AN: Sorry for the delay, another difficult chapter to write, it’s not easy to fool Trowa (whoops is that a spoiler ^_^;). As always I do not own Gundam Wing © Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu Agency and Midii Une is a character from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Episode Zero, Act 5, AC 190 . . . I couldn’t resist this interesting and ironic tidbit I found doing background research on Belgium. I found this one long after choosing the title and theme for this sequel to Alone/Together. The Chapel of Our Lady of Redemption in the Cathedral of St. Michael in Brussels is a real place, you can just imagine how excited I was to spot that little tidbit ^_~ Some of the descriptions are genuine from information in the tour book and the rest is imagination.
There you are
in a darkened room
And you’re all alone
looking out the window
your heart is cold
and lost the will to love . . .
--Desmond Child, Victoria Shaw & Gary Burr
© 2000 Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.
The Price of Redemption
by Midii Une
Midii stared at the ceiling, her eyes burning and tearless. Redemption, trust, forgiveness, these were all the things Sally had promised her in return for her help.
That wasn’t the way it was working out. Trowa trusted her less now than he ever had and she didn’t know why. She only knew that the sound of his voice was different when he talked to her now and his eyes did not seek hers as they always had.
She wracked her brain for a reason why Trowa wouldn’t stay with her. She could feel the touch of his hands on her arms, only the way he touched her was still the same as always, soft but firm, possessive. His fingers had lingered on her skin, teasing her senses with his nearness, but he had left anyway. Left when she needed him beside her so badly.
I am yours and you are mine, she whispered in the empty room. A bitter laugh formed in her throat that came out sounding like a sob.
She ignored the insistent flashing emanating from her laptop for a good five minutes before pulling herself wearily off the bed. She hadn’t slept all night; it had only been an hour since she’d managed to match the faces of the men in that room with names. A distinguished group indeed. But Midii felt no satisfaction or relief that the job was done, she had merely forwarded the information to Sally and Lady Une and then gone to lay on top of the bed not even bothering to pull back the covers.
Listlessly Midii reached out with her index finger and pushed a button; Sally’s jubilant face appeared on the screen.
“Congratulations,” Sally said, her eyes bright and her smile as maternal and friendly as always. “You did a wonderful job for us Midii. I can see why you were so highly regarded by your former--I mean the . . .”
“That’s alright,” Midii said dully. “I understand.”
“Is Trowa there,” Sally said, flushing a little at her faux pas in bringing up Midii’s past.
Midii stared at her for so long that Sally grew uncomfortable with her silence and wondered briefly if they’d lost contact and the screen had frozen on the frame that captured her face.
“Actually, no,” Midii finally said, her voice flat.
“Oh,” Sally said, not knowing what to make of this turn of events. “I was hoping to speak to both of you about this. I’m sorry, you’ve done so much already, but there’s just one more thing--”
“I’ve done more than enough already,” Midii said, her voice cracking under the strain. “I can’t keep stringing Richard along anymore and Trowa--Trowa --”
Midii’s trembling voice and despairing tone spurred a memory in Sally. A memory of the war. The look on Lucrezia Noin’s face, the sound of her voice as she chose her path at the key moment, in Sally’s eyes she’d made the wrong choice, and although she still considered the other woman her friend a bit of her respect for Noin had slipped that day. The day she chose Zechs Marquise’s love over her responsibility to the world.
“Midii,” Sally said, raising her voice a little, trying to get her attention and wishing they were talking face to face instead of over the impersonal vidscreen. “If you do this you have to do it because you know it’s right. Not because it’s what you think Trowa or I want you to do. You realize that don’t you? However, there’s something I realized during the war and I’ve tried to live by it ever since. If I follow the lead of these pilots, these Gundam pilots I always know I’m choosing the right path. Do you hear me Midii?”
She thought she saw Midii nod her head slightly before she reached out to terminate the connection.
“Damnit,” Sally cursed as the screen faded to black. They were so close, so close to stopping this thing. Was some lovers’ spat between Trowa and Midii going to ruin it all?
