Author’s Notes/Warnings: This story is a collaborative effort by Midii Une and Maria Rocket. Bed of Lies contains angst, yaoi lemon and het lemon, and a rather different perspective on some of our favorite characters. Rated NC-17 for both sexual situations and adult content. It’s probably not for everyone but we hope those who do read this fic will take a moment to leave us a review.
Bed of Lies
by Midii Une and Maria Rocket
Don’t you know I feel the darkness closing in
Tried to be more than me
And I gave ‘til it all went away
And we’ve only surrendered
To the worst part of
these winters we’ve made
--Bed of Lies, lyrics by Rob Thomas
*~*~*~Five Years Later~*~*~*
Quatre stared at the mural in the daycare center of one his numerous resource satellites. He felt pulled into it, drawn to the warmth of the rendered sunlight and touched by the soft, wistful rainbow that flooded the room with light and color.
The director noticed his admiring gaze.
“Wonderful isn’t it,” the woman said. “One of the young mothers painted it in her spare time. She grew up on Earth and she said she wanted her little boy to know what it was like. All the children simply adore it, it’s like it’s always a beautiful spring day in here. You can almost hear birds chirping and smell apple blossoms when you look at it.”
This girl had talent, Quatre thought. He had a deep appreciation for music and art, all things beautiful in fact. His eyes grew liquid and shone brighter because these things always made him think of Trowa. He’d ask him to play the flute for him tonight when he got back to the hotel. He played so beautifully and his emotions, feelings usually hidden, came out in the music. He reluctantly forced his attention back to the daycare director. She was a valuable employee. This place was a model center for all the resource satellites and he was supposed to be listening to her report.
“I’d love to meet this girl,” he told her. “Perhaps we can commission her to do some work like this at the other centers sponsored by Winner Industries.”
“She’ll be here soon to pick up her son,” the woman said, glancing at the clock above the door. “That’s him over there. He’s such a beautiful child. I’ve never seen such incredible eyes. I know we shouldn’t have favorites but there is something about Nanashi Une, all of us here just adore that little boy.”
“Nanashi,” Quatre said, the word causing a reaction far back in his mind. “But doesn’t that mean no-name?”
The daycare director sighed. “You know how these artistic types are. Very whimsical. I do think it bothers the little one sometimes, once in awhile the other children tease him but we always put a stop to it. I mentioned it to Miss Une once but she ignored me, it was like she just looked through me.”
Quatre barely heard the woman because his attention had been caught by the little blonde boy playing quietly, alone, near the mural. It seemed like he was sitting under a tree in a sunny park. The illusion created by the mural was stunning. As if he knew someone was watching him the child looked up. The boy’s unruly, pale-blonde bangs only partially hid his eyes but Quatre could still see that they were green. Incredible eyes.
He moved toward the little boy, wanting a closer look, tears starting to fill his own soft aquamarine eyes. That was Trowa’s child, somehow it was.
“Stay away from my son,” a soft, alarmed voice said and a slender woman, not much more than a girl, darted past him and hurried to the boy’s side. She hid the boy in the circle of her arms, pressing him protectively against her.
Quatre studied her even though it hurt him to see her at last. She had to be the woman he had shared Trowa with for a time. The long silky blonde hair falling in waves nearly to her waist. Her small figure was slender but curved in all the right places. She wore tight black leather pants and a vivid blue silk blouse that fit snugly across her small, perfect breasts. The lovely face as delicately sculptured as that of a Greek goddess.
Now that he saw her the reality of her and Trowa together struck him like a dagger in the heart. He’d never really given it much thought before. Trowa doing with her the things the two of them did together. Making love to her, touching her. He found himself looking into her eyes, the eyes Trowa had looked into when they made love. Her large, frightened blue-gray eyes staring back at him. Frightened and full of hatred. Hatred directed at him.
She was Midii Une. Trowa’s ex-lover. The one who had never stopped haunting him. Quatre had been sure she must be dead although he’d never said so to Trowa. They’d never been able to find any trace of her. And yet, here she was, one of his own employees. One of the many people who worked in his vast empire, one of almost too many to count. Her beauty troubled him and her hatred hurt him. He’d never want to cause anyone pain. Not even her.
Nanashi, Trowa’s son, looked at him from behind the sheltering curtain of his mother’s hair. The face he wore was the mask Trowa had always worn in battle. Single-minded, determined and coldly professional. His little hand stroked his mother’s soft hair comfortingly.
“Don’t cry Mama,” the child said to her, the voice as calm and sure as that of an adult. But his eyes, Trowa’s eyes, were on Quatre, leveling a threat of retaliation if he dared to hurt his beloved mother. “I’ll take care of you.”
The slight young woman picked her son up in her arms and started to back out of the room, her eyes never leaving Quatre’s.
She jumped visibly as the daycare director touched her arm and spoke to her.
“Really, Miss Une there’s no reason to be upset. This is Mr. Winner, the president of Winner Industries,” she said soothingly.
For all her talent and the obvious love she had for her child she found Miss Une to be a very strange and eccentric girl. It was a shame that she was acting like this in front of Mr. Winner. She’d thought he might have taken an interest in starting her off in a career in art. Her talent really was extraordinary and he hadn’t seemed to be unaffected by it.
“I’m fully aware who he is,” Midii said, her voice dripping with hurt and anger. She couldn’t believe this was happening. What better place to hide herself she’d thought, than right under their noses? And Winner Industries was the best place to work in outer space, the best pay, the best benefits and most important of all the best child care available. And she wanted only the best for her sweet little son, her everything, her whole world.
Why had he had to come here to this remote outpost of his empire? Now they would have to leave, run away and hide somewhere else. Because her son was hers, only hers and she would never share him. Not with Trowa Barton and his lover, not with anyone.
Her anger erupted as she looked at Quatre over the top of Nanashi’s head. “Haven’t you taken enough away from me? I hate you,” she said in a low, venomous tone, turning on her heel and leaving the room, slamming the door with such force that cracks appeared in the glass.
The daycare director was aghast. “Mr. Winner,” she began to say. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why--”
Quatre wasn’t listening, he’d gone after Midii and her son. He caught up to her easily, she couldn’t go fast, carrying the heavy four-year-old.
“Please wait,” he said grabbing her arm and looking down into her tear-streaked face, stealing glances at the boy, the boy so much like Trowa. “I’m sorry. I really am. But I have to call Trowa, you have to tell him you’re alive and you have to tell him about the little boy. He needs a father and he needs a name. Why are you doing this to him? Why are you doing this to Trowa? I know he never meant to hurt you.”
“No, you can’t do that,” Midii gasped, her voice trembling. “You can’t. Please, he’s all I have and I can’t face Trowa, I just can’t. How can you know what it’s like? He loves you, not me. Isn’t that enough for you? Leave me alone. Leave us alone. Please don’t do this to me.”
She collapsed on the floor of the hallway, sobbing heartbrokenly as the little boy stood beside her looking down on her with his small heart in his eyes. Quatre could see that Nanashi loved his mother, her love was all the child had ever known.
The boy looked at Quatre with his father’s eyes. “You’ve made her cry,” he said softly, staring at the man. His mother often cried, almost every night in fact, but not like this and never during the day, here in the place where she worked.
It was strange, but Quatre felt like he had to explain himself to this boy. “I’m not going to hurt your mother,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “I want to help her, help you. Wouldn’t you like to see your father?”
Midii choked back a startled cry and put her hand on Nanashi’s arm.
The child looked at the floor and thought a moment.
“No,” he said simply, although part of him was curious, all the other children had fathers. He only had Mama, she told him everyday how much she loved him and that he was all she had. If he met his father he might take him away from her and then Mama might be alone. He couldn’t bear the thought of it. He loved her with all his small being. He wished she wasn’t so sad deep inside, as young as he was, he knew that that was wrong, not normal somehow. But still he loved her, knew he had to protect her.
Quatre was torn. Like the child he could tell immediately that there was something wrong with her, as if she were teetering on the edge of sanity and the only thing holding her to the world of reality was the little boy.
Allah, what was he going to do? He stared at the two of them. Why hadn’t Trowa been the one to find them? He knew he was being a coward but even though the right choice was so obvious he didn’t know what to do.
Finally he did the only thing he could do, in the face of her desperate reaction, he made a deal with her. For the time being he wouldn’t tell Trowa. But she had to stay here and let him keep an eye on the child. She’d agreed, she really had no choice and when her tears dried he was rewarded by a shy smile and a glance of curiosity from the little boy.
