Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay!! (bad case o’writer’s block :P) And a plea: please, please read and review my April Fool’s fic The First of April @_@ I know the summary is weak and it doesn’t seem like my normal material, but trust me if you like this story you’ll also like that one—be open-minded and give it a chance!! And I’d like to dedicate the HeeroxRelena sap in this chapter to my friend and A-1 Reviewer Nikki-chan who always compliments me on my 1xR characterizations. Thanks Nikki, here’s your fluff ^_~
The Price of Redemption
By Midii Une
Hot silent tears of discouragement slid down Relena’s cheeks and lay glittering like crystal ornaments on her outspread hair before they melted away, leaving behind damp spots on her pillow.
How frightening it was to have a child. Until this day she had never understood the real tragedy of her parents’ death. She could imagine their terror now and feel how much they must have wanted to live, to be there for her and Milliardo.
The tiny life within her had transformed her from a purposeful, confident woman to a weeping, terrified wreck.
Heero. Heero had had parents too . . . perhaps he had. He had no recollection and his eyes and face masked any sadness that fact must cause him. How must they feel, what had happened to those shadowy people that they had allowed their child to be used for such a purpose? What parents could let someone steal their child’s humanity?
Another choked sob wracked Relena’s weary body. She knew she should stop tormenting herself but new maternal instincts had taken firm hold of her and her mind fixed avidly on all the things that could threaten her precious baby.
“I’m so afraid,” she whispered to the darkness.
The sound of Heero’s key card in the hotel door startled her. She wasn’t ready to share her happiness or her fears . . . Relena curled on her side and forced herself to breathe evenly, hiding herself in the pretense of sleep.
Heero winced as he eased off his shirt and let it drop soundlessly to the floor. Despite his attempts to clean up in the hospital washroom he was still contaminated with blood and sweat and grime from this horrible, endless day. He was haunted by so many things, Quatre’s hair shining in the sunlight as he tossed him his cell phone, the smeared blood on Relena’s pale wrist, the sound of his phone from behind that wall of rock. He felt so dirty but all he wanted to do was fall into the bed beside Relena and bury his face in her hair. Hair that smelled like a rainy spring day, fresh and sweet.
She had always been much stronger than he was, he had to hide his feelings behind a wall it was the only way he could fight. Dr. J had seen that . . .
He gave in to temptation and slid beneath the sheet, burying his face in the pillow, feeling the damp cotton beneath his cheek.
She’d been crying.
The puzzlement that had always overwhelmed him when it came to her washed over him like a wave of cold water. Relena hardly ever cried. Not tears of sadness anyway. She was so strong and tears from her always had the power to confuse him. Tears were a natural reaction to the day they’d all had, he concluded, his analytical brain forcing him to ponder the damp pillowcase until some theory had been reached.
Deep, deep down inside he wondered if she had cried alone before, cried when he was not there to see her do it. Did she think he would love her less if he saw her cry. A twinge of insecurity twisted in Heero’s soul as a restless movement clued him to the fact that she only pretended to sleep.
Relena felt a strong hand slide over her shoulder, gentle fingers toying with the thin strap of her nightgown. He knew she was awake, he always knew . . . she turned towards him and let him gather her close silently as she forced herself not to cry, still tears pricked her eyes beneath her tightly closed lids.
“What is it,” Heero whispered, her closeness reassuring him that she was here, she was safe, that she had been untouched by the disaster of the previous day. It was a new day, they would all start over and forget.
The sound of his voice cracked her resolve.
“Heero, I’m afraid,” she whispered in a trembling, childish voice, a tone he’d never heard her use before.
He sat up instantly and flipped on the light to examine her tear-stained face and red-rimmed eyes.
“Because of what happened,” he asked, somehow knowing that wasn’t it.
She shook her head and swallowed, it seemed there was a lump in her throat as big as the tiara she’d worn when they’d crowned her Queen Relena. Finally she raised her eyes to his and confessed.
“We’re going to have a baby,” she whispered, breaking into a torrent of fresh tears.
“And you’re unhappy,” he asked, the news not yet affecting the stoic former soldier, all he cared about at the moment was Relena’s fear and unhappiness.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It changes everything. It makes me wonder if what I’m doing is the right thing. It’s so dangerous and we have a child I’d never want to have to leave them alone. Alone like I was, like you were Heero . . . .”
