We're on this rollercoaster ride
Hold on, I'll stay here by your side
We head up to the sky then we slide back down
Not sure if we could work it out
I wanna be alone but you feel like home
Answer the phone, I know that you're home
I wanna get you alone, and do it again, do it again
Answer the phone, I know that you're home
I wanna get you alone, and do it again, do it again
The signals all are flashing red
It doesn't matter what was said
This bed is much too big without me and you
This all seems so ridiculous
Why can't we just get over this
Don't make me say the obvious
--Answer the Phone, Sugar Ray
The Price of Redemption
By Midii Une
He felt like he was completely alone in the frozen woods and he stopped to rest momentarily and gaze up at the sky, pinpricks of artificial light approximated stars in the metallic colony canopy high above. Ingeniously the little lights, actually massive lamps that looked small from this distance, mimicked the constellations on earth. The colonies were no more than smaller copies of the home planet, complete with everything it seemed.
But he had wanted to come here, to be up with the stars. Yet here, in space, you often couldn’t even see the stars or the moon, only the metal walls of the colonies and artificial lights that gave the false impression of the celestial bodies.
Was everything in life a lie after all, Trowa thought despondently, as the cold cut through his coat and he shivered in reaction, even though his heartache dulled him from the sensation.
He had come to space to be closer to the stars, a childhood fantasy. He had come to space to escape from the hurt and betrayal inflicted on him by Midii and now here he was searching for her desperately. Wanting to find her more than he had ever wanted anything in his life. Maybe there was no chance for them to be together again. Maybe too much had happened, on both their parts for them to ever love each other like that again, with the total bliss and passion of young, first love. But he did love her and he realized he could never love anyone else, the first sight of Midii like an infection that consumed his heart.
Although he heard the voices of the others, far and distant, the sound dampened by the deep snow surrounding them he felt so alone. Without her he had always been alone. . .
Diarmid pointed his dimming flashlight at a small break in the trees. He reached a finger to touch a small tree, it’s limbs and twigs brittle with ice. At his touch more little twigs fell off easily and he shone the light down on them thoughtfully. The overhang of the trees was heavier here and it seemed like there were small pits in the snow, almost like footprints, slight hollows in the snow that grew more and more difficult to see as he stared at them.
“Midii! Please, help us find you,” he yelled, his voice thin in the cold air and seeming to die away unheard in the vast woods. He pushed through the little break in the trees that was barely a path and his foot hit against a gnarled tree root jutting up from the ground, he flashed the light down again, gritting his teeth as pain from the jarring step shot through his wounded shoulder. Automatically he lifted his hand to the wound and it came back warm and wet with blood. Still bleeding, he thought, oh shit. But there was no way they were going to drag him out of this place until someone had found Midii.
He turned, obviously she hadn’t gone this way, the path ended pretty damn abruptly. A sound tugged at his memory, her short scream that had been cut off suddenly with an awful finality. But Ichiban said he hadn’t killed her.
He moved carefully back to the edge of the rocky ravine and flashed his dying light downward, it didn’t give off much illumination in the pitch black but as the light moved over the ground, he thought he heard a soft sound, like a cry of pain or fear.
“Midii,” he called again, moving the light. “It’s Diarmid, please answer me darling.”
The flashlight died then and Diarmid stood, indecisively at the edge of the ravine. It was cold, his shoulder hurt with an incredible intensity that sent shocks of pain through his entire body, making him feel light-headed. Going down there would be like a death sentence, he’d be as lost as she was. Hell, he wasn’t even sure he’d heard something, he was listening for her so hard that maybe he’d conjured up the tiny sound.
Ichiban’s mocking voice came back to him. She would never love him, he’d said and it was probably true. But he wanted to save her and be her hero, that much was also true, because no matter how she felt he still loved her. Trying as much as possible to protect his injured shoulder, Diarmid slid down the side of the ravine into the darkness.
After catching his breath he let his eyes adjust to the darkness and he heard small movements in the snow. An animal, he thought, trying to steel himself from disappointment. Hell no, animals were smarter than humans, they were all curled up somewhere in conditions like this. He saw clouds of white a few yards away and movement, then a faint groan of pain.
