The Price of Redemption
( . . . after Alone/Together)
by Midii Une
“Every morning there’s a heartache hanging from the corner
of my girlfriend’s four-post bed
I know it’s not mine and I know she thinks she loves me
but I never can believe what she said
Something so deceiving
when you stop believing
turn me around again
Said we couldn’t do it
Ya know I wanna do it again”
Trowa was happy, happier than he had ever been in his life. But with that happiness came something else. Anxiety. He’d felt that often enough before. But the anxiety that was the flip side of life with Midii was more intense than any he’d suffered before. It shouldn’t be that way. But he still couldn’t trust her. Couldn’t stop thinking that one day she would simply disappear from his life without any warning.
Trowa looked at the sleeping girl in his arms as he did every morning. Every morning he awoke before she did just to study her and reassure himself that she was there. They weren’t exactly living together yet, but somehow it seemed that every night they ended up together in the same bed, hers or his, it didn’t matter. And every night he’d see love in her eyes. Just like the first time. And just like that first time he prayed that it wasn’t a lie, that it must be the truth. Could anyone fake a look like that?
He wanted to see it again, he could never see it enough. He began to kiss her until he felt her begin to wake up. She groaned softly. “Trowa. No, it’s too early. Not even light yet,” she protested.
Midii’s eyes fluttered open sleepily and she saw his face close above hers. He watched intently as they softened perceptibly and a tender smile touched her lips. Her small slender hand reached up to caress his cheek and he caught it in his hand and kissed the palm of it. It was always there. The look in her eyes. Why did he worry he thought as she drew him down on top of her and returned his kisses. She must love him, she did love him. And he loved her more than he’d ever imagined he could be capable.
She felt safe and cherished under the familiar weight of his body. In the soft gray light of his room, wrapped in his arms. She never wanted to leave this place and tears sparkled on the edges of her lashes as they always did at times like this. Bliss was the only word she knew to describe this feeling. An explosion of happiness like a white-gold flare in the dark night sky of her life. He didn’t trust her, maybe he never would. Maybe he never should. There was so much in her past that threatened her, haunted her.
But if Midii had her way she would never leave this room, never leave this bed, never leave his arms. She tightened her arms around him and luxuriated in the familiar feel of his skin on hers and the brush of his hair against her cheek.
He watched her as she applied her makeup in the tiny bathroom of his apartment. He liked her better without it, the cosmetics made it seem she was hiding something, like he tried to hide himself from the world behind his wealth of bangs. The way she could change her appearance so much with the mere stroke of a makeup brush was astounding and a little frightening. Not that she could ever change enough to hide from him anymore. It just reminded him too much of what she had been.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Trowa announced suddenly. “I talked with Cathrine. I have time off coming. I’ll go with you to see Sally tomorrow. I won’t go on this tour.”
Midii looked at him a bit sadly. Even after this morning he still so obviously didn’t trust her. She didn’t blame him, not a bit. But would he ever understand that it was impossible for him to watch her every moment? He had a career that was important to him. He had a relationship with his sister that shouldn’t be neglected. And she herself needed to get on with her life. She had some leads on a few job possibilities and the mandatory monthly meeting with Sally Po, her official probation officer, her unofficial psychologist and her unofficial big sister. She met with Sally as part of an agreement that kept her out of prison for her past crimes. She told all, cried sometimes and Sally was a good listener. Midii admitted that she looked forward to these visits, needed them to stay focussed on her new life as a law-abiding citizen of a peaceful world.
“Don’t you dare Trowa Barton,” she said. “You need to go on this tour. Cathrine told me some of these stops are new venues for the circus and it’s not fair to the rest if the best performer doesn’t show up. Besides, I’m sure lots of girls buy tickets just to get a look at you.”
“Don’t tease me Midii,” Trowa said, looking down as he did habitually, his long brown bangs sheltering his face. “I don’t want to be away from you that long. We’ve only been together four months and now two months away?”
“Listen to me,” she said, placing her hands on his face and tiptoeing to look in his eyes. “You go ahead. I’ll make my meeting with Sally. Then I have to follow up on those job leads. You know that Quatre even promised to give me references and that should go a long way toward establishing my credibility. If nothing pans out with that I’ll meet you along the way. I have the schedule of all your stops, Cathrine made sure. And even if I get a new job and can’t come, there are still weekends. We will not be apart for two months. I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t bear it. But Trowa, we can’t stay like this forever. Life has to go on.”