Midii stared at the blank screen. Sally was right of course and she would be wrong not to help, just because there was some small problem between her and Trowa. It had to be small, something that could be fixed. It just had to be, she repeated, trying to convince herself it was true.
A knock sounded on the door and Midii’s heart began to pound in her chest. Relief made her smile weakly, everything would be all right now. He was back. She rushed over and flung the door open ready to pounce.
The delivery boy stepped back a bit as the door opened suddenly and he was met by an overly excited looking girl who looked ready to jump on him. Her pretty face fell as she realized he obviously wasn’t whom she expected.
“Mademoiselle Doce,” he asked, his voice questioning, she seemed too young to have a room by herself in an expensive hotel like this one, almost childish, especially with the disappointed look she wore as she started to slam the door in his face.
“Yes,” she said, pausing to glance at him disinterestedly, her voice tired.
“Can I bring these flowers in,” he asked, hefting the heavy arrangement of lilies in his arms and peeking at her over the top of them.
Something in the back of Midii’s mind warned her against having anyone enter the room; this was still a mission, no matter how she longed for it to be over.
“I’ll just take them,” she said, taking the flowers and shutting the door quickly, hastily throwing the deadbolt as an extra precaution.
Midii, unhappy with everyone and everything at the moment, looked at the flowers distastefully.
“Who sent these,” she wondered. “It looks like something you’d see at a funeral.”
She looked but there was no card.
The smell of the flowers was so strong it made her head ache and she went out on the balcony. Midii closed her eyes and felt Trowa beside her. She wondered again why he had left so suddenly. The sun was fully up now, casting a golden glow on the old buildings and the cobblestoned streets. People were laughing and talking below but she felt so alone.
“I’m caught in the middle,” she thought despairingly. “I’m not who I used to be anymore but I don’t know who I want to become.”
Finally a tear fell from her dry, burning eyes. She could feel the liquid heat of it against her cheek in the cool breeze. The mornings were chilly now; fall was definitely in the air. In the distance she saw tall spires dark against the bright sky. How long had it been since she really prayed, she thought suddenly. How long since she had stopped believing that anyone could help her? Even God?
She stepped back into the room and the heavy smell of the lilies assaulted her immediately with their sickening-sweet, cloying fragrance. It clung to her like the unfamiliar smell of the perfume she’d worn the night before. Richard had liked it, or so he told her. The flowers must be from him she guessed. If he happened to stop by to see her today he’d wonder where the flowers were she knew but nevertheless she opened the door and put the ugly arrangement outside for the maid.
“I thought you had better taste than that Richard,” she thought as she buttoned the prim, round-collared blouse and smoothed her navy skirt. The smell of the flowers lingered even though she had thrown them out, lingered like the past she couldn’t forget. Automatically she studied herself in the mirror, tying back her hair with a navy chiffon scarf and pulling forward a few red-gold curls to frame her face. Midii grabbed her keys and left, slamming the door behind her.
Ichiban rubbed his chin, the unfamiliar feel of unshaven stubble harsh beneath his fingers. Would she heed his warning or simply ignore his flowers? He’d send one twice as big to the little bitch’s funeral. He closed his eyes and saw her pressed against the tall body of that Preventer officer. He could almost hear her sweet, pleading voice as she must have begged him to stay with her.
But the Preventer was smarter than he was, at least according to Eva. He took a gulp of coffee, the hot steam swirling up in the nippy morning air as he watched her window and alternately the door in case she should come out. But Midii wasn’t an early riser, he shouldn’t expect to see her much before noon, he thought derisively. Eva had urged him to wait. Revenge tomorrow would be far sweeter than any he could take today. Revenge tomorrow, revenge done right, could help him save face, save all they had worked for.
All Eva’s words and warnings made sense. They made perfect sense till he saw Midii step past the doorman, heard the faint sound of her soft, sweet voice thanking the man even as he stood across the street. He smirked at her prim attire. She looked like a proper schoolgirl, her skirt fluttering just above her knees, soft ivory stockings and little dark blue flats. So innocent. He wondered idly why women dressed that way, especially women like Midii who were as far as one could get from the sweet and pure image they projected.
