The Gundam Pilots’ Wives
A Halloween Horror Fic by Midii Une
Hilde got there first, her feet flying over the worn carpeting in the exit tunnel. She launched herself full force onto Duo and wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She squealed and pressed a resounding kiss on his lips.
Duo reached back and detached her arms from around his neck silently and she slid to the floor.
“Duo,” she said, staring at him with blue eyes that were both puzzled and concerned.
“Just lay off Hilde,” he said stiffly, examining the carpet and seeming very interested in a cigarette burn he’d detected in it. “It was a rough mission.”
“I’m sorry,” she apologized, squeezing his arm joyfully. “Guess I overdid it. I missed you Duo!”
He removed his arm from her grasp and his violet eyes flickered over her almost curiously.
The other Gundam pilots’ wives arrived breathlessly a few steps behind Hilde, minus Sally who was finishing up some post-mission business in the medical facility.
Heero glanced up slightly and walked past Relena without a word, his helmet in one hand and his flight bag in the other.
“Oh well,” she consoled herself, following behind her husband as he strode away down the tunnel. She’d brought the limo and she could give him a proper greeting once they were alone together inside. He was never very affectionate in public. Still, they had been apart for so long . . .
“Trowa,” Midii cried, gladness cracking her voice as she spotted his tall figure behind Quatre and Wufei. She squeezed between the two of them and grabbed her husband’s hand in hers squeezing it softly.
“Oh Trowa! Two months! I missed you so much,” she said, tiptoeing to kiss him.
Trowa pulled his hand from hers and straightened up so that her kiss landed on the collar of his shirt rather than on his lips. He looked at his watch and folded his arms. Midii bit her lip and looked at the floor in confusion. What had she done wrong now, she wondered.
She remembered suddenly that she had a message for Wufei.
“Sally’s still back at the med facility,” she said, trying to hide the hurt of Trowa’s rejection. “She wants you to meet her over there.”
“I think I’ll just head home by myself,” Wufei said shortly. “I’m exhausted.” He walked away.
“Quatre! What happened,” Dorothy said, trying to get a peek at her husband’s face. She could always read his feelings on his face so easily. Not that he ever tried to hide anything from her, but now his head was bowed and his hair hung over his face in an annoyingly on-target imitation of his best friend Trowa.
How strange, Dorothy thought. Whenever they’d come home from missions before it was always a crazy jumble of laughter, hugs, kisses and happy tears. There certainly wasn’t any laughter or teasing today and the only tears were the hurt ones shining in Midii’s eyes although Hilde looked only moments away from joining her best friend in a crying jag.
Quatre, like Heero, pretended to have his hands too full of his equipment to give Dorothy his usual exuberant squeeze and a shy kiss.
“Please Dorothy, don’t start,” he said, polite as usual but with an uncharacteristic hint of exasperation in his tone. “We’re all just really tired.”
She wasn’t a crybaby like Midii, that girl had practically no self-assurance and she and Trowa were constantly having their ups and downs. But still, Dorothy felt a little knot of hurt twist inside her. It had been so long, why wasn’t he glad to see her? She blinked away an unfamiliar stinging in her eyes and followed Quatre out to their Mercedes sports car, trying to convince herself that he really was just tired.
“He’s my husband,” Sally said. “I insist on seeing the med results and the cockpit tapes from this mission. I know they were missing for 12 hours and you’re damned lucky you got them back!”
“Sally,” the medical officer in charge of the mission said patiently, trying to placate the irate woman. “You’re not involved in this mission, conflict of interest and all that, just go now and welcome that husband of yours home. Leave the wrap-up work to us. Everything is under control. There’s nothing to be concerned about.”
Sally stewed but she didn’t feel like arguing about it now. She wanted to go home with her husband. Wanted to feel herself wrapped in his arms and see his ebony hair falling around his face like a silken curtain as he made love to her.
She shut her eyes briefly remembering his last night home before this test mission of the newest long-range space shuttle. He’d suspended himself above her, his arms so strong that they didn’t even quiver as he held himself poised teasingly, prolonging the moment and their pleasure in each other.
“I’ll miss you Sally,” he said, in a rare outburst of feeling. Usually he showed her how he felt rather than told her in words. “How I’ll miss you.”
He lowered himself onto her, crushing her soft lips beneath his mouth and moving slowly within her, holding her tightly as she moaned with desire and also with a sad little protest that he was going to be leaving her for so long.
He missed Relena. How long would it be until he was with her again? Would he ever be able to get back to OmegaEarth? The woman in the bed beside him was so similar to his wife, especially now that she was asleep, that he couldn’t resist pulling her into the curve of his arms and holding her close to him. She sighed as Heero wrapped himself around her but stayed asleep.
Heero had warned all of them to keep their distance, they’d find a way off AlphaEarth as soon as conditions were right. Until then they couldn’t risk being found out and they couldn’t risk getting too close to their wives’ counterparts.
“Right,” Duo had said. “I’m supposed to live with and sleep with this woman who looks just like Hilde, who IS Hilde in some warped way and just keep my hands to myself? Well, I wish all of us a lot of luck.”
“Remember,” Quatre had pointed out. “These women are only counterparts, it’s not the same. They’re not the ones we’re in love with. They’re totally different people.”
He had looked sadly out at space. “It’s not as if she’s really going to be Dorothy,” he whispered almost to himself. “I’ll do anything it takes to get back to you.”
