Yoo hoo! It's Kami here. Listen up, yo! I had the honor of writing this chapter, and midterms suck, so I decided to write this in my procrastination yay! =D So… Neko will take over the next chapter, and depending on when she finishes it, you may get another procrastination chapter from me! Yay for you all. XD
Okay, 'nuff screwin around. *focuses* Here's the songs we (meaning me XD) chose for this chapter(Don't forget to remove the spaces! DX):
Crawling – Alfred's Theme [Yep… he knows. *dramatic music*] www. youtube. com/watch? v=oCSdLtNZbaA
Your Guardian Angel – Matthew's Theme- www. youtube. com/watch? v=jRehmX3zlwE
Chapter 10 - The Cold and the Mirror
"ACHOOOO!" Alfred rubbed his nose and sniffled. "Ugh, colds suck."
"That's what you get for not wearing warmer clothing," Matthew replied, taking the dry cloth from his brother's head and soaking it with more cold water.
"Yeah, well, I hate winter," Alfred groaned and closed his eyes. "I wish it was spring again." Matthew pursed his lips and folded the cloth up. Mathias's warning still buzzed in his head and stung his heart. Was he really talking to Alfred right now or Rin?
Alfred sneezed again and sighed. "This is all Søren's fault. If he didn't throw those snowballs at me, I wouldn't have got sick. I swear he'll pay for this."
Matthew froze and looked at his brother's closed eyes. He wrung the excess water out of its woven strings and draped it on Alfred's forehead once again. "Now, you know that's not true. I'm the one who made you go outside. It's my fault you got sick. I guess next time I'll go alone and you can stay-"
"NO!" Alfred yelled, and Matthew jumped. Alfred flung his body into a sitting position; the cloth on his head soared through the air and slapped itself on Matthew's shoulder. Fear welled up in Alfred's eyes, and his breathing became labored and rapid. He swallowed invisible saliva and licked his dry lips.
"Alfred?" Matthew questioned, his hand drifting over to his brother's hand. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"
Alfred brushed a hand through his golden locks and mouthed something. "Water, Mattie, get me some water… quickly."
Matthew straightened up and dashed out of the room toward the kitchen. Since their water supply froze over the winter, Felix made sure to keep an emergency supply in the kitchen. Matthew gathered the room temperature liquid in a cup and stared at the element's motions. It swirled inside the cup, climbing up the walls of the wood as if trying to escape. However, no matter how hard it tried, it was still contained in its wooden prison. Matthew watched it settle into calm ripples, and empathized with its failed attempt to be free.
"Like, going to jump in or something?" Felix's voice asked as he stirred together onions and potato slices in a bowl. "You seem pretty fascinated with that water."
"Oh, no, I was…" Matthew wracked his mind for an excuse. "I thought I saw a fly in the water. Just my imagination though."
"There better not be an icky fly in my water," Felix replied, sticking out his tongue. "That's gross. Yuck! Disgusting!"
"I get the point," Matthew muttered under his breath.
"So, anyway, I'm like totally making Latkes. Want to try one?"
"Um… what's a Latke?"
Felix slammed his spoon on the table. "You're pulling my leg, right?" Matthew shook his head. "They're, like, potatoes and onions and breadcrumbs fried together. Don't worry though, I make them low in carbs and fat and stuff." Matthew cocked his head, and Felix exhaled. "It's like a pancake."
"Pancake, eh? Hmm, maybe I'll try one." Matthew replied and reached for a finished Latke.
Felix stopped mixing his ingredients and chewed his lower lip in anticipation. "It's totally wicked, am I right?"
"It's pretty good," Matthew replied. "I'll have to get the recipe sometime."
Felix's eyes lit up. "Awesome. Hey, I can like show you how to make some now. Wanna help?"
"Nah, I have to get this water up to Alfred, like now, before he totally freaks," Matthew responded. He ran the sentence over in his mind and realized 'Felix talk' was contagious.
