Author’s Note: All warnings should apply in this fic, providing specific warnings would ruin the plot of this story. An appreciation of Shakespeare is recommended ^_~ If shonen-ai, shojo-ai or hetero relationships between GW characters offend you this fic may offend you, yet these topics will not be prominent in the story and there will be no graphic sexual situations. Any obvious or not so obvious irregularities from the original Gundam Wing storyline are NOT mistakes; they are clues, so watch for them. This is a serious story with scenes of humor, romance and mystery included.
This is the “Ship of April Fools Fanfiction Contest” version of the story, challenge requirements are highlighted in bold ^_~
The First of April
By Midii Une
~*~*~PART I: Dark Changes Behind the Scenes~*~*~
Like his father he was a pacifist. The Winner family was one that the people of space could point to as being firmly against war. They were the unnamed successors to the dead pacifist leader Heero Yuy, and in their quiet way stood for the continuance of peace in outer space. They were a powerful, influential family, owning the majority of the natural resource satellites that provided for the livelihood of space colonists in clusters at every LaGrange point.
And yet, in secret, a fugitive scientist was using Winner family resources to construct a weapon of destruction the like of which had never been seen. Even the EarthSphere Alliance and its military counterpart, the Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) had nothing close to comparing to the Gundam Mobile Suit Sandrock.
Quatre Raberba Winner, slight of build, glorious platinum blonde hair that belied his Arabian heritage and startlingly beautiful aquamarine eyes was the intended pilot. Instructor H looked at the boy and felt nausea rise at the thought of the kind-hearted youth strapped into the machine he had created, transforming himself into a ruthless killer in the name of peace and justice.
The peaceful exterior of the young man hid steely determination however and he would try, Allah knew he would try. He would see if he could push down his ideals, push them down deep into a hidden, protected part of his soul. But it was hard, so hard. To deny his father and all his family stood for. To deny what he himself believed so desperately. To fight was wrong. To kill was wrong. What he was about to do made his heart ache and caused it to beat erratically. The closer the time came for Operation Meteor to commence the more uncertain he became. Something had to be done, it was true and building Sandrock had been a powerful step by the Winner family to show their disapproval of what the EarthSphere Alliance and OZ were doing on Earth and their growing ambitions toward space.
Can we do more, Quatre thought, staring into the dead green eyes of Sandrock. Can I do more?
He longed to talk to someone and it wasn’t his father or his favorite sister Iria he wanted to speak with. Father especially would not understand. He had no inkling that Quatre planned to pilot Sandrock himself, even should it mean his own death.
Rasid. Rasid Kurama, leader of the Earth’s Maganac Corps. He fought for peace and he would know. He would know whether Quatre should or even could do the same.
With the Maganacs Quatre felt more comfortable than even with his family. His stern father and doting sisters loved him he knew but the Maganacs and he were the same. They were the product of genetic technology, as he was, and with them he felt a kinship that even family could not offer. Always they had shown him how to accept himself as he was.
He would take Sandrock to the desert. He would let Rasid guide him toward the path he would choose. A measure of peace entered Quatre’s heart as he turned his back on the Gundam
It was the First of April, After Colony 195 . . .
Heat shimmered over the endless sands, the peaceful vista obliterated by mobile suit fire and the endless battling of the Maganac mobile suits against yet another surprise attack from the Alliance.
They were feisty and relentless these Maganacs. Fierce, Arabian fighters, bred for war by geneticists that wanted to build a force to resist the grasping dominance of the EarthSphere Alliance. This dry and desolate corner of the Earth had been a battleground since Biblical times and so it would continue. The Maganacs were born to fight and they had no family but each other.
The Gundam hesitated at the edge of battle, the pilot whispering an unconscious prayer to his God for forgiveness. He closed his eyes briefly, then narrowed his lids before grimly pulling down the goggles he wore to protect his vision in the powerful light of the desert.
Sandrock seemed almost to know what to do of its own accord. To Quatre the Gundam had always seemed to almost have a mind of its own. In a way he almost loved the lifeless suit, he had watched it being built, they had seemed to grow up together.
Sandrock’s mission was the correct path, but was it also his mission? He saw his friends, the Maganacs, fighting furiously under the pounding assault of the Federation’s mobile suit troops. Some were dying despite the efforts of them all, each to protect the other. They were losing their lives.
Suddenly the Gundam was there, in the middle of the battle, missiles bouncing off its invincible hull like harmless pebbles.
“Drop your weapons and surrender. I have no intention of harming you,” Quatre said, trying to make his voice strong, but it was what it was, the voice of a boy not yet a man.
The enemy fired on him and Sandrock’s heat shorters dispatched them with no further protest from Quatre. At least not verbally, but in his eyes something died, some small piece of his soul traded for the lives of those he killed.
“I told you to surrender,” he said unconsciously, his voice tinged with sorrow.
The rest of the battle passed in a blur, mercifully short for the uninitiated warrior who tasted his first blood that April day. The Alliance troops were cut down almost too easily by a weapon they had never seen before and so Quatre’s first battle ended within minutes of when it had begun. The few surviving enemy suits limping away to tell the tale of an almost unbelievably strong mobile suit appearing in their midst and bringing victory to the enemy that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
Rasid handed a towel, wringing wet with cold water, to his young master. The boy mopped his face then hung his head over a bowl and vomited weakly again. The cries of men, trapped inside exploding mobile suits kept ringing in his ears and tearing at his sensitive heart, wrenching him with pain he could hardly bear.
He had been good, Rasid thought, looking down with something that resembled tenderness at the boy. Killing swiftly and mercifully. His instincts in the cockpit that of a seasoned, hardened fighter. There was no malice in his actions, only a desire for what was right and to end the battle quickly with as little loss of life as possible. He had saved them that day, that much was certain. The force the Alliance had sent was intended to wipe them out and they had come too close for comfort. He closed his eyes as a shaft of agonizing pain reminded him of his own injuries sustained as he tried desperately to protect the others and failed.
But, it took a different kind of soul, one so unlike the one Master Quatre possessed, to fight these battles. If he continued in this path, Rasid had no doubt he would kill that something inside him that made him so special. People like Quatre would be needed if this war ever ended, needed to guide the people on the path of peace so it should never be lost again. But he was getting ahead of himself, Rasid thought sadly. First peace must be won.
But must Master Quatre be the sacrifice? His huge hands tightened into fists. All of them loved they boy as if he were their own son. But what other way was there?
Rasid’s dark eyes glanced around the room as if seeking an answer. His eyes widened. Someone was watching them silently from a corner and he met the figure’s eyes in a long penetrating gaze. The slight figure turned after a bit and walked away. But the idea was now lodged in Rasid’s mind. He looked at the Gundam in the corner, the green eyes that glowed so fiercely in battle dead and quiet now while the machine was at rest.
“Allah,” the Maganac leader begged silently as he mopped Quatre’s hot forehead with the wet cloth. “Show me the right path.”
Quatre looked up at him then, as if he’d heard the silent prayer and smiled, the expression weak but brave. It tore at Rasid’s heart, but his decision was made.
“When you’re better, I wish to speak with you Master,” he said, his head hung so that the boy would not see the expression in his eyes.
Trowa cursed silently, he was a seasoned soldier and he recognized the danger he was in, sitting out in broad daylight in his Gundam. He had pushed it too far, but then again he had met more resistance than he expected at the Corsican base. The calm on his face belied his irritation as he discarded the heavy weaponry that weighed down the arm of his mobile suit and took a fighting stance. A soft growl escaped his throat, to lose like this when the battle was only weeks old. To lose simply because he had failed to ration his ammunition properly. A rookie mistake, one a pilot like himself should not have made. He failed to see that he had had no choice, he had been overwhelmed by the enemy and forced to expend his artillery as he had.
The emerald green eyes partially hidden by auburn bangs that tumbled over his face moved swiftly toward the monitor as a soft beeping sound hailed the approach of another mobile suit.
