By Midii Une
Sally Po gritted her teeth, frustration making her dig her nails into her palms. Questioning this girl was getting very irritating. She kept repeating the same information over and over, and effectively blocking all her attempts at getting at the truth. And while Sally was finding it harder and harder to keep her cool the suspect maintained her ridiculous “I haven’t done anything wrong” attitude.
She tried again.
“Miss Une, this obstinate behavior isn’t getting us anywhere. Your denials aren’t fooling anyone and I’m getting very tired of all of this,” Sally said, barely keeping her temper under the surface. “Tell me who you’re working for and why.”
The girl blinked at her and raised her hands, handcuffed at the wrists to push her hair back.
“I’m sorry about all these misunderstandings,” she said, in a maddeningly soft, sweet, innocent voice. “My name is Isabela Niente. I was only trying to get up-to-speed on all the information in Mr. Winner’s database so I could be an effective employee. You should have no concerns, you have my security clearance in front of you Miss Po. I’ve been cleared by your own office. Surely you don’t suspect a security breach there? Perhaps that’s where you should be investigating if you have any concerns. What more can I tell you.”
Sally got up and a soft, annoyed groan escaped her lips as she started pacing the room. “Your name is Midii Une. You worked with the Alliance all through the war. We have a witness,” she said again.
“My name is Isabela Niente. You have my security clearance,” Midii repeated again. She widened her blue-gray eyes and looked directly into Sally’s.
“Dammit,” Wufei said, peering through the one-way glass window. “I wish we could hear what they’re saying.”
Heero didn’t look up. “Judging by how Sally looks she’s getting nowhere fast,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot she can do if that girl keeps sticking to her story. By the way, how’s the shoulder?”
Wufei glared and ignored Heero’s barb about his wounded shoulder. Actually both shoulder and pride hurt like hell but he wasn’t about to confess that to Yuy.
“How do they expect us to maintain peace if we have to follow these stupid rules? There must be something we can do to make that woman talk,” he said.
“If she’d already transferred the information she wouldn’t have stayed around after getting that e-mail I sent,” Heero said. “If they want it bad enough they’ll come after her. All we have to do is wait.”
Wufei nodded, but he didn’t like it. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes meditatively. Waiting sucked.
Trowa came in, wearing his Preventers uniform. Heero looked at him speculatively, trying to decide how he fit into this situation.
“I’m back on active duty,” Trowa explained.
He leaned up against the glass and looked at her. She wouldn’t see him or talk to him. He could see Sally Po getting more and more frustrated and looking at Midii he might even have believed her if he didn’t know better. He wanted to go in there and shake her. Why did she keep showing up in his life? Why did she keep getting herself involved with the people he cared about, his sister, his best friend? Hadn’t she done enough to him already? And what the hell was she up to?
Suddenly she looked toward the window, he could swear she was looking at him, but that was impossible.
Midii ignored Sally’s ranting, she didn’t have to listen, all she had to do was keep insisting that she was who she claimed to be. And there wasn’t a damned thing they could do about that. For some reason her eyes were drawn to the mirror that hung on the wall, probably a one-way window to the other room. She felt like someone was watching her and she looked at the mirror a few seconds before turning away.
If only Trowa weren’t involved in this it might almost be amusing, the frustration in the other woman’s voice. But it was difficult to maintain her composure with him around, she didn’t want to face those green eyes. It must be him, he was looking at her, she could feel those eyes on her.
“I’m too tired to answer any more questions,” she announced suddenly. “I’ve already told you all I can.”
“Fine,” Sally snapped. “But we’ll talk later and then I’ll expect the truth from you Miss Une.”
“It’s Miss Niente. I’ve already told you that you can call me Isabela. I’d like to help you but I’m telling the truth,” Midii countered, but her voice faltered a little. She felt like every lie she told was increasing the chasm between her and Trowa. He’d never forgive her.
When Sally opened the door Trowa stopped her from closing it. “Let me try again,” he said.
Sally shrugged. After Trowa shut the door, she sat down at the desk and groaned loudly, then pushed all the papers off onto the floor and pounded her forehead on the shining wood in frustration.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Wufei smirk a little. The smirk that told her he thought she was weak for losing her cool. Oh how Sally wished she could see him try to question that little witch without losing his temper. He’d last less than a minute with the exasperating Miss Une. And like an echo in her head she heard that soft little voice say, “It’s Miss Niente.”
