by Midii Une
“all this is but a dream, too flattering-sweet to be substantial . . .”
--Romeo and Juliet
There was no beginning and no end to outer space. Infinitely vast, infinitely dark, infinitely cold. The brilliant gold-red explosion was a faint, brief glimmer of light and heat in the vast, cold, darkness.
He was sure that he would die, simply lose consciousness and drift away. He was prepared to meet death, welcomed it really. He wasn’t needed anymore, a superfluous soldier in a universe gone insane.
But he didn’t die.
He didn’t even lose consciousness. A thin stream of blood trickled maddeningly down his face, his hand automatically reached up to wipe it away but it was blocked by the glass of the helmet. Pain surged through him from the injuries caused by the concussive explosion of the Mobile Suit Vayeate.
In the nothingness, alone, there was no choice but to think and grow steadily colder as the icy temperatures of outer space permeated his body, trapped in the space suit that kept him alive against his will in this frozen hell of suffocating darkness and mind-wracking pain.
Over time, like the erosion caused by the violent passage of a rushing river through a sandstone gorge, the pain, cold and dark erased everything else from his mind.
Three days later a passing cargo shuttle veered its course to Colony WS36 to avoid a meteor shower. The crew pulled in the body of an OZ soldier. To their stunned amazement the man, little more than a boy really, was still alive . . . but he had no memories of who he was or how he had ended up alone in space.
She wondered if it was worth it to keep running and live another day, another week, another month at best. But some innate survival instinct motivated her to dump the clothes from a drawer into a carry-on bag.
She traveled light, she couldn’t stay in one place for more than a few days. The Romefeller Foundation had its most-wanted list of former EarthSphere Alliance personnel and the name Midii Une was at the top. Past accomplishments, including the infiltration of a colonial rebellion stronghold to detect Operation Meteor, were forgotten. She was Alliance and the Alliance had to be destroyed. It was a new world order and Romefeller would crush everyone between them and universal domination.
She shook her head at herself, laughing at her own vanity as she paused to re-apply her soft pink lipstick before leaving. The girl in the mirror wore a pale blue silk scarf, tied under the chin to partially cover her white-blonde hair. She wore dark glasses that covered the wide blue-gray eyes that matched the scarf and the expensive blue linen dress she wore.
If she was smart or desperate enough she’d cut and dye her trademark hair, masquerade as a boy perhaps. But she had too much pride and that was the only thing that kept her running. Her face, innocent as an angel’s, had been her fortune and her downfall.
They’d catch her eventually, but damnit she wouldn’t change who she was or how she looked. She’d go out in style. She had a reputation to maintain after all, the Alliance’s “devil in a blue dress.” And though staying alive meant little to her she didn’t want to go down without leading them on a torturous chase. If they wanted her they’d have to catch her first.
She hurried through the spaceport, it was always best to be the last one to board a shuttle, to make sure no one followed you. But she was cutting it very close this time. Her clothes and makeup belied her mere 15 years, strands of her pale hair escaped the scarf and framed her face and a faint hint of lavender fragrance clung to her. She paused to look for a shortcut to the gate when she collided with someone, her ability to react quickly allowing her to barely keep her footing.
“Watch it,” she snapped coldly and started to walk away.
The young man who had bumped into her had been staring at the ground as he walked, having wandered away from the cargo area of the spaceport where he’d been told to wait for medical attention. Something inside him had felt uneasy, he had to keep moving. It wasn’t good to stay in one place too long, you might get caught. His instincts told him this although he didn’t know who or what was after him.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
She took off her dark glasses and looked at him searchingly, the tone of his voice, tremulous and unsure, touching something in the soft heart she kept buried beneath her cold, confident exterior.
“He’s shell-shocked,” she thought, as he glanced at her and then dropped his eyes to the floor again.
Aloud she said. “That’s alright, I don’t think either of us were really watching where we were going. You look a little lost, can I help you find someone, something . . .”
He raised his eyes from the ground to look at her again. The tone of her voice touched something deep inside, making him wish he could hold on to this girl and never let go, never be alone in the dark again. Then he could listen to that softly-accented voice forever, it would dispel the silence, distract him from the undefined terrors that lurked at the edge of his mind. He wanted to be with someone.
He wanted to be with her.
She stared at him, recognition suddenly making her calm, impregnable heart start to pound wildly. She put a hand on his arm to keep him from walking away.
“Who are you,” she said, urgency in her voice. “Do I know you? What’s your name?”