And now here Heero was, breaking his own ground rules. But after two months away from Relena it was so hard to keep from touching her counterpart. He let his hand travel down the smooth, silken length of her honey-colored hair. Such strange eyes this Relena had, the brightest shade of blue he had ever seen. It took getting used to, but they were strangely attractive. He concentrated and his own deep black eyes took on the steel-blue shade of his counterpart’s again. He couldn’t make a mistake, not him. Duo was the one he worried about. And maybe Quatre. But he could hold out, Heero was sure of it. They all had to if they wanted to make it back home.
He got out of bed and opened the balcony doors, stepping out onto the cold stone terrace. He looked up at the stars. Relena, he thought. I will get back to you.
It was 2:30 a.m. and Duo was still sitting up watching television. Hilde sighed and twisted restlessly in their bed. This had to be a first, they’d been separated for a little more than eight weeks and he wasn’t interested in coming to bed.
Usually he’d toss her over his shoulder and carry her protesting into the house, toss her on the bed and show her how much he missed her. Now, not so much as a hug or a kiss and he refused to come to bed at all. Hilde got an idea and a smile of relief spread over her face. He was teasing her, damn him. Duo loved only one thing more than sex and that was playing jokes on her. He was probably just waiting for her to catch on and come out and seduce him. She slipped out of bed and donned her sexiest silk nightgown. She was confident that in a very short time Duo would forget about this strange little game of his and let her welcome him back.
He jumped startled at the soft hand on his shoulder. “Duo, come to bed now, it’s so late,” Hilde said in a sultry voice, leaning over him and running her hands over his shoulders. “I’ve really missed you. Come let me show you how much.”
“I think I’m just going to spend the night out here on the couch,” Duo muttered, not trusting himself to look at her. “I’m feeling really restless and I wouldn’t want to keep you awake.”
“C’mon Duo,” she protested. “Stop this game right now. Just come to bed already!”
“Shit Hilde,” he yelled. “Don’t you know when to just let things go? Aww, hell. I finished up all the beer. I’m gonna find an all night carryout. Don’t wait up okay!”
He slammed out of the apartment and Hilde threw one of the pillows off the couch at the door in frustration.
What the hell was wrong with him?
Trowa’s arm moved over the empty space beside him and her absence woke him up. Was he still in space? No, he was home, and yet not home at all. As far away from home and Midii as he could be. He heard a strange sound coming from the other room, a choking, gasping sound.
It was that woman, her counterpart. So much like her that it took all his self-control to be so cold to her. It was like he was hurting Midii herself when he hurt her.
But Heero was right, they had to keep their distance, they had to concentrate on getting back to OmegaEarth. She was sitting at the kitchen table in her nightgown, her head buried in her arms and her shoulders were heaving strangely.
“Why aren’t you in bed? Are you sick or something,” he asked the woman. He gasped as she looked up. Those strange pale blue eyes of hers were shining oddly and there was wetness all over her face. “What’s wrong with you,” he asked again, curiousity making him reach his hand out to touch her face, his fingers coming in contact with the warm wetness.
“Why is your face all wet like that,” he asked.
“Because of you, you bastard. Because of you,” Midii sobbed, putting her face back down on her arms. His hand hovered over her slim shoulder, the sounds she was making tugging at his heart. She’s not Midii, not my Midii, he reminded himself. He went back to bed.
“I thought you were tired,” Sally said, her soft blue eyes studying her husband with concern. He’d been sound asleep when she got home from headquarters and now he was up at dawn pumping iron like there was no time to waste.
“Prolonged space travel results in loss of tissue mass, you know that Sally, you’re a doctor,” he said through gritted teeth as he extended his arms with the weights in hand.
“There are other forms of exercise you might try,” Sally said softly, her face breaking into a warm, soft smile as the muscles in his chest flexed against his smooth skin. She leaned in and pressed her lips to his, her golden braids tickling his arms.
“Don’t you need to be at work or something,” he said, looking at the ceiling.
“Wufei, what is it? Can’t you tell me about what happened,” she begged, kneeling next to the weight bench. I know there’s something wrong.”
After an extensive pause, he answered, “all that’s wrong is that I spent way too much time in space and now I need to make up for lost time and get back in shape.”
She looked at her watch and cursed, she was late.
“We’ll talk later,” she said. “I love you, you know that don’t you?”
He didn’t answer.
Sally, he thought, after the woman had finally left him alone. The delicate touch of the counterpart’s lips on his was so much like hers it was unbelievable and the sound of her voice. Everything they’d heard about AlphaEarth was true. A world nearly the same as theirs in every way. This house, his wife, everything. He couldn’t wait to get the hell off this planet and get home.
He added 20 pounds to his weight bar and continued lifting.
“I’m going to have to go out to visit some of the resource satellites Dorothy,” Quatre said, afraid to meet her eyes. He just couldn’t stand being near this not-Dorothy. He knew she wasn’t his wife but his body and heart reacted as if she were.
Those strange blue eyes of hers were sparking at him now. He guessed correctly that she must be upset.
“I’m sorry, I know I just got back,” he apologized.
“Don’t worry about it,” Dorothy said, trying to catch his eyes with hers and failing yet again. “I’ll just come with you this time.”
She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her cheek against his shoulder.
“Quatre, are you alright,” she asked, her voice gentler than usual, she could have sworn she felt him flinch at her touch.
“N-no Dorothy, everything is fine,” he lied, pulling from her embrace and flipping through the day planner on his desk. “I just realized I don’t have to go on that trip after all. I did just get back from space after all. I have to go to headquarters, we’re having a post-mission briefing.”
He hastily kissed her cheek dispassionately and fairly flew out the door, not even bothering to close it in his haste to get away from her.
