Author’s Note: Some violence and kinda ‘gross’ stuff in this chapter, I kept it pretty toned down but just beware!
The Price of Redemption
By Midii Une
Midii knew she was behaving childishly. But everything that had happened over the last few months had her emotions as raw and uncontrollable as a child’s. Love and hate intermingled with confusion and desperation chipped away at her hard-won shell of cool confidence.
Right now she could barely resist the desperate urge to break something. Heero treated her like his glorified secretary. He never let her do anything resembling a real mission, it was enough to make Midii believe Heero and Sally didn’t really trust her. Maybe they had just insisted she live and work here at headquarters on L1 to keep an eye on her? Unlikely, she grudgingly decided. They wouldn’t give her such open access to the Preventer database unless they trusted her. Heero meant well. Cathrine meant well. But they were smothering her.
“And what do you mean Trowa,” she asked the silence, sitting in the desk chair and spinning it slowly with her feet. Midii closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself, remembering the feeling of being rocked in his arms. Tears threatened and she made herself hate him to ward off the overwhelming pain. He hadn’t contacted her since the last time she’d seen him in Brussels. He was cold and heartless, he didn’t care whether she lived or died, she would probably never see him again.
“Please understand, Midii. He needs time,” the soft voice of Sally always insisted, it played back in her mind like a comforting mantra. But the words were starting to lose their power to make her feel better. Everybody insisted he would come back, that he cared about her. But no one would tell her when this was going to happen and why he never called or where exactly he was.
Midii smiled sadly, the love and pain slowly overtaking the anger and hate. She saw her own petulant child’s face and the blank stare on his when she tried to reach him when they first met. He was complicated, her Trowa, even now she didn’t understand him. But what had provoked her to hate and envy as a child had long since been replaced by the compelling love that had always been in her heart for him and him alone. She wanted to see him again and yet she was afraid too. The man she’d last seen hadn’t been the Trowa who had been her lover for months. He’d been Nanashi again seeing only what he thought of as her betrayal and not the reasons behind it. She had let herself forget in those warm, sweet days together how he could be.
Tears sparkled and clung to her lashes but she defiantly wiped them away with the back of her hand before they could fall. Could they ever fix things? Should they even try? Destiny seemed set against them. Maybe if they would let her do more than ‘creative computing’ and actually let her go on a mission, she could start to forget. But all Trowa’s friends, her friends now she supposed, wanted to shelter her from the world. They had good reason, she was still prone to overwhelming headaches that came over her without warning since the bombing. And Richard was still out there.
He was her excuse and Trowa’s. It always circled back to Trowa. The argument with Heero, her anxious restlessness. Midii didn’t know how long she could play this role without him.
A tentative knock rattled her office door in its frame and she glanced up at the video security and frowned. A stranger, a stranger who wore a look that was too familiar.
“Come in,” she sighed. A distraction was a distraction and if she thought about Trowa or Richard or her unhappiness with her job any longer, she’d be sure to get another headache. Then Heero would say “I told you so” and Cathy would fuss and make enough soup to feed a goddamned army.
“Can I help you,” she asked.
“Sorry,” he said, bright blue eyes flashing with a combination of mischief and admiration. “I thought this was Sally Po’s office. My mistake.”
She scowled at him in disbelief. What a lame line.
Shit, Diarmid cursed silently, she was a tough cookie to crumble, he had to look long and hard to find the vulnerability he’d seen on that video screen.
“This isn’t Sally’s office, she’s the chief, she has the penthouse office. You know the one with all the windows and the brass plate on the door that clearly reads Sally Po,” Midii said, feeling uncomfortable under his intense scrutiny. It was if he was trying to see inside her soul. She was a young woman who guarded her true self jealously, it was a protective measure and an important part of what she did for a living.
He grinned at her disarmingly.
“Okay, I’m lying,” he confessed, sitting casually on the edge of her desk and looking down on her. “And I do need your help.”
Diarmid thought he saw a flicker of compassion in the wide blue eyes. Perhaps he had a chance and honesty was the best policy after all. He wanted to show those fourth-floor blowhards that he could do this and he wanted to be with her. She raised a slender eyebrow and folded her hands signaling her impatience with his game.
