They sat in silence in the livingroom for half an hour just listening to the ticking of the clock and their own loud breathing. Duo rocked in the rocking chair, staring into thin air, thunderclouds were rolling in, making everything turn dark, but none of them offered to switch on the lights as they just sat there with their own thoughts and prayers about how this day would end up. How they would end up.
They all jumped as Frank practically stormed in through the frontdoor still bearing a smile. The sight of his silhouette standing in the doorway, holding his hunting gun made them feel uneasy. 'Well guys, it's all set, we're ready to go.' He scanned their faces. 'Where's Hailey?'
'In the bathroom.'
'Oh, well, tell him we're already in the car, we can wait for him outside.'
They looked at each other and nodded, not daring to protest with Frank standing there holding a three foot long rifle. Trowa gently lifted Quatre out of the bed and guided WuFei. Duo made an act of standing in front of the bathroom door and called: 'Hailey, everything's done we'll wait for you in the car, okay?'
Of course no answer came.
Duo laughed, scratching the back of his head sheepishly and walked away, guiding them outside. 'He must be... busy.' He joked.
Frank laughed mirtfully and they walked to the car that was parked right up front. He climbed in the driversseat and smiled at Duo who jumped in next to him. Trowa took his position in the center of the backseat with WuFei on his left side.
Seconds later Heero walked through the frontdoor and skittered down the stairs, his expression as unreadable as ever as he neared the car and sat down in the back seat behind Duo.
Duo wasn't sure if he looked so intense because he was pissed off at the fact that he was wrong and Frank could be trusted, since Heero's gaze was always intense, or if he found soemthing that proved franks guilt. However, these oh so clever Gundam pilots never thought of a signal to let the others know if he was guilty or not. They hadn't accounted for the fact that Frank might be accompanying them when Heero returned.
So they were all on high alert, just in case, as Frank sped off. But, much to Duo's surprise the ride was uneventful and for the first time he wasn't the one to carry the conversation. Frank happility chattered away about just about everything, the speed in which his words followed up the previous broke even Duo's record. Once in a while Frank looked at the others through the rear view mirror, but he could be doing that just to check on how Quatre was doing.
Due to their speed it was a bumpy ride as they ran right over the roots they previously had been so careful to avoid. He was almost grateful this car had no roof or else they would have a concussion by now, he could feel the safety belt slightly digging into his waist in a way that went far beyond comfortable. He loosened it only to have his thumb caught between his body and the belt as Frank raced over a rock.
'Wow, try not to kill us.' The words were out before he even concidered them and he bit his lip. He gazed at frank who's happy expression never changed.
'Sorry there.' The next time he avoided big rocks and large roots. Dodging in between the trees.
Duo gripped the armrest built into the door as he feared each time they would crash right into a tree, but each time Frank managed to steer past them with a skill that would suggest he drove this car more often that he claimed.
The whole day, till the sun started to set, the clouds were threateningly black, but nothing ever came down other then the occasional roar from afar.
'That's enough for today.' Frank concluded and the jeep came to a sudden halt. 'Let's use the last moments of daylight to set up the tent.'
They climbed out and all helped to erect the massive tent that could house eight people if they didn't mind lying snug next to eachother. With an automatic pump six air-beds were inflated and covered with relative thin, but wool sheets. 'There was no room for any pillows.' Frank explained as he closed the trunk while Duo was staring at the pillowless beds lying spread out in the tent. Three on the left, three on the right. Half a meter in between each of them. The tent didn't allow more distance than that. Duo was very annoyed to notice Frank never wavered far from his rifle. During the ride he figured he should unload the gun, taking out the bullets so if Frank attempted to fire, the only thing that would happen was a pang resounding through the air, but nothing else. But he never had the opportunity. He got close once, but there was not enough time to empty the two-bullet cartridge.
Trowa was tending Quatre in the tent, with WuFei blindly staring at them.
Frank was outside, humming a merry tune as he got a fire going with the wood Duo helped gathering, but Frank never went far enough to lose sight of the tent or his rifle.
He needed to talk to Heero, who had been quiet today even for his standard. Something must be off, he must have found something.
