Disclaimers: Not mine. Theirs. *Hee hee*
Warnings: AU, yaoi, angst, crossover, lemon, Duo-torture (these warnings are for the entire fic. Warnings before each chapter will tell you what is in them. ^_~
Important Note: This is a Gundam Wing/ Shivers crossover. Shivers is a computer game if you don't know. For those of you that have played or even already own the game, you have an advantage in this fic, otherwise, I'll try my best to describe what is going on to you peoples who are clueless. (when it comes to Shivers or otherwise. Like me. ^_^;) Also, I added my own twists to the Shivers plot in the interest of adding a little more excitement. *giggle* Don't mind me. I get carried away on the merry-go-round of utter insanity. Whee!
Real Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Gundam characters (phooey!) and I don't own or have anything to do with the game Shivers. I'm not making any money off this fic, so don't bother to sue me, cause I've only got the clothes on my back and I soon might not even have THAT that is, if I have to continue doing my own laundry for much longer.
The prologue and parts of the first chapter of this fic are taken out of the Shivers guidebook. It describes the situation with the Ixupi and I thought it might be helpful for those of you who haven't seen Shivers. ^_^ Extra warning: Spoilers for Shivers!!!!!
Warnings: angst? death
Jorge didn't like to take the shortcut through Blood Rocks because of all the rumors about the place. He shuddered as he remembered the stories he'd heard about the grave looters found there years ago. It was the evil spirits called Ixupi that had reputedly killed them, spirits that slowly sucked the life from humans and left only the shriveled corpses behind. But he had to take the shortcut. If he was late for dinner again, his mother might forbid him from visiting Maria altogether.
He pulled hard on his burro's halter. Was it his imagination or was Camil balking, too? He'd heard that animals could sense the supernatural .
Just ahead, Jorge could see the huge boulders that the area was named after. It was a bizarre landscape. The rocks were eerily red in a surrounding of otherwise sandy and dun colors, and they were scattered in such a way that one always seemed to be looming just over your shoulder. Strange shadows danced over the boulders, making them look as if they had evil faces concealed just beneath their surface.
Jorge heard a noise behind him and quickly turned, but saw only Camil at the end of his long braided rope. Still Jorge didn't like the fact that the boulders were so big, easily big enough to hide someone.
"Come on, Camil," he said loudly, just to hear the sound of his own voice. "We're almost " As he spoke, he heard the sound again. It was not a noise he'd ever heard before, and he didn't know what to compare it to. It was a whispering, sighing kind of sound, like wind through the trees, but there were no trees here.
"I'm just spooked," he explained to himself, and pulled harder on Camil's rope.
Jorge trudged on through the sandy soil, wishing that he'd left his girlfriend's sooner. Nothing was worth walking through this place at dusk, not even Maria's soft kisses.
"We're about halfway home now," He said to Camil. "We should be home by " He looked up to the sky to gauge the time, when the clouds suddenly darkened. The effect was instant and terrifying. What moments before had been a beautiful sunset glowing like the embers of a campfire was now dark and menacing, like the entrance to a deep cavern. Though there had been no wind all afternoon, dust suddenly swirled around Jorge's feet, and he felt a cool breeze down his neck. Or was that the feel of his own hair standing on end?
Jorge paused for a moment, debating whether he should turn around and take the long way home or continue on. He was already halfway there, so it didn't make sense to turn back now. Still, it wasn't wise to be in Blood Rocks so close to nightfall. Not from what he'd heard about the Ixupi . Supposedly they hid in the elements of the earth and attacked before you had a chance to defend yourself. The death itself was rumored to be long and painful as the slowly sucked the life essence from your body. Jorge took a deep breath, and continued on.
Up ahead, a flash of gold caught his eye. It seemed to come from the
base of one of the larger boulders. He stopped to get a better look, but
couldn't see anything. His curiosity got the better of him and he moved
closer. He had to know what was glinting.
As he inched foreword, the line in his hand grew taught.
"Camil," he half-pleaded, half-ordered, but the burrow's stout hooves were buried in the sand. Jorge yanked on the rope but the stubborn beast wouldn't budge. Even in the dim remaining light, he could see the defiance in the animals eyes. But there was more than an unwillingness to cooperate in those big, black eyes - there was fear.
Jorge tied Camil's rope into a knot and anchored it under a rock. Turning back around, he could just barely make out where the glinting had come from. In the shadow of a large boulder stood objects he had never seen before. Were they bottles? No, they were too squat to be bottles and far too menacing.
Jorge drew closer for a better look at the strange objects. They appeared
to be earthenware pots, with worn engravings on their bodies and lids. There
were more than a dozen of them scattered about. It seemed strange to find
such ancient-looking pots out here in the middle of the desert. "Is
it bait?" he wondered aloud.
Suddenly he had the feeling of being watched and he spun around quickly. No one.
"It's just you and me, Camil," he said to reassure himself. But even Camil was acting strangely, with his ears pinned back against his head, and his nostrils flaring.
