A Murder of Crows: Part 4

"Step back, or I will blow you a new asshole!"

You've got to love Duo's way with words.

He did as he was told, and backed away from us. Whatever force was holding me to him, broke. Without a second thought, I ran to stand behind Duo. He slowly started backing up, kicking his heels into my shins, making me back up too. He had that gleam in his eye that I've only seen after he got out of the cockpit of Deathscythe. I started to feel sorry for the guy. Duo was trying to figure out how many holes to put in him.

"Don't be alarmed. I won't hurt you."

"Oh yeah?" Duo sneered. "Then what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere, huh? Going for a walk? It's twenty degrees out here!"

"Look, friend, I live out in this area. I am one of the locals around here. I noticed that the snow down the road has been disturbed and came up here to investigate....intruders."

"Is that right?" Duo lifted the shotgun higher, lining his shot up. I started to get nervous. The next trigger happy person besides Heero, was Duo. The only difference was, when Duo drew his gun, he used it.

"My name is Krahe, and I live down the road. I did not mean to scare you or your...companion." I did not like the tone he referred to me when he said 'companion.' He stopped looking at Duo, and looked at me through Duo, like he was made out of glass.

"Look 'friend.' I don't care what your name is or where you came from. But, I'm going to ask you a few questions, and if I don't like your answers, you die. Understand? Quatre, in the house. Now."

Slowly, I backed into the house, my eyes never leaving the sight of the boy standing there, still smiling, with Duo's back to me, holding the shotgun. Once inside, I closed the door. I didn't lock it, in case Duo needed to get back in for one reason or another. Why, when he had a gun and his opponent was unarmed, I couldn't phantom. But stranger things have happened.

I stepped further from the door, and looked at it like I would find answers in the wood. I couldn't believe that that was him! He was in the water with me, and in my dream. I couldn't see how that was possible. All of the disbelief was making my head hurt.

"Oh no, please no no no." I couldn't tell you who I was pleading to, just that I was suddenly overwhelmed with fear. This was not the least bit logical, but I knew now that what I was seeing was true. I felt his touch. I felt his kiss. He was real.

What scared me the most was that it was completely quiet. Duo and the boy...no...Krahe? Yes, that was his name, Krahe, were still outside. I didn't hear them talking, and I didn't dare open the door. It couldn't be much longer though, because Duo was underdressed. He was just wearing a black sweatshirt and jogging pants, with his military boots on. His hair wasn't even braided yet.


I jumped at the sound. It was totally quiet until then.


I could feel my eyes widen at what I knew had happened, but didn't want to believe. The boy had saved my life, yet I allowed him to be slaughtered. I was never going to forgive myself.

The door violently flew open, as Duo charged his way to the kitchen to grab his coat. He brushed hard against me, causing me to stumble. It didn't matter though, because I couldn't take my eyes off of the mess before me. He was shot twice; once in the head, (what was left of it), and once in the chest. The blood was pooling around him, staining the snow a dark scarlet.

Duo could be heard stomping his way back to where I was standing. He did a once over on me, before going back outside to clean up the 'mess.' Grabbing the arm of the corpse, he started to drag the body to the nearby tree. I closed the door behind him and harshly took off my coat, allowing it to fall to the floor. As if my feet were on fire, I ran upstairs, trying to run away from everything; the war, the others, Trowa...but where could I go?

Once in my room, I slammed the door and jumped on the bed. I snatched a pillow from under the neatly folded comforter, and held it against my chest like it was a lifeline. I glanced at the wall, and saw that the hole was fixed. Then I turned my attention to the now familiar tapping against the window, to see the previously missing crow.

I wished I was a crow. How simple and clean their lives were. They did not have to worry about war, about the innocent people they killed, about being discovered for what you really were and being killed, about an inheritance that will forever rule your life...I envy you, crow. I do. I even envy you Krahe, that you now know true peace.

I buried my face into the pillow, and cried.


I woke up, realizing that I had cried myself to sleep. It was almost night now, maybe around seven in the evening. The crow was still perched next to the window, watching me. At that point, I didn't care about anything. The world could have stopped turning, it would have made no difference to me. The guilt was beginning to be too much. I thought I was stronger than this, but I guess I was wrong.