Quatre huddled himself down, it was strange, he’d never had to try make himself seem less threatening before. “I’ll be back soon,” he said to the boy. “I’m going to take care of you and your Mom now. If that’s okay with you?”
Nanashi nodded. He knew he was too little to take care of her as he wished he could. The man’s blue eyes seemed nice and friendly and he wanted to trust him, even though his mother seemed to be afraid of him.
Quatre pushed through the transparent veils of the dream world. The troubled thoughts and confused feelings that had been coursing through him in the past few days manifesting themselves in nightmares and resentment against Trowa for putting him in this predicament combined with an unfamiliar sense of insecurity.
He’d always been so sure of Trowa’s urgent need for him, certain of his desire and secure in his love. But now he was afraid for the first time since the war and Trowa’s disappearance. Quatre was afraid.
In his dream he could barely see Trowa far off and hidden by the layers of transparent curtains, see the slight movements. The fabric moved aside easily at a touch of his hand but there were so many layers, so much between them. The barriers were feather-light and vague but they kept them apart so effectively. Every time Quatre moved one curtain aside it seemed to be replaced by another so that he could never get any closer.
A blast of frigid air swirled, moving the light fabric in an eerie dance making it even more difficult to get closer. Frustration and anger welled up in his gentle soul until suddenly he was outside the dream world looking in, couldn’t feel the fabric, could only look senselessly and unfeelingly. Relief flooded and soothed his soul as someone appeared in the circle with Trowa. Himself? A gleam of soft platinum hair and the sensuous movement of Trowa’s hand to let his fingers glide over the figure’s skin. Quatre could feel again, feel the touch of Trowa’s skin on his, feel the pressure of his hands as he pulled him against him, the hard powerful muscles under Trowa’s skin tightening as he held him close and secure starting a delicious ache in his very soul. He closed his eyes but the feel of Trowa disappeared instantly and he was outside again, looking in. The veils were gone and he was back in a cluttered, musty apartment he’d seen once before. Trowa was laying back on that unfamiliar, narrow bed, his chest naked, perspiration gleaming on his sculptured chest. His arms reached out and he saw the girl climb into them, Trowa’s arms closing around her. The two of them . . .
Quatre sat up eyes wide, breathing hard.
“What’s wrong,” Trowa muttered drowsily, automatically reaching out sleepily, his hand seeking his husband. The skin it touched was burning. "Quatre?"
In the dark, Quatre fell onto Trowa, holding him tightly. "You do love me, don't you?" He whispered fervently against his neck, moving his fingers through thick hair.
"You know I do," Trowa answered softly as he rubbed his back. "What brought this on? A bad dream?"
Quatre didn't answer. Instead, he sat up, straddling Trowa. Nimble fingers caressed and traced Trowa's chest. Quatre rocked gently against him, until he heard Trowa breathing rapidly, his hands on his thighs, wordlessly begging him.
Lifting himself on his knees, Quatre found the point of Trowa's desire. With a groan torn from his lips, he plunged his hips down and claimed it. There was a moan of pleasure, and he felt Trowa's hips rise to meet him. After a moment, he heard Trowa say something in concern, but he didn't care. He didn't care how much it hurt. He would take all of Trowa within him, the pleasure and the pain. He needed to have all of it.
With a soft grunt, he threw back his head as he made love to Trowa with a slow rise and fall of his body. His eyes half closed, listening to his love's passionate cries, and feeling the trembling body moving urgently beneath him.
Had Midii heard Trowa make that kind of music, Quatre found himself wondering in the midst of his ecstasy. Had Midii felt Trowa quiver this way when she was where he was now? Did she feel this heat, the stickiness of Trowa's skin beneath her fingers? The incredible pounding of his heart in his chest?
Then Trowa's hands were tight on his hips, holding him as he arched his back, driving himself into Quatre with a shout. Quatre felt his eyes glaze over. Had Midii felt Trowa explode inside of her, pouring the very essence of his soul into her, shaking her into oblivion? Convulsing, Quatre's own back arched, his legs pulled up, and he gave a shuddering groan as his world crashed into a vortex of joy and pleasure.
A canopy of green, every shade of green. Sparkling drops of rain seemed about to fall from the lacy pattern of leaves, the tiny diamond-like drops shining in the bright sun.
Trowa looked at the painting, hanging behind Quatre’s desk. It was as if he’d been in the picture before, sometime in his past. A memory stirred.
It had been raining relentlessly for days, they’d been stuck in those trucks endlessly, eating and sleeping in them, the torrential storms keeping them trapped in a muddy morass. The heavy equipment and weaponry they carried bogging them down. He’d awoken one morning to the almost-forgotten sensation of sun in his eyes, pouring in through the dirt-splattered windows. Midii was already awake, kneeling up on the seat of the truck, face pressed to the window, the sun shining over her in cascades of light and giving her an unreal quality. She’d turned to him and flashed a rare grin, pulling on his hand. They’d run out sloshing in the mud. He could still see her wondering gaze as she looked up at that green cover of leaves, each one shimmering with fat raindrops.
The painting was a marvel, full of realistic and wonderful beauty. A moment in time captured on canvas. But he couldn’t look at it any more, it haunted him with painful reminders of Midii. As if he could forget. He wished Quatre would give up on his new obsession with this particular artist. The paintings were too real and somehow they seemed aimed at him, dredging up old memories that he wished would stay buried. There was no way to explain it to Quatre, he could hardly explain it himself. He turned his back on the painting, but in his mind he still knew it was there. They were everywhere, in Quatre’s office, in the halls, even in their bedroom.
The studio atop the Winner Industries headquarters in the L4 cluster was cold, the chilly air from the upper atmosphere of the colony poured in the open window and the woman’s long pale hair blew back and twisted around her slender figure.
The sheer white curtains she favored to filter the light when she painted blew back in the strong breeze wrapping around her at times like a caress. Unheeded tears streaked her face . . . he was so close and all she had to do was reach out, run to find him.
“But I can’t,” she whispered to herself. “He doesn’t want me . . .”
Quatre pushed the door of the studio open, he was immediately struck by how cold it was in there. Cold and silent. A huge canvas beckoned. A deep blue waterfall, the water churning, relentlessly pouring over a cliff. The illusion of sunlight sparkled on the water, so real he could almost touch it. The cold room made him feel the sensation of the mist that came off the water. Water as turbulent as the eyes in the dream.
Something, not even enough to be called a sound, drew him around the corner of the wall and he brushed his hand over his eyes. It was so much like the nightmare, the curtains blowing and his feet like lead, unable to move.
She was going to jump.
Suddenly he was beside her his hands tight on her arms, pulling her back. Midii’s eyes moved over him and when she recognized who it was they turned blank and distant as they had been when she looked out, unseeing, over the colony.
“It’s not what you think,” she said finally, as his hands stayed in place on her arms. “Let go.”
“Tell me what it was exactly,” he answered, infinitesimally tightening his grip as if he feared she would dart away from him and do something drastic.
“The paint fumes, of course,” she said, desperately trying to make her voice assume a tone of normality, forcing herself to sound matter-of-fact. “I just needed some air, I got too close I suppose . . . I just started thinking . . .”
Her words trailed off in a sob and Quatre felt her collapse like a house of cards. He reached over and slammed the window shut then pulled her unresisting form against his, whispering incoherent soothing sounds. Part of him wondered exactly whom he was trying to comfort. Her or himself. She felt familiar in his arms, the cool smooth texture of her skin, like an aftershock from the vivid dreams of her. He remembered the feeling of soft, pliant lips beneath his own, opening his eyes to see hers so close. Was this moment only another nightmare as well, horrible and wonderful at the same time. She shivered in his arms, he knew she was cold but the quiver that ran through her body was similar to a response to passion, desire. Like visions parts of the previous night’s dream played in his head. Himself and Trowa. Trowa and Midii. Himself and Midii.
Midii’s hands seemed to move by themselves. She was so lonely and this might be as close as she ever got to Trowa again. Quatre was the one Trowa loved. Why him? Why not her? Her fingers moved almost wonderingly over the lines of Quatre’s face, looking for the answers. Their eyes clashed both of them looking for the same answers to the same question.
Why does Trowa love you, want you?
She remained maddeningly cool, so passive, not resisting him but not encouraging him either, although those eyes of hers remained fixed on his with desperate curiosity as he lowered her carefully down on a mound of paint-stained drop cloths. And then finally, something, he pressed his lips to her throat and she moved beneath him, he heard her sigh and her eyes closed and she arched her body against his. He buried his hands in her long soft hair, reveling in the silken glory of it. Everything about her so soft, so fragile and even as he burned her skin stayed so cool. She was like an oasis in the desert, eyes like that shallow blue water, the feel of her as wonderful as stepping into the shade after being in the hot sun.