“Midii? Is it you,” he called softly, not understanding who else it could possibly be and why she wasn’t answering.
After awhile there seemed to be a tiny bit of ambient light from the stars that shone through the swirling snow and he saw her, the pale gleam of her hair, her gloved hands dark against it as she sat curled up against a rock, he could see her shaking.
Ignoring the pain in his shoulder Diarmid pushed himself up from the ground and ran over to her and dropping down in the snow beside her.
“Why? Why didn’t you answer,” he asked, pulling her shaking body against his roughly as his voice cracked with anger and fear.
“You have to be quiet or he’ll find you,” she whispered raising terror-stricken blue eyes to his. “He’ll find you. He’ll find you.”
Her words trailed off and she cried in choking sobs as her body shivered uncontrollably. Diarmid pulled her closer with his good arm but he was in no condition to keep anybody warm right now. He was freezing to death himself. Trowa was going to have to be the one to save her after all, however much he hated to admit it. He wanted nothing more than to pick her up and carry her out of there himself but he couldn’t. They needed help.
He propped her against him and pulled out his gun and shot it into the air. He put his arm around her and cuddled her close again, burying his face in her hair, hair that was cold and damp from melting snow.
His hands turned her to muscles to liquid, drained her of all her strength until she was limp and relaxed. Her body was cupped in the curve of his, the two of them fitting together like a pair of spoons or two pieces of a difficult puzzle that after so much time had finally been fitted together.
Those hands were moving now as his voice murmured instructions in her ear. The humming of his words against her skin would have made her smile if she hadn’t been so completely relaxed. Strong fingers moved up her arms, pressing firmly and sending a quiver through her chest as they reached the sensitive skin where her shoulders met her neck and a tiny sigh, all the sound she was capable of making at the moment escaped her throat.
Hoooh hoooh hooooh, Heero breathed softly in Relena’s ear, resisting the urge to nibble on the delicate pink skin so close to his lips. “Three breaths,” he repeated as the soft music made her feel like she was floating, a feeling that had become alien as her body thickened and grew more ungainly with each passing day.
Hoooh hooooh hooooooh, Relena repeated as Heero’s hands traveled down the length of her arms to cradle her swelling abdomen.
The tiny person inside protested his mother’s stillness, missing the familiar motion of her usual active behavior. Relena felt his smile against her cheek as a small foot jabbed his hand through her belly and she forgot the lesson as her attention was captured by the small intruder who was soon to take over their lives so completely. She placed her hands on Heero’s and they sat in silence as the child put on an acrobatic display that would have put Uncle Trowa to shame.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Heero asked, awed by the miracle of life inside of her.
Relena shook her head. “I’ll miss it when the baby’s born. It feels so wonderful to have a real part of us growing inside,” she explained.
“Hn,” Heero said, still unable to find the words to express his feelings. But she felt them in her heart. His hand circled her abdomen, feeling the small kicks and flutters and amazingly what felt like a tiny heel digging into his palm. He was awed when he pressed gently against the baby’s tiny foot and he pressed back.
“He knows his Otousan,” Relena said, smiling softly as the Japanese word for father rose automatically to her lips. She had so much to learn to properly raise her son in both European and Japanese ways, it was a challenge she looked forward to very much.
Both of them sighed simultaneously as Pagan appeared in the doorway of the cozy little sitting room.
“I have a communication from Miss Po. It seems urgent,” the elderly butler announced, reluctantly interrupting their evening.
“We’re down here. Watch the first step, it’s a doozy,,” Diarmid shouted, trying to steady his shaking voice. She was clinging painfully to his shoulder with all her strength and it hurt like hell but he wasn’t about to push her away, he would never push her away. Trowa was back and he’d never get this chance again, he felt it with cold certainty in his heart. Trowa and Wufei slid carefully down the side of the ravine. Wufei aimed the beam of his flashlight at Diarmid and Midii.