"Bummer. Well, maybe next time," Felix blew a stray strand of hair out of his face and continued mixing his potato and onion slices. Matthew climbed up the stairs and opened the door to Alfred's bedroom.
"Hey Al, I got you some…" Matthew looked around the room and realized Alfred had vanished. "Alfred?" The cloth that draped over his forehead now rested on the table, and the bed sheets were prepared as if no one had slept in them. Matthew placed the water on the ground next to the door and dashed through the entire castle looking for him. However, he couldn't get rid of the thought that he wouldn't find Alfred anywhere on the castle grounds.
Matthew ran to the front door and threw on a warm jacket. He opened the door and nuzzled his exposed face into the fur of his hood. The cold air nipped at his exposed nose and the icy gust of wind thrashed his hair around. The once peaceful snowfall had become a sadistic blizzard; no one could see more than ten feet in front of their eyes.
"Alfred!" Matthew called out, but the howling wind drowned out his voice. There was no way Alfred would survive long outside in this weather, even if he were healthy. He wracked his mind for the reason Alfred would even be out in this weather anyway, considering his brother hated the cold (farther yet, snow) with a passion. Matthew took a step outside and sank into a foot of snow. The frozen water rushed into his short boots and froze his entire foot. Everything screamed for Matthew to turn back, but his gut instinct told him Alfred was outside, and he had to keep going.
…Go to your left…
Matthew looked around to try to find the person connected to the voice he heard. It sounded like they were right behind him, but there was no one there.
…Go to your left…
He didn't know what was going on, but he gathered the voice was either helping him locate his brother or someone was trying to kill him. He decided to go with the first reason, pried his foot out of the snow, and took another step forward. Gradually, he crept his way in the direction the voice led him.
Matthew stopped and shielded the snow from the left side of his eye. The snow bit his hand and tried to blind him, but it failed. The horizon was still blurred out; he could not even tell which way he came from. Still, he knew he couldn't turn back until he found his brother. With all the air left in his lungs, Matthew shrieked, "ALFRED!" He strained his ear to hear anything over the roaring wind. After about a minute of waiting, he cried his brother's name again. Fear bit into Matthew's heart, and he swallowed whatever remained in his already dry mouth. The thought of Alfred's frozen body in the snow crept into his mind and swallowed Matthew's hopes of finding his brother alive. Biting his lower lip, he prayed his brother had somehow made it back inside and was waiting for him to return. He turned around to try to find his way back into the warm walls of the castle.
It was faint, but Matthew definitely heard his name. He whipped his head around, his hair scurrying around his head. Strength wove its way back into his muscles, and he pressed forward. Slowly but surely, a dark figure started to appear in the snow.
"No, go away!"
Matthew froze in his tracks, and waited for his body to follow the command. However, he didn't retreat a single step. He fought his way forward until he could see Alfred clearly in the snow.
Alfred was sitting on his knees; the snow swallowed up the lower half of his legs and started to rest on his shoulders and hair. His arms clutched the sides of his jacket, and his labored breathing rocked his torso back and forth slightly.
"Alfred," Matthew dashed to his brother's side, knelt beside him, and put a comforting hand on his brother's trembling shoulder. Alfred refused to meet his gaze and muttered unheard words. "Alfred, what's wrong? Look at me."
His demand had no effect for a second or two, until Alfred finally turned his head to look at his brother. "Get away from me!"
Matthew's hand jumped off his brother as if Alfred's words bit his flesh. "Alfred, what's wrong?"
Alfred gaped at his brother, his head lowering back to its original position. His hands raked his hair in frustration. "Mattie…"
Matthew shifted closer to his brother. "Alfred, we need to get you back inside. What do you think you were doing out here?"
Alfred bit his lip, tears beginning to leak from the corner of his eyes. "Matt… what's wrong with me?" Matthew studied the frightened expression on his brother's face. Alfred continued, "I… I think I was going to kill Søren."
"What? Why?" Matthew questioned.