What could she be up to now, he thought, and although he was stone sober he felt almost drunk with anger. He saw her glance around nonchalantly but the gesture wasn’t without meaning. Her gestures never were. Was she looking to see if he was there? Did she suspect he was on to her? Had the flowers given him away? No, the answer was none of the above he realized.
It made him angrier to realize he was still jealous even though she’d betrayed him. She wasn’t looking for him at all. She was looking for the Preventer. Trowa Barton.
The Cathedral of St. Michael sat in the heart of Brussels, as long as two of Duo’s beloved American football fields and as full of pomp and religious imagery as even Shinigami could wish.
“Wow,” thought Duo, bending down on one knee to let his fingers carefully trace the ancient wooden carving of the fall of Adam and Eve on the pulpit. Of course he totally ignored the discreet sign urging visitors not to touch the 12th century relic, which had been carefully preserved. And there his thought stopped, so enthralled was he by the monstrous building. It was as lofty and quiet as some faraway heaven and it was enough to awe the talkative Mr. Maxwell into an uncharacteristic silence. At least the place resembled the heaven Father Maxwell and Sister Helen had described in sermons and catechism lessons.
But Duo had decided for himself that heaven would not be at all like a church, not even one as awesome as this was. Tomorrow this would be his mission, stay behind the scenes. He could even dress like a priest for a good cause for a change. Lady Une had looked at him a bit coldly and disapprovingly when she’d told him that. It had been the funniest thing that had happened to Duo, since, well hell, he really had to think about that one a minute.
He chuckled suddenly, his laughter almost lost in the huge building. He remembered now that it was the funniest thing since the time he’d come across Heero trying to shoot Relena on that OZ dock so long ago and the look on Heero’s face when she had yelled at Duo for stopping him. Now that had been really funny. A lingering, wistful smirk played across his lips. He was better at this undercover stuff than most, but it was galling to all of them really. A whole bunch of the new governments big wigs, including the President and Relena would be here for some commemorative ceremony. Lady Une was nervous but Duo had to admit he doubted their cowardly terrorists would make such a big strike. Besides they had the names now and it wouldn’t be long till the whole damn thing was over.
Midii ducked behind a pillar as she caught sight of Duo sauntering out of the cathedral. Part of her wanted to approach him and ask him if he knew where Trowa was, the other part of her wanted to be alone. She’d left a message at the hotel desk, if Trowa wanted to find her he’d know where to look, she told herself. She glanced down the street, somehow hoping to see him appear, even though she had been glancing behind her constantly the entire time she’d been walking.
No one was there.
She felt dwarfed by the heavy, carved wooden doors, she could barely manage to push open the large door without help, but she managed to push it open enough to squeeze her slight figure between the crack she opened. It was cool and dark and serene inside. Candles flickered along the sides of the church, a building so huge she could barely see the end of it. Midii walked slowly up the aisle, somehow ashamed to lift her eyes to the altar. It had been so long and she had done so much since the last time she’d entered a church. So much to be sorry for. Did she even dare to ask for her heart’s desire? For Trowa’s love?
She stopped, her head down as she stared at the ancient stone floor. How many countless people had come here seeking something over the centuries this cathedral had stood? How many of them had found it, she wondered. A draft of air caressed her face and fluttered her skirt, brushing softly across her ankles. She glanced up to see where the air was coming from and noticed an alcove off to the right of the huge altar. She swallowed painfully as she saw the words carved into the stone over the arched entrance that was covered in heavy plastic.
The Chapel of Our Lady of Redemption.
Midii walked toward the plastic and pushed it aside almost reverently, ignoring the signs warning her to keep out of the construction area. These old cathedrals were always in some stage of renovation to keep them intact for generations to come. She gasped as she stepped behind the flimsy barrier. The room was ablaze with colored light as the sun cast its rays through the loveliest stained glass windows she had ever seen. An unusual sense of peace and tranquility flooded her heart. This place, you could almost feel forgiveness in this room she thought, as her gaze met the colored glass eyes of the Virgin Mary depicted in the window.
