Part One: Wishes and Curses
Disclaimer: Trowa Barton, Midii Une, Episode Zero and Gundam Wing are the property of Sotsu Agency*Sunrise, etc. This story, like most of my others, is not for children, this one contains blood and evil! Inspired by a gorgeous piece of vampiric fanart by the talented Great Saiyagal. Check it out here—
The sky was a crisp, bright azure, so clear that if the human eye were powerful enough the visibility would reach to the stratosphere. It was a sky peculiar to autumn on Earth. The cool, hazy mists of spring were absent and the humidity of summer had given way to the unique clarity that came only at this time of year. Each boldly-colored leaf on the skeletal-limbed trees stood out in stark distinction against the fathomless blue.
The lavishness of nature’s beauty was the planet’s last effort to cling to the life-giving summer season before the decay of winter set in. Already the stench of moldering leaves rose from the damp earth and some of the more fragile flowers were drooping and brown.
The harvested fields surrounding the small country cemetery were golden in the distance and although the brave sun shed little warmth on the scene it still illuminated the countryside with burnished brilliance. The picture the tiny graveyard presented with its shining new white marble markers was quaint and lovely. The white and the blue and the gold masking the myriad evil presences that lingered in the place. A place that restrained the tormented souls and hopes of those who had died too soon, too young and with too many dreams unfulfilled.
The brightness of the sun was reflected in the color of the girl ‘s hair. The blue of the sky echoed in her eyes, the lovely color hiding things that were dark. She lingered there beside a pair of graves; she knew also the sorrow of loss and unanswered desire. But she lived, as they did not. They did not even have names, they were little more than feelings, a little less than concrete beings but they were jealous and spiteful and relentless. They disguised themselves in the wind and the dead leaves, pressing themselves against the girl unable to do little more than taste the intensity of her emotions. They desired her yet they despised her as well. She had life as they did not and yet still she, who in their eyes had so much, mourned what she did not have and desired something as strongly as they desired life.
They are in a better place, Midii thought to herself, looking sorrowfully at the deeply carved names on the marble crosses standing side by side. Mama and Papa, help me, she thought, closing her eyes tightly against the obscenely bright sky and clenching her hands between her breasts.
The girl was the type who had always wanted what was out of her reach. All her desire pinpointing on the thing it seemed she could not have. There had been a boy once when she was a child. Her wishes for him had focused into intense pleading. Keep him safe, do not let him die. And it had happened that way, the boy had been safe even as everyone around them died. But her wish attained, Midii hadn’t stopped, hadn’t been happy. Let me see him again, she had whispered in her heart for years, let me see him again and let me know that he has forgiven me. That will be enough, it will be enough that he doesn’t hate me.
And she had met the boy again, a young man now with the same restrained emotions as the boy. His forgiveness was easily given, so easily it seemed that he had hardly thought of her or the hurt she’d caused him in all the years she had worried and wished. He had done too much himself to see wrong in others. Had been responsible for creating places like the one she sat in now. Trowa Barton, the reason for many small green hills dotted with white marble crosses and surrounded by gold fields, seemingly serene beneath azure skies. Their reunion had been so anti-climactic, leaving her empty and anxious and desperate.
“I never blamed you,” he said, barely grazing her face with the touch of his emerald eyes. He looked at her as if he hardly recognized her, could hardly recall what she had been to him. In the life he had led her presence had been only the smallest of intrusions, easily forgotten and just as easily forgiven.
“I love you Nanashi,” the girl thought, pulling her knees up and hugging her arms around them as she sat in the graveyard. She shivered as the cool breeze tangled in her hair and seemed to bite at her face, bringing the red blood up beneath her pale skin to stain her cheeks.
“I love him,” she repeated desperately, remembering how he treated her. As if she weren’t there, as if she meant nothing to him, as if he were trying to figure out what it was she wanted and why she wouldn’t go away.
“I wanted to always be beside you,” she whispered aloud, bowing her head as a swirl of crumpled brown leaves were picked up by the wind and scratched at her face. She shielded her eyes from the assault with her long black lashes, a prickle of lonely fear raising goosebumps on her arms. She felt so alone in the world, the silence in the little cemetery was thick and palpable as the wind stilled, leaving the thin, dark limbs of the trees unnaturally still as a few more leaves tumbled mutely to the ground below.
“If only he wanted me as I want him,” she mourned sadly, conjuring a vision of the sensual face he hid behind a shock of auburn hair and the eyes that seemed always so empty when they looked at her. What wouldn’t she give to see them sparkle with emotion, desire, hunger, love?