“I’m new, at least to this office,” he continued, watching her hopefully for signs of weakness. “I transferred from Earth headquarters. It seems I’m the victim of a little scheme here and I’m afraid the gentlemen, and I call them that lightly, in my office have involved you …”
“That’s enough,” Midii said, standing. Nice try, she thought, a tiny smirk curving her lips. “Please leave. There are a lot of reasons I don’t see anyone from the office and none of them are any of your business.”
“Please Miss Une,” he persisted. “Have pity on a poor lonely newcomer. I just want to be your friend, on my honor.”
She smiled unwillingly as he crossed his heart to make his promise.
“Well, perhaps . . .” Midii started.
She shook her head. No, this wasn’t right.
“I can’t really,” she protested, letting her eyes really look at him. When had she ever seen eyes like that, cheerful blue eyes full of nothing but admiration and wanting nothing from her but her time? Eyes that didn’t judge. Her heart beat nervously and painfully, these thoughts were treacherous. Trowa had every right to be angry and suspicious after all she’d put him through. It was her fault he had left her behind again, all her fault, as it always had been.
Diarmid watched her face, it was almost like she had physically left the room, she was so lost in her thoughts.
“Okay,” he said. “I know I’m presuming too much. I haven’t even introduced myself. What do you even know about me?”
“I just …”
He cut her off again and she couldn’t help but smile again, it was odd to be the one who couldn’t get a word in.
“My name’s Diarmid Walker,” he said finally sticking out his hand. She hesitated and held out hers, feeling her fingers engulfed in a warm, strong grip.
“I’m Midii Une,” she said.
His eyes widened a little in remembrance and recognition.
“You were in that accident in Brussels,” he said, still holding her hand. “The one they called a miracle.”
She pulled her hand away and turned from him. “I think you should leave,” she said.
“Please Midii,” he said. “Can you give me a break? It would mean so much to me? Okay, I understand dinner’s out, maybe lunch is out too?”
He took a deep breath. “Can you resist coffee and cinnamon rolls? The ones from the bakery across the street? I’ve been told I pull off a mighty fine breakfast delivery.”
He was persistent, this Diarmid Walker. Maybe a cup of coffee here at the office couldn’t hurt, you had to know when to cut your losses, she thought and besides, she was growing tired of putting him off, lately she seemed to tire of everything so easily. He wasn’t the type to take no for an answer and overnight she could think of a way to put him off. Hmmph, a small voice inside suggested, just have Heero pop in for a second. He’s enough to intimidate anyone.
“Alright,” she said, turning back and shrugging.
He stifled the urge to grab her around the waist and spin her around in celebration and yell Thank you, Thank you. He could almost feel what it would be like to see her strawberry-streaked blonde hair twirling around her and a genuine smile on that pretty face. But touching her now would be fatal. Still he couldn’t help flashing her a huge grin and his heart raced when she couldn’t resist a small smile in return.
“Well then,” he said. “Only one question left and I’ll leave you alone Midii. I can call you Midii,” he asked.
“Orange or cranberry,” he asked.
She looked puzzled.
“Juice,” he prompted.
“Oh, neither. Grapefruit,” she said as he disappeared, closing her door gently behind him.
She lay on a blanket of blood-red roses, the petals soft as velvet, covering the bed in a liquid, silken mass. The bright blonde hair that spread over the crimson petals was brassy, obviously dyed. But the customer wanted a blonde and what the customer wanted, the customer always got.
“Beg me,” he whispered, his teeth grazing the delicate skin of her flat stomach. “Say ‘Richard, please don’t.’”
She tangled her hand in his lush, gleaming brown hair and caught her nails, shining with hot pink nail polish in his thick locks.
“Richard, please don’t,” she said, tugging at his hair and half-heartedly trying to pull him away, his lips on her skin and his rough hands yanked hers away and circled her wrists painfully.
The golden eyes narrowed, examining her with disapproval. The man’s eyes burned with cold intensity that bordered on obsession and her fear became more genuine and her false struggles took on a note of real urgency.
The little whore was a poor substitute with her hackneyed and false French accent and her gaudy makeup. Richard shut his eyes and nuzzled her neck, breathing in the lavender scent he’d insisted she douse herself with.
“Midii,” he groaned.
Blood, warm and liquid, flowed over his long, slender fingers to mingle with the scarlet petals and this time there was no remorse. None at all. He owed Miss Midii Une a debt and it would be paid.
The living arrangement was working out rather well after all. As long as Midii didn’t attempt cooking and Cathy didn’t attempt decorating life was fairly harmonious.
