Warnings for this chapter: Hmmm…. violence, Heero having an attack of claustrophobia and furriness.
Thank you Jordan for reviewing each of my chapters since the first #^________^# It means a lot to me to know that someone follows this story so regularly.
Their three comrades were immensely surprised to see them arrive to the safehouse. When the mission had been aborted, they had thought they had been captured or even shot down; the fact that they hadn't reappeared this same night had only confirmed this guess. They had been ready to leave, their security compromised, when the two missing had arrived… Well, when Heero had arrived. Carrying on his back a remarkably silent American. Yuy chalked it up to his head trauma, but somewhere, something didn't feel right for the group's empath. Duo was pensive… and didn't stop a second glancing worriedly at Heero when he thought nobody was looking.
As for Heero himself, he had disappeared in Wing 's hangar as soon as Quatre had been reassured about his status. He seemed like always, cold and uninterested in anyone.
But his Uchuu no kokoro screamed at the empath the boy's unease, his internal storm.
* * * * * *
Heero finished screwing in the plate on his Gundam's leg and straightened out to stretch a little. The light reflecting on the white Gundam was hurting his eyes. He wasn't used to being out in broad daylight anymore… but after the adrenaline rush he had received yesterday and what had happened…
He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the cold metal.
The worse hadn't been the loss of control, the blind rage. It hadn't been the pain of the transformation, even if he had rarely felt a pain as strong, apart from his self-destruction. It hadn't been all these sensations, worse than before, the sounds, the smells, so invading he forgot who he was and let himself go…
The worse was that he had liked it. He had liked being a wolf. He had loved, to let his problems behind, to let himself be guided by the animal in him…
And he couldn't even pretend that it wasn't his fault, that he had been influenced by an external force. Because he felt all too well that, in deep, the Wolf and him were the same person, they shared the same soul, despite all the Soldier's efforts to convince him that the beast was only a stranger, an intruder, an invader.
He was becoming the Wolf … more and more… And strangely, even if he always had been sure that to lose one's humanity had to be truly terrifying … what was scaring him the most, was that precisely, he wasn't so afraid. He had been more afraid at the beginning of his training to become a soldier. He was finding it… easy. Nearly normal. Like a development which had always been here as a potential and had only awaited an occasion, the opening of a door he had thought sealed forever, to get out in the open.
'Becoming less human? I never felt as many emotions as since I've been bitten', he admitted to himself.
It was as if he was feeling more like he should have, as if Heero-the-Wolf slowly forced Heero-the-Soldier to step back, freeing Heero-the-Boy himself… as if he was becoming a little bit more like himself, and not a little bit less.
But he still had problems with the wild side of the Wolf. He could only hope that once accustomed, he would be able to bring it under control … Wolf or Soldier, he could not stand to lose control.
But the instincts were still too strong for him to master them… and now, the Wolf didn't hide anymore amongst the shadows in his mind; he advanced in the daylight, defying the Soldier.
Heero had searched on his laptop all night long, anything at all able to help him about his strange predicament. He had found it. Under the fantastic and mythological label.
Werewolf. A legend.
He growled. A legend, yeah right. He'd have liked that one of those pompous researchers equating the legend of werewolves and sexual frustration in an extremely modest era go and ask him about his views on the questions under a full moon…
Bah! It was no use to get angry at those researchers, its status of legend made it obvious that it was a very well-kept secret. As if the Net could give him a guide to furriness anyway… One not obviously written for RPG addicts, that is.
What did he have to do, now that Duo knew? Did he have to warn them all? It would be the most intelligent way to avoid possible problems …But would they believe him? He knew that they would hear him out … Now, if Duo told them he was a werewolf, he knew they wouldn't believe him. Would they believe Heero? Even without any proof?
Did he really want to tell them anyway? He didn't know… He didn't know what was happening and he didn't know how it would evolve, and he couldn't stand to show his weaknesses. So, what should he do?
