"Don't worry about me." Zechs stood at the glass wall of the
spaceport building, stuffing his hands deeper in the pockets. His eyes were
squinted against the sun. "I'll be okay."
A little absent smile appeared on his lips, so naive that it made Trowa's
heart clench painfully.
They landed on Adrianopolis right after the dawn but the spaceport of
Bajazet, the biggest city of the planet, was never quiet. As they stopped in
the hall on the first level, near to cash machines, people swarmed around them
in a steady fluctuating crowd. Not only people - various species - and Trowa
thought that Zechs didn't stand out against other humans at all, no more than
he and Quatre did.
"I'm sorry I can't get more money," Trowa said. He'd paid for the
landing permission, since he hadn't had a place reserved - and, doing that, he
entered his Misque code. He felt a bit nervous; all Misques had accounts they
could use when necessary - of course, it went without saying that the money
would be used only for the needs of the Order. What Trowa apprehended was that
they thought him dead and cancelled the access. But they didn't - and it filled
him with a warm feeling. So, they believed in him, they waited for him... they
knew he would come.
He took off the rest of the money from the account in cash and split it,
leaving a part for him and Quatre for a taxi and giving the rest to Zechs. It
was hardly for the needs of the Order but Trowa decided he would work it off
later. He couldn't leave Zechs just like that, without any connections, without
money... One could found it strange, almost incredible that he was concerned
about the man he'd feared and despised nearly hysterically just a short while
ago. But Trowa couldn't help it - it was how he felt.
"You have other things to think about," Zechs added in a soft
Trowa nodded and held Quatre's hand tighter. The boy was so quiet;
exhaustion made him apathetic. His curved eyelashes blinked tiredly over misted
In the beginning Trowa had worried how Quatre would feel about Zechs being
on the same ship with them. He even thought about not telling anything, because
Quatre was ill, he might've never even known. But he did tell, and Quatre went
very still - and then just said Trowa should give Zechs the ointment for his
hands - the one Doctor J had given them to make scars heal faster.
But Quatre must've been bothered more than he let out because once, in
half-delirious state, he just walked into Zechs' room when Trowa brought food
there. Trowa had to admit he was not nice to the boy at the moment, snapped at
him quite harshly. The situation was potentially dangerous - even if he almost
trusted Zechs by then.
Yet Zechs didn't try to do anything, just looked at Quatre intently.
"He's your former cellmate," he said to Trowa later, some surprise
in his voice.
"I know he is."
"I didn't think you and him... Oh well, I understand."
What the hell did he understand? It irritated Trowa because the closer they
were to Adrianopolis, the less he understood himself. And now, when he was in
Bajazet, there was no time left to ponder at all.
It'll be over soon, he thought. Quatre would give the vaccine away and be
well again. But what was he, Trowa, going to do?
There was no other answer to this, actually. He was returning to the Order,
was giving up everything else. His life and his soul belonged to Misques - and
all the rest was just a folly, a temporary distraction.
But how would he live without Quatre? How would he live without ever
touching the boy again? There was just too little, they just had sex only
twice: that first time - and then after the exchange of vaccine - and later
Quatre was willing but too weak to really participate, and Trowa didn't want to
burden him. They'd never do it again, would they?
"Good luck to you both," Zechs said, and Trowa thought it was him
who should've wished good luck to the morph.
"Bye, Zechs," Quatre said quietly.
"Bye, Quatre," Zechs smiled. "Bye, Trowa Barton."
He turned away, and Trowa found himself gazing at the tall narrow figure
walking away from them. The silhouette was somewhat huddled because of Zechs'
hands hidden in the pockets. The long sheet of smooth hair distinguished Zechs
from the crowd for a while and then he merged with others. Trowa led Quatre to
As the air-car glided between shimmering towers of Glass City, another name
of Bajazet, he couldn't resist, pulled Quatre against his chest, kissed soft
tangled hair and burning forehead.
"He doesn't want you to leave him," Trowa recalled Doctor
J's words. He and Quatre never talked about it - a topic that seemed to be
under a secret prohibition; and Trowa already knew Quatre was good at keeping
silent on the topics he didn't want to talk about. But now, as he met the boy's
eyes, so dark-blue they looked black, he suddenly knew that Quatre didn't talk
about it exactly because he understood everything.
Trowa kept himself from tightening his arms around Quatre, not to hurt the
boy. He realized he was biting his lip until feeling the taste of blood; but it
didn't help much to sober him. There were words he wanted to say but Trowa knew
he couldn't, didn't have the right to say them. Nothing could be changed any
I love you...