“Dammit,” she cursed softly and looked through the window to see how Trowa was faring.
Midii took one look at who had walked through the door and stood up and turned her back.
“Go away. I won’t talk to you,” she said. She went to wrap her arms around herself, but the stupid handcuffs wouldn’t let her. She closed her eyes tightly, the glimpse of him burned into her mind. God, but he looked good in uniform. Goosebumps popped up on her arms.
“Talk to me,” he said, coming up behind her, standing so close she could feel the heat from his body through her thin cotton dress. “Something terrible is going to happen if you don’t. Can’t you understand that?”
She didn’t answer. He looked down at her. She was so close he could touch her if he just moved forward a bit. His hand reached out, seemingly on its own, and touched her hair softly. She held her breath, she wanted to turn around and throw herself into his arms and tell him everything. But she couldn’t, she couldn’t. Didn’t he understand something terrible would happen if she did? She shook her head and stepped away from him.
Trowa grabbed her arms, spun her around and started to shake her. “Stop this right now, dammit. Stop it,” he said.
“Sir,” the guard intervened. “You can’t touch the prisoner, it’s against regulations.”
“Midii,” he said, looking at her. The blue-gray eyes met his a moment, and his hands slid softly down her arms, like a caress. She gasped and pulled away.
“Leave me alone,” she said, turning away again. “I don’t have to talk to you.”
“You have to go,” the guard said.
Trowa stalked out. God, she was maddening. But he’d barely been able to restrain himself from knocking the guard away and kissing her. Every time he was close to her he almost forgot what she was. She was like a rose, so beautiful, but if you touched her you’d get hurt by the thorns.
As soon as the guard locked her back up Midii reached into the heel of her shoe for a lock pick and took of the handcuffs. She threw them up against the wall and rubbed her hands over her arms. But she couldn’t erase the feel of his hands there. There was something in his eyes too and she knew that she hadn’t killed it all, not every shred of feeling that had been there that night. She imagined that he had told the guard to go to hell and held her close and kissed her. If he had she knew she would have told him everything.
“Tell me everything Quatre,” Dorothy said. She restrained herself from saying “I told you so.”
Obviously everything the others suspected about Isabela Niente must be true, but Quatre was still sticking up for her. He was starting to admit that perhaps she was Midii Une as Trowa insisted. But he still thought she must have a good reason for doing what she did. Sure she did, thought Dorothy, the girl was a spy that was reason enough. But Quatre always believed the best about everyone. Perhaps that was how he could bring himself to love her, Dorothy thought. Had he ever really realized how awful she had been? There were times she wanted to tell him every nasty little detail and see if he still loved her then.
And this just proved another point, his friends obviously didn’t feel the same tolerance toward former war enemies as Quatre did. She could never let him tell them about his relationship with her.
“Dorothy,” Quatre pleaded. “Come with me to headquarters. I’m going to go back on active duty with Preventers awhile, just till this thing with Isabela, umm, Midii Une, blows over. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time on this and if we’re a secret I don’t know when I’ll be able to be with you again. Come with me and I’ll tell everyone about us. It’ll be alright, I promise.”
“I’ll miss you,” Dorothy said. “But I swear if you tell anyone about us I’ll run so far you’ll never find me. They won’t approve of us. I’m sure of it.”
“Don’t say things like that,” Quatre said. “Who knows how long this is going to take and I need to be with you. If you’d just let me marry you we could be together all the time. Dorothy I’ve been so patient, I love you, please, we can’t keep things this way forever.”
She turned away from him. He’d said the words, he wanted to marry her. How she wanted to wrap her arms around him and kiss him and say yes. He would be so happy she knew, she could imagine his blue eyes shining with relief. But she couldn’t do it. But what if he wouldn’t take no for an answer? Could she leave him? Tears sparkled in her eyes.
“Oh Dorothy, please don’t cry,” Quatre said, shocked because he’d never seen tears in her eyes before. “I’d never leave you, you have to believe that. We’ll do it your way awhile longer, I’ll do anything to be with you.”