“It’s just like you HeavyArms,” he thought, fascinated with the other suit’s approach despite not knowing whether it contained friend or enemy. It most likely was an enemy, Trowa had no friends. He fought this battle as he did everything in his life—alone.
An enemy then. Trowa threw up the arms of his mobile suit to ward off the enemy’s approach and they tangled almost as if in a dance, straining against each other but close in a way that only lovers should be.
“We shouldn’t be fighting each other,” the voice of the other pilot said. It was soft and lilting and Trowa subsided a bit although he still didn’t let the other suit get the upper hand. However, he knew the battle was futile, the black and white suit before him was obviously a Gundam like his, a Gundam that hadn’t shot out its weaponry in a losing battle. He locked his suit’s arms into position and slowly unstrapped the safety restraints that held him into the cockpit. He opened the hatch and stepped out, his hair hiding his face as he studied the mechanics of the door disinterestedly, his hands raised in an air of surrender.
“Please,” the voice of the other pilot said. “We are not enemies. Besides, I’m the one who surrendered first.”
Trowa looked up, his eyes meeting the other Gundam pilot’s for the first time and he slowly lowered his hands. The pilot was his age but smaller in build. The bright Corsican sun gleamed off pale blonde hair and Trowa felt pulled into huge sea blue eyes that studied him curiously.
“I’m Quatre,” the pilot said. “Quatre Raberba Winner.”
Trowa said nothing.
Rasid raised an eyebrow as the familiar blonde mop of hair and blue eyes appeared on his screen. The encounter on the landing strip between the two Gundams had shaken his soul. There was another one. But Sandrock had held its own against the other suit with seemingly no trouble at all. He seemed to have chosen the correct answer to his difficult decision. The young pilot had handled the skirmish with tact and skill. Now those crystal-blue eyes sparkled with an unreadable emotion he had never seen in them before although over time those eyes had become as familiar to him as his own reflection in the mirror.
“I want him to come back to the desert with us Rasid,” Quatre announced, trying to sound matter of fact but there was a hint of pleading in the voice too, begging Rasid to trust his judgment and allow the intrusion of an outsider at their secret headquarters.
The other pilot was a good fighter but he did not have a soldier’s instincts, Trowa thought as he cast a sideways glance under his lashes at the slender boy next to him. He offered his name with no apprehension, invited a stranger to his base of operations with no proof at all that he wasn’t an enemy.
Trowa felt a bit sorry for him. In time he would learn that there was no room for trust like that in a war. He would learn that lesson if he lived long enough. Trowa had learned it himself years ago. It was a mistake a soldier would make only once.
The fierce, dark-haired Arab with the wild haircut had more wiles, Trowa thought, catching Rasid’s suspicious eyes upon him. He was not as certain as his young companion that they should give up their secrets to a stranger, a stranger with a powerful weapon and the ability to use it.
The Maganac base was astounding; it would be impossible for anyone to find its location below the unmarked desert sands without prior knowledge. Even with all his experience, a lifetime of fighting, Trowa wasn’t sure he could ever pinpoint it again even if his life depended on it. And despite what he thought about Quatre giving his trust too easily Trowa found himself falling asleep as soon as he was left alone in his room.
The battle on Corsica had wiped out Trowa’s reserves. It had been non-stop fighting and scrambling to find a place to hide himself and his Gundam since he’d reached Earth. He’d barely adjusted himself to the idea that he was now Trowa Barton, a Gundam pilot engaged in Operation Meteor. It was a lot to absorb, even for someone as imperturbable as he.
The sun peeked around the heavy blinds that kept the room dark and for a long, disturbing moment Trowa had no idea where he was. He wasn’t in the small cell-like room he’d been allotted as a Barton Foundation technician or on the couch of Cathrine Bloom’s trailer at the circus. But the feeling was the same, he felt as uncomfortable in this soft feathery bed as he had on the curly-haired girl’s cozy sofa. He didn’t belong here. The battlefield had always been the only place he felt at home.
The soft sound of someone touching random piano keys and creating an odd, disjointed melody rose up through the floor, the sound muted slightly by the thick Persian rug beneath his feet. Trowa splashed cool, scented water from a convenient pitcher on his face and ran an impatient hand through his bangs. How long had he been here? He raised the shade and covered his emerald eyes instinctively as the sun pierced the window. From its height in the sky he could perceive it was already late afternoon.
One of his eyebrows shot up quizzically and the ghost of a grin flashed across his face as he followed the sound to its source, a sudden discordant keystroke the cause of his uncharacteristic amusement.
“Do you enjoy music,” Quatre asked as Trowa peered into the luxurious room, sunlight pouring through a dazzling skylight dome in the ceiling. The blonde spoke as if they were continuing a conversation that had been merely interrupted by Trowa’s long sleep.
“I don’t play the piano,” Quatre admitted, looking at the instrument with regret as his slender fingers ran gently over the keys. His touch brought forth a kind of strange music though, Trowa thought, despite his denial of any skill with the instrument.
As he thought this, another sound filled the room, the mournful strains of a string instrument which quickly evolved from sorrowful to hopeful and covered an astonishing array of emotions. The music went where Quatre couldn’t, into Trowa’s heart and soul, questioning, demanding an answer. Who are you? What are you feeling? Why do you fight?
Trowa tried to close himself off from the feelings evoked by Quatre’s music but it was impossible to ignore. He couldn’t fend it off like he could spoken words or a touch. He looked up at Quatre, bathed in a shimmer of sunlight, his eyes closed and his cheek pressed gently to the silken-honey veneer of the violin. It was as if he was alone in the room, playing to no audience, his heart open to anyone who happened by. Trowa adjusted his estimation of the other pilot. He had something, it wasn’t a soldier’s courage although he certainly had the skill. It was almost a kind of magic, it wove around him like a spell and he found a flute in his hand, found himself answering the other pilot’s questions with his own music.
It seemed timeless, the sun slid lower in the sky and still they played, their melodic conversation cementing their friendship far stronger than the exchange of past histories in mere words ever could.
A small smile curved Quatre’s lips as he peered at Trowa beneath his lashes, instinctively knowing this was something rare from the quiet Gundam pilot.
Simultaneously they lowered their instruments, a tiny frown of disappointment crossed Quatre’s forehead, the flute player would not meet his eyes. He seemed unchanged by the moment they had shared. Yet there had been something . . .
“Master Quatre,” Rasid’s rough voice filtered into the room, a touch of impatience in it that caught the young pilot’s full attention.
“Yes,” Quatre said, turning his eyes toward the older man.
“The repairs on the Gundams have been completed,” the Maganac captain said.
That remark at least caught the other pilot’s attention, Quatre thought, as Trowa looked up from the floor and then carefully replaced the flute in the cabinet.
“Thank you,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” Quatre said. Wasn’t he going to stay any longer? It seemed not, he turned and left the room with unhurried but purposeful strides. He moved with the stealth and grace of a wild animal.
Incredible, Quatre thought, watching the taller boy sling his duffel bag over his shoulder and walk away without another word. It was as if he could only justify his existence on the battlefield. He couldn’t linger in a place like this. Sadness welled in the stormy blue eyes. Could it be?
“Do you have a name,” Quatre called out the window.
“I have no name,” Trowa answered, surprising himself at the revelation he was exposing to the other pilot. “But if you must call me something, call me Trowa.”
“Trowa,” Quatre thought.
Out of the corner of his eye Trowa glimpsed a slender, familiar figure at the dock and he began to hurry his movements. He didn’t hurry enough that it was noticeable but his fingers shook a little as they checked the cords that fastened the tarp around HeavyArms and for some reason he didn’t dare glance over again.
Another glance would be an invitation, an admission of acquaintance if not outright friendship. The ghost of a memory of violin music, sweet and soaring, played in his head and his hand lingered on the rope he was tightening, fingers tightening on it tensely.
