Author’s Note: Okay readers, please forgive the blatant mushy stuff in this chapter, indulge me please. As I was contemplating this chapter I noticed the similarities in this story to one of my favorite books: “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy. It’s one of those books you read in English class and grow to love. If you’ve read it let me know if you think the stories are similar.
“O my love, my love, why do I love you so!” she whispered there alone; “for she you love is not my real self, but one in my image; the one I might have been.”
--Tess on her wedding night, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy (read the book or see one of the movies ( I recommend the A&E production), so romantic you won’t regret it!!)
Chapter 2 by Midii Une
Cathrine was interrogating him, at least that’s the way Trowa saw it. She did it every time he went to visit the other Gundam pilots or took any kind of extended trip without her.
“Did you have fun?”
“What’s everyone doing now?”
“Did you meet any of Hilde’s friends?”
“Did you go out much?”
“Why didn’t you get a haircut?”
She was so transparent, and although it really didn’t bother him that he hadn’t met the Perfect Girl while he was hanging out with Duo and Heero, he felt uncomfortable. Like he had let Cathrine down somehow. He had a nagging feeling that part of her was holding back her own life so she could watch over him. He loved her, he needed her in his life but he didn’t want her to put her own life on hold until he decided to alter his solitary existence. But he was used to being alone now, he thought to himself. There really was no one he wanted to let into his life. He had Cathrine, he had the other pilots if he ever felt like he had to have someone around. And it was nice to know they were there. What more did he need?
Somehow this time though, Cathrine didn’t seem as upset by the fact that he still hadn’t met anyone. In fact she seemed strangely relieved.
She was up to something, Trowa thought.
So when Cathrine asked him to drop a package off at her friend’s apartment, Trowa was rightfully suspicious. But he sighed, dutifully, and agreed to do it. Hadn’t he always vowed to do anything for Cathrine? Sometimes she did push the boundaries of his devotion to her a bit too far. He knew she meant well but he felt an uncharacteristic twinge of genuine sibling annoyance with the way she kept trying to motivate him to find someone.
Trowa hesitated outside the girl’s door. Duo’s voice echoed in his head, “I’m starting to wonder about you guys.”
Was there something wrong with him, he wondered suddenly. He could count the times on one hand that any girl had caused him to give her a second glance, and then it had only been because they were small and slender, with long silky blonde hair. But when he’d looked a little harder the racing of his heart always slowed right back down to its usual steady pace. Try this time, he ordered himself, try for Cathrine’s sake. She probably went to a lot of trouble to set this up.
He didn’t realize it would have been no trouble for Cathrine to find a girl for him. Despite the eccentric length of his bangs, his other features more than made up for it with the female population. He was tall, well-built and the hair just lent an air of romantic mystery that many girls found irresistible. He might have known that if he’d ever let his emerald green eyes look into theirs, instead of down at their shoes.
Trowa took a deep breath and pressed the doorbell.
Cathrine congratulated herself. This time it was sure to work. She had an intuitive feeling that the two of them belonged together, it seemed so obvious. Both of them needing someone so desperately to be complete.
She knew she had no business setting up her brother and her friend. Especially since she herself was still very single and very available.
“You’re only 20,” she said to her reflection in the mirror. “That’s far from old.”
But since losing her family, friendly as she was, she had really only bonded with Trowa Barton and he had certainly never held any romantic fascination for her. She idly wondered why, he was younger, but not enough to make a difference. And she often said he was handsome and she believed it.
Maybe we’re both afraid of the same thing, she thought suddenly. Afraid to find someone and lose it all. But we don’t have to worry anymore Trowa, she thought at her adopted brother. The war is over and we can’t lose anyone senselessly like that anymore. Please find your happiness. And I promise I’ll start looking too.
She had forgotten to ask Trowa if his friend Wufei had been there at Duo’s little get-together. She had met him that once during the war but sometimes she found herself remembering those deep black eyes.
There were some things she hadn’t counted on or planned for.
Like paying the energy bill for instance. She’d never realized there were so many little details that went into living a normal life. She’d thought it would be so much easier, but it was just as difficult. Midii sighed as she went around the room lighting candles. Two weeks until the next paycheck, two weeks in the dark, unless she visited Cathrine or went out. But it was hard to go out much when you had so little money. As a spy she’d never had to budget, the Alliance took care of everything and she concentrated on her work. She didn’t want to think about it, it would be so easy to run away from all this normalcy and the hassles that came with it. But what else was there to think about when you were all alone in the dark?
Then she heard the doorbell.
“Ahh, saved by the bell,” she said to herself, smiling at the cliche. It must be Cathrine, stopping by to check in. What would she do without her, Midii wondered.
It wasn’t Cathrine although the person at the door did seem to bear some slight resemblance to her friend. And there was something familiar about that hair.