… Now that Duo knew, maybe he could ask him for advice …? Perhaps he would have ideas…
… Perhaps he would be too afraid of him to speak to him. He hadn't said a word to him since he had awakened on his back this morning. Perhaps he would refuse to talk with him, and even to stay alone with him? Perhaps he was ready to go and tell all he had seen to the other pilots behind his back to warn them against the monstrous beast the Wing's pilot was now, so as they could get rid of him?… Who knew … Perhaps in this same moment he was sure that Heero planned carefully a way to make him disappear without being suspected…
Growling furiously from deep in his throat, Heero crushed his fist against the Gundamium plate. The pain rose toward his shoulder, preventing him from thinking about anything else. Distractedly, he wondered if he had broken his fingers. It was a welcomed respite against his ascending spiral of paranoia.
Duo wouldn't betray him. He knew it. He hoped …
He opened his eyes, slowly, and looked at his Gundam.
The pilot's arm ended in a clawed, too hairy hand.
* * * * * *
When it was noon, Heero only forced himself to rejoin the other because Quatre had seemed to be worrying when he called him for the meal. He didn't want to have the empath on his back on top of everything else; he had enough to worry about already.
He ate in silence, occasionally pausing to glance at the window, watching the trees outside slowly dancing in the breeze. He wanted out. He wanted to run. The Wolf didn't like to be locked away in this too small and too lightened room, he wanted the loneliness and the silence and the space of the under-growth.
The odors coming from the other pilots were… disturbing. Not in a bad way, just too intriguing to ignore. His sense of smell had already experienced a serious boost before he even shifted for the first time, but now, it was ten, twenty times worse. The smell of powder and metal of his gun and the smell of the meat were melting in a strange way. It should have repulsed him; it was just… fascinating.
The body scent of his comrades didn't disgust him as much as he would have believed, far from it… He stopped eating and closed his eyes, tried to identify an unexpected fragrance on Quatre. He needed a long time before finding out what it was, and then the mental picture just popped in his mind. Warm sand. Interesting.
Wufei smelled of metal too, leather from his Gundam's seat and the steel of his sword… and incense, and old books, dust and paper and faded ink; rather unexpected.
Trowa… Trowa wore scents that made him want to growl in menace, scents of big cats. He remembered the lions at the circus when he stayed there after his self-destruction and frowned, lost in thoughts.
Duo smelled of peach shampoo and strawberry toothpaste. Fruity, yum. And something else, something more complex, his Gundam mixed with the forest in a strange way.
And those were only the scents that weren't from the pilots themselves, but rather the ones that had picked up along their journeys. Their own body scents were even more fascinating, even if he didn't have words to explain the differences. But he was learning things about them all, things that didn't quite have a name, but made so much sense anyway. Trowa smelled like calm, Quatre evoked the same kind of answer a hyperactive puppy would, amusement/annoyance and protectiveness. Wufei's was the more aggressive of all, challenging. Duo's the most intriguing, he wondered why.
Totally lost in his sense of smell, he didn't notice at all the worried glances the others were exchanging over their plate. But when the change in their scent arrived to him, speaking of unease, of suspicion, he started and hauled himself out of his trance. He stared at them, caught the glances they traded, then began to eat again without saying anything, praying for not being asked what he was thinking so deeply about.
* * *
Duo squirmed on his chair, ill at ease, and shrugged in a way he hoped would mean for Quatre something along the lines of "Hey, I don't have the slightest idea!". But even if he didn't know what Heero was thinking about precisely, they knew, and he knew that they knew, that he had a slightly better idea about what his problem was than them.
A much better idea, in fact.
He still didn't know what to do; to confront Heero? To ask for help from Quatre? Damnit…
"Finished eating!! Who's cleaning the dishes?"
"I believe it's your turn, Maxwell" Shenlong's pilot stiffly informed him, turning his attention away from Yuy's unusual behavior and from the strangely heavy atmosphere of the kitchen.
"Oh, crap… Quatre, would you help me?" he added, turning the full force of his best puppy eyes on the Arab.