He lifted her from the bed and sat with her in an armchair, cuddling her close and crooning soft words that sprang naturally from his lips, though he’d never done such a thing before.
“We were alone,” he agreed. “But it made us strong. Our child will be strong too and we will be there, I promise you.”
Her sobs subsided and he felt her lips on his neck
and her breath in his ear. Gently he
held her away from him.
”Relena, I feel so dirty, I . . .”
She smiled and jumped off his lap and back onto the king-size bed they shared. She tilted her head toward the bathroom.
“Hurry,” she urged.
The hot water streamed over his hard, muscular body, he wished it could wash away more than the blood—his own blood, Quatre’s blood, Midii’s blood-- that swirled down the drain in pale pink rivulets. Wished he could wash away his past. His child, their child would help him do that. He would be a father.
Cool air rushed into the steaming shower cubicle as the frosted glass door cracked open and Relena stepped in. Heero felt almost like purring as her gentle hands traced a pattern through the moisture on his back followed by the satisfying roughness of a loofah sponge rich with lather as she scrubbed his back.
She made him clean again, literally and figuratively and he turned his face up to the shower spray and let the water hit his face as she continued her tender ministrations, the abrasiveness of the sponge contrasting with the smooth caress of her fingers. After a while he felt her warm wet body pressing against his back; smooth wet skin gliding easily against smooth wet skin, Relena’s soft curves the opposite of his angular, muscular frame.
Heero turned to take her in his arms. She was smiling again, he would have to get used to this, the mood swings, the tears, the laughter. He pulled her close in his arms as the water battered them gently. Heero pressed his lips to her forehead reverently then trailed kisses down to the tip of her nose. She giggled as he knelt before her, water streaming from the dark brown bangs plastered to his forehead. Relena tipped her head back and braced her arms against the marble shower stall, the marble cool even as steam rose from the water. He kissed the soft skin beneath her navel and pressed his cheek against the spot, his arms holding her close.
“Aishiteru,” he whispered.
The sensation of touch was the first to return, the feel of a hand that held hers. A touch so warm and strong, gentle like a mother’s. She felt safe even in the mysterious darkness.
Cathrine tightened her hold on Midii’s hand as she felt the small, cold fingers move slightly in her grasp. She bent forward eagerly. For more than two weeks she’d sat beside her, whispering encouragement, crying a little when she was sure no one was around. Despite everything Sally said it had seemed so hopeless . . . she’d wondered if that had been why Trowa had left . . .
“Midii,” she whispered softly. “Wake up Midii . . .”
Tears sparkled in Cathrine’s sweet violet eyes. Tears of happiness and sorrow as well. It had been three days since they’d discontinued Midii’s medication. There’d been a tense moment when they waited to see if she breathed on her own when they removed the oxygen mask. She flushed as she remembered his hand stealing over to hold hers in that endless moment before the slight figure on the bed spasmed convulsively once and went slightly blue at the lips before choking in one independent breath and then another . . .
Wufei. He’d been her secret pillar of strength through it all, bringing her dinner and ordering her back to the hotel to rest with a grim look on his face. But he meant it kindly, she had the feeling that he didn’t know how to show her he cared. How she hoped that was what it meant because since that horrible day when he had kissed her, her thoughts had often wandered back to that moment. The reverent, gentle sensation of his lips on hers. A little bit of heaven on a day from hell.
So while she was happy that Midii was reacting to an outside presence at last she was also heartbroken because when she did wake up Trowa would not be there.
And she would have to tell her something.
Rain splattered the windows and summer lightning flashed through the sky briefly illuminating the darkness. It was only afternoon but the thunderclouds made it seem like it was midnight.
Trowa paused in the hallway, hurriedly shaking the excess water from his umbrella. No light shone under her apartment door. He smiled as he fumbled for the key, trying to discern with his fingers which was the key to her door and which was the key to his. Had she forgotten to pay the light bill again? Or maybe the power had gone out in this sector of the colony. It was rare, but it still happened.
She was standing by the window, fingers tracing the raindrops on the other side of the cold, fogged glass. It seemed like she hadn’t heard him come in even though he took no care to shut the door quietly, letting it swing shut with a casual push of his hand.
He watched her silently, he rarely saw her like this, quiet and sad and lost in reverie.