She nestled in his arms and sighed with relief. If he’d pressed her or threatened to leave she might have had to give in to him. Because she couldn’t do without him either, but luckily for her Quatre never pressed or threatened. It just wasn’t in him to do it, no matter how much he wanted something.
He wouldn’t leave her alone, Cathrine thought as she caught a glimpse of that man again. He was always in the corner of her vision. Sometimes she confronted him and he’d just grin and say that maybe they were just fated to be together. Then those warm, deep-brown eyes would sweep over her from head to foot and his smile would broaden and she would start to think things, improper things. He was so handsome and yet he scared her too. Cathrine was starting to wish Trowa were here, he’d tell this guy where to go in a hurry. She didn’t feel comfortable mentioning this to anyone else. After all, Stefan hadn’t really done anything wrong.
“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I can’t help hanging out hoping to get a look at you again.” That was his explanation for always being around, wherever she went. Although she didn’t tell anyone about her fears, Cathrine started carrying one of her throwing knives around. She felt a little better that way.
Stefan followed Cathrine at a short distance, appreciating the sway in her walk and the tantalizing view presented by the short shorts she always wore. This was one of those times when it was a good thing to be Stefan Niente he thought. He could almost thank Midii for getting caught, it was giving him a chance to get close to her, the enchanting Cathrine. It had been a long time, if ever, since he’d been so attracted to a woman. And when he caught her eye he could see that she wasn’t indifferent to him, not at all.
And now the little game of cat-and-mouse was going to conclude. It was time to catch the pretty little mouse. He sighed a little, he wished his pursuit of her wasn’t business-related at all, but purely pleasure. Stefan stepped up his pace when they got to the park, it was dusk and the place was deserted. All the children that played there had gone home to dinner and the lovers who met there at night hadn’t shown up yet. They were alone.
Cathrine shrieked a little in surprise when he touched her arm and turned to face him.
“Why do you keep following me, you’re starting to scare me,” she said, facing up to him bravely.
He thought she was more attractive than ever when her violet eyes sparked like that.
“Well,” he said softly. “I wish it was only because you’re so beautiful, but unfortunately I have an ulterior motive for following you. I need you to borrow you for a little while.”
He pulled a gun out of his coat pocket and pointed it at her. “I just need your help with a little deal I want to make with your brother,” he explained. “You won’t get hurt and who knows, we might even have a little fun together.”
Cathrine pulled her knife out of her pocket and held it between them.
His eyes shone approvingly at her and he grinned.
“Let’s make a deal, I won’t touch you unless you want me too,” he said. “But unfortunately my gun is a bit more lethal than your knife. You really do have to come along with me. But I’ll let you keep that thing if it makes you feel better, Gorgeous.”
He took her arm and Cathrine didn’t dare resist. After all he was right, he had the advantage for now.
Trowa’s cell phone rang. It was Cathrine.
“Cathy,” he said, instantly remorseful, he’d been gone a week and hadn’t called or checked in, he was so wrapped up in the situation with Midii. “I’m sorry I haven’t called, something’s come up and I’ll be staying out here with Quatre for longer than expected. Cover for me with the boss, will you?”
“Oh, Trowa,” she said and her voice sounded different, like she was upset or frightened. He focussed his attention on his sister more intently, pushing the ever-present thoughts of Midii away for the moment.
“Is something wrong,” he asked. “What’s the matter, Cathrine.”
“Hello there Nanashi,” a male voice said. “Interested in a little deal?”
“Trowa,” Sally asked. “Is there something wrong?”
He shook his head negatively. He had to see Midii, he had to find out about this Stefan Niente, find out whether he would hurt Cathrine. He hadn’t mentioned hurting her, but . . . Only the trade three days from now.
“You can do it Mr. Big-time Gundam Pilot,” the man had said. “Certainly you can get Midii out of there. Hell, I bet you’ve even got your own personal key, you’re probably sneaking in there to see her every night as it is. I know she’s got the hots for you. See you in three days, she’ll know where.”
“I just need to talk to her again, Sally,” Trowa said, trying to seem nonchalant. “Maybe I can get through.”