She’d gotten a support staff job with Preventer to stay near him but he barely acknowledged her presence. His friends were her friends but the gentle hints of the girls and the outspoken teasing of the other boys resulted in nothing. He didn’t’ ask her out, he didn’t try to hold her hand, he barely looked at her.
And meanwhile what she felt was like a hunger in her heart, an insatiable longing. He was like a puzzle she couldn’t solve and victory would be seeing emotion in those eyes. Why should she be so full of feeling for him and he feel nothing for her?
Midii threw her head back and looked up into the sky, it was darkening to sapphire and the wind was picking up again. Trowa, Trowa, she whispered. The word carried away on the breeze, swirling with the turbulent air and heard by the alert and watchful presences, anxious to venture and probe into the world of light.
“Oh Trowa,” she said again, leaning back on her arms and looking upward, sending her prayer to heaven, or so she thought. “If only you needed me. Needed me or you couldn’t live, if I was like your very heart, your very blood.” A small smile curved her full pink lips as she thought of how it could be, if only her wish could come true.
The things that inhabited the graveyard strained against her eagerly and she brushed her hands over her arms to dismiss the creepy-crawly feeling that was sweeping over her. A gust of wind knocked over the little glass jar of blood-red roses she had placed between her parents’ graves. Midii leaned over to pick up the crimson flowers and replace them and a thorn imbedded itself deeply into the soft flesh of her thumb. A spot of dark, rich blood welled up against the white skin and sat there like a ruby on a pure velvet field. She gasped and took hold of the injured spot with her good hand, pressing against her palm with her fingers and watching the spot of blood well up and grow larger, the scarlet fluid dripped down her hand and down onto the dead leaves that rustled against her skirt before the wind grabbed them and carried them off until they seemed to disappear into the darkening blue. A sliver of silver moon appeared low in the sky and the pale blue that surrounded the setting sun was luminescent against the approaching darkness.
Midii’s wish passed through the presences in the graveyard like a malicious piece of gossip. The bloodstained leaves swirled in an eerily joyful dance about the white crosses that almost seemed to glow in the gathering gloom.
The air grew icy-cold, the fleeting warmth of Indian summer swallowed by a stronger force, the stillness disappeared too as wind gusted through the trees, shaking off still more leaves and making the tree limbs wave like frantic dancers. Midii shivered and stared down at her hand, the blood trailing along the lifelines in her palm and trickling down her wrist, so much blood for a small wound. A sudden movement caught her eye, loose soil rolling down the slightly mounded earth of Mother’s grave. She forgot her wishes, forgot Trowa, fascinated by the movement, unable to tear her eyes away even as her heart pounded in her chest and her throat tightened. A bone-white something was visible now beneath the dirt, it seemed to be clawing its way through the soil and she was helplessly fascinated, leaning closer to assure herself it was a worm or maggot or other small creature whose presence here could be explained.
Her heart leapt to her throat, trapping the scream and her eyes widened with terror as cold, grimy fingers burst from the grave and clutched her wrist. The coldness of the grip so intense that the warm flow of her blood almost sizzled against the dead hand. The terrified girl’s mouth worked but no sound came out and the frigid grasp was effectively paralyzing. The fear overwhelmed her and she fell back unconscious on the grave, below the cross that bore her mother’s name, her own name, Midii Une.
A wish gone awry, a wish become a curse. The entities that swirled beneath the peaceful façade of the graveyard hummed with malicious power and with the taste of her blood as the filthy, red-stained hand retreated back below the ground, the earth smoothing over it as if it had never been disturbed. The deep blue sky turned black with the onset of night and the leaves escaped on a burst of air that skittered down the lonely road.
The boy who traveled the lonely road on the back of his motorcycle with only the wind for company was not as unaware of the girl as she supposed. She was in his thoughts more than he wanted to admit but he was slow to trust, slow to admit his feelings. For now it was enough that he saw her sometimes. He wasn’t like other people, had never grown to need the warmth, the company and the touch of another. When she crossed his path and she filled his vision the feelings were far from unpleasant but not yet enough to spur him to action to make that happen just for the sake of seeing her. The occasional, accidental encounter was enough.
Night had fallen quickly, the sun slipping beyond the hills and the sky purple-black. The stars were just appearing, white pinpricks of light like glittering jewels on the rich gown of the heavens. He loved the stars and the night, it was the time when outer space seemed to reach out from above and touch the Earth. Speeding recklessly on his bike along the winding road in the dark was the closest thing to being there, he had discovered that at a young age. So when his friends thought he’d disappeared on more serious matters or just left to be alone this was where he usually was, this dark and solitary road. There was a cemetery ahead, placed on a hill so that in the darkness it was completely quiet and surrounded by stars. Bare white birch trees flanked the fence, limbs upraised in supplication and starkly pale against the blackness of the sky.
