The Final Murder: Part 17
"It would be raining."
I said this to myself over and over again as I pressed my forehead against the window, with my palms flat against its cool surface. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Sometimes Earth had those amazing, knock-down-your-house type of storms, because, well, it was Earth! Nature was a law unto itself. With that in mind, it was safe to say that I was having a hard time grasping the storm right outside of my motel window.
It was only eight in the morning, but the traffic report from early this morning claimed that there had already been over five hundred accidents. Flooding had taken over all of the subways, low-water crossings, and highways. Those who did brave the weather, were stuck going thirty to forty miles an hour to avoid an accident (if they hadn't had one already), and the electricity was unreliable at best. We've been without lights or a radio for almost an hour. If I wasn't afraid of getting swept away, or run over by a car, I would've made the journey to the bank on foot.
"It would be raining."
Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Heero stretched out on the bed, with his hands pillowed behind his head, and one leg bent at the knee. His eyes were open, but I couldn't tell if he was thinking about something or counting the tiles on the ceiling. I didn't think he was counting the tiles though. There wasn't enough light for it. "Am I annoying you?"
He gave me a confused look. "No. Should you be annoying me?"
I sighed, and pressed my forehead back against the window. "No. It's just...I keep saying that, and it'll probably get annoying after a while."
"And if it does, I want you to tell me, not break my jaw. Okay?"
This time he chuckled. "I'll try."
I smiled. "Smartass."
"I learned from the best." I heard him move. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw that he rolled on to his side. "This is not normal."
"I know." I turned my attention back to the window. "No colony would allow rain to run this freely, and I can't see a system malfunction. There are too many safeguards in place."
"I know. I was trained around here." I heard him move again, and then the soft tread of his footsteps. Suddenly, he was in my peripheral vision, resting his forehead and hands against the window like I was. "You want to try on foot?"
I sighed through my nose. "I've thought about it, but I don't think it's a good idea. The bank is on the other side of town, so it would take us half a day, if not longer, to make it. That's not taking into account that we don't get swept away or hit by a car."
Heero turned around, putting his back against the window. "Well, we can't wait here all day. It'll mess up your timetable." He ran his hand through his hair. "Unless you don't care about it now."
"Odin, my timetable is already messed up," I said with a bit of a snip in my voice. "I wanted to be at the bank by eight, not just leaving at eight."
"I understand that," he said, completely unruffled by me. "But that's not possible anymore. So, do you care about the timetable or not?"
"No," I said dejectedly, waving my hand in the air as if the question was a moth flying around my head. "No, I don't care about it anymore." I looked at the wall of rain. "Hell. We'll get there when we get there. No point in drowning over this."
"That's right," he said, and pushed himself off of the window to crawl back into bed. I stood at the window for a while longer, willing the rain to end so that I could do what I came here to do, and leave. When that didn't work, I tried to use my cellphone to reserve different hotel rooms to keep up my cover story. When that didn't work, I gave everything up as a lost cause, shoved Heero over, and crawled into bed.
"It would be raining."
I woke up to the feel of Heero's arm around my shoulders, as if carelessly thrown over me in his sleep. That illusion was shattered when I opened my eyes and saw Heero's gun on the bed, right in front of my face. His hand was loosely curled around the handle, but his finger was in place to pull the trigger if need be. It was also loaded, and the safety was off. I tried to see what he was aiming for, but I couldn't make out anything in the room that was a threat. "Odin?"
"Wait one," he breathed.
And I did. Now that I was fully alert, I could tell that something had changed, but I didn't think it was something threatening. After listening for a few seconds, I heard a noise, but it was so faint that I couldn't tell if it was something in my head, or real. When it happened again and Heero stiffened, I realized that he heard it too. So we stayed still a moment longer, seeking out something in the semi-dark room that made a wet sopping sound--what? Wait.
I grabbed Heero's gun, thumbed the safety on, and sat up. Staring intently at the carpet, I found the source of the noise and sighed explosively. "Odin, look at the floor."
Still leery, he snatched his gun back from me and placed it on the nightstand. With a scowl thrown my way for good measure, he looked at the carpet. It took him a second, but his eyebrows shot up in understanding when he saw it. "Hey, it's darker! Don't tell me--"
"--the water's flooding the room." I looked at the bottom of the door. I could see a faint vibration under the wood. Running water. "I bet if we open the door, we'll get slapped in the face with a tsunami."
"Now this annoys me," Heero said, yanking our duffelbags off the floor and dumping them on the bed. Some water dripped from the bottom of the bags. "You saying the same thing over and over again, doesn't."
"Duly noted," I answered, trying to grab our shoes without getting off the bed. My arms weren't long enough, so I scooted as close to the edge as I could, and yanked my socks off to use my feet. It took a few tries, and some creative toe action, but eventually I got our shoes. "Ta dah!"
"I don't even want to know," he said with a shake of his head.
I gave him a shocked look. "Don't you pick up your socks with your toes?"
"Then you're the weird one." I looked around. "You know what? Not only does this annoy me, but it makes me feel dumb. Out of all of my contingency plans, I didn't think about rain as a factor."
