November 25, 2000-September 2, 2003
The conclusion of POR is made possible by and is dedicated to:
The Spy and The Silencer Mailing List. Happy Third Anniversary!!
The Price of Redemption
Epilogue Part Three
By Midii Une
Duo slunk down in his chair and pulled his black-billed hat low over his deep purple eyes. Hilde and Dorothy stared at the closed door, owl-eyed with a combination of curiosity, apprehension and impatience.
The two very different girls found themselves unconsciously clutching each other’s fingers tightly as a wild feminine scream filtered from beneath the heavy door. Moments later an efficient nurse breezed through said door. She smiled condescendingly at the group of innocents sitting in the private waiting room.
“Your little friend is doing just fine,” she assured them, her words practiced and rehearsed and dulled from much usage. “I’m just off to fetch her more ice chips.”
“Yummy,” Duo said quietly unable to contain an attempt at humor. The former pilot cringed as Dorothy and Hilde glared at him for his lack of sensitivity. They spoke in whispers.
“She should have gone for the drugs,” Hilde said, a frightened look in her bright blue eyes.
“You don’t know Miss Relena,” Dorothy answered with a tired, exasperated sigh. “She’s intent on staying strong for Heero. She’d suffer anything to maintain his image of her.”
Duo dared to chuckle and was summarily sent off to buy the girls a pair of mocha lattes. “That should keep him out of our hair for awhile at least,” Hilde said, knowing full well that an errand to the bakery would keep Duo occupied for an inordinate amount of time.
Dorothy’s cell rang, making the pair of them jump, their nerves were as taught as finely-tuned violin strings.
“Could it be Quatre already,” Hilde asked, holding her breath as Dorothy answered. She felt torn between her friends, but she and Duo had finally decided to come be with Heero and Relena. Midii and Trowa would have Quatre and Cathy to help pull them through this latest crisis. Good news and bad news always seemed to come hand in hand, Hilde thought as she half-listened to Dorothy’s conversation with Relena’s adopted mother.
“No Mrs. Darlian, nothing yet,” Dorothy said patiently. “The nurse just reported she’s doing fine. When your shuttle lands come straight to the hospital, there’s a limo waiting. Yes, I’ll tell the nurse to tell Relena you’re coming. Good-bye.”
Beyond the doors Relena tried to focus on Heero’s eyes as the contraction gripped all the muscles in her body and squeezed. It became harder and harder to stay in control, to lose herself in the pools of steel blue she loved so much. So this was how torture worked, she thought, her senses starting to scatter. Then she felt his fingers on the back of her hand, moving in a soothing rhythm.
“This one’s ending. You made it Relena,” he told her, coolly eyeing the fetal monitor that measured the strength of each contraction. For Heero Yuy, this was the most helpless moment of his life. He had no control he could only sit and watch as the hated machine measured his wife’s agony in large sloping hills that illustrated the peaks and valleys. His palm itched to shoot it but common sense told him that the machine was only the messenger and the instigator of all this pain was none other than himself. As her face screwed up in a tortured grimace yet again and the line on the graph began to curve he vowed a future life of celibacy. Anything but going through this again.
“Focus on my eyes,” he said, a hint of pleading in his usually calm voice. The line sloped higher and Relena’s eyes shut, tears pouring down her cheeks.
“Mother,” she screamed, clenching her hands on Heero’s and digging her nails in. “I want my mother!”
The nurse patted Heero on the shoulder. “Don’t you worry this is all perfectly normal,” she said. She pushed the father-to-be aside as no one else would have dared and leaned over Relena.
“There now honey,” she said softly. “You’re doing fine, just fine. Your mother is on her way. Your friends asked me to let you know.”
Relena gasped as the pain ebbed. “I can’t! I can’t do this anymore,” she cried, her voice small and childish.
The nurse shook her head. “The baby’s on his way now dear and there’s no stopping him. You’ll be holding him very soon and just think how beautiful he’ll be, just like you and your good-looking husband here.”
Relena sat straight up in the bed, her eyes wide.
“It’s coming, another one’s coming,” she said, eyeing the graph with wildly as her voice cracked in desperation.
“Can’t you give her something for the pain,” Heero said tersely, trying to keep the deadly assassin tone from creeping into his voice. He and Relena had promised themselves no drugs for their baby but to hell with that, he felt himself losing his sanity watching her suffer as surely as she was losing her struggle to control the pain with breathing and focus techniques.
“Too late,” said the cheerful nurse. “The baby really is coming now. I think she’s ready to push. I’ll just step out and call the doctor.”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHH! Don’t leave me,” Relena begged, grabbing for the disappearing nurse.
“Heero, Heero, he’s coming,” she gasped. “I feel it.”
”The doctor will be right here. Just hold on,” he said, climbing onto the bed beside her.
“Now, right now,” Relena said, tossing back her head and screaming louder than she had the entire evening. Heero squeezed her shoulders and held her tight, he sensed her breathing ease a bit and they heard a small muffled cry and their eyes met. Heero slid from the bed and lifted the sheets.
“He’s here,” he said wonderingly, remembering a term from all the birthing books they had read. “The baby’s crowned, his head’s out. You didn’t wait for the doctor.”
The information had of course planted itself indelibly on his mind and he was nearly as qualified as the doctor to deliver the baby. Carefully he took the aspirator from the bedside table and suctioned the baby’s nose before easing him out with Relena’s next contraction. With gentle hands he held the baby up for her to see.
“He’s a boy,” Relena cried. “Oh he’s beautiful Heero, beautiful!” She lay back against the pillows tiredly as Heero carefully cut the cord which had bound the child to her for nine months.
The nurse and doctor raced through the door and halted as they saw the new father hand the baby to his mother. Relena took her son in her arms and kissed his small head, holding him to her gently as if he were made of glass.
“Oh my baby, how I love you,” she whispered, tears streaming down her face unheeded.
“Guess you two didn’t need us,” the doctor said, examining Relena. “It happens quickly sometimes doesn’t it?”