“I hate you Quatre, I hate you,” she thought as he moved against her, in her. Now he had everything that belonged to her, even her body. But it had been so long, so long since anyone had touched her this way, that soon she closed her eyes and surrendered to the feelings the hot touch of his hands aroused in her, moving softly, exploring her, making her his.
As he walked towards the front steps of his estate, Quatre suddenly changed his mind and swerved onto a side pathway. He was already hours late coming home, a few more minutes wouldn't matter. Besides, the household was used to him working late. Wandering into the estate gardens, he stayed to the shadows,
stepping out of reach of the glow of lamplight. The air was warm, even during the colony's night cycle, but a slight breeze caressed his hair.
Footsteps approached behind him, but he did not stop to turn around. With a sinking in his heart, he already knew who was there. Every day it was harder to face him. He didn't stop until a familiar pair of strong arms caught him and pulled him back snugly against a warm, hard body. He felt the tickle of breath
on his cheek as his captor kissed him there. Quatre closed his eyes with a soft sigh.
"You weren't at work today. I was starting to get worried when you didn't come home. Where have you been, Quatre?"
"I... How did you know I wasn't at work?" Quatre opened his eyes a little.
"I decided to pay you a visit today, since you've been so overworked lately. But when I got there, the secretary said you left early."
Quatre swallowed and nodded. "Business appointment across town. It was a spur of the moment thing."
"Oh... Well, we'd better be getting inside now."
"Not yet. I want to walk a while." Quatre looked up as Trowa's arms slid around him as the taller man turned to stand beside him. Curiosity and worry lit those forest green eyes from within. They reminded him...
Of those same eyes, on a smaller, softer face. The face he looked into when he felt a sharp tug on his slacks. Quatre looked down at little Nanashi and smiled. "There you are. Ready to go home now?"
The boy nodded. He was clutching a collection of newsprint papers in his small hands. "Are you going to stay over with me and Mommy tonight?"
"I don't know..." Quatre replied uncertainly as he took the boy's hand to lead him out of the daycare center.
"Please?" Nanashi begged.
“I think your mommy might want to have some time with just you and her. Hey, what do you have there?"
"Pictures. I drew a pony, a shuttle, and a clown."
Quatre felt a hitch in his chest, and he winced slightly. He glanced down, hoping the boy hadn't noticed. He smiled weakly. "You're going to be an artist like your mom, aren't you? Will you show me your pictures when we get you home?"
Nanashi nodded. "I've got new crayons too. Shiny ones. You could see them if you stayed at my house tonight."
"Ah, now I'll have to seriously consider your offer," Quatre laughed, struggling to keep the eager boy from running out of his grasp. There was nothing the head of the Winner Corporation could do to prevent himself from being effectively dragged away.
The blonde snapped back to the present at the sound of Trowa's voice. He lifted his brows slightly. "Yeah, Trowa?"
"Didn't look like you were seeing me for a minute there." As Quatre started wandering off on the path, Trowa fell into step beside him. He wrapped an arm around Quatre's shoulders, and the weary blonde leaned into him as they walked, tucking an arm around his waist. Quatre didn't speak any further, all he
wanted was a little bit of peace.
Midii dropped the glass she was holding and it shattered on the hard ceramic floor. She heard the happy voice of her son mixed with Quatre’s voice in the other room. The sound infuriated her and her hands shook with irrational jealousy as she struggled with the roll of packing tape she held. Finally she ripped off a length and slapped it onto the box, smoothing it down with her hands.
Things had gone far enough, already Nanashi asked for him if a day went by without a visit. And that wasn’t all he wanted. He took advantage of her loneliness and her natural hunger for adult companionship. He could be the perfect companion and spend hours with her over an art book. He knew instinctively what she would like and could discuss old masters, techniques and new processes with her to her heart’s content. And then naturally there he would be at the end of the evening with Nanashi sound asleep in bed, right there beside her when she was loneliest and most vulnerable. She shivered thinking of those endless aquamarine eyes watching her, trying to see deep inside her secret places.
When she looked up from her reverie those eyes were staring at her.
“What are you doing, Midii,” Quatre asked, his gaze taking in the confusion in the little house. Boxes and paper and clothes everywhere.
“Leaving,” she said, moving around the table and keeping the box between them. “I can’t stay here where Trowa is. He might see me again, he might see Nanashi. I’m leaving.” Her voice faltered, “I can’t bear to be near him.”
Quatre took her hand. “I’ll find somewhere else, we’ll work it out. Just wait, give me time to think,” he said.
Midii pulled her hand away. “No,” she said, meeting his eyes. “I don’t want your help anymore. I don’t need it. I’m going back to Earth, I’ve gotten a job with Global Conglomerate’s design department. I have an offer from Davydd Morrigan, you introduced us, remember? Our agreement is over. You’ll never tell Trowa about Nanashi and me, I know that now. You can’t make me stay here anymore.”
It was the best thing, really it was, he tried to convince himself of that. Now he could concentrate on Trowa, try to forget the whole strange episode had ever occurred. It should be easy now to find the peace he had been seeking for so long, the peace that had deserted him the moment he met Midii Une. He tried
to tell himself that Nanashi needed him, the boy would miss him that was true. But he didn’t need him. Midii was the best mother he’d ever seen. Forget her, just forget her he ordered himself. But soon enough he gave into temptation.
“I just need to be sure that they’re getting along alright,” he told himself, asking his secretary to connect him to Global Conglomerate’s Davydd Morrigan. They were friends, Global and Winner had always done business together and it had been Davydd who saw Midii’s paintings in his office and taken an interest in her much as he had. Strangely enough Trowa showed a strange aversion to the paintings, it was one of the few things in life they didn’t agree on.
“Quatre, I have to give you my condolences on losing your little artist,” Davydd said, appearing on the vid-screen with a grin, gray eyes shining mischievously. “My gain though. Midii was wasted on the colonies, you know that. She’ll go much farther here on Earth, it’s still the place to be in the art world. If you hadn’t paid her such ridiculous sums for everything she’s done so far she’d have enough already to open a show in London or even Paris. You know it’s almost as if you were trying to keep her to yourself. I guess that can’t be true though, not with the way you are with Trowa. She’s a strange girl but she’ll be a success, mark my words. At least you’ll be able to say you knew her when. No hard feelings?”
“None,” Quatre said, but his voice sounded small and unsure in the large, quiet office. “When you see Midii give her my best wishes.”
It was growing late and still he sat there, his eyes on the softly-lit painting of the waterfall she’d been working on the day he first touched her. The painting Davydd had seen before making it his business to steal Midii away.
“The way you are with Trowa,” Quatre heard the echo of Morrigan’s words. What did that mean? The call hadn’t helped, it had only made something painfully clear. The “way he was with Trowa” really had nothing to do with preferring men over women. It was the type of person who attracted him. And Trowa and Midi were the same. She was hurt and alone and lost and it was all because of him. He wanted to save her just like he had so desperately wanted to find Trowa after the horrible accident with Wing and Vayeate. It really had nothing to do with the fact that Trowa was a beautiful man or that Midii was a lovely woman, nothing at all to do with Trowa’s musical talent or the fact that Midii’s paintings called to something in his soul.
He knew for certain now that he was in love with Midii, as much as he was in love with Trowa.
Trowa stood in the doorway of Quatre’s corporate office, his eyes avoiding the painting that hung on the opposite wall. “Sunrise Over Snow” the plaque beneath it read. Fortunately there had been no new acquisitions recently although the old ones still crowded the walls with their beautiful images that Quatre seemed to love but that continued to torture him with memories he longed to forget. Couldn’t Quatre see that the sun was rising on the aftermath of a bloody battlefield? Couldn’t he see that this had been painted through the eyes of someone left alone and broken? He felt familiar pain, like leaving Midii behind all over again.
Of course Quatre didn’t see what it meant. Lately his lover saw nothing, nothing but endless stock reports. He talked about nothing but bids and purchases and expansion.
And when it was all over it would end up as only an excuse for more work, more time away and more time spent in the office. This whole new affair with Global Conglomerate was insanity. But Trowa kept his thoughts private. He never interfered with Quatre’s business.