“I’m afraid not Trowa, you lost control last time. You’re off the guest list for now. We’re already having enough trouble getting her to talk and you just seem to rub her the wrong way somehow,” Sally said.
Trowa wondered how he was going to get her out if he couldn’t even talk to her. Was it even the right thing to do? But he didn’t have a choice. He frowned as he thought. Then he came up with something. Duo. Hadn’t he always bragged he could get out of anything?
“Yeah, I’m a regular Houdini,” he’d always boast, loving to showoff and prove himself better than Heero at anything. Duo was the one to help him, he just had to convince him of that.
Duo was bored. Peace wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be. He was an ordinary citizen, a hard-working local businessman-type guy. The young man formerly known as the God of Death, turned up the radio and drummed his fingers on the counter.
“This is so lame,” he thought. Not a customer all day. There had to be some space junk out there somewhere that needed to be cleaned up and he was the best there was damn it. Yep, the best junkman on any colony, anywhere. He’d wanted to make his motto “Hire the God of Junk” but Hilde, his wife and business partner, had vetoed that suggestion.
“Spoilsport,” he thought to himself.
He gave up on the finger drumming and grabbed a couple of pencils and used those to tap along on the counter to the radio beat.
“Duo!! Duo--you’ve got an incoming call from Trowa!! Trowa Barton,” Hilde called down from their apartment above the salvage office. Duo didn’t hear, he was too busy drumming and he had just cranked the radio even higher. Hilde heard the throb of the radio on the floor under her feet. That man, she thought. She sighed and stomped down the stairs to the office. She couldn’t help but smile, he was so adorable, lost in his own little world, pounding away on the counter with his pencils for all he was worth.
“DUO,” she yelled, and laughed to see him jump.
“What,” he said, looking at her questioningly with his big deep blue eyes.
She leaned in and kissed him.
“You’ve got a call from Trowa coming in on the line upstairs,” she said. “I’ll watch the counter while you take it.”
He kissed her back, lingering over her lips and running a hand down her back softly. Then he grinned and pinched her bottom, running up the stairs before she could retaliate.
“I’ll get you for that Maxwell,” she yelled after him.
He smirked, actually he hoped she would. Things could get very interesting when Hilde was feeling frisky.
“Trowa! Hey buddy,” Duo said, peering at the communications screen. “Man, you don’t look so good.”
Trowa sighed and filled Duo in on what had been going on.
Duo snapped the pencil he was holding in two and flung the pieces against the wall.
“HEERO,” he yelled, pacing around the room, while Trowa watched, somewhat puzzled. Duo leaned in close to the screen again. “Why the hell aren’t I in on this? What am I? Chopped liver? This is bullshit, I’m in Preventers just like the rest of you. Heero’s gonna hear about it for trying to shut me out of this one. I’m on the next shuttle outta here, I’ll see ya when I see ya.”
“Duo. Wait,” Trowa said, trying to catch him before he clicked off the communicator. “There’s more. I need your help.”
Duo listened as Trowa explained the situation with Cathrine and Midii. As he listened a grin that could only be described as mischievous crossed his face.
“So you’re saying you want to get this girl outta there behind Heero’s back and then we use her as bait to catch the bad guys all on our own and save your sister? Just me and you without Heero, Wufei and Quatre?” Duo said, summing it all up in his own inimitable way, putting his own slant on things.
“I’m sorry about going behind Heero’s back,” Trowa said. “I know you two are best friends, but . . .”
“Best friends? Best friends? Does someone’s best friend leave them out of the only excitement we’ve had in years? I’ll show Heero not to cross the God of Death. We’ll get those guys ourselves Trowa buddy. Come on, who’s your best pal?? Ol’ Shinigami is out to make a point and you get to help me. Pick me up at the space port on the next arrival from L2 cluster. We’re gonna kick some ass.”
Trowa blinked at the blank screen. He was starting to regret contacting Duo, just a little. He was having way too much fun with this.
Duo tossed a few changes of clean underwear in a bag and scampered out the door, his braid swaying behind him.
“Bye babe,” he yelled as he went out the door. He was not willing to let Hilde have a chance to question him. He knew she wouldn’t approve of this mission, not at all. “Trowa needs a hand with something. I’ll be back in a few days.”