Heero watched carefully as the nurse took his son from Relena and examined him too, cleaning him off with a soft towel.
“He’s just perfect,” the nurse exclaimed as she weighed the baby. “And just over nine pounds too, my he’s a big one.”
“No wonder it hurt so much,” Relena said laughing, her eyes bright with smiles and tears.
The nurse handed the baby back to Relena.
“Would you like a shot of Demerol now,” she asked the young woman, patting her comfortingly on the arm. “There will still be some after pains.”
“Oh no, I’m perfectly fine,” Relena beamed, smiling down at her baby. “I’m in heaven with my little angel and I don’t feel a thing.”
The nurse smiled. “New mothers,” she thought. “They forget all that pain just like that.”
“I’ll leave you two alone a bit before I let your visitors in,” she said aloud.
“Tell the girls how beautiful he is,” Relena said, her voice cracking with love and pride.
Alone at last the two new parents looked down on their baby.
“We’ll always keep him safe won’t we Heero,” Relena said, softly stroking the baby’s fine hair.
“I’ll always protect the two of you,” Heero promised, leaning over to kiss his wife. He took the baby’s small hand in his and his heart ached when the tiny fingers closed with a tight grip over one of his.
Midii felt uneasy, as if the doors of a trap were swinging in on her and she didn’t know which way to run. All of them were anxiously waiting for Dorothy to contact them about the long-awaited birth of Heero and Relena’s baby, reason enough for tension. But a host of seemingly inconsequential things were making her suspicious that there was something lurking beneath the surface. She wondered especially why Quatre was here and not on L1 with Dorothy. Earlier this evening when she’d gone to see Trowa in his dressing room after the performance Quatre had been there and the two of them had looked almost guilty when she came in.
Now she felt everyone sneaking peeks at her as if she had spots on her face. It was as if there were some secret about her that everyone knew and she didn’t. She searched her thoughts wondering what it could be, through old habit she felt guilty and threatened but she had truly told Trowa everything. He knew everything about her. He sat beside her now with his arm around her shoulders, holding her tight, almost too tightly, but neither he nor Quatre would meet her gaze.
Even Sally’s cheerful new husband was watching her carefully with such an odd expression on his face. She’d been a spy for God’s sake didn’t they think she knew they were watching her?
Midii shook off Trowa’s arm and started to pace around the room. Cathy got up and gave her a silent hug, which only increased her certainty that something was wrong. She was just about to demand from them what it was when Quatre’s cell finally rang.
They all looked at him expectantly and Midii forgot her personal worries for a moment as time seemed to stand still and they all held their breath. It had to be Dorothy.
But Quatre kept hesitating, seeming afraid to answer the phone.
“She’s dead,” he thought. “Miss Relena’s dead just like my mother…and the world will be thrust into chaos once again…”
“Quatre,” Sally said finally, gently shaking his shoulder. “Your phone’s ringing. Didn’t you hear it?”
“Yeah, sorry,” he said, closing his eyes momentarily and taking a deep breath before flipping open the tiny phone.
They all let their breaths out as Quatre’s worried gaze transformed to a beaming smile.
“You’re sure Dorothy?…Everything’s fine…All right….Give them
everyone’s love, we’ve been sitting here for hours on tenterhooks…Okay, I’ll
tell Sally, Midii and Cathy the baby was more than nine pounds….I love you
too…No, not yet, we decided to wait until after…I know…I’ll call you then….I
“I take it that’s good news then,” Sally surmised from the one-side conversation and smiling with her relief. “Well I knew those two would be blessed after everything they’ve been through. And with Heero as the father the baby is bound to be healthy, I’ve never seen such a wonderfully put-together genetic package as that boy.”
Jack raised a brow as his wife sang the praises of the perfect Heero Yuy. “Should I be jealous,” he asked teasingly, but he watched Midii with the eyes of a diagnostic specialist as she and Trowa hugged. He wondered how his little patient would take the shock, he thought she could handle it but she’d been through an awful lot in this past year.
“I’ll pop some champagne,” she said, pulling from Trowa’s embrace. “I know there’s some in the fridge.”
But the others stood and prepared to leave as if by mutual consent.
“No thanks Midii. It’s late,” Sally said. “We’ll leave you to yourselves now we’ve been reassured Relena and the baby are all right. You know we’ll be close by for a few more days at least, if you need...if you’d like to call.”
She hugged Midii goodbye.
“Take care,” she said, kissing her cheek. Jack pinched her other cheek.
“You’re coming along just fine,” he said. “Call if you need anything.”
“We’ll see you out,” Cathrine said, bounding to her feet and grabbing Quatre by the hand. Quatre said good night with all his usual friendly politeness, clapping Trowa on the shoulder and kissing Midii’s forehead, again avoiding her eyes.
As the door clicked shut Midii frowned, and whirled on Trowa.
“What is it Trowa,” she demanded, grasping his arms. “I know something is wrong. Why are Sally and Quatre really here?”
Trowa took her hands and drew her down to sit on the couch beside him. He looked into her eyes for a timeless moment, not wanting to ever see them change, to see them fill with sorrow and pain yet again. Something bad was coming at her and he felt as if he sat in his Gundam helpless and out of ammunition just when it counted most. Then he pulled her close so her head was tucked beneath his chin.
He couldn’t look at her when he knew his words would kill a part of her heart.
‘Just tell me please,” she whispered finally. “I’m starting to imagine worse than it could possibly be.”
Her voice was shaky and he knew she was being hopeful that what he had to tell her wouldn’t be all that bad.
“Sally’s just here on her honeymoon. It’s Quatre, he’s heard from his sister on Mars,” Trowa said. “She has information she wanted him to bring you in person.”
“Safira? What could she possibly have that has anything to do with me,” Midii asked quizzically, remembering the childish innocence of Quatre’s sister.
“It seems your brother Michel is working on the terraforming project, he’s a kind of assistant or student of Lucrezia Noin. Diarmid Walker made the connection Midii. I have a vid disk from your brother that Safira sent to Quatre,” Trowa explained.