"I… I don't know. Something's wrong with me," Alfred's voice was barely recognizable in the blistering wind. "Last I remember, I was sitting in my room, talking about how I hated being sick, and then this voice… I never heard it before, but it was defiantly a girl's voice… she kept saying 'It was all Søren's fault I got sick; he needs to be punished". Then I remember hearing your voice, and I realized I was outside in this storm."
"We'll figure out what's wrong later," Matthew replied. "Right now, we have to get you inside."
"But I'm not cold," Alfred responded. "And besides, I'm too tired to move right now. Iggy will come get us later."
"What are you talking about? Arthur went to ChinSei with his friend. He's not-"
"He's right over there," Alfred raised dilated eyes straight in front of him and smiled. "Hey, great to see you back Iggy."
Matthew tried to focus on what Alfred was staring at, but couldn't find anything. Matthew's hand started shaking on Alfred's previously shivering shoulder. Fear overtook him as he got a clear look at Alfred's eyes. "Merde. Alfred, we need to get you inside, right now."
"But I'm too tired," Alfred replied, leaning forward. Matthew put a hand in front of Alfred's chest to keep him steady.
"No, Al, I'm sorry, but I can't let you do that. We need to move right now!"
"No…" Alfred's voice trailed off into nothing as he lost his balance and collapsed into Matthew's hand. Matthew wrapped his other arm around his brother to keep him from falling into the snow.
"Al… Alfred! Answer me!" Matthew shook his brother to try to wake him but to no avail. Matthew lifted his unconscious brother's figure into his arms and turned around. He couldn't see his footprints in the snow anymore, but the wind seemed to be calming down. Heavy snowflakes danced around them and revealed the path to their salvation. Matthew sighed and thanked whoever was looking after them. He moved as fast as he could in the deep snow and rammed into the door closest to him.
"Like, you don't have to break the door down, ya know. I'm coming," Felix's voice muttered from inside.
"Felix, please, open the door!" Matthew cried. "It's an emergency!"
"Alfred? What are you doing outside in the cold?" Felix opened the door and gasped in shock. "Like, omg, what happened?"
"Alfred went outside in the storm and I think he has hypothermia," Matthew breathed. He could feel his limbs growing numb already, but he knew it wasn't because he was holding Alfred's frozen body.
"Typo there Mia? What kind of disease is that?" Felix asked as Matthew walked into the room.
"No, hypothermia, not… whatever you just said. It's when your body falls below its normal temperature. If we don't help him soon, he could die."
"Whoa, dying is so not cool. We need help, like, fast." Felix wiped his hands on a nearby cloth and dashed out of the room. "Like, I'll be right back."
Matthew nodded his head before kneeling on the floor. He cradled Alfred's torso in his arms and rested Alfred's legs to his left. The lines on the floor started to dance in his vision, and he knew it was only a matter of time. 'Damn curse…'
"Well, Al, I guess this is the only way I can help you, huh," Matthew spoke to his unconscious brother. He chuckled under his breath and continued, "I can't promise I'll be okay this time when you wake up. But I can promise you this. I'm going to find out how Rin possessed you, and get rid of her. You're going to be free again, Alfred, even if I die trying." Matthew rested Alfred down on the ground, and lay beside him. He could hear boots scraping and clomping on the floor and feel the earth vibrating under their presence. His vision darkened, and he slowly slipped into unconsciousness.
Steam filled his nostrils as Alfred took in an awakening breath. His muscles throbbed inside his entire body and a steady heartbeat shook his weak frame. Luke-warm towels and endless blankets constricted him but comforted his low body temperature. He open his eyes, but clenched them shut as a venomous light bit into his pupils. He whimpered and tossed his head to his side, trying to open them again.
"Well it's about time," a man sitting at a nearby table scribbled something down on a piece of paper. "You should've been up hours ago. We thought you'd died for a second time."
"Who…?" Alfred muttered, before he noticed the red cloth with a white cross wrapped around the man's right arm. "Felix?"