The car stopped at a tall lancet-like building; House Tervingi, the hotel
where Misques rented a floor. Over the reception desk, among others, Trowa saw
a small silver tab with joined lion heads - the symbol Trowa hadn't seen since
his insignia was torn off his jacket in Ismail prison. The symbol he remembered
as long as he remembered himself. Home; he was at home.
He felt weak, almost lightheaded when he introduced himself. Would they
accept him? Did they wait for him?
They did; they expected him and were ready. The elevator took him and Quatre
up - and as the doors slid apart, Trowa saw familiar burgundy-red uniform and
knew it was for real. His long way was finally over.
The General on Adrianopolis was a woman; a rather young one, with delicate
pale face and long almond eyes behind metal-rimmed glasses. She didn't smile,
as regulations demanded from her, but there was some softness in her gaze that
Trowa had never seen in Raymond Dien's or in any other Misque occupying a high
"Lieutenant Barton? We hoped you'd come. Every branch office was
informed that you could appear. It's very convenient that you got here, to
Her words did for Trowa what he couldn't reach during all the time before,
mustering himself into necessary emotions, into satisfaction with fulfilled
mission. Her words made him relieved, as if he knew for sure now everything was
going to be all right - Trowa didn't know which way but all right.
"I'm General Une," she said, "or Une, as my people call me
and you can call as well." Such a thing wouldn't be possible on Nevis -
but here it somehow seemed just right, and Trowa nodded, strangely pleased with
the sound of her name. Her longish eyes behind the glasses looked at him
attentively. "We kept sending inquiries to Marotania about you but all
they answered was that they had no idea of your whereabouts. Looks like for
once these monsters said the truth, didn't they?"
"I..." he started. "There was no way to return faster."
"Unfortunately." Une's voice had a small note of disappointment in
it. "So, as far as I understand, the vaccine is lost."
"Oh no," he broke in heatedly, suddenly flushed with the
importance of what he was going to say, of bringing good news. "It's not
lost! Quatre... he's carrying it..."
He turned to Quatre and realized he still held the boy's hand. Une didn't
refer to it in any way but, of course, she noticed. Quatre's small palm slipped
out of Trowa's hand. The boy seemed to feel so bad he hardly even noticed where
he was; his eyes, wide open, had a wild, unseeing look in them - and Trowa felt
a pang of pain at the wish to support him. But it would be inappropriate; even
touching another person was inappropriate.
"Oh." A brief flicker of joy on Une's face was as much as she
could afford showing. But her voice expressed more, filled with warmth.
"You're a true member of the Order, Lieutenant Barton. I'm sure your
determination won't be left without an award. Or a promotion. I think you well
He didn't care for an award - or rather he had his - being back with Misques
again, being accepted...
"It's not my credit," he said hastily, "I hardly did
anything, it's Quatre who took it on himself. And the flyer - I came in a
flyer, we'll need to return money for it..."
"By all means," Une said firmly, interrupting him. Two men at her
side moved when she made a sign to them. "We'll take care of
Trowa saw the men walk up, and one of them caught Quatre just a moment
before the boy seemed to be about to slip on the floor.
"Trowa," Quatre's voice was very weak - and somewhat panicked. He
didn't like when someone unfamiliar touched him, Trowa recalled and turned to
say that he'd take care of everything himself, but Une stopped him with a short
"Stay here, Lieutenant. Your participation is not needed. We have
everything ready to remove the vaccine - as I said, we expected you might come
He stayed - and the door shut after Quatre. It was going to be all right,
Trowa told himself, they'd take the vaccine out and Quatre would recover. Une
looked at him patiently, almost kindly.
"You can rest now, Lieutenant Barton - or I can call you Trowa, I
presume? You look exhausted. And you're probably hungry - I'll send you some
food here. Your uniform and your room will be ready shortly."
She and her people walked out, leaving him alone in a spacious, nearly empty
room. Strange - Misque rooms never seemed empty to Trowa before, and this one,
with its simple furniture and a lone decoration of lion heads was equipped
exactly in compliance with regulations.
To divert himself - and not to think about Quatre, Trowa looked through the
window. The sight was really spectacular - tall fragile spires,
half-transparent, and green-blue, blinding sky over it. It almost made you feel
as if there was no solid ground under the feet, feel floating.
The door opened and a robot-servant brought a tray with food. The taste was
as bland and the mixture apparently as nutritious as Misques' food usually was
but Trowa hardly could feel any taste anyway.
He wished so much he could be with Quatre. There was nothing he could do for
the boy at the moment, and Trowa told himself this wish was unreasonable,
egoistic. He paced around the room nervously, unable to snap out of the mood.
The robot gathered the plates and left the room.
Suddenly a thought came to him, and panic flooded him with choking wave.
