Warnings for this chapter: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Slight Quatre
mental torture maybe?
If you really have moved into the gutter (damn, the place is getting crowded), small 3+4. Just a little micro bit.
Notes: I kinda borrowed a line from Shinigami no Kamikaze (author ID 23706 on FanFiction.net) … it will be the one with the (*). Go read her 'Duoesque translated in English' and 'Handy Heero dictionary on tape'! That's a command! Shoo!! 'Tis goooood funnyficcie, children. (well, err, mebbe you can wait after having read this before you go ^.^;)
(Twelve days after the introduction)
The cobalt-eyed Gundam pilot got off the bike he had borrowed the day before and pushed it toward the garage's doors, grimacing at the strain the effort put on his still partially damaged muscles.
Yuy tested his shoulder's condition a last time with a series of careful rotations then snorted, annoyed at its lack of cooperation. He knocked the pre-established code on the door and waited, though not for long. A racket worthy of an elephant running amok in a porcelain shop announced that the braided baka had heard and was preparing to open the door. Cautiously, he stepped back.
Which was all the better for him. Duo Maxwell sprung out of the house like a devil out of its box, grinning from ear to ear. The door missed Heero by a few centimeters.
"Hee-man!!! You late or am I dreaming?" he exclaimed, a malicious glimmer in his violet-tinted blue eyes.
"Hn." was Heero’s only response.
He was annoyed to be caught being less than perfect…and by him above all. So what, he was two minutes late …wasn't his fault if his shoulder gave him a hard time.
As Heero didn't seem inclined to do so by himself, Duo caught his fellow pilot by the arm and dragged him inside the house, taking him by surprise.
Duo had often annoyed the Wing pilot enough for the other boy to get angry, but for what he had done, he didn't expect such a violent reaction. Before he could understand what was happening, he heard a slam. He saw Heero getting paler and clutching his arm with his other hand. Unwilling to believe it, Duo raised slowly his own hand toward his own cheek, already covered by an angry-red hand-shape which was bound to show even the digital imprints, if one looked close enough.
"Baka!!!" the brown-haired pilot hissed at him. His voice however wasn't carrying as much real annoyance as… as an attempt to conceal his pain? But… But even if he had had his leg completely severed, his expression wouldn't have changed … Duo knew it all well, he had been there when the other had set his own leg!
Damp red spots were appearing and growing on the T-shirt's sleeve. Quatre, who had been smiling cheerfully at Heero from the living room, jumped out of his seat, his expression changing to concern.
"Heero! You're hurt?!" Quatre exclaimed while moving forward, worried.
Trowa and Wufei sat up straight and stared at him. The Japanese pilot shrugged with the shoulder that didn't hurt to get them to understand all the insignificance of the problem.
"Nothing serious," he let slip against his will when he understood that Quatre would just NOT let him off the hook before being reassured that he was all right.
"Yeah, my arm's been blown off, but it's only a flesh wound (*)," Duo snickered in his corner, still nursing his cheek.
"You're sure, Heero?"
Crap, Quatre was annoying, a real mother hen! If there had been a problem, he would have said so, right?
Okay, maybe not.
Heero realized that he was losing his grip on his feelings; he berated himself. He wasn't supposed to have these sort of reactions. Feelings were weaknesses; to show you had them was giving away an opening and advantage to your enemies. In front of Quatre, it wasn't so serious, they were allies, but he couldn't let his training go to waste just for that excuse, it had cost him too much already.
"OZ?" Trowa wondered aloud, his visible eyebrow twitching faintly.
"Not even that. An animal in the woods." Heero admitted, looking as annoyed as he could. Which wasn't that much, if you didn't know him enough… but the pilots did know him enough to be wary of his visibly pissed-off self.
Heero put down his backpack and sat down on an armrest to look at the bandage wrapped around his shoulder. Since blood splotches were visible, it was safe to say that Duo had reopened the wound.
"Oops, I'm sorry," DeathScythe's pilot murmured, looking sheepish. "Didn't know …"
Heero glanced blankly at him, then turned his attention to his shoulder again. Bah! The wound was at such an inconvenient place that he himself had reopened it thrice already, even when being careful. And with a bully like Duo, he had it coming.
"An animal?" Wufei frowned, skeptical.
'For a simple animal, to succeed in hurting the terrible terrorist Heero Yuy… An infuriated grizzly maybe?' he thought with a hint of the beginning of a smile on his lips.
"A wolf, sort of."
Trowa shook his head, still staring at Heero.
"There haven't been any wild wolves for centuries now. It's a nearly extinct species."
"I know", Heero answered. "It could have escaped from somewhere."
"You said 'sort of'?" inquired Duo, who knew better than anyone that his teammate seldom uttered one word more than what was strictly necessary.
"Too big and too long, with too sharp claws, too…thick for a normal wolf. It was more than a meter high at the shoulder, and three long from the muzzle to the end of the tail. A hundred and fifty pounds at least. Muscle-laden …"
Heero raised his head and glanced at his teammates.