“Midii,” he called finally and she turned to look at him as lightning flashed outside, illuminating her face for a brief second, the shadowed impression of the raindrops appearing as tears streaking her cheeks.
She literally flew into his arms, regardless of the drenched trenchcoat that hung gracefully from his tall frame. She pressed her face into the cold, wet material and clung to him tightly.
He could feel her, the heat of her body, how she shivered as the dampness from his coat chilled her, the snug and welcome embrace of her slender arms. When she looked up he wasn’t sure if there were tears on his face or if they were only the trails of raindrops that had dripped down from his wet bangs.
“Oh Trowa,” she whispered, pressing her face back against his chest. “I’m glad you’re back. I missed you.”
He tilted her chin and pressed his lips to the cool, wet skin of her forehead, he heard the little sound of pleasure she made as he trailed kisses down the graceful column of her neck.
“Where else would I be, in weather like this,” he teased, the joke springing as much from a desire to see her smile as much as from the instinctive need of lovers to test their partner’s devotion with gentle torments.
What he was really saying was “I’ll always be here as long as you want me. Tell me you want me to stay forever . . .”
He rested his damp face on her soft, warm hair and simply held her there as the rain spattered loudly on the glass of the window and slowly the crashing sound of the lightning died away as the storm moved on.
It seemed like she was slipping from his grasp and as he tightened his embrace he whispered her name . . . Midii.
“Midii,” he whispered sleepily, his arms tightening on the pillow he held. A crash of lightning boomed and he woke up, hearing the rain pelt the glass in a sharp, staccato rhythm.
Midii stared at the ceiling as they discussed her future, a storm building in her head like the faraway sound of thunder on a hot day on Earth. She didn’t really understand, her memories were like shards of broken glass, painfully sharp when she tried to pick them up and remember what happened. The events of the last month seemed out of sequence and misty as if she watched a badly-edited movie filmed through a fogged-over camera lens.
A subject to be avoided. They wore embarrassed smiles and made excuses, especially Cathy, always Cathrine. Cathrine who sat beside her now, fiercely defensive as the lions Trowa treated as pets. Trowa. The casual drift of his name in her mind brought the storm closer and her eyes blurred as the ‘discussion’ heated up.
“We’ll go back home,” the older girl said, including them all in her glance, letting her violet gaze linger a bit longer on the sleek form of the dark-haired pilot, Wufei. “She needs rest and I can take good care of her.”
Rest, Midii, thought. She would go mad if she had to submit to Cathrine’s brand of ‘rest’ much longer. She hovered over her as she took each tentative step toward recovery, her hand always inches from her elbow when she tried to walk and an urgent and pleading expression in her eyes when she was too tired to eat ‘just one more bite.’
Heero calculated the risks of letting them return to the circus. Trowa had left much unsaid and his state of mind when he’d left had been incomprehensible to all of them. Heero thought the chances were even that if he let them go back Ichiban would find Midii before Trowa found Ichiban. With very little emotion involved in the realization, Heero knew that if that happened and something happened to Midii Trowa would kill him or he’d be forced to kill Trowa.
Quatre pushed himself out of the easy chair in the corner, his face paling and Dorothy reached out automatically but snatched back her hand. In his place she wouldn’t want to be treated as an invalid. He was fine, he’ll be perfectly fine she told herself, but her eyes never left him as he smiled in spite of the pain the effort caused him and made his way to the bed.
“Come back and stay with Dorothy and I,” he insisted, his good hand reaching to squeeze Midii’s limp one. “And Cathrine, too, of course. I know that’s what Trowa would want . . .
His voice faded and Midii wished passionately that all of them would go away and leave her alone, that they would stop saying his name. Didn’t they know how it hurt her to hear it? Hurt in a way that was purely physical.
“I gave you every chance Midii. Because I loved you. But I’m not going to listen
anymore. When I get back I’ll decide what to do about this.”
She remembered eyes that snapped green fire. Loved. The past tense. He had loved her and now, after what had happened he felt sorry for her. They were in the past.
The storm of pain was almost upon her. It stabbed white hot in her temple and her fingers rose to the small white bandage.
“Midii . . .”
Quatre’s voice was far away.
“What’s wrong . . .”
Sally let the crisp autumn breeze play with the loose strands of gold that had escaped her efficiently braided hair.