Sighing deeply, I was going to allow myself to fall back asleep, when a hand gently grabbed my ankle. I turned my head to see Wufei. "Wufei!"

He snorted, as if to say 'who else?' and smiled slyly. Then his expression turned serious.

"We still couldn't reach the carriers. OZ is spreading further out looking for us. Some residents outside of Prague reported a vehicle stolen within the past two days," my eyebrows jumped up in surprise, but Wufei waved my concern away, "but I doubt they'll come way out here. In any case, we believe the carriers are safe, and we will try again later on tonight. Heero and Duo will be going."

"No. Duo and I should go. Heero hasn't gotten a chance to rest since we've been here. You three stay, I'll go."

"Even after the incident this morning?"

I was taken back. "Duo told you, huh?"

"He told all three of us. In fact, they're out trying to find any small towns between here and Wiesbaden. As far as I know, that's the nearest city for an hour or two on foot, and someone just happened to walk up here? Don't think so. What's even more interesting," he paused. That in itself had my anxiety rise, "Duo can't find the body."

It took me a moment for the words to sink in. When they did, it made even less sense. "What?!"

"Yes. He said he buried it underneath the tree a few meters from the house. But when we went there, it wasn't there. What the hell could Duo be up to--"

"No. I saw him heading for that tree, and I saw him bury him there. He's telling the truth."

Wufei nodded and added a slight, "Aa."

I turned my vision from Wufei, to the mysterious creature I felt was beckoning me to him. Wufei's voice brought me back to reality.


The question in his voice got my attention completely. "Yes?"

He licked his lips, eyes downcast. I thought he was trying to say whatever he was going to say as gently as possible. "I know you think that what Duo did was...extreme. There wasn't any honor in it. But you understand that we have to protect the missions, no matter what, even if it means our lives. You know that. Don't tell me you're that weak."

I was that weak. I could sacrifice myself, but I couldn't allow others to sacrifice for me. I couldn't live with that. Krahe was sacrificed for something he had no knowledge of, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Fine then."

Wufei got up from the bed and walked to the door. I could tell he was mad at me, even though he was trying his best not to show it. He didn't like it when one of us was upset either, but at the same time, he was frustrated as much as I was. The fact that we were gundam pilots, and that we were getting beaten out by a snowstorm was...infuriating We have survived every obstacle, to lose to a snowstorm? Or to freeze to death in a broken-down stationwagon? No. Then Wufei said something that brought my worst fears out.

"So how did you fix the hole? There isn't any plaster here."

"What do you mean? Duo fixed it."

"No...he said you did. He saw it when he came up here to check on you."

With that, Wufei and I just stared at each other. This was VERY bad. If Duo and I didn't fix it, and I knew the rest of us couldn't have done it, then who did?

Any anger that Wufei had drained from his body. He calmly took off his shoes, sat on the bed, folded his legs to lean on his knees, and hunched forward, nearly touching his forehead to mine.

"You better start from the beginning, Winner."

So I told him everything. He already knew that I saw the kid on the pond, so I explained what happened under water, the crows, and how Krahe came this afternoon. How that ended he also knew. But when I mentioned the crows, his expression changed a bit.

"I don't believe in ghost stories." I didn't know if Wufei said that to convince himself, or me.

But after I said the words out loud, I knew that that was exactly what this was. A ghost story. "I don't either, but how would you explain all of this?"

"I can't say. But one thing's for sure. Duo was right about those Cheetos. When we came back, there must have been fifty crows outside."

"What?!" Please don't say Duo was right! I'll never hear the end of it.

"They're all over the place, all of them surrounding...your...room." He slowed down with every word, realizing that something was very wrong with this picture. There were crow carvings all over the house, and on the furniture. All of it was black. Even the bathtub had the shape of crows in the marble! This did not add up. There were clues everywhere; we just weren't putting them together. But what Wufei said next scared me even more.

"I am at a loss on what to do, Quatre."

Now, I was VERY worried. Wufei didn't know what to do, and he admitted it? Oh no. If Heero didn't have a clue, then I will go outside and bury myself. There wouldn't be any point in trying.

The door slammed shut, rattling the house a bit. They were back. From the sound of it, someone was upset. My guess was Duo. A bout of profanity confirmed it. During that, Wufei slid off my bed, and put his shoes back on. Stretching his arms above his head, he laid out a plan.