"If it makes you feel better, neither did I." Heero was outright scowling now. I almost laughed.
Then I felt something...wrong. Just as my mind screamed 'danger!' I felt the bed jerk. I turned to Heero. He had grabbed his gun and was looking around the room frantically, trying to see everything at once. Whatever it was in the air that I felt, he most definitely felt it too. I thought about grabbing my Bowie, but decided against it. If whoever it was, was able to track me down to this motel, and fight his way through this weather to get to us, then I didn't think my knifing skills would be of great help to me.
While Heero was keeping his eyes peeled, I quickly shoved my feet into my shoes. I had a feeling that we were going to end up outside, despite how much I was against it. When I finished, I held the fort while Heero did the same. He then snatched my knife from under the pillow and tossed it, and the sheath, at me. I caught both, strapped the sheath around my ankle, and felt a million times better with the familiar weight in my hand. My knifing skills may not hold much hope, but the reassurance value was priceless.
Heero was standing on the bed, feet shoulder-width apart and eyes focused, with his gun trained on the door. I had jumped off the bed to cover the floor, knees bent at the ready, with the blade resting against my forearm to minimize the light reflecting off of it. If someone got past Heero's bullets, they weren't getting past me. I couldn't afford them to. Then he and I exhaled a long, slow breath, and waited.
We didn't have to wait long.
I didn't hear a thing, but suddenly Heero lunged to the side and jumped off the bed, to plow into me. Just as I caught him (and nearly stabbed him doing so), there was a thundering noise, and the window shattered into thousands of pieces. We landed hard against the wall; Heero buried his face into my shoulder for protection, as his arms held me down, and I held my arms up to shield his head and my face. Then I prayed that nothing sharp with a pointy edge speared its way through us.
I didn't feel any pain from an object piercing my being (thank Allah), but the force of the explosion was strong enough to stun us. My ears had a telltale ringing and there was the smell of something burnt and slightly sulfuric.
I opened my eyes and had the nerve to be surprised at what I saw. There was a big gaping hole where the door and window used to be, and a couple of live wires were sparking. The bed was broken in half, melted, and hosting a tiny fire near the headboard. Unconsciously, I held Heero tighter. The rest of the room I didn't bother to look at.
"Shit!" Heero swore, pulling away from me. He backed away unsteadily, massaging his ears with his palms. I started to do the same. I have never gotten used to the side effects of bomb blasts, and I never will. The tinnitis always drove me crazy. 
"That asshole!" Heero shouted, seeming, well, pissed. "This street is filled with businesses. There's gas pipes, electrical wires and crap everywhere! Who the hell would use a bomb here?!"
"Calm down!" I shouted. I tried to talk calmly but I found myself shouting. Great. If I was permanently hard of hearing because of this...boy oh boy. I was going to create a whole new definition for the word 'bastard.' "Think Odin, we gotta think!"
"We can't stay here!" Digging around in the debris and openly flooding room, Heero found what he was looking for. He held his gun up to the fading light, checking the chamber and other odds and ends. "Whoever is responsible for this is damn lucky this gun is waterproof." He shoved it into the waistband of his pants, and went scrounging around for who knew what. I tried not to laugh. Leave it to Heero to be pissed about his gun, rather than about a bomb thrown at him.
Well, he was right. We certainly couldn't stay here now. So I started shifting through the remains, and in a few seconds flat I found my Bowie. Apparently, I avoided stabbing Heero by dropping it. We spent another minute or two looking for bomb debris. There wasn't anything left. Then we spent another few minutes looking for whatever we could find that would hint at our identities. Because our duffelbags were on the bed at the time of the explosion, all of our personal affects, including fake identities and clothes, were destroyed. Crap. At least the room was rented under an alias and paid in cash. Unfortunately, the owner wasn't going to be too happy to find that 'Aquatic Rivers' was not a real person, nor has he ever been.
Where did Duo dig this stuff up? Aquatic Rivers?
"Shit!" Heero swore, again. "Whoever did this hid their tracks well."
"Is there anything left that can cause us problems later?"
"Not that I see."
I took a quick peek outside, then another. "The perp's not here anymore."
He gave me a considering look. "Do you think we can walk freely?"
I glanced around one more time. We didn't have much of a choice now. "Yes."
"Alright." He sighed dejectedly. "Let's go."
It took us some effort to get through the hole, believe it or not. The blast really threw our equilibrium off, which annoyed both of us. That didn't bode well, since the edges of the hole were sharp and slippery, but we managed. When we made it out, we moved like drunken men and smelled like burnt, wet dogs. The flood water was up to our knees, which made walking slow and hard, and the rain was still coming down as if it would never stop.
I knew right then and there that I wouldn't make it. I spent the last two weeks getting my butt kicked, and recovering from getting my butt kicked. And since my last beating was only thirty six hours ago, I wasn't feeling too optimistic. "That bomb was very crude," I said instead, pushing my fatigue away with this latest problem. "It didn't explode right. There was too much explosive and not enough control."