She closed her eyes and let herself slide slowly to the ground, the smooth bark of the tree she leaned against felt wonderful and she rubbed her aching back against it like a grateful cat.
A warm, fragrant waft of steam touched her cheek and her eyes flew open.
“You look like you could use a jolt, or should I just let you fall asleep here,” the low, masculine voice questioned. He didn’t say what he thought, that she looked of perfectly at home there, the soft smile on her face from the small pleasure of the night breeze and the feel of the cool, dewy grass beneath her fingers.
“Can’t sleep, I’m just taking a break,” Sally said, reaching gratefully for the coffee he offered and inviting him to sit beside her with a glance.
Anderson readily accepted, sitting close to her to avail himself of the support offered by the slender trunk of the little tree.
“What’s wrong,” he asked, sensing the nearness of the warm, slender fingers so close beside his own on the cool grass. “How’s our little miracle patient?”
Sally smiled. He was so compassionate and she appreciated his concern for her friend. Ever since he’d witnessed her bringing Midii back from the brink in that cathedral he’d stuck around. Always appearing almost magically when her spirits were flagging and needed bolstering.
“Another setback, I’m afraid. She had some type of seizure tonight, she was in a lot of pain,” Sally sighed, automatically glancing up at the towering medical facility. She had to get back in, there would be news. She smirked a bit, Cathrine would find her if she didn’t return soon anway. She was like a mother hen with one chick.
Anderson frowned. “Sounds like residual pain from the injury, maybe it’s being spurred as she’s trying to remember what happened?”
“I’m afraid so,” Sally agreed. “The tests are just a precautionary measure. But I have no idea if we can guarantee this won’t keep happening. Poor Midii . . . I-I feel so responsible, I asked her, bribed her really, to get involved in this. And now--now . . .”
“It’s not your fault,” Anderson said. “We all have a free will, you were just giving that little girl a chance to believe in herself. Now you have to follow through with your promise. It’s not too late for that.”
Her companion put a comforting arm around Sally’s shoulder as she took a deep breath and shook her head. She would not lose control.
“Thank you. You’re right. I need to do something for Midii and not just sit here feeling sorry for myself,” she said, standing up and offering a hand to the man who stared up at her with warm, brown eyes. He took the proffered hand and pushed himself up, keeping her hand in his.
“You’re a wonderful woman Sally,” he said, his voice a bit hoarse as he finally said the words he’d been wanting to say ever since he saw her in the wreckage of that blown-out building. Her compassion and strength gave her a beauty that was hard to match.
She cast her eyes down at the grass that moved softly in the cooling breeze and she shivered a little. She had always been a soldier, never really sought the admiration of men before. Well, they had always admired her for her fighting skill. But he, this man, seemed to admire her for more than that and the realization made her feel warm inside and her blood seemed to tingle slightly. It felt like she’d had too much coffee, her mind was buzzing and yet she’d only had a sip, the little Styrofoam cup he’d handed her lay spilled on the grass.
Sally took his hand and they went back in together. She felt like she had found a friend, and maybe something more.
Old instincts died hard and besides she felt so disoriented and dazed. Hadn’t she been talking to the others? Wasn’t it still daylight? Her head felt strangely empty as if the storm of pain had been a heavy weight and now that it was gone it left her light-headed and dizzy. Still her instincts quivered and her muscles tensed. Someone was there, in the darkness.
Midii kept herself still waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dark. The man’s unruly hair gleamed faintly with a black-brown sheen in the ambient light that shone under the door.
He heard her breath catch for the brief fraction of a second. He was trained to notice those kinds of discrepancies. Her breathing returned to a deep, even pattern and if he wasn’t so sure of what he’d heard he’d believe she was still asleep.
Even weak and recovering her talent was so obvious, she was good at what she did and oddly he trusted her. Perhaps Sally’s idea had merit, it could be the perfect solution.
Midii peered beneath her lids, as the figure moved restlessly on silent feet and her heartbeat steadied to a pace that matched her breathing. Her concentration distracted her from the memory of pain, from the vague, disturbing memories of Trowa and that other—Ichiban. She’d thought it was him at first, the hair was nearly the same. But her visitor didn’t have his height, though they both had the same slender build that concealed hidden strength.
What did he want?
Before the pain he had been there, silent, watchful.
As if he were assessing her.