Still it was nice to be alone, Midii thought, staring out at the apartment window at the stark colonial skyline. The designers of this colony had been into science fiction. Some colonies did their best to mimic Earth but the founding fathers of this one had lived out their fantasies of creating a wildly-futuristic technological dream.
She thought it was hideous.
Black, white and steel gray dominated the landscape and even the trees and shrubs, where they existed at all, were strictly fashioned topiaries. Midii turned from the window and let her gaze slide to the trompe l’oeil mural she was attempting on the pantry doors. She moved closer to the little scene that portrayed a view of the French countryside. A very particular French countryside.
“I’m not very good,” she muttered, smiling at herself derisively. But to her this view was better than the one the window provided. Her hand reached out and she touched the painted ropes of the swing that hung from an ancient tree. She rummaged in the cupboard beneath the sink and pulled out a little bottle of lilac-colored paint and a tiny brush then sat cross-legged before the doors dabbing on color and creating a blooming lavender field.
The view from her bedroom window at home, the memory of the happiest time of her life . . .
“Trowa,” she whispered, her mind wandering and her eyes going slightly unfocussed. If only he would come through that door right now. She smiled a bit and told herself she could be a bit more outrageous with her wishes, this was a fantasy after all. If only she could open her eyes and be there now, home on Earth, in France, with the sweet smell of grass around her and the breeze on her skin as she sat in her swing. If one gazed hard enough they could almost see the ocean from the little hill where the house sat and he would find her there as he had before. It was autumn now and they could go inside and he would build a fire and she would pour the wine and then the warm touch of his fingers on her face . . .
“Midii! Where are you? I’m back,” Cathrine’s voice called out.
Midii hastily rubbed her paint-smeared hands down the legs of her worn jeans and rubbed the sleeve of her shirt over her eyes, they were misty with dreams and a few unshed tears.
“Right here,” she croaked, her voice a little hoarse. “Umm, right here,” she called again, clearing her throat and peering over the countertop. “How was dinner? Didn’t he want to come in?”
Cathy beamed and shook her head. “I would say he’s shy but that isn’t really it,” she said, flopping on the couch and snuggling a small velvet pillow with silky fringe. “He’s just unsure of himself still. But yes, dinner was wonderful.”
“That’s true,” Midii agreed, sinking into a chair opposite Cathrine. “I would never consider describing Mr. Chang as shy.”
She peered sharply at her friend and Cathy had to smile at the reappearance of a mischievous grin she hadn’t seen on Midii’s face in months.
“Do you have anything to tell me? Perhaps a small confidence to share,” Midii questioned, her eyes sparkling as she tucked her legs underneath her and bounced slightly on the cushion.
Cathy smiled back, the expression on her face suddenly shy, but definitely radiant.
“He kissed me good night!”
The violet eyes danced joyously as she let her mind drift back to the last few moments with him. She saw again the lean, handsome face almost grim with determination but the soft look in his eyes had made her heart beat with slow, hard pulses as he leaned toward her.
Suddenly Midii frowned and her face lost its glow. “Why do you suppose he wouldn’t come up? Maybe it’s me? Oh, Cath, I’m so sorry. I’m in your way.”
Cathrine’s face softened.
“Don’t say that Midii,” she protested, realizing herself that it was Wufei’s respect for her and his sense of honor that had their relationship moving at such a snail’s pace. It had nothing to do with Midii’s presence. “I came here to be with you, to take care of you. There’ll be time enough for Wufei and I to work on our relationship. Trowa will be back soon . . .”
“Did he call you,” Midii questioned, her voice a bit bitter as she squashed Cathrine’s attempt at reassurance. “Have you even heard from him?”
“I’d tell you right away if he called,” Cathy said, feeling a bit uncomfortable. Trowa was coming back, she was certain, but still his long, silent absence was starting to make her nervous . . .
She changed the subject.
“Did you eat something?”
Midii shook her head.
“Actually, I’m really tired,” she whispered, standing quickly and rushing out of the room.
Cathrine bit her lip and stared at the closed door listening to the muffled sobs coming from behind it.
Duo took a deep breath as he walked down the hall at Preventer Headquarters looking for Heero. Beneath his arm a huge and solemn-faced teddy bear with black button eyes resided and Duo grinned in anticipation of waving it in front of Heero’s face. Whenever he visited he brought along a particularly obnoxious gift with which to torment the Papa-to-be. This particular bear was covered in long, fuchsia-colored fur and would take up a great deal of floor space in the Yuy nursery. Duo’s grin widened but his thoughts of teasing Heero were swayed by an enticing smell coming from the end of the hall, a warm, spicy, breakfast smell that was a combination of cinnamon, sugar and coffee.