Jorge stood still for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then he had a clever idea. He would load Camil with the pots and bring them home to his mother. She could keep one or two and sell the rest to Senior Schwartz, the archaeologist in the next village over. He'd heard that Schwartz paid handsomely for archaeological finds, and a dozen unbroken pots was definitely a find! That would make up for him being late. What a good idea. But he would have to hurry.
Jorge started run toward the pots when all of a sudden he tripped and fell flat on his stomach. He felt something sharp in his chest and wondered for a moment if he'd been shot. He sat up quickly, his hand to his chest. No blood. He looked around him. No one. It was just his own nerves, he told himself. He started scrabbling through the sand to see what he had hit.
All of a sudden, Jorge fell back and his mouth opened in an instinctual
scream. In his hand was a skull, its bleached eye sockets staring up at
him blindly. It must be one of the looters he'd heard about Jorge couldn't
get his body to move, couldn't force his hand to drop the skill. Instead
he sat there transfixed, noticing every frightening detail - the jagged
crack in the cranium, the broken jaw. He thought of how he was just a skull,
too, easily broken, a mere bag of bones and water held together by the tenuous
thread of life.
Suddenly a dark shadow passed of over Jorge. He felt a chill down the back of his neck and his heart began to slam uncontrollably against his chest. Camil brayed loudly and began to rear, pulling hard against the rope that tethered him. Jorge tried to turn around to reassure Camil but his body felt strangely stiff. Though he couldn't turn to see what was behind him, he knew it was close, close enough to brush the hairs standing on his back. Pulling air in and out of his lungs became more and more difficult with each breath. He tried to release his grasp on the skull yet his fingers would not budge. He realized that he was immobilized, as if in the unshakable grasp of some greater power, some evil power. It could only be the dreaded Ixupi .
Warnings: Yaoi implications, angst, Duo-torture lemon (kidding! Not yet, you greedy people!)
I was, perhaps, a bit too cocky. That was my first innocent mistake,
the mistake that led to all the others. Heck, I'm allowed to be cocky, aren't
I? I'm Duo Maxwell; Shinigami in the flesh, and I've survived - against
all odds - as a teenage terrorist and a Gundam pilot. I should have been
ready for anything, right? Wrong. I was not as alert as one needs to be
in this nightmarish place. I realized too late that those things that looked
most harmless could easily bring about my demise. But let me start from
"What is this place? Don't tell me we're gonna spend the
night here," I groaned.
Heero, Wufei, Trowa, Quatre, and I stood before a huge abandoned museum, called Professor Windlenot's Museum of the Strange and Unusual.
"Do you want to know how many rumors I've heard about this place? Spook central!" Heero looked at me, pinning me in place with his cobalt glare.
"It's logical. This museum has been abandoned for years. In our current position, it will be the best place to stay undercover and avoid OZ," Heero said, always the logical one. Darn him. Despite that, I've always carried a torch for that laconic maniac. I don't know why. At least I don't have to worry about him finding out. He's as thick as a brick when it comes to emotions. Good thing, I think. He'd kill me if he ever discovered my love for him. Nevermind that it's slowly killing me on the inside. As long as he doesn't reject me outright, at least I can pretend.
"It's only for a few nights, Duo," Quatre put in using The Look. No one could resist The Look.
"Aw, man, Quatre! Okay, okay, I surrender." I grumbled under my breath and shoved my hands deep into my pockets.
Here, I'll let you in on all the excitement. The five of us were sent on another mission. This time the target was a base in the U.S. It was supposed to be quick. Get in, get out, blow the hole facility to Hell. Nothing out of the usual. But somehow, we were detected and soon all the OZ bases within a 10,000 mile radius were on a lookout for us. No problem, except that our Gundams weren't in any condition to pound through 10,000 miles of heavy artillery. Yeah.
We (or rather, Heero) decided to set down and hide in the teeny, isolated little town of Mt. Pleasant. Don't let the name fool you. It's boring as Hell here. Fortunately, or unfortunately- however you want to look at it- there was an old museum on the outskirts of town- long abandoned because of a series of disappearances and rumors of murders centered around the place. Lucky us, ne?
Well, here we are, and I'll say this damned place really does look the part of a haunted house museum whatever. And now we get to spend the night in it. Joy. Normally I wouldn't mind. Things like darkness and silence don't scare me, in fact, I revel in them okay, so maybe not the silence, but I like the dark. But this time, ever since I stepped foot on the museum grounds, I've felt ill at ease. Something about this place was creepy. I couldn't exactly describe it, but it was in the air.
Pointedly ignoring the others, I shook of that eerie foreboding and glanced around. After a second, my eye landed on a rusty chain hanging down from the seemingly endless expanse of brick wall.
Curiosity and caution waged a brief war inside me, and, as usual, curiosity won out. I tugged on the chain, then jumped back cringing and waiting for the floor to drop out from under me or something. Hey, who says you're not allowed to read Stephen King books in the dead of night?