With Frank crouched before the campfire, occupied with his own made up song and poking a blackened stick in the fire, shuffling the firewood around, Duo took the opportunity to join Heero who was busy hammering the last tent pin deep into the ground. Being behind the tent, out of Franks eyesight and out of hearing reach Duo whispered:
'Heero, Heero.' Trying to get his attention. However, he had to wait for Heero to finish hammering the thing in the soil before he got any of his attention.
Heero straintened, the hammer dangling losely in his hand as he looked at Duo.
'Well, did you find anything in the shed?' he asked with trepidation.
'No.' Heero bed down to give another pin once last stroke of his hammer.
Duo sighed in relief, 'so he's cool?'
'I wasn't finished.' Heero said firmly, he stepped closer, to be sure no one overheard their conversation. They listened for a while and Heero refused to talk till he detected Franks cheerful humming. 'I found nothing in the shed. But when I circled around it I found something very interesting hidden behind it in the bushes.'
Duo waited with a Frantic heartbeat. The humming seemed to become more evil by the second as he had to wait for Heero to elaborate.
'Tires. A set of four tires, with different profiles than the ones currently on the car.' He paused and with a cold look he finished: 'The same profiles as the one we found near the body pit.'
'Shit.' Duo buried his hands in his hair. For a long while Duo was just silent and stood there with his hands on his head, turning and shifting. 'It explains why he had been busy for so long. But... that doesn't mean anything, right?' He practically begged Heero to agree with him.
'It's no proof, but it's strange, especially since he failed to mention that he changed the tires, he hid the tires and he denied any knowledge of the pit.'
'You reckon he's...?'
Heero looked at the tent, as if he could see through it and spot Frank sitting on the other side of it. His humming had turned into singing. 'It crossed my mind.' He sarcastically replied.
'Great moment to develop sarcasm Yuy.'
'I apologise.' He said genuinely, knowing this was not a time to joke.
'We find a way to tell the others and we overpower Frank when he's sleeping. We can't wait for him to proof to us that's he's the murderer.'
With a single nod Duo agreed and they walked back to Frank.
Frank turned and looked at them with a wicked grin, the light of the fire dancing across his face, making eery shadows. Still, all Duo could see was this kind man that had saved their lives... He felt the need to punch something till his fists were bloody and his arms were sore.
He sucked in a deep breath as Frank kept his grin on them.
'What were you boys doing behind the tent, huh?' Came the mocking voice, a tad of Evil hinting in it.
He felt Heero tense beside him and Heero raised his hammer a little bit, ready to open the skull of this man and hammer his brains out.
Frank shook his head at their perplexed and threatened looks. 'No worries. Like I said, I'm not homophobic. Though it surprises me, since your so head over heels in love with Peter, according to Willy.'
Duo almost released a sigh of relief. To keep up the act he wrapped his arms aroud Heero's shoulder, noticing the extreme tension in him that didn't lessen with him hugging him. 'Yeah... well Willy thinks he's funny, Peter is history.' With a smile he took the opportunity to plant a sloppy kiss on Heero's burning cheek. Was he having a fever? He grinned as he saw the bright red blush spreading across his face. Wow, what a moment to have a first kiss, or so to speak, in the company or a serial killer... romantic. Well, at least there was candlelight... or something akin to that. He stared at the flames, it never crossed his mind to let Heero go.
'Well, I'm happy for you guys. Guess we have to push your beds together huh?'
'No, that won't be necessary.' Heero firmly spoke and twisted free out of Duo's grasp and disappeared into the tent, slightly disappointing his 'boyfriend'.
Duo shrugged 'Guess I have to take a cold shower. Thanks for being cool about it.' He sat down across from Frank to keep an eye on him while he was certain Heero was informing the others. He strategically separated them with the flames. He tried to look as friendly as possible but he felt his palms turning sweaty with anxiety and his muscles were tense, ready to strike and strangle. His anger was fuelled by the fact that Frank had been so helpful and compassionate and kind, while all the while he had planned murdering them...
He was handed a cup of coffe by Frank, he took it, but didn't dare to put the brew into his mouth so he used it only to warm his hands. Frank frowned at his reluctance to drink, but kept silent. His eyes were a little less friendly. Duo cursed himself, he shouldn't betray their knowledge, if Frank found out they knew about him they lost the element of surprise and then they'd be severly disadvantaged.
'So, endangered deers huh?' He questioned, trying to get a conversation started as he always did.
