Deep inside me
Makes me feel uneasy baby
Tell me what am I supposed to do about it
Keep your distance from me
Don’t pay no attention to me
I got a disease
Feels like your making a mess
You’re hell on wheels in a black dress
You drove me to the fire
And left me there to burn…
~~excerpt from Disease, as performed by Matchbox 20
By Midii Une
Disclaimer and Notes: I don’t always mention this particular but I do not own Gundam Wing, Trowa Barton or Midii Une (sob) I am however the creator of Nathalie Une, Gerard DuMond and other original characters in this fic excluding Christof Une who is the sole property of his creator, Liewe and is used here with her kind permission. For more on Christof (one of my favorite original characters of all time) check out Shattered Hearts and Tears of Despair by Liewe at http://www.geocities.com/spysilencer/liewe.html
This fic was originally inspired by the song It’s Been Awhile by Stain’d but after hearing Disease by Matchbox 20 I changed the title ^_^ the song actually inspired me to dust this off, edit it and publish it. Beware of language and lemon-lime in this story. Also contains a semi-crossover very loosely based on the original Gundam universe. This can be considered a sequel to the story Jaded but reading Jaded is really unnecessary, all you need to know is that Midii and Trowa had a relationship immediately prior to the events of Endless Waltz that ended badly.
“Have you got it?”
Midii scowled and raised a slender finger to her lips. She closed the door softly and leaned back against the varnished wood languorously rolling her shoulders as she started to release the accumulated tension. He watched her there as she closed her eyes and rubbed her cheek against her shoulder tiredly. Her slender hand reached up and she purred a little, caressing her own neck, her hair gleaming against the dark wood in the soft glow of the firelight in an unconscious display of sensuality. She swung the wine bottle casually against her silk-stockinged leg and his throat tightened while his mouth felt suddenly parched. She should be illegal, she probably was illegal.
He came and took the chilled bottle of wine from her hand and uncorked it, pouring her a glass without being asked.
“Thank you, Gerard” Midii said sincerely, taking a long sip from the Waterford crystal wine glass the young man handed her. The vintage wasn’t up to par but it was all she could find at such late notice so she supposed it would have to do. They’d done it. Unbelievably everything had gone without a hitch.
“You got it, didn’t you,” he asked again, he had to be sure.
“Of course,” she answered, annoyed by his persistence and uncharacteristic lack of confidence in her skills. She sank tiredly into the leather chair before the desk
She pushed at the lavishly polished wood floor with the toe of her shoe and leaned back in the chair spinning victoriously, releasing the tension of an important mission completed at last. A splash of wine hit the floor and she stopped the chair’s giddy revolution. Note to self: spinning and drinking do not mix, she thought a bit dizzily.
Her companion was looking at her strangely and she took another small sip of the wine, pausing to admire the shine of the crystal in the firelight, rainbows appeared in the facets, so lovely. Material things could not take the place of love of course, but certainly they had their own rewards, and she figured since she couldn’t have one . . .but he was speaking to her again, disrupting her thoughts.
“I should be thanking you Miss Midii. You’ve taught me so much,” he said, bending close and raising her hand to kiss her fingertips.
She was feeling more than a bit dizzy now, definitely the spinning had been ill-advised. Midii reached to set the wineglass on the desk and heard it crash to the floor, the crystal shards shooting across the slick wood like bits of broken ice.
“What was the first thing you taught me,” he reminisced, watching carefully as she leaned on the desk and rested her head on her arms. Uneasiness prickled at the back of her neck, the tone of his voice was changing and the dizziness was getting worse, not better.
“Never trust anyone.”
He was trying to betray her. Gerard, the self-effacing assistant who looked at her with adoring eyes and anticipated her every wish . . . Gerard was trying to betray her.
With supreme effort Midii raised her clouded eyes and studied the desk, the vidcom was just out of reach. If she could only reach it, press a button. Her body refused to obey and her head swam sickeningly.
He was talking as if she were already unconscious. Rambling on and on nervously.
“I had to. I’m sorry. I couldn’t refuse the money, it was stupendous, you can’t imagine . . .
She could imagine, she could imagine very well.
With a grunt she hurled herself at the phone, knocking the receiver off its pad, her fingers seeking the buttons, any button. She wouldn’t let this happen, she had to get home.
“Never trust anyone,” he repeated, grabbing her roughly around the waist and hauling her out of the chair to fling her down on the bed.
“You bastard,” she thought, trying to push herself up as her arms trembled weakly beneath her. Her voice wouldn’t come, her throat paralyzed as he pushed a strand of hair away from her face in a show of false bravado. He flipped her on her stomach and she heard a drawer opening. How, she thought desperately, how had he gotten to her? She’d bought the wine herself, watched him pour it.