Hell, Heero wasn’t gonna be offering him any breakfast after the bear stunt, Duo thought, adjusting the unwieldy toy under his arm and damn that stuff smelled good. He followed his nose until he came upon a forlorn young man about his age sitting on the floor outside a locked office door.
Duo’s violet gaze flicked up to the small nameplate on the door. Midii Une. He sighed. What are you getting into now Trouble, he thought, his eyes sharply scanning the dejected Preventer who waited with stubborn patience. This guy needed some friendly advice.
“Listen pal,” he started, smirking as the man examined him, giving him the look he often got when people met him the first time. Okay, so he was a trip on first acquaintance. Well, Shinigami prided himself on being different. “She ain’t coming in today. She’s not the most reliable chick y’know, health problems, emotional problems and all. Oh yeah, and one other really big problem.”
Diarmid raised an eyebrow at the babbling American. Who the hell was this guy?
The teddy bear fell to the floor in an ungainly heap as Duo stuck out a hand. Walker got awkwardly to his feet and shook the offered hand, a quizzical look on his face.
“Duo Maxwell,” the brown-braided young man said, smiling as recognition flashed over the other man’s face. “Nice to meet ya! For some of what you’ve got in the bag there and one of those coffees you can walk down the hall with me and I’ll tell you a little secret about Trouble.”
“Errr, Trouble,” Walker repeated, glancing at Midii’s closed door. He might have known her acceptance of his invitation yesterday was too good to be true.
He trotted along beside Duo until they came to a framed picture directly outside Lady Une’s office. It was an awe-inspiring portrait of five pilots posing in front of a mobile suit and holding space helmets, all in Preventer uniform. Walker recognized Heero Yuy and Duo, the guy he was with, right away. All the others were familiar looking too--the Gundam Pilots.
“What does this have to do with anything,” he asked, looking at Duo as if he were slightly crazy.
Duo shook his head, there was something like sympathy in his face. He punched the painted shoulder of the tall pilot on the left, the one who peered solemnly out from under auburn bangs.
“That’s my buddy The Silencer,” Duo said softly. “Some things are meant to be y’see and people shouldn’t mess with that kind of thing, no matter what the temptation.”
Diarmid saw, he saw very clearly. This was Midii’s boyfriend. The Silencer. Shit, what a nickname. The guys in the office must be laughing their asses off right about now.
Quatre massaged the palm and fingers of his left hand over his knee, pressing hard trying to feel something. Maybe there was something there, the rough sensation of cloth beneath his palm. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. He looked down at his hand and then closed his eyes tightly in concentration. Move, he thought, wished, prayed. Sweat popped out on his creased, pale forehead and the fingertips jerked ever so slightly. Then the fingers of his right hand slid over the ivory keys before him in a practiced move that sent a hint of melody soaring through the acoustically perfect conservatory.
He would have it all back, all the feeling and dexterity, in time. But for now his hand still felt numb and clumsy. Hesitantly he lifted the nerve-damaged fingers and touched the keys, wincing at the jarring sound that his touch evoked from the instrument.
“Sorry,” he whispered, the word coming automatically to his lips, it just made him feel apologetic to hear such an awful sound coming from such a beautiful piano.
Dorothy paused silently in the doorway. He was so brave and what he bore so tolerantly only made her angry, the whole situation made her want to rail at the unfairness of it all.
He could have been a world-class pianist, he could have been so many things but war had made him this, a wounded ex-pilot. It was an eye-opening experience to Dorothy who had hidden the reality of conflict behind the glorious outer trappings of battle. There was so much beneath the surface. So much loss, so many possibilities crushed by the reality of what war did to people.
She snorted, now she was beginning to sound like Miss Relena.
Quatre’s unfinished tune played in her mind, she knew it, though she hadn’t touched a piano since Papa died. He’d been the one to insist on her lessons and when he’d died she’d refused to play again. She’d only done it to please him and her disobedience had been like a tribute to his death. Yet now her fingers tingled to make music. For Quatre.