"Like hell!" The man whipped his head up and locked his green eyes with Alfred's blue ones. He snorted. "The cold must've killed your brain cells." He went on to mumble something under his breath, but Alfred's mind was somewhere else.
"Ugh, sorry Vash. I feel like I got hit by a truck." He pushed the blankets off his figure and held his forehead with his right palm. "What happened?"
Vash returned to scribble something down on the paper. "I don't know. All I know is Felix came in yelling his brains out, something about 'Typo there Mia', and dragged me off to help you. It seems to me you had a mild case of Hypothermia. You're lucky it wasn't more severe."
Alfred let his words sink in and studied the ceiling. "I don't even like the cold. What was I doing again… oh yeah! I was going to visit Søren." A devilish smirk creased his face.
"Not anytime soon, you're not," Vash responded. "You're staying in bed where you won't cause anymore damage to yourself or others."
"What do I care what happens to the others," Alfred growled and sat up. "I feel fine."
Vash looked up from his paper and eyed the blond. "Stop being so stubborn. I told you-"
"What do I care? You're not the boss of me," Alfred swung his legs over the side of the bed. Vash stood up and pressed his palm on Alfred's shoulder. The two locked into a glaring contest, neither one showing signs of backing down soon. "Don't. Touch. Me."
"If you'd drop your damn ego and listen to someone for once, I'd consider it."
"I said: Don't touch me!" Alfred flung himself forward and grabbed Vash's shirt collar. He slammed Vash up against the wall and looked him straight in the eyes. "Take my advice: you'll live longer if you do as I say." He heard a faint click and cool metal touch his abdomen.
"And take my advice: If you don't want lead in your stomach, I'd suggest you drop me."
"Ooh, threatening the prince. We're a brave bastard, huh?"
"Last I knew, you were the one starting this. Moreover, I would rather not kill you to begin with. It'd break my vow, but I'm not going to sit back and take your-"
"Bruder!" a meek voice cried from the doorway. "Please, don't fight you two!"
Vash and Alfred turned their heads simultaneously. Vash sighed and placed his gun back at his side; however, Alfred did not flinch. She ran over towards them and tried to separate the two, but her strength couldn't match Alfred's deathly grip on Vash's shirt.
He grinned and looked back towards Vash. "Such a pity you need a little girl to protect you, Vash."
"Like hell," Vash spat and reached down for his gun once more. Lili pushed between the two harder, but her strength failed her once again.
"I don't know what happened, but please don't fight," Lili whimpered. "This is a hospital, not a battlefield. I don't want anyone getting hurt." She looked up at Alfred, her voice shaky. "Please, prince Alfred, you must get back into bed. The more you struggle around and push your body, the harder it's going to be for Matthew to heal himself."
"Mattie," Alfred breathed, and his eyes widened. He dropped Vash, who crashed to the floor, and backed up. Lili knelt down beside her brother, but his light smile assured his safety. Alfred stuttered, "I… I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me." His hand flew to his cheek and it swept down to the nape of his neck. His icy hands sent shudders down his spine. "Mattie… where's Mattie? I need to find him!"
"Calm down, Alfred," Lili spoke. "He's resting in the next room. He'll be okay." Alfred rushed past her, his mind focusing on one thing. He forced the adjacent door open; his ears throbbed with a steady roaring beat. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of sterilized air. The only present light came from a single candle flame in the corner of the room. His eyes explored every inch of the empty space, until they rested upon an unkempt bed in the corner.
Matthew's face lay upward toward the ceiling, his calm slow breaths causing the blankets on him to rise and fall. Alfred crept over; the balls of his feet barely touched the floor. He sat aside of his brother, his hand drifting over to stroke a stray strand of wavy hair back into place. A defying, curly strand sprung back into its original position and tickled the side of Alfred's arm. He smiled; the warmth of his brother's forehead reassured Alfred's nerves. Matthew's body seemed so peaceful lying next to him; it gave Alfred goose bumps. He wondered how someone could be that calm and not be dead.