“I have to stay awake,” she thought. He was lashing her wrists tightly together behind her back but she couldn’t fight him off.
“This can’t be happening. I have to get home,” her mind screamed. He had poured more wine into her glass and he lifted her shoulders and held her in his arms trying to force more of it between her lips, most of it spilling down her neck but she couldn’t help but swallow some of it if only to keep from choking.
The dislodged vidcom started to beep loudly, making Gerard jump and he dropped Midii back on the bed. He was starting to panic, they’d told him just one sip from the glass and good night. Why wasn’t it happening that way?
“Shut up,” he growled at the beeping phone, yanking it roughly out of the wall by the cord. “Shit, oh shit,” he hissed, glancing at the bed, the rumpled satin sheets and the still figure in the center of it.
“At last,” he muttered hoarsely in relief, bending over Midii and lifting her lids with his thumbs to be sure she was really out. He kept watching her, almost afraid to turn his back as he grabbed the wine and drank a healthy gulp straight from the bottle. She would have no qualms in killing him after this and he could barely believe he’d gotten this far. Nervously he reached behind her back and tightened a loose knot in the ropes that circled her slender wrists. They’d be here soon, he’d have to deliver. He grabbed the crystal glass stained with her rose-pink lipstick from the night stand and tossed it into the fireplace with a satisfying crash. The flames leapt crazily as they consumed the small amount of alcohol before dying back again.
Gerard picked up Midii’s purse and dumped its contents on the bed beside her. Wallet. Hairbrush. Perfume. Nail file. Lipstick.
No fucking disk.
“You said you had it,” he whispered disbelievingly at the unconscious girl on the bed. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “Where the hell is it?”
Blushing, he slid his hands beneath her skirt finding only the thin-barreled pistol she kept strapped to her thigh. No disk. He unzipped the tight-fitting black jacket she wore with trembling fingers and yanked it back over her shoulders to search the inner pockets. Still nothing.
“C-Christ Midii,” he stuttered, regret, remorse and a healthy sense of self-preservation coloring his voice. He had gone too far, he was in over his head and he knew it. “You have to help me. What now . . . what . . .
She didn’t answer, he was on his own. Her fair skin was paler than usual and she lay very still in the tangle of champagne-colored sheets and her own platinum hair. Only her shallow breathing broke the frightening stillness of the room until the knocking began.
“Open up DuMond,” a voice hissed on the other side of the door and a heavy hand pounded on the thick wood, making the solid door shudder in its frame.
Gerard paled, casting one last imploring look at Midii, and rose to open the door. Perhaps they would give him time, surely they would listen to reason.
His visitor looked around the room, his eyes missing nothing, the shattered glass on the floor, the phone that was ripped from the wall and the rumpled sheets on the bed.
“Had some trouble subduing the little lady did you,” he asked, not bothering to contain a snort of laughter at the frightened gaze the white-faced young man directed at him.
“She—Midii—her tolerance for the drugs seemed high, she fought me--,” Gerard started, struggling to gain more time for himself.
“Enough chit-chat DuMond, where’s the disk?”
“I’m sorry,” he blurted. “She told me she had it but I can’t find it, I’ve searched everywhere.
The laughter disappeared from the visitor’s face and his eyes narrowed. He stalked to the desk and checked the disk drives in Midii’s laptop and Gerard held his breath. He hadn’t looked there but he knew it couldn’t be there, she hadn’t had time to get rid of it before he’d drugged her.
The laptop went sailing against the wall and crashed in a burst of sparks and twisted metal. The contact stalked over to the bed and stood staring down at Midii, the gleam of silver on her thigh catching his eye and his mind turned ideas over and over before coming to a conclusion. He bent over and slid his hand up her leg, his fingers gliding easily over the warm satiny smoothness until they touched the hard metal of the little pistol. Then he turned to face Gerard.
“Well my boy, you really don’t know where the disk is? You’re not trying to bluff?”
Gerard shook his head. “No of course. I have no idea, but give me time, just a little time.”
With a feral grin the man depressed the trigger and a shot rang out, the noise echoing off the walls. He walked over to the fallen man and nudged him with his toe until he flipped onto his back. The wounded man tried to raise himself up on his elbows, he watched the firelight dance in the chandelier above his head as his blood formed a scarlet pool around his body.
Carefully sidestepping the spreading pool and callously ignoring Gerard’s dying gasps he returned to the side of the bed to look at the girl. The little weasel had done a good job of it over all though, as if he’d been afraid of this fragile little thing. She looked like a child as she slept through the shouts and crashes and gunshots. He was at a loss for what to do now. The disk wasn’t here and their rat was dead. He wasn’t paid to think, he was paid to act. So now what? What about the girl?