Wordlessly she slid next to him on the piano bench and began to play. A simple tune, a beginner’s melody yet he looked at her, awed. The warmth of simple happiness flooded her cheeks as she felt him lay his head on her back while his left arm hugged her waist and his fingers tugged gently but awkwardly at her hair.
He was getting better. They would have it all back again.
Duo’s warning flew out the window when Midii came back to work a few days later. Walker accepted her terse, but vaguely timid, apology wholeheartedly.
“You sure you should be back here,” he questioned, she was pale and her eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed.
She groaned and he saw her smile. “Not you too! My roommate, my friends, everyone treats me like I’ll break in a strong breeze.”
He held up his hands in apology and smiled. “Okay, not another word. I promise. But I’m sure your friends are only worried about you.”
Midii adopted a perky grin and giggled raising her shoulders and shrugging cutely, she hadn’t spent all that time with Cathy for nothing. Then she sighed as Diarmid eyed her strangely.
“Sorry,” she apologized. “I love my roommate truly, but she wants to drown me in soup!”
“I had an Irish mother myself,” Walker laughed. “She believed in meat and potatoes. That would be my prescription for you.”
He reached out to casually touch her slender arm but she moved out of reach effortlessly and he pulled back the offending hand, making it seem as if he’d never really reached out at all.
“Well,” Midii said. “I truly am sorry about the other day.”
Trouble. Emotional problems, health problems, and personal problems with some scary-looking Gundam pilot who had eyes like ice. He didn’t care. That something in her eyes that touched his heart more than her looks was still there and bigger than before. She was hurting deep inside.
He’d gone back to stare at him, at Trowa Barton. He looked so cold, like he was more fighting machine than man. Did he open up for Midii, did he smile for her? Was his touch warm and gentle?
“Can we try again,” he asked. “Dinner tonight? No soup, I promise.”
She smiled slightly. He caught on quickly. But she shook her head. “No I promised to only work half a day and if I don’t come home on time Cathy will come down here and drag me back for a nap. But I do feel badly about this. Would you like to go for coffee tomorrow morning?”
Walker frowned. “I sure would love that Midii darling,” he said, struggling to keep his voice smooth and jovial. “But I’m leaving on a mission tomorrow morning. But, if you’ll let me say so you really look like you could use that coffee right about now.”
He was surprised when she nodded, and he was infatuated enough not to notice that her interest had increased when he used the word mission.
Midii debated to herself but she couldn’t find an angle to look at this that made the situation fair. He was a rookie, had never been on a mission of any kind, and had always been an office agent. And they were sending him on a mission!
She would have been perfect, she thought in irritation, staring at Heero’s office door. He was out. Relena had an ultrasound scheduled later and he had just taken the entire day off.
“Baby Yuy, you’re a very convenient child,” Midii whispered, hacking the code into Heero’s office. If she could only get a look at the mission details . . . she moved quietly into the dim room and breathed a sigh of relief when she made it to the comfortable leather chair behind the desk.
She almost screamed when the laptop in front of her flared to life all on it’s own.
“Trowa,” she breathed, her face pale as she stared at the image on Heero’s vidscreen. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest. She hadn’t seen Trowa since he’d shut that closet door, she could still envision the anger and betrayal in his eyes. Involuntarily she stiffened and pressed herself against the back of Heero’s chair.
Trowa was speechless. What was she doing in Heero’s office? Still, to see her again . . .the longing for her he had suppressed for months struck him like a blow. Midii . . .
She closed her eyes briefly as if it hurt her to see him and her face was white and dismal. Her eyes opened and focused on him again. He had so much to say, he didn’t know how to start. “I love you, I’ll come home right now if you want me. I miss you. I need you.”
He said none of those things.
“Is Heero there,” Trowa managed to ask, as Midii sank further down in the chair and put her fingertips to her right temple, shutting her eyes momentarily again. Her eyes opened and she stared searchingly at Trowa for a second before answering.
“He’s at home,” she said softly, “I’ll connect you straight through.”
She pressed a button and Trowa disappeared, his call forwarded to the private line in Heero’s home office. Midii lay her head on her arms, her head was throbbing. Dammit, she cursed, I thought I was done with all this. Hot tears of hurt pricked her eyelids, after all this time he had nothing to say to her and yet seeing him had meant so much.
“I love you Trowa,” the words sprang to her lips automatically and emerged as a soft whisper. She wished she had kept him on the line longer. Maybe he would have said something . . . she groaned and stopped thinking of Trowa, the pain of the headache overwhelming her senses. She reached for her purse and spilled the contents sloppily on Heero’s desk, looking for her prescription.
