as Trowa waited nearby, hands and chin resting on the handle of the shovel. When I was done, we tossed the shovels into the trunk and made our way home.
The temperature was nice out, so we had the windows down. It felt refreshing to feel the wind against my face. I wished it were raining too, so that it would be cleansing as well as refreshing.
I sighed and closed my eyes. My bad mood plummeted even further.
This was not how I imagined my life to be.
Not at all.