“You are so lovely, ma toute douce Marguerite,” a hushed voice whispered from a corner.
“Richard,” she mumbled the feeling of peace immediately dispelled by his voice. “What are you doing here?”
“Why looking for you of course,” he said. “I barely slept last night, I was worried about you.”
“You’re so sweet to me Richard,” she said automatically, smiling up at him as he came to take her in his arms. “I got the flowers this morning, what a lovely gesture.”
“I’m glad you liked them,” he said, kissing her with more passion than was appropriate in such a place.
“Not here,” she protested, pushing her hands against his chest.
“No,” he said dully, her protest one more proof of her betrayal, but he kept his hands on her shoulders, “of course not.”
“This place stands for everything I hate,” he said suddenly, his voice bitter. “It’s a symbol of the old world Midii. A world I want to see dead and gone.”
“It will happen soon,” he said staring into her eyes as if he were looking for something. Speaking as if he dared her to protest his intentions.
“What do you mean Richard? What’s going to happen,” Midii asked, remembering Sally’s request. Ichiban seemed strange and bitter and she knew she couldn’t play with him much longer. There was a limit and she was close to overstepping it.
“Don’t trouble yourself my love,” he said, putting off her question. “Never fear, you will be very important when the key moment comes. Very important.”
The heavy chime of the tower bells sounded through the stone cathedral, breaking into Midii’s thoughts as she stared searchingly into Richard’s eyes. Did he suspect, she wondered. “I have to leave,” she said, trying to hide her discomfort by looking at her watch. She was glad to have an excuse to get away from him. “I’m meeting Relena Yuy for lunch and I’m already late.”
He smiled at her then and her fears were forgotten as he put an arm around her shoulders and walked with her out of the Cathedral. They stopped on the stairs and he turned her in his arms staring down at her. “You look perfect for lunch with our former Queen,” he complimented her, tugging playfully on the scarf that held back her hair. “I’m sure she won’t mind if you’re a bit late. I need to talk to you Deejii-chan.”
She looked at him and nodded, urging him to continue.
“I’m leaving Brussels later today,” he said, placing his fingers over her lips as she opened her mouth to protest. “Shh, I’m just going to Blankenberge on the coast. Pay close attention Marguerite, no matter what you hear tomorrow you are not to worry. Remember there is a purpose to everything.”
He kissed her chastely on the forehead and turned away, suppressing a grin as he jogged down the stairs. He had her attention; he could almost see the wheels turning behind those lovely blue eyes of hers. His smile widened as he heard her footsteps racing down the stairs behind him.
“Richard,” she said, tugging on his sleeve. “What do you mean? Shouldn’t I come with you?”
“I know you want to help,” he said, patting her cheek patronizingly. “But it’s best if you stay here, it’s not something I want you to see. It’s going to be dangerous, the casualties will be high. The nations will be in an uproar and ready to take action.”
“Ichiban,” Midii said, her voice intense, her face pale with fear. “Don’t treat me like this. What’s going to happen? You’re going to take care of this yourself, aren’t you?”
He shrugged but inside he congratulated himself. He had her now; she was hanging eagerly on his every word. “Yes,” he admitted. “I’m going to make sure nothing goes wrong and the best way is to do it myself. Nothing can stop us now Marguerite, absolutely nothing. There’ll be widespread panic.”
She watched him walk away and disappear into the lunchtime crowd. Here was her answer, she thought. The way to earn her redemption was to stop Richard, stop him herself.
Heavy casualties, she thought. Richard had to be stopped. She couldn’t wait for the slow wheels of Sally Po’s bureaucratic justice to click into motion. People were going to die.
Preventer had their rules but she had never been one to follow rules. I’ll stop Richard, she decided, I’ll stop him myself. The carved words above the chapel felt engraved on her mind.
“This is the price of my redemption,” she thought.
Trying to sleep for a few hours had been a waste of time; the coffee he had drunk with Wufei combined with his thoughts about Midii had made closing his eyes impossible. But still, he was so tired he couldn’t think straight. She was driving him crazy, his doubts about her were driving him to the point where he was becoming a liability to her and everyone else who depended on him. Without sleep he couldn’t protect anybody or make a competent decision on who was to be trusted and who wasn’t.