Midii bounced up on her knees to hug Trowa jubilantly.
“But that’s wonderful! Oh if I’d only known I’d have jumped at Milliardo Peacecraft’s offer! But I can’t look back. We’ve found Michel, found him at last.” she said, her words tumbling out in happy confusion. “Oh Trowa if Michel is there he must be with Marc too. Didn’t Quatre say? The pair of them were always inseparable. Only 11 months apart, the people in town would call them twins sometimes. They’re together I know it! We’ll get them home as soon as possible, I’ll ask Sally, Lady Une, Heero, anyone to help me. Oh Trowa I’m so happy, I think this means God has forgiven me for all I’ve done at last.”
His head began to ache and his heart pounded miserably in his chest, her happiness making him feel desolate. She squeezed her arms around him tighter and rained kisses on his face.
“Where’s the disk? I want to see my brother, he must have grown so. Why he was younger than Thierry when I saw him last,’ she said, sitting back and holding her hand out for the disk.
His face was a blank and his eyes seemed closed off and mysterious, the green depths full of concealing shadows. His expression made her feel cold and the feeling of anxiety returned.
“What’s wrong,” she asked cautiously, venturing a guess. “Has something happened? Is my brother all right?”
“Michel is fine. Safira told Quatre that he’s Miss Noin’s pride and joy, a real prodigy. It’s not that Midii. Marc isn’t with him,” Trowa said. “I’m sorry-
“No,” Midii said interrupting quickly, sensing his next words as she kept on talking desperately to ward off the inevitable. “We’ll still find him. I found Thierry and Michel has found me and together we’ll find our brother. I would have thought Papa would have kept them together, they were so close. But I’ll find him, I’ll renew my efforts. I have to find him.”
“Midii, please listen,” Trowa said, pulling her back so she was hugged close against him. “You can’t find him. It’s on the disk. Marc was killed during the war in the attack on the Alliance’s Mogadishu Fortress. Both your brothers were military cadets there.”
He steeled himself for an outburst, but none came. He held her quietly stroking her hair, and cuddling her limp fingers in his hand. She didn’t make a sound.
After awhile she spoke, startling him, she had been so still.
“Well then, no wonder I couldn’t find them,” she said, her voice small and emotionless. “All the records from the Operation Daybreak attacks were destroyed. OZ was rewriting history even as it happened. Why to them it was as if that fortress never existed, as if those men and boys had never lived. Just as the Alliance made it seem Heero Yuy was never assassinated. But we all knew it had happened. Can we watch the disk now? I want to see my brother.”
“She’s sleeping now. Trowa said she watched the disk but turned it off and went to bed without saying anything,” Sally reported. “Is that normal Jack? Do you think she’s in shock?”
“We do things to protect ourselves from grief as best we can. But eventually it gets in. Don’t worry too much Sal, she’s no stranger to this. None of us are in this world of ours,” he said. “Things will be rough for them for awhile but they have each other, just like we do and that’s the most important thing now.”
Trowa stared at the blank screen where Sally’s face had been. Neither she nor Jack Anderson had had any advice. He hadn’t expected this, this cold, dead-eyed acceptance of fate. A quiver had gone through her when her brother’s voice had broken on the video and he’d told her a little of what happened at Mogadishu. But she hadn’t said anything except she was tired and going to bed.
The air in the bedroom seemed turbulent with her unshed tears. She wasn’t sleeping he knew, her body was rigid and taught as she lay curled up and turned away from him in the bed. Midii held herself completely still as his hand touched her arm gently and she squeezed her eyes shut tighter.
“Please say something,” she heard him whisper. “Are you going to be all right?”
“I’m fine,” she muttered tightly. “Michel looked very well didn’t he? And it all happened so long ago, so very long ago. Of course I’m fine, just tired. Good night.”
Trowa woke with a start, he must have dozed off because when he reached his hand toward her side of the bed the covers were thrown back and the sheets were cool. He dragged a tired hand across his eyes to rub away the sleep and wandered out into the small living area. Midii was hunched over her laptop at the kitchen table, her face pale in the artificial glow. He peered over her shoulder, it seemed there was unofficial information to be found about Mogadishu after all. She was staring at contraband OZ photographs taken at the site and archived by a survivor.
Piles of corpses, men and boys with faces blackened from explosions, their eyes shining white and glazed staring out from their still, dead faces.
“I can’t find him here,” she said when he pulled up a chair beside her. “I won’t ever be able to bury him beside mother. We were in the garden when she died and I lied to my brother. I pushed him on the swing and told him she would be home soon and we would have a new baby brother. I told Marc everything would be the same. But it wasn’t. She never came back to us. Only Papa and little Thierry. And then, and then Papa changed…”
She stood up suddenly, swiping her arm across the table and shoving the laptop to the floor where it crashed in a shower of sparks, leaving the room in darkness. “And now there’s nothing to be done. The men responsible for this are already dead. My brother’s been dead all this time and I never knew, I never felt him go!”
Midii sat back in the chair and buried her face in her hands on the table. “Where was I? Where was I when my brother was dying? I was hiding like a coward with Stefan on Corsica. He was dying and so scared and I was hiding,” she said, self-hatred evident in her voice. “Oh the war is so unjust, it leaves people like me behind and takes away the ones who don’t deserve it. He was only a schoolboy learning to be a soldier. Did you see their faces, their eyes…Oh God. They surrendered—they surrendered, why didn’t they stop?”
She made a sound that was the combination of a laugh and a sob, and when he went to hold her he felt her delicate hands pushing him away with a desperate force that surprised him.
“Can’t you see the irony of God’s justice,” she asked him, backing away and putting the sofa between them. “This is what I did to you. Those pictures could be pictures of your Captain and the others. I killed them in just the same way, what made me think I had the right to want you to love me? I’m just like those men that did this to my brother!”