The result was totally anti-climatic. No trap doors, no false floors or mysterious passageways. Actually, it opened the mouth of the dragon gargoyle to the left of the rusted iron gate. I hadn't realized the gargoyle was a mailbox. A single letter dropped to the ground.
"Duo!" I turned and grinned sheepishly at Wufei, who was glaring daggers at me. "No playing around!"
"Okay, okay," I huffed cheerfully, bending and scooping up the letter to stuff back into the gargoyle's mouth. I noticed some kind of carving on the tongue of the dragon. Was it a number? I shrugged, then promptly forgot about it as Quatre motioned me over.
"What is it, Q," I asked, following them as they turned and followed the pathway towards the museum.
"We're going to try and find a way in."
"Greeeeaaaat." I resigned myself to exploring the museum grounds. If I wasn't getting out of this place, I might as well get in. We walked up the long brick staircase to the front door, which was locked, of course. The lock was rusted so badly that there was no chance of picking it, either. Believe me, I tried. And I am no amateur.
The unusual black designs above the door caught my attention before we
turned away and I looked at it for a second. On the way back down the stairs
I noticed something I had missed on the way up- an orange symbol on the
brick wall behind a golden vase.
As we walked down the side-path toward the gazebo, a wind picked up, swirling dead leaves around my feet. Somewhere, a dog howled into the night. The sound seemed to echo off the museum walls.
Quatre, Wufei and I shot glances at each other, and Quatre paced up his step until he was by Trowa's side. He slid his hand into the taller boy's and I looked away, a slight pang of envy shooting through my chest. My eyes slowly slid to the right and I watched Heero's muscular back as he walked down the path ahead of me, unfazed by the atmosphere. I wanted to go up to him, take his hand in mine and wrap his arm around me, but the LEAST he'd do is deck me one. And his punches hurt! I like my nose right where it is, thanks anyway. So I contented myself with snuggling deeper into my jacket.
We continued past the gazebo to the edge of a stream that cut off the path, but we couldn't find a place to cross. The rough-hewn granite columns standing guard across the creek reminded me of something I had once seen in a book about the druids. Was it Stonehenge? It looked ancient enough, with it's weathered stone and gnarled vines.
While the others searched for a way across the canal to the structure, I returned to the big metal box in the gazebo, curiosity rising in me again. There was a small red button and a combination lock on the lid. I grinned and began to fiddle with the numbers. I turned the combination lock to the first number that came to mind, 029, the number in the mailbox, then pushed the button. To my surprise, there was a muffled click as the tumblers fell into place, and the box opened.
I looked up, half expecting Wufei to chasten me again and grinned when none of them had realized what I was doing.
Inside the box was two rows of gears, black and white. I recognized this puzzle. You had to get the white and black gears lined up in seven moves. I scrunched up my nose, trying to remember the right combination. I got it after five tries, then called over to the other guys, who were still clueless.
"Oi!" The others looked up at my exclamation. "Check this out." I turned the crank and a row of boulders rose out of the water, creating a pathway across the stream.
"Am I good, or what," I called to them, jumping down next to them.
"Hn. Baka." Was Heero's only comment as he led the way over the stones.
I stuck my tongue out at him and followed him across the water. As intimidating as the Stongehenge structure was, I had a hunch that it might revel another clue. The current moved swiftly, but the boulders were enough to step on. The wind was shipping the water into waves that lapped against my boots.
I was so deep in thought that I didn't watch where I was going. As I
stepped on the next rock, my foot slipped on the slick algae. I tumbled
forward with a yelp, my arms flailing. I crashed into a solid warmth and
desperately clutched at it with my arms, holding on for dear life.
"Woah that was close," I mumbled. Then the support I was clutching shifted. "Huh?" I looked up and found myself nearly nose to nose with Heero, staring into the hardened depths of his cobalt eyes. I blinked, then realized I had my arms wrapped tightly around Heero's chest.
"Gomen, man!" I lurched backwards, almost slipped again, then turned my head to the side, wincing and bracing myself for his punch. When it didn't come I cautiously cracked open an eye. Heero hadn't moved from his spot and stood watching me over his shoulder with an unreadable look on his face. I was thankful for the darkness because it hid my fiery blush.
"Hn." He muttered then turned and continued across the footstones. I scratched my head then shrugged, ignoring the giggle I heard from Quatre, and followed.
Sure enough, the Stonhenge replica turned out to be another puzzle. Geeze, what kind of sick mind created this layer on layer of puzzles? I wasn't looking forward to getting inside the museum because if there were this many puzzles outside . Oh, just peachy. How the heck would we ever get out? Especially if we needed out in a hurry?
I groaned mentally and wrapped my arms tightly around myself. I was shivering from head to toe. It was the cold, I tried to convince myself, but the shivers were coming from within.
" Daijoubu ka?"
"Huh? What?" I looked up, and my gaze met Heero's icy blue one. He nodded toward my hunched-up body.
"Oh. Yeah," I blushed. "Just a little cold."
"Hn. Here." He handed me his own jacket. I accepted it, knowing that he expected my to stay in top condition for our mission. When he turned away, I wrapped it around me, burying my face in it and breathing in the unique sent of gunpowder and musk that was purely Heero.
