Son of a Sable Night
Chapter Seven: The Shipwreck of My Ill-adventured Youth
Tears leaked from the woman's eyes as I held her in my arms and carried her to the trunk. I tried my best not to focus on her; a brief look at the dark blue of her eyes made me feel dizzy. It was a different dizziness than Hunger; and although she was practically nude, wearing a short backless dress of a thin shimmering fabric, I felt no desire for her.
"Passenger side, she'll last longer," said Duo. I followed him and he leaned the seat back, then stepped aside and took hold of the woman's ruined legs and helped me lever her body inside. He ordered me to secure her and left to find something he could use to wedge the gas pedal down with.
"It's been a long time, Heero," she whispered as I bound her wrists together with a length of wire that Duo had given me. "I miss you."
"What's going on?" I asked, keeping my voice low. I wasn't sure if I could trust what she told me, but the possibility that I might learn anything at all was a glimmer of hope that I latched on to immediately...desperately.
"I wanted to kill you, before Quatre had to," she said. I made the mistake of ceasing my efforts to avoid looking into her eyes. My knees buckled as I saw she had no pupils; her eyes were a bottomless dark blue. I had to grip the frame of the door to keep on my feet.
"The Soulreaper stands by your side and leads you to the Lightning Count," she said. "If Quatre and Trowa fail in their task," she closed her eyes and fresh tears trailed down her cheeks, "then there is nothing to stop us from being overrun."
"Did you ask her what you were?" Duo said, appearing behind me suddenly. I jumped guiltily and he laughed and placed his hands on my sides.
"No," I answered truthfully.
"She probably would've told you," he said into my hair. "I don't know if you would've believed her though."
I shivered. Duo chuckled throatily and gave my hips a squeeze. "Go around and grab the stuff from the backseat, then wait over there with your old pal Wufei while I have a little talk with," he paused and reached past me.
"What's your name again?" he asked, tapping her on the arm. She looked in horror at the place where he had touched.
I walked away. I didn't need to hear her muttered response. I knew, somehow, that her name was Noin.
Duo started the car trundling into the desert in first gear, then he jogged back briskly to where Wufei and I waited in the air-conditioned bliss of the Lotus. Wufei had taken a seat in the back wordlessly and I slouched in the front, letting the fan pump a continuous rush of icy air over my skin.
Noin... she liked rainbows. Quatre... he had eyes the colour of the summer sky. Things were starting to come back to me as I struggled to focus on the flittering memories that drifted through the haze that blanketed my past. Yet, it was an exercise in frustration; everything I remembered seemed inconsequential and shed no new light on the events that had me teetering on the edge of madness. I was millimeters from tumbling into the crimson mists of pure terror, or past that, into the shadowy void of apathy.
"What's with the gun. Are they blessing bullets now?" Duo asked as he slid behind the wheel. The gun in question waited on the dash and Duo examined it briefly. It was a silver barreled, black handled Beretta, and in all my years in Wufei's company, I'd never seen it before.
"My blade has been broken," Wufei replied.
"So you're one of us now." Duo smirked.
"Hardly?" Duo chuckled and glanced over at me as if I should somehow understand why he found Wufei's denial so amusing.
"I still have my honor."
Duo laughed harder and Wufei snarled something nasty and anatomically impossible. Once we were tearing down the barren stretch of highway again, I closed my eyes; and when the caffeine in my system was no longer enough to keep me awake, I felt myself drifting into dreamland.
Sally was waiting for me there.
My body was floating weightless in a large room lit by the yellow glow of a hundred candles.
Sally knelt on the floor. Weeping? Praying? Then her head lifted and I saw her eyes were dark with sorrow. "Will you tell Him I love him still?"
"Of course," I heard my voice echoing in the cavernous room.
Her red lips stretched into a soft smile. My eyes closed and I felt a distant presence at the edge of my consciousness; an electric tingle somewhere in the back of my brain.
"He loves you. I love you." My eyes opened as my body descended. I felt more solid, more real, when the tip of my foot touched down on the polished wooden floor.
"Heero, I'm so relieved that you understand my choice," she said. Then her beautiful blue eyes caught the drift of my hand towards my hip.
My lips formed the three haunting words that carried a weight behind them I didn't understand. "Forsaken no longer."
My hand drew forth the weapon at my side.
Her red lips opened in a scream.
Colour and emotion bled away as consciousness returned.
Duo was standing outside my side of the car. The door was open and he was shaking my shoulder gently.
Like a sleepy child, I asked, "Where are we?"
"We made it to the coast," he answered. I rubbed my eyes and sucked in a deep breath. Sure enough, I could smell the salty tang of the ocean.