Trowa felt the echoes of pain that tore at her heart, the same type of pain that had destroyed his own heart and soul each day during the war. But Catherine and then Midii had brought it back, making him more than a soldier at last. He approached the wounded girl slowly, afraid she was going to run but she was so distraught that he soon had her backed into one of the small room’s dim corners.
Midii drew back a little as she saw the movement of his hand at the edge of her peripheral vision, she jerked her face away, projecting the hate she felt for the Mogadishu perpetrators onto herself. But the hand caught up with her and she felt the gentle caress of fingers against her skin and she felt her eyes smart with unshed tears.
His fingers continued moving over her face softly and she finally leaned into the warm hand that touched her. Trowa slid his hand into her hair and pulled her close against him and his voice whispered in her ear.
“Your brother didn’t die because of you, Midii. He was killed in a battle during the war, it had nothing to do with you or what you did. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and all of us became killers in our turn. You, me and probably even your younger brother. I don’t judge you for what you did, I love you for everything you are. I hate that you were forced to do the things you did and I hate that when we met I couldn’t help you. Go ahead and cry for your brother but it has nothing to do with us or how I feel about you,” he murmured, holding her close, making her listen and understand.
“My brother. My brother is dead,” she whispered, feeling all the strength go out of her body and her heart explode with agony. The hot tears fell finally and Midii felt strong arms lift her up when her legs could no longer hold her. Through a foggy haze of tears her burning eyes could make out his face near hers as he laid her gently back in bed. With a hoarse, agonized cry she reached out for him and he was there and they held onto each other tightly as she grieved for her lost brother.
A slim figure slipped unobtrusively into the communications building. Diarmid Walker jumped a little in startled surprise as a small hand landed on his shoulder.
“Is he talking to Midii at last,” Safira asked, taking a seat on the sofa beside him.
“Yeah, I figured out not to mess it up this time,” Diarmid said disparagingly. “I let Mike make the call. I couldn’t help hoping she’d be interested in me again if I called her with the news last time. I was only thinking about myself. I owe you one for giving him a hand with getting in touch with her so quickly. You’re a better friend to the kid than I am.”
“Oh no! I’m sure you’d have done the same if you had the resources, I’m just lucky to have so many sisters,” she said, pushing a tawny curl back behind her ear. “Besides my reasons weren’t all unselfish either. I wanted my brother to see that I could do something worthwhile for a change.”
“I wonder how Midii took the news about her brother,” Diarmid said, seeing Safira’s embarrassment about her motivations for helping Mike. “Poor girl had a tough time during the war. Her own father practically blackmailed her into performing Alliance espionage when she was just a schoolgirl.”
Safira sighed heavily, a puff of air lifting the stray curls that framed her forehead. She hated feeling jealous over Diarmid’s protectiveness of Midii, but she felt the emotion rising unwillingly in her heart anyway. She briefly wished that she had some glamorous and tragic past that would make him interested in her.
“Well, I’m sure talking to Mike will help,” she said softly. “He’s a great kid. He’s been helping me with some of my work lately. I sure will miss him when he goes home.”
“Sounds like someone’s homesick,” Diarmid said gently, blue eyes studying the pretty girl beside him speculatively. “How about we get together some time. Mike’s not the only ‘great kid’ around here. I’ve been hearing some very nice things about you as well Miss Winner. Would you like to join me for dinner some night.”
“Where would you like to go,” she asked, looking at her fingers and blushing hotly.
“Why the finest establishment in the colony,” he laughed, taking her hand and grinning when she returned his friendly squeeze. “Le Café of course.”
Le Café was of course the code name the colonists had given the one and only place to get food on Mars, the barracks’ cafeteria.
“I’d be delighted. It’s my favorite,” she said.
“Then it’s a date,” Diarmid said.
“Yes, a date,” she echoed, turquoise eyes shining in anticipation.
Michel Une looked anxiously at his sister’s face as it wavered on the grainy video feed. He hadn’t expected Midii to feel responsible for him any longer, he had been on his own for so long that it was strange to have someone telling him what to do and when to do it.
It hadn’t been long after the last failed attempt to contact his sister that he had realized that everything he really cared about was right here on Mars. He loved his sister and his little brother Thierry but in reality it had been years since he’d seen either of them, years since he’d even known if they survived the war.
And in that time Michel Une had become his own person. He wished he didn’t know the things Diarmid had told him about Midii’s life. How Papa had used him and Marc and Thierry to coerce their older sister to lead the life of betrayal she had. He was sorry for her and now sitting face to face with her it was hard to stick to his plan.
He could tell she was holding back tears for Marc. It must be hard on her, and it hurt him still, but it had been years ago now and the pain that was fresh for her had started to fade for him long since.
And then she asked him the question he dreaded.
“When are you coming home,” she said. “I have connections and you can be here as soon as a transport is ready to leave.”
Mike took a deep breath.
“Sorry Midii,” he said. “I don’t think I can. I have a lot I can do up here and my friends are here. I’ve decided to stay on Mars.”
Marc winced. He felt as if he’d slapped her, even with the poor video he could see the stricken look in her eyes. And her words made him feel even worse than her initial shocked silence.
“I understand,” she said softly, her voice was wounded, and he could see that there were times she despised herself. As for himself, he felt again the sickening dread he’d felt when learning to drive at the base and he’d accidentally run over a rabbit that had scurried innocently across the road.
Sadness and misplaced guilt colored his sister’s words as she continued speaking. “I failed you and Marc, I couldn’t help you when you needed me. I’m so sorry.”
Another crime of Papa’s he thought bitterly. He’d sent Marc to his death and there was
certainly a part of Midii herself that had died in the war, he could see
that. At least she said Thierry was happy
and leading a normal life. Hard to
believe the baby brother he’d left behind could be a teenager now, growing up
in a peaceful world the rest of them could only have dreamed about.
“Listen Midii,” he said. “Please believe what I’m saying! It’s not you. I do want to see you and Thierry very much and at first I wanted nothing but to come home and find you. But I’ve realized up here I’m important. I owe Miss Noin for the chance she’s given me. I really want to stay. This is where I belong. It’s home. And you’re free now, won’t you please be happy? Live for yourself now, its time. We’ll see each other someday, you’ll come to Mars and bring Thierry and you’ll be proud of what we’ve done here.”