If Duo kept things up this way he was going to get pounded. Trowa sat at the far end of the group, only occasionally letting himself get caught up in the spontaneous celebration of Wufei’s sudden marriage to fellow Preventer Sally Po.
Duo cackled happily.
“I smell dishonor Wufei. D-I-S-H-O-N-O-R,” he taunted.
"It can spell," Heero exclaimed, rolling his eyes and taking a sip of his vodka and tonic, revealing a flash of his rather odd and rarely seen sense of humor to his friends.
Duo thumbed his nose at Heero and slammed his empty beer bottle down on the bar, waving frantically at the bartender for another. The tab was Wufei’s, all the reason he needed to get happily, completely drunk. “Why so sudden eh? And why didn’t you invite me-e-e??”
Wufei scowled but there was an unmistakable flush of embarrassment that seemed very at odds with his stern face.
“Because, you babbling idiot,” Wufei said finally through clenched teeth. “Your presence would have ruined everything.”
It was true, Duo would have been terribly out of place in the tranquil atmosphere of the temple. As it was it had been perfect, the darkness lit by tiny lights and Sally’s radiant face glowing above her traditional silk dress, the candlelight picking out the shimmering gold embroidery as she bent her head gracefully and placed her slender hand in his. The soft musical sound of a waterfall outside the open windows beyond rustling green leaves created a mood of serenity and certainty that he was choosing the right path. A moment he’d never forget. He was glad Maxwell hadn’t been there, as he was completely certain his face must have betrayed softer inner feelings that were between only Sally and himself. Feelings he didn’t want dirtied by the American’s rude comments and jokes.
And then of course it was true the ceremony really had been ‘sudden’ because of all the reasons Duo suspected. He had been ‘weak’ where Sally was concerned and soon the Dragon Clan would have an heir. No need to admit that to his friends, not yet at least. Six months from now would be soon enough and he knew he’d never hear the end of it from Duo.
Trowa watched Wufei’s reaction, his green eyes thoughtful as he easily read the other pilot’s face.
A soft voice echoed in his thoughts, sentiments he felt deeply in his own soul. He wondered with uncharacteristic bitterness if it would have been better never to have felt at all than be haunted by brief happiness that overshadowed everything else in his life and regret that he couldn’t be what she wanted, what she needed so desperately.
A clatter of heels and soft laughter broke his thoughts and Trowa looked up from his drink. The girls had crashed the party. Wufei was betraying his new feelings on his face, possessive pride in his dark eyes as he looked at his bride. Duo was grunting in mock pain as Hilde bounced onto his lap unexpectedly and Relena was leaning her chin over Heero’s shoulder and garnering herself a very soft look from the typically hard-eyed Preventer.
Even Cathy was here but her usual fixation with her adopted brother was weakening as she cast shy glances at his best friend. “Cathy! Hi,” Quatre said, his own face turning an embarrassed shade of pink as he dared to take her hand loosely in his own.
Wufei caught Trowa pulling his patented disappearing act. No one took it personally, he always seemed on the fringe of things. The only one of them who stood firm and didn’t give in to the temptation to live a normal life despite the disturbances that kept cropping up around them. The unbending tall straight posture and the cold emerald eyes, screamed soldier and Wufei knew that if not for Sally he would still be like that himself.
He made an excuse and followed after Trowa, catching him outside on the terrace, staring at the sea. The water had turned a luminous dark gray-blue. An elusive color that only appeared on rare occasions in the fading sunlight now wreathed by transparent silvery clouds.
The color of Midii’s eyes.
“You promise Nanashi?”
The soft warmth of her in his arms, his hand tangled in her silky hair as he pressed her against his bare chest close to his heart. And he’d thought it would be so simple to promise her anything and keep the two of them in that moment forever.
“Trowa? You’re leaving already? Come back inside. Sally, err the women, want to get something to eat,” Wufei said.
Trowa shook his head but he smiled slightly. “I can’t stay. But congratulations Wufei, on everything.”
“Ah, you know then, hmm?”
“Sally’s pretty transparent,” Trowa said, refraining from mentioning that it was Wufei’s own face that had betrayed his secret.
“I never thought I could be overwhelmed,” the Chinese man confessed softly, standing beside Trowa and staring out over the water. “Sally made me see that we have to keep living life Trowa . . .”
Trowa winced, next thing he knew Wufei would be setting him up with his secretary or something. So often his conversations with his friends ended this way.
“I’ve really got to call it a night,” he said again, turning his back on his well-meaning friend. “Tell Cathy I’ve gone into the office for awhile and I’ll be back late.”