“I don’t see us getting out of here for at least a month, maybe 6 weeks,” Heero said grimly, looking at the faces of his comrades. They all looked very unhappy with the news.
“Shit,” Duo said. “Hilde’s gonna flip if I miss our anniversary. Plus I don’t know if I can hold off this world’s Hilde for that long. She’s all over me and I have to say I can’t help but feel something for her. I know she’s not Hilde, but still . . .”
Heero didn’t answer. He had failed in his mission already, had let passion for the Relena of AlphaEarth overwhelm him last night. But there was no need to divulge that information. He suspected they were all having conflicting feelings about the counterparts.
“We have to stick with the plan,” he repeated. “It was a mistake to come here, we can’t mess with their reality or someone could get hurt and I know nobody wants that to happen.”
Hilde knocked on Midii’s office door and walked in. Her friend looked horrible, her face was pale and her eyes were red-rimmed from crying.
“Are you and Trowa having problems again,” Hilde ventured to ask, the answer seemed fairly obvious. “I thought that everything was better between you two? Was he upset that you didn’t get pregnant?”
“He didn’t even ask about that,” Midii said softly. “Can you believe it, that’s all we talked about before he left was having a baby and he never even asked if it happened! Oh Hilde, I don’t know what could be wrong, everything was wonderful before he left and now I just don’t understand. He’s so distant but sometimes I wake up at night and he’s wide awake staring at me with the strangest expression on his face. When I reach out to touch him he turns away. Am I going crazy?”
Hilde sighed. “It’s not just Trowa, Duo’s been acting so strangely lately and we’ve never had any problems in the past. Now he drinks too much beer every night and passes out on the couch watching television. Midii, he hasn’t even touched me since they got back.”
“Something is so off,” Midii agreed. “I’m going to have to talk to Sally, maybe she knows something more. So where are we going to lunch anyway?”
“I found this place that has huge chocolate desserts to die for,” Hilde said. “We certainly deserve it.”
Relena couldn’t stop thinking about the the previous night. Heero had always been a rather subdued lover, as if he was fighting against his love for her and holding himself back. It really hadn’t mattered much to her, as long as they were together and she was the one he held in his arms. But last night he was like a man overwhelmed by passion, his eyes so dark with desire they had seemed almost black for a moment and she had almost been afraid of him.
She’d woken up in the middle of the night to feel his hands on her body.
“Heero,” she’d whispered and the sound of her voice in the darkness had seemed to encourage him as he swiftly tucked her body under his and he’d crushed her lips in a passionate, soulful kiss.
“Relena, Relena,” he’d said over and over. “I miss you. I miss you so much. Forgive me.”
It had made very little sense. They were married, they loved each other. Being like this was natural and he had nothing to apologize for. It had been a very long time since he had been so unsure of himself with her.
“It’s alright Heero,” she said. “I want this too.”
She caught her breath and her face grew hot as she remembered how he had pounded into her, his arms gripping her so tightly. He’d never been so uninhibited before.
It had been wonderful.
Midii waited in Sally’s office, she was starting to suspect that it wasn’t her, but Trowa that had the problem. She had thought and thought and there was no reason for him to be acting like he was. Sure they had more arguments and fallouts than their friends did, but they had a more painful past too. But it had never been as bad as this. Sometimes they would go for a day or so without speaking to each other but then they apologized and things would be wonderful again. Now it had been several weeks since he’d voluntarily touched her and he looked at her so oddly when she cried, like he’d never seen tears before. And it wasn’t just her, he was cold to Cathrine too and she’d never seen him treat his sister that way before. Something was terribly wrong with Trowa and she was going to find out what it was. Sally must know something, she had to help her.
Things had been going so well before that last damn mission. In fact she’d been hoping that she’d gotten pregnant that last night before he left. She wanted children so badly and so did he. They wanted to be the perfect parents, correct all the mistakes of their past. He’d held her close in his arms afterward. “You make it so hard for me to leave you behind Midii,” he’d whispered, his lips trailing down her neck to her shoulder. “Then don’t go Trowa,” she’d begged. “Stay here with me, please.”
If only he had stayed, she thought wistfully. If only none of them had ever gone on this strange mission. Hilde had told her that Duo was acting strangely too. Something must have happened up there. It must be something, she thought desperately.
Sally’s voice broke into her thoughts, she was standing outside the door arguing with someone.
“I insist on seeing the data from that mission,” she said, her usually calm voice verging on hysteria. “There’s something wrong with my husband. He just isn’t the same man that left and I want to know what happened.”
“You’re going to have fill out the paper work and wait for approval. I can’t do you any favors. These things are top secret and confidential. You know that Sally,” the head medical officer explained.
The data, Midii thought. It had been awhile since she’d pulled anything like this off, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. She was going to get hold of that data, she was going to find out what the hell had happened to her husband, to all of them.
Quatre sat at the control panel of the space shuttle, spinning dials, pressing buttons, desperately trying any combination of codes to get through to mission control. He ended up getting nothing but static. They were almost a month overdue getting home. Surely someone down there must be trying to get through to them as well. They couldn’t be that far off track.
“No luck,” Trowa asked, sitting down beside his best friend. Quatre shook his head, it was getting very hard to stay calm about all this.
“She asked me not to go on this mission. Did I tell you that,” Trowa asked Quatre, his emerald eyes staring out into the vista of space.
“We’ll get back to Earth eventually Trowa, it’s just a matter of time. But I know how you feel. Dorothy always reminds me that I don’t have to do these missions. It’s not like I don’t have a business to run. It’s just that I feel a responsibility to provide support for these test missions. We are the best pilots for the job.”