We messed around with the puzzle, matching the assorted colors and symbols
we all had seen around the museum grounds. The pieces slid open to reveal
a dark spiral staircase. As usual, Heero and Trowa led the way, and we followed.
As I descended, I could feel the air against my face getting colder with each step. We pushed through the door at the foot of the stairs and found ourselves in a dark tunnel. The air in the tunnel had a distinct musty odor, like something had died there long ago. I forced the thought from my brain. Great, Maxwell, we have to get inside the museum and you're sitting here getting the willies.
I started forward slowly, hands stretched before me so I wouldn't run into anything in the darkness. It was getting colder and darker with each step. My hands brushed through a bunch of spider webs and I made a face. The walls felt furry from all the cobwebs. Ewwww! If only I could see where I was going!
As if on cue, there was the hum of generators as they whirred to life and dim lights flickered on. Wufei stood beside the door, his hand on a light fixture.
"Hey, cool! Thanks, Wu-man."
We wandered down the greenish tunnels for a while, before coming to a heavy iron door. It swung open with a screech and a couple of bats erupted from the other side. I jumped a mile into the air.
"Whew! Talk about a heart attack!" I said, holding my hand over my fluttering heart and draping the other arm over Heero's shoulders. He let it remain there for a second, then he walked into the room beyond. I grinned ecstatically, fear forgotten. Like I said, it's really easy to pretend as long as he doesn't tell me to get lost.
We walked through the door, which slammed with finality. We were stuck in here. For better or for worse. Why was it that I knew it would probably be worse?
On the other side was a huge cave with a pool of iridescent liquid- some sort of underground lake with a boat on it. As we approached the lake, the stench I had detected earlier grew more powerful.
Quatre's cry of alarm drew my attention to something horrible on my left. It was a corpse, sprawled in the sand. Since I should see no signs of the cause of death, I wondered just what had killed him.
Wufei ventured closer and lifted something out of the body's hands, carrying it back to us.
"Ugh! Wufei! What are you doing?" I said, disgusted, but crowded closer all the same.
"What does it look like, Maxwell? I'm collecting possible evidence." It was some kind of Egyptian book, a single page missing from the back. Wufei kept the book, saying that it might be important. I made a face and turned to the boat.
The boat was another puzzle, and Heero was the one who finally figured out how to make the boat work. Finally, he was able to turn the crank and the boat started across.
I stood at the side of the boat, eyeing the stalactites and the sloped walls of the cavern. The reflections of the water swirled lazily on the dark walls of the bluish stone.
I felt a bit better once I was away from that overpowering smell or rotting flesh, but that chilled feeling that I had wouldn't go away. I sensed something evil nearby. The echo of bats and the soft sound of water dripping from the ceiling were the only sounds in the cave, and, unable to stand the silence anymore, I opened my mouth to say something- then snapped it shut again and listened hard.
"Oi, you guys hear that?
Quatre sent me a curious look and asked, "Hear what?"
"A bubbling noise."
"I hear nothing, Maxwell. It's probably the boat," Wufei said, eyeing me.
"No ." I said distractedly, leaning further over the side of the boat to look. I rubbed my suddenly cold hands vigorously together to warm up. Then, there was a loud ringing in my ears and I saw the water beside the boat glow faintly green.
"What the -?!" Was all I had time to do before something exploded out of the water, jaws of liquid sinking into my chest, leaving no physical wounds, but ripping deeper.
I faintly heard the alarmed cries of the other guys, but that was drowned out by my own cry of agony and the acute flash of pain that started in my chest and burned it's way through my body. I felt weak and dizzy, and, for a moment, my vision swam, while sweat gushed from every pore. Then the monster was gone, back to wherever it had come from, a swirling green cloud arose from the lake, then vanished into the darkness.
In a few quick seconds, I had been attacked and a part of me had been ripped away. I stumbled backward and collapsed into the muscular arms and sturdy chest which appeared behind me in the aftermath of the abrupt attack. Strong arms wrapped around me and supported me as the searing, white-hot pain slowly faded into a feeling of emptiness.
"Duo, daijoubu?" The voice was Quatre's. I laboriously raised my head and looked into his eyes. He jerked back as if he had been burned.
"What happened," Heero's slightly nasal voice asked by my ear.
"I don't know, something attacked me and ." I shrugged, not knowing the answer myself.
"I I saw Duo's chi " We all looked to Quatre, who stood, pressed against Trowa, his hand over his heart. "It's he's part of it is just gone."
We all looked at each other, wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. I suddenly became aware that I was still leaning against Heero. Pressed tightly to his chest by his supporting arm. I felt a growing warmth in my groin and abruptly, my black pants felt a little constricting. I jumped out of Heero's arms before Heero could notice my body's traitorous reaction.
He released me, sending me an unreadable look before returning to the helm to maneuver the boat the rest of the way to the shore. Thoughts rampaged through my head furiously. Was that what had attacked the man back there? The dead man? Would I end up as a corpse?