As if she’ll notice he thought, remembering the look she and Quatre had exchanged.
Wufei shrugged and went back in. Trowa was hopeless.
The young man’s face grew hot and he knew, he just knew that the fair skin he had been cursed with was turning dark red, they were lost and he was too embarrassed to ask for help. Anxiety helped him get his feelings under control and he adjusted the child on his hip looking down into large crystal-blue eyes that exactly matched his own.
“Uncle Cwis are we almost there,” she asked tiredly, nuzzling her little face against his neck and yawning. The boy nodded reassuringly and planted a smacking kiss on her forehead, her giggle of delight forcing his smile although he felt like his guts had been torn out. In truth he really had no idea how close they were to their goal. The endless halls of Preventer Headquarters were like a maze.
“Oh! How sweet,” a young woman gasped and Christof Une groaned mentally. His little niece radiated something that drew people to her. Nathalie peeked over her uncle’s shoulder and smiled sweetly at the nice lady who was talking to her and she reached a small curious hand to touch one of the long golden braids that curled over the woman’s shoulder.
Sally’s heart melted.
“How old is she,” she cooed, brushing her fingers over the little girl’s soft white-blond waves. Her hair had been pain-stakingly tied back in an awkward bow with a bright blue ribbon by the obviously inexperienced boy.
“Three and a half,” Christof said, thinking that it was about time Nathalie had held up her end and charmed someone into helping them. Of course being a man, or very nearly so at the age of 15, he hadn’t been able to bring himself to ask for directions at the information desk.
“Can I help you find someone,” the woman with shining blue eyes asked, holding her arms out to take Nathalie from her uncle. He passed her over willingly. It felt like he’d been walking for hours and even the small child had grown rather heavy to carry over all that time and the endless halls they’d been wandering.
Nathalie leaned sleepily against the nice lady’s shoulder. She smelled so good, like the spray Mommy put on that was just like a bunch of beautiful flowers. Her small pink lower lip trembled at the reminder of Mommy. She had been gone so long. She tightened her arms around the pretty lady’s neck and breathed in the smell that reminded her so much of Mommy that it was almost like she was here. Was that where Uncle Cwis was taking her now, to find Mommy?
“So precious,” Sally thought, feeling the soft little arms cling to her neck and smelling the sweet smell of the bubble bath the child must have had recently. “Can I help you two find something,” she asked again, directing her question to the boy.
“I’m looking for 312,” Christof said. “I thought it would be on the third floor but—“
“No, no, it’s easy to get confused. The single digits followed by two numbers are in the inner circle of offices surrounding the chief’s office. You have to take the elevator back down and go straight when you get back to the main entrance. 312, 312?? Trowa? You want Trowa Barton’s office?”
Christof shrugged. He didn’t know who he was here to see, he only followed the directions on the envelope in her safe deposit box. She’d said it was silly, that he’d never have to use it. His eyes stung with embarrassing tears that he hastily blinked away under the woman’s concerned and probing stare. He was tired and scared and nervous and he wondered why the hell his sister would send him here, to someone she hadn’t even bothered to name.
More important where the hell was she? She’d never abandon him and Nathalie, not willingly at least, but he had no idea where to begin to look. Her work was a secret to him, her absences so few and far between that he almost forgot for months what she was until suddenly she would leave them again. This time she hadn’t come back.
Reluctantly Sally handed back the adorable child. Soon, so soon she would have her own baby. She smiled softly to herself. Hormones were powerful things, she thought, the little girl had wrapped her around her finger in no time and she felt tears in her eyes as the little one looked back at her sadly as the boy walked away with her. She lifted her own hand to wave bye-bye in response to the child’s gesture.
“I want Mommy,” Nathalie sniffled against Christof’s neck and the boy could only hold her tighter, rocking her a little in his arms until he felt her fall asleep, it was way past her naptime.
“He’s in a meeting,” the startled secretary said, staring at the unlikely pair of visitors to see Trowa Barton of all people. Duo Maxwell was usually the one kids in trouble wanted to see, he related to them on a very personal basis and was very diligent in helping them whenever he could. “But you can wait there.”
She pointed to a row of leather couches that ringed the circular wall that was dented with numerous office doors in the central offices of Preventer.
Christof sat thankfully and put Nathalie down with a grunt, she snuggled against his leg and fell promptly back into deep sleep, the movement barely waking her. Christof’s eyes blinked sleepily too. He hadn’t slept well in a month, not since the day they had gone to the spaceport to pick Midii up and she hadn’t arrived. There hadn’t been a word since and he had no idea where she’d even been. She always flew in and out of the Moon Spaceport which made it impossible for anyone to know where she was actually going. She kept her secrets so well, like the professional she was.