When he looked up again from his work, intent on jumping into the truck’s cab and taking off somewhere to sleep for the night, Quatre was there. The blue eyes seemed stormy in the dusk but Trowa almost cracked a smile, one of the facial gestures the girl at the circus was always pleading with him to indulge in.
It was fated we meet like this, tonight, Quatre thought, willing himself to not to exclaim loudly over the fact. Trowa was confused and not accustomed to trusting. He fought alone, he lived alone. Quatre was a threat to that mentality, he could sense that. He did not doubt Trowa had his reasons for clinging to solitude and a shadow of sadness and understanding and regret darkened his blue eyes briefly.
“Trowa,” Quatre said, finally, breaking the silence and exchange of uncomfortable glances. An odd emotion rose inside at the thought that his presence meant something to Trowa, even discomfort. A reaction was something, a feeling, a feeling for him.
“So you’re here too,” Trowa said, granting the other pilot sparse words of acknowledgement. He was secretly pleased that Quatre had remembered his name, now that he had one of his own.
Quatre glanced up into the veiled emerald eyes of the other pilot and felt his own lids drop to hide his own emotions. The corner of his mouth turned up as he felt a flash of envy for Trowa’s sheltering hair. Now wasn’t the time to approach Trowa. Apparently they’d be on a battlefield tomorrow. He could prove his trustworthiness to the other pilot there if nowhere else.
Trowa was surprised then when Quatre turned away with a small nod, making no further attempt to talk to him. A breeze blew in from the ocean, ruffling the wavy blonde hair and the sunset tipped the ends with glowing red. Quatre tipped his head back and closed his eyes as the salty Pacific wind caressed his face, the sensuous enjoyment of such a small thing causing a twinge almost like jealousy in Trowa’s soul. Even the wind loved Quatre, he thought. Confusion clouded his senses again. What should it matter to him if Quatre loved the touch of a breeze or the glow of a beautiful sunset? Trowa glanced over the ocean, the sun was being pulled down into the deep blue water at the end of the world. The part of him that appreciated the sight of beauty and the lilt of music, the part being reawakened by merely knowing Quatre acknowledged the amazing aptitude of nature to put on these little displays.
When he looked back the other pilot had already disappeared. Trowa scanned the dockyard and spotted the stairs leading down to the shore and a tiny beach. An ugly, rocky beach in comparison to the white, sandy stretches further down the coast. But there was a rough, wild beauty in it, he supposed. The sounds of gulls soaring and squawking punctuated the air and Trowa stood indecisively at the top of the stairs. Quatre was down there, bathed in the rosy light, platinum hair seeming to glow in the gathering darkness.
The taller pilot wasn’t annoyed when a look of pleasure lit the other’s face. He was pleased that Quatre said nothing. Still, it was a welcoming silence and Trowa sat beside Quatre on the rock and stared at the crimson-tinted water as the sun sunk below the waves.
It grew dark and they were still quiet, Trowa having no desire to talk and Quatre not wishing to be the one to shatter their companionable silence. The air grew colder as the mist came in from the ocean, cool and damp. Sitting so close to Trowa, Quatre could feel the warmth radiating off the other pilot and thought that he could sit there all night, the night before the battle, basking in Trowa’s body heat and looking at the stars twinkling through the fog.
Surprisingly it was Trowa who spoke first, but the words were mundane and Quatre’s heart inexplicably fell.
“It’s getting late and tomorrow will be important,” he said.
Quatre turned to look toward Trowa at precisely the same time Trowa turned to glance at him. Unconsciously Quatre had edged closer to Trowa as they sat there in the darkness and their noses almost brushed against each other.
In the soft light that wavered down from the pier Trowa could see each individual silky eyelash as they lay darkly against Quatre’s pale skin. He felt it again, that urge to reach out his hand, just to touch, to make contact, he felt pulled like a magnet.
The purple twilight cast a dreamlike quality over them and Quatre shut his eyes, leaning forward a bit and their foreheads bumped. Trowa drew back, but his movements were awkward and embarrassed, Quatre flushed and stood hurriedly, he brushed his unruly blonde bangs back off his forehead and let the brisk sea breeze cool his hot cheeks.
“What am I doing,” both of them wondered, stealing a glance at each other then looking back out at the water, their motions in almost perfect sync.
Trowa felt a strong desire to remain there all night, just looking out over the water. Had he ever dreaded a battle before? This one seemed too easy somehow, the destruction of OZ at hand, his well-honed instincts protested but there was nothing to back up his suspicions.
He almost opened his mouth to voice his misgivings, but thought better of it.
“See you tomorrow,” Quatre said softly as Trowa walked away. “At New Edwards?”
That was where he was going to be. They had the same mission. He looked back at Quatre still sitting there, following his emotions and looking out over the water as he had also wished to do. But training and habit were stronger. It was the night before a battle, you ops checked your mobile suit, loaded your ammunition and slept 8 hours.
Quatre didn’t follow the rules, maybe he didn’t even know them. Trowa shrugged and disregarded the lure of the ocean, disappearing into the darkness to follow a stronger call.
Rage caused by intense worry and hidden fear glowed in Rasid Kurama’s dark eyes as he stared down at the slender blonde pilot’s bent head. It was in his mind to withdraw his help and approval for any further missions.
“I cannot lose you to this war,” Rasid insisted once again. “You promised not to go off alone, without the support of the Maganacs. It was what we discussed and you agreed to.”
“I wasn’t alone,” the young pilot repeated. “The others were there. We were meant to fight together. I couldn’t risk your lives. You’ve done so much for me.”
Rasid was silent. Sandrock would leave again, go into battle without their protection. The words were unspoken between them but that did not stop them from being true.
Noise filtered in from beyond the thin walls. The Maganacs grew restless when there was no fighting. The serious mood shattered as Abdul’s voice rose above the others in one of his trademark jokes. Rasid’s thick eyebrow rose in annoyance and Quatre stifled a laugh, his face turning red from the effort to maintain his control under the older man’s gaze.
"So there I am with this dead stuffed iguana, and I feel like I'm cheating on Yasmina, you know?" Abdul said drunkenly.
“That’s a new one,” Rasid, his solemn face relaxing.
Quatre nodded agreement, losing the battle against laughter. “I still don’t get the one he told last week where the punch line was ‘donkey bites, donkey bites,” the young blonde stammered between gasps of laughter.
Rasid smirked a bit.
“I hope you never do,” he said, his face growing serious again. This war meant the loss of so much innocence. That was just part of the reason it had to stop.
It was amazing and unbelievable, Iria Winner thought as she studied the young pilot, sleeping under the influence of pain-killing drugs. As she watched the pale lids fluttered to reveal eyes of stormy blue, the color of an angry Atlantic sea. Puzzled, sad eyes.
“Where am I,” the pilot faltered. “I need a shuttle. I need it immediately.”
Iria’s eyes widened and the pilot’s eyes dropped.
“I’m sorry to be rude. You don’t understand. This is important. I have to. . .
“You are hurt. Badly hurt,” Iria interrupted, gently pushing the injured blonde back down on the bed as her practiced gaze interpreted the pain the small movements were causing her patient.
“Please, just let me borrow a shuttle. I’ll see it’s returned to you,” the Gundam pilot persisted.
Iria pulled up a chair and tucked a lock of shimmering dark gold hair behind her ear as she took a few precious moments to consider her words. She reached out a gentle hand to trace the lines of the suffering face on the pillow with her cool fingers.
“You have to listen to me,” she said carefully. “You are very badly injured and your full recovery will take at least two months. I am a doctor. I am . . . your sister. Iria Winner.”
“Iria,” the pale figure repeated wonderingly.
“You don’t need to worry about anything. Just rest,” Iria repeated, watching in satisfaction as the lids drooped down over the tired blue eyes. Such a strong will, she thought, fighting off the effects of those heavy drugs, just to continue the fight . . .
“What happens now,” the young woman thought as she turned out the light and quietly shut the door. “What happens now?”