Trowa scowled and kicked at the dirt. The storage warehouse seemed to beckon him as he walked past on the way to freshen the water in the animal cages. But he realized it was useless to go in there and stare hopelessly at an impossible dream. Over the past month it had been imperative that he spend as much time with Midii as possible anyway. And at last he was beginning to catch her with the ghost of a smile on her face at the sight of a child dripping ice cream on the circus grounds or when he surprised her with the brush of a daisy petal against her pale cheek.
Yes, now was the perfect time to finalize their relationship. She needed to know he would be with her forever, that he was her family now. With Thierry living on Earth and Michel having decided to stay on Mars with his beloved Miss Noin, Midii needed him more than ever. There was more than one way to accomplish this mission and since Plan A had gone down in flames he had to admit that Duo’s long-time assertion that he do it the “normal” way was finally looking like the best way to go. She would be happy again and that was all that mattered. Still he looked back at the storage building and shook his head in disappointment, if only…
Cathrine clasped her hands together and an irrepressible grin lit her face. Tonight was the night at last. She laughed to herself and wondered if Midii suspected.
“Coming,” she called cheerfully as a knock sounded on the door. Duo and Hilde stood outside, twin smiles on their faces.
“Well, well, the lovely Miss Bloom,” Duo chortled, treating himself to a hug and bestowing a smacking kiss on the attractive circus performer.
“Behave Duo,” Hilde said, she swatted her husband but she only teased him and her smile never faded. “Thanks for inviting us Cathy, we wouldn’t want to miss being here to congratulate Trowa and Midii. This has certainly been a long time coming!”
“He shoulda listened to me sooner,” Duo said, waving his arms and rolling his eyes. “But better late than never. And I brought along some of L2’s finest champagne to celebrate, although Trouble will probably turn up her la-de-da little French nose at the stuff. Bet she’s so happy she drinks it anyway.”
He popped a cork from one of several bottles he’d brought and took a deep swig of the cold, sparkling liquid.
“Duo,” Hilde protested again, shaking her head.
“What? They’re not going to be back for a couple hours at least, I gotta do something in the meantime,” he explained, putting a hand to the back of his head. “Oh yeah, do you ladies want some?”
He offered the bottle to the girls, his violet eyes wide and ingenuous as they refused with giggles and vehement shakes of their heads.
“Suit yourselves,” he said. “Say when are Quatre and the Eyebrow Lady gonna get here?”
“Duo!! Don’t call Dorothy that or I’ll cut you off right now,” Hilde warned, but she couldn’t help smiling as she teasingly grabbed for his bottle.
“You’re no fun,” Duo complained, holding the bottle aloft. “All I can say is that Quatre’s lucky those things haven’t poked his eyes out yet!”
“They’ll be here soon,” Cathrine said, looking at the gold watch that encircled her slender wrist. “Heero and Relena sent those roses but they couldn’t bring themselves to travel with the baby yet. It’s so sweet how protective they are about him. And I couldn’t track down Wufei. His office said he’d gone off to Earth more than a week ago and I haven’t even heard from him in all that time.”
“I wouldn’t worry,” Duo said, noticing her downcast look. “If anybody can take care of themselves its Wufei.”
As if the sound of his name had conjured him up, the young man in question appeared suddenly, bursting through the door of the small trailer as if demons from ancient legend were following him.
He looked around the room quickly and after assuring himself that Midii was not present he spoke tersely and urgently.
“Ah! I’m so glad you’re here,” Cathrine said, clasping her hands together happily. “You’ll never guess!! Trowa’s finally asking Midii to marry him.”
“What? He can’t! Where is he? I have to stop him,” Wufei said, his eyes glinting darkly.
“But-but why,” Cathrine said, her jaw dropping and her eyes puzzled.
Her fiancé drew her aside to a private corner of the room and showed her the contents of a small box he kept in his pocket. Cathrine took a quick look at the coveted object and shrieked joyfully, pouncing on Wufei and proceeding to squeeze the life out of him.
“Just give me the address of the restaurant woman, before it’s too late,” he choked. But he smiled smiling unwillingly at her exuberance, his face dark red from lack of air and a bit of embarrassment at her display of affection.
Then, having garnered the necessary information, Chang Wufei disappeared into the darkness as quickly and as mysteriously as he had appeared moments before.
“Oh, this is going to be just perfect,” Cathrine said, wiping away a happy tear.
“You’re not saying that guy found the part! Not THE part,” Duo guessed, irritated that his fellow Preventer had accomplished what he could not.
Cathrine nodded blissfully.
“Oh! Oh wow! Who’d have thought Wufei could be so romantic? I could fall for that—“ Hilde started to say, stars in her shining blue eyes.
“Don’t even say it Hilde,” Duo groused. “Don’t even think it.”
“Well I could fall for that guy! What a wonderful thing to do,” Hilde whispered to Cathrine. “I just hope he isn’t too late!”
Midii rested her head on Trowa’s shoulder as they danced, realizing suddenly that she could count on one hand the times they had ever engaged in “normal” dating activity.
In a way it felt rather strange. Besides, it seemed to require too much effort to relax and enjoy the moment when for weeks now she had felt as if she was barely keeping her head above water. Surely without Trowa’s support she would gladly let herself go under and fade away from everything. Nothing she had ever done had ever really had any meaning. She closed her eyes and let her fingers tighten on the lapels of his dark charcoal jacket as the ghost of her brother looked at her sadly from beyond a hazy mist and her throat clogged with grief.
And to make matters worse Michel was not going to come home. He had no desire to pick up their family life and how could she blame him. As hard as she had tried her efforts had always been misdirected.
All her life now seemed focused at last on the man who held her in his arms. She glanced up at him through her lashes and caught him looking at her worriedly. She forced a small smile, letting her fingers brush his red bowtie.