He looked down at the little girl and closed his eyes tiredly again. She had promised this would never happen.
He dreamed of the last times he’d seen his sister. She’d been sitting on the cushioned porch swing and Nathalie was curled up sleeping against her. Midii’s hand was stroking the child’s soft wavy hair and her look was faraway.
“I need you to drive me to the spaceport tomorrow,” she said absently. It had been nearly a year since she’d said the code that meant she had another job. He had almost begun to hope she wasn’t doing it anymore, that she would never leave them again.
“You won’t forget Christof,” she said softly. “If I’m late use the safe deposit key. I trust you to keep her safe.”
She lifted the sleeping child in her arms and hid her face in the little shoulder.
“Midii, please don’t go. You scare me sometimes,” Christof begged suddenly.
His sister looked up and the faraway look was gone. Her eyes sparkled teasingly at him.
“Don’t be a silly little brother! I always come back,” she said. Then her voice softened. “I love you both so much. You two are all I have.”
The young man startled awake. A shadow towered over him. A man in a perfectly-tailored dark green Preventer uniform was watching him with cold, empty eyes. The eyes were a startling shade of emerald but they held no emotion, not even curiosity about the nature of his visit.
“You wanted to see me,” he asked, the voice soft and perfectly composed.
“My sister is missing,” Christof blurted, wishing he had prepared something to say. He had hoped that by following the directions in Midii’s safe deposit box he would miraculously find his way to her somehow. This man was not what he expected.
“We’re not a missing persons agency,” Trowa said shortly, turning away. “Go to your local police—
“No,” Christof insisted, standing up and awakening the child that had slept beside him. “She wanted me to come here. She wanted me to give you this.”
The boy held out the creamy ivory envelope and Trowa took a second to look at him and actually saw him. The angry blue-gray eyes were like something out of a nightmare. Eyes that wouldn’t take no for an answer, eyes that were full of passion and emotion, eyes that demanded the same feelings from him.
“Who are you,” he asked, guessing the answer.
“I’m sorry,” Christof said, a little overwhelmed. “I’m Christof Une and this is Nathalie.”
He gestured at someone Trowa had completely overlooked. It was a little girl, maybe two or three years old. Her waving platinum blonde hair was tousled and stuck to her face where it had became damp with perspiration as she slept against Christof’s leg. She rubbed her eyes with a chubby fist and yawned an extraordinarily large yawn with her small pink mouth. Her eyes were just like that of the boy’s, just like Midii’s.
“Midii,” Trowa whispered. Christof looked at him, seeing something like an emotion flicker across his set features before it disappeared again.
“Yes,” he said before he lost the Preventer’s attention. “Midii Une is my sister. She’s been missing for a month. She told me if something ever happened to her I should come here with Nathalie and give you this.”
Trowa held out his hand for the envelope. “Was there anything else,” he asked.
“Just this list of addresses,” Christof said, disheartened by the other man’s lack of reaction. “There was some kind of fancy silver pistol too, looked expensive like an antique or something. I left it in the box. Anyway, this address was the first one I tried. Look do you know where my sister is? I have to find her.”
Trowa stared at the list. It was a meticulous record of all the places he could be found in an emergency. She had known, Midii had known all this time exactly where he was. She had known and she had never come back. It was like the floor had fallen away from under his feet, suddenly she was back in his life and she was in trouble. And it was written all over her brother’s face that he feared the worst.
Trowa ripped the envelope open hastily, concealing the shaking in his fingers.
If you are reading this it means that I am unable to take care of Nathalie any longer. It was never my intention to involve you in our lives again but Nathalie is more important than any selfish desire of mine.
Maybe you think it was irresponsible of me to engage in dangerous missions when I had a child who needs me. But I did everything for her and my brother. All I’ve wanted is to keep them safe and protected from this world that will never find peace…to protect them from becoming like me. If the job was risky, the pay was higher and that meant I could stay close to Nathalie more often than not. I don’t expect you to understand of course but you know that is how I have always felt. I admit there were times since we parted that I worked against you and your friends but there were also times I helped your cause. Please let none of that matter when you look at my daughter, our daughter. Protect her and my brother, you don’t know how hard it is for me to ask you this and I’m glad you will probably never see this letter.
I still hate you Nanashi, what I hate most is your constant intrusion into my dreams and the way you linger in my heart when I’m tired and my guard is down.
I’ve said enough. This request is for Nathalie and not for me. Please, if anything you ever said or may have felt for me was true, even for a second, you must do this for me.
