A Murder of Crows: Epilogue
I woke up three days later in a hospital in downtown London. Duo was in the bed next to mine, being treated for bruised ribs and hypothermia. Both of us were also being treated for burns for the 'car accident' we were in.
When I came to, Duo was raising hell with the medical staff about something they were feeding him. And as if that wasn't enough, Wufei was threatening bodily harm to the doctors and nurses if they did not see to Duo, and if I didn't wake up soon. Heero leaned against the wall, faintly amused at the show between Duo and Wufei, and Trowa sat next to my bed, waiting for me to wake up. I never thought I would be so happy to see him. He sat cross-legged in his chair, eyes swallowing me whole. I felt myself blush under his intense gaze.
"Hey Quatre, I was worried man. Are you okay?" Duo's cheery voice rose my spirits even higher.
"Yeah," I coughed out.
"Where's a nurse? He's coughing." Wufei stuck his head out of the door. "Woman, your patient needs a cup of water, now!" And as Wufei commanded, a frightened nurse entered the room with water.
I quickly took the cup from her shaking hands to help myself, since it seemed that she would more than likely spill it all over me. "Thank you." I tried to smile to calm her down, but Wufei's intense gaze froze her to a shaking pile of goo. His gaze started to even scare me!
"Quatre, do you need anything?"
"No Wufei, I'm fine. Thank you."
He nodded in understanding, but apparently had his own objective. "Get him some food, and fresh clothing. Now!" And as before, the horrified nurse ran from my side and did exactly as she was told.
I felt sorry for the medical staff. This was happening and I just woke up? I didn't want to know what was going on while I was out. But since Duo was my roommate, I was sure I'd hear all about it.
London's libraries were fascinating. They were like a castle of books. Best yet, they had everything, dating back hundreds of years, and from all over.
Heero and I regrouped at a secluded table near a corner of the hall. We skipped class today, claiming to be sick so that we could do some research. I really wanted to bring Wufei because of his scholar studies, but he was gone for almost a week on a mission, and missing today would have been too much. Duo and Trowa had several missions themselves, and took on a few of my own to give me time to recover.
Besides, there was something that felt...incomplete about the whole situation. And Heero felt it too. So here we were, ditching school to find out what that 'something' was.
It's been a little over two months since Frankfurt, and those months have been idle for me. The same has been true of Heero. I didn't know what Dr. J was up to, but Heero was in such a lull with missions, that we've spent nearly every waking moment together. It was time well spent. We've joked, listened to music, had serious discussions, and played basketball. In a moment of confidence, he finally confessed that it was Trowa who asked him to watch over me, and he agreed. I kept chewing on that. Trowa asked Heero? Heero agreed? That was a huge favor to ask of someone you didn't know very well. Unless Heero understood more than he let on.
"Let me see that book," Heero demanded, which jarred me out of my thoughts. I handed over the journal that I 'borrowed with no intention of returning' from Dr. Corvidophilia's laboratory. It took a while, but I was able to translate the entire journal. Now we were trying to fill in the loopholes. Most of them were filled in when Krahe explained what had happened to his mother. But I wanted to know what the police decided happened to the father. If he was a well-known scientist, certainly his absence would have been noticed.
"Here." I looked over Heero's shoulder to see what he was pointing at. In one of the Genealogical Society's journals, it explained the disappearance of the doctor as a kidnapping. A homeless man was accused of the crime, and put to death. No body was recovered. Ch'. No kidding. Anyway, the son lived alone another year before he...drowned himself in a nearby pond. His body and the mother's were buried underneath the only tree on the plot.
I think I'm going to be sick.
"Quatre, you okay?" Heero's face betrayed the lack of worry in his voice.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little bit...winded." A pathetic lie, but he understood.
"I think we know all that we need to."
"Right." Putting on our coats, Heero and I walked out into the chilly air. Spring was still a few weeks away, but the weather now was nothing compared to Germany. Brrr! I got cold just thinking about it. Anyway, since we were downtown, and our school was out in the country, it would be nightfall by the time we got back. But that was fine. I was not in the mood to be seen.
Heero and I were on the bus, maybe five minutes from where we could be dropped off on campus. I sat next to the window, watching the trees and people as they went on with their lives, almost oblivious to the war going on.