“When did you get so practical,” Trowa asked, pulling her closer against him and resting his cheek against the familiar warm softness of her hair. She was right, he didn’t want her to be, but she was. He had to let go sometime, had to resume his normal life and pick up his everyday responsibilities. Had to believe she’d be there when he got back.
“I’ll pick you up at 7,” Trowa reminded her as she shrugged into her jacket. “It’s dinner with Quatre and . . . her. He said they have something important to tell us. Hopefully it’s that he’s come to his senses about all this.”
“Trowa,” Midii scolded, looking at him mischievously. “Be nice.”
He was silent a moment. “I can’t help it,” he finally said. “She almost killed Quatre. Midii, she left you there for dead on Corsica. How do you and Quatre expect me to just forget those things?”
She turned away and pretended to look out the window, blinking her eyes furiously to keep from crying. She was so much worse than Dorothy Catalonia had ever been. Would he wake up one day and realize that he was making an awful mistake in being with her? Would he close his heart against her and hate her as he did Dorothy? Would his eyes ever flick over her like she’d just crawled out from under a rock? If only there was some way to wipe her past away.
Trowa noticed the little shudder go through her and was immediately sorry for what he had said. They were on such unsteady ground, still afraid of each other in so many ways. Careless little comments had the power to do so much damage between them. He went to her and embraced her reassuringly.
“Midii,” he said, pulling her close and tangling his hands in her hair. Tomorrow, he thought, tomorrow he’d be leaving her behind. “I’m sorry. I’ll be nice tonight, I promise.”
She gave him a weak smile. Midii had a feeling Quatre’s news had nothing to do with giving up Dorothy, it was probably going to be the complete opposite.
Cathrine opened the door of the salon where Midii had easily reacquired her former position and the little bell at the top of the door rang gently.
Midii glanced over to see who had come in, Trowa had a habit of showing up early to pick her up. Was he just missing her or did he feel he had to constantly check up on her? She sighed a little, then smiled at her friend.
“Cathy,” she exclaimed, turning around to show off her dress. “Do you like it? More importantly do you think Trowa will like it?”
“I’m almost jealous,” Cathrine grinned, looking at her friend appraisingly. “Very elegant.”
“Well,” Midii affected a glamorous tone of voice. “One must look one’s best when dining out with Miss Catalonia.”
She and Cathrine both broke into unrestrained giggles at Midii’s over-the-top impersonation of Dorothy’s somewhat high-brow personality
The diamond ring Dorothy flaunted had to be at least four carats, between that and Quatre’s pleased and proud smile Midii could tell that her guess had been the correct one. She squeezed Trowa’s hand warningly and he squeezed back.
“So,” Midii said, smiling and leaning over to kiss Quatre’s cheek. “I see that congratulations are in order. How wonderful. We’re both so happy for you.”
“No secret is safe around you Midii,” Quatre joked hugging her and shaking Trowa’s hand. “You could always read me like a book, right from the start.”
“That was her profession, Quatre,” Dorothy said tartly, but she couldn’t hide the happy gleam in her eyes despite her sharp words..
Midii tried to ignore the little comment but her cheeks flushed a little, and instead admired the ring. “Oh Dorothy, it’s so beautiful. Can I see?”
Dorothy couldn’t resist holding out her hand for Midii’s admiration and inspection. Trowa watched her face, it held an appropriately awed and wondering expression as she studied the ring. What was she thinking? Was it the ring she admired or did she want to be getting married too? She never mentioned it. Did she want to marry him, was she ready for a lifetime commitment? He didn’t know if he was, but then again he was positive he never wanted to be apart from her. It was so confusing. How had Quatre known he was ready? But then again he wasn’t sure he trusted Quatre’s decision to commit himself to Dorothy Catalonia. How could he forget what she was? Could he love her like he loved Midii?
“So when is the big day,” Midii asked.
“In six months,” Dorothy said. “There’s so much to do, you can’t imagine!”
“Trowa,” Quatre said, catching his best friend’s emerald eyes with his hopeful blue ones. “I hope you’ll be my best man. There’s no one else I’d even consider asking.”
Trowa paused and Midii poked him under the table. “Of course,” he said, automatically, wrapping his fingers around hers. “I’d be honored.”
Dorothy breathed a silent sigh of relief. She’d been almost afraid he’d say no and that would have broken Quatre’s heart. It was one of the things that used to give her nightmares, the rejection and disdain of his friends eventually driving him away from her. Perhaps she should be grateful to that girl, her own crimes compared to Midii’s and Trowa Barton seemed to be having no trouble at all accepting her in his life. It probably wouldn’t be long till they were announcing their own engagement. He could hardly say anything to Quatre about her while he was involved with Midii Une.