Relena stared at the doctor. She was pregnant. She would never have known unless she’d had this checkup scheduled. She was only a few days late. A baby? Somehow she wasn’t as happy as she’d thought she’d be when when she finally got this happy news. There was something different about Heero lately, although his love-making was more passionate and veritably took her breath away she wanted the old Heero back, the way he was before that last mission. Maybe the good news would set him straight again, she thought.
Midii hugged her arms around herself, she had a strange, frightened feeling about all this. But there was nothing that could go wrong. No one knew where she was and she had every right to be here, she worked for Preventers after all and they were closely linked to the space agency. She couldn’t get in any trouble. Still, her hands shook and she felt like running home. Midii picked up the phone and rapidly dialed Hilde, she’d feel better if she were here with her. They’d look at the data together and the mystery would be solved and then they’d treat themselves to a nice stiff drink and laugh over it. It just had to happen that way. But Hilde’s phone rang and rang. Midii felt strangely nervous that Duo would happen to answer. She didn’t know why, she’d always gotten along fine with Hilde’s husband before. Now he frightened her, they all did come to think of it. Even Trowa, her own husband.
“It’s all up to me then,” she thought, clicking away at the keyboard and pulling up the information she wanted. Her eyes scanned the crowded, single-spaced pages of data, she didn’t understand all the words, but something in Trowa’s medical report jumped out at her.
There are unexplained changes in the subject’s cell structure and blood makeup.
“Unexplained changes,” Midii whispered, quickly pulling up the reports on the other pilots and finding the same information.
“He’s not Trowa. That man isn’t Trowa,” she thought, the words swirling in her head. “Where is he? Where is Trowa then? Oh my God, my God . . .”
Her shaking fingers reached for her phone, she had to tell the others, had to warn them. The people in charge had kept this from them. They had to get together and force them to tell them what had really happened up there. She dialed Sally and got no answer. Hilde still wasn’t home and Dorothy’s phone was busy. Her heart thumped in terror that one of them, one of those strange men masquerading as their husbands would answer. If they did she felt like she would start screaming and never stop.
“Somebody, please answer,” she prayed silently, dialing Heero and Relena’s private line. She sighed with relief when she heard Relena’s voice.
“Relena! Thank God,” she said, rushing and stumbling over her words. “It’s Midii, you have to come here right away. I’m at my office, hurry please and don’t tell Heero, don’t tell anyone. Oh Relena, I’ve found out something awful. Trowa isn’t Trowa and Heero isn’t Heero. Please, please get here right away.”
Heero watched Relena’s face grow puzzled.
“Midii? I don’t understand a word you’re saying slow down. Why are you so upset,” Relena said. Could she have really said that Trowa wasn’t Trowa and Heero wasn’t Heero? That was impossible. He was different surely, but not that different and besides, besides she was going to have his baby. “I’ll talk to you later, when you’re calmer,” she said, hanging up on the other woman as she started to repeat what she had said again.
Midii stared at the phone. Maybe she couldn’t blame Relena, it was hard to believe, but she had to have noticed the differences in Heero as the rest of them had. Sally and Hilde would believe her. She called them again and still got no answer, and she didn’t dare leave a message.
Relena watched Heero rush out the door after putting in a quick call to Trowa. Midii’s nonsense seemed to have him very upset. Maybe she shouldn’t have said anything about it to him. She wrapped her arms around her stomach. No, Midii was crazy, Heero was Heero and no one else. What she had said was impossible. Heero and Trowa would make her see that. She and Heero would have their baby and everything would be perfect, just perfect again.
Trowa raced to Midii’s office. She was going to ruin everything, their chances of seeing their wives again, their chances of ever getting home. Damn her, why couldn’t she leave well enough alone? What had he done to tip her off?
He silently opened the door. She was still there, staring at her computer screen, well thank God she hadn’t left. He pushed the door open with a crash and saw her jump in her chair before turning, her blue-gray eyes wide with fright and shock.
“What are you doing Midii,” he asked, in a strangely calm voice. He didn’t feel calm at all. What was he going to do now? Heero was right, she knew everything.
She got up from her chair and he could see her trembling. “Stay away from me! You’re not my husband. Where is he? Tell me where Trowa is,” she said in a shaky voice. “I’m going to find out what happened to him. You can’t stop me, I’ve seen everything. There’s proof, it’s right there.”
Midii attempted to get past him to the door, but he reached out and grabbed her, throwing the slight woman who looked so much like his wife against the wall, watching her fall into a dazed, unmoving heap. He kept one eye on her as he sat down and started deleting all the incriminating files.
Heero burst into the office and glanced around. “You stopped her,” he asked. “Trowa, she’s still alive. You have to kill her or I will.”
“I can’t,” Trowa said. “She’s too much like Midii, I could never do that.”
“Then I will,” Heero said, aiming his gun at the woman slumped against the wall.
“No,” Trowa shouted, grabbing his arm. “You know what we’ve always heard. If you’re counterpart on AlphaEarth is killed you die as well. If you kill her you’ll be killing Midii. You can’t do that.”
“We don’t know that’s true Trowa,” Heero said, losing his resolve.
“I’m not going to let you test the theory with Midii’s life,” Trowa said, pulling the gun out of his hand.
“Then what are we going to do with her,” Heero said, his forehead furrowed in concentration before he picked up the phone on Midii’s desk and dialed security.
“There’s been an accident on the fourth floor,” he said, his voice emotionless. “There’s a woman that needs medical attention.”