My thinking came to a screeching halt when I remembered the final entry in the journal. 'Wait, there is someone at the door.' Huh. He should have written, 'Wait for eternity, as I go to my death.' He was ready to reconcile his mistakes to his son, but then he was killed. How tragic.
That made me wonder about Trowa. What if I waited too long to tell him how I felt, and I lose him before anything could happen? Hell, even if anything didn't come of it, at least he'd know somebody loved him.
Worse yet, that homeless man. He was innocent. How I wish I could erase him from my mind.
"What are you thinking about?" Heero interrupted my mental kicking.
"How much I love Trowa." It slipped out before I realized what I was saying. Oh Allah, I admitted my love for Trowa to Heero. I knew we were becoming better friends, but there were some things a guy has to keep to himself! "What are you thinking about?" I asked, hoping--vainly--to distract him.
...Okay. I was NOT ready for that answer, but now my curiosity has been piqued. "Relena? What about Duo?"
"Duo?" He looked at me like I suggested sky diving lessons. Me and my big mouth. Okay, how was I going to fix this?!
"Yeah. Duo, he...he likes you, you know, and from that night, I know you like him too." Yeah, what was going on? That night he was ready to kill me for laying next to Duo, and now he was thinking about Relena? Don't get me wrong. I liked Relena. But she was very, how do you say, persistent. She didn't understand that Heero will kill her if she continued to get in his way.
"He likes me?" he asked, in surprise. I could see why Duo was frustrated with Heero's obliviousness.
"Yes. Very much so. You know, if you're nicer to him, it would really make his day. It's his and Wufei's turn to check the gundams tonight. When he gets back, tell him thank you or something."
"Hn..." I guess he was thinking about it. At least I have finally gotten him out of the three-word-limit stage. A 'hn' every now and then wasn't so bad.
"What about Relena?" I asked. I had to know. Good grief. I was turning into a busy-body like my sisters. At least I liked Trowa and no one else. I didn't have to choose between sexes.
"I like Relena. She is...I don't know." His smile was shy. "There's something about her that I'm drawn to. Relena is a very pretty girl. I especially like her eyes. But Duo, when he walks in the room, my breath stops. And his eyes..."
I'm telling you, Heero did this very comical expression. His eyes bugged out when he realized what he was saying. He gave me the Death Glare of all time, but all I could do was smile. "Follow your emotions, Heero."
He stopped glaring, and sighed in defeat. Heero: 3 million, Quatre: 1, and I was going to hold on to that one victory with a death grip.
"We're here," was all he said.
We got off the bus, and watched it slowly roar away. It was dark now, but orange streetlights illuminated the manmade path back to the dorms. We really weren't in a hurry as we made our way back. We took our time and enjoyed the quiet. Right now we were only two boys enjoying a walk. Not gundam pilots. Not students. Not killers. We just 'were.'
"You know Heero, you can always talk to me," I said, breaking the silence.
"I know," he finally said, mussing my hair.
I decided later on that night that I would tell Trowa about my feelings, but lost my nerve at the last minute. The day before, Wufei, Duo and I went to the market to buy some fruit, since the doctor stated that Duo and I weren't eating too well. Most of the money was spent on fruit. However, we came back with a large amount of Twinkies and Skittles. Anyway, I figured that if Duo and I weren't eating right, and we ate more than the other three combined, then they might be worse off than we were. So I bought fruit for everybody. And now Trowa was sitting at the desk doing homework, with his bangs covering that one eye, clad in loose jogging pants, with a strawberry in his mouth. A strawberry. In his mouth. I loved the taste of strawberries. I would love to taste Trowa's lips.
I have to leave. Now.
"What is it, Quatre?" he asked, mercifully removing the strawberry.
I have been planning on doing something to help me get over what happened in Frankfurt. Might as well do it now. "Just letting you know I'm...going for a walk. I should be back in half an hour."
"Would you like me to come with you?" Come with me? Huh, you have no idea...
"No, that's okay. I don't want to disturb anything you're doing." / Liar! /
"That's a long time to be walking by yourself, Quatre."
"I'll be okay. Just need some time to be alone, and reflect." He raised his eyebrow eloquently, but didn't say anything further.
I already had the journal with me. Duo left it in the coat pocket when we exchanged coats. I also had the sweatshirt that was torn and sewn back together. I loved that sweatshirt, but it smelled like Kra...him. It had the smell of cold, running water to it. Every time I wore it, I could feel his body in it, and I could taste his kisses. I wanted to get rid of it.