Trowa closed his eyes again, trying to remember his training as a soldier. You slept and ate when you had too, it was part of fighting. But this time, for the first time, he couldn’t do what was best. He could only think about Midii.
“You’re right not to trust me,” she said, her words from the past like a warning, keeping him from sleeping. “Maybe I can never change.”
But he hadn’t cared then. He had believed in Provence those months ago that even though he didn’t completely trust her he could control his feelings, only be in love with her halfway so to speak. But over time that had changed. He loved her completely now, despite everything she had ever done, despite anything she might be doing now.
The knock on the door was like a godsend, swerving the treacherous direction of his thoughts away from his suspicions. That was probably Midii now, he thought. He prayed it was. He had missed her last night and he had lied to her too, making excuses and leaving her alone. But he had needed time, time to think. But if she was here now he’d talk to her and they’d sort this out together. She had to have her reasons for her behavior since coming to Brussels, she would be able to explain.
A snide little voice inside reminded him that if Midii was good at anything at all it was explaining her actions. Trowa tore a restless, hand, jittery with caffeine through his bangs and pulled the door open.
“Hello Trowa,” she said, emphasizing his name with her sultry voice, dark eyes taking in his attire, a white tank-style undershirt and slim-fitting Preventer uniform pants. Her lips curved seductively.
“Don’t let me disturb you,” she said, pushing past him as she spoke and sitting on the edge of the bed, crossing one black-stockinged leg over the other. Her fingers, the nails bright red with glossy polish, moved in suggestive circles over the white pillowcase. “Don’t let me stop you from getting your rest, Trowa. Do you want to come back to bed?”
It was the woman from the reception, unwillingly his eyes were drawn to the deep slit in her black mini-skirt and from there up to the abundant cleavage revealed by her snug red v-neck top.
She grinned, amusement and gratification apparent on her face, as an angry, embarrassed blush suffused his cheeks with red.
“Who the hell are you,” he asked, struggling to maintain his composure in the face of her obvious amusement and lack of fear.
She rested back on her elbows, not missing the way his eyes shifted away from her as she displayed her assets. Her painted lips pushed out in a pout and irrational anger at Midii renewed itself.
“I promised you information last night Trowa,” she purred. “Have you forgotten? Isn’t this important to your organization?”
Eva felt a stir of longing quicken in the pit of her stomach as Trowa leaned against the wall in aggravation, stretching his long muscular arms. Dear God, she thought, he is more man than that pale little girl deserves.
She let her passionate instincts guide her and rose from her seat on the bed, closing her eyes briefly as she let her fingertips glide over the smooth skin of his shoulder. When he turned his head to look at her she stepped back a bit unsettled. The green eyes burned with a furious fire and she was suddenly afraid she might be playing out of her league. But stronger than the fear was the realization that he was not tempted by what she was so blatantly offering.
Eva walked over to the chair by the window and sat down with a huff, crossing her arms beneath her breasts and staring angrily at Trowa. Then she smirked, letting her eyes run over him appreciatively. He was infuriating but so very attractive.
“I can see why she wouldn’t mind playing with you,” she said. “Even a cold little bitch like Midii would warm up to you, Trowa.”
She blinked as he strode over to her angrily and again she felt fear as those eyes snapped at her. She almost felt like apologizing, but he stopped a few feet away from her, balling his fists to keep from reaching out and shaking her.
“I asked who you are,” he said again, his voice tight with fury.
“My name is Eva Ketto,” she said. “And I’m here to tell you what I know.”
“Get out,” Trowa said. “I know who you are. She told me about you. Get out.”
Eva laughed until small tears sparkled at the edges of her lush black lashes.
“Oh Trowa, you are priceless,” she said, gasping for breath and struggling to control her laughter. “And you believed her sad little story that I put something in her coffee? It was an excuse darling, an excuse she gave you to make you feel sorry for her when all the time she was voluntarily spending the night with Ichiban. Did you honestly expect her to tell the truth? Even if she was on your side, which I promise you she isn’t, did you really think Ichiban would take her word that she was his ally without a little physical evidence of her loyalty. That’s how things work for people like us.”