Was this a test? Her eyes opened a bit wider, the blue-gray gleaming almost silver in the soft light. Anger and frustration tinged her emotions. How dare he watch her, judge her? She’d risked everything for Preventers’ little mission.
‘What do you want, Heero,” she whispered, her hand closing over the little box she kept in bed beside her, the nurse’s call button, the light switch all controlled from the small plastic object. She pressed on the light button, satisfied to see him startle for a brief second as the room filled with light and there was approval on that stern face before it smoothed to a blank mask again.
“Sally wanted to ask you something,” Heero said. “She wants you to work with us, at Headquarters. But I had to be sure first. Before she asked you.”
“I’m tired Heero. Tired and beyond caring what Trowa or his friends think of me. Just get out,” Midii said, turning her face away and shutting her eyes, hoping he’d leave, leave and stop tormenting her, hoping he believed she didn’t what Trowa thought. He’d left her hadn’t he? She had no choice but to stop caring. It didn’t work before, a sarcastic little voice inside taunted, you tried so hard to forget him before and it never worked, you could never forget . . .
She huffed and opened her eyes again, silencing the small voice in her heart. Heero hadn’t left. She could feel those steely eyes staring at her dispassionately.
“Well,” she said. “You don’t trust me and that’s that so I’ll ask you again. What do you want Heero?”
He turned on his heel and started to leave.
Midii groaned and sat up her curiosity piqued by his odd behavior.
“Aren’t you going to answer me,” she called.
He turned back, only partially, his angular profile revealed nothing to her scrutinizing gaze. “Maybe you aren’t as perceptive as I believed,” he said. “Maybe Sally was wrong to go to so much trouble to win you over.”
“Win me over,” Midii said, her voice puzzled. “Stop being so damned vague Yuy and tell me what you’re trying to say.”
“I’m trying to say that Sally trusts you and wants you with us on L-1,” he said. “I’m saying I don’t think she’s wrong.”
He stalked out.
Midii pressed the light switch and lay gingerly back on the bed.
They trusted her.
Trowa’s friends trusted her.
But he still didn’t.
He’d never noticed the resemblance before but an image of Trowa seemed to superimpose itself over the girl who called herself his sister. Her lanky, but voluptuously curved frame leaned casually against the wall opposite Midii’s door, her head bent forward so her auburn curls shielded her face and her slender arms were crossed beneath her breasts.
“Leave Midii alone,” she said as he passed by her, her head lifting to reveal cold and angry violet eyes.
What was in this girl’s past, Heero wondered, that drove her to be so protective of those she loved. He’d heard both Duo and even Quatre joke about her treatment of them during the war when they’d approached Trowa at the circus.
“It’s her decision and I think she’ll come to L-1,” Heero said. The words ‘I’m sorry’ seemed to linger unspoken at the end of his sentence. Her pretty face was so bereft, as if she knew what Midii would choose to do.
“Alright then,” she said finally, breaking the uncomfortable silence between them. “But I’m coming too.”
They both turned as the metal doors that connected the hospital wings swung open, Cathrine started. Was it Trowa?
She wanted it to be him so much that even though the newcomer was Wufei she couldn’t help but breathe a loud, unhappy sigh. He came to stand beside her, though he refused to betray himself and his growing feelings to Heero by taking her hand or glancing at her.
“You’re here,” Heero said, glancing at his watch. There was nothing official but between them they made sure someone was always in the hall outside Midii’s door. “I’ll say goodnight then. Oh and Wufei, it looks like we’ll be heading back to headquarters as soon as possible.”
Wufei nodded tersely but odd thoughts swirled in his brain. It seemed like a foolish decision to leave Midii and Cathrine unguarded. Cathrine. He had grown so used to seeing her face each day, hearing her voice . . . was it over? Over already?
“Midii and Cathrine will be joining us. It’s what Sally wants,” Heero tossed back over his shoulder as the doors swung shut behind him.
Her decision to stay with Midii had implications she hadn’t considered, Cathrine realized, an unconscious flush rising in her cheeks as she felt his eyes upon her wonderingly. She would still be able to see him . . . and perhaps it would happen again . . . he would kiss her.
She looked at him from under her lashes and thought she saw begrudging satisfaction on the stern warrior’s face and a little of her unhappiness was erased by the new possibilities this move opened up.