Trowa stared at the thin sheet of paper, the delicate handwriting and the faint odor of faded perfume. A small insert floated slowly to the floor and he picked it up. The computer-generated document was a copy of a birth certificate.
Nathalie Therese Une
Date of Birth: September 15, AC 197
Mother: Midii Jeannette Une
Father: Trowa Barton
She called me Trowa, he thought, the little detail rising from the jumble of feelings that swirled in his mind. Midii had blatantly ignored the fact that he had found a new name, preferring to call him Nanashi, the odd little Japanese word for no-name that the Captain had dubbed him half-jokingly when he’d found him as a child.
A child. He had a child. Nathalie Therese Une was his daughter, his and Midii’s. Nathalie. He stared at the little girl, seeing only Midii in her and nothing of himself. Her big blue-gray eyes were hopeful as she looked back, as if she knew he held her future in his hands. An irresistible combination that worked on his heart with its own special alchemy
Nathalie examined the stranger curiously beneath her long black lashes, a little gesture much like her mother’s. He reminded her of a story that Mommy sometimes told, but she only told the story if Nathalie begged and begged. The story of a handsome prince with amazing emerald-green eyes, the most beautiful eyes anyone had ever seen. He was very brave and strong and one day he met a girl who couldn’t help but fall in love with him. The girl knew the handsome prince could never love her because he was a special prince who had an important job. His job was keeping the whole world safe. That was Nathalie’s favorite part of the story. Imagine someone who could keep the whole world safe! In that world Mommy would never go away.
“I wish the prince was my Daddy,” she said once and Mommy had cried when she said it.
Nathalie had stared at her mother in shock and curiosity. Mommy never, ever cried, she was always sweet and smiling. She had placed a small hand on her mother’s damp, hot cheek and stared into the blue-grey eyes that mirrored her own.
“I’ll tell you a secret. A secret I’ve never told anyone before,” Mommy had said, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. She bent and whispered in the child’s ear.
“He is your Daddy. That’s why we’re alone.”
Now Nathalie stared at the stranger. He was so tall, even bigger than Uncle Cwis who was even taller than Mommy. His eyes were green like the wet grass when she woke up early in the morning and looked out her window.
“What is it? What does the note say? Does it say how we can find Midii,” Christof said impatiently, tired of waiting for answers as the taller man stared down at the paper.
“No,” Trowa said finally. “She’s asking me to take care of Nathalie and you too.”
Christof’s eyes narrowed with dreadful suspicion. The subject of Nathalie’s father had always been a closed subject. He had asked only once and had found that his sister could be a very frightening woman, her eyes cold and menacing almost exactly like the Preventer’s eyes. He had realized then just why her services were so in demand. He hadn’t asked again.
“Why would she ask you,” he demanded belligerently, outrage already filling his soul because the answer was so obvious. Not him, Midii wouldn’t have given herself to this man who obviously hadn’t cared for her. He prayed it wasn’t true.
“Because I’m her father,” Trowa said, his eyes flickering from the younger man to the little girl perched in the big leather chair opposite his desk.
It was true, Nathalie thought, a heavy weight lifted from her little heart. They had found the prince and he would find Mommy, wherever she was. If he could keep the whole world safe it would be very easy for him to find Mommy. Her confidence in her tall heroic father was complete. She beamed at him shyly from behind the arm of the couch.
“Mon Dieu,” Christof swore, sputtering in his anger. “You bastard! How could you? How could you just screw my sister and get her pregnant and leave her like that? How can you even look at yourself in the mirror?”
He balled his fist and punched Trowa in the stomach but he gasped as the blow hurt him more than it seemed to bother the former Gundam pilot. Trowa turned his attention from Nathalie’s puzzled face to her fuming uncle. He put a hand on Christof’s shoulder.
“Watch your mouth in front of the little one,” he warned, squeezing they boy’s shoulder with just enough force to show he was serious on this point. “I understand you’re angry. I have a girl that I think of as a sister. But you should know that your sister left me and I had no idea about the baby.”
“No idea? That’s bullshit,” Christof protested, his voice hoarse with outrage. “Didn’t they ever teach you about the birds and the bees?”
“We can discuss this later,” Trowa reminded him, tilting his head at the little girl.
“Why are you mad Uncle Cwis,” she asked, her little face scared by the shouts.
“Everything’s okay Nattie Angel,” Christof lied soothingly, continuing to glare at Trowa. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “How do you expect me to feel? Here you are in your high and mighty Preventers office while my sister is missing? She could be hurt or dead . . .”
“Don’t say that,” Trowa said hoarsely, the paper crumpling in his hand. “I’m going to find Midii. I promise you that.”