He moved his tall frame a bit and leaned against the wall. Trowa noticed Quatre didn’t even catch the slight movement, he was so engrossed in the numbers flashing across the screen. He shook his head and a small amused smile touched his lips. What kind of husband would he be if he let Quatre immerse himself in numbers to the point where he lost his instincts, to the point where he lost sight of what was really important in life? Trowa lost his smile momentarily, odd that when Quatre had finally gotten through to him the importance of enjoying what they shared that he himself had lost touch with that ideal and gotten so obsessed by his family business.
Quatre fidgeted. Something light and feathery tickled the sensitive skin at the back of his neck, sending strangely delightful shivers down his spine. There was work to do though and if he wanted to get home anytime soon to get some sleep he had to post these last few bids before the Earth stock exchanges closed. Just a few minutes more and it would all be over. It had almost been too easy but Winner wasn’t known for this type of thing and neither Davydd Morrigan or his board of directors had any idea what was going to hit them tomorrow.
The tickling came again and this time Quatre swiped at his neck with his hand only to find it caught in a strong, but tender grip.
“Trowa,” he breathed. The other man looked dangerous and mysterious in the dark gloom that had settled in the room since twilight had fallen. The only light was from the little desk lamp that sat on the corner of his desk and from the small lamps that illuminated Midii’s paintings.
A warning beep from the computer dragged his attention away from the smoldering green eyes and the lean, muscular figure in the darkness. His eyes lit with a moment of triumph and he quickly pressed the enter key to strike the final deal.
Trowa caught his breath as Quatre turned toward him again. His face had changed as if all the cares of the world he’d carried the last few months had lifted. The expression only lasted a second before the almost omnipresent worried look shadowed those bright eyes again.
Quatre felt a small flicker of doubt. It was done. It couldn’t be taken back. He had betrayed an old friend and business associate and now Midii would be back in his life again. And still there was Trowa, looking at him with trust and concern in his emerald eyes. There was no way this could work it would all explode in his face but he couldn’t turn back, he couldn’t give up Midii and Nanashi. He couldn’t give up Trowa.
Quatre gave himself up to that warm, strong grip. If only the world could stop and he could just stay in that hard, protective embrace forever.
“Tell me what’s worrying you,” Trowa’s voice whispered softly in his ear, the warmth of his breath on his face tightening the muscles in Quatre’s groin. He had been so busy, it had been so long.
“Let me help you, like you’ve helped me,” Trowa whispered again, his hands working gently on Quatre’s tense shoulders, the long fingers pressing comfortingly into his skin.
Trowa frowned as Quatre shook his head. “There’s nothing, just work, I think the worst is over now,” the blonde faltered. But the worst was yet to come, he’d set himself and all of them up for disaster but he couldn’t stop it. Midii had him in an irresistible trap. He wanted so much to help her and he loved Nanashi, because he was Trowa’s and because now he was like his own child. He could see no way out, there was no right choice, not since the day he’d made her that promise and betrayed Trowa’s trust.
Trowa’s fingers trailed down his sides and Quatre felt those practiced fingers working at the waistband of his pants. He gasped and a small moan escaped his lips at the familiar, sensual touch.
“I love you,” he heard Trowa’s voice murmur and felt it the other man’s lips quiver teasingly against the delicate skin of his stomach. Quatre gripped the arms of his chair as he felt Trowa’s lips close over him, the excruciating tickle of that hair where he was most sensitive. The torture of pleasure and guilt went on and on until at last he exploded into an almost unconscious state of ecstasy where he could forget everything for those minutes.
With a soft smile Trowa tugged on his spent lover and pulled him to the floor with him, holding him close against him. Quatre leaned to kiss him and tasted himself on Trowa’s lips. He pressed closer, deepening the kiss.
“I love you Trowa,” he whispered in his husband’s ear, stroking the unruly auburn bangs and tightening his other arm around his waist. “Forever.”
No matter what happens, he added silently.
She opened the door to her studio to find Quatre inside. Midii clung to the doorknob as if it were the only thing holding her up.
“What are you doing here,” she asked, trying to maintain her composure. She had never, never wanted to lay eyes on him again. She hated what he did to her, hated the treacherous reaction of her body to the memory of his touch when in her heart and mind he was her worst enemy. She thought she had escaped his
control over her, she didn’t owe him a thing.
His heart thumped at the sight of her but fell at the look of despair that flooded her eyes. He only wanted to help her, be there for her. He hadn’t been able to stay away, his need for her growing more and more intense over the months since she’d left, returned to Earth, started a new life.
She turned away, leaning her forehead against the door as he walked toward her with his hand outstretched and felt his arms wrap around her from behind like iron bands pulling her back to that other life.
“You have to leave,” Midii whispered, trying unsuccessfully to shrug out of his embrace. “Please, it isn’t like before, you don’t own this place, you don’t own me or my son . . .”
She felt him nudge the hair away from her neck with his nose and felt his lips pressing against the top of her shoulder.
“I love you Midii,” he confessed, his arms tightening around her possessively. “I’d do anything to be with you. Anything.”
The radio was playing softly in the background, the innocuous music was interrupted by an equally innocuous voice intoning the 9 a.m. business report.
“In a surprise move it was announced today that Winner Industries bought out Global Conglomerate in a hostile takeover, the first such takeover venture in the long history of the Winner Corporation,” the voice said.
Midii gasped and her body slumped back against Quatre’s in shock and defeat. “Anything,” he whispered against her soft hair as he moved her to face him and captured her lips with his. He lifted her in his arms and held her close before placing her on the soft leather couch under the window and kneeling down beside it, brushing her tears away.
“You can come home now, back to space, back to me,” he whispered, his hand slowly sliding up beneath the T-shirt she wore, feeling her heartbeat quicken like a small trapped bird in a cage beneath his fingertips and her body tremble with reluctant desire.
Her body remembered the perfect touch of those slender fingers. Quatre would win, why did she even try to fight, to run? He’d won Trowa, he’d won her son who’d never stopped talking about him. Midii felt like a powerless nothing as she’d always been, subject to the whims of stronger beings. War or peace didn’t matter in her world. She was always the loser.
Those gentle fingers caressed her cheek hypnotically, his kisses feather light and begging her attention. Her heart wanted to rebel but her body responded to the love it craved so desperately. With a gasp that sounded almost painful with longing Midii twined her fingers in Quatre’s soft hair and pulled him close to her, parting her lips beneath his and answering the kiss.
Harsh light glinted in Trowa’s eyes, imperfections in the colony sky tiles magnifying the glare until it flashed brilliantly between the buildings and shone brightly between the leaves of trees blinding innocent passers-by. He patted his jacket pockets desperately seeking his sunglasses only to suddenly get a clear image of them sitting on the kitchen counter. Trowa growled low in his throat in annoyance and ducked his head to avoid the light. In that split second as he moved his head the light caught something again. A stray beam of artificial sunlight bounced on a gently swinging mass of bright blonde hair that called him as clearly as a beckoning finger. He attempted to look closer, his heart realizing what he saw even before his mind accepted it but he squinted again as the playful sunbeam traveled next to the rearview mirror on the side of a car and flashed in his eyes, blinding him again. Trowa shielded his eyes with his hand and scanned the area. Then he spotted her.
Like a ghost, the wisp of a girl turned the corner, her pale blonde hair floating around her as she walked. Trowa blinked. How many times had he seen that vision and she hadn’t really been there, or it had only been a girl that looked a little like her? He rushed to the corner of the building and dared to look again. She was still there and as he watched a slender, graceful hand lifted to brush the hair out of her face. A girl so like Midii she had to be her.
“Midii,” he called. “Wait.”
She stopped but didn’t turn around. In several long strides Trowa was beside her, taking her face in his hands and looking at her searchingly.
“Oh God,” he said, pulling her tightly against him, “Midii, Midii. I’ve been so worried. I looked everywhere for you.”
“Trowa,” she said in a small, quavering voice. “Trowa.”
She wrapped her arms around him and cried in great, gulping sobs.
He led her to a small park he’d noticed earlier and pulled her down on a bench next to him. She looked at him her face wet with tears. He pulled out a handkerchief and dried her eyes.
“Tell me where you’ve been? Have you been all right? Why did you leave like that,” he asked, although he thought he knew the answer to the last question. It was over, he’d found her and he wouldn’t be tormented by the guilt any more. She looked good, she must be doing alright on her own. He had worried all this time needlessly.
She looked down at the grass and clover at her feet, “I overheard you that day,” she whispered.
“Midii I’m sorry,” Trowa said sincerely. “I never meant for you to find out that way, that’s why I wouldn’t give you a key. I didn’t want to hurt you, I just didn’t know how . . .”