Iria felt she should intervene with Father on Quatre’s behalf, but her younger brother was insistent. He had decided on this course of action himself and he would take the responsibility. Even now he was intent on replacing Sandrock somehow. He could hardly fathom that the Gundam was gone. He could see the mecha perfectly in his mind’s eye. But already he knew there was something available that might be more suited to the battles to come, he hadn’t spent this time rashly. He had realized early on that something more powerful than Sandrock could become necessary. Months of searching computer files had just recently turned up something he could use—it was called Wing Zero. Already it was under construction, he had spent all this time supervising the work. And this time he would be ready to fight for what he believed in. What had happened on Earth just a week before and the reaction of the colonies’ to the Gundam pilots’ actions had struck him deeply.
Her heart filled with maternal concern when her young brother came out of Father’s office, she’d heard the shouting.
“Is Father right,” Quatre whispered, his confidence shaken as he wondered aloud. “Have I only made things worse?”
Iria went to him and held him softly in her arms, it had been so long since he had been young enough to seek comfort from her like this. But he needed her now. So much was happening all at once. She loved Quatre so, they all did, even Father. Why then, she wondered, were all of them forced to keep so many secrets from each other?
“You did the right thing,” she said softly. “What happened wasn’t your fault. We all believe in you. Even Father I think, though he can’t admit it. He has to stay strong in his pacifist beliefs, but deep down you have his support Quatre. He’ll realize that you’re right.”
Quatre favored her with a wavering smile. “There’s someone I need to talk to,” he said and she nodded understandingly. She looked at her father’s closed door and sadly decided against trying to convince him to forgive Quatre. He could be immoveable at times like this.
Guilt and sorrow for so many things overwhelmed Quatre as he stared up at Wing Zero, complete now at last. He had made so many decisions that had affected so many people and now it was time to make one last choice. The colonies were no longer the peaceful space habitats they had been intended to be. They were eager for war, hungry for power and military might. They had no idea. Memories of his battle with Sandrock in the desert when Operation Meteor was launched assailed him. The death, the screams, the explosions. He was ready for that again, more than ready now, at last, if that was what it took.
What was to stop him? His father and his beloved sister were dead. Killed for their beliefs that space should remain demilitarized, but the people, crazed by OZ’s planted suspicions had turned on the Winners.
Unheeded tears streaked his pale cheeks as he thought of his sister, dying to save him when the satellite Father had been on exploded and sent their small shuttle out of control. In a way Father had died fighting for peace. Now Quatre would teach the colonies a lesson. There was no reason for their existence if they couldn’t exist in peace. It was better that they were destroyed rather than become a battleground between OZ and the Alliance. Far better.
He knew what to do.
He would destroy everything.
Trowa and Heero approached the unknown mobile suit cautiously. OZ was terrified of the thing out there. Terrified enough to put a weapon like Mercurius in the hands of Heero Yuy. That in itself was a testimony to OZ’s desperation. They wanted this suit destroyed. They said it was a Gundam.
Both of the pilots knew there was only one person out there with the capability to construct and pilot such a suit.
It had to be Quatre.
Heero knew nothing of the 04 pilot, he’d only had a glimpse of the others at New Edwards and his mind had been occupied with his failure. But of all the others Trowa felt closest to Quatre. That was an understatement he admitted as he considered the situation as they drew closer and closer to the coordinates they’d been given. Begrudgingly and almost against his will he’d learned to trust Quatre in the few times they’d fought together.
It didn’t matter that only one other had ever gained his trust like that. Didn’t matter that that had been a mistake on his part. In a way he didn’t really regret that instance, it had been a no-win situation for everyone involved.
He forced his mind back to Quatre, making his plans. They would engage in a battle, he thought, enough so that OZ would believe it was genuine. He could make Quatre see that he had to wait, just a little longer, until the other Gundams were operational again. Then they could all fight again. A tiny doubt flickered in his common sense thoughts. Quatre should know better than to pull this, know better than to take on a fight like this now.
“Trowa. This pilot is Trowa,’ Quatre thought, the name cutting like a knife through his sorrowful madness. A voice from far away making a guilty admission. “I love Trowa,” the soft voice said. “I love him.”
Could he fight Trowa?
“Get out of here! I’ll kill you all,” he warned again, his voice shaking as the voice insisted again. “I love Trowa.”
Trowa was speaking, saying things, reasonable things that were meant to swerve him from his course. That’s not me, Quatre thought, listening in spite of himself. You don’t know me, Trowa. You don’t know.
“I love Trowa.”
Trowa was in his way. It was Heero that he wanted to hit, Heero was trying to stop him. But Trowa was in the way.
“I love Trowa.”
Trowa was in his way.
“You are kind, believe that Quatre,” the voice surrounded him in his cockpit. It reached him, something clicked.
“I love Trowa.”
“Trowa,” Quatre screamed. He couldn’t let Trowa die, it became the new force that propelled him, but as he turned to go to the damaged Vayeate the Mercurius slammed into the Wing Zero full force and he was forced into combat with Heero again. The two mighty suits tumbled into the colony and the door shut.
Quatre stared at the blue water waiting for Heero to speak. He’d told him everything, the first battle, Rasid’s decision, how he’d found the plans for Wing Zero and known somehow it would be needed. Told him all of it.
There was no judgment in the steel blue eyes. “You are a Gundam Pilot and now you can only exist on a battlefield,” he said, the terse words full of meaning and without malice.
“Then I will fight,” Quatre said, looking up into space as if for confirmation as the hijacked ocean liner glided along as peacefully as a pleasure boat. He wondered if Rasid had been wrong those months ago and if this was the course he should have taken then. Would Trowa still be alive? Would his father and Iria, if he had made a different decision? Perhaps. Perhaps not. He had not been the same person then that he was now. But now he was ready.
Ready to fight for peace.
~*~*~Part II: Just Communication~*~*~
A pair of delicately-shaped sea blue eyes widened with hope as a shimmering blonde head peered over the railing of the upper floor of the Winner Corporation offices on one of their many resource satellites. It was the perfect place to remain hidden and in the background.
It was Duo down there. Duo Maxwell, the outspoken, outrageous American pilot of the Gundam DeathScythe. They’d spent some time together at the Maganac base after the incident where Heero had destroyed the shuttle carrying the Alliance pacifist leaders.
“The last time I saw Trowa,” the slender blonde thought wistfully before the thought also occurred that perhaps that was why Duo was here. Did he have news about the search for Trowa?
“Hey, hey! Quatre! How you doing man,” Duo greeted the other pilot. Quatre smiled that smile at him. The one that always made him think that Quatre was somehow too pretty to be a boy. That smile lit his face and made him look like one of the stained glass angels at Father Maxwell’s Church. But then who knew if angels were women or men? They were just beautiful, Duo thought. Beautiful like Quatre.
The appearance of a slightly nervous, slender teenager with a beautiful face and shining platinum hair drew no notice in the crowd of people at the circus. They were much too interested in the show to notice just another member of the crowd.
The young blonde only had eyes for one performer. Trowa did his usual tricks: the graceful, acrobatic flips; the amazing rapport with the performing lion and of course his fearless imitation of a target for Cathrine Bloom’s razor-sharp, but perfectly balanced knives.
His hopeful admirer watched it all impatiently. The next act, their reunion, was one that had been long anticipated and prayed for to any god who would listen, be it Allah or even the one God himself. All had been begged for this moment that seemed so close.
Trowa knelt by the lion’s cage, the feel of the soft fur beneath his fingers comforting somehow, as if the animal understood him as no one else. But despite everything, the comfort of the animal’s nearness, the enveloping, tender concern of Cathy he still felt so cold sometimes. Still felt as if something were trying to break through the fog over his mind. But whatever was out there was too frightening.