"Come on," Duo said, stepping back to let me out. He picked up the duffel at his feet and handed it to me; I saw that in his other hand, he carried the white handled sword. "We've found a place to stay for the night. I need some sleep, but if you're alert enough, you can share the watch with Wufei."
I nodded and followed him up a gravel path to the open door of a well-appointed beachhouse. Above us, the full moon hung bright in the sky. Someone's summer home, I decided, as we entered; the place was too clean to be lived in.
There were pictures on the walls and I found myself entranced by the mundane lives captured in the series of images. The one that my eye kept drifting back to, was of a little girl in a sundress building a castle out of sand.
I had met Treize at seventeen and my body reflected that. But, what had I been doing a decade prior? Unearthly creatures knew me and at least one woman had died by my hand. I doubted that even at the age as the girl in the photograph, I had never been as innocent as she.
Behind me, the wicker framed couch creaked as Duo sat down. He made a noise that resembled a tired groan and I heard a jingling clatter as he propped his sheathed sword against the coffee table.
I took one last look at the pictures on the wall, straightened one that was hung slightly crooked, then decided to explore a bit.
The first room I happened into, ended up being the master bedroom. Filmy curtains rippled as a breeze came in through an open pair of wide french doors. I approached the door with some hesitation. I knew that Wufei had most likely chosen to stand sentry on the deck, but my hand was less than steady as I pushed aside the curtains and stepped outside.
For once, I spotted Wufei instantly. He was sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees at the top of a stairway that led down directly to the sand of the beach. His hair was still loose and its satin fall obscured his face from view. The night air was cold enough that I wished for a jacket, yet Wufei sat bare-chested; his shirt lay in a crumpled heap behind him and his skin took on an ethereal bluish cast in the moonlight.
"Maxwell was right to laugh at the thought that I still possessed any honor. Sit with me, Heero," he said, breaking the silence; if one can call the constant crash of wave on shore, silence.
There was not enough room for me to settle beside him and I was surprised when he scooted back and spread his arms and knees. I sat gingerly in the space he afforded and tried not to stiffen as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled my back to rest against his chest.
"Let me tell you a story," Wufei said softly. He pressed his cheek against my hair and I was reminded of the brief time when we had found comfort in each other's arms. Those few months had not been paradise, but they had helped to ease the horrible loneliness that plagued the empty echoes of the life that I led.
Moonlight danced on the inky waves and I found myself able to ease into his embrace as he began his tale. "There was once a warrior. He fought for his kingdom bravely and without question, until one day, he was called upon to battle in a new type of war.
"He looked upon the faces of the enemy. Some were men who had once stood by his side, and he asked himself, 'Is this truly the righteous path?'
Wufei paused for a moment, then took a shuddering breath and continued, "Still, he believed in the wisdom of the ruling council and put aside his conscience. Hundreds upon hundreds fell to his blade.
"Finally, the task was put to him to slay a man who had been, for lack of a better term, his idol.
"The warrior went as he was asked, but at the last moment, his conviction wavered and he could not complete his mission. He was a failure, and yet, by the self sacrifice of the one he had been sent to kill, his reputation was upheld...exalted."
The air around us swirled with a faint current of energy and I felt the hairs on my arms stand on end.
"The warrior was praised for his deed; and, by a foolish oath sworn to a dying man, he could not say anything to the contrary... " Wufei's voice died away and I was engulfed by a tidal wave of grief. I was swallowed by the emotion which darkened his every heartbeat and that he'd never before, shown me more than a glimpse of.
I understood then, that I had hated him for no reason; and, it became clear to me, that I had once been as innocent as the girl in the photograph, but I had never been a child.
Millennia flashed before my eyes. The tide swelled
"You have no need to fear me any longer, Heero," he murmured. "I had hoped that ten years would give me the strength to perform your execution."
"But," he sighed. He let his arms fall away from me and rested them limply atop his knees. "I am so very weary of all this killing. A thousand years would not be enough."
I shifted away from Wufei, just far enough that I could grab the hem of my shirt and drag it up and over my head. I let it puddle on the step by my foot, but it slipped off the side and plummeted to the sand far below us. The rough pad of his thumb brushed lightly against my chin as I turned my head to look at him.
"You remember then, Heero?" he asked. "What you are?"
I did. Wufei's tale had burned away the last of the haze.
I remembered everything and it broke my heart all over again.
"I am nothing," I answered. "I am Forsaken."
Wufei wrapped his arms around me again as I curled myself against his chest. I tried not to weep as his fingers passed over the ghostly scars on my back.
"Heaven's fiercest warriors," Duo observed, as he strode onto the deck. The demon hopped up to perch on the rail beside us and his braid swayed free in the air as he leaned back to give me a crooked smile. "What a sorry pair you turned out to be."