“. . . how to get me to go away,” she asked bitterly, the memory of her humiliation bubbling up inside. “I’m sorry I was so pushy. I never meant to throw myself at someone who didn’t want me. Someone who never could.”
“But Midii,” he protested. “I did want you, I cared about you. I just . . .”
“. . . loved him more,” she finished for him.
“But look at you Midii,” he said, trying to change the subject. “You look wonderful and you’re doing just fine, I can tell. You’ve found someone else by now, a beautiful girl like you.”
Did he still think she was beautiful, she wondered. Had he ever?
“You could say I’ve found someone,” she sighed, thinking of her son and also of Quatre. Oh, what was she saying? Trowa was here, beside her again. There was no one else for her, there could never be. She’d given him her heart as a child and never gotten it back.
She slid off the bench and knelt before him, almost worshipfully, making a lump form in his throat. She looked up at him with teary eyes full of love. Her small hands slid softly up the inside of his thighs so slowly, tantalizingly. “I’ve missed you so much, Trowa,” she pleaded. “I’ve been so alone.”
“Midii,” he said, putting his hands on her shoulders and looking down into her face, keeping her at arms’ length. “You told me you had someone.”
“He isn’t you Trowa. He can never be you.”
She leaned forward, fighting against the grip of his hands and slowly winning him over. Midii kissed his lips, softly, yearningly. “Trowa,” she gasped. “Oh please. Just once more.”
He gathered her in his arms and pulled her up in his lap and kissed her, his hands seeking the familiar curves of her body, the memory of past passion starting to glow like an ember deep inside. Lately he had felt so all alone, lately Quatre hadn’t been at all like himself and she was here again, promising everything as she always had and wanting nothing in return.
But her arms around him were almost strangling. If he did this now everything would go back to the way it had been before. And now he was committed to Quatre, totally, there was no room for her in his life, except maybe as a friend. To betray him now, even for her, would be unforgivable. With a groan Trowa reached up and disengaged her arms from around her neck, gently but firmly.
“I can’t,” he said, although his heart still pounded and he was so aware of her body curled into his. “Midii, no, I won’t do this with you anymore. I love Quatre and it’s not fair to you. You deserve more than this. ”
She bowed her head and somehow forced herself not to break down in a hysterical outburst of tears and screaming.
“Midii,” he said. “We can still be friends, can’t we?”
He looked at his watch, he had to be going, sitting here so close to her was dangerous. He needed Quatre, just wanted to be near him. “Give me your phone number, we’ll keep in touch. You know you can always find me through Winner Corporation.”
She knew. She wrote down a string of random numbers and handed it to him.
“Bye Midii,” Trowa said, almost afraid to look at her too long. “Are you going to be okay?”
She barely nodded and he walked hurriedly away from her, not trusting himself around her if he stayed.
Midii rose unsteadily and somehow found her way back to her studio. Now that he was gone silent tears coursed down her cheeks as she walked, oblivious to the people around her and the sound of traffic. There’d always been that small flicker of hope before. He would come and find her, he would realize how much she loved him and they would be together. Well he’d found her but he still didn’t want her, had never wanted her really, despite what he said. Trowa’s kind words that cut through her heart like the sharpest knives, slicing her carefully-constructed little world to ribbons. Living with Quatre had made him so damned kind, she thought bitterly. She pulled her knees up to her chin and buried her head in her arms, hiding in the small dark space she created around herself.
“Midii! What's wrong?" Quatre entered the studio to find Midii huddled on the floor in a ball, shaking and crying. She shook her head sharply as he knelt down to put his arms around her. She only seemed to draw deeper into herself as he pulled her close. "Please Midii, tell me. Let me help you."
He had her so close, she could feel how hard and taut he was against her.
She shuddered, knowing what had brought him up there to see her again.
Feeling especially bitter, she stiffened to pull away from him. Then she paused, her breath catching in her throat. Tilting her face towards his neck again, she recognized the scent she'd know anywhere. It was faint,
but definitely Trowa.
"Midii?" Quatre whispered, his fingers trailing lightly through her hair.
"Don't speak," Midii rasped, jerking his coat off his shoulders so roughly that she heard a small rip. She closed her eyes and kissed him teasingly.
As she expected, it didn't take much. He responded in a surge of passion, nearly devouring her mouth. Tugging impatiently at her jeans, he was practically panting.
"Would you still love him," Midii thought bitterly to herself as she felt Quatre's hips grinding hungrily into hers, "if you saw him now, Trowa? If I had you, I'd never look at anyone else, ever."
Moaning soft words of love, Quatre claimed her right there, keeping her close in his arms. Midii let herself imagine he was Trowa, burying her face in his neck, holding him like a vise. His relatively small body didn't have the hard muscle that Trowa's did, but the small details were easy for her to ignore. Wanting
him to be Trowa so much, wanting it to be Trowa who was driving himself deep within her again and again, wanting it to be Trowa who was kissing her like one possessed, wanting it to be Trowa moaning her name over and over... She wanted it so much, that soon she made herself believe that it really was Trowa who was making love to her.
Lost in her fantasy, she moved against Quatre, pushing him to a frenzy with her hands. Her eyes were still clenched shut as it all came to an explosive end. And it was Trowa's name on her lips as she shuddered with pleasure beneath Quatre's dripping body.
She didn't notice Quatre stiffen around her, even as he was still quivering from his own release.
"This is Trowa Winner, his husband," Trowa spoke tersely into the phone. "Please, just put me through to him." Usually he was recognized by the office staff, but unfortunately, Quatre's regular secretary was out sick for the week, and he was stuck trying to reason with a clueless stand-in.
The girl on the other side of the screen just tittered at him in amusement. "Sure you are. Anyway, he's stepped out of his office, so I can't help you. However, if you'd like to leave a message..."
Trowa cut the connection with an aggravated growl. Marching towards the large windows at the back of the bedroom, he pulled his cell phone from his jacket and dialed Quatre directly. He knew he might be disturbing him, but he needed to speak to him now. As his eyes flickered towards the towering Winner Corporation office building in the distance, he heard the phone crackle to life.
Something about Quatre's voice sounded strange, as if he'd just woken up. Trowa didn't dwell on it, he was feeling too shaken to care. "Quatre, can you come home? I really need to see you right now."
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. Frowning slightly, he thought he could hear Quatre talking to someone, footsteps, and the squeaking sound of a door either opening or closing. "Trowa," Quatre was nearly whispering, "is there something wrong?"
"Not quite...but I really need you to come home now." His dark forest eyes looked intently over at the office building, as if he could see Quatre from where he stood. "Are you at the office?"
"Yeah... Trowa, is this some kind of emergency?"
Trowa swallowed. It felt like an emergency. He was trembling all over, his emotions warring inside of him. The temptation to run away and into Midii's arms was chewing at him, and the explicit images continually flashing through his mind were by themselves enough to cause him incredible guilt. He needed
Quatre to hold him, to help him forget, and to keep him from giving in to his impulses and doing something he'd end up regretting...
When Trowa choked on his answer, Quatre gave a small exasperated sigh. "Can it wait until tonight?"
"Tonight," Trowa's shoulders tightened at the thought of waiting that many hours. "I don't know."
"Can you at least tell me what this is all about?"
With a deep breath, Trowa ran his fingertips over the glass. His eyes caught on the gold band glinting on his finger. "I need you, Quatre. Come home."
"Trowa..." Quatre's voice caught and stuttered. "I...I can't just...You really can't wait until tonight?"
"When was the last time I asked something like this of you? Please, Quatre."
Trowa gripped the phone, praying he didn't sound too desperate, yet hoping Quatre would realize how much he was.
"I... I would if I could, but I've got a meeting..." Quatre croaked uneasily.
"Fine, then I'll go over there," Trowa frowned deeply. Couldn't Quatre give his new work-a-holic lifestyle a break? He knew Quatre might be angry, but he wasn't going to let their relationship go to hell for the sake of the overblown Winner empire. "This can't wait."
"No!" Quatre shouted, making Trowa hold the phone away from his ear in shock. "No..." Quatre repeated, trying to sound calmer, though his voice was now definitely nervous. "Stay there, Trowa. I'll be right over as soon as possible."
"Quatre, are you okay? You don't sound right."
There was an unintelligible, annoyed sounding mumbling on Quatre's end of the line. "I'm fine. See you in a few minutes," finished Quatre in a tired voice, and then he hung up.
Staring down at his phone with a confused, tightlipped expression, it was a few minutes before he clicked it off, silencing the strangely eerie humming dial tone. Dropping his hand, he turned his face back towards the Winner building, feeling uneasy. Something just wasn't right with Quatre. Now he wanted him to hurry home for both their sakes.
