A Murder of Crows: Part 8

Running towards the mansion, I heard gunshots. I didn't know if Trowa could see me, but I wanted to make plenty of noise to make sure I didn't get hit. That wouldn't be good, to say the least. That's all I needed to make my week complete. Heh. Sarcasm was becoming my specialty really fast.

"Trowa! Can you hear me? Trowa!"

A few feet from the house, through the snowy winds, I could see Duo and Trowa waiting in the doorway. Trowa started to walk out, gun in hand. Duo was resting against the doorframe, holding his ribs, trying to breathe in the face of the wind. Three flashlights were at his feet. Surrounding them were about fifteen dead crows. I bet it took five or six shots to get them all.

Stumbling onto the stone platform that lead to the house, I dropped the machete on the ground. In one move, my knees went to the ground, and I wrapped my arms around Trowa's waist as I fell into his body. Trowa returned the embrace somewhat, making sure he maneuvered the gun so that the barrel was not aimed at me. I felt beyond relief at seeing his face.

He looked down at me and gave a genuine smile, glad to see me too. But a slight noise over the howl of the wind brought his attention up. At first his eyes widened, then narrowed to thin slits. I knew that Krahe was behind us without even turning around. Suddenly, I had a flash of fear that Duo would do something stupid. He didn't. Instead, he picked up the flashlights and went inside.

Halfway pulling me in the house, Trowa sat me on the couch while Duo fought the winds to close the door. Once closed, Duo scooted off towards the fireplace and retrieved a cup of hot water, placing my machete on the dining room table. For a moment, he stood there and stared at me while Trowa went upstairs. I knew then that something was wrong.

"Quatre, man, your face..."

I didn't realize how cold I was until Trowa sat me on the couch. Once I was still, my whole body started shaking. It got to the point where I couldn't hold the cup of water. My teeth chattering not only annoyed me, but I ended up biting my tongue. I could taste the blood.

Trowa, after a minute, came down with a little washcloth and another cup of water, and starting tending to my lip and cuts. My face was worse than I imagined apparently. Duo's expression said it all. Plus the fact that he kept saying 'those bastards will pay' didn't help much either.

As he worked, my mind worked. I let all of the incidents and strange occurrences replay in my head. That didn't help. Everything that has happened was beyond science and logic, and that frustrated me to no end. How could I play a game I didn't understand the rules to? Frustrated more, I balled my hands into fists, and flinched when I realized that I still held the key.

"I got something," I weakly stammered out. Duo sat down swiftly next to me. Trowa continued what he was doing, but I knew he was listening. "I found this inside of that tree."

Shakily lifting my hand up, I dangled the key from its chain. Duo looked at it like he was deciding whether he should shoot it then burn it, or shoot it then burn it then blow it up. It was a tough decision for him. "What is it?"

"It's a key."

He continued to watch it warily. "How did you find it?"

Now this was a tough one. "Well, when I got to the tree, nothing looked abnormal. So I climbed it. There was a hole between the branches. I used the machete to cut it out."

"What possessed you to do that?"

Good question. Leave it to Duo to find fault with what I tell him. "I don't know. Something kept nagging at me to do it so I just...did."

He was quiet a long moment. "Well, what do you want to do, Quatre?" Trowa looked up at Duo's question. Both of them were looking at me expectantly. What did I want to do?

"I want to go upstairs," I said at last.

A slow, dangerous smile crept across Duo's face. "Let's go." He immediately launched to his feet.

"Wait Duo! We need to prepare."

I swear, he looked like one of those cartoons characters. He seemed to freeze in the act of jumping over the couch. "Huh?"

"We need to prepare. I don't know what is up there. He could be up there for all we know. So we can't just barge up there like some Boyscout troupe."

"Fine Quatre. What do you want us to do?" I was starting to wonder if Duo had a head injury in that accident. He usually wasn't this cooperative.

The thought left as quickly as it came. "Wear your coats. The shotgun is in the car so leave it for now. Trowa has his gun. Duo, take the machete. I'll take point."

"Are you sure? Quatre, you're hurt and you'll be without a weapon. Maybe you should wait down here with Trowa. I can take a look around," he said in all seriousness, but I didn't miss the wink he gave me at his suggestion I remain with Trowa.

"No. I want--and need--to go. Besides, you're hurt too, and you're still going."

"Alright. Trowa?"


"That's a go."

I almost smiled as Duo got what I wanted. He took anything as assent. "Fine. Let's get this over with."

I was already suited up. Duo had the machete and swung it around like a sword, imitating Wufei. I was beginning to think it was a mistake giving him that. Trowa was also ready, waiting for me to lead the way. "Let's go."

Walking through the kitchen, I noticed that we attained an audience. Every crow in Germany was here, lined up along the kitchen window. Beyond that was an endless blanket of them, numbering in the thousands. Their beady eyes twitched with every step we made. I took a deep breath as I turned past the refrigerator or freezer, (whatever it was), to the bottom of the staircase.

Fear was probably the strangest of all emotions, because there were so many variations of it. There was the type where you were so afraid, you couldn't move no matter what you did. All you could hear was the pounding of your heartbeat, and the blood rushing in your ears. Then there was the exact opposite; a fear that lead to panic, because all you could do was run around and scream. Nothing else in your mind wanted to work or deal with the situation at hand.

Lastly, there was the most misunderstood kind of fear. What I meant by that was how I couldn't figure out why we reacted the way we did in this state of mind. This fear drove you to the edge; it was this fear that was making me walk up these stairs, because the alternative frightened me more, even though it was unclear what that alternative was. This kind of fear held your body, and bent it to its will.

I was so afraid it hurt to think, but my body wouldn't let me do anything else. I wanted to turn around and run, but I couldn't. My legs wouldn't let me. But the same amount of energy I could be using to get away, I was spending on this seemingly endless travel up a flight of stairs.

The cracking of the rotten wood buckled under my feet, making my heart race even more. But I still kept going. All I could do was continue to put one foot in front of the other as I made my way up the stairs to the moldy-smelling, beautifully waxed, light tan door. The high shrieks from the crows escalated as I closed in on my destination, almost rocking the house.

I felt ashamed. I have never been this terrified in my entire life. Of all the things I have encountered as a gundam pilot, of all the people I have killed and the things I have destroyed, I was afraid of a door. An old, smelly wooden door at that.

"You will not defeat me," I murmured out loud to myself. I didn't know if Duo or Trowa heard, but if they did, they didn't give any indication of it.

I stopped in front of the door, trying to drill a hole into it with my eyes. No such luck.

"Are you two ready?" I was surprised at the sound of my voice. It was calm.

Neither one said a word, but I could feel them sharply nodding their heads.

My hand still shaky, I fumbled the key into the keyhole. It slid in and stopped coldly against the other side. Ok, good so far. Turning it, I encountered some resistance, which was expected because of time and lack of upkeep. The key began to squeal in protest as the door unlocked, ending with a loud 'click.' Withdrawing the key, I slide it slowly in between my shoestrings for safekeeping. Turning the knob, I could feel Duo's body shaking against my back. I inhaled deeply in an attempt to gather my courage, which was very, very shaky. Without another thought, I twisted the knob violently and forced the door open, letting it ram into the wall.

My breath stopped in my chest. The only thing that smelled like that was something that was dead.

Really, really dead.