“Trowa and Heero are in there with her, there’s nothing you can do,” Wufei said to his wife as they waited outside Midii Barton’s hospital room. They were all there except Relena, Trowa had asked Cathrine to call all of them.
“I’d still feel better if I was there with her. I’m her friend,” Sally said.
“You have no experience in psychiatry. She’s crazy,” Wufei said. “She tried to kill Trowa, her own husband.”
“That can’t be true. I don’t believe it,” Hilde sobbed. “What’s going on? Why is everything so crazy?”
“I agree,” Dorothy said, swinging one leg over the other and folding her arms impatiently. “Midii isn’t my favorite person but this just doesn’t ring true. She practically worships the ground Trowa walks on, she’d never shoot at him.”
“I know it sounds strange, Dorothy,” Quatre said. “But Trowa didn’t want anybody to know about Midii’s mental issues. He thought she was getting better and now this. Poor Trowa.”
Cathrine looked at Quatre suspiciously. If Midii had these kind of problems why hadn’t Trowa told her anything about it, his own sister?
Midii blinked her eyes open and narrowed them under the bright fluorescent lights overhead, she tried to raise a hand to cover her eyes, but she couldn’t move it. She forced her eyes open and looked at herself, she was strapped to a table with leather restraints on her arms and legs. She groaned and tossed her head and a hand touched her forehead gently.
“Calm down Mrs. Barton, you were hysterical, out of control. You had to be restrained.
Her thoughts raced, she remembered Heero and Trowa talking about killing her. Except it wasn’t Trowa, not really. Everything came back to her.
“Help me,” she begged, struggling desperately to move. “They’re trying to kill me. You have to let me go. Please, listen.”
“Calm down,” the orderly said. “You’re perfectly safe here.”
“No,” Midii said, raising her voice. “You don’t understand. He’s not my husband, please you have to help me. I need to talk to Sally Chang right away.”
Heero looked at Trowa in the corner of the room. “Talk to her,” he said. “Push her over the edge.”
“What,” Trowa said.
“Reveal yourself to her,” Heero said, “then they’ll see how crazy she really is.”
Trowa walked over to the table.
“Give me a minute alone with her,” he said and the orderly disappeared.
“Midii, look what you’ve gotten yourself into. You should have left well enough alone,” Trowa said, trying to force down any sympathy he had for her. This wasn’t his wife, she was trying to stop him from getting back where he belonged with his Midii.
“Get away from me,” she whispered, pulling desperately at the restraints.
“You’re right, you know. But no one will believe you. I’m not your Trowa, not your husband. Just look at me,” he said, his emerald green eyes turning a deep, fluid, pupilless black.
They could hear her hysterical, terrified screams out in the hallway.
Author’s Note: Mwahahahaha! Thanks for the nice response to this fic, I wasn’t sure how it was gonna go over. And now, the creepy conclusion . . . . please review!
The Gundam Pilots’ Wives, Part Two
A Halloween Horror Fic by Midii Une
“No, you can’t see Mrs. Barton,” the nurse/guard told Sally, Hilde and Dorothy. “She can’t have any visitors except for her husband. She gets too upset. You do realize this is a psychiatric hospital, don’t you?”
“Yes I realize that,” Dorothy said, stepping forward. “Perhaps what you don’t realize is that I am Dorothy Catalonia Winner and my husband is a major contributor to this hospital and Mrs. Barton is a close friend of mine. I insist that you let us in to see her immediately.”
“I’m a doctor,” Sally said, sensing that the guard was starting to waver. “We won’t stay if we upset her too much, please this is very important.”
“Alright,” the nurse said. “I’ll give you five minutes but that’s it and do not upset her.”
Midii sat huddled in a rocking chair in a white room with padding on the walls, her hair was a tangled mess and her eyes were large and staring.
“It’s true,” Dorothy gasped, aghast at the sight the other woman presented. “She is insane. We shouldn’t have come here.”
The place itself was a nightmare, Hilde thought, her eyes wide with sympathy and riveted on her best friend. How had she ended up like this? Midii had always been emotional but never crazy, never. This was a bad dream she had to wake up from soon, first Duo had started acting so strangely and now her best friend had lost her mind. She shuddered at the hellish sounds of shrieks and screams from the insane clientele beyond the walls of Midii’s silent little room.
Sally noted that her wrists were bound to the armrests of the chair to keep her from hurting herself. Her tender heart ached at the sight of the other woman. There was something very wrong about this.
Midii didn’t look up when she heard them enter, she was afraid to look, afraid to see Trowa with those horrible black eyes of his, eyes she saw before her all the time, even in her sleep and she couldn’t escape.
Sally knelt down beside the chair as she heard a small sob of terror from the sad little figure in the rocking chair.
“Midii,” she said softly and slowly. “It’s me Sally. Hilde and Dorothy are here too. We came to see how you’re doing. Can you talk to us.”
Midii’s head shot up so fast that Hilde and Dorothy stepped back a bit, startled by the sudden movement when she had been so still and quiet.
She looked at all of them, her eyes trying to catch theirs. “Help me,” she pleaded. “Please find Trowa. You have to find Trowa. Where is he? Where’s Trowa?”
Hilde joined Sally beside the chair and grasped Midii’s hand comfortingly. “Midii, they told us he came to see you just a little while ago. Don’t you remember?”
“NO! No, no,” she screamed. “Not him. I need Trowa, when will he come back? That man isn’t Trowa. He’s not Trowa! Don’t you see their eyes? They’re not who they pretend to be. They’re only pretending.”
She started sobbing and pulling at her restraints as they watched her horrified.