Tucking his cell phone into his pocket, Quatre set to buttoning up his slacks with shaky hands. It was almost as if Trowa had known what he was doing when he called. Nervously trying to smooth out his suit, he wondered why else Trowa might have risked possibly interrupting him in the middle of business. Just because he wanted to make love? That wasn't like Trowa.
"Allah, there's no way he could know," Quatre tried to reassure himself as he stepped back into Midii's studio. "Please, don't let him know."
He glanced around the room to find Midii scrubbing her face over at one of the sinks. She had already redressed, though her hair was still a mess.
Seeing it made Quatre run a hand back through his own blonde hair. His normally wavy hair was threatening to become a tsunami. He walked up behind Midii, lightly touching her arm. When the passion left him, he was always left uneasy with casual contact. He was sure he loved her, but his guilt made it almost too difficult to face.
"Midii, do you have a comb I can borrow?"
"Was that Trowa?" She asked nearly monotone, as she handed Quatre her brush.
Quatre's shining sapphire eyes met hers almost angrily. He simply nodded, trying to find the part in his hair in the mess it had been thrown into. "Do you think you'll be okay?"
"Okay?" Midii turned away from him and tried to walk away. She ended up slumped against a canvas, crying again. It looked like she was trying to control herself, but with no luck. Quatre quickly ran over to keep her from falling over. He held her sadly, stroking her hair.
"Oh Midii... I'm so sorry..." He glanced up at the clock. Nanashi would need to be picked up from daycare soon, and Midii was in no condition to be a mother at the moment. Quatre closed his eyes and shook his head lightly. He was going to feel terrible, and he wasn't sure how he was going to explain it later, but Trowa was just going to have to wait.
“Uncle Quatre,” the childish voice, reminiscent of Trowa’s somehow, the little arms flung with abandon to wrap around his knees and almost topple him. At least someone was happy to see him, he thought, the child’s innocent adoration like balm to his wounded, guilt-stricken heart. There was no solution to his
dilemma, it was a puzzle that couldn’t be fit together no matter how he tried.
“Where’s Mommy?” Nanashi asked. “Is she painting?”
“She’s waiting for you at home,” Quatre answered, thinking of her making his throat dry. Midii would never love him, she barely restrained herself from declaring her outright hatred. What was he doing trying to find a way into a heart that was closed off to him of all people most of all.
But when she opened the door and her eyes fell on her son a smile warm and soft as sunlight brightened her face. She looked so beautiful and happy as she lifted him in her arms and held Nanashi close, her cheek pressed against his hair. How he wanted her to always look like that, to see that smile appear on her face when he entered a room. He could reach her, he would and if he did, then what? What about Trowa?
Two hours. Two hours since he’d called Quatre, practically begging him to come home. Alone he was forced to relive those minutes in the park with Midii, if he’d wanted to he could have been with her now. Trowa paced indecisively back and forth in the huge foyer. Where was Quatre?
Outside the door, Quatre hesitated. It was already growing dark. He wondered what had been bothering Trowa but before he went in he had to compose himself. She’d made it easy for him to leave, she always did. “Uncle Quatre is a very busy and important man,” she said softly but firmly to Nanashi. “He can’t stay tonight.”
Her eyes hardened a bit and as he bent to kiss her goodbye she casually turned her face so her hair fell over her smooth cheek blocking his attempt to win her affection effortlessly. This afternoon had been the exception, he still had no idea what had set off the frantic storm of tears. Was it a full moon or something? Trowa had sounded so upset too, but he felt like he had nothing more to give. He’d given it all to Midii today, he had nothing left. And he felt a senseless irritation toward Trowa. It was his name she called when at the height of passion.
The door jerked open suddenly and he was face to face with Trowa. Fresh guilt flooded Quatre’s heart as ecstatic relief appeared on Trowa’s face. He did still love him, of course he did, nothing could change that. Somehow the challenge, the puzzle of Midii was consuming him, pulling him away, deeper and deeper into her closed-off, tragic little world. His sad princess in a tower, Midii.
“Midii,” Trowa choked, seeming to uncannily read his thoughts. “Quatre I saw her today. I saw her here on this colony.”
It all fell into place, her tears, Trowa’s strange phone call, her unexpected response to his desire. He couldn’t answer, Quatre was barely able to maintain an expectant silence. He wanted to reach up and shake Trowa and find out what had happened between the two of them.
Trowa’s long arms reached out to pull Quatre to him, laying his cheek on the warm, soft mass of his lover’s pale blonde hair and sighing. “Quatre, where have you been, it’s been hours? I was just going out to find you.”
“Trowa, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know and someone grabbed me with an important memo right as I was walking out the door. I lost track of time, I’m so sorry,” Quatre murmured, cursing himself for lying and at the same time trying to guess what had gone on between the man and the woman he loved with equal passion. “Are you sure it was her?”
He felt Trowa nod silently against his hair. Allah, he was tired but he couldn’t give in to it now, Trowa would expect him to listen and understand as he always had and he honestly didn’t know if he could do it. Not about this, not about her. His heart thumped sickeningly, what if she’d poured out her heart, told Trowa everything? Told him about Nanashi and his own deception . . .
“It was like a nightmare,” Trowa continued, the relief of pouring out his soul preventing him from noticing Quatre’s odd detachment. “She seemed all right. I asked her if she’d found someone else, she said she had. But later she said she didn’t care about him, she said she never could. Then she. . .I . . .Quatre, I’m sorry I almost did, but I didn’t. I could never do that to you. That’s why I called you.”
“That’s enough,” Quatre said in a strangled voice that startled Trowa.
“Quatre,” Trowa said in a penitent voice. “Nothing happened, I promise. I told her we could only be friends. That’s all. I love you, that hasn’t changed.
Quatre wasn’t worried about that, he was back in the studio with Midii, remembering her desperate passion and his own response to the slightest encouragement from her. For a brief moment he’d been starting to believe he’d reached her finally, that he’d somehow caught her in a moment where she needed him.
Trowa studied Quatre with worried green eyes. His reaction seemed so odd, he was nervous and defensive. He hoped he hadn’t said anything to permanently damage their relationship. He was everything to him . . . he pulled an unresisting Quatre into his arms, trying to show him how he felt, but as his cheek brushed against his lover’s soft blonde hair he thought of Midii again and as he pressed his face to the curve of Quatre’s neck he could swear he smelled lavender, faint and faraway, like the memory of a dream. The memory of Midii in his arms . . . he held Quatre closer, tight in his arms as tightly and
as desperately as she had clung to him.
This was the pain of a broken heart, she was sure of it. The stunned numbness of the first few weeks suddenly gave way to a barrage of agony she could barely stand. Strange that it should manifest itself in such a physical way, sweat broke out on her forehead as another sharp pain wracked her body and she wrapped her arms around herself and curled into a ball on her bed. When it nearly reached the point where she couldn’t take it anymore the pain subsided enough that she fell into an exhausted sleep.
She sat at the breakfast table as Nanashi plowed into his cereal, chattering away at her between bites. Midii rested her forehead on one of her slender hands, her hair drooping over her face as she stared at a piece of dry toast, one arm wrapped protectively around herself. It hurt so badly, the pain so physically real that it almost surprised her. Almost.
It hurt much worse than the first time she’d realized that Trowa loved Quatre. It hurt more to see his face when he said it, to have the reality forced upon her so she couldn’t escape it. If only she could escape it all. How had she become trapped in this strange life? Why was she sharing herself, her son with the man who had taken everything she cared about away from her? The walls of the trap had closed around her so slowly she hadn’t even noticed until it was too late.
Oh God, she thought, she was almost wishing Quatre were here now to hold her in his arms as she cried out her pain. He gave her everything she wanted from Trowa but from him it was like torture. He’d made her son love him, he’d even made her betray Trowa somehow, her face flushed at the memory of her body’s treacherous reactions to Quatre’s touch. And that was why she could never tell Trowa about Quatre’s betrayal, because it was her own.
She looked up at the touch of her son’s hand on her arm and the sight of Trowa’s emerald eyes in his face twisted her heart.
“Mommy? Are you okay,” he asked, a little frightened by her drooping silence, his hand touching her cheek softly as he looked into her eyes, in a gesture that was so much like his father’s. He’d used to touch her like that, so long ago . . .
She shook her head a little, but a reassuring smile forced itself onto her face. “I think we’ll stay home today,” she said, brushing the stubborn blonde bangs back from his little face. “Remember when you had a tummy ache and we stayed home a few weeks ago? This is just like that. In a few days I’ll be just fine again.”