“Dammit,” she cursed, she’d left them at home, it had been almost a month since she’d had an attack, but now it was back full-force, blinding white-hot pain that made thought or movement impossible.
“Are you all right,” Diarmid asked, he’d seen her sneak into Yuy’s office after he left her and his curiosity had gotten the better of him. Midii could barely lift her head but she sensed him kneeling beside her chair and felt his hand on her arm. She couldn’t even protest his touch.
“A headache,” she muttered through gritted teeth. “I get them since . . .”
Her words were cut off by a soft moan of pain.
“Should I get you to a doctor,” he asked, even through the haze of agony she could sense the concern, the worry. Her guard against him dropped, it felt good to have someone care, she couldn’t even function. She needed him.
“No, I have pills at home,” she whispered. “But, I don’t think I can drive.”
“That’s obvious,” he said. “I’ll take you home. You’ll be alright.”
He helped her stand and she swayed on her feet, her head pounding mercilessly as she moved.
She was a mess, she could barely stand. Something must have brought this on, she had been fine when he’d seen her in the hall moments ago. Diarmid lifted her slight figure in his arms, half-expecting her to protest his familiarity but she laid her head trustingly on his shoulder her arms going around his neck.
“It’s okay sweetheart,” he whispered, her gesture tugging at his heartstrings. “I’m here. I’ll always be here.”
Lord, he thought, staring down at her pale face, she felt so right in his arms he never wanted to let her go. She was the loveliest girl he’d ever seen. He’d thought of giving up, she obviously wasn’t interested. But she needed him, he saw that now. She’d been alone too long with no one to count on. Even Trowa had proven he couldn’t be counted on when she needed someone most. But he would be, he’d make her see that. He brushed his lips softly over her clammy forehead. I could fall in love with you Midii darling, he thought as he carried her to his car. He didn’t want to think what it would mean if he already had.
The man at the counter had been there a long time. So long that the waitresses on duty at the all-night coffee shop had changed shifts.
Molly was a rookie, she’d only worked there a few weeks. And the new hires got the roughest shift. Midnight to 8 am. Still, a job was a job and she was innately cheerful so the odd hours didn’t bother her much. She was a lot luckier than some of the people who came in for coffee at this time of night. At least she had a better place to be, home with her family. They needed the money, though, and that was why she worked this job. She smiled softly at the thought of her younger brothers, asleep in their beds, their soft blonde hair and sleep-flushed cheeks. The people who came in probably didn’t even have that much.
The man at the counter kept catching her eye, although she couldn’t see much of him beyond the color of his hair. He studied the countertop as if it held some type of answers that would mend his broken heart.
She smiled wryly at the thought. How do you know his heart is broken, she asked herself. It was obvious, her own heart answered, you could tell just by the way he held his shoulders and didn’t look around or meet anyone’s eyes. He wasn’t the type who should be in a place like this alone.
“Refill,” she asked softly, receiving the barest of nods.
Molly turned away, brushing a strand of golden hair back behind her ear and digging a hair clip out of her pocket to hold back the stubborn locks that were always falling forward. She started measuring out scoops of coffee beans to refill the grinder.
The irritating grinding noise broke through Trowa’s self-imposed solitude, he glanced up and for a moment he saw Midii there behind the counter. Her hair was long again, the familiar golden color, like a dream of when they had been happy together, the soft waves falling nearly to her waist. Except Midii would never have been caught dead in a blue polyester waitress’s uniform, a small smile curved his mouth at the thought of her distaste. Somehow she’d always found a way to live as elegantly as she could on her small salary, even at the expense of lights and even food. Memories of their life together assailed him, she was candlelight and silk; fine wine and satin sheets; love and passion. He missed her so much but he could never go back.
His eyes were drawn to the girl again, she had turned and he could see now that her resemblance to Midii was a product of his imagination and the color of her hair. The waitress had a sunny, open smile and she leaned unselfconsciously on the counter in front of him. She’s probably never told more than a little white lie her whole life, Trowa thought, mesmerized by the honesty of her sweet face.
“Can I get you something else,” she asked. Molly had checked his bill, he’d only had coffee, nothing to eat. “Come on,” she tried again, after he shook his head. “We’ve got great chicken soup here, homemade. I bet you’ve never had anything like it.”