“Duo! Wait,” she yelled, running to the door just in time to see him speed off to the spaceport on his motorcycle.
“Damn,” Hilde said. He was definitely up to something.
Trowa looked at his watch. He had hours yet till Duo could possibly show up, the L2 cluster was the most remote and flights from there always took forever. He had to try again to talk to Midii. He had to get her cooperation on this. He’d promise to protect her if she helped them, he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. But he had to get this Niente guy to show up with Cathrine, somewhere only Midii knew he’d be.
“Heero,” he said. “I really need to talk to her. Isn’t there something you can do?”
“Trowa, there’s no way you’re going back in there. You’re too emotionally involved in this. No matter what you say you’ve got some kind of feelings for her and that’s making this harder for the rest of us. Stay out of it or I’ll revoke your privileges to even be in this building,” Heero said.
Trowa frowned and leaned against the wall with his arms folded, glaring at Heero. Duo was right, who died and put Heero in charge?
“Besides, Quatre’s in there with her now. Maybe he’ll have better luck,” Heero said and glancing at the one-way mirror.
Heero narrowed his eyes a little as Trowa immediately went over to the one-way window and took up his usual post as he always did when Midii Une was being questioned. His feelings for her bordered on obsession, Heero thought, he really should consider just making him leave the colony altogether. No matter how much Trowa might deny it he cared for her, Heero was sure that he did. He wasn’t being romantic, not in the least. Heero Yuy simply made it his business to notice anything that might adversely affect his mission.
Trowa didn’t even realize he was clenching his fists. Thoughts raced through his head, stupid, unimportant thoughts that he couldn’t control.
Quatre was sitting way too close to Midii, drying the tears on her cheeks with his handkerchief, even holding her hand.
And Quatre thought Midii was beautiful. He’d said it many times and she was beautiful, so very beautiful. The tears only made her eyes shine brighter. What was it that was making her cry, Trowa wondered. Were the tears real or only another act? When she cried Trowa doubted even Heero over there wouldn’t be tempted to hold her in his arms and make things right for her. And Quatre was so kind-hearted.
The only reason Quatre hadn’t been seeing her himself was because she worked for him, that was what he’d said. But she didn’t work for him any more.
Trowa wished he knew what they were saying, but the room was soundproof. His face felt hot and his heart burned painfully. He’d never felt it before so he didn’t know what it was. Jealousy.
Why would she talk to Quatre and not to him? Didn’t she know that he was the one . . . the one that loved her? He couldn’t love her not after what she’d done in the past and not after what she’d done had placed Cathrine in danger. He couldn’t love her, but he did.
“Isabela, I mean Midii. Sorry, I forgot for a minute,” Quatre said softly. Midii sighed and didn’t even bother to insist that she was Isabela. She hadn’t thought Quatre would come see her, she was sure that he would despise her just like Trowa did, after she’d betrayed him like she had.
He wiped the tears off her cheek with is handkerchief. “We’re still friends, aren’t we,” he asked. “I miss you so much, the office is a mess. And I could talk to you about everything, even some things I couldn’t even tell Trowa. You know what I mean.”
She nodded. She knew he meant Dorothy Catalonia.
“Talk to me please Midii. You’d be helping a lot of people and I know you wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. I know you’re not that kind of woman. And I’ll help you get started again when this is all over. Just help me now so I can do that for you,” Quatre said, hoping she was listening. Since he’d mentioned Trowa he seemed to have lost her attention. She was silent a long time.
“The EarthSphere Alliance,” she said finally, so softly he had to lean closer to hear her. “They know that most of the Preventer bases are unmanned decoys meant to discourage attacks on the more remote colonies. I know which ones those are and that’s where they plan to attack first.”
Quatre squeezed her hand. “See,” he said. “I knew you’d help us. Do they have the information, did you tell anyone?”
She shook her head. He touched her wet cheek and looked in her eyes.
“It’s going to be alright, we can stop them, we can call up extras and man all the bases,” he said. “Thank you so much!”