“Midii, you’re hurt,” Trowa exclaimed pushing past Wufei, yanking off his jacket and kneeling to cover her with it. He glanced over at Diarmid, irrational jealousy heating his blood. Once again he hadn’t been the one to find her. First Quatre and now this guy who looked at her with his heart in his eyes. Why was he never there when she needed him, he wondered. Was it some ironic twist of fate that because he’d left her behind that day so long ago he’d never get the chance to prove himself to her? I wanted to find you so much Midii, he said silently, pressing his face to her snow-damp hair and feeling her shiver against him, relief at finding her alive filling his eyes with the unfamiliar wetness of tears.
“Can you walk,” he asked her as he set her carefully on her feet, wincing as he saw the blood, dark against her white face.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I can. I’m sorry,” she sobbed, not daring to look up and meet his eyes at last. Midii took a tentative step and her teeth sunk into her lower lip as her ankle buckled beneath her weight.
“Shh, it’s alright. I’m here, I have you,” he whispered, glad of the excuse to sweep her into his arms and hold her close. He shut his eyes for a second as he felt her arms twine around his neck and he rested his chin on the top of her head momentarily as she hid her face in his shoulder with a sigh.
Damn, Diarmid thought, he’d known this would happen but it didn’t stop it from hurting. What’s with these guys, what makes them so perfect, he wondered dejectedly. It seemed so unfair that Trowa’s flashlight worked and that he didn’t seem to feel the cold without his coat as he just picked Midii up like a feather in his two perfectly healthy arms. He himself felt even colder without her tiny warmth nestled against him. It made him sick to keep hearing her apologize to Trowa in her choked little voice. She had nothing to be sorry for.
Midii felt her head swim, disconcerted by Trowa’s appearance in her nightmare, she held herself tensely and clenched her eyes shut waiting for Richard to appear and shatter it all but nothing happened except for his arms tightening around as he slipped a little when climbing up the ravine. And then she was in a hazy sort of heaven, even if he was here out of duty or pity he was here, right there beside her and the familiar contentment that feeling brought soothed her terror. Nanashi, her mind repeated. In times of stress he ceased to be Trowa, Trowa was only a name he’d found after they met. In her heart he would always be Nanashi.
Trowa paused to catch his breath, he hated to admit it would have been a relief to sit down right now. It had been difficult to hold her steady as he climbed and the stiffness of her body in his arms cut to his heart. Maybe she didn’t even want him to touch her again . . . but there really was no other way although perhaps he was enjoying the bad situation too much because of the opportunity to hold her like this. He felt her body relax suddenly and she grew heavier in his arms. He called her name again.
Wufei impatiently aimed his flashlight in her face and shrugged.
“She fainted,” he said, curling his lip in derision at the weakness of women, but secretly glad they had found her. Could he have faced Cathrine again, he wondered, if he’d let something happen to Midii?
Searching blue-gray eyes met his through the window and he put his fingers up against the glass but she violently wrenched her gaze from his as the intern carefully prodded her ankle and asked how much it hurt when he did it.
“Miss,” he persisted as she stared at the people through the window out to the hall. “You need to tell me what you’re feeling. Did that one hurt? I kind of get the impression that it did.”
Midii ignored the question.
“I have to speak to someone,” she said finally, trying to swing her legs over the side of the examining table.
“Not yet. Whoever it is will wait,” the young doctor said, losing his patience with the difficult patient. “I can’t help you unless you answer my questions.”
He frowned as she continued to ignore him and focused her gaze on the group of people outside the window, before lowering her head and blinking her eyes rapidly to keep from crying.
The intern made an exasperated sound before stalking over to the window and flipping the blind shut with a twist of the cord.
“Christ,” he muttered as he noticed his patient was now perched dizzily on the edge of the table trying to get to the floor and stand. “Put your head between your knees,” he ordered as her face turned white and her eyes started to glaze over. Midii felt the dizziness recede as the blood flowed to her brain.
“I know this is a difficult time but I need you to tell me exactly why it was necessary to kill the subject instead of bringing him in for questioning,” Lady Une said, her soft voice hardening as Trowa continued to ignore her words and stare through the window and Wufei stared stubbornly at the wall as if none of it was his concern. For a long moment she examined the two young men and wished that Preventer was run by OZ, no one had dared then to hesitate when explaining their actions.
As she began to speak again the blinds to the examining room snapped shut and Trowa turned toward her dejectedly but although he was now looking at her he still stayed silent. Wufei sighed. Did he have to do everything around here?