"…And way too smart."
"What do you mean by that?"
"It was doing crosswords? It asked you a physics question you couldn't answer? It would be an enormous hint of extraterrestrial civilization…"
Heero struck the braided idiot with his famous Death-Giving-Glare™ before returning to more serious matters.
"It knew what a gun was."
"You asked him?"
"Ok, ok, I’ll shut up…but I have a right to ask, right? … Yeah, ‘cause if I didn't ask all the time, you'd never say a thing! And …"
The American boy jumped back when the Japanese's hand rose slowly toward his gun, and went to stand on the side of his hurt arm, hoping that his reflexes would be less dangerous on this side. Heero got back to the subject.
"It was deliberately putting itself out of the bullet's path. And it dodged by rolling onto its side."
Trowa straightened on the arm of the couch he had perched on and stared at the ceiling, thoughtful. As the animals specialist amongst them, or rather the only one who had any kind of knowledge about the subject, he knew that Heero was asking for his opinion, not that of the others.
"You need extensive training to make a canine act like that … And from its physical characteristics…"
"I was thinking along the lines of a new breed of attack dogs. Modified genetically, or maybe just by selection."
"Mmm…" Quatre mumbled. "Yes, that's plausible. The question is, why did it attack you? I only see two solutions: it was ordered to, or it decided by itself. If someone ordered it to… Well, either it was a general measure, or you were specifically targeted. We'll have to research this lead, even only for precaution."
"What do you mean, ‘that it decided by itself.’? It was only an animal, why would it have decided it couldn't stand Heero? Isn't as if it had had to stand him…"
Heero wondered a second if he was dreaming. DUO found that HE was hard to stand?! When did he pass through the looking glass into the fourth dimension?
"When a dog is trained to kill," Trowa answered, "It has difficulty losing the habit. If someone taught it to attack people, it only followed what its conditioning ordered it to."
It was a logical conclusion… So why was he under the impression that something didn't fit?
"Well, I'll require an investigation on this matter. For the moment, your bedroom is at the far end of the corridor, you should go put down your stuff, Heero."
As he was getting up to follow the advice, Quatre offered to do his bandage anew. He accepted with a shrug. It was more practical than redoing it himself.
And since they would not let him alone as long as his bandages weren't changed, he preferred not to let Duo propose himself as a helper. He was dangerous with scissors and a bottle of Mercurochrome in hand.
* * *
As soon as the young golden-haired Arab let him alone, Heero let himself fall on his back on the bed. The trip had tired him out more than he would have believed. His illness resistance was rather lower than normal. His antibodies too, he added after a series of especially resilient sneezes. Perhaps he was ill…
He closed his eyes and tried to relax.
Like every time he closed his eyes since the attack last week, he was immediately stared at by two nearly fluorescent green eyes, floating in a black fur so thick and long it nearly made it a mane. The wolf's coat was so dense, and yet it didn't hide in the least the steel, rope-like muscles that ran all over its body …
He played the attack another time in slow motion in his head. There wasn’t a sound to warn him of the incoming attack, not a rustling of leaves, nothing at all. It was easy to believe that the wolf didn't have any solidity before materializing at his back, like a ghost.
And that burning glare, like an emerald flame…
And the crimson blood on its white fangs gleaming with saliva … his blood…
He remembered the sudden emptiness appearing in the beast's eyes when he pushed the trigger. The vindictive flame slowly becoming a spark, then a dying gleam… Hypnotized, he only thought about freeing himself when all living glimmers had disappeared in the emerald irises.
The black body seemed even more impressive spread out on the ground with all its length than it had seemed when it was crouching to jump on him. The dark fur was darkening so much more against the blood and bits of skull and gore on the grass.
Heero fixed this picture in his head to better look at it inch by inch. He felt he was on the verge of putting his finger on the little something that was bothering him so much …
"Hey, Hee-man! We're eating, you comin'?" Duo exclaimed while barging into his room.
"Not hungry", Heero groaned, turning on his belly not to see him.
K'so, this idiot had interrupted his train of thoughts just when he was…
Duo caught the end of his braid and tickled his palm pensively. Normally, the messy-haired pilot didn't care if he was hungry or not, he ate by habit, to keep his body at top performance. Heero could swallow anything, as long as it was digestible, without ever being interested in the taste. The braided pilot would never have believed that he could let his moods be of influence on his behavior …
To be truthful, he wouldn't have believed that, besides the homicidal mood, he did have moods … May as well be talking about an iceberg have emotions.
"Heero, come on, we ordered four pizzas, we'll never finish them if you don't eat your part…"
He put a hand on his shoulder, carefully choosing the one that wasn't hurt. But he got pushed back all the same. A resounding slap repelled his hand, violently.
/MY personal space! MY room! MINE!/
"Get_ out_ of_ my_ room," the Asian teenager stressed with a worrying interval between each word. "Fast."