At least look at her, Trowa told himself, knowing Cathrine would ask him if he’d thought her friend was pretty or not.
Midii realized this must be Cathrine’s brother. She smiled a little. He was exactly as advertised, tall, handsome and possibly there were green eyes beneath that hair that made him look so enigmatic. It almost seemed like he must be painfully shy, he wouldn’t even look at her.
“Are you Cathrine’s brother,” she asked. “Trowa?”
He shifted his gaze from the floor to her face at the sound of her voice. It was so soft and familiar. The gentle tone of it signaled to Trowa that she must be assuming that he was shy, lots of people did. He noticed a little of the color go out of her face in the harsh light of the hallway as her eyes met his. In that instant he noticed something else too.
She was beautiful, so beautiful. Her hair was like molten gold, long silky strands fell around her face from the ponytail she’d pulled it back in. She must be at least a foot shorter than he was, he thought as he looked down at her. Her build was slender and delicate, the type he was always looked twice at. And her face, he thought that even an angel would envy that face and the wide blue-grey eyes framed within it. He had to stop, he knew he shouldn’t be staring at her, but she was staring right back at him with unreadable emotions in those eyes. Then he knew. Knew he’d seen those eyes before.
She’d fallen asleep, she thought, that must be it. Because this couldn’t be true, must be a dream again and yet it made perfect sense. Cathrine’s brother and Nanashi were the same. They both had no family, both had green eyes, both hid behind hair that was just a shade too long. Did he recognize her too? He was looking at her so strangely.
“Nanashi,” she said softly.
It was her, he thought. Midii Une. She had changed, of course she had, it had been eight years. Her hair had darkened from pale blonde and she had grown up. He couldn’t help but look at her again. She had definitely grown up. But her eyes, her eyes were the same. Looking into his as they always had, as if she were searching for something.
“Come in,” she said breaking the silence and taking his hand and drawing him into the dark room. He barely heard her apologize for the candlelight and the reason behind it. He only knew that it made her eyes shine and that her hair glimmered in the soft light. He kept his hand in hers and she made no move to drop it.
“I always hoped I’d see you again someday, Nanashi,” Midii said, forgetting that his name was now Trowa. It was hard enough to reconcile the young boy she’d met and loved with the man in front of her. But he was everything she could have hoped he would be now. He was so tall and his movements were strong and graceful. She knew that if he wrapped her in his arms she would always be safe and happy. She wanted to touch his cheek with her hand to see if he were real and gaze deep into his green eyes, lose herself there and never come back to the real world. And he was still holding her hand. She squeezed his softly and he tightened his hand in return.
“Midii? Is it really you,” he asked.
She couldn’t think of any answer to that so she nodded. There was so much to say between them that she didn’t know where or how to begin. And she realized that maybe he wouldn’t want to hear about all she’d done and where she’d been since they last saw each other. Wouldn’t want to know how many other people she had betrayed since then. Midii was afraid that this quiet moment of wonder and awe that they had found each other at last might change to cold disgust if he knew. She didn’t feel like talking. Cathrine hadn’t told her much about Nanashi. Trowa.. His name is Trowa now, she corrected herself. She liked the sound of it. Hadn’t liked thinking about him without a name. It had made him seem like something she had imagined, something not quite real.
He told her a little about the time since he’d left when she prompted him to. He was short on the details. Trowa found that words were difficult when she was sitting beside him, hand in his, her eyes watching his face so closely. He merely said he’d ended up as a mobile suit pilot during the war then joined Cathrine at the circus.
She poured him a glass of wine from the bottle on the table. “I have enough money for the important things,” she joked softly, as he took a sip.
“Lights aren’t on your list of important things,” he asked, teasing her a little, surprising himself. He wondered if she tasted as good as the wine she drank, he guessed that she did.
She shook her head and sipped her own glass. “I don’t mind the dark now that you’re here,” she said, setting down the glass and moving a little closer to him.
He smelled her soap as she got nearer and decided that from now on lavender would be his favorite fragrance. How did she manage to distract him from asking her questions, important questions, like what she did for a living, how long she’d been here and how she’d ended up being friends with his sister and how, for that matter, she had survived the war? Why didn’t she know not to spend her money on expensive soap and expensive wine when she didn’t even have enough for the energy bill?
But none of that seemed to matter at all. Could any of it really be more important than kissing her, drinking her in like a glass of wine? It seemed like she wanted him to, she was looking at him expectantly, but he wasn’t really sure how to go about it. Things seemed to be happening so fast, one minute he was at her door and the next he was here beside her in the candlelight. And the next he was telling her she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen and kissing her.