When we reached the other side, I stepped slowly out of the boat. I felt weakened, but I didn't seem to be dying. Well, not yet, anyway. I'd never experienced anything like it. I shivered and stumbled to the right to rest against the wall. As I passed, my foot knocked against a hard object softly and I heard a clatter.
I lurched backwards, bumping into Heero - damn, I seem to be doing that a lot lately- as a strange essence seeped from the pot and hovered before the five of us, fading in and out. It was an old man with a balding head and two tufts of white hair on either side of his head. He was wearing a red shirt and white shorts. Then he spoke.
"Ah! Fifteen long years in this prison." He turned his piercing gaze to us. And pointed a warning finger at us. "YOU! Get out! Do not meddle in things beyond your understanding! You will pay for your curiosity. You are in grave danger!" He winced and his voice died down to a soft whisper. "They are so evil." He turned to me and pinned me with an intense look, "Already some of your life essence has been stolen! I was too old, not fast enough . The Ixupi are so evil!" He emphasized his words with sharp movements of his hands with fingers curled under like claws. "It is imperative to find all the vessels, because it seems only when they are united with their talismans do they have any power. My plan, was to use them on the Ixupi before any more of them escape into the world!" He threw his arms wide, then calmed and refocused on us. " I believe they cannot resist the vessels, only when they are united with their talismans in your perch directly. This vessel, here," He motioned to the one below him. "Is of no use to you, however. It's Ixupi was the one, who robbed me of my essence. And he has escaped into the world AND THEY'VE RUINED MY MUSEUM!" With that, the ghost seemed to evaporate into the air as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving us dazed and trying to pull ourselves together.
Warnings: Yaoi, angst, Duo torture aw, Duo, poor baby, must I torture you? YES. *evil grin*
The four of us collected ourselves and proceeded cautiously past the pot into the blue tunnel, Trowa and Heero in the lead, guns drawn. Like everything else in the museum, the corridor was a maze.
"Okay who the Hell knows what's going on? I'm lost." I said as we walked, I had recovered by then, and could walk on my own- the overwhelming emptiness fading to a throbbing ache.
"I don't know. But whatever those things he was talking about, the Ixupi, must be what attacked you, Duo." Ah, sometimes ya just gotta love Quatre's ability to reason.
"If that is the case, since we can't get out, then we must get in and learn more about the Ixupi." Wufei gestured to a large elevator which loomed ahead of us. I blinked. I had been so busy complaining that I hadn't realized that we had come to the end of the tunnel.
Searching for a button to push to summon the elevator, I found none.
"What the heck? So how do we get into this thing?" They ignored me. I hate being ignored. "Helloo~oo? I asked you guys a question."
"We're not sure, Duo." Heero's tone held a slightly threatening note. A smart person would have backed off. Guess what? I'm not that smart.
"Woo hoo! Mr. Heero-I-can-jump-off-a-building-and-not-only-survive-but-set-my-own-damn-leg Yuy has been stumped by an elevator!"
Heero sent me a glare. You know; the one that says 'one more word and I'm not only going to make good on my threats to kill you, then do a victory dance in the nude over your gutted body.' Okay, maybe not that last part, but when he looked away, I quickly patted myself down to make sure none of me was turning to stone from the intensity in his glare.
I opened my mouth to completely piss him off, when - luckily for me - Quatre discovered the controls to the elevator on the wall. Wufei and I crowded around him and when I saw the controls I groaned.
"Hot damn, another puzzle. That's it! When we get out of here, if the man who made this god-forsaken museum isn't already dead, then I'm going to shoot him!"
"Um, Duo I think the ghost we saw was the man who created the museum." Quatre pointed out.
"Geeze, Q, you really know how to take the fun outta ranting." Quatre blushed and Trowa came to stand by his little lover, his eyes warning me to stop needling the blonde pilot. I blew him a raspberry then turned away before I could catch his reaction.
Wufei and I bent over the box, trying to figure out a way to make the design on the box match the design on the elevator doors by pushing a button which shifted them in different directions. But the damn cubes in the box were being difficult. Sometimes they would shift twice instead of once, requiring us to totally rearrange our pattern to try to fit them in. Not only that, but Wufei and I had two different strategies on how to make the pattern work and we fought the entire time.
"Hmn . That goes there, and that no, no, NO, Wu-man! Aw, look you screwed it up!"
"Shut up, Maxwell, I know what I'm doing."
"Hey, that looks good. Now shift that one no NOT that one! This one!"
"No! Not that one! I meant to push this one. Damn it, Maxwell, I can figure this out on my own. Go away."
"Notta chance, Wu-man. Hey, push that one across one space, yeah, right there, see?"
"That won't work. It'll get bumped out of that place when we try to move the other block into the spot below it."
"Oh. Well how about " Wufei slapped my hands away from the buttons. I slapped his back, and we got into a mini cat fight then.
I guess Heero got sick of waiting for us to figure it out, because he shoved between Wufei and I and bent over the box. Seconds later there was a 'ping' and the elevator door slid open.