“She’s not like you,” Trowa said, looking at Eva distastefully, even as her words burned in his heart. Everything she said made so much sense. Why would Ichiban trust Midii, unless . . .
“I’m sorry to disillusion you, darling,” Eva said, shrugging her shoulders. “But she is exactly like me. Tomorrow you’ll see just what the truth is about Midii Une. She’ll keep her secrets from you right up to the end.”
He was eerily silent and Eva’s sense of discomfort grew. It would be best to leave she thought to herself.
As she reached for the handle he was suddenly in front of her, his movement as quick and graceful as a tiger in the jungle she thought, a small gasp of shock escaping her lips.
She regained her assurance and her quick instincts forced an unconcerned look of boredom to wash over her sultry features.
“Don’t try to stop me from leaving Trowa,” she warned. “We wouldn’t want to alert the wrong people that I’ve been confiding in you, would we? Why who knows what would happen?”
Trowa forced himself to peer deeply into those black eyes, but they were inscrutable, she knew the trick of hiding her feelings, her eyes were a blank, so unlike Midii’s. Midii’s eyes were always so full of emotion. The trouble was discerning whether her emotion was real. Eva’s eyes were a blank.
“You still don’t trust in my information,” she said, stating the obvious. “Try Marguerite then and see if she’ll tell you anything more. But if not, meet me in Blankenberge tomorrow. It’s about 60 kilometres to the west, in the Dutch quarter of Belgium, on the coast. For your promise of immunity I’ll reveal everything.”
Her voice grew husky and her eyes gleamed as she said the last words. She reached out and tucked a slip of paper with an address scrawled on it into his back pocket, brushing herself against him and breathing him in as she did so. Her eyes hardened as he once again ignored her unspoken invitation. He was silent and didn’t try to stop her as she left.
She paused outside the closed door regretfully. It was unfortunate she had been unable to get him into bed for good measure, but she was fairly happy with her results. If only Richard had been as successful on his end of the scheme.
Midii’s face hurt from her false smiles and laughter. An afternoon of lunching and shopping with Relena compounded by the addition of Dorothy Catalonia to their little group had been a trial she hadn’t expected. She got along fine with Dorothy when Quatre was around. But the other girl had been particularly catty today, hinting in none-too-subtle terms that the space shuttle explosion might have been avoided if certain people had done their job better. And all Midii could do was smile. But she had kept her secret about Blankenberge, the coastal war museum and the thousands of tourists who visited there were Ichiban’s targets but she would stop him. She planned her movements in her mind. Once she killed him the whole plot would crumble like a child’s tower of blocks. There would be no Preventers present, she would do it herself.
“You’ll see Papa,” she promised, clicking the bullet clip into her pistol with a practiced movement. “I’ll make up for everything I’ve done and someone will love me. Trowa will love me after this.”
She blinked back tears; she was exhausted and haunted by her father’s betrayal and worry about Trowa’s odd behavior the night before.
She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye, the turning of the doorknob, and for a moment she feared Richard had come back for her unexpectedly. Midii knelt quickly and shoved the loaded pistol between the mattress and the boxspring as the door opened.
He frowned as he saw her kneeling there on the floor. What was she hiding? She smiled softly at him and stood hastily, but her smile didn’t reach her eyes and Trowa wondered what she was hiding. Please, he thought desperately, confide in me, tell me the truth tonight Midii or I don’t know what I’ll do. He was torn between anger, wanting to believe in her and fear at what the others would do if they found out she had lied to them.
“Why,” he wondered, as she moved into his arms. The intense reaction of his body to the touch of hers was the same as always, more intense if anything. The fear of losing her over this making her all the more precious in a way. Yet part of him despised his weakness in still caring about her.
“Midii, do you have something to tell me,” he whispered into her hair, his hands moving on their own to undo the buttons of the girlish white blouse she wore. She’s not like Eva, she’s not, his heart insisted as his mind roiled with confusion.
She nodded and time stopped as he waited.