“Sure,” Trowa said, he felt almost obligated to eat when she put it that way. She sounded so much like Cathy and his heart ached for her as well as Midii. At least they’re together, he thought, and probably Cathy wanted him to come back although Midii obviously wanted him to stay away. Her pained expression when she’d answered his call in Heero’s office haunted him, he’d wanted to project himself through the screen and hold her. But she’d been so cold, so distant and her voice had been strained and polite. As if he were a stranger.
Diarmid carefully lifted the damp cloth off Midii’s forehead. She was finally asleep, it had taken those damn pills way too long to take effect, he thought in irritation. He’d been ready to track down Sally Po and drag her to Midii’s apartment by those braids of hers and make her help her, but then she’d finally fallen asleep, the pained look replaced by a calm, angelic expression.
It almost hurt his heart to look at her delicate beauty and think of all that life had put her through. Let me in Midii darling, I can make you happy again, he thought, his hand tracing the lines of her face with a touch he wouldn’t dare if she were awake. She tolerated him as a friend but he knew she’d freeze up if he crossed her invisible line. Right now she was still clinging stubbornly to the belief that she and Trowa had something.
But Diarmid was philosophical, he’d take what he could get and someday she’d realize that that perhaps that Gundam pilot wasn’t the only man who could make her happy, that maybe she deserved more than love tainted by guilt and distrust. He looked at her sleeping face tenderly. Did Trowa Barton see what he did? That hers was a sweet and badly wounded soul that needed love and forgiveness. No, Diarmid decided, he couldn’t see because if he did nothing would keep him away from her side. Childhood dreams died hard, but he would be persistent and he would always be there for her.
He was so lost in his thoughts he didn’t hear the door open, but he heard the voices in the other room. The soft, cheerful voice that could only be Midii’s roommate Cathy and a vaguely familiar whisper. When he recognized it, he barely choked down a laugh. Chang Wufei, the ominous Preventer, had a sweetheart? Picturing Wufei whispering and cuddling with any woman was nearly unimaginable, he put up such a stoic and stern front. He also had the feeling this Cathy wasn’t going to be happy to find a stranger in Midii’s bedroom that was for sure, but he didn’t want her waking Midii up either, after the medicine had finally put her to sleep.
Here we go, he thought, stepping out of Midii’s bedroom and closing the door behind him softly.
Walker went down in a heavy, awkward heap as he was tackled from behind by a lithe but hard-hitting assailant. The cold metal of a gun barrel pressed painfully against his temple with obvious intent.
“Whoever you are you’d better have a damned good reason for being here,” the soft voice hissed. The weight on his back that held him in place on the floor, a floor, which he oddly noticed, was meticulously clean, shifted as a slender figure brushed past them and hurried into the bedroom.
“Cathrine! Stupid onna, wait for me before running into a dark room,” the assailant grumbled, hauling Diarmid to his feet and following her inside.
A girl with auburn curls bent anxiously over the bed. “I think she’s just asleep,” she said, her voice shaking with relief. She left the room and closed the door softly behind her.
Her calm escaped her as she turned on the stranger and fisted her small hand in his shirt as Wufei held him. A nearly invisible smirk of pride twitched Wufei’s lips at her reaction before he hid it again under a stern professional mask. How dare an intruder come into his woman’s apartment!
“Who are you,” Cathrine demanded. “If you’ve hurt Midii I’ll get my knives and skewer you. I can do it too! I’m a professional.”
Diarmid finally found his voice.
“I’m from Preventer,” he said. “You’ll find my ID in my wallet, in my jacket, on the couch.”
Cathrine dug through the jacket pockets and turned up the promised ID and Wufei reluctantly turned the intruder loose, albeit he kept a suspicious eye pinned on him.
“What happened,” Cathrine asked, glowering darkly at the interloper. Could it be that Midii was giving up on Trowa? She couldn’t. He needed her, he would realize it soon and come back to them both. “Why are you here? You aren’t seeing Midii! She’s waiting for Trowa. You should know she loves Trowa. Just leave her alone!”
“Trowa,” Diarmid shot back, “is the whole reason I’m here. She saw him this afternoon and it brought back the headaches. She couldn’t even drive. I stayed with her till the pills knocked her out.”
“Where did she see Trowa,” Cathy asked, peering around the room as if her brother might pop out from behind the couch or a chair.
“She was working in Heero’s office when he called in his weekly report,” Diarmid said.