Frank nodded and sipped his own mug 'Yeah, hunters come down here to shoot them, it's sorta a local tradition, but... being done for hundred of years the deers didn't really thrive ya know, so now it's illegal and I gotta catch them crooks.'
'Ah... So... how come you have a stuffed deer head hanging on your wall?' He hid the fact that he was in the current business of thoroughly hating his traiterous mouth and sipped his coffee too, assuming it would be alright since Frank drank the same coffee, coming from the same pot. He didn't dare to look at him but he could feel him tense.
Frank however decided to ignore the question. 'How does being a soldier suit you? No offence but it's hard to picture you as a soldier.' There was something gleaming in his eyes that made Duo frown inwardly.
'Well, that's part of my job. I mostly do undercover.' He hid behind his mug again.
Frank just nodded and drank as well.
An uncomfortable silence followed, but that could be expected when one was sharing coffee and a campfire with a serial killer. It's just as uncozy as one would think.
Frank gabbed his stick again and shuffled the burning wood. Sparks flew towards Duo, making him jump back, not that denim would catch fire easily but he had little faith in the materials his shirt was made of.
'Is this your regular camping spot?'
Frank looked up, for an instant he resembled a cornered wild animal, but it was soon covered by innocent surprise. 'Why?'
Duo shrugged and looked away as he spoke softly 'I couldn't help but notice the scattered remains of previous fires.' He eyes settled on a blackened branch lying not far from them. He also couldn't help but challenge Frank, even though he should be acting all innocent. He just couldn't help but voice all the holes he had spotted in Franks act.
'Well, I've been here so long I must have camped out on every square feet by now.'
'Don't you get lonely?'
'Yes... I do.' Again this strange gleam danced in his eyes and Duo was certain it wasn't just the flames tricking his eyesight.
'Wanna come for stroll?' Frank suddenly said as he rose to his feet and grabbed the bag that contained his gun, a bag he carried everywhere, swung casually over his shoulder.
Duo shook frantically, he couldn't help hismelf, it just struck him how big the guy truly was as he towered over him like that. 'No...' he said after a while, after he was finally able to stop shaking his head. 'I'm too tired.' He lied, fear, gut feeling and adrenaline kept him wide awake.
'Suit yourself.' Frank disappeared in the darkness.
The American pilot followed his retreating form as wiped the sweat of his brow and caught sight of Heero standing in the opening of the tent. He too watched him leave before turning to Duo and mouthing: 'Follow him.'
Duo nodded and rose reluctantly. He was nervous about going alone, though he and Heero too, knew very well that he was the master of stealth and he could be far more silent going alone then if for example the wheezing Heero came along. Like a panther he followed Franks vaguely detectable form after a while he solely had to rely on the sounds made by his jeans as he walked. When the camp was long out of sight Frank stopped, he had been looking around, obviously searching something and now he had apparently found it. With his gaze fixed somewhere in the tree for a while he dropped his bag and pulled out the gun.
Duo watched as he opened it and cursed as the gun had been empty, but now Frank placed two bullets in each barrel and closed it with a frightening and familiar click.
He bit his lips to the point where he drew blood, tasting the metallic blood on his tongue that came out to lick it up, preventing it from running down his cheek. Frank was going to murder them and he was going to murder them NOW. Once done loading his gun Frank walked on, probably to keep up the illusion of going on an innocent stroll.
Duo's body screamed that he should go back to warn the others, but first he HAD to see what Frank had been looking for.
He traced his footsteps in the dark, standing in his track to prevent from leaving any himself. When he stood on the exact place Frank had stopped he looked around. He was standing in a perfect circle of trees. He looked up to scan the eight or nine trees surrounding them, looking for whatever Frank had been looking for. When his eyes caught sight of something hanging on the lowest branch, about two and a half meter high, on every tree his breathing hitched and he leaned forward, covering his mouth with his hand as he gagged and threatened to vomit. He sagged to his knees and felt nightmares and screams haunt him as he realised something terrible:
It hadn't just been a dream!
Now, I have to remind you that if I don't suck at writing drama, romance, lemon or angst than I suck at Horror (yes yes, I know Flamers, I suck at all of them).
Again this chap was not spellchecked, sorry for that, I promise I'll start sending them to my beta reader soon again, I promise.
PS: I don't think the next chap will be up soon since I'm not entirely certain if I like the way how things turn out.