He panicked when he peeked in the window of the day care center and saw that Nanashi wasn’t there, her studio was empty too. Had she run away again? What was he going to do, his head pounded . . . Trowa . . . Midii . . . he was torn. Why couldn’t he just let her go. No, he never could, he needed her like a man needed water in a desert. Yes, he thought, that’s what they were, like sand and water, and even if he did let her leave him there would still be the secret about Nanashi.
Not even bothering to make an excuse to his secretary Quatre rushed over to Midii’s house and the relief was almost palpable when he unlocked the door with his key and saw the little boy coloring quietly and his mother curled up on the couch sleeping.
“Shhh,” he whispered as Nanashi looked about ready to shout with happiness at seeing him. He tousled the blonde hair with his hand. Quatre bent down and ran the tip of his finger over the boy’s nose and he giggled quietly. “Mommy’s sick so we stayed home today,” he confided in Quatre. He frowned as he looked at Midii on the couch, her face looked twisted with pain.
“I have a good idea,” he said, pushing down the worry that was starting to creep up on him. “Why don’t you go in the backyard and pick her some flowers?”
Quatre watched the little boy run out into the sunshine. He turned back to Midii and put his hand softly on her forehead it was cool and damp with perspiration. She didn’t wake up when he trailed his fingers down her cheek and brushed the tips over her slightly-parted lips.
Suddenly he really wanted her to wake up, she looked like death there, so pale and the deep circles, like bruises under her eyes.
“Midii,” he whispered, trying louder and louder, shaking her softly.
She woke up groggily, slowly then suddenly her eyes widened and she grimaced in pain.
He wrapped her up in the blanket and lifted her in his arms. “I’m taking you to the hospital. You’re not all right. Oh Ma-Suq, my beloved, what’s wrong?”
Something in his voice touched her at last and she looked at him, really looked at him through her pain-glazed eyes. And she saw that he loved her, loved her as much as she loved Trowa. She could almost laugh, it was almost funny, like a bad comedy where nobody loved the one who loved them. In real life it wasn’t funny, not at all, it hurt, hurt unimaginably. She couldn’t hate Quatre anymore, he was just like her . . .
“I don’t need a doctor,” she gasped. “There’s nothing they can do, nothing anybody can do. Please put me back down.”
He set her carefully on the couch and knelt in front of her as she somehow got the pain under control. Midii closed her eyes trying to pull herself together, she felt his hands slide up her legs till his arms were clasped around her waist and his head in her lap but she felt nothing except the pain that was taking control of her whole body.
Quatre felt her shudder. “I know what happened that day,” he said, his breath warm against her thighs in the thin nightgown. “Trowa told me.”
“Then you know,” she whispered. “That’s all, that’s what’s wrong . . . I’ll try to be back at work tomorrow. I’ll be fine, there’s nothing to worry about,” she said, managing to hide the agony she was feeling. “I just didn’t sleep last night. I just really need some sleep.”
The next day she struggled off to the office building, biting her lip until it nearly bled. Nanashi was bored at home anyway she reasoned and she could sleep at the studio just as easily as at home. Midii knelt down to kiss her son goodbye, feeling the little arms tight around her waist and the sensation of his wet sloppy kiss on her cheek. She dropped a kiss on top of his soft blonde hair.
“I love you,” she said, looking deep into his wide green eyes. “Be a good boy today.”
Nanashi looked up at
his mother, her voice was odd, strained and he clung to her hand as if afraid
to let go. He hesitated until he felt
the soft caress of her fingers on his cheek.
“Go on and play. I’ll see you later,” she said, forcing a smile. Slowly the boy walked away, looking back
over his shoulder at her frequently.
Midii stood up shakily, her face white.
The daycare director caught her elbow and steadied her.
”Sit down Miss Une, you don’t look well. I’ll call Mr. Winner,” the older woman said.
“No! Don’t do that. I’m fine. Perfectly fine. Just tired. I’ll pick him up at the usual time,” Midii hissed through clenched teeth. She only wanted to get away, to be alone.
“Made it,” she whispered, leaning back heavily against the wall of the elevator to her studio. The pain was excruciating, she just wanted to be alone up there. Oh Trowa, she thought, a tear trickling down her cheek, it hurts so much, it hurts . . . a vision of his face wavered before her, the last thing she saw as she fell to her knees in the elevator as the agony increased unbearably. When the elevator reached the top floor she was unconscious.
Trowa sat in Quatre’s office, the distant sound of an ambulance barely distracting him. They really had to talk, things had been so strained since he’d seen Midii again, Quatre was jumpy and nervous as a cat and his own thoughts kept going back to her. Quatre wasn’t the same anymore, he still loved him but he had changed so much over the past two years. The odd behavior with Global Conglomerate and always those damn paintings. He had to stop the change, had to put his foot down and save their marriage.
The door opened, and he looked up to see Quatre standing there.
“Trowa,” he said startled. “I didn’t expect to see you!”
“Quatre we need to talk . . .”
“She’d lost too much blood due to the rupture,” the doctor said, pulling the monitors off Midii’s chest and smoothing back her hair. “I’ll call the time of death, 12:01 pm.”
“Damnit,” he said, staring into the young woman’s still face. “Why didn’t you get some help? The pain must have been incredible.”
“Go ahead and notify the next of kin,” he told the nurse, pulling off his gloves and flinging them aside as he left the room.
“I’m sorry Trowa. I didn’t realize you felt neglected,” Quatre said, finding it difficult to let his sapphire blue eyes meet the emerald eyes of the man he loved, hard to keep his mind on what he was saying. He really wanted to check on Midii, he should have put his foot down with her yesterday, taken her to the emergency room. There was something really wrong with her and it wasn’t just the pain of losing Trowa as she insisted it must be.
Trowa sighed. “You’re doing it right now, Quatre! What’s wrong? It’s like you’re not even here with me.”
He was interrupted by a buzz on the intercom.
“Quatre tell them to go away, this is important,” Trowa said, despair evident in his voice as the other man hesitated. Something was definitely wrong, all Quatre’s priorities were skewed.
Quatre pushed a button, “I’m in an important meeting right now, can this wait,” he asked.
“I’m sorry Mr. Winner,” his secretary said. “It’s an emergency with an employee, it really can’t. Mrs. Thomas from the child care center needs to see you immediately,”
The woman walked in, her eyes red and wide with shock. “Oh Mr. Winner it’s horrible,” she said, a sinking feeling of dread settled over Quatre. “We just got a call from the hospital and I don’t know what to do. Miss Une passed out in the elevator this morning and they took her to the hospital, they just called, I can’t believe it . . . she’s dead. I’m so sorry, I know you were seeing her, weren’t you? They said it was a complication of pregnancy. What are we going to do about her little boy? She had no other family, so I came to you, you’re always the one who comes and picks him up when she can’t so I--”
Miss Une . . . Dead . . . Pregnancy . . . Little boy . . . You were seeing her weren’t you?
The words swirled in Trowa’s head, he couldn’t really grasp the meaning of what he was hearing.
Quatre stared in disbelief. She had been pregnant? She was dead? She couldn’t be dead, it had to be a mistake, she’d said she would be all right . . . this was only a nightmare.
“Midii,” he croaked, her name caught in his throat, forgetting Trowa completely and dashing out the door to the hospital.
Cold tile clicked loudly beneath Trowa's shoes as he slowly made his way up the hospital corridor. He was afraid of what he would find when he reached the door just a few feet ahead. Then he was there. Reaching out one long arm, he opened the door and looked inside. His heart wrenched at what he found.
Half-sprawled over Midii's body, Quatre was mewling in pain.
"I understand now," Trowa spoke, his voice strangely detached.
With a small gasp, Quatre's form tensed at Trowa's presence. Slowly, he sat up, his back to the man at the door. His head hung in shadow. He swallowed harshly.
"This is my fault," he rasped bitterly. "I was selfish. I- I wanted all of you."
"So she was pregnant with your child."
"Was." It was more a whisper than spoken word.
"And the boy? Is he also yours?" Trowa almost thought he heard a bitter tone. But maybe it was his imagination. He wasn't really sure what he was feeling at the moment. His heart felt like it had become a great black hole.
There was silence. Quatre seemed to shrink down on himself. "Nanashi is not mine."
"Nanashi?" Trowa felt it. He knew it. Somehow he just knew. "Oh God."
"Nanashi is your son." Quatre was rubbing his eyes against his coat sleeve. "She didn't want you to know. I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't." A soft sob broke free.