“Help me, please help me,” she screamed again. Tears of pity ran down Hilde’s face and Dorothy turned pale as Sally ushered them out of the little room, leaving Midii alone again.
Hilde was haunted by the visit to Midii. She wished they had never gone to see her. Her words had been frantic and her voice terrified but her eyes hadn’t looked like an insane person’s. She’d only looked horribly frightened and terribly desperate, desperate for someone to believe her.
Hilde curled up on the couch and fell asleep. In her dreams she could hear Midii’s screams. “They’re pretending,” she’d said.
She came awake with a start, running a nervous hand through her midnight-black hair in the darkness that had fallen while she slept. Her heart was pounding from her unhappy dreams.
“I shouldn’t have gone,” she thought again. “I’ll end up as crazy as she is. Oh Midii, forgive me. What happened to make you this way?”
Her friend’s voice seemed to answer from far away. “Their eyes. Haven’t you seen their eyes?”
She shook her head, she hated to believe it but Midii really was crazy, she had to be. She’d totally lost it somehow. Was it true as Trowa said that she’d always been prone to it?
She heard the door slam. Duo was home. She was going to make him talk to her she decided. She had to have some answers about everything, especially about what was going wrong in their relationship.
“Who’d have thought Earth could ever look so good,” Wufei said, looking at the distant blue planet out the observation window of the long-range space shuttle they were testing, so far with fairly disastrous results. They were more than a month off their scheduled return time.
Heero nodded tersely. “Strange though that we still haven’t been able to establish contact with headquarters yet. That should’ve happened long before we even got Earth in our sights,” he said thoughtfully.
“Yeah,” Duo said. “Well, anyway, maybe we’ll make it back in time for mine and Hilde’s anniversary. Seven years of wedded bliss tomorrow guys. Lucky 7.”
“Trowa,” Quatre said, nudging his friend. “Is something wrong? Cheer up, we’re finally going to get back.”
Trowa was staring silently through his bangs at the floor. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” he said flatly. “It’s just a bad feeling that’s all. I dreamed about Midii last night.”
“Hey buddy, don’t tell us about it, we’ve all been having little dreams like that ourselves. Tomorrow we can show’em just how much we missed those girls of ours. I can’t wait to see the look on Hilde’s face when we walk down that tunnel,” Duo said, grinning wickedly.
“That’s not what I meant. It was a nightmare. She was screaming my name and I couldn’t get back in time,” Trowa answered.
“In time for what,” Quatre asked.
“I don’t know,” Trowa said.
“You can’t go on another mission now,” Hilde cried, looking at Duo in disbelief.
“Hilde, it’s my job,” he said shortly. He didn’t want to talk to her anymore. It was bad enough that things had gotten so messed up with Midii Barton’s AlphaEarth counterpart. She’d totally flipped out, but they’d had no choice. Poor Trowa felt like crap. They had to get the hell off this place before something else happened.
“Duo, you can’t leave tomorrow,” Hilde insisted. “It’s our anniversary and I feel just sick about Midii. She’s my best friend and seeing her like that today was very upsetting.”
Duo sprang to alert and questioned her sharply.
“Trowa said she wasn’t allowed to have visitors Hilde. How the hell did you get in to see her,” Duo said. “Did she say anything?”
Hilde grew a little frightened of Duo’s intense reaction.
“She didn’t say anything really,” she lied. “Just a lot of rambling.”
She couldn’t help studying Duo’s eyes, but they were still the same reassuring shade of violet they always had been and she breathed an unconscious sigh of relief.
“But Duo,” she continued. “I need you now, I need you to be with me. What’s happened to us? What’s wrong? How can you go off like this with these problems between us?”
She grabbed his arm and stared into his eyes, forcing him to look at her. “Duo, I love you. Stay with me. If you love me you’ll stay,” she said.
He shut his eyes and his face twisted almost as if in pain. Why was she pushing him so hard, tomorrow he’d be gone, it was so close he could touch it . . . angrily he shoved her away from him so hard that she landed on the floor and knicked her temple on the edge of the coffee table. She reached up with her fingers and felt blood.
“You’re acting crazy Hilde,” he said coldly. “Just get yourself under control, you never should have gone to visit that crazy chick in that hospital. If you don’t watch it you’ll end up as nuts as she is.”
Hilde’s blue eyes blazed furiously.
“You bastard,” she shouted. “How dare you hit me and how dare you say those things about Midii. Aren’t you Trowa’s friend? She’s my best friend, you know that! Can’t you see how I’m hurting? I need you and you’re acting like a first-class jerk. What’s come over you?”
Duo gained control of himself, it was difficult. He sighed and rubbed his hand over his eyes. The tension of the last few weeks, the fear that he’d never get home to his own wife was tearing him up inside. He was blowing it here, blowing it big time.
“I’m sorry Hilde,” he muttered. “Sorry about Midii, sorry about everything. I can’t stay okay! I have to go on that mission and I don’t want to talk anymore about it. I have to go tomorrow. Please just leave it at that.”
He walked to the kitchen to get a cold rag for her cut. He bent close and pressed it to her head.
“Duo, please, please don’t go,” Hilde begged, forgetting her anger, seeing that he was distancing himself from her. She loved him, she didn’t want to lose him. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Make love to me, please,” she whispered. “Please.”
He pulled her close, returning her kiss. His hands roaming over her body and his breath coming in short gasps. “Hilde,” he groaned softly, tumbling her to the floor beneath him.