I smiled at him and walked out, firmly closing the door behind me. I really really really REALLY needed to take a cold shower, but first thing's first.
I was right outside of school grounds, near the teachers' parking lot, when I found an old garbage can. It was metal, rusty, and dented in from where people have kicked it. I dug out the bottle of rubbing alcohol, and poured a little bit on top of the trash. Since most of the trash was paper, I didn't add too much. Shoving that back in my pocket, I took out the beat up box of matches from my sock, and lit the last one. Almost negligently, I tossed the box in, which was closely followed by the match.
The flame puffed and grew, glowing a bright orange, and shooting little sparks up into the night. Listening to the crackling of the fire, I shuddered slightly at the memory of being in that room. I could still feel the flame flowing from my feet, and the feel of my flesh burning...
"Huh, wha-?" Wufei was holding both of my shoulders, shaking me. I grabbed his elbows, and waited for him to stop rattling my brain around my head.
"I said 'Are you all right?' " He punctuated this with another shake. "I kept calling your name, but you wouldn't answer. What the hell were you doing?" Yep. Things were getting back to normal--well--as normal as things were for us, anyway.
"I'm sorry. My mind was somewhere else."
Yeah, pretty back to normal. But Wufei's duo was short a person. "Say, where's Duo? I thought you and him were supposed to check on the gundams."
"We did. But on the way back I told him if he didn't stop singing that damn 'Power Puff' song, or whatever those weaklings were called, that I'd tie him to the limb of a tree by his hair."
Uh huh. "Sooooo where's Duo?" My only answer was an evil smirk. Yep. Things were back to normal.
I shrugged my shoulders and returned my attention to the flame, which was now about as high as we were tall. My sweatshirt was draped over my arm, so I picked it up and held it over the fire. Wufei gaped as I held it there; the flame was licking my hand and wrist.
"Drop it." I did what I was told and released it, allowing it to be consumed by the fire. I looked up to see Duo standing in front of Wufei, his face distorted with anger.
"I know you're upset about what happened Quatre, but it's over. Don't go around hurting yourself, okay? If you want that, tell me and I'll kick your ass myself. Understand?"
I nodded. I did understand, and he was right. This time I took out the journal, and caressed its leather surface. I flipped it open to the first page, to read something like a prologue. "Wenn Männer Flügel und schwarze Federn hätten, so wären doch wenige klug genug, Krähen zu sein."
Duo's face lost its fierceness as he asked, "What the hell does that mean?"
"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."
"Right, sure. Okay! Now, what're you going to do with that?"
As soon as he said that, I tossed the journal in. I swore I heard the howling of the fire as the book burned, screaming at me in agony. The fire blazed madly for a moment, before it died down as the last of the pages turned to dust.
Lastly, I took out the key. I turned it round and round in my hands, admiring its complexity. If it wasn't so important, I'd have donated it to a museum or something. Instead, I was going to keep it in case I needed it again. And I had the feeling that I might.
All three of us stood there for a moment or two, and watched everything burn. I didn't know if they understood why I was doing what I was doing, but they didn't ask. As long as I would end up feeling better, they would support me. And I was feeling better. It was hard to describe. The act was a way to purge, I think, since I wasn't able to physically strike back.
After a short eternity, Wufei came between me and Duo and pulled us away from the fire. It was time to go back.
I walked ahead of the other two, since they were throwing snowballs. As I kicked up a clump of snow, a 'Caw!' got my attention. I froze where I stood, staring at the dozen of crows that were watching me. I could feel an ache in my chest. It did that sometimes, if I felt apprehensive. Because of whatever Krahe did to me, the doctors told me that I now had a heart condition, and gave me pills that I could take for it. So far, it was working well.
I tried to regulate my breathing so that I would calm down. Wufei came to my side and wrapped his arm around my waist. Duo came to my other side, and held my hand. "Come on Cat," he whispered in my ear. "They can't hurt you. We would never let them. Besides, a naked and lonely Trowa blow-up doll is at school waiting for ya."
I blushed. He knew how to get my attention.
I inhaled the ice cold air and took a deliberate step forward, followed by another and another, feeling safe with the love and the company of my best friends as they walked side by side with me through a murder of crows.
The phrase "If men bore black feathers..." was quoted by Henry Ward Beecher. He studied crows and other birds in the mid-1800s.