He slowed the bike and let the engine die, the soft growl of the machine telling him that as usual it was finely-tuned and cared for, he was, if nothing else, a meticulous technician and the bike was one of his few concessions to material possessions, a powerful and expensive toy.
His eyes adjusted easily to the dark and he walked with catlike sureness over the uneven terrain of the cemetery, easily dodging the small white marble crosses that dotted the place. Curiosity rather than fear drove him to investigate the small sound he heard coming from the other side of the hilltop although he could see nothing but the faint gleam of the myriad white gravestones in the darkness. They couldn’t compete with the fabulous view of the stars his vantage point afforded but the sound of something, someone perhaps, in trouble drew him. He considered himself a soldier, a professional killer, but he hid a deep concern for others beneath his stoic mask.
The still, white body lying on the grave could have been a marble statue, toppled by wind and time. Except this place was new and there were soft, whispering moans coming from the figure. She lay there, arms outspread beneath the cross, her eyes closed, her skin as pale and cold as the marble that bore her name. And then he was afraid, it was like a nightmarish movie, unbelievable and illogical but happening. It was still and quiet, the intermittent wind at peace for the moment and he heard her breathing, it seemed as if the sound started his own heart beating again, the small place she had captured for herself in his heart growing larger, making itself felt as he brushed a hand over her cold cheek. He jumped, startled, when her eyes opened with eerie suddenness. They stared up at him, dark and shining and frightened. Midii sat up quickly although he tried to keep her from standing too fast. He didn’t push her away as she clung to the edges of his jacket, clung as if he was the only thing keeping her standing.
“What are you doing here? What happened Midii? The name on that stone . . .
“My mother,” Midii whispered. “I was named for her.” She dared to glance back over her shoulder. I hurt my hand on a thorn, I must’ve fainted, I don’t know why . . . “she trailed off, shivering violently in the cold night air. The hand, she must have imagined it.
“What are you doing here,” she asked, her voice softening. Had he by some miracle been looking for her?
He shrugged but kept a steadying arm around her shoulders. “I come here to see the stars. I didn’t know your parents were buried here. To tell the truth I never even think of what this place is or look at any of the names.”
“You’re still a stargazer,” she said, smiling a little, remembering. She raised her hand to touch his cheek, smearing some blood near his lips. Midii frowned. “Damn, it’s still bleeding. It must be deep.”
Trowa pulled out a handkerchief with a flourish worthy of a born showman and wrapped it around her hand efficiently. “Don’t worry about it, wounds on the hand tend to keep re-opening. You’ll be alright. I’ll give you a ride back.”
Midii stared after Trowa, her mouth hanging slightly open in disappointment as he sped away from her apartment building after barely stopping long enough to let her get off. Her mind dwelt momentarily on the things she had thought in the cemetery. She had already convinced herself that the hand must have been a product of her imagination in that frightening and isolated place. The next time she’d take one of her brothers along. She turned and went into the building, frustrated that although he had seemed briefly tender after finding her in the cemetery he had hardly even been polite when he’d left her.
She sighed as she peered out the window and watched him disappear on the road back to the graveyard. That had always been Nanashi’s way, incredibly sweet and protective one moment and the next seeing right through a person as if they didn’t exist.
He could still feel the warm embrace of her slender arms around his waist, the weight of her head resting against his back. Trowa put his head down against the wind and momentarily wished he wore a helmet as Cathrine always pestered him to do. He was a Gundam pilot for pity’s sake and he felt certain he could control a mere motorcycle no matter what the circumstance.
Besides, he reasoned, the wind in his face, was one of the reasons he enjoyed riding so much, it seemed to blot out every other thought and he could just fly, mindless and content to be alone. Tonight though, Midii’s presence seemed to cling and he started remembering what it had been like to be with her so long ago. They had ridden together like that years ago, he had saved her from the attack. He ran his tongue over his dry lips and tasted something unfamiliar and coppery. He remembered she had gotten blood from her hand on his face and wiped the back of his own hand over his mouth but he could still taste her and unconsciously the tip of his tongue reached up and flicked at the top of his lip again, seeking another taste.
The white trees were visible in the distance, she didn’t live far from the cemetery and though it was just outside the pleasant little suburb of Paris where Preventer had its headquarters the little graveyard seemed as if it were far from civilization. The exact reason he had always liked coming there. As Trowa picked up speed coming down the hill he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Some small animal, a cat or other nocturnal creature, he panicked, his thoughts not completely focused on his driving. The handles of the motorcycle seemed to freeze, forcing the wheel to the right and Trowa didn’t even think to jump off as he had often done when evading pursuit during the war. His last thought was irritation that the bike shouldn’t be performing this way.