Quatre smiled at him and nodded. He didn't know that well how to wash the dishes, what with his fortune and the housemaids he had always had, but he didn't balk at the idea of learning. It couldn't hurt him after all… and he didn't want to dig a trench between himself and his comrades by bringing attention to his upbringing. Furthermore, doing the dishes alone was a chore, but doing it with a friend was more of a game. Duo would do them with him when it was his turn, it was a good trade.
The three other pilots left the kitchen after Trowa helped Quatre to gather the plates, and they directed themselves toward the living room. Heero would rather have got out again, but he didn't have any good enough excuse to justify his disappearance; and the doctors had nearly drowned them with their emails about trying to socialize together sometimes if they wanted to make a team out of themselves. The boy could have lied, but he couldn't come up with a valuable excuse and was under the impression that they wouldn't have believed it anyway.
He stalked to the window and opened it wide, tried to drown the feeling of being locked away overwhelming him nearly as much as the smells in the room. He wanted to jump out and run away in the woods.
But he couldn't.
He couldn't because he had to stay here and he had to stay in this room, in this
/falling in a trap
the walls closing in/
Heero blinked and stared at nothing, slightly wide-eyed. The walls seemed nearer somehow and he recognized with surprise the telltales signs of a claustrophobia attack.
/swallowed by the Earth and air leaking out can't breathe can't breathe can't move either I want out I want out I WANT OUT/
He had had an attack once before, during one of the numerous exercises Doctor J had made him undergo. A cockpit emergency exercise, he remembered. They had simulated a fall in the ocean leading on a drastic loss of energy and a total failure of the motors, including the one opening the door, complete with dramatic leak of air reserves. He had realized that it was an important test and if he didn't get out of there alone, J would let him die there, exercise be damned. He had panicked.
Finally, J had saved him anyway, having invested too much on his training already to lose time finding him a suitable replacement… And he had been harshly trained not to react like that ever again. His claustrophobia had finally disappeared.
…He was realizing suddenly that it hadn't disappeared at all; it was the Soldier who was maintaining it at bay. The Soldier who was losing ground against the Wolf each day a little bit more. And the Wolf was even more scared by closed spaces than the human boy in the middle.
/I want out I want out I want out I want out I want out /
* * *
"Mm?" muttered Duo between two measures of the song he was humming.
Quatre grabbed the plate he was holding out for him and began to dry it.
"Do you have any idea on what's happening to Heero? He's acting stranger and stranger… And I feel such intriguing feelings coming from him…"
"Feelings? from Heero? It has to be a first for you, no?" the American joked.
"Well, of this kind, yes, a little bit… But do you know something, anything at all?" insisted the little Arab.
Duo sighed. Quatre knew him too well. He knew that he didn't lie, but that he was a master at dodging what he wanted to leave unsaid without wandering too far from the truth.
"You have an idea", Sandrock's pilot affirmed, now certain of his gamble.
Duo didn't answer. But his silence in itself was an answer.
"You can't tell me? Heero forbid you?"
"Not explicitly… but I don't have the right to talk about anything before he decides to do it himself. Sorry. I had so many problems earning even a little bit of trust from him, I can't just waste it now. "
"That's not so bad …" reassured Quatre. "I understand your situation. As long as one of us at least knows what is happening with him and is able to help if he needs it … He told you about it?"
"I… stumbled upon it by chance ", Duo admitted.
"He wasn't angry with you for discovering his secret? "
The American's foam-covered hands stayed suspended above the sink for some time.
"… Now that I think of that, no… He seemed resigned to accept the facts. Fatalist."
They continued to rinse the glasses in silence. Quatre was thinking hard to find things to ask that wouldn't compromise the American's sense of honor.
Till the moment when the vague feeling acting as a background noise in his Uchu no kokoro came violently into focus. The glass slid from his nerveless fingers.
"Quatre?" whispered Deathscythe's pilot.
Duo tried to dry his hands to be able to touch the boy without covering him in foam, but Quatre didn't wait for him. He had spun around and was rushing to the living room.