Cathy said to try to forget, it wasn’t good to try to remember. There was fear in her violet eyes when she said that. Fear that made him heed her warning. Cathy loved him, she only wanted what was best. He went on running his fingers over the warm, tawny pelt. He smiled a little to think that some people could fear these creatures. They had senses that people would do well to cultivate. They knew who could be trusted, who would be kind to them.
“Trowa,” a soft voice called. There was kindness in the voice, gentleness even the animal he caressed would sense. He turned puzzled green eyes toward the sound.
A boy stood there, about his age, but shorter, and much more slender, nearly fragile. But there was hidden strength there, he felt it. He knew him . . .
Trowa shuddered. No. No, he didn’t. He didn’t know anyone but Cathy, his sister. A memory of pain and cold wracked his body as the boy stared at him with eyes that shimmered with pools of unshed tears.
“Trowa. It’s me . . . Quatre,” the boy said, a hint of pleading in his voice as those stormy blue eyes stared at him passionately.
Those eyes demanded too much. Trowa shook his head and felt relief when Cathy came into view. The urgent blue eyes seemed to shred his defenses, made him want to remember what she had told him to forget.
Quatre didn’t notice Cathrine’s approach. Trowa’s condition, despite Duo’s warning, was a shock.
“Should I have come,” he thought. “Will I make things worse by asking him to fight again?”
“Trowa,” Quatre said again in a voice trembling with uncertainty before Cathrine stepped between them.
She spoke to Trowa in a low, sweet voice but the glare she shot at Quatre could have frozen boiling water. Quatre’s heart sank. She was right, Trowa should be left out of this.
“He’s happy here. Don’t you understand,” the young woman said as Trowa obediently disappeared inside the tent. “He belongs here with us.”
I wish I could just see him again for a minute, one more time, a lump filled Quatre’s throat, leaving him unable to speak or protest.
Trowa stared at the departing figure. I should be going with him, he thought. But a wall of pain and fear blocked the thought.
But those desperately sad eyes had cracked the wall between Trowa and reality. And when the call to battle beside the owner of those eyes came, he had to answer. From deep within his hidden knowledge of waging war crept back to the surface, slowly, but surely.
Quatre’s happiness was tempered with concern and fear.
“Have I betrayed him again by bringing him here,” the Sandrock pilot wondered, looking at the sleeping face of Trowa, once more beside him in the shuttle carrying them toward unknown danger.
Sleep was elusive, Trowa found, not that he had his memory back. It was as if all the thoughts he had been unable to locate were swarming back in a buzzing, chaotic whirl.
He remembered it all: the heat of the explosion, the coldness of space. And the disbelief that Quatre could be so far gone as to act the way he had.
Trowa let his emerald eyes rest again on the pilot who slept sprawled forward on the table top in the Peacemillion galley. The only sound that of Wufei grunting slightly as he did endless situps, presumably to keep up his strength in space but more likely to burn off restless energy.
Trowa wondered how anyone could sleep so peacefully after the battle they’d had. He was tired too, they all were. But his was an exhaustion of both body and mind that wouldn’t let him sleep. There was too much to think about to spend time in sleep.
Like the fact that Quatre looked so beautiful, sleeping there. Such perfect skin, the cheeks flushed rosy-pink. His hair looked so soft and the color was incredible, unreal. And he smelled so good too, an indefinable pleasant scent that made Trowa want to hold him in his arms and just breathe him in.
That was desire. Attraction in addition to friendship. Was that who he was? Was Quatre what he wanted? He’d never really considered his sexuality before. He’d just lived a life with one focus, that focus being battle. Was it infatuation, because Quatre was the first person to be kind to him in so long? Because he was the first to show an interest in him, in Trowa?
That’s not you, he thought, what would Quatre think if knew that he was no more than a boy without a name, Nanashi.
What would he think if he knew Trowa was beginning to want more than friendship. Trowa remembered that night on the beach in San Francisco.
Maybe he wouldn’t be unhappy if he knew. Maybe he wanted the same thing.
The clock on the wall revealed that it was morning again. The clock was as regular as one other thing on Peacemillion.
“What I wouldn’t give for some waffles right now,” the 02 pilot announced loudly, leaning far back in his chair and stretching, turning his large violet eyes on Heero
“Hn, what do you think I am, a toaster,” Heero asked.
“Well, I’ll have to think about that one for a minute,” Duo replied laughing.
Wing Zero towered over the slender blonde pilot who stood looking at the Gundam curiously. So, this was it. Wing Zero.
“Hmmph,” the small figure muttered. “You can give as well as you take.”
Heero stared curiously at the 04 pilot. Zero’s manipulative systems were powerful and Quatre had shown he could not handle that kind of mental intervention. At least in the state he’d been in then.
Things were so different now and Heero wondered how this Quatre would handle Zero. Wordlessly he let the inertia of a slight push off from Wing hurtle him silently toward Sandrock.
He wasn’t surprised to find Quatre behind him within seconds.
“I can’t! Heero, what are you thinking,” the blonde pilot protested. “After what happened to Trowa, I could never try that system.”
There was fear in the stormy blue eyes that stared at him indignantly.
“We’ve all had our turn with it,” Heero said in a voice that did not invite discussion. “It can be a good system. It helped Trowa after all.”
Quatre shot Heero a look that quite plainly said he was taking unfair advantage by bringing Trowa into this. Yes, Zero had brought Trowa back, but it was also Zero that had taken Trowa away and almost killed him.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Heero said, as Quatre turned to stare at him, a startled expression on his face. “I know you can do it. You need to do this.”
“I can’t,” Quatre whispered.
“You’re afraid what happened last time will again,” Heero stated. “We both know that wasn’t you then . . . Quatre. It’ll be your choice, just type in Zero to activate it.”
It was all over.
Or it would be once he was sure that Quatre would be alright. How had he continued fighting when he’d been hurt like this, Trowa wondered. Worry creasing his forehead as he visually examined his friend’s injuries, waiting for him to open his eyes. He’d fallen asleep, Sandrock on auto-pilot on the way back from destroying Libra. Asleep or a brief fit of unconsciousness he couldn’t tell.
As if the wounded pilot felt the others gaze the stormy blue eyes opened slowly and a weak, brave smile curved the dry, pale lips.
“I’m alright, Trowa,” Quatre said as the other pilot helped him from the cockpit. “I can walk,” the blonde hissed as Trowa attempted to pick him up.
“You shouldn’t,” Trowa said briefly, the flat tone of his voice belying his conflicting emotions.
“You’re right, but we’ve all been doing many things we shouldn’t have during this entire conflict. Haven’t we,” Quatre said, leaning heavily against Trowa for support.
“What are you doing,” Sally exclaimed racing in with a medical team and stretcher in her wake. “Quatre you shouldn’t be walking.”
“Someone agrees with me,” Trowa said softly, wincing himself as Quatre arched his back a little and bit his lip in pain as he lay on the stretcher. After a brief, assessing glance Sally deftly produced a needle and slid it under Quatre’s skin without comment.
“No Sally,” he protested. “I don’t need . . .”
His lids fluttered hiding the sea-blue eyes from Trowa as the medicine took instantaneous effect.
“He’ll be alright,” Trowa said, the comment more of a statement than a question. Sally smiled softly at the concern in the young man’s face. Genuine emotion was a stranger to that face she realized, but it was there now.
“I won’t know for sure till I take a look,” she said. “But he’s made it this far. Quatre’s much stronger than you think. All of you are.”
She closed the door and turned to her patient. She undid the fastenings of the flight suit hastily but carefully in order to examine the wound and determine treatment. Quatre’s chest was already heavily bandaged and Sally frowned curiously. The fresh blood stained the clean white wrapping bright red.
“Odd,” she thought, as she removed the old wrappings.
She glanced startled at the sleeping face of the 04 pilot.
“Oh my God,” she said in sudden realization.
Trowa looked as if he were sleeping, he sat on the floor arms crossed over his chest, still in his flight suit. His eyes were closed and his head bent but Sally was sure he was awake. Just conserving energy in the way of a practiced soldier. He touched her heart this quiet young man who had seen too much in his short life. But at least she had good news for him this time.