"See, Wu-chan! I told ya!" I chanted at the raving Chinese pilot when I realized Heero had just completed the puzzle with the move I suggested and the one Wufei said wouldn't work.
"Injustice ." He mumbled, walking straight into the elevator. I grinned from ear to ear then flounced in after him. We all piled into the tiny elevator, though I swear, the thing was built with only enough room for one man. I got squashed into the corner, Heero and Wufei pressing in on either side of me. Of course, with Heero so close my traitorous teenage hormones kicked into high gear. I wondered if it was possible for them to die of overwork. Probably not. I turned toward Wufei, but subtly pressed my back against Heero's, loving the way his muscles moved beneath his skin with every shift of his body. I am so lame and I know it.
When the doors reopened, we were standing in what appeared to be an office. Everything looked normal, except for the fact that it looked like a tornado had gone through the room. I wondered if a struggle had taken place here, and my treacherous mind began to supply me with visions of gruesome murders to go with the rumors we had heard about the place. Swell. I'm never gonna need an alarmclock again, 'cuz I'm never going to SLEEP again, thank you.
For once, Quatre was the one who broke the tense silence. It's usually me.
"Wow, Duo. This is almost as messy as your room." I let out some of my anxiety in a rush of breath then grinned.
"Not even close."
With the tension broken, we set out to search the office, for who-knows-what, hoping that we might stumble onto something that would help us in preparing to face our enemy.
Trowa found a newspaper clipping that explained a lot. The museum hadn't even been opened when two kids had vanished into this museum, along with the Professor not long after. The Professor was rumored to have murdered them, but I remembered the thing from earlier and decided, while the Professor had been somewhat unstable, take this museum for example, he had not only not been the murderer but had been murdered himself by that thing.
"Hey, look at this," I said, holding up a weird object from the drawer I had been rummaging through. It looked like the lid of an old pot made out of clay. It had a bull with a ring through its nose on the top.
"Hn." Was all Heero said. I shrugged and tucked it into a pocket with the strange feeling I would want it later. A few minutes later I reemerged from my exploration of the drawers, finding nothing else of interest.
"Nothing here." I said looking around to see what the others were doing, but I was alone. Alarms went off inside my head and I called, "Hey, where is everybody?"
Immediately Quatre's voice chimed out from a storage room to the right of the fireplace, "In here!" Trowa emerged first, followed quickly by Quatre. "Heero and Wufei went to check for a library of some sorts. If the man calls himself Professor, then he must have a library with books on his research somewhere."
Quatre halted at the doorway and sneezed mightily.
"Bless you." Trowa said quietly, offering Quatre a handkerchief. Quatre blinked, then politely accepted it. I rolled my eyes at them. When were they gonna dump the playing around and get together. It was obvious they liked one another.
I bounded towards them and was passing the huge stone fireplace when it happened. I froze when I heard a strange noise, similar to the one I had heard in the boat just before being attacked. I took a quick step back, but it was too late.
Again I was attacked. This time, the impact was even more severe than before. One moment I'm standing in front of a fireplace, the next I'm writhing in pain on the floor. What was that? It had come out of the ashes and stolen yet another vital part of myself. I could vaguely hear the others around me, but I couldn't move. I was huddled into a fetal ball trying desperately to drag some air into my pain-constricted chest.
Someone grabbed me under the arms and levered me into a seated position on the ground, making it easier for me to fill my burning lungs. I don't know how long I sat there, just concentrating on breathing, but when I finally looked up, I found I was resting against Quatre's chest and Trowa stood looking down at us, the look in his one visible green eye faintly worried. I managed a weak grin.
"This just isn't my day." I groaned, trying to stop the tremors racing through my weakened body.
Just then, Wufei and Heero burst in from our left, through another door which looked like the main entrance to the museum.
"Heero and I heard a scream. What happened?" Had I screamed? I guess so. Things had happened so fast that I had only been aware of the pain. And the emptiness afterwards. That terrible hollowness.
"Duo was attacked again," Quatre explained. "It attacked from the fireplace ashes."
Disclaimers: Don't own either Gundam Wing or Shivers.
Pairings: Same as they were the last time you looked.
Warnings: Yaoi implications, ickiness, angst
Heero stood above me for a second, giving me a quick once-over: to make sure I wasn't dying or anything, then drew his gun and cautiously approached the stone hearth. I watched, wincing and expecting to see the entity rise again from the ashes and strike. This time Heero as its target.
All of us were tense, and Trowa had his gun drawn, ready to cover Heero. I had a feeling that guns wouldn't help any with these things. Heero reached the spot where I had first been attacked then took a step beyond it.
I tensed but nothing happened. The Ixupi was gone. Heero, always the thorough one, poked around in the small pile of ashes for a second, before turning back to us and shaking his head.
A silence descended, and we all looked at each other. I shifted in Quatre's arms, trying to stand. The movement sent agony crashing through all parts of my body. I hissed through my teeth and winced, hugging myself tightly and curling around the pain. In a flash, Quatre was at my side, a soothing hand on my back.