“Heero you can’t go,” Relena protested, her hand sliding protectively over her stomach in a gesture that was quickly becoming a habit. “How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know Relena,” he muttered, despising himself for losing control, betraying Relena with this other. He just needed her in his life so damn much that this substitute had gotten to him.
Soon you’ll be back with her, Heero thought. Soon, he promised himself. He’d confess his betrayal of course. On OmegaEarth there was no such thing as lies or tears. It was a perfect Utopia. How he longed to return, to get away from the subterfuges and horrors they’d been forced to commit on this strange planet so like their own.
She’d gotten so upset when he’d visited her that afternoon that she’d gotten loose and almost jumped out the window in her frenzy to get away from him. And now she was like this. She would never get better they said, the effects of the emergency electroshock therapy were irreversible.
Trowa entered the room. Midii was sitting curled up in the corner, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. When she looked at him there was no fear in her eyes, or recognition either, the eyes of an innocent child.
“I’m going away tomorrow,” he said. “Midii, I’m so sorry. Sorry I hurt you.”
She looked puzzled. “Okay,” she said finally. “Goodbye.”
He pulled her unresisting form into his arms and felt her slight figure pressed against his and ran a hand through her tangled hair. As he walked away from her forever he felt a strange burning in his eyes and the wetness he’d felt on her face the first night was now present on his own.
“I don’t like this place,” Midii thought sadly. “I want to go home.”
She went back to idly twirling her hair.
“Duo,” Hilde panted, opening her eyes and looking up into his. They were dark, dark with desire. Black, black eyes. Horrible eyes. She screamed in terror and shoved him off her. She scrambled away from him her hand feeling around on the floor for a weapon anything. Her hand hit the coffee table, in the drawer there was a gun.
“Hilde, wait, don’t,” Duo said, his black eyes staring at her. She closed her eyes and pulled the trigger over and over even after the bullets ran out.
“Duo, quit goofing around,” Heero said, rolling in his eyes in irritation as his best friend, the classic American showoff, played dead on the floor. “I know you’re bored but no one’s in the mood for one of your performances right now.”
They were all just a little too anxious to get home. Trowa’s mood giving them all a strange sense of foreboding. They had been gone for so long, with no communication with anyone on Earth or the colonies.
“I’m leaving Dorothy. I’ve got to stop and pick up Duo on the way,” Quatre said.
Dorothy was glad, glad to see him go. He’d been so painfully perfect, absolutely polite, holding the door for her, pulling out her chair, bringing her flowers, but never looking at her while he did any of those things. Whenever she touched him he flinched as if her touch burned him. He stayed late at the office and left the house before dawn. What difference did it make really if he left for space or not? He wasn’t really here with her anyway. It was as if he’d never actually come home from that last mission.
Quatre didn’t love her anymore.
Quatre saw the tension in her posture, the dejection and hurt on her face, although she tried so hard to hide it in her aristocratic way. He sighed. He hoped everything would work out for her at least. He’d made it through somehow and hopefully the damage done, at least on his part, had been minimal.
“You’re going to be alright,” he whispered to her, keeping his eyes on the floor as he’d been doing these past weeks. He tenderly reached out and brushed back the curtain of her long, pale hair and glanced at her finally, before grabbing his flight bag and rushing out the door.
Hilde edged closer to Duo’s body on the floor. What had she done? Midii’s crazy words had pushed her over the edge herself, she’d thought she’d seen something wrong with his eyes. She’d killed him. Killed Duo.
“Duo,” she whispered hopefully, her hands and voice shaking in the aftermath of what she’d done. There was no answer, no movement, he was dead. She dared to look at his face and covered her mouth to stifle a scream. It hadn’t been a hallucination, his eyes were a deep black, lifeless now, but the same horrible eyes she’d thought she’d seen when she looked up at him as they made love. No white at all, no hint of their usual violet shade, nothing, just complete blackness. She felt something rising in her throat. Hilde dashed to the bathroom and was promptly, violently ill. She had made love to that thing, begged for him to touch her and hold her. Hilde could feel his hands on her still and all that mattered was washing off his touch. The touch of whatever that thing that wasn’t Duo was.
She stepped into the shower, regardless of there being a dead body on her living room floor. Her tears mixed with the water that streamed over her. She would never be clean again, would never escape from the vision of those awful eyes in the face she loved.
Quatre pushed the door open, no one had answered when he rang the doorbell. His eyes widened at the sight of Duo dead on the floor, he bent and closed the lids over the deep black eyes of his friend.
“Hilde,” he called, cautiously. “Hilde are you here?”
There was no answer and he didn’t want to push it. They were leaving. Quatre’s black eyes gleamed sadly as he bent and placed Duo carefully over his shoulder. How were they ever going to tell Hilde the bad news?
Hilde stood shaking in terror, her bathrobe wrapped around her, her gun pointed at the bedroom door until she finally heard Quatre leave. She peeked out. Duo was gone. He was gone. “Oh God, thank you. Thank you,” she whispered.
Relena, Sally and Cathrine watched as the four pilots came down the ramp of the exit tunnel. Hilde was nowhere to be found and Dorothy had refused to come. Unfortunately, everybody knew where Midii was.
Relena rushed up to Heero and embraced him. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her neck. “Oh Heero,” she whispered, her hand stroking his back. “I’m so sorry about Duo, are you alright? Is that why you came back so soon?”
He stared at her. They were five weeks late and she called that soon?
There was a silent pause and the little group parted to let a casket with an L2 colony cluster flag draping it pass through.
“I don’t know,” Heero said, disbelief still in his voice. “I don’t know what happened. He just keeled over. We’ll have to wait for the autopsy I guess.”