“Quatre’s awake now. If you want to go in,” she said, a little twinkle apparent in her sky-blue eyes.
In a graceful movement Trowa rose from the floor and thanked Sally, sincerity apparent in his quiet voice.
Quatre lay in the dim room. Trowa noticed that his friend’s face was nearly as white as the pillowcase. There must have been a lot of blood loss. No surprise. A wound from Dorothy Catalonia would be deep. Of course it would.
But the sea blue eyes in the white face were as soothing as ever and when he looked into them Trowa knew that everything really was going to be all right now.
“Sssh,” Trowa hushed the other pilot’s attempt to talk. “Get some sleep. We’ll talk later.”
“Hmm,” Quatre said sleepily, the lids fluttering heavily over hazy blue eyes once again.
Trowa stayed a bit, his finger reaching out unconsciously to smooth away a stray strand of platinum hair from Quatre’s pale face. He’d always longed to do that, a hidden desire manifesting itself of its own accord. His own skin flushed a little at the unaccustomed touch and his mind raced. Now the war was over. There was no excuse for himself and Quatre to be near each other anymore. The thought of separation had an odd effect on him, but Trowa wasn’t sure what it meant. Love, he thought quizzically. Can I love him? For that matter, can I love anybody?
He left the room silently casting a last glance at the medical equipment monitoring Quatre’s vital signs.
There had been only one place to refugee to in space once the Libra had exploded. Friends and enemies had all clustered to MO-2. Of course there was peace now and supposedly they were all going to get along. They could have discussions about their problems now. That’s how Miss Relena would put it.
There was certainly one person on this resource satellite that Dorothy Catalonia definitely wanted to have a discussion with.
Quatre Raberba Winner.
Her hatred of the 04 pilot had shifted dramatically after their meeting on the Libra. The guilt she felt for running him through with her sword festered in her soul. Especially with his kind, concerned words that wished for her safety still burning in her mind. Finally she saw Trowa leave the room. She narrowed her lavender eyes at the HeavyArms pilot. He acted like he was Quatre’s watchdog or something. Something like fear appeared in her expression, replacing the impatient look she had worn.
Was Quatre really alright? Trowa had looked so grim, but then he always did. Dorothy took a deep breath and pushed open the door to Quatre’s room. When she’d fought him there, face to face in the mobile doll control room on Libra she hadn’t been able to help but compare him to an angel. A merciful angel fighting with skill, but only because he had to. The glowing nimbus of his platinum hair, a face delicate and lovely enough to be envied by any woman, was etched on her memory.
She had underestimated the gentle blonde youth she’d hardly deigned to notice in the Cinq Kingdom. Heero Yuy had blinded her with his cold and single-minded attitude toward battle. Quatre had seemed so insignificant. He was but a beautiful, peace-loving non-entity that had fawned over Miss Relena’s ideals like so many others.
But now . . .
He was asleep, his lips soft and rosy, slightly parted, his face pale and a bit drawn from his ordeal. An ordeal she had put him through.
“I’m sorry Quatre,” she whispered, and the words stunned her. She had never apologized for anything in her life. She was Dorothy Catalonia.
She lifted a hand to hold back the skeins of her long silken hair and leaned closer, only meaning to look. But his parted lips were like ripe fruit she couldn’t resist. Just a touch of her lips to his, her mind repeated over and over, justifying the step she was about to take. He was sleeping after all, he’d never know . . .
“Will you be my knight Quatre,” she whispered, the movement of her lips a prelude to a kiss as she closed her mouth over his.
It felt strange, the brushing of lips, soft pressure, gentle and tentative. Trowa, Quatre thought, waking from drug-induced dreams of heat and sand and emerald eyes that held hidden treasure.
The heavy lids fluttered revealing drowsy sea-colored eyes.
“Dorothy,” Quatre cried, a high-pitched squeak cracking his voice as he pulled away automatically.
Dorothy looked irritated. She was a pretty girl she knew, she hadn’t expected such an ungracious response to her gesture. Of course she had just recently stabbed him, but that had been war. She’d been sure that if he’d awakened Quatre would’ve have responded more appreciatively to her kiss.
Quatre noticed the look and hastened to smooth things over. He focused his empathic gaze on the angry girl. Just how empathic Quatre felt at the moment the pilot hoped Dorothy would never know, especially after this. To feel love that might not be returned, a vision of Trowa’s emerald eyes skittered through Quatre’s consciousness, then was gone again.
“You surprised me,” he said, recovering his aplomb, his voice assuming its usual low, soft tone again.
Dorothy’s eyes softened and she leaned closer again. “I came to apologize,” she murmured huskily, her eyes aglow with feeling.
“We need to talk Dorothy,” Quatre said, unconsciously moving slightly away from the predatory female. “I meant everything I said on Libra and I want to be your friend. I know we share many of the same feelings, but please wait till we’ve talked . . .”
“Alright,” Dorothy whispered. “But please let me apologize for what happened. I have no excuse to give. I thought . . . I thought I was doing the right thing . . .”
“I do understand,” Quatre said in a stronger voice. “Much more than you know. We’re the same in a way Dorothy. Maybe later I can explain it to you.”
“Rest then,” Dorothy said, her lavender eyes beaming. He did care for her, she sensed it. He said they were the same. She didn’t know how that could be, but it gave her hope.”
She leaned closer and planted an affectionate, possessive kiss on Quatre’s cheek, her fingers lingering on his hand.
“I’ll come again,” she promised, taking a last glance at him over her shoulder.
“Sorry Duo,” the blonde pilot on the bed apologized. “I know you wanted the real thing, but my father would not approve of my drinking real alcohol, even on such an occasion.”
“No problem,” Duo said shrugging, Quatre’s father was dead anyway so he didn’t see how it made a difference, but whatever . . . “Couldn’t find any around here, guess somebody else got to it first. Man, I can’t wait to get the hell off this thing and back to the colony. Guess what? Hilde’s much better and she’s offered me a permanent position at her salvage business. You guys know what that means!”
Duo winked suggestively and pulled a bottle of beer he’d snagged out from behind his back, taking a long, loud sip.
“That’s great Duo,” Quatre said, smiling at Duo, the smile fading as he looked at Trowa. Trowa had been even quieter than usual the closer they got to being ready to leave MO-II and get on with their lives.
He’s confused and oh Allah, so am I. What do I do . . . what do I do . . . I love him . . . the thoughts circled in the tired blonde’s mind over and over.
Heero appeared in the doorway, beside him a young man that looked oddly familiar to all of those in the room.
“You’ve got a visitor,” Heero said breaking the silence.
“Is it me? Or is everyone else suddenly seeing double,” Duo asked staring unabashedly and looking back and forth between Quatre and the person in the doorway that looked nearly exactly like him.
Neither Trowa nor the injured pilot lying on the bed truthfully heard his exclamations. They both continued staring silently at the newcomer who was standing uncertainly in the doorway of the sick bay cubicle.
“M-Master Quatre,” the wounded pilot on the bed finally croaked, trying to sit up straighter.
“Madiyah, don’t get up, you’ll make it worse,” the stranger said, rushing to the injured pilot’s side, the two of them spoke, tossing rapid-fire Arabic phrases back and forth and Trowa thought he could make out his own name but he wasn’t sure. A frown creased his forehead when the stranger that looked disturbingly like Quatre ran his fingers tenderly over his friend’s cheek and glanced at him.
“Trowa,” the stranger said, looking at the tall pilot with the unruly auburn bangs through curious aquamarine eyes. “I owe you an apology.”
He held out his hand but Trowa just stared at it.
“I guess I should explain,” the blonde stranger said and Quatre, or whoever it was on the bed, nodded agreement. Trowa was mightily confused at this point and even Duo had finally subsided into silence.