He had a son? He couldn't believe he was hearing this. He couldn't believe Midii had kept something that important a secret from him. He couldn't believe Quatre had been having an affair this entire time. Had everything he had ever held dear turned against him?
It finally hit him. All the grief and anger. God, he had loved them, and they had betrayed him several times over. He had been weak in his own turn, but he had never lied to them about it. Not like this. Never like this. His fists clenched at his sides.
"Where is he now?"
"The daycare a few blocks from here. But Trowa, please..."
Trowa didn't want to hear any more. He turned and left the room, not looking back. He couldn't face them now. He didn't want to say something he might regret later. Right now, he just wanted to see for himself if Quatre was telling the truth. He wanted to see his son.
The daycare was nearly deserted. Across the grass, the shadows of late afternoon stretched out towards Trowa, giving the innocent setting an eerie otherworldly atmosphere. Beyond the sandbox, and a tree with bare reaching branches, was a lonely looking swingset. On one plastic swing, barely moving back and forward, one white sneaker dragging in the dirt, was a small boy alone.
Trowa couldn't see his face, not only because he was facing away from him, but because the boy's face was partially hidden behind a mess of pale blonde hair. Next to him, the daycare woman spoke softly.
"Poor Nanashi, I'm so sorry to hear about his mother. So, you're his father, are you? I'm surprised, Nanashi said he had no father, and Miss Une never said anything. I was actually expecting Mr. Winner to come by, he was always looking after him. He seemed sweet on Miss Une, if you don't mind me saying so."
At that moment, the boy turned and looked back at them. His small mouth was pouting, probably tired with waiting. His eyes... Narrow and wary. Suddenly Trowa felt like he was seeing another boy from long ago, at the sound of gunfire, turning around from where he worked in dirty oversized fatigues, glimpsing himself in the polished surface of the mobile suit behind him. There in the reflection, eyes like that of a young, startled wild animal. These eyes looking at him now were nowhere near as intense, but there was that same anticipating anxiety there. The boy knew something was wrong.
"The poor dear," the woman sighed. "I'll leave you be. I have to clean up inside." She returned to the daycare building, leaving Trowa alone with the boy.
One step at a time, he approached the boy. Nanashi was no longer moving, but swinging his legs back and forth restlessly. He didn't turn around as the man reached him.
"You're Daddy, right?"
Trowa was taken aback. "I guess so. And you're Nanashi?"
"Mmm Hmm." The boy then turned to study him with curious jade eyes. "Uncle Quatre said I would see you someday. He let me see a picture of you and said to keep it a secret."
Trowa felt a burning in his throat. "He's good at keeping secrets."
"Are you staying now?" There was an uncertain expression on the boy's face now that made Trowa think of Midii. It almost transformed the small features. He was painful to look at.
Trowa felt himself starting to tremble inside. Seeing that innocent face that looked so much like himself, and yet so much like Midii as well, moved him more than he could have imagined. Boiling together with the pain and grief he felt, his emotions were threatening to overwhelm him. Somehow, the child seemed to sense it, and the little jade eyes started to quiver.
He didn't want his son to see him breaking like this. Trowa heard him give a soft sound of surprise as he knelt down and held him close. "Mommy can't be with you anymore. You're going to stay with me now."
The boy made no sound. He just hid his face in his father's chest and clung there. In his own turn, Trowa hid his face in his boy's light hair and finally, silently, broke down. By the time they left the daycare together, all around them was shrouded in darkness.
In the weeks that followed, Quatre and Trowa said little to each other that did not concern the boy. The familiarity of his Uncle Quatre made it easier to adjust to the loss of his mother, and despite the anger he still felt, Trowa was grateful for that. Trowa permitted Quatre to adopt Nanashi as his heir, under the name of Bassam Asad Winner. He agreed that his son needed a proper name, and they called him Sam for short.
But as Trowa grew closer to Sam, on the other side of the house, Quatre seemed to be dwindling away. Trowa refused to sleep in the same room as Quatre, and the blonde man had grown increasingly withdrawn. According to the staff, if Quatre wasn't at work, he was usually sleeping. He missed meals, and was growing thinner and paler by the day. Even Sam began to ask if he was sick.
Deep down inside, Trowa also began to worry. He still loved Quatre. But as much as he loved him, it hurt just as much to think that he couldn't trust Quatre anymore. Trowa felt as though he were under a curse. First Midii, now Quatre. And as much as he wanted to, he couldn't hate them.
Trowa visited Midii's grave often. It was a beautiful white marble stone, and standing on it was a lovely angel with spread wings, staring into heaven. In the angel's arms was a small child.
Stopping before it, Trowa found Quatre standing there, looking down at the grave. He was wearing a wrinkled black suit, probably on his way home from the office. His shoulders were hunched, his arms around himself, shaking. Trowa could hear him crying softly. He glanced down at the engraving.
Midii Une and Malak Midii Winner
Beloved Mother and Daughter
Together Forever in Heaven
For a moment, Trowa felt pity for him. But his words were bitter.
"Why Quatre? Was it because of what I did, did you lie when you said it didn't matter? Or was it because I had a son and you wanted the same. That was something Midii could give you wasn't it?"
Quatre grew quiet. And then, "I wanted you. She was the only part of you I couldn't have. You two are, you were so much alike Trowa. At first I just wanted to help her, she was so incredibly sad and bitter and it was because of me. I took you away from her. And now..." His head lifted weakly towards the sky. "Now I've lost all of you. Because of me, Midii's dead. My only child is dead. I..." He swallowed harshly. "I might as well be dead."
So much pain. Maybe even more than what he felt. Trowa stood there, feeling Quatre's torment. It wasn't right for someone who only ever wanted to love others to suffer as much as he did. He remembered when Quatre had forgiven him for his own betrayal. Didn't he deserve a second chance as well? Midii's own suffering had come to this because he hadn't been able to forgive her years ago. By the time he had found forgiveness in his heart, it had been too late. Midii's spirit had been eaten away by guilt, and her strength and will had been lost, her obsession with him becoming her only drive.
Now Quatre was wasting away like Midii. It was only a matter of time before Trowa lost someone else he loved. He couldn't save Midii. But maybe he could save Quatre. It wouldn't be easy, but he would try. For Midii and for Quatre.
A tremulous gasp
broke from Quatre as he pulled him back against him. Trowa leaned in close, his breath warm against Quatre's ear. He saw Quatre close his eyes as he sagged back
into Trowa's body. "You haven't
lost me, Quatre. God, how you've hurt
me, but I will always love you. Just as
I loved Midii." With a sigh, he
pulled Quatre tighter against him. "If
I'm going to forgive you, then you need to help me. I'm not asking you to forget Midii. I can't forget her either.
I don't want to forget. But if
I'm going to forgive you, I need you to be my Quatre again. No more lies, never again."
His eyes downcast, Quatre turned in his arms and rested his head beneath Trowa's chin. Tears were pooling in his aquamarine eyes. "I don't deserve your love."
"Promise me," Trowa lifted his face, forcing him to look at him. Staring into that face with the red eyes and tear-stained cheeks, he knew his own face probably looked harsh with the effort of holding his emotions in check. "My Quatre."
"Yours," Quatre sobbed. "Always yours as long as you want me. No more lies." He clutched Trowa to himself roughly. "I-I'm sorry... I..."
"I'm yours," Trowa buried his hands in the silky blonde hair. Tears of release sliding down his face, he kissed Quatre, whose mouth sealed his desperately. When they finally parted, they were panting for breath. Quatre's eyes were still tightly closed, and he was trembling.
"And Sam is your son as well as mine or Midii's. Don't forget that he loves you too." Trowa kissed his eyes and rest his head down on Quatre's shoulder. "And I know you love him. Isn't that what truly defines a father?"
Quatre looked out at the distant horizon, through the artificially created clouds with hazy eyes. He spoke quietly, his voice hoarse from crying. "Thank you Trowa... You don't know what that means to me. But... I need to know... If I had told you from the beginning... What would you have done?"
"No what ifs. Life doesn't work that way. I forgave Midii and I forgave you. It's time to move on." Pulling away just a little, Trowa held Quatre by the shoulders. "So are you ready to go home? Sam's been begging to go to that pizza place since this morning."
For the first time in a long time, Quatre smiled. "I'm ready. Let's go."
Leaning against Trowa as they walked away, he felt the weight of all the troubles of the past few years finally lift from his heart. Midii was at peace now, and through her son, some part of her still lived on. A new joy began to glow inside him. In a new form, the three of them were at last whole.