* * *
Heero walked away from the window and sat on the arm of the leather couch, facing the TV. He needed to relax. To let the nervousness wash away. But, no such luck yet.
He glanced at Trowa, who was sprawled out on the couch with a boneless grace and acting as if he really was interested in the program for brainless people playing at the moment. Wufei was sitting in an armchair in a corner, still as stiff and tense as if he was on a stool and could fall over. This guy didn't know how to relax … even worse than him.
Pilot 01 closed his eyes for a few seconds, trying to calm down the storm raging in his mind. He glanced at his clenched fists then at the door, calculating how much time he would need to get to it if he needed to leave in a hurry. If he dodged all the furniture, and jumped over the table… four seconds point five. Correct. But he would have all the house to cross after that. Well, the window was closer, two seconds no more. A jump over the couch and he would only need to leap from the edge to land in the courtyard and run like the wind to the woods.
Wufei suddenly got up and went to close the window. Yuy tensed abruptly, and lost the little ground he had gained on the claustrophobia. His blue eyes fixed themselves on the Shenlong's pilots nape. He was pulling the curtains, cutting Heero off from the light outside and the green of the trees in the background.
"Leave the window open", he asked in an even harsher voice than he had intended to.
Wufei arched a slim black eyebrow and threw him an indecipherable glance. His scent indicated annoyance.
"It's cold outside, Yuy. I do not want to catch a cold ", he added while sitting back on his chair.
"Sit elsewhere then ", answered back Heero, jumping off his seat and stalking to the window to open it again in a wide movement . "I don't feel a thing".
"Normal. You're not human", answered Wufei, reaching out to push the window back.
The Soldier snorted, annoyed. The Boy tensed up, vaguely hurt. The Wolf growled.
Passing near Heero to force him to step back, Shenlong's pilot closed the window once again. This time, he leaned on it and glared at the other boy, calmly challenging him.
/I can't get out prisoner he keeps me prisoner he wants to prevent me from going out the walls are closing in on me he wants to keep me prisoner/
"Yuy?" Wufei stared at him, surprised by his silence and his empty expression. He frowned faintly and gestured at him with one hand. "Return to your seat, this window stays closed."
/he's challenging me/
Heero stalked toward him, menacing. The animal's furor, which he had tried to keep bottled up inside, spilled out, and this time he greeted it with open arms.
"Move away, Wufei", he growled in a low and raucous voice.
The Chinese pilot tensed, recognizing the cold threat and ultimatum in his stance. What was happening? Just for a dumb window… Yuy was easy to piss off, true, but to this extent?
For a second he thought he was hallucinating, before knowing that he was not.
Under his dark bangs, the Japanese's blue eyes glowed with an abnormal light. Truly glowed. Reflecting light in a way human eyes were not made for.
* * *
Trowa decided he had enough of observing the scene taking place from the couch and got up with the intent of separating them, and fast. He didn't like where it was headed.
Wufei put a hand in the middle of Heero's chest and pushed him back to prevent him from stalking nearer.
All happened fast and at the same time.
The Wing's pilot jumped for his Asian counterpart's neck, growling from the depths of his throat. Quatre arrived in the living room at this precise moment and jumped between the two boys to prevent a massacre, as Trowa grabbed one of the arms of the homicidal pilot to stop him and dragged him back. One of Yuy's hands closed around a fistful of the Chinese's collar and violently dragged the black-haired boy against him, and he growled ferociously, teeth showing up to the gum…
As he was fastening his arms under his comrade's and behind his head, Trowa wasn't in a position to see the prominent fangs in the Wing's pilot's mouth, but he sighted fairly well the line of hairs, nearly fur, growing visibly along his nape and vertebrae, and the furred triangles emerging from the dark mop of hair where his ears should have been.
As for the fangs, Wufei and Quatre saw them fairly well, thank you very much. Especially when they drove in the outstretched arm the little blond had interposed between his jaws and the other pilot's throat.
The title, Morsure, means, simply, bite ^__^