She closed her eyes as his hand touched her cheek and she felt his lips touch hers lightly, tentatively. She reached her hand up to touch his face too and opened her eyes again to look at him. This close she could look into his eyes and see that they were just the same as they had always been. Nearly. But there was something new in them, a look she’d seen in other eyes before but had only ever wanted to see in his as soon as she’d gotten old enough to know what it meant to love a man. He wanted her. He thought she was beautiful. She prayed that he would love her. Maybe everything was finally going to be alright.
She raised her other hand up to touch his face and leaned in to return his kiss. She sighed as she felt his arms tighten around her and she wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned into him, feeling his heart beat quicken as she pressed her body to his.
“She’s everything I dreamed about,” Trowa thought. “So sweet and innocent. She changed, she really changed after I left her.”
He pulled the rubber band from her hair and ran his hands through it, marveling at how like a skein of silk it was.
“He doesn’t care,” Midii thought. “He doesn’t care what I’ve done. He only cares that I’m here with him now. Oh Trowa, I don’t deserve you, but I never want this to end.”
A draft in the old apartment blew out the candles suddenly, distracting them momentarily from each other.
“Shall I leave it dark,” she whispered, the warm breath from her soft words brushing against his ear.
“No,” he said. “Light the candles again, I love looking at you Midii. I never want to stop.”
She was glad that it was dark for the moment because his words brought tears to her eyes. She always cried so easily, tears just welled up in her eyes and overflowed at the least instigation. But this was real, genuine, she thought. Happiness so close she could touch it, embrace it, taste it.
Midii reached over and grabbed the matches off the table and lit one, after hastily wiping her eyes before he could see her tears. As she walked around the room lighting the many little candles Trowa watched her. He realized he hadn’t even asked her how she’d managed all this time. Hadn’t apologized for leaving her alone, for not looking for her after the war. How could he tell her he hadn’t known how wonderful it would be, to be with her again. Didn’t know how right, how perfect they would be together.
Her heart dropped and her stomach clenched as she heard him speak.
“So what did you do after I left you and you stopped being a spy? I never stopped wondering about you,” he asked, coming up to her and wrapping her in his arms again.
“Dear God, what do I say,” Midii wondered, resting her head on his chest and concentrating on his heartbeat, on the steady pattern. “Can I lie and keep it up forever? No, I can’t. But if I tell him. If I tell him . . .” She clung harder, tightening her arms around him.
She was starting to shake a little in his arms and he waited for her to answer. He hadn’t thought she would have so much trouble with his question. After all she’d given up spying after that horrible incident with the mercenaries, so long ago. She must have, how could she go back to that after that nightmare of mobile suits and bombs and death and blood?
“You did stop, didn’t you Midii?” he asked again.
He dropped his arms as she remained silent and she looked up at him with big, sorrowful eyes.
“I-I couldn’t,” she finally said. “I couldn’t stop. There was no way else for me to survive. I would have been alone.”
Trowa looked at her. But he was seeing something else, remembering another time. Heard the roar of the mobile suits, heard the screams of people dying. The people he knew. The ones who had taken him in. Betrayed and dying. Because of her. Because of Midii Une. That’s what it meant to be involved with her. And she had insinuated herself into Cathrine’s life. Probably lied her way in. Who knew why. But where she went death followed. That was all he knew for sure about her anymore. The sweet girl he had kissed and held wasn’t real. Never had been. He had imagined her, conjured her up out of his own ideals and put Midii’s face on her.
“Nanashi?” she said. “Say something. Please?” She reached up a hand to touch his face but he grabbed her wrist to keep her from touching him.
“Keep away from my sister,” he said. “Keep away from me.”
Her eyes hardened and narrowed. She didn’t say anything. Midii was well-versed in self-defense techniques and she had the element of surprise on her side. With a quick twist of his her arm she loosened her wrist from her grasp and bolted out the door, the breeze from her passing extinguishing the candles and leaving Trowa alone in the dark wondering how things had changed between them so quickly.
She ran a few blocks before turning a corner and pressing herself against a building to catch her breath.
“All this time,” she thought. “All this time I’ve fooled myself. Told myself that if I ever found him everything would be alright.”
She found herself remembering the last time she’d seen him. He’d been on the wrong side of a gun, at least in her point of view. She remembered how she’d felt so detached, just waiting for him to kill her. She knew he had every reason to pull that trigger. Why hadn’t he? He must have thought he was giving her another chance, but she hadn’t taken it. Hadn’t been able to. Just because he spared her life didn’t mean her situation had changed, not in the least. She had only proved herself to the Alliance, become an asset to them that they wouldn’t let go of.
“Why?” she whispered. “Why didn’t you just kill me then Nanashi? If you can’t love me the way I am, the only way I know how to be.”
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Next time on Alone/Together . . . Cathrine tries to change Trowa’s heart . . . Midii disappears . . . Quatre hires a new secretary and what is his secret?