Women did not have a monopoly on gossip and teasing. Things had been very quiet lately at Preventer Headquarters in the two months since the bombing in Brussels. There was little else to do but plan mischief. The agents in the fourth floor office wing cast each other eager little glances. It would be a good laugh to set the new guy up for failure.
Diarmid Walker wasn’t an easy target however; his bright blue eyes were quick to notice that his new office mates had something planned. After the usual introductions and the traditional round of handshakes the conversation of course wound it’s way to women.
“Sure, there’s plenty of girls here but all the good ones are taken,” one man griped.
“Oh come on! There must be 1000 people working here at headquarters, tell me there’s not one good-looking girl that’s available,” Diarmid said, taking the bait. They were going to set him up for a fall eventually, better sooner than later. Once they’d had their fun he could settle in and get down to the business he was interested in, keeping the peace his brother and so many others had died for.
“Well,” another of his officemates confided, as if he were revealing a jealously guarded secret. “There is our mystery girl. No one knows much about her really, but she’s high up.” He curled two of his fingers tightly together and waved them in Diarmid’s face. “Hell, she’s like this with Heero Yuy himself and Preventer Water as well.”
“Pretty,” Diarmid asked, already guessing the answer, he was more interested in her connections with the famous Preventer Yuy, ex-Gundam Pilot. He didn’t want his career bogged down with the office help like these guys. He wanted in on the action, he wanted to go straight to the top.
“Ever see those old spy movies on TV? The ones with the outrageous adventures and the girls too beautiful to be real,” the first man queried.
“Sure,” Diarmid laughed. “I love those old spy flicks. Christ but they’re a hoot.”
“That’s what she looks like,” one of his new friends said, the others nodding agreement. “Rumor has it she even was a spy, during the war. But we’re all on the same side now. You name it, we’re all here. Ex-Alliance, Ex-OZ, Ex-Gundam pilots all getting cozy under the same roof.”
“Well, good thing it’s a damn big roof,” Diarmid joked rolling his eyes and pushing a hand through his unruly dark red hair.
“So Walker, what do you think? Think you can get cozy with our Miss Une,” a man who hadn’t spoken before said, his eyes glinting with interest and curiosity.
Diarmid’s eyes narrowed, that guy had rejection written all over his face. He knew what they all wanted to see. They wanted to see her reject him, wanted to see this Miss Une give him the cold shoulder. There was some secret they were keeping about her, he wondered what it was.
A hand clapped him on the shoulder and one of the younger agents pointed to a security vidscreen in the corner of the office. The halls were monitored to prevent any surprise attacks.
Diarmid looked up and he heard a snicker and a few sighs of commiseration as his jaw dropped and he sat down heavily in a chair. He expected to see her glance at him from the screen but of course she couldn’t know he was watching. And even if she did know would she even care? Unlikely, he thought. She was an angel, a goddess too lofty to trouble herself with the cares and desires of mere mortals. Finally he pulled his eyes away and focused on the man beside her, Heero Yuy. Walker smirked as he heard her voice for the first time, raised in irritation as she argued with the famous Preventer. He liked a woman who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
There was something about her, it pulled to him. Yes, she was beautiful but that wasn’t it. It was more of the sad vulnerability on her face that showed even as she argued heatedly with Yuy.
Was Yuy himself the reason all the others had failed? Diarmid studied the cold, impassive face. No, she was nothing to him, that was obvious.
“Fine,” he said suddenly, forcing his eyes from the screen. She was disappearing from view anyway. “I’ll ask her out. What have I got to lose?”
Diarmid thought he heard a snort of derisive laughter from inside one of the cubicles.
“What have I let myself in for,” he wondered. But the memory of the girl he’d seen so briefly on the screen strengthened his resolve. She was lonely, as lonely as he was. Her isolation was apparent from his brief glimpse of her and he wanted to break down that wall around her.
The teasing died away and Walker settled into his new surroundings, his first order of business to research Miss Une. He found himself staring at her personnel file. Not much there in the way of information. A picture, her large blue-gray eyes were cloaked and mysterious, revealing nothing. No address, no other personal information than her age: 19. When he tried to access the rest he was denied.
Next time on The Price of Redemption . . . Diarmid is surprised by Midii’s answer to his question . . . Trowa’s closer to Ichiban than he thinks . . . Wufei is happy with Cathrine’s new living arrangements.