He pulled his eyes away from her demanding blue-gray ones and shook his head. He didn’t know who he was.
She tightened her hand on his arm a bit. “Nanashi,” she whispered, and in her mind’s eyes she saw her younger self walking through the woods with a boy. Heard her own voice saying. “But everyone has a name. You must have one.” And the boy had just looked at her. “Well, I don’t,” he’d said flatly.
“Nanashi,” she said again, and the way she said it made it sound like a name. He nodded, it sounded right. She searched his face and found only confusion and fear and sadness in it. No memory of her or what they had once been to one another, friends, enemies. Nothing was left.
“You don’t remember me at all,” she gasped, her heart torn between wondering what awful thing had done this to him and secret joy that he didn’t know anymore and therefore he couldn’t possibly hate her.
“You’ve been hurt,” she said, touching her cool soft fingertips gently to the partially healed gash on his forehead.
“Come on, Nanashi,” she said, tucking her hand into the curve of his arm and directing him out of the spaceport. “I’ll take you home.”
“Do you know how this happened,” she asked softly, kneeling beside him on the sofa and dabbing at his forehead with a warm washcloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide. He was so pale and the shadows under his green eyes were like bruises.
He thought it might be a mirage. A warm room with lights and someone close beside him. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him, if he closed his eyes he might be back out there. He didn’t know where he had been except that it was cold and dark and that there had been pain. His body seemed to be healing faster than his mind.
“I don’t remember,” he said.
“That’s alright,” she murmured, touching his face softly with her hand.
He closed his eyes a second reacting to her soft touch, her fingers lingering on his face. But when he closed his eyes the darkness came back, he was in a place where no one could touch him. His lids flew open and he was back in the light again. She was so close she could feel his heart racing. He gasped and grabbed at the girl, burying his face in the curve of her neck and holding her like a drowning man would cling to a log in a rushing river.
She stroked his auburn hair, murmuring soft, soothing sounds as her own thoughts raced and her body responded to his desperate embrace. She wondered how he could have forgotten everything. She remembered those same green eyes gazing at her with anger and distrust as he turned away from her.
All that was wiped away now by some new and more horrible occurrence.
She tightened her arms around him, the intensity of her need matching his. Since that time she had closed her heart, closed off herself to everyone. Forced herself to maintain a facade of self-reliance and cold confidence. Inside however she was still the terrified little girl compelled to make choices no one ever should have to.
He belonged with her, he felt it. She said she’d known him, before he’d become this way. Why couldn’t he remember her, he wondered.
“Who are you,” he asked, continuing to hold on to her tightly, almost afraid to let go. “I want to remember you.”
She swallowed painfully. If she told him her name, he might remember, it might trigger something in his mind.
“I’m Midii,” she said. “We were friends when we were children, back on Earth.”
“Midii,” he said. But the word meant nothing to him.
She was relieved and concerned at the same time. Fate was being kind to her for once, she thought, giving her these moments with him like this. She could trick herself that his loss of memory was true forgiveness for how she had hurt him. But how long would it last, and then he might hate her even more for taking advantage of the situation to be with him like this. Yet, even though it was dangerous to stay on this colony she didn’t care. He didn’t have anyone else.
She pulled away from him slightly, gently loosening his grip with her hands. “You need some rest,” she said. “Try to sleep.”
As she reached over his shoulder to turn off the lamp his hand stopped her. Sadness filled her eyes. He was afraid of the dark even, she thought.
“I think I’ll leave the light on,” she said. “Just so I can check on you. I hope you don’t mind.”
He shook his head. She understood.
She went to the sink and splashed cold water on her face. She wondered what she was going to do. She should be long gone, they were closing in on her and he was in no shape to go on the run. But she couldn’t leave him. Midii clenched her fists in frustration, digging her perfectly-manicured nails into her palms and looking hopelessly into the water as it swirled down the drain.
She turned back to the sofa to look at him. He must be asleep, he must be exhausted, she thought. But his green eyes were open and they continued to stare at her through his long, auburn bangs.
“I think I forgot how to sleep,” he said apologetically.
She smiled and pulled a chair up beside the couch. “I had a little brother once,” she said. “Sometimes my Papa had to sit with him and hold his hand till he fell asleep, after my mother died. That always helped.”
She pulled his hand into hers and squeezed it softly. “I won’t go away,” she said. “Try to sleep.”