Trowa turned to give Midii his hand and help her down the steps of the restaurant. She smiled down at him.
“Look at you up there,” he joked, seeing her at eye level for once. He pulled her into a kiss. He liked the way she fit against him at this angle, he usually had to lean down so far to meet her lips. Kissing on stairs was a very good idea . . .
“You made Quatre so happy tonight,” she said, as his arms pulled her closer and they kissed again.
“Let’s get home,” he whispered, looking into her eyes, his hand cupping her cheek.
“Midii,” a slurred voice called and she tensed. Trowa’s eyes narrowed. “Midii! Babe, is that you,” the man said again, his hand running over his wavy black hair and his eyes, almost as green as Trowa’s studying her intently.
“Merde,” she whispered, her annoyance expressing itself in her softly-spoken French obscenity. “Adrian . . .”
“Hey,” he grinned. “You remembered.” Adrian whistled softly, his eyes raking over her familiarly. She had been his once upon a time and it looked like she had moved up in the world since their short time together.
“Looks like you’re busy tonight, but call me sometime we’ll have a drink. Maybe get reacquainted. I’ve missed you,” Adrian said.
“Just sit by your phone and wait,” Midii said icily, her normally soft eyes turning as hard as steel. Stefan had told her who’d sold her out to him. Adrian had dumped her, betrayed her and now he was making her look bad in front of the man she loved. “The waiting will keep you out of trouble.”
“Christ Midii,” Adrian said. “You can be such a cold little bitch sometimes. You better watch it buddy,” he said to Trowa. “As soon as something better comes along she’ll dump you too. No doubt about it.”
Something hard and frightening in Trowa’s eyes stopped any further comments from Adrian and he walked away.
“Oh Trowa, I’m sorry,” Midii apologized, pressing against him and resting her head on his shoulder.
“It’s alright, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go back to your place,” he said, his hand running over her hair meditatively. But somehow he couldn’t stop that guy’s words from repeating in his head. “As soon as something better comes along she’ll dump you too. No doubt about it.”
Dorothy scowled at her smiling fiancé as they sat side by side on a private space shuttle back to the L4 cluster. They thought nothing of traveling from one colony to another for something as simple as dinner with friends, they had both had more money than they knew what to do with.
“It isn’t cute Quatre,” Dorothy said, although a reluctant smile started playing on her lips at the sight of his shining blue eyes. “The I-told-you-so look just isn’t you my darling.”
“But Dorothy,” Quatre protested, his hand sliding down her bare arm to find her fingers and twist the ring on her finger gently. “I did tell you that everything would be fine. Trowa’s happy for us. I knew that he would be.”
Dorothy was glad that Quatre hadn’t seemed to notice the hesitation in his friend’s manner when he asked him the big question.
“Okay, you were right. Everyone is very happy. We’re all one big happy family,” Dorothy said, hiding the sarcasm in her words neatly enough to fool her beloved.
She undid the buckle on her seatbelt and crawled up in Quatre’s lap, one slender hand reached up to turn off the cabin lights. It was dark inside the shuttle, the stars outside sparkled like her diamond ring had on a field of black velvet on the night he gave it to her. She did love him, Dorothy thought to herself, and she would make him happy. When Dorothy Catalonia set her mind on something, that thing was a sure bet, she told herself. The darkness hid an uncharacteristic gentle smile as her lips caressed his neck and moved to his lips as her fingers deftly undid the buttons of Quatre’s shirt.
“Take care of Trowa, please Cathy,” Midii whispered in her friend’s ear, holding her close. It was almost like having a sister. Both of them thought so. In a louder voice she said, “Be very careful with that new knife routine. I think it’s too dangerous.”
Trowa put his arms around both of his girls.
“Midii,” he said. “How would you know? You never watch when Cathy throws knives at me.”
“I have a very good imagination,” she said, shuddering. “And even if I’m not watching I hear those awful thunks.”
He pulled Midii off to the side so they could say good-bye in private.
“Oh Trowa, I’ll miss you so much,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his shirt.
“Me too,” he said, tightening his arms around her till her body molded to his and he felt her against him.
Sally Po, chief of the Preventers Organization, angrily snapped a pencil in two. Wouldn’t they ever give up? She lumped them all together in her mind, a nasty horde of people who just wouldn’t let go of the urge to make conflict. First there had been that recent incident where an underground faction of the Alliance had surfaced. And now this. Just the first signs of trouble ahead. But it could be big. And her job was to prevent, to prevent the resurgence of trouble, to put out the fires that could do irreparable damage to their precious peace . . .