Pale yellow streaks cut through the dark gray sky, signaling the approach of dawn when Trowa woke up. He frowned at the mangled wreckage of his prized motorcycle and squinted at the dimly-lit sky, wishing incongruously for sunglasses. He rubbed cold fingers over his eyes and patted down his pockets before coming up with a pair of dark glasses and he fumbled to put them on.
He winced as he looked at the splintered wood of the birch tree he had hit. He knew that he shouldn’t have hit it. It had been like the bike had a mind of its own. Time enough though to investigate the mechanical failure later. He had to get home, the familiar warm feeling as he thought the word home was still there, but it was different, stronger even than usual.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” he thought, touching his fingers to the tree and stealing another glance at his bike. Dried blood encrusted his torn shirt but there was no wound. Maybe it’s from Midii’s hand, he thought stupidly, his head aching and his eyes burning beneath the dark glasses, the headache making rational thought impossible. But no, Midii had only had a scratch. This was a lot of blood, thick and red and enough to stiffen the sweater he wore. He ran an exploring hand cautiously over his chest and abdomen but nothing hurt.
He forgot the mysterious question of the origin of the blood on his shirt and the illogical misbehavior of his motorcycle when he heard the rumble of an approaching vehicle. The lighter the sky became the worse he felt. His entire being pinpointing on getting home, drawing the shades tightly and sleeping.
“Trowa! Oh God I’ve been so worried,” Cathrine shouted anxiously out the door of the trailer before running outside. The sound of the approaching truck had alerted her to her brother’s return, she had been on edge waiting for him with a heart full of terror as the night passed and he didn’t come home.
He merely snarled and pushed past her into the trailer, his bedroom door slamming behind him with terse finality. The snarl had been an odd greeting, even from her silent brother, Cathrine thought. And he had been so pale, deathly pale. She carefully pushed the door open and stepped into the dark room.
“What happened,” she whispered. It looked like he was already sleeping. He lay perfectly still, his skin gleaming sickly gray in the darkness and an arm flung over his face to ward off any light that might come into the room.
Trowa felt calmer now that it was dark and quiet, enough like himself to consider his sister’s feelings. “Sorry I worried you. I had a wreck, but I’m alright. The bike’s totaled though.”
Cathrine’s lip trembled but she restrained herself from scolding him. She could have lost him and that was something she couldn’t bear. “Are you sure you’re alright? Are you thirsty? Hungry?”
“Thirsty,” Trowa conceded, when she said the word it seemed so right, the perfect word. He was terribly thirsty.
She hurried back with a tall glass of ice water, cool rivulets of moisture sweating down the sides of the glass. Trowa sat up and grabbed the glass, drinking voraciously, spilling it on himself before realizing suddenly that the water tasted awful. He got up and spit what was left in his mouth in the small sink in the corner of the room.
“Where’d you get that water,” he growled, launching the glass against the wall with a satisfying, shattering sound. “A drainage ditch? It tasted like rotten sewage.”
Cathrine took a step back as he glared at her, her violet eyes wide with surprise and hurt. He had never raised his voice to her before.
“Sorry, Cathy,” he managed, crawling back to bed. “I’ve just got a bad headache. I’m sorry, okay?”
She nodded and backed out of the room, shutting the door carefully behind her.
Uneasiness bordering on terror bubbled up inside Cathrine from deep inside. Unconsciously her right hand raised in an ancient gesture, her fingertips trembling as she softly touched her forehead, her chest and then her left and right shoulders in reverent succession. Childhood fears long buried and forgotten because of the real nightmare that was war started to resurface. She could feel her mother’s arm cradling her closely as the old women of their circus troupe told horrible stories around the campfire. Stories that warned of making careless wishes and wanting things too much. So easily wishes could become curses.
Cathrine shivered and dared to take another peek at her brother. He slept so still and silently that he looked dead and she shut the door quickly, not wanting to look. This couldn’t be happening. The old stories were just stories and besides Trowa wasn’t the type to make careless wishes or be overwhelmed with wanting something or someone. And then the thought came, like a presence in the room, fragile and flower-scented. Cathrine had a sudden vision of shining blue eyes, needy and hopeful. Eyes that followed her brother with open desire and longing. Everyone knew just how she felt, only one person seemed oblivious.
Midii. Midii had done this. Of that one fact, Cathrine’s sensitive gypsy blood was suddenly quite certain.
Next--Part Two: Dreams and Nightmares