Wufei looked at the ground, then approached his wife, who seemed to be watching him warily. He pulled her close in his arms in an uncharacteristic display of affection. “Oh Sally,” he said. “It is so good to be back. It almost seemed like something was keeping us from getting back here.”
Sally gasped. There was something different about him. But it was a ‘good’ different. She clutched her arms around him tightly and started sobbing desperately.
“You’re really home,” she said. “Really home.”
For once, he only held her tight and made no mention of her display of weakness.
Quatre looked around, his eyes drooping with sadness over Duo’s unexplained and sudden death. They had been so close to making it home.
“Where’s Dorothy,” he asked. She’d never missed meeting him before and he’d been gone for so long. His heart twisted in pain. How could she not be here?
Relena looked at him over Heero’s shoulder. “She didn’t know you were coming back,” Relena said. “She left for Europe only a few hours ago.”
“Cathy! Thanks for coming,” Trowa said, wrapping an arm around his sister’s shoulder. “Where’s Midii? Isn’t she feeling well or something?” He hoped that she would have good news for him. They were trying so hard to have a baby.
Cathrine looked at him and opened her mouth to speak, instead she broke into tears.
In the end, despite all the strings Heero and Sally pulled they never found out exactly what happened.
Sally clenched her fists in frustration and guilt. Like Hilde she kept hearing Midii’s screams, her desperate insistence that their husbands weren’t who they claimed to be. It had been too difficult to believe. It still was, but there was no other explanation. Unfortunately all the mission data had been deleted the night Midii supposedly lost her mind.
“His eyes were black, solid black,” Hilde said, her voice steady but her face as white as paper. “I knew then, I knew it wasn’t Duo. That must be what Midii saw that night when we heard her screaming.”
Hilde’s words reverberated in Relena’s consciousness. Ever since Heero had come back from his second mission life had been a nightmare. Everyone was insisting that Midii had been right all along, that the Heero who had made love to her so passionately, who had fulfilled her every secret desire had never been Heero at all. And she had told him about Midii, betrayed her to them, those others. It wasn’t possible. It was too horrible to reconcile. They were all wrong, it had been Heero all along, her Heero, the man she had always loved. When he questioned her about that time she was silent and he left her alone after that, thinking that the subject was too painful.
She let herself believe that the others were all crazy and only she was sane. The horrible, bizarre episode had never happened.
Still, she waited a month to tell Heero their good news and he didn’t suspect a thing when their lovely daughter Vanessa came into the world several weeks too soon.
Vanessa had her hair and eyes. Her eyes were true blue. Still, sometimes Relena studied her baby intensely as she fed her and imagined those pretty blue eyes turning an eerie black, heard Hilde’s voice describing Duo’s eyes, her words falling as harshly as fingernails on a chalkboard.
~*~*~ONE YEAR LATER~*~*~
Cathrine was brushing Midii’s hair and tying a ribbon in it when Trowa came home. “Trowa,” she cried happily, jumping up out of the chair.
“Hi Midii, did you have a good day,” he asked.
She nodded, smiling her habitual sunny smile. She looked at her husband expectantly and he smiled back, handing her a daisy.
Midii plopped down on the floor and started pulling the petals off one by one. “He loves me, he loves me not,” she said, concentrating on each white petal as she removed it from the bright yellow center of the daisy.
Cathrine smiled sadly at the two of them. Trowa was always so sweet, he always counted the daisy petals to make sure her rhyme came out just right. A tear streaked her cheek and she turned away.
“He loves me,” Midii announced triumphantly, pulling off the last petal. She jumped up and gave Trowa an exuberant hug and he held her close, pressing his face against her hair. “You love me Trowa,” she repeated.
“Of course I do,” he said, brushing his lips against her hair so softly she couldn’t feel it.
She sighed, “But Trowa, the poor flower. Look, it’s all broken. I shouldn’t have done it.”
“Give it to me Midii. I’ll fix it, it’ll be just like new.” He took the daisy stem she handed him and produced another flower from behind his back.
“Oh Trowa,” she whispered her eyes lit with childish wonder. “You’re magic! You can fix everything.”
No, he thought, he couldn’t. He couldn’t fix her, he couldn’t bring back the woman he loved.
“Happy Anniversary Duo,” Hilde whispered, tears streaking her pale cheeks as she sat down on the mounded grave and rested her cheek against the cold marble of his tombstone.
Nobody blamed her for what she’d done. They said it was only a coincidence. Hilde knew better. She had killed him.
The rest of them were getting on with their lives, but she couldn’t do that. Dorothy and Sally tried to act as if nothing had happened, they didn’t want to talk about it. Relena was all wrapped up in that horrible baby of hers. Hilde didn’t dare look at it, afraid she’d see those eyes looking back at her. Was she the only one who realized Relena was lying? Her baby had been a healthy 9-pounder, there was no way the child was premature. She was the child of that other Heero, but no one else seemed to realize it but her.
She was the only one who had seen those terrible eyes. Midii didn’t count, the whole episode permanently erased along with most everything else in her memory. Everyone felt so sorry for poor Midii. But Hilde didn’t. She envied her, she was happy in her childish way, she had Trowa and she didn’t see those eyes, those awful black eyes every time she shut her own. Hilde’s life was haunted by those horrible eyes looking at her as she shot that thing that was pretending to be Duo. Haunted by the fact that somehow by shooting him she had killed her own husband.
She swallowed the handful of pills and chased it with a gulp of champagne straight from the bottle.
“Happy Anniversary Duo,” she whispered. “See you soon.”