“It’s simple,” Heero said flatly from the corner. He had come in along with the stranger but no one had noticed his entrance in their shock.
“This is Quatre. The real Quatre,” Heero said matter-of-factly. “This is the pilot who built Wing Zero and shot down the Vayeate.”
“Trowa,” the enigma on the bed said softly, reaching out and placing a restraining hand on his arm as he moved to get up. “Wait.”
“Who are you then,” Trowa said, turning quizzical green eyes on the familiar figure on the bed. This is Quatre, his mind told him and yet Heero said it wasn’t and Heero had no reason to lie. It’s the one you love, his heart whispered, but he squelched the emotion while he waited for an answer.
“She is Madiyah Kurama,” a rough voice said from the doorway. “A very disobedient daughter.”
“Father,” the girl said, her blue eyes widening and a pink flush spreading over her face as she looked at the Maganac leader, framed in the small doorway.
“That’s not really your name either,” Trowa said suddenly as Duo muttered over and over. “I can’t believe it! All this time Quatre was a GIRL!”
“It is my legal name,” Madiyah said, casting down her eyes.
“But still not your real name,” Trowa persisted, everything coming together in his mind, the clues, the inconsistencies, the vague feeling he had had in the desert that he had known Quatre before . . .
“Midii Une,” she whispered, her voice sad and apologetic.
Trowa was silent. Then he asked, “Who taught you to fight?”
“You did Nanashi,” Midii/Madiyah said. “When you left me I had nowhere to go, eventually more mercenaries came along and they said they would take me with them if I could fight.” She took a deep breath. “I had watched you, I was sure I could do it. I said yes.”
Blue eyes gazed into his pleadingly and he couldn’t help but glance over at the boy, Quatre. They were incredibly alike, except for the eyes, hers the gray-blue of a stormy ocean and his the aqua-blue of a tranquil Caribbean sea. How had he forgotten those eyes? Midii’s eyes . . . and now that he looked more closely and compared her to him, to Quatre, he noticed the delicate, feminine curve of her high cheekbones and how her lips pouted as if she were asking to be kissed. She was . . . a girl. She was Midii Une.
Without a word he stalked out of the room. Madiyah made as if to follow, biting her lip at the pain the sudden action of sliding her legs over the side of the bed caused.
“Don’t Madi. He needs time, but he cares for you I think,” Quatre said, gazing after the tall pilot. Rasid glanced at his adopted daughter briefly before following Trowa out into the hallway. Midii closed her eyes tiredly and Quatre stroked the back of her hand comfortingly, concern evident in his eyes.
And Duo continued to mutter, “I can’t believe you were a girl all this time Q-man! How the hell did you pull that off?”
The braided pilot turned to Heero who still slumped unemotionally in the corner. He jumped out of the chair, spilling his beer and pounced on the Japanese boy.
“And how the hell did you figure it out?”
Heero shrugged. “It was simple. The Quatre I met in space, the Quatre Trowa and I fought in the Mercurius and Vayeate was the real Quatre. Madiyah was still recovering from the battle at the Singapore base on one of the Winner resource satellites when Quatre’s father and sister were killed and that’s when he decided to take his place as a Gundam pilot again and completed Zero.”
“Ooooookay,” Duo said, stepping back to sit down in the chair he had vacated but missing his target and falling out of the chair and onto the floor. “This is givin’ me a headache, but when did they switch again?”
“I wanted to find Trowa,” Madiyah said softly, opening her eyes to look at Duo. “When you came to the resource satellite I saw you and asked Master Quatre if I could take Sandrock and accompany you. He had never wanted to fight, and especially after what he did to Trowa. But he did what he had to do to defend the Cinq Kingdom and fought bravely there with Miss Noin.”
Duo stared at the pilot he had known as Quatre. “Sooooo, you were in love with Trowa all that time and he thought you were a guy? Totally weird! He’s gonna need psychotherapy after this!”
A devilish look lit Shinigami’s eyes and he picked himself up off the floor. He strode over to Heero and placed an arm over the other pilot’s shoulder, earning himself a glare that would have struck fear in any other man’s heart. Duo merely grinned and pulled the green tank top away from Heero’s chest and peered inside.
“Damn,” he said, a mock woebegone look on his face. “Nothing hiding in there. Guess the rest of us are all guys, unless Wufei has sumpin’ to hide.”
“Duo, omae o korasu,” Heero threatened. “But first, shouldn’t you go check on Hilde? Seems you have enough trouble looking after one girl without looking for more.”
A shadow of concern crossed Duo’s features, but his eyes lit up with merriment. Sally promised that Hilde would be just fine, and he was positive she’d want to thank him for rescuing her in the time-honored way of damsels in distress. With a kiss, maybe more if he got lucky. And lucky was exactly what he intended to get, once she was completely healed.
Trowa stared out the portal to space. His decision to come here cemented after Midii’s betrayal in the frozen woods. And now she was here too, she had fought beside him for so long and now he didn’t know what to make of his feelings. The stars twinkled in the silent blackness and as always the sense of rightness and belonging filled his being, but even the stars couldn’t begin to quiet the torment in his mind.
“It was three, almost four years ago,” the voice began, telling his story unasked. “The Alliance had been plaguing us for years but there had been a lull for some time. We Maganacs had developed a reputation it seemed. A reputation for invincibility. And yes, when we were fighting in the desert it was true.”
Trowa glanced at Rasid and was rewarded with a smile that gleamed with large white teeth and remembered pride in the mighty Maganac Corps.
“The lull ended of course. You are a soldier. You know that while there are lulls in fighting they are just that. They finally found some fools to come after us, but they were inexperienced, didn’t know how to fight in the desert. There was only one survivor,” Rasid recounted slowly.
“Midii,” Trowa said.
“Yes, my Madi,” Rasid answered, seeing in his mind’s eye
again the thin pathetic child, her lips dry and cracked from the heat, eyes
sunken, her slight body convulsing with heat stroke. “We took care of her after that, protected her until we realized
she was probably a better fighter than any of us.”
“And she never betrayed you,” Trowa said, unable to keep the bite of sudden, irrational jealousy out of his voice, remembering the 10-year-old girl who’d followed him around the mercenary camp, adoration in her wide blue eyes.
“No,” Rasid said, casting a penetrating eye on the young man’s downcast face. “We gave her everything, love, a home and a chance to earn forgiveness for the wrongs in her past.”
He told Trowa how Quatre had come to Earth in Operation Meteor and how the horrible fighting had torn into his master’s very soul, destroying the sensitive heart. A heart not meant for battle but to bring the peace after war.
“Madiyah wanted to fight, to make up for the wrongs she had done,” Rasid said. “She had fought with us many times and shown great skill and ability. I knew she could be a worthy Gundam pilot. She took Master Quatre’s place so he would not have to kill. It seemed to be her karma, a way for to make her peace with herself, so I allowed it.”
“Father,” a soft low voice interrupted Rasid’s narrative and they turned to see Midii pulling herself painfully along the wall toward them, one hand warding off Heero’s assistance, her detached IV tube trailing along behind her. Trowa reacted faster than Rasid, grabbing on to her.
“Get back to bed,” he said, half-lifting her in his arms, his confusion briefly forgotten at the sight of her pale, pained face. “Why did you let her get up,” he asked Heero accusingly.
“She wanted to talk to you. I think she was afraid you’d leave before the two of you could talk,” Heero said, his voice matter-of-fact as always.
“Don’t blame Heero,” Madiyah said through gritted teeth, in a surprisingly strong move removing herself from Trowa’s grip and standing on her own power, one hand on the wall to support herself. “Please . . . don’t . . . leave Trowa, let me explain.”
“If I listen will you lie back down,” Trowa said softly, his eyes recognizing the effort it took her to stand there like she was, her soft blue eyes awash in tears of pain.