Trowa stopped still, unable to take a breath for a moment. Misques... Misques
didn't consider anesthesia, all minor surgeries were carried out without it. A
real Misque should be invulnerable to pain... or should be able to handle it.
They would think it 'a minor surgery'. But Quatre was not a Misque! Oh no...
Trowa rushed to the door, to call for someone, to warn them - and his hands
stumbled against a smooth surface, immobile under his attempts.
Was he locked? He couldn't believe it, it must've been some mistake. Sick
feeling overwhelmed him, making him feel for a moment as if he was again in
morph prison, anxious to get out, unsure if he'd be able to do it, to fulfil
his task, make Raymond and others' death worthy.
Of course, it was an illusion, he was at home, was with the Order. He just
wished they didn't lock him... or leave him some way to communicate. There was
an intercom on the table and Trowa picked the receiver. No tone came.
He looked at the stupid machine, frowning, unable to figure out what it was
all about. He had to stop them, to let them know they should've used
anesthesia, not to hurt Quatre. Suddenly the room swayed in front of his eyes,
the floor going unsteady. He only felt like this when he was very ill... He
grabbed the corner of the table, trying to stay on his feet - but his hands
grew feeble as well, so, it didn't help and Trowa felt hard floor hit against
The food was spiked, he understood clearly. But why was it done and what
could he do about it - he didn't have time to think about it because blackness
took him and he gave in.
* * *
He came round in a different room and it was dark. His head pounded with
heavy, black pain and the feeling of sickness returned as soon as he moved.
Trowa scrambled out of the bed, shivering at the sensation of cold floor under
his bare feet. Starry sky and rich night illumination of Bajazet was behind the
window. He looked at it and barely had time to rush to the bathroom before his
stomach turned inside out.
The drug must've been a crude, utilitarian thing, used for its purpose
without regard of aftereffects. Trowa felt weak and cold and his brain still
refused to function properly.
What was it all about? Were they angry with him for something, considered
that he neglected his duties? But he'd done his best, hadn't he? His uniform
lay on a chair, just as Une promised him. Trowa touched it with the tips of his
fingers, recognizing familiar textile and feeling faintly queasy for some
reason instead of usual and appropriate pride. He didn't have much choice,
though, his own clothes were gone, so, he put it on.
The door was closed. He chided himself for being paranoid but couldn't help
it, struggled in vain to open it. The room was soundproof, they all were, so,
there was no sense in calling.
"What is it I've done?" he muttered instead, slipping on the floor
sullenly, drawing his bare feet closer; he wasn't given boots. "What is it
Didn't they trust him?
He realized suddenly that even two weeks before now this thought would make
him agonize with its bitterness; but at the moment he worried about other
He wanted to see Quatre, to make sure the boy was all right. The surgery
must've been over by now, Quatre probably already felt well. Wrapping his arms
around himself, Trowa closed his eyes and imagined the hot thin-armed embrace
of the boy, strength bordering on despair in it. He remembered those times when
he held Quatre, naked, against his own naked body, their nipples and their
Was he crazy? A member of the Order shouldn't have thought about these
things. But at that moment Trowa realized he didn't care for regulations. He
wouldn't give these memories away for anything.
The floor was icy but he didn't want to go back to the bed, in case if the
door opened while he was asleep and he would miss it. He did doze off after a
while, after his frozen body went so numb he didn't feel cold any more. He
hadn't dreamed about Raymond for a while - but now he saw the bony hard face
again, heard the voice he already started forgetting.
"It's for your own good, Trowa. You know where you belong."
The door clicked open after the dawn. There was a robot with a food tray
behind it but Trowa didn't feel hungry enough. Especially for another portion
of drug, he thought acidly and got scared with fury of his own thought. He'd
probably spent too much time surrounded by enemies that he kept expecting the
worst even now, when he was at home, with his own folks.
He passed the robot and walked along the corridor. His bare feet made a
slapping sound on the floor. The corridors had the usual feeling of a Misque
office: dark-red-clad men and women hurrying on their business, their
expressions almost identical in their withdrawn seriousness. Trowa wasn't quite
sure what he was looking for until he saw a small tab with Une's name on it. He
knocked and, when no one answered, he walked in.
The General was here - and a few more people - and as they looked at him,
Trowa felt embarrassed and chagrined at his forwardness. He hadn't been allowed
to enter, after all. A part of his mind told him to step away, to leave and
wait - but he didn't think he could wait any more.
"Trowa?" Une's voice was slightly concerned and quite mild - milder
than any other General's voice Trowa had ever heard. "Something
No, you just put me to sleep for God knows how many hours and kept me in a
locked room even longer, he wanted to say but said carefully instead:
"Did the surgery pass all right? Did you remove the vaccine?"