"Daijoubu, Duo. Just take deep, slow breaths." I nodded and concentrated on breathing.
"K'so ." I practically whimpered, cringing away from Quatre's hand. This sucked. I mean, five bullets in the gut couldn't cause me half the pain two attacks from these Ixupi created. 'Heero probably thinks I'm weak.' The thought popped unbidden into my mind. Damn. That's because I am weak. I wanted Heero to be proud of me. To feel he could depend on me, and then something like this happens.
The sound of Heero's voice dragged me back to the real world.
"Wufei and I uncovered some background on these "Ixupi" in the library. It is imperative you see this."
I clamped down on my misery and stood slowly. The room spun around me crazily. I stumbled, about to keel over again, when someone put a steadying hand on my shoulder.
"Umph! Can somebody stop the room please? I wanna get off." I mumbled dizzily, trying to lighten my own mood and dispel a little of the anxiety in the room.
I heard Quatre giggle, but I heard worry for me hidden in that giggle. Wufei snorted.
"I heard that Wufei!! Shuddup Wu-man. This HURTS!" I whined
to cover up
a wince. At my shoulder I heard a soft, "Hn. Baka." Guess who that was? BINGO!
By then the room had stopped spinning. I didn't feel any better, but there was no way I was going act weak in front of the others. I plastered a huge idiotic grin on my face and dropped an arm around Heero's shoulders. He didn't shrug it off, but I guess that's because I was holding him so tight.
"But that's why you all love me, right?" I said, wiggling my eyebrows at them.
More silence, during which, Wufei raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, this is where you say 'Yes, Duo, that is why we love and adore you and worship your sexy body.'"
"Baka." Heero said, glowering at me. I made a face and caught Heero in a gentle, yet secure headlock. I probably wouldn't have been able to do it if I hadn't already had an arm over his shoulders. Crowing with triumph, I used my weight to keep him from escaping, I raised my knuckles to the top of his head and messed up his already tousled hair by giving him the noogie of a lifetime.
Yeah well, that didn't go over so well. We won't go into detail, but I'll just say Heero wasn't too happy about that.
"Thith ith it?" I asked around my swollen jaw, careful not to accidentally bite the inside of my puffy, tender cheek. The cheek which was now sporting a signature Heero Yuy handprint.
"Yes, Maxwell." Wufei said distractedly.
"Not very big is it?" It consisted of a single small room with a large wooden table taking up most of the space in the center. The walls lined with bookcases that were lightly packed with leather-bound volumes was all that consisted of the "library".
Wufei didn't answer, taking the path to the left of the table. So of course I made my way around the right of the table, idly trailing a finger over the row of books as I walked by, and amused that I could see the path my finger had taken in the thick coating of dust that covered everything.
I spotted one of those rolley-latters and clambered up, plopping down on the top rung and looking down on the room. From across the library Quatre smiled up at me in the manner a parent would smile at a child's silly antics. I couldn't help it. I had always wanted to climb on one of these things.
The other four gathered around Wufei, who had pulled out a thin black book. From my vantage point I could see pages filled with curvy script and an occasional detailed picture here and there.
It seemed that the book was actually some type of scientist's field journal. Apparently the scientist had taken up residence with an old tribe in South America. The first entry in the journal was dated May 9th, A.C. 173.
The beginning of the log started smoothly enough. A scientist by the name of Professor Schwartz had traveled to a small tribal village in Peru to pursue his interest in the ancient and feared tribal folklore of the Ixupi.
I sat up. "Hey, that's what the ghost in the cave called the thing that attacked me!"
"Yes, Duo. Now hush!" I sat back at Quatre's gentle reprimand.
Crossing my arms over my chest I huffed under my breath, "You guys all treat me like a little kid! It's not like you are much better then I am," Heero looked at me sharply.
Ops, I guess he had heard. I met his eyes and glared at him, refusing to be cowed and look away. As we stared at each other, the world began to swirl, and I felt as though I were falling into his stormy cobalt orbs. Against my will, my anger melted away and I began to feel giddy. My fists gripped the edges of the latter until my knuckles turned white and I was thankful because it was all that kept me from tumbling to the ground as I was hit by wave after wave of vertigo while drowning in his cerulean gaze.
For the briefest of seconds, I thought I detected the faintest hint of emotion in the cold, locked depths of his eyes. I leaned shifted forward slightly, as if the proximity would confirm what I saw, and then .
" Heero? Heero!" Wufei's voice filtered through the intense haze over my mind. Heero's gaze snapped from mine and the instant was shattered. I slouched against the bookshelf, not even hearing what Wufei was saying as I pouted.
I had been so close! Then Wufei had ruined it all by calling Heero's name. If I had had just a second more I could've could've could have what? Discovered in a split second all Heero's deepest emotions that he kept hidden behind a mask of indifference? That sounded lame even to me. It was just like me to turn a simple glare from Heero into a steamy, passionate invitation.