Her face went whiter, if that were possible and in an instant all Trowa’s doubts disappeared, at least for the moment. Whoever this was they were in an incredible amount of pain. He lifted the small pilot in his arms easily, amazed at the lightness of the delicate body he held in his arms, filled with strange awe that such a fragile creature had fought the battle so well. An odd feeling coursed through him as she curled against him trustingly.
“We’ll talk later,” he said as he carefully deposited the cause of all his confusion on the narrow hospital bed. “I promise.”
“No, Nanashi, please,” Midii begged. “I must talk to you now. Let me explain?”
He nodded and sat in Duo’s abandoned chair.
“So many times I wanted to tell you who I was,” Midii whispered. “But I had promised. I was fighting as Quatre. Sandrock was his, the fight was his, yet I was better suited. I am not good like he is. Quatre is so gentle and kind Trowa, it hurt him too much. And I, I knew how to fight. I’ve done so much in my life, hurt so many people that being a soldier came naturally to me. When you left me that first time and I asked your name I knew it was you. ‘I have no name’ you said and my heart ached so badly and then I was afraid to tell you who I was. We still had to fight together, I needed your trust again.”
“I also did not fight as myself,” the green-eyed pilot said. “What did you do Midii, that I did not? A man named Trowa Barton was HeavyArms pilot but his goals were not like ours. A technician killed him and I was there. I took his place. I took his name. I am not Trowa Barton, I am only Nanashi.”
Their eyes met and hers shimmered with unshed tears that pulled at his heart.
“I cannot believe that I got my wish to be beside you again, Nanashi,” she confided. “It meant so much to me, it made me stronger to have you at my side in the battle.”
He’d felt the same, he admitted silently. When he fought with Quatre, with Midii, it had been easier, he had been stronger.
Who is she, he asked himself. The fellow soldier I want to be with, that I never want to leave? Or is she the girl who betrayed me, the one I left behind forever?
Her voice begged for a response to her unspoken question. But he did not know the answer. Not yet.
“I won’t leave without saying goodbye,” he promised. “Get some rest now.”
“Madi, are you going to play or do I win by default,” Quatre teased. She’d been turning the ivory backgammon piece in her delicate fingers indecisively for the last five minutes, her eyes fixed on a spot on the wall over his shoulder.
His words brought her startled, embarrassed gaze back to the game and she hastily placed the piece on an arrow. Quatre shook his head and rolled the dice in the tiny, velvet-covered cup. He frowned there was no way around it, she had left him no choice.
“I guess I win again,” he said, stacking the onyx disks in the side pocket of the game board.
“You are a far better player than I, Master Quatre,” Madi said, her words tinged with sorrow.
“That’s not true Madi,” Quatre insisted. “You just weren’t concentrating.”
A crystal tear rolled down her cheek, clinging to her soft, fair skin a moment before dropping down on the bedsheet.
“Is this about Trowa,” Quatre asked, smoothing a second tear away carefully with his fingertips.
Madi nodded, trying to swallow an onslaught of tears. She had cried alone each night, her girlish weakness returning with embarrassing swiftness after she’d dropped her masquerade of being a boy.
“It seems he liked me better when I was you,” she said, the incongruity of her words making her smile half-heartedly.
“You were always yourself Madi,” Quatre said. “He’ll understand some day. I wish you could have heard the things he said to me when we fought. Those things were meant for you. He will remember that.”
Dorothy paused in the open doorway. The wild rumors had been swirling around the resource satellite like a virus. She blinked at what she saw. The rumors were true. Her face burned hotly. The stormy blue eyes that glowed with kindness and concern, the soft pink lips she dreamed of kissing again. . . belonged to a girl.
It was astonishing though, the resemblance between the boy and girl on the bed. Their hair of an identical shade of platinum blonde nearly touching as they whispered together in soft, lilting Arabic she could not understand. An odd twist of envy burned her heart as the boy she recognized now as the one she had seen in the Cinq Kingdom took his counterpart carefully in his arms, crooning incoherent words of comfort.
Dorothy didn’t know what she envied. Was it the loss of the caring ‘boy’ she had set her heart on after the Libra incident? Or simple jealousy that they had each other and she was alone? Completely alone.
She turned to leave, her foot catching on the door frame unintentionally announcing her presence.
“Ah, Miss Dorothy,” Quatre said, looking after the slender, lovely girl with recognition in his eyes. “Perhaps she came to apologize?”
“Perhaps,” Madi said, flushing hotly in memory of Dorothy’s innocent advances, wishing she could have opened her eyes that day to find Trowa’s lips on hers. She would keep Dorothy’s secret, no one need be the wiser of their embarrassing moment.
She noticed Quatre continued to stare after the departing girl and an idea flashed in her brain, anything to distract her from Trowa’s continued rejection. He had avoided her since they’d talked several days before and she would not chase after him.
“Miss Dorothy has been very misunderstood through all this,” Madi said, watching Quatre’s reaction. He was always concerned for those who suffered. He had always been so kind to her, like a brother. “I hope she’ll be alright. She so needs a friend right now.”
Madi had no doubt that after she fell asleep Master Quatre would seek the other girl out. And it was very true that Dorothy needed someone.
“I came to say goodbye,” Trowa said uncertainly, discovering Madi at last. She hadn’t been in her room when he came to find her. He hadn’t purposely avoided her these last days, it was only that he still did not know what to say to her or even how he really felt. But he had no wish to hurt her. That was the one certain thing. And now it was time for him to go.
She was out of bed, a need to rest in the afternoons the only reminder of her injury. She sat on the wide sill of an observation portal on MO-II wearing a knee-length tunic of pale-blue silk, embroidered with golden thread over narrow blue silk pants of a slightly darker shade, framed by the twinkling stars in the dark vista of space.
Could he have them both now, Trowa wondered suddenly. Midii and the stars? What did he want? Who did he want?
“Where will you go,” she asked, turning her stormy eyes on him.
“Back to the circus. Cathrine is expecting me,” he said. He felt at home there, the only home he had ever known. He didn’t know how to explain to her that he cared for her but that his feelings were so confused that he needed time alone, time to be sure.
“Oh,” Madiyah said in a small voice which failed to hide her disappointment. “She is very beautiful.”
She thought somewhat bitterly that no one would ever be fooled into thinking Cathrine Bloom a boy. Her voluptuous woman’s body was the complete opposite of her own slender figure and nearly non-existent curves. She sighed unconsciously and faint pink color touched her cheeks.
Trowa almost smiled, her transparent effort to hide her jealousy made his heart beat faster despite his efforts to control his emotions.
“Yes, she is,” he said. “And I love her. But like a sister. And she scolds me like one too, remember?”
Madi laughed at the memory of Cathrine’s over-protectiveness of Trowa.
“Besides,” he said, studying her bright eyes and delicate features. “I think that you are very beautiful too.”
He leaned in close and did something he hadn’t meant to do when he sought her out to say goodbye. He gently brushed his lips over hers, fingers briefly brushing over her hair, he marveled at the amazing softness of it before he pulled away.
“Goodbye Midii,” he said, turning to leave.
“Au revoir Nanashi,” she said softly, the almost-forgotten French words of her childhood rising automatically to her lips like a memory of a dream.
“Until we meet again,” he agreed in his heart.
Author’s Note: Please don’t kill me! I meant no offense to any fans, yaoi or non-yaoi!! This fic was initially inspired by drawings of Midii and Quatre from Episode Zero that are remarkably similar in appearance, here is the URL:
Also this is partially in response to Ashura’s April Fool challenge!! Sorry Ash (insert evil, apologetic grin here) I had to rise to the challenge when you said what you did in your rules about the Trowa/Midii pairing, I couldn’t resist doctoring up this fic to meet your requirements. I hope you at least enjoyed some of the Trowa/Quatre moments and the spirit of the fic ^_~ which of course is the affection and friendship and yes I admit, the attraction between the pilots of HeavyArms and Sandrock--Midii
Out of respect for Ash’s feelings I saved the fluffy, sappy part for the sequel!