"But, Heero…" Duo protested feebly while rubbing his hand, taken by surprise by the intensity of the normally so cold voice.
"This is MY room and I don't want you in it, OK?! Get out!"
Duo gave up. Heero was already dangerous enough to toy with in normal times, but when he was so ticked off and unbalanced, even if Duo hadn't done anything yet … Wasn't worth the hospital bill.
"OK, man", he answered grumpily, "When you're in a better mood, you warn us...We'll have to tell the media."
He heard a growl, and hurried toward the door, without looking back.
* * *
Duo rejoined his friends, sighing. What had crawled up his spandex to unnerve him like that, when he was normally so controlled and cold? Duo had firmly believed that only a mission failure could provoke this kind of response in the soldier… and now he went and changed everything, just because he felt like it. It was not funny; Duo hadn't even begun to annoy him...
"Isn't Heero coming?" Quatre asked, troubled.
"Naah, says he's not hungry... Dunno what pissed him off..."
"Maybe he 's just fed up with you, Maxwell", Wufei answered coldly while crossing his arms on his chest in a defensive posture.
"But I hadn't done anything to him yet! I swear, I hadn't even started to annoy him…"
"Must have decided he didn't want to let you get started..."
Duo grimaced, then his expression changed to a more normal smirk.
"I believe I'll have to content myself with your company, my dear Wu-man..."
The darker than normal glare he received from the Chinese boy nearly consoled him fully of not being able to test his survival reflexes with Heero.
After that, the evening took place rather normally. It was not as if the Japanese participated that much in their social life, after all.
* * *
Quatre Raberba Winner had nightmares rather often, given his most abnormal life for a teenager, the battle's incertitude, his family problems with his father, his habit of worrying over everybody, and above all his gift, a kind of empathy, his 'Uchuu no Kokoro'.
But nightmares like that, rarely.
If it were a regular occurrence, he would have lost his mental sanity to it long ago.
'He was in a wood, and it was dark, so dark… A thick mist darkened everything, muddled his marks up. He felt as if he was watched from all sides. But he didn't know who, how many and from where…
The woods seemed infinite, inextricable, the few paths ended in the middle of nowhere after having taken turns left and right illogically …The path should have crossed itself once or twice already, but nothing.
But the worst wasn't this feeling of total disorientation, like if he had entered a world entirely illogical where he didn't know the rules; nor was it the physical sensations, the Siberian cold, the branches that shingled him, nor these presence who didn't reveal themselves; it was the atmosphere. What emanated from this wood, from the beings in the wood.
Hunger, anger, hate … Enjoyment, looking at him advancing, tripping on the roots, caught in the branches that seemed to want to keep him… So much enjoyment…The thrill of the stalk. And a primal, animal cruelty …
These were the feelings of a predator hunting. And the revelation came like a ton of bricks…
The prey was no one other than himself.
He never saw his hunter, only the gleaming circles of his cold irises in the depths of the woods. But he heard it behind him. He knew it was doing it on purpose. To play a little before the kill.
He ran for hours, praying and begging the being who followed him to spare him, but he knew it didn't listen, maybe even didn't understand, and it was slowly getting closer, amused by his futile attempts.
Finally, he got himself blocked. Before him, a dark, bottomless lake. And the dream-Quatre didn't know how to swim; or couldn't, scared by what was lurking under the cold surface of the water. There was ice on the lake, but it was too thin for him to walk on it, and too cutting. Nowhere to run anymore …
He turned around, trying to see his assailant…
His shoulder was caught in the beast's jaws and it was shaking him left and right and he was going to die, he could feel the jaws tearing up his shoulder, and he screamed, he couldn't do anything else
and woke up with a jolt, and there was a hand on his shoulder shaking him and he was still screaming.
As soon as he realized that it had just been a nightmare, he shut up, a hand on his mouth, and turned toward the one who had awoken him.
Trowa was sitting on the edge of his bed and stared at him in silence, looking worried.
"Daijobu ka, chibi boku?" he asked in a low voice, strangely more at ease using Japanese to ask the question.
Yet, Trowa wasn't Japanese, but some of the mercenaries who had raised him were and he found easier to ask this kind of questions in this language. Somehow it seemed less personal than asking in the language they normally used between them.
"Yes, I'm feeling better, thanks Trowa," the blond-haired Arab answered. "It was just a strange nightmare … You know, the kind where something is chasing you and you don't seem to be able to run fast enough …"
Trowa nodded once, briefly. He knew intimately this sort of dreams.
"I didn't cry out too loud? I don't want to wake up the others…" Quatre worried.
"No. I was awake before that, that's all."
"Oh…sorry to bother you. I'm better now. Thank you, Trowa…"
After a fast inspection from head to toes, Trowa was convinced that his friend was well enough, and left the room. Quatre fell back on his bed and threw a forearm across his eyes.
"… Better… except that I’m not planning on returning to sleep anytime soon …Allah, what an intensity…"