“I realize Richard Ichiban was a valuable prisoner and we could have learned a lot from an interrogation and possibly a trial for his crimes,” Wufei said. “But you have to realize our situation. When we arrived on the scene he had shot and was actively threatening to kill Agent Walker and Trowa, I mean we, had suspicions that he had already harmed Agent Une. There was also strong reason to believe he murdered that taxi drive and those women on the Moon and the colony Trowa was investigating. I see no reason for any special investigation of the matter. There was no reason to show restraint in this case.”
Lady Une glowered, she couldn’t argue with Wufei’s reasoning yet she was still unhappy with the lost opportunity to learn more about Ichiban’s compatriots and schemes.
Trowa worried more about the closed blind than the conversation between Une and Wufei. Had she asked the doctor to do it so she couldn’t see him? Her eyes had opened when they got to the hospital and the car door opened letting in the icy cold air. Had he imagined the softness in her eyes in that timeless second as they looked into his? He’d felt they were alone in the world, everything around them fading away before the emergency room staff took her away in a confusion of light and bright noise before he could even say a word.
Midii answered the intern’s questions dully, as she tried to decipher the worry on Trowa’s face. There had been a ghost of love and concern on his face when she opened her eyes. Her mouth had been so dry and her lips seemed unable to move, she’d wanted to whisper “I love you,” but everything had happened so fast and then she was here with this man who seemed intent on torturing her.
Couldn’t he see how much she wanted him with her, she wondered. Her heart ached. Her eyes fell on her gloves, which had been tossed aside when they brought her in. The soft ivory leather was streaked with blood.
“You’re such a fool,” she thought. “Just because he helped you doesn’t mean anything. He would help anyone who needed it. That’s why you love him, why you’ve always loved him. All he feels now is obligation and pity. You ruined everything in Brussels . . .”
Maybe it had only been gratitude and he’d mistaken it for more. He couldn’t cherish that tender look in her eyes, his conscience was still cringing from the doubts he’d had about her in Brussels. The memory of their lovemaking that night when he had been angry brought red heat to his cheeks.
“I’ll talk to her later,” he thought, as he started to walk away down the hall. As he passed the door of the examining room a hand stopped him.
“If you’re leaving I think it’s only fair to warn you that I’m going in,” a voice rasped.
Trowa looked down at the belligerent shorter man whose blue eyes were determined and challenging.
Diarmid swallowed his intimidation, okay the guy was a Gundam Pilot, but he smelled fear on him. He sensed that Trowa wasn’t all that sure about Midii’s affection, there was something deeply wrong between the two of them. Sure, he wanted his chance with her but shouldn’t what she wanted be what mattered right now? It hurt to admit that she wanted Trowa but she’d been up front with him about that from the beginning.
“I’m saying very clearly that she needs someone right now and if you’re not going to be her someone I’m going to take my chances,” Diarmid said, waiting for a fist to strike his cheek or shouted words. Being met only with silence he dared to continue.
“She’s hurt and she’s scared. Don’t you have a heart? Couldn’t you see how terrified she was?”
Trowa blinked. He had been thinking so much about his own fears that he had forgotten hers. No matter how she felt or what they would be to each other now he should be with her.
“Thanks,” he said softly, putting a hand on Diarmid’s uninjured shoulder. “Thanks for everything.”
“Yeah, sure,” Diarmid whispered forlornly as Trowa disappeared inside Midii’s door. “Just call me Cupid.”
Awkward silence hung in the little room broken only by the intern’s endless questions as he wrapped Midii’s ankle in an Ace bandage and pronounced it “a bad sprain.”
The intern never knew how close he came to getting a knuckle sandwich for his midnight snack when his patient cried out in painful protest as he dabbed the scrape on her forehead with alcohol. Instead Trowa grabbed her hand and was rewarded with a smile that encouraged him enough that he kept hold of the cool little hand even when the smile faded.
“I-I’m sorry to be such a baby about this. Sorry about everything, Trowa. It’s all my fault. I’ve done everything wrong,” she whispered, dropping her eyes as the intern taped a gauze pad to her forehead.