“Has he tracked down Ichiban yet,” Wufei asked, standing beside Cathrine and placing an arm around her waist.
Diarmid shook his head. “I checked in with Preventer Yuy, I figured he’d be upset that she ‘borrowed’ his office. He said there was no progress.”
“Oh,” Cathrine said, disappointment evident in her voice. “Then he’s not coming back anytime soon? I don’t understand why it has to be Trowa to go on this mission. He should be here with us. He’s done enough already.”
“Yes, he has,” Diarmid said, unable to keep a note of sarcasm from his voice. “It is his choice to be on this mission although I can’t totally fault him. I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t like a crack at that bastard Ichiban myself.”
“How is Midii,” Cathrine said, glaring at the interloper. “Did you give her the right number of pills? Is she asleep.”
Diarmid nodded and Cathrine sighed. “Thank you then, for bringing her home. You’re right that she shouldn’t drive when she has the attacks,” she said, justice forcing her to apologize for her earlier reaction.
“It was no problem,” Diarmid said. “I care about her and I’ll be her friend or whatever else she needs in spite of your opinion Miss Bloom.”
Cathrine glared at the door, which shut softly behind Diarmid.
Wufei looked at the door too. Trowa should come back, he thought, or he’d find himself alone. Women were fickle creatures and Walker seemed determined to make Midii change her mind. His fingers slid lovingly over the smooth skin of Cathrine’s slender wrist, before he shook himself out of his sentimental reverie.
“I should go,” he said, noticing Cathrine was impatient to check on Midii. “I’ll call you.”
Cathrine smiled and gave Wufei a smacking kiss on the lips. “Good night,” she whispered in his ear, pressing herself against him. “I had a wonderful time. But I really want to go sit with Midii and be sure she’s alright. Thank you for understanding.”
She sighed and rested her head on his chest, enjoying the feeling of his arms around her a moment longer.
“Trowa is coming back,” she said, more to herself than Wufei. “He just has to. They love each other so much.”
I leap from depths Shakusen no
of debt into the skies: fuchi kara tenjo
autumn of the dragon. tatsu no aki 
Trowa brushed his hair out of his face and peered at the little card found among the roses. The roses that were withered and wilted but still gave off a delicate, if musty, flowery scent. It was barely there, an undertone to the horrific and fetid stench that filled the room.
The smell lingered and stuck in his throat but he fought back the natural nausea that occurred even in someone that had seen and done all that he had in his years as a soldier.
He had to look; he had forced his way into the investigation with his Preventer’s credentials. The discovery of the haiku had piqued his interest in what seemed a typical murder case. Prostitutes got murdered in the line of ‘duty’. It was a hazard of the job. Typical except for the poem and the obvious expense the killer had undertaken to set up just the right atmosphere. His gut clenched as he heard the investigators compare the scene to a recent murder that had taken place on the Moon. Could it have been at the same time Ichiban had hidden there?
“Listen pal, Preventer orders or no, we gotta get that dead chick outta here. This place is rank,” an impatient police officer prodded.
Trowa swallowed but could get no moisture worked up in his cotton-dry mouth. All he could see was the long blonde hair streaming over the curled brown rose petals.
Cathrine scowled and flung an arm over her face. She’d fallen asleep on the couch without pulling the blinds and the artificial sunlight was pouring into the room as bright as a lighthouse beacon.
She stumbled off the couch and yawned, stretching the kinks out of her back, but her scowl remained. Imagine the nerve of that man, that Walker person, putting the moves on Midii. She shook her head, poor Midii, they’d been hoping the headaches had gone away. She’d better take a peek and see how she was.
Her soft violet eyes scanned the room in shock and sleepy disbelief. She was gone. She looked at her watch. 6:45 am. Midii and 6:45 am was an unheard of combination
She was gone.
Next time on Price of Redemption . . . Being a field Preventer isn’t an easy task . . . Trowa plays the clown . . . Is it that easy to kill Richard Ichiban?
Author’s Note: Need a Trowa/Midii fluffy citrus fix? Please go read Au Revoir I really need feedback on that fic!!
 Ichiban’s death haiku was found at this site: http://www.geocities.com/TokyoFlats/1120
I’m running out of good ones so if there are any poets reading this why not submit your haiku to me for use in this story?? I’ll give you full credit in the story of course. Deadline May 14, 2001. Send to MidiiUne@gundamwing.org Til’ next time!!