"Yes, sure," Une answered impassively, as if it was something that
went without saying, almost didn't need her attention. "One of our
disciples is just of the right age, she can carry it without any harm for
herself as long as it's necessary - as long as it takes to sort out the things
with the Coalition of Northern Region."
She turned away from him after saying that, indicating that the conversation
was over, tilted her beautiful head with flower-shaped coiffure towards another
men, said something quietly about the document in her hands.
"And Quatre?" Trowa found his voice gone suddenly. "Can I see
He saw a frown of displeasure between Une's delicate eyebrows; she paused as
if hesitating whether to answer - and this pause was enough to make terror and
grief flood him. He jerked forward, almost touched her.
"He died? Is he dead?"
"No, Lieutenant Barton, not at all." The passing to this form of
address must've been significant but Trowa didn't notice it. Relief, as
immediate as shock had been, made him tremble. "He was completely alive
and feeling well when he left our office."
The horrible meaning of her words took a little while to descend on him; for
a few seconds he looked at Une not quite able to process it.
"What... what did you say?"
Trowa heard disapproving noise of other Misques around him; he'd spoken too
loud, with an edge in his voice. An elderly man said sharply:
"You forget yourself, Lieutenant."
Une raised her thin-fingered hand to quiet him.
"It's all right. I just said that your companion walked away,
A sudden seizure of grief took his heart, feeling like steel vices. Quatre
was gone; he wouldn't see him again.
Of course, Trowa knew they'd have to part - no matter how he denied it; but
he told himself there still was time - if not for touching - then for talking,
for greedy looking at the boy's big-eyed face. He wasn't prepared to know that
Quatre just wasn't here.
And then another thought came, much more bitter and terrifying.
"How could he go? He's just had the surgery..."
"We have qualified doctors, don't you know?" Une's voice turned
freezing cold, all mildness gone from it. "He was taken care of, so, there
must be no any trouble."
The thought sickened him, of the scalpel cutting through Quatre's skin, of
the needle sewing the cut. It must've hurt... they would think that if a Misque
girl could take it without anesthesia, then Quatre surely could.
The thought was so agonizing that Trowa couldn't talk for a moment. Yet he
knew he had to talk.
"Why..." His voice badly obeyed him. "Why did you throw him
out? How... could you?"
"He doesn't want you to leave him..."
"Of course, we didn't throw him out," Une said calmly, her slender
finger readjusting the glasses on her nose. "He was properly thanked and
paid for his assistance to the Order. Speaking about payment, didn't you say
that you should reimburse the flyer you were using? If you tell us the account
number, we'll transfer money promptly."
He barely heard it; blood pounded in his ears deafeningly. His anger was so
strong he almost couldn't breathe. His voice came out tight, with a broken note
"He saved my life."
"Very possibly," Une said. "But you didn't expect him to stay
here, did you?"
He did; it was a secret dream, almost too naive to dwell on it - but the
truth was that in some ideal case Trowa thought it was possible. Of course,
Quatre couldn't become a Misque - he wasn't from Nevis and he wouldn't be
considered pure enough. But, maybe, he just could stay, in some way, to work
for the Order, to make it possible for Trowa to see him. Or to know he was all
right, at least.
"It's not a brothel to keep here your lovers, Lieutenant," the
same man said.
The mention of a brothel sounded outrageously rude - and Une winced at it,
but this time she didn't chide the man.
"Away on a mission, as you were, in extreme conditions," she
continued in her rich, sweet voice, "one can easily understand that you
could allow a kind of indiscretion. We're reasonable people, we don't punish
you for it. But you're a part of the Order now, Lieutenant. You're expected to
follow certain rules. And I'm afraid the presence of your young fellow traveler
doesn't comply with the rules."
"What if something happens to him..."
"It's not your concern any more, Lieutenant. Your concern should be
what else you can do for the Order. Did you forget whom your life belongs? The
Order saved you when you were supposed to be sent to processing, after your
mother gave you away. We brought you up. You gave the vows to serve Misques and
people of Nevis. Did you forget it?"
"I didn't," he whispered, his head lowered.
The words had a strange power over him, affecting him on subconscious level.
These were the words he'd heard from early childhood, that he remembered nearly
better than his own name. Yes, the Order had the right on him: he would be dead
- processed - if Misques hadn't taken him - and his duty was to serve them
without any regard at his own life and interests. He didn't have any interests
apart from the ones of the Order.
But Quatre was not a Misque; how could they do it to him?
"When did he go?" Trowa found himself asking. "I have to find
"No, you don't. And you won't, Lieutenant. If necessary, we'll limit
your freedom again - up until you part with your illusions."
Trowa looked at her in horror. So, that's why they locked him. Like a
"Lieutenant, it