He had to find her. How could she do this to him, keep their child a secret? And why hadn’t he tried harder to find her? Because he had known she didn’t want the man he had become, she only wanted what he had been those few brief nights. But Christof was right, he should have realized that those nights together might have had a result they hadn’t expected.
“I still hate you,” her letter said.
“But I love you Midii,” he thought, “and I’m going to make you see it this time, whatever it takes.”
He was startled out of his thoughts by the sudden and exuberant embrace of a small pair of arms that reached approximately to his kneecaps. Tenderness and an odd warmth filled his chest, it was like the time Cathy had slipped during the high wire act and he had caught her hand. He’d pulled her up against him and there had been an unbelievable sense of relief and happiness that he had her safe like a burst of sparkling white fireworks centered on his heart. He knelt down to look at her, seeing Midii’s face in perfect detail in the features of their daughter. His heart told him it was true.
She placed her warm little hands on either side of his face, rubbing them wonderingly over the rough stubble that appeared at the end of the day. The unfamiliar raspy feeling made her smile and her little face lit up like a mischievous cherub’s.
“I like you,” she said seriously, peering curiously into her father’s green eyes and seeing something deep inside that only her mother had been able to see before. He was the prince, there could be no other eyes like these in the world. Eyes like jewels. “Are you really my Daddy,” she whispered, touching her little nose to his so she could find the answer in his eyes.
Trowa’s voice clogged and he could only nod as her small arms wrapped around his neck and he felt the soft brush of her hair against his face. He swung her up in the air and she laughed, he’d had to break the mood before the unknown feelings overwhelmed him.
“Everything is going to be okay now,” she said happily, echoing her uncle’s words as she snuggled in her father’s arms.
The thick white pottery bowls of Cathrine’s trademark soup sat untouched at the table, with one exception. Christof was scraping the bottom of his bowl and looking for more. Cathrine smiled at his appreciation of her cooking and hurried to refill his bowl. Growing boys always ate so much, there had been a time when Trowa could never eat enough either and it hadn’t been long after that that her adopted brother towered over her and had developed a body that could stop a girl’s heart in one glance.
The little girl frowned at the soup, poking at the lumpy vegetables and stringy looking meat with her spoon. She wrinkled her little nose and leaned back against Trowa’s chest, refusing to be dislodged from his lap so the adults could talk.
Trowa’s daughter. Cathrine wondered with more than a little suspicion if it could really be true. The child looked nothing like him but she was everything Midii had been as far as she could tell from her brief acquaintance with the girl. Still, even if she wasn’t Trowa’s, although a quick mental calculation told her the dates were at least correct, who could refuse to help these two poor children?
Astonishingly Trowa was more like herself than she could have ever thought. Already she saw amusing protectiveness in his whole manner since the little one had showed up and conquered the stoic Preventer with the flash of her smile. He loved that child in place of the girl who’d deserted him before the Mariemaia war, just like she loved him in place of the brother she had lost so long ago. And Trowa’s affection for the child had earned her a special place in Cathy’s heart as well. She had two people to love now in place of her own family and maybe a third. She unconsciously glanced at Quatre and turned away as her face flushed with unfamiliar embarrassment.
The adults looked at each other with impatient eyes. No one had the heart to put Nathalie to bed when she so obviously wanted to stay with her father. She perched on his lap like she was a queen and he was her throne.
“Maybe if we tell her a story,” Quatre suggested in a bewildered voice. He couldn’t help but smile when the child greeted his idea with a happy shout and hopped off Trowa’s lap with the grace of a tiny fairy and tugged on his hand with fierce impatience.
Christof rolled his eyes and continued eating. “Now you’ve done it. Beware the story monster,” he muttered between bites. Nathalie was insatiable when it came to stories.
“Err, what was that,” Quatre asked over his shoulder as he was dragged away by the small blonde tyrant who had taken over their lives.
“Oh nothing, I said I think I’m out of soup,” Christof said innocently, hiding a grin behind his spoon.
It was a full 90 minutes before the winding tale of Ali-Baba and his 40 Maganacs—err 40 Thieves-- lulled Nathalie to sleep and a bedraggled and exhausted Uncle Quatre found his way back into the main room.
“You have to tell us everything about Midii now,” Trowa asked Christof urgently.
With Nathalie out of earshot, Christof’s bravado and righteous anger returned, having a full stomach didn’t hurt either, his own cooking had left much to be desired.
“Oh let’s see,” he said sarcastically, focusing steely eyes on Trowa. “She met some jerk who knocked her up and abandoned her which forced her to do dangerous things for a living and now she’s gone.”