Finally his lids fluttered shut and she could tell he was asleep. “It worked Papa,” she said out loud. She tried to pull her hand from his, she wanted to stretch, walk around or something but his grip was too hard. He was so strong, despite his injuries, she thought. She could pull harder but he might wake up and he needed to sleep. The circles beneath his eyes told her it had been a long time since he had slept.
She sighed and leaned forward, laying her head on his chest and closing her own eyes. She curled her other hand up over his shoulder and fell asleep, listening to his heartbeat.
She dreamed of him.
It was so real, she thought she felt him shaking her shoulder. She raised her head from his chest and looked at him. His eyes had changed, they were like those of the boy.
“I remember you,” he said, and his voice was harsh and angry. She pulled away from him and he pulled out a gun. Her eyes widened and she couldn’t move. They were in a field, they were children. Tears flowed down her face but his face showed no emotion. He fired two shots then disappeared.
“Don’t leave me,” she screamed. “Nanashi!”
She jerked awake and sat up. He was looking at her.
“You’re crying,” he said.
She raised her hand to her face and touched the wetness. She hadn’t cried for so long.
“I haven’t cried since you left me behind,” she said wonderingly. She hadn’t thought she was even still able to cry.
“I don’t know why I left you,” he said, his voice sounding stronger. He knew she needed him now. He had to push his own fears aside for her. “But I’m sorry Midii.”
She crawled back onto the couch beside him and put her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her.
“How could I leave you,” he asked. “Did I love you then?”
“We were just children,” she said. “It was years ago. We didn’t talk about things like that.”
“I asked because I think I love you now, Midii,” he said, raising himself up on his elbow to look down at her. He brushed her cheek with his fingertips then bent his head to kiss the wet spot, tasting the salt of her tears on his lips. He felt her shiver a little as his lips moved over her face and down to her mouth.
She felt like sobbing, his kiss was making her heart pound and the back of her knees felt weak. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders pulling him down on top of her letting the weight of his body push her deep into the cushions of the soft old couch. The pressure of his lips increased and she parted hers, letting her tongue run over the curve of his lips, tasting him before he did the same to her. He held her tighter in a crushing grip. She moved her hips a little, restlessly beneath him and groaned as he moved his lips from hers to kiss her neck and she felt his hand tugging at the zipper in back of her dress. Finally the dress fell forward a little and she helped him pull it past her shoulders.
He looked at her and ran his hand over her shoulder and down her arm, entwining his fingers with hers.
“Oh Midii,” he said softly. “You are so beautiful.”
She took his hand and pressed it against her heart, beneath the fullness of her breast. He pushed her back into the cushions and kissed her again, his hand pushing away the lacy bra that covered her.
“Nanashi,” she whispered. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he answered, lowering his head to kiss the place between her breasts, breathing in the soft smell of lavender. His hips started to grind into hers as the spark of desire between them seemed to increase with their admissions of love.
She giggled a little and he looked at her.
“Your hair is tickling me,” she said, pushing it away from his forehead.
“You’re ticklish, hmm,” he said, a hint of wickedness in his voice, as he moved his hands teasingly over her waist and wiggled his fingers a little.
“No, please,” she said, laughing.
“Well, since you said please nicely,” he answered, covering her lips with his again.
She raised a hand to unbutton his shirt and she pushed it away from his shoulders. Midii sighed when she felt the heat of his skin under her hand. His skin was so smooth and she could feel the definition of his muscles hard beneath her fingertips. Her eyes clouded slightly when she saw the bruises he’d suffered fairly recently.
“Help me get this off,” she said, pulling away from him slightly, and he helped her pull the dress over her head. She ran a hand through her hair and shook her head a little so it fell back into place. Both of them gasped as he wrapped his arms around her again and they felt the contact of bare skin against bare skin. She clung to his shoulders as his kiss deepened.
She wanted him to make love to her so badly. There was an ache in the center of her being. She had always loved him, never forgotten the pain of his leaving her alone. And now this bittersweet moment. The knowledge that if she hadn’t done what she had they might have been together all this time. She might have saved him from whatever happened and she wouldn’t have done the things she had done.
“You’re shaking,” he said, feeling her tremble beneath him. He pulled away from her a little. “Are you afraid, should I stop,” he asked, his voice losing a little of the confidence it had gained.
“No, oh no,” she said, looking into those green eyes and seeing only love and desire there. There was no anger now and the sadness and confusion had been driven away for the moment by the stronger feelings he had for her.