“This is lovely, thank you,” she whispered, gasping when he tightened his arms around her waist and lifted her off the floor twirling her in the air.
The sparkle returned to her eyes as he pulled her back to him, he knew her attention had been wandering as it had so often lately. Her smile grew genuine and a bit mischievous as her fingers tugged gently on his tie. She stifled a giggle, she hadn’t had the heart to tell him that black would have looked much more elegant. There was more clown in her sweetheart than she sometimes liked to admit. She shut her eyes and held him tighter as they danced close together on the shining wood floor and she let her universe distill into this one happy moment.
She strengthened her resolve to let all the recent sadness go and simply enjoy the evening. She knew Trowa was catering to her desires tonight, fancy restaurants and formal dress were not his idea of a good time but he had planned this night out just for her.
“I love you,” she whispered, looking up to see him smiling down at her, his expression almost shy. And she knew she wasn’t really alone, he was beside her at last. Always.
“I love you too,” he said, bending to kiss her. The touch of his lips took her breath away and she felt like she was gasping for air when he finally pulled back.
“Let’s step out and get some air,” he suggested as if he read her mind, leading her off to the balcony. She could only nod, truly left breathless by the new intensity in his kiss and her heart beat faster.
He held her hand and helped her sit on a delicate wrought-iron bench. Candlelight illuminated the private area romantically and she felt suddenly timid as he sat down beside her and held her left hand tightly in his. His hands were a little damp with nervous perspiration and she looked up at him wonderingly.
Trowa squeezed her hand and bent to kiss her again. He felt unaccountably nervous, the time had come at long last but the words wouldn’t leave his mouth.
Midii sighed as her lips parted beneath the urgent pressure of his. His tongue slipped softly into her mouth and she pressed closer to him, feeling his hands grip her waist and hold her tightly against him. Again she felt that strange breathlessness and anticipation when he pulled away and looked into her eyes.
Her heart seemed to stop as he slid off the bench and knelt beside her skirt, his hand reached into his jacket pocket and her mouth fell open slightly as he looked up at her.
“Midii,” he whispered, so soft she could barely hear. “Will you m-
Wufei chose that moment to burst through the delicate French doors, slamming them open with a loud crash that threatened to shatter the fragile glass panes.
“Trowa wait! You don’t want to do this,” he shouted.
Midii groaned and slumped back against the cold iron of the bench. He had been about to ask her to marry him, she knew it! But now the magic had gone out of the air, everything felt cold and dull and she glared at Wufei with an icy blue gaze. Trowa dropped her hands.
“Wait right here, I’ll take care of this,” he promised her before rising up and turning on Wufei, pushing the other Preventer back into the restaurant and shutting the doors firmly behind him leaving Midii alone outside.
“What are you doing here,” Trowa demanded, fisting his hands in the other man’s shirt and glaring down at him with deadly green eyes. “I was just about to ask her to marry me and there’s nothing you can say to change my feelings--
“I know that and I have no intention of doing so,” Wufei said cutting him off impatiently. He was starting to tire of this role very quickly, but it was for his and Cathrine’s future after all and he hadn’t gone to all this trouble for nothing. “But I thought you’d like to see this first.”
He popped open the small brown cardboard box and showed Trowa the contents, his face was smug.
“Well, do you see now why I stopped you? You shouldn’t settle for second best,” Wufei chided. “Stick to your original path, that’s my advice.”
Trowa took the box reverently as if it held treasure.
“Two hours. Two hours is all I need,” he muttered, his thoughts whirling. “Stay with Midii, keep her here that long, okay?”
He grabbed Wufei’s arm, opened the French doors and thrust him out on to the balcony with the astonished Midii.
“Dinner’s on me,” he called back as the unlikely duo stared after him disbelievingly as he disappeared into the crowd of diners and dancers.
Wufei gulped nervously as he met Midii’s angry gaze. He hadn’t figured on this happening. Two hours alone with the woman who was the bane of his existence! The one who had shot him and whose tumultuous escapades had stood between him and Cathrine for far too long.
“Well, you heard Trowa,” he said finally, grabbing her hand clumsily and pulling her after him back into the restaurant. “We might as well eat.”
Midii gasped out loud as Wufei pushed her chair in a bit too briskly, pinning her to the white-clothed table. She muttered curses under her breath as she pushed the chair out a bit so she could breathe. Suddenly she felt very much like her old self again with a challenge before her and an enemy to avoid, this might be just the distraction she needed.
“What the hell is going on,” she demanded, her voice sweet and sugary so nearby diners would not hear the anger in her tone. “What are you doing here, of all people?”
“You will thank me later Onna. For now just eat your dinner and be quiet,” Wufei answered, glaring at her over the top of his gilt-edged menu.
“Oh that will be the day! I can assure you that whatever you’ve told Trowa about me won’t stand up to investigation. I’ve already told him everything,” Midii said confidently.
“I highly doubt that,” Wufei said, leaning his head against his hand tiredly. “A woman like you will always have secrets. You’ve probably done things even you’ve forgotten about. You’ll be nothing but trouble to him for the rest of his life. But that’s his decision and who am I to question it!”
“Who are you indeed? You are the rudest, most self-righteous man,” Midii ranted, quieting and smiling primly when the waiter appeared with a bottle of Maison Petitvert Chardonnay. Their own special wine and she was now to be expected to share it with Wufei! She simply could not understand why he would abandon her now after he’d obviously gone to so much trouble. But she vowed to find out and Chang Wufei was certainly not going to detain her for long.
She grabbed her glass and saluted her grim partner with the delicate crystal goblet before gulping the wine down in one go.
“Listen, I didn’t tell Trowa a thing about you. You’ll know what’s happening soon enough so try to exhibit a little patience. I believe your heart is in the right place but you don’t make the proper choices and that’s why I’m counting the moments until I can make sure Cathrine no longer has to live in the same vicinity as you. That’s Trowa’s risk to take and not hers,” Wufei said in a failed attempt to be nice to the woman who sat across from him at the intimate table for two, but he was honest to a fault and felt compelled to speak his mind.