“Midii, no,” Trowa started. He was interrupted by Sally’s sudden entrance and he stood back uncomfortably as the two girls embraced. Sally spoke soothingly and stroked Midii’s hair, inquiring whether she was really all right.
“Hmm, she’s not a very good patient,” the intern grumbled.
Sally rolled her eyes and ignored the statement.
“Welcome back Trowa,” she said, her eyes bright with relief
as she thought things would have a happy ending for these two after all. They were together on the same colony at
least, and that was a start. “You can
stay a few moments more but then we need to move her to a room. She’s staying with us overnight.”
“I don’t want to stay here. Can’t I go home,” Midii persisted, she’d spent enough time in hospitals and she felt a strange paranoia that Trowa would somehow disappear. She kept her eyes fastened on him even as she talked to Sally.
“Absolutely not,” Sally said looking up from the intern’s notes, aghast at the very thought. “Your ankle is going to need therapy and you need someone to watch you every minute. Your concussion is mild but there could be complications when we take your old injury into account. Besides we don’t want you going back out in the cold, you were near hypothermia.”
“Ouch,” Midii hissed as her friend the intern snuck up on her and gave her an injection.
“What’s that,” Trowa asked Sally.
“She needs to sleep, then we’ll wake her up in 3 or 4 hours to check her condition,” she explained.
Midii blinked, desperately trying to keep her eyes open, certain that once she closed her eyes he would leave.
“Trowa, please don’t leave,” she begged softly reaching out her hand for his again.
“Whatever you want Midii,” he promised, taking her hand in both of his.
“I don’t want to stay here,” she repeated sleepily as her eyes closed.
Darkness surrounded her, thick and heavy and she shivered and opened her eyes. There was no light only the blackness of the strange room. She struggled to move but she felt weighed down and helpless. A scream caught in her throat, coming out as a choking gasp of panic.
A dim light from the bedside table cast a meager light suddenly in the unfamiliar room and a hand caught hers like a lifeline.
“Midii. Shhhh, it’s just a bad dream. You’re safe,” a voice said. Trowa’s voice, she thought, her tenseness evaporating. She turned her head slightly to the side to see him sitting beside the bed in a chair. The mattress was so soft that she sank in deep and could barely move. She groaned and tried to pull herself up but the bed seemed to suck her in and her hands couldn’t gain any purchase on the satin-smooth Egyptian cotton sheets.
He smiled in tender amusement as he saw her difficulty and she felt his arms around her pulling her up, when the midnight blue velvet blanket and ivory satin down comforter fell away from her bare arms she shivered again, goosebumps rising on her skin. Midii looked down at herself confused as the satin strap of the pale pink nightgown slipped over her shoulder. It wasn’t hers, it seemed to be a size too big. It was all like a strange dream the occurrences of the night past seeming unreal and impossibly horrible here in the softly lit room.
Her ankle throbbed and the bandage on her forehead itched suddenly reminding her that it had all been real and perhaps this was the dream or maybe she had died back there and this was heaven. Except she wasn’t sure that she was meant for Paradise . . .
A knot formed in her stomach as she glanced at Trowa, hardly believing he was really there. It was like they were alone in the world. His hand traveled the length of her arm, his fingers warm against her cool skin.
“You’re still so cold,” he frowned, turning away and flipping a switch on the wall. A gas fireplace in the opposite wall burst into life, orange and red flames flickering warmly in the darkness.
“How do you feel,” he asked and caught her face in his hands, forcing her to look into his eyes. Trowa swallowed as he gazed into her eyes and he felt the soft texture of her skin send electric tingles through him. “How many fingers,” he asked pulling himself back, holding up three fingers of his left hand.
“Three,” she murmured, unconsciously leaning back toward his hand, missing his touch. His fingers smoothed the tape that held the small gauze pad on her forehead. If only she knew where she was, Midii thought, then she could be sure this wasn’t a dream. Could he really be here with her?
“Where are we,” she asked faintly, dreading her words would break the spell. “I remember the hospital.”
It seemed like he was blushing in the darkness and his eyes fell from her face.
“You said you didn’t want to stay there,” he admitted, peeking up at her from beneath his bangs. “So I kind of kidnapped you. Heero and Relena are letting us stay. I hacked into the hospital computer to download your records, you’re doing just fine.”