“I want you to make love to me,” she whispered, leading him into the bedroom. “Oh please, stay with me tonight. I’ve been in love for you so long, you can’t know what it’s like to find you again.”
“I know,” he said, lifting her up onto the bed and grimacing a little at the strain on his bruises. “I don’t remember, but I know I must have been looking for you too. Midii.”
He pulled the blanket over them and pushed away the rest of her clothes.
“Are you sure,” he asked, though he doubted he could stop now.
She nodded, closing her eyes and holding her breath as he entered her slowly and then she let her breath out slowly. Midii wrapped her arms around his waist pulling him closer and deeper. “If this is all we ever have it will be enough,” she thought, as their bodies moved in rhythm and his lips caressed her neck and pressed down on the throbbing pulse beat.
He looked down at her face, the soft smile pulling at his heart. He knew he could never leave her, somehow without even knowing his own name he had stumbled on the one who loved him most in this world and who he loved in return. That was the one certain thing. If he was with her everything else would take care of itself. But even as she smiled, tears streaked her cheeks.
“What’s wrong,” he said, gathering her close in his arms. He felt like he barely had the strength to squeeze her, he had overdone it a bit, as injured as he had been recently.
“It’s over,” she said. “And I never wanted it to end.”
“Silly girl,” he said, kissing her softly. “I’ve only just found you, or rather you’ve just found me. We have the rest of our lives.”
She didn’t answer and when he fell asleep at last she stayed awake, holding him in her arms, cradling his head against her heart.
This is happiness, she thought. This is what it’s like to love and be loved. She tightened her arms around him. I wonder if I can bear to lose him now, if he remembers, she thought. But maybe he never will.
He slept a long time. He felt safe in her arms and the darkness didn’t bother him. And he had gone days without sleep. She held him and looked at him all day, memorizing his face, the weight of his body and the warmth of him against her.
A car door slammed somewhere far away and at first she ignored it but it was followed in succession by two more sharp slams. She was the only tenant in this apartment building, she’d wanted it that way. Any visitors would be coming for her. Midii tensed and jumped out of bed, pulling on blue silk robe and going to the window. She carefully peered through the closed Venetian blinds and saw that several men in nondescript suits were knocking on doors starting at the far end of the street. Strange for them to be out in the rain that had started to pour down like tears from heaven. She saw one of them turn and look toward her building, then nod.
Romefeller. They’d found her.
“Run, you have to run,” she thought. She stifled a scream as someone touched her.
“I missed you, come back to bed,” he said.
She lingered in his arms for only a split-second, closing her eyes briefly and touching his arm with her hand before pulling away. Then she turned and her face was different from the girl that he knew.
“I want you to get out. Get out of here right now. And go out the back so no one sees you,” she said, her voice emotionless, hard and cold.
He looked at her puzzled, sure he must be misunderstanding.
“Get out damnit,” she shouted, clenching her fists and squeezing her eyes shut so she wouldn’t have to look at him. She pulled open a drawer and pulled out a gun.
“I made a mistake you’re not who I thought you were. I don’t know you, get the hell out,” she repeated, pulling back the hammer.
He reached out to touch her.
“Midii,” he said, his voice confused again and his eyes puzzled.
She backed away.
“Get out before I shoot,” she said, turning away and finally hearing the door close behind him.
She ran to the window and watched him walk away down the back alley in the rain. She dropped to the floor and cried in big gulping sobs. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I love you.”
The door crashed open suddenly and she stood up, dashing the tears from her eyes and pointing the gun at the three men standing there.
One of the younger Romefeller agents felt disappointment. Was this the girl they’d been chasing so long? He’d expected a cool, exotic woman, not this teary-eyed young girl clutching a bathrobe around her in one hand and a gun in the other. She was nothing.
“Drop the gun or I’ll shoot,” one of the men said.
She laughed, the sound mixed with a sob.
“Just get it over with,” she said, pulling her trigger and letting the shot hit the door behind them.
“Just go ahead and kill me. Next time I won’t miss,” she said, she’d seen him again there was no more reason to go on living. They’d had a single night, but she couldn’t be with him now or ever. Better to die now before he remembered what she was.
She didn’t even feel the bullet that took her life.
It was dark and he was cold again. Alone again. The pattern of the lights on the wet pavement made his injured head ache. He walked, looking at the ground, not seeing the people around him.
A girl under a huge umbrella carrying a bag of groceries stared at the young man walking in the rain.
“Trowa,” she called uncertainly.
And he turned to look at her.