Midii looked at her shining white china plate dismally. His words hurt because there was truth in them. The peace they shared at this moment could not always last although she believed now that they could survive whatever life threw at them as long as they were together. Still, she wanted desperately to escape those haughty, mocking black eyes and her thoughts focused on her goal as she demurely picked at the expensive Salade Nicoise the server set before her.
Then the most obvious of feminine ruses came to mind and a wicked smile lit her face.
“Excuse me while I go to the ladies’ room,” she said, pushing back her chair and bolting for the female sanctuary in a very unladylike manner before her “date” could react.
Midii powdered her nose, barely seeing herself in the mirror as she tried to compose herself. Damn Wufei, he was too fast and despite her head start he’d almost caught her arm before she’d made it safely into the friendly confines. Seemed the insufferable man didn’t trust her an inch! Slowly her breathing returned to normal before her heart raced again as the door swung open.
“Ah,” she thought to herself. “Just the cleaning lady.”
“You didn’t notice a dark-haired man with mean eyes out there did you,” Midii asked cautiously.
“Oh yeah,” the woman said, nodding sagely. “He’s out there all right, scaring all the fine ladies away from the door. Say, he’s really good looking though. You sure you’re not running in the wrong direction honey? Bet you could tame that tiger if you gave it a try.”
“Hmm,” Midii said thoughtfully, luckily for the cleaning lady she had been too caught up in planning an escape route to take note of the “tame that tiger” remark. “Could you please tell me how many feet of material is in that roll-a-towel machine?”
“Err, no one’s ever asked before, but I know the answer. I change it every night after all. Comes with 40-feet of clean toweling. Don’t worry ma’am, everything’s quite hygienic in here, we’re quite the fancy establishment.”
The other occupants of the room took their time powdering their own noses, listening curiously to the odd conversation between the petite blonde and the chatty employee.
“Of course you are! This is a very elegant restaurant and you do your job so well,” Midii said, patting the woman companionably on the shoulder. “And I suppose the dispenser is anchored to the wall so no one could break it off?”
“Ma’am!! Our customers would never…but of course we meet all safety standards as well,” the puzzled woman retorted, eyeing Midii worriedly. “Say, are you the health inspector or something?”
Midii was now looking down at her elegantly-clad feet with regret, she couldn’t make the leap she planned in her new heels, her ankle just wasn’t up it after her recent injury the past winter. Her gaze fell on the cleaning lady’s feet, just as small as her own. Perfect and what an unexpected piece of serendipity, the gods were on her side for once. She turned her attention back to the curious woman.
“Oh no, I’m just a regular girl trying to evade an annoying man!! You’ve been so wonderfully helpful! Now, if you’d just sell me your shoes,” Midii said with a grin, tossing all the credits in her purse (minus cab fare) at the shocked restroom attendant. As she bent to lace her new set of sneakers Midii moved hastily, she sensed that decorum wouldn’t keep Wufei out of the ladies’ room much longer. With the heel of her shoe she cracked open the towel dispenser with a well-aimed swat and gave the cloth a hard yank, smiling when the fabric gave a satisfying tearing sound
With a quick, graceful movement she astonished the other women by jumping out the third story window with the white towel billowing behind her as she clung to the heavy cloth with one hand and clutched her expensive shoes carefully in the other. They watched with astonished eyes as the material rolled rapidly off the spool and the dispenser strained at its bolts.
Midii dangled about 15-feet over the sidewalk for a second, feeling a moment of hesitation before letting go, the ground did seem so very far away. The hesitation cost her as she felt her secure line break away from the wall with a jerk and she landed hard on her feet with a groan. She breathed a sigh of relief and tested her ankle a bit, nearly as good as ever, though it gave a slight twinge of protest that she chose to ignore.
Just as she stepped into the nearest cab she heard a chorus of outraged feminine shrieks from above. She smiled victoriously. Seems Wufei had stormed her castle a moment too late.
“You are far too slow to catch me, ma chére,” she called, laughingly blowing a mocking kiss to the furious man who stared at her out the window as the cab took off toward the circus, a cloud of vituperous Chinese curses following in her wake.
“Heh, heh, heh! Guess all Wufei could manage was 75 minutes,
actually I’m impressed his date with Trouble lasted that long,” Duo laughed as
he spotted a determined Midii step out of a taxicab alone at the circus
entrance. “Good thing Trowa finished
everything up quicker than he thought, course it’s because I was there to lend
Hilde ruffled his unruly chestnut bangs affectionately and kissed his cheek. “You were sweet to help out,” she whispered in his ear. “You do have such a wonderful sense of romance.”
Duo smirked, her words promised a lucky night ahead for the God of Death.
“I don’t know about the rest of you,” Cathrine said at last. “But I have to see this! Who’s for peeking?”
Dorothy and Hilde stood as one and Duo merely opened his
dark coat to reveal the video recorder he’d brought for just that purpose.
“Every special occasion needs pictures,” he said, grinning cheerfully.
“Are you guys sure Trowa won’t mind,” Quatre said uneasily.
“Shhhh Darling. We’re going to sneak up on them, they’ll never know they’re being watched until it’s too late,” Dorothy said, pulling her reluctant spouse along with her.
Trowa held his breath as he carefully placed the delicate gold circle in the device. How small it was, he thought, as a wave of protectiveness washed over him as he felt the remembered sensation of her hand engulfed in his larger one.
He pushed his bangs out of his face and looked down at his grease-stained white T-shirt and the red bowtie that dangled down on either side of his loosened collar of his open dress shirt. He looked at his watch, just enough time to shower and change before she came back. Everything was coming together perfectly.
But low grumbling growl coming from the vicinity of the animal pens alerted him that he’d congratulated himself too soon. He smiled in spite of himself, when would he ever stop underestimating Midii’s potential to throw a wrench in the most carefully laid plans? Hastily he wiped his grimy hands on his pants and took a deep breath, pulling the control switch and listening carefully as the old machine creaked back to life at long last.