"I'm sorry I got you into this whole mess," he spoke. His own voice echoed through the vacant room. "I… I don't know what's happening to me. Am I going insane?" He watched the candle light dance from the remnants of his breath. It slowed to a stop and continued to burn the wax underneath it. Alfred continued, "Maybe it's some type of curse or something. Maybe…" Alfred took in a breath. "Maybe Natalia wasn't completely insane; the position drove her to it. Maybe she wasn't as bad as I thought she was. I never realized how much pressure you're under when you have to rule a kingdom."
A light stir from Matthew froze Alfred in place. He studied his brother's face, waiting for his purple eyes to warm his soul. Alas, his patience was unrewarded, as Matthew drifted back into sleep. Alfred released the breath he'd been holding.
Alfred jumped and looked around the room for the source of the feminine voice. "What… who said that?"
I did. Look here…
Alfred's hair stood on end and his arms trembled under his weight. "I don't like games. Come on out! Show yourself!"
But I'm right here. How could you not see me?
Alfred's eyes widened as he stared at a girl, sitting on a bed parallel to him and Matthew. She sat in the same position as him; her lips turned into a devilish smile, unlike his gaping mouth. Her golden eyes played with his nerves and blinked every so often in a seducing way. Alfred stood up from the bed and so did she, mirroring his movements perfectly. He walked forward until he was standing in front of her, his breath lighting up in front of him. He jumped backward and studied the flat steam disintegrating to reveal her mischievous expression.
Alfred pressed his fingers forward and touched what seemed to be her fingers, but instead they met cool glass. He looked up at the frame and gasped. "This is a-"
"A mirror, yes," the girl spoke. Her voice echoed inside his head. "What did you think it was?"
"But… how is that possible?" His voice quivered. "My reflection should be there, not some girl."
"Oh, but Alfred, I am you. Who do you think brought you back to life?"
"No… Mathias told me that it was Angelique."
The girl cackled, making Alfred jump. "You really think a mere mortal can bring you back to life? No, I saw your spirit and took pity on you, Alfred. You had such a close bond with the human world, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be alive again. Besides, you're my ticket to freedom."
Alfred let her words sink in. "What do you mean? Who are you?"
"Oh, come on now! You have to remember those stories that your… what did you call him... Iggy told you?" The girl's grin intensified.
"Iggy… you mean the stories Arthur told me were real?"
"Of course they were. You think I'd have gone through all this trouble if they weren't? Possessing you isn't easy, you know. Besides… you're much more interesting when you're ready to kill, don't you think?" Alfred was about to answer when he heard a groan from behind him. The girl's face melted into pure disgust, and she clicked her tongue. "Now he's going to wake up again and ruin my fun. Dammit, Len, just let me take over things!"
Alfred's head pounded inside his skull. He pulled at his hair with his fingers, the throbbing felt as if his skull was going to split in half. Rin, in the mirror, let out a painful yell and Alfred followed her movements, unaware that he was screaming until he felt icy arms wrap around his shoulders. He struggled to free himself, but the arms only held on tighter. He threw his hands to the ground and whipped his head around, meeting gaping violet eyes.
"Alfred, calm down, it's only me," Matthew spoke. Alfred's tense body turned to jello and his weight collapsed onto his brother.
"I saw her!" Alfred cried, his voice trembling. "I saw her! She was in the mirror, Mattie, I saw her!"
"What are you talking about, Alfred? Saw who?" Matthew tried to meet Alfred's gaze, but his brother was more occupied in searching for the girl he was talking about.
"But she was right here in the mirror! I saw her, and she was me. Do I still look like myself?"
Matthew raised an eyebrow. "Of course you do. Why wouldn't you? You're not making any sense."
"I need Arthur. Dammit, I need to talk to him now!" Alfred yelled, and he tried to jump up, but Matthew's protective grip held him in place. "Mattie, I need to go see Arthur! I have to get up!"