“There’s one more thing,” Quatre said. “What about you and Trowa? I’ll talk to him if you want. I’ll make him see you’ve changed. Or maybe you should talk to him now, I’m sure he’s out there. Talk to him Midii, you two need to give yourselves another chance.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t want to see Trowa.”
She was already regretting having told Quatre what she did. His trusting nature and obvious belief that she had some good in her somewhere had made her say things she should never have said. When they found out, her life wouldn’t be worth living. And no one close to her would be safe.
“So what’s the deal,” Duo asked as Trowa drove him away from the space port.
“It’s a former OZ building,” Trowa said. “So you should be familiar with the cells, same thing as on the lunar base practically.”
“Ahh, the good old days,” Duo said. “Except this time we’re dealing with Heero and not a bunch of OZ idiots. We need to short out the surveillance cameras and then work fast. What did she say when you told her?”
“Told her?” Trowa said.
“You didn’t tell her we were breaking in tonight,” Duo said, looking at Trowa in disbelief. He spotted a hardware store and a drug store in a shopping plaza ahead. “Hey, pull in there, I’m gonna need some more supplies. Didn’t tell her. Shit.”
It was amazing how Duo worked, even in his anxiety over Cathrine, Trowa couldn’t help but be impressed. They only had to knock out one guard and that was it. Duo snipped a few wires and the security system was disabled.
“Glad you called me, aren’t you,” Duo said.
“We’re not out of here yet,” Trowa answered.
Duo put his head to the door and listened. “Okay, either this is the wrong door or she’s asleep. Perfect.”
Duo fumbled around in his hair for a split second and pulled out a hairpin. He noticed Trowa looking at him strangely. “Hey,” he said. “These things come in handy, I never leave home without’em.”
The door opened silently and the two perpetrators looked in.
“That her?” Duo whispered. “Don’t want to grab the wrong girl. Whoa, she’s not too hard on the eyes. You sure you’re not doing this for personal reasons, pal?”
“I’m doing this for my sister, that’s all,” Trowa whispered back. “I guess I better wake her up, I hope she doesn’t scream.”
“No way,” Duo said, grabbing his arm. “Just leave Sleeping Beauty there alone, it’s much better if she stays asleep. In fact, we’re going to make sure of that.”
Midii heard the voices and opened her eyes to see someone standing over her. The Alliance, she thought, panic making her heart race. They found her already. She started to sit up and opened her mouth to scream but the figure grabbed her and clamped a damp rag over her nose and mouth stifling the scream. She struggled and hit at the man, she felt her nails rake across his face before she passed out.
“Shit, owww, she got me,” Duo groaned, dropping her back on the bed and touching his face. “Is it bleeding? Oh man Hilde’s going to kill me. You’ll have to explain how this happened Trowa, she’ll never buy the real story.”
Trowa ignored Duo. What the hell had he done to her? He went over and sat beside her on the bed and tried to wake her up but she was out cold. He got up and pushed Duo up against the wall. “What did you do,” he said. “Is she alright?”
“I just knocked her out for a little while. You didn’t tell her we were coming after all,” Duo said. “Calm down, she’ll be fine. You didn’t expect us to drag some kicking, screaming and I might add, clawing, girl out of here and not have Heero or Wufei notice something a bit odd about that?”
“I suppose you’re right,” Trowa said. “But you should have told me.”
“Whatever,” Duo said. “I didn’t think you wanted all the gory details. You better carry her out of here. If she wakes up I don’t want to get scratched again, but don’t worry she’ll be out at least an hour.”
Trowa picked her up, it made him uneasy how limp and unresponsive she was. He couldn’t help but shake her a little.
“Are you sure she’s okay, Duo” he asked again. “Maybe we should get her to the hospital.”
Duo was exasperated, this was getting old, he knew what he was doing.
“Just let me know if she stops breathing, until then don’t panic,” he joked, before noticing the look on Trowa’s face. “I’m just kidding okay and don’t try to wake her up, she’s gonna have one helluva headache when she comes to and women with headaches are no fun at all. Trust me on this one buddy.”
TO BE CONTINUED . . . Next time on Alone/Together . . . Someone’s hot on Trowa, Duo and Midii’s trail . . . Stefan tries to get Cathrine to like him . . . Duo gives a romantic speech (awwwww)