“I missed you,” she said, tiptoeing to kiss him, looking up at him flirtatiously through her long, silky lashes.
Her lie hurt like a dagger to his heart. Everything she said, every move she made backed up Eva’s accusations. Midii was working against them, from the minute she’d opened that apartment door months ago, probably from the time she’d met Cathrine ‘accidentally’ on the street. She had planned this. Planned to get back in his life, planned to get close to his friends. She’d made them trust her and it had all been because of him. They trusted him, trusted his judgment. But he had picked the wrong person to love. He was an experienced soldier, he never gave his emotions carelessly and yet she had done it to him twice, taken his heart and used it against him.
He let her slide her hands beneath his shirt, the familiar feel of her cool fingers caressing his skin. Her breath coming more rapidly as his own hands slid the straps of her bra over her shoulders.
“I missed you, Trowa,” she repeated, her voice breathy with passion.
“Midii,” he said, his voice rough, as he tightened his arms around her and closed his mouth over hers. He felt the scrape of her nails across his back as he deepened the kiss. He lifted her up against him to gain easier access to her mouth and she moaned softly and clung harder, wrapping her legs around his waist. Trowa stumbled over to the bed, pushing her down beneath him and struggling with the zipper on his pants and hastily pushing her skirt above her thighs as he fought to remove her silk stockings. He didn’t feel romantic; he felt primitive, angry passion that overcame every other thought.
Midii’s gasp of surprise at the suddenness and intensity of his onslaught was lost beneath his kiss. She bit her lip as his mouth sucked at the delicate skin of her throat and the graze of his teeth as he left a blotchy red mark of possession there.
He was making love to her like there was no tomorrow, so different from his customary slow, excruciatingly gentle caresses and tender kisses. Her lips felt bruised by the pressure of his mouth. Far back in her mind a twist of fear moved and tried to get her attention. Something was wrong. But stronger than the fear was her reaction to Trowa’s intense passion and all her attention pinpointed on the feel of his hands and mouth that seemed to be everywhere on her body at once as he crushed her against the mattress.
Daylight stole into the room like a thief, suddenly and silently, but the brightness didn’t wake her up. Trowa stood over the bed fully dressed. He had been up for hours, watching her as she slept. It was so hard to believe she wasn’t what she seemed.
For months she had been hiding her true self, her true feelings. She had never loved him. He had only been a convenient diversion, a chance to practice her skills and congratulate herself for fooling him so completely.
If only she could have kept it up forever, his treacherous heart whispered. Even now he wished that he’d never found her out that he could still believe. Still be a fool for her love. It had seemed so genuine . . .
No, this time he wouldn’t let Midii Une destroy the people he’d worked with for peace, his real friends. This time she wouldn’t betray him again, he wouldn’t let her.
Suddenly Midii woke with a start, her sleepy blue-gray eyes darting between the clock and her lover with a mixture of surprise and annoyance.
“Trowa? Why are you dressed,” she asked, moving to get out of bed. “What’s wrong? Were you going to leave without saying goodbye?”
He stopped her with a hand and looked into her eyes, she noticed the somber look and flung herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“Trowa,” she said, her voice questioning and tremulous, his hands caressing the warm silk of her nightgown automatically. She was still so beautiful to him, he still wanted so much to hold her, to feel her in his arms.
“What’s wrong Trowa? You’ve been acting so strangely. After today it will all be over we can go back to the way it was. It’s all under control, please don’t worry,” Midii whispered, her breath tickling his ear softly, her arms twining around his neck and keeping him close.
He looked into her eyes. The illusion of love was in them. But he had seen the same tenderness there when she looked at Ichiban. A killer of innocents, a smooth liar, a villain on the grandest of scales. She looked at Ichiban the same way she had looked at him. He could see her now gazing up at him adoringly, leaning her head on his coat sleeve and rubbing her cheek against it softly at the reception, the burning in his own heart.
“I know you’ve been lying to me, Midii,” he said, holding her away from him, steeling himself against the vision of her shocked face.
“What do you mean,” she whispered. “Trowa, how can you say that after last night? You said you understood.”