I snorted softly and Heero looked back in my direction, but I avoided his gaze, focusing instead on Wufei's dark head which shined in the soft lights of the library. I could feel Heero's eyes on me and I squirmed self-consciously. I concentrated intensely on what Wufei was saying and slowly my mind began to focus again.
Wufei had picked up where he left off in the precise entries. For the first couple of days it was filled with possible leads, discoveries, background and history of the Ixupi legends and artifact catalogues. Typical stuff you'd expect to find in an archeologist's journal.
Then, on May the 12th, things began to get interesting. His notes became excited and he mentioned discovering a grass basket of pots partially buried and concealed in a small gorge a mile south of the village. Inscribed on each in an ancient form of the tribal language was a different marking for each form of the elements. He had brought them back to his temporary dwelling in the village and pried them open in all haste.
Then his writing slowed again as he related that the lead had been a dud. The pots had been empty. There had been a slight warm wind issuing from the pots and a greenish vapor that he could not explain, but he suspected that it had only been various gasses escaping from the clay pots sealed for countless centuries.
The entries ended there for the day, then picked up again the next morning with obvious interest on Professor Schwartz's part. He mentioned a number of tribefolk bodies turning up mysteriously dead overnight; dry, almost mummified, and drained of all essence. When the tribespeople had discovered this, there had been great panic and the ancient whispered words of 'Ixupi', native for 'elemental demons'. The members had all quickly packed up a few belongings and began to journey toward the nearby city of Lima. Schwartz had been forced to journey with them so the notes stopped then and picked up later that afternoon in a messy handwriting that suggested the they had been scrawled in great haste.
The traveling tribe and the Professor had been about halfway to Lima when members began to scream and the whole line of people had been thrown into terror as unseen beings began to attack the party left and right.
Despite the losses, the panicked survivors picked up the pace, desperate to reach Lima before nightfall. They were perused by their invisible enemies until sundown, when they abruptly vanished. The remaining tribefolk and Professor finally reached the town just before the sun dipped below the horizon and took refuge in the small huts of the town. For a while, all had remained quiet, but as the last rays of dusk faded, the enduring tribal members, Professor Schwartz, and the citizens of Peru had been thrown into a veritable Hell as the things descended upon the town.
Wufei turned the page and Duo could see, even from his position that the writing slanted and grown almost illegible. The entry was dated May the 14th and the topic deteriorated into frantic, insane babble that made little to no sense. Wufei could only pick out the repeated words: Ixupi, monsters, life essence, May 14th, full moon, and talismans from among the rambling. There were vague, recurring yet unexplainable references to the full moon of May 14th, and the Night of the Elements which began on that night at twelve. It was all very confusing, but the last paragraph was worse then the entire journal combined.
The script was large and I could read it even from my perch on the top of the ladder. It read:
Oh god. What have I done? Everyone is already dead and I'm next. The eagle talisman! I have found it inside the sattlebags of a stray horse, Camil. I must perform the Ritual, but I fear it is too late. Oh, please don't let it be too late. IT'S COMING FOR ME. IT'S GOING TO KILL ME! I DON'T WANT TO DIE! I DON'T WANT TO DIE! I DON'T WANT TODIEIDON'TWANTTODIEIDON'TWANTTODIE
The hysteric writing ended abruptly, and the page was liberally splattered with suspicious blackish red spots. I prayed it was only ink. At the very bottom of the page an appendix was added, in the scholarly handwriting of a different scientist.
Unfortunately, when our the party returned for Senior Schwartz on May the 19th, the town was discovered empty, all occupants long gone or dead. Corpses identified as the villagers were scattered in about the town. The local police inspected the bodies and it was pronounced that a virus must have killed the people. It seemed as though they had lain in the sun for quite some time, as the bodies were fluidless and almost resembled mummies. Of course, I hadn't much time to investigate for myself because the police quickly quarantined the area.
I did manage to find that, alas, the cadaver of our late Professor Schwartz was among them. Curiously, his bodily fluids remained intact, for all that he was situated in the village square in broad daylight. Though, it seemed in the time between his death and our arrival some wild scavengers had descended upon his body, because his carcass was ripped apart; deep gashes covered his abdomen and upper body and his cerebral cavity was torn open at the back of his head, the contents missing from the inside.
When I saw Senior Schwartz's body I was surprised to find that he had made a discovery before his expiration. Strangely enough, his body was surrounded by 13 ancient-looking pots and there were mysterious markings drawn in the sand around his remains. Knowing your mutual fascination with such legends, I salvaged his journal, the pots, and attained or recorded anything else of interest or possible finds and shipped everything I gathered to you. Perhaps they will provide a suitable exhibit for your new museum .
Your friend and college,
In the pregnant silence that followed we all looked at each other. I gulped.
"We are in deep shit, aren't we?" No one disagreed.
Notes from Kitana: Sooo? How was it? Not too bad, I hope. The beginning for this chapter had been sitting on my computer for a long time so I decided to finally live up to my promise to update Shivers. I hope you liked it. ^_^V