"I agree," Heero said. "Whoever tossed it was at close range. There wasn't a fuse, so it had to have exploded on impact." He paused. "I thought I saw someone, right before it happened. He just...appeared on the sidewalk. Like magic." He cocked his head in thought. "Then he threw the bomb." Heero got quiet as he mentally went through the entire scene. "No, I wouldn't be able to identify him. I only saw a blur of a person make a motion like he was throwing something, and then I jumped at you."
"Hn." I thought about that. "Do you think it was Krahe?"
"No," he said, frowning. "No, I don't think it was him at all. Whoever it was, was...chubby."
We walked in silence, but we kept our eyes peeled for any more signs of trouble, which now included bombs and people appearing out of thin air. It wasn't too long after that that Heero and I started to slow down. I knew that I was at the end of my rope, but I had no idea how tired Heero was. He wasn't talkative to begin with, but I noticed that his silence was weary, and his tread wasn't too steady either. He was hurt worse than I thought. "Odin?"
"I'm not hurt." He waved my next question away. "Seriously, I'm not. I just feel...worn out."
"Okay," I said, and let the subject drop.
We continued to walk. Although it didn't get easier, the rain began to calm down. It was still going strong, but the water wasn't rising any higher. Help was also arriving. We could hear sirens in the far, far distance, and helicopters were whizzing over our heads. Heero and I were surprised to see that some of the choppers had the Preventer logo on it. Cool!
"We could hail one of them," I said. "They could carry us to where we need to be."
"But that would blow our cover. Every Preventer knows who we are."
"In all honesty Odin, I don't care. I just want out of these clothes," I showed my point by wringing my shirt, and watching the water stream out, "and out of this water. If it means blowing my already shot-to-hell mission, then so be it." He laughed. "Besides," I began, frowning. "Someone has to take responsibility for that bomb. We can have Duo spread the word that it was an attempt to hurt me, possibly assassinate me. While he does that, we can use Une's resources to find the truth."
He nodded, then smirked. "Always the tactician, aren't you?"
I snorted. "One of us has to be."
He smiled. "Smartass."
"I learned from the best."
With some help, I managed to get on top of a car. It took a couple of tries, and some swearing, but Heero finally made it on top too. Then, we waited patiently as a few helicopters overhead completely missed my frantic waving and yelling. When the thirtieth or so chopper passed us by, I was starting to think that this was hopeless. That was, until Heero pulled out his gun and took a couple of shots at them. I was horrified, but Heero was right. It did get their attention.
Before we knew it, a Preventer rescue chopper was five yards above our heads, and a rope was being lowered to us. We had a hard time getting ourselves strapped in though; the wind generated from the helicopter did a great job of flinging water into our eyes, and it made our fingers nice and slippery. My hair flying everywhere didn't help the situation, and Heero had no problem telling me as much. Yay. What fun.
In the end, Heero strapped himself in (since I claimed he was heavier, which he was), and I held onto him, while he held onto me. Yes, it would've made more sense if he went and then I went, but he was adamant about both of us going at the same time. When the argument over this stretched out to ten minutes, I realized that if I had just gone with it in the first place, both of us would've been on dry ground by now.
At first, everything was going just fine. Sure, we were being raised a lot slower than what I would have liked, but I knew that the Preventers on board recognized us, and weren't going to take any chances with our welfare. I thought that was funny, since the only thing holding me on were my bare hands on Heero's harness.
Suddenly, the chopper swayed and I heard something explode. I held on as tightly as possible as I was thrown about, and Heero's grip around my wrists was brutal. I knew something unexpected happened (if the commotion from the chopper was any indication), but I couldn't see much because of the dark skies and the rain. Neither could Heero. That didn't stop him from barking orders though.
"What the shit is going on?!" he demanded.
Crap, we were rising too fast! "Odin!" I shrieked when I nearly lost my grip. "I told you this was a crap idea!"
"Quiet Quatre!" he shouted at me. "Say again?!"
I remained quiet as whoever shouted something to Heero. I couldn't hear what was said, but we swayed again, and started to fly backwards at an alarming rate.
"Shit!" He looked down to face me. "Someone has a handheld missile launcher, and is shooting at us!"
"I heard what you said!" I started to struggle. "Odin, let me go!" Like hell I was going to keep hanging onto this thing when someone was bloody shooting at us!
"Quatre, where do you think you can go?!"
I looked down. Down looked, very, very far away. "AH! Odin, don't let me go!"
He growled. "That did it! You are now a bigger pain in the ass than Duo!"
Despite the bad situation, I laughed.
The sound of something shrieking broke through my laughter, and Heero and I turned towards the sound to see something flying at us. A missile. AH! The pilot had the impossible job of not only flying out of the way, but trying not to lose the idiot hanging on. (In other words, me). In the end, one of the rotors was nicked by the missile, but thankfully it didn't explode. However, the chopper was now spinning out of control. Heero and I were swinging wildly...shiiiiiiiiiit!
"Quatre!" Heero screamed, and I suddenly felt emptiness in my hands.
I had been thrown off.
 tinnitis = ringing in the ears.