"Okay. When Heero and Trowa settle down, I will explain to them what you told me. Then I will mention to Heero that you and Duo will go, and I will tag along."

"You will?" That surprised me. Wufei was coming with me and Duo? If he wasn't threatening to kill Duo, then he was telling him to shut up. He must have known what I was thinking, because he answered my question. "The three of us should go together. You and Duo are more aware of what's going on than Heero or Trowa. Besides, if you want to go, it might attract some attention from your 'friends' outside, and backup might be needed."

"Sounds good." Usually, I was the brains of the operation, but I was glad that Wufei took charge. To be honest, I didn't want to deal with this. There was too much that I wanted to understand.

Like, 'why me?'

Wufei came towards me, and lightly squeezed my shoulder. He then left to talk with the others. He didn't get far. I could hear him talking to someone in the hallway. After almost a minute, the door creaked slowly open, with Duo resting his body against the frame. He wasn't angry, but he wasn't happy either. He was perfectly neutral.

"So, how are your nuts?" I asked.

He busted out laughing. "They're fine. How about you, Cat?"

I couldn't answer that. I had a terrible feeling, and it was eating me up inside. Whatever it was, I wanted to throw it on the floor and stomp it to pieces.

I slid off my bed, casually walking over to Duo. We just stood there face to face for a moment, staring into each other's eyes. I could see how innocent and pure he thought I was, and I wanted him to see how important he was to me as a friend. I could feel the tears forming behind my eyes, and I was failing miserably at preventing them from rolling down my cheeks. I didn't want Duo to see me cry.

"Cat?" he managed to squeak out. We were both on the verge of tears. Of course he wouldn't cry, because boys didn't cry. I guess I was a girl.

"Oh, what the hell." With that, he grabbed me and pulled me close. I returned the hug, feeling like nothing else mattered. Duo will blow someone to bacon bits to protect me, just like I would for him. I understood killing for the colonies, but if all else failed, we had each other.

"Mission accepted." He pulled me back, straightened my hair, and patted me on the head. I wiped whatever tears were surfacing on the sleeve of my sweatshirt, (which was very undignified), and smiled at Duo, waiting for our next move.

"We leave in a hour."

"Yes sir!" I gave him a very poorly done OZ salute as I stomped my foot, standing at attention. He gave an even worse 'at ease,' with his nose high in the air. Spinning around on his heels, he grabbed his hair and threw it back over his shoulder like a cape, doing the greatest impersonation of Treize that could ever be done. He proceeded to walk stiffly down the stairs. At the last four, he slipped and fell on his face. After laughing at him, (which couldn't be helped, honest!) I stuffed all of my belongings into my duffelbag. We were getting away from here. The sooner, the better.


I managed to squeeze my duffelbag in between the Pringles and the infamous Cheetos. With all of Duo's junk, it was a wonder how any of our things got here in the first place! Anyway...Trowa managed to talk Wufei into letting him go in his place. He was going to lay in the back seat and sleep, while Duo drove and I kept watch. I couldn't contain myself. I was blushing already and Trowa wasn't even in the car yet! Allah, help me.

I jumped into the passenger seat and put on my seatbelt. I have to focus. It was dark and there weren't any streetlights. I had to look out for OZ, crows, witches...well, maybe not witches. Maybe.

Speaking of crows...I counted seventy two of them as I was trying to find a spot for my bag. They all managed to fit on that little tree a few meters from the house. They watched every move I made intensely, but I didn't care. Soon, we would be leaving and they could stare into space, or drift off into Never Never Land. [1]

Soon afterwards, Duo got in on the driver's side, and closed the door. Then he turned to me and smiled. That sent me off on a rant like nothing ever done before. I'm telling you, in ten seconds flat, I managed to tell him, in detail, exactly what Trowa said to Wufei to switch places, the argument they had over who was taking which gun, and how Trowa convinced Heero to let us take the laptop. I thought I had done Duo proud.

But Duo still smiled sweetly, like when you smile to a child so as not to frighten them. Something was WAY out of kilter here. There was nothing sweet or innocent about Duo. Sure, he always laughed and was light-hearted, but the smile he displayed did not belong on his face.

"So, your name is Quatre."

My breath caught in my throat. That voice wasn't Duo's.


[1] From 'Peter Pan' in case you didn't know.