Quatre winced, it really sounded bad when you put it that way but he knew Trowa would never do that. The news that Trowa had had a brief passionate fling during the fleeting time of total peace was a shock to all of them. Duo in fact was still speechless, a major accomplishment. Trowa had never betrayed that he had ever dropped the mask he wore as a soldier to be something else, to be someone’s lover. Seeing him with Nathalie proved that there were deep feelings inside Trowa. Feelings just waiting to be released from the prison he’d forced them into to protect himself since he was a child.
“I need the particulars Christof,” Trowa said, seemingly unaffected by the young man’s accusations.
Christof sighed, much as he hated to admit it he needed this jerk’s help in finding Midii. At least he was kind to Nathalie, spoiling her even, something which would be sure to piss Midii off royally when they found her. They would find her, they had to.
“Excuse my temper,” he said, beginning again.
“Your sister has one exactly like it so why should I be surprised,” Trowa said.
“My sister saved me so I owe her everything. All her life she’s always given up herself for her family. I don’t know where my older brother is but I got stuck in some godawful war orphanage after my father died. Midii tracked me down and busted me out. She took me to live with her. She liked privacy so we lived a very isolated life. She obviously had money from somewhere but she was always worried she needed more. To protect us, she said. She got that idea from my father, only he wasn’t as family-oriented as my sister. He sold her to some guy when she was 8, right after my mother died. Said he was too heartbroken to work and that she would get job training that would last a lifetime. The truth was that Midii reminded him too much of Mom. He told me that later . . .”
Christof’s voice broke and there were tears in Cathrine’s eyes. Quatre stole a shocked look at Trowa, noticing as only a best friend could the tightening of his jaw muscles that betrayed his calm exterior.
The boy took a deep breath and continued. “We hadn’t been together very long when Midii got really sick. She could hardly get out of bed in the morning and when she did she was throwing up all the time. I told her I was worried but she said I shouldn’t. When Nathalie was born she wouldn’t tell me anything about the father. She seemed happy, really happy like I’ve never seen her before, but after a few months she hired a nanny and disappeared for awhile. Things went on that way the whole time we’ve been together. She’d only leave two or three times a year, maybe for a week at most. Christ, I saw her bank accounts once. She has funds stashed everywhere but it never seems to be enough. It’s like she wants to build a wall around all of us with money so no one can hurt us. She’s obsessed.”
They knew Midii’s state of mind. Trowa ran a hand through his bangs, pushing them away from his face for an instant before they fell back into place, hiding one of his eyes like an auburn curtain. But she left no physical trail they could follow. She had sheltered Christof from the nasty realities of her life when she wasn’t home with him and Nathalie and now they had no way to find her.
Logic told him that she was dead, she took the riskiest missions because they profited her the most and she had said herself she worked for every side at various times. This probably didn’t endear her to her employers.
She’d dug herself into a hole so deep that he was afraid he’d never find her.
Words from her letter echoed in his mind. “I’ve worked for your cause.”
Preventer hired freelance people for certain missions. At least it was a place to start . . .
Lady Une studied the detailed information on the disk she’d kept secret for weeks and shivered a little. Could it be true? Had the legendary enemy concealed itself out there in the isolated coldness of space on the dark side of the moon? Impossible to think it had survived there over the centuries with no contact with Earth or the other colonies. No, it had to be a fairy tale.
She wanted to talk to the girl who’d sent the disk but she had vanished about the same time the disk had shown up. She’d sent investigators to the remote colony and what they’d found hadn’t been reassuring. The hotel room was in shambles. There were obvious signs of a struggle and a dead man on the floor in a congealed pool of blood. Forensics found shards of broken glass laced with drugs in the fireplace. The violence and the disappearance of her agent screamed that this was not a hoax and that they were facing a very real enemy straight out of the history books.
Une would have helped the girl if she could, despite the exorbitant fees she charged she was worth it all. Once engaged on a mission her loyalty was impeccable, the theory proven that while she hadn’t survived herself the disk had gotten where it needed to be. She smiled to herself a little sadly. Logic told her that perhaps they were better off with Midii Une out of the picture. As much as she’d helped them at times, she’d also happily hacked into their information for various factions when the price was right.
She shook her head and closed the file. It warranted further investigation and she knew that only one of the Gundam pilots could fill the bill on this. It would entail a dangerous trip to outer space to infiltrate an enemy outpost. An enemy that shouldn’t exist but was perhaps rising from the ashes of their long ago defeat in another time to trouble them all again. An enemy that couldn’t be strong enough to claim victory but one that could be strong enough to draw the EarthSphere United Nation into a meaningless series of battles that would shake the very core of tenuous peace she had worked so hard to protect.
It was time to inform her most trusted Preventers about the mission she had already begun referring to as Roanoke, a code name which meant lost colony.
To be continued . . .