"You need to calm yourself. Arthur's all the way in ChinSei. You'll never get-"
"Get away from ME!" Alfred screamed, and Matthew found himself jumping backward quicker than Alfred could catch himself. The older twin's head collided with the concrete, and he tossed himself over to his side, rubbing his head.
"Alfred, I'm sorry!" Matthew cried, but found he couldn't get any closer to Alfred. He cursed under his breath and continued, "Are you alright?"
Alfred groaned and used his hands to push himself into a sitting position. He eyed his brother over and studied the small stain of blood on his fingertips from his bleeding temple. His vision blurred out, and the salty smell of tears fill his nostrils. He wiped his eyes with his left palm and rubbed his hand up through his hair; the remnants of his wet palm sent several strands into different directions. Finally, he croaked, "What's wrong with me, Mattie? I'm so confused."
Matthew felt a twinge of pain shoot through his heart. His once strong, proud brother was reduced to nothing more than a quivering child, and it shook him to his core. Unable to move toward Alfred because of his brother's previous order, he sat on the floor and crossed his legs, resting all his weight on his elbows. The air seemed to wilt around them; even the candle light dimmed in despair.
"Alfred," Matthew whispered, "you're going to be alright. I promise we're going to find out what's wrong, and we're going to fix it. If you think we need to talk to Arthur, the annual peace meeting is in two days, and it's in ChinSei. Maybe we could visit him there. I'm sure he wouldn't mind talking to you."
Alfred looked over at his twin, a smile trying to perk onto his face. He moved his hand closer to his younger brother, but Matthew's reflexes pushed his body backward. Alfred gaped in confusion and placed his hand back at his side.
Matthew thought for a moment and continued, "I only moved away because you told me to earlier. I don't know if you know it or not, but every little command you tell me, even if it's something simple like 'move your finger', I will follow it."
Alfred's eyes locked with his brother's eyes; pure shock illuminated his orbs. "Mattie, I'm sorry. All this time I've been telling you to do stuff, but I never realized you always did everything." He thought for a moment, and licked his lips. "I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to, so how can I stop it from happening?"
"Somehow, I fear it's going to happen no matter what," Matthew placed a hand over his heart. "It's human nature to tell others what you want them to do. You just do it more than others." Alfred's serious face caused Matthew to rub his neck. "Oh, come on, Al… if I knew I'd tell you already."
He sighed heavily. "I know Mattie. Tell you what… why don't you come with me to the meeting, so we can figure out how to fix both our problems. Arthur knows everything, right?" He smiled at his own joke and stood up.
Matthew smiled and stood along with his brother. "Sounds like a great plan to me."
"Then it's settled, we leave for ChinSei tomorrow!" He flung an arm around his brother's shoulder, and the two walked down the hallway to get ready.
To be continued…
Whew! That took longer than I thought it would. Kami here, reporting for duty! We're back from vacation and a long hiatus. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. :D
Anyway, I'm starting to wonder if these chapters are getting too boring for you guys. Any ideas to spice the plot up a bit? I mean, it's gonna get extra spicy when Alfred meets who Arthur's been hanging out with, but that's a story for another chapter. ;) So yes… send us your love and make your ideas part of the story today! (We'll give you proper credit of course. :) Such a cheesy commercial, huh?)
Oh, and just so you know… there's about 6 or so chapters left in the story. Sad, isn't it? Maybe we'll turn it into 7 if one of the chapters gets too long. I'm always thinking of new ideas to put in, even if Neko thinks they're too crazy. =u=
Thank you our lovely reviewers! (There's a bunch of review love this time. =D)
RasalynnLynx, nupinoop296, OrangeJuice101, xoxox. sailor. gemstone. xo, Italy (aka person with the really long name :D), Hinata Uzumaki-sama, PokemontrainerNelly, Tatsumaki-sama, MarshmallowTree (Das awesome Preußen :D), and Kiesha (I can't even list all the times your comments made us LOL XD)!
Also, Darandomninja…. you rock for being our beta! 8D
Tis it for now. =3=