Her intercom buzzed.
“Yes,” she said irritably, praying swiftly that it wasn’t more bad news.
“Miss Une is here for her appointment,” the secretary announced.
“Please ask her to wait a moment,” Sally said instantly.
She had forgotten all about the appointment. Midii Une. She was someone that could find out the details she needed. She was absolutely perfect. But how could she ask her? These past months she’d been rehabilitating her, she’d even grown to like her quite a bit. The poor girl hadn’t had an easy life. But she’d been so very good at what she did. She shouldn’t do this, but what choice did she have. Many lives could be saved by nipping this in the bud. Sally told herself that she had to put her personal feelings aside, as she had done so many times before. Put them aside for the sake of peace.
When Midii entered the office Sally almost faltered in her good-intentioned resolve. The girl looked so happy and confident. It had taken a lot for them to trust each other, but Sally believed they had accomplished it together in the months they had been meeting.
In a way this could help her, Sally told herself. It’s possible this could complete the process, let her forgive herself and start again.
It was also possible that this would turn her back to a life of espionage.
It was also possible that she could lose everything, possible that she could be killed. These were desperate people who wouldn’t hesitate to kill a traitor, a treacherous double agent.
“Midii! It’s so good to see you,” she said, squeezing one of her hands in hers in a gesture of friendship even as her mind considered the possibilities. “I’m very proud of you, you’ve been perfectly consistent in checking in by phone and showing up here at headquarters once a month.”
“Oh Sally, I just want to prove to you and to Trowa that I’m trying to change. Really trying,” Midii said. “It’s just that sometimes I’m so afraid I’ll fall back in. It’s like the feeling you get when you look over the edge of a cliff. Do you ever wonder what it might be like to jump?”
She’d given her the perfect opening, Sally thought. She took a breath and plunged ahead, right off Midii’s proverbial cliff.
“Midii? What would you be willing to do to attain total redemption? Imagine wiping away all those feelings about what happened in the past. If you could do something to make up for all that, what would you do? How far would you be willing to go?” Sally queried.
Midii looked at Sally in surprise. What an odd thing for her to say. Always before she had reassured her that the past didn’t matter anymore, that she should forget about it and concentrate on a new life. Why was she saying such a thing now? A finger of cold fear touched her heart. Something bad was coming. She wanted to run back to Trowa’s arms and bolt the door behind her. But instead she sat down listlessly in the chair across from Sally’s and bowed her head.
“I’m listening,” she whispered.
She looked at herself in the mirror and lifted the scissors. Midii heard his voice and felt his cheek brush against hers as he nuzzled his face in her hair after they made love.
“I love your hair Midii. I love you,” he whispered. She knew that he did, at night they loved to cuddle up on the couch in the dark and when she sat on his lap he stroked her hair as if she were a little kitten.
Her eyes flew open and she swallowed hard, looking at herself in the mirror. This was not something to do with your eyes closed, she thought grimly. Midii gritted her teeth and closed the blades of the scissors over the handful of hair just above her shoulder, tears streaming down her face with every snip that followed.
Where the hell was the woman? Sally had assured him that she would be waiting at the spaceport and that he should follow, unobtrusively of course. He looked over all the women in the concourse but none of them were Midii Une. She had backed out of the deal. Why was he not surprised?
To add to his annoyance a girl with reddish-blonde, softly curling hair and vivid blue eyes kept glancing at him and smiling to herself as if she were highly amused. He looked twice and felt like rubbing his eyes as the girl’s smile widened and she raised her hand to her mouth to stifle a burst of laughter.
Wufei scowled. This type of deception was not his idea of how to fight. If Sally thought something might be wrong in Brussels they should go there and confront it head on. They shouldn’t be depending on this treacherous woman..
She got up from her seat and approached him. She held out her hand.
“I’m Marguerite Doce,” she said. “You must be Chang Wufei. I was told we were to meet here.”
“Is this charade totally necessary,” he grumbled.
“Of course,” she said. Her voice lowered to a barely audible whisper. “I hope Sally knew what she was doing entrusting you to this type of mission.”
Midii wasn’t happy about this turn of events, not at all. If she couldn’t work with Stefan she would rather be alone. She trusted no one else, except for Trowa and she would not have him involved in this for the world. But Sally had insisted she have some sort of protection. She glanced warily at her equally unhappy partner.
“I’ll keep up my end,” he muttered back. “Don’t you worry.”
Author’s Note: Doce means 12 in Italian.
Next time on The Price of Redemption . . . a conversation with Duo has
Trowa on edge . . . Wufei is finding it difficult keeping up with