“I do understand,” he said. “How does it feel to be on the other end of things? I loved you with all my heart. Does it make you happy? You had me fooled for months and even now I can’t hurt you, can’t hate you. What is it about you? I know what you are but I can never stop caring, never stop making excuses. God, how I wish we’d never met.”
Her breath was ragged as she stared at him disbelievingly, as if he’d struck her. “Trowa,” she sobbed. “I don’t understand. What—“
“Please don’t talk. I’m so tired of hearing your lies. I’m leaving. I’m going to find out what’s going on and put a stop to it,” he said, his grip tightening painfully on her arms.
“Alright,” Midii pleaded. “I’ll tell you everything, you’ll understand why I had to lie Trowa. Please listen . . .”
“Just shut up,” he yelled and both of them were silent and stared at each other, shocked by his unusual outburst. Trowa never raised his voice. “I gave you every chance Midii. Because I loved you. But I’m not going to listen anymore. When I get back I’ll decide what to do about this.”
“I’m coming with you. Trowa, you’ll see . . .”
He cut her off as she moved to get out of the bed. “You’re not going anywhere today,” he said, swinging her up in his arms and dumping her unceremoniously in the closet.
“Trowa,” she screamed, jumping to her feet as he slammed the door and locked it from the outside. “You have to listen. Let me out right now.”
She hit at the door with the flat of her hand and rattled the knob but it was useless. Midii looked around the dim interior of the closet but he had completely cleaned it out. No coat hangers, nothing anywhere.
“Trowa!! Let me out this instant,” she shrieked, pounding on the heavy wood.
Trowa stuck the desk chair under the moving knob and stepped back a little, he could barely hear her screams, the door was fairly solid. From outside in the hall he hoped that no one would hear her and come let her out.
He hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door before walking away.
Eyes, like a predatory jungle cat’s watched Trowa and Wufei leave the hotel. Where was she? Ichiban’s glance rose to the window of her room, he knew it well. For two nights had he watched her slender silhouette outlined in the lamplight before she turned it off and went to sleep? But not alone, she hadn’t been alone. He swallowed painfully, she had betrayed him all so that she could become the plaything of a Gundam pilot.
Midii huffed and sputtered in anger and frustration as she sank down against the door and rested her flushed face in her hands. Trowa believed the worst of her, he had held her and made love to her and all the time he had believed that she was going to betray them all. Through her pain, fury flared in her heart. She had done this for him, to make him believe in her and all she had accomplished was to turn him against her again, perhaps forever.
Her growing anger and confusion at the injustice to Trowa’s behavior distracted her so she didn’t hear the outside door crack open, but she did hear the creak of footsteps and the rustling sound of someone in the room. She opened her mouth to call his name, she had to believe he had thought better of locking her up like this. Midii held her breath.
Ichiban looked around the silent room, the chair propped against the closet door like a red warning sign. Eva had done her job very well, he had underestimated her it seemed, she had completely destroyed Trowa’s trust in Midii. He smiled in anticipation as he picked up the key Trowa had left on the desk and opened the door to find Midii pressed against the back wall, her eyes wide and frightened.
Richard. He’s supposed to already be in Blankenberge, she thought irrationally. Her face, pink and flushed with anger at Trowa and the exertions of pounding on the stubborn door, paled as at last she understood everything that had been happening. Richard knew everything. Richard had gotten to Trowa and made him suspect her. She backed slowly into the corner her mind racing.
Ichiban stared at her for a long moment. As always she played her role to perfection he thought vaguely, the trapped and terrified victim. Her performance didn’t move him to pity, not at all, although he had to admit he appreciated her effort.
“Hello Marguerite,” he said, reaching in and grasping her arm just above the elbow and pulling her against him.
Next time on The Price of Redemption . . . Wufei thinks Trowa made the wrong choice concerning Midii and takes matters into his own hands . . . Ichiban sets Midii up to take the blame for a horrible act of terrorism . . . Duo gets a chance to give a sermon . . Quatre acts in Trowa’s best interest but it may cost him everything . . . and what’s wrong with Relena?