Midii flipped her hair back over her shoulder and refused to give the beast the satisfaction of a fearful look as she walked past Jupiter’s cage with a haughty click of her heels. Absolutely nothing, and especially not that lion, was going to stop her from finding out what Trowa was up to in here at last. She had seen the lights on in the old warehouse when she’d stepped from the cab and known exactly where he must have gone.
She rounded the last corner, the words of a question poised on her lips, before she stopped and let her hands drop limply to her sides and she blinked at the vision before her.
It was dark but the gloom was lit by thousands of small white lights reflected in a confection of shining painted horses, sparkling mirrors and gleaming gilt. And there was music, a haunting refrain that she had heard once before in her past. The tune filled her head and she was back in a rickety truck, she could see her child’s legs dangling over the end of the seat, her feet unable to touch the floor and a boy beside her looking out the window. And music filtered in through a crack in the dirty windows.
She had hated him then, so cold, so free of feeling and the guilt that overwhelmed her and shadowed her childhood. But looking at him at that very moment she had discovered his secret. They were the same and he was as lost as she was. She loved him, she wanted to be beside him always and fill the empty space in his heart.
“Do you miss it,” she’d asked, looking out at the canvas circus tents so like the ones just outside. But her words had broken the spell and the soldier replaced the boy again. And this music had played then. It had been the sound of a carousel organ.
He was walking toward her out of the darkness and she could see his hand reaching out to find hers. The green eyes that looked at her were shining and expectant as his fingers gripped hers tightly.
“What-what is it,” she heard her own voice whisper.
“A carousel,” he said, his eyes watchful as they swept her face.
“Yes, it’s beautiful. Do you remember the music,” she asked, tilting her face to his.
He shook his head. “I found it when I had nothing. It was like I remembered it somehow. Did we see it together once?”
She shook her head as he slowly led her toward it.
“We heard the music once but you wouldn’t tell me why it made you sad,” she said.
“I don’t remember that now,” he said. “But when I found this I began to remember you. I started to work on it right after the war.”
Shyly she reached forward to gently touch the nose of the nearest painted horse on the platform.
“Want a ride,” he asked.
Midii took a step back, she had that breathless feeling again and she couldn’t look at him, it felt her heart would burst if she did.
“Oh Trowa, it’s too beautiful,” she said, her voice barely a whisper as she shook her head so her hair hid her face a little.
She gasped when his strong hands circled her waist to lift her up with effortless ease. The platform began to move and he swung himself up to stand beside her.
“I did it for you,” he said.
He kept his arm around her waist holding her steady as the painted horse went up and down.
“All this, you did all this,” she said, her fingers touching the gilded flowers tangled in the horse’s mane as her face lit with a smile as she saw the two of them reflected in the polished mirrors as they whirled past. “Do you know I’ve never ridden one of these? Oh Trowa, thank you.”
Her face looked like a child’s as she tilted her head back to let the rushing air push her hair back and she grinned at him, her blue-gray eyes open and innocent and happy.
The ride slowed and he pulled her off the saddle and into his arms. He reached and pulled down the handle, setting the carousel in motion once again. She grabbed the ends of his tie and pulled his head down to hers for a kiss, the world spinning as their lips met.
“Look,” he said, raising his head from hers and pointing to a hook at the side of the platform. He reached out and caught the small gold ring he had placed there and held it out to her. The tiny diamond in the center sparkled like a star in the twinkling lights of the carousel as he slid it over her finger.
“Oh, Nanashi,” she breathed, her voice wondering, the old name slipping out in her surprise.
He looked at her intently and grabbed both her hands. “That’s not me,” he said. But his words faltered, in the dreams he had had everything had always fallen into place, he remembered his name, his past and his family.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her fingers touching his face softly, a hint of sadness in her eyes. “I always dreamed of Nanashi, you are Trowa now.”
She tiptoed again to kiss his lips and he lost himself in her embrace, disappointment forgotten, erased by the touch of her lips on his and the caress of her hands on his shoulders. He sighed and held her tightly, she hadn’t understood. He didn’t understand himself. But somehow it felt just right, she loved him even if he couldn’t remember who he really was, she loved him in spite of it or even because of it.
“Where are you Trowa? You seem so far away,” she asked, her eyes wide and luminous in the glow of the tiny bright lights. Her voice and the urgent touch of her hand pulled him back to this moment they had waited a lifetime to share.
“I was trying—I thought I could remember who I really am. I wanted to tell you,” he explained. “It felt so close just now but it’s slipped away again. I think now I’ll never know.”
He felt her arms wrap around him in a fierce embrace that made him feel the force of her intense love. All else seemed superfluous after all.
“You are the one I love,” she reminded him, pressing her head against his heart. “And I won’t ever leave your side again.”
They were interrupted by the sudden clatter of footsteps and happy voices. Trowa looked up and he saw all of them running towards them: Dorothy and Quatre, Hilde and Duo and of course one other.
There was Cathrine, her pretty face shining with happy tears as she ran towards them. And as he held his hand out to her to help her up on the carousel platform he knew as his fingers touched hers that even if his past was gone forever he would never let anything happen to destroy his future. He had people he needed to protect, Cathrine and Midii, his family.
Author’s Note: Finished at last! Thanks for everyone’s patience over the years it’s taken to write this fic. I know there are still a few loose ends but they’re meant to be there, I don’t expect Midii and Trowa to live happily ever after but I think from the past chapters you all can tell how they’ll handle any difficult situation to come their way and their feelings are at last resolved and have come full circle although Wufei’s comments are definitely foreshadowing of their future. I had intended all along to reprise the story Time to Remember as the conclusion of this story and I hope it worked, wonder if anyone saw it coming? (there is a tiny hint in that story’s author notes that it’s all related to something bigger) You can read the original story, my first 3xMU fic here:
One reviewer did ask if there would be more, although I won’t discount the possibility of a side story at some point, I have no plans or ideas for any at the moment. Right now I’m just happy to call this storyline finis!!