“Oh Trowa. Kind of?,” she whispered, their eyes catching for a moment before sudden shyness made them both look away. Midii giggled self-consciously.
“Sally’s going to be very angry,” she said.
“I’m sorry Midii,” Trowa said suddenly, grabbing her hand again. “I’d do anything you wanted, when you said you didn’t want to stay there, I had to take you away. After everything that’s happened I couldn’t leave you behind again. I wanted you with me.”
“But that day,” Midii stuttered, her confession was akin to pinching herself to see if she was awake. “I did lie to you, I kept secrets. This has all been my fault. I wanted too much. I didn’t deserve your trust but I wanted it anyway. I always thought if you loved me a little and wanted me that would be enough. But after awhile I wanted all of you. But I’m so stupid, I couldn’t even do that right, I don’t deserve you and I proved that. Everything you said in Brussels was right Trowa. I almost wish you weren’t being so nice to me now, it’ll hurt so much when you remember and go away again.”
Shock overwhelmed him with her words. Could she really think he would leave her now? His fingers crept up to her wrist, stroking the delicate skin of her inner arm tenderly, feeling the excited pulse beat beneath his fingers. Her skin was edged with gold in the dim light and the fire danced in her eyes. In the past it had always come to this and from long habit he leaned forward and kissed her, pushing her back into the pillows when he felt her breath quicken.
It felt like her heart was bursting, warm, happy radiance flowed inside when she felt his lips on hers. Her mouth opened and they tasted each other, she heard him sigh and it sent quivers through her mouth. She started to forget that they needed to talk as his hand found the loose strap of Relena’s nightgown, his open palm moving in slow, seductive circles on her skin and her legs trembled as he finally brushed against the loose fabric that covered her breast.
Her arms pulled him closer and he gathered her in the circle of his arms, smelling her warm, sleep-scented skin and his hand closed firmly over the swell of her breast.
“We can go back, this is just how it was,” she thought as he laid her flat and covered her body with his. “I don’t care, I asked too much, this is enough, it has to be enough, even if he never trusts me . . .
She bit back a cry as his leg jarred her swollen ankle but he felt her tense slightly beneath him and he pulled away abruptly to look at her. Tears sparkled in her eyes but her hand reached out for him, curving around his cheek and pulling him back. He turned his head to press a kiss in her palm an she closed her eyes smiling, but a tear slid beneath her lashes and rolled down onto the pillow.
“Does it hurt,” he asked, flipping back the covers and taking her foot into his lap.
“A little,” she lied, as pain radiated from the twisted ligaments. “It’s alright though,” she added, leaning forward and sliding her hand up his leg, slowly inching along his inner thigh.
He caught her hand before it reached its goal and pressed it against his chest so she could feel the rapid thumping of his heart.
“Midii, it’s so easy to get carried away but I don’t want it to be that way anymore,” he said.
Her breath caught and she pulled her hand away from his and rolled over so her back was to him, the movement made her dizzy and her ankle throbbed horrendously and a sob choked her throat. He didn’t even want her, so what was he doing here . . .
When she turned from him it broke his heart and he wanted to leave, ask Heero and Relena to look after her and just go hide somewhere. It was so hard to do this right this time, so easy to go back to how it had been . . . her shoulders shook and he gently but firmly turned her back to face him.
They looked at each other for a long silent second. Let me do this right, Trowa wished silently before leaning forward and wrapping his arms around her tightly, laying his head on her chest over her heart surprising the unhappy girl with his tenderness.
“I want us to be forever this time,” he whispered uncertainly. “To take things slow and trust each other. No more misunderstandings Midii. You have to tell me everything, I’m ready for this, for us.”
Next time on The Price of Redemption . . . Can Midii and Trowa work out there misunderstandings at last?
AN: Sometimes I feel like my fics are all just giant songfics ^_^ If you remember POR opened with lyrics from Sugar Ray’s Every Morning and it seems the fic’s gone full circle with lyrics from their new CD. Many of their lyrics are very inspirational to me, their music is so upbeat but the words really make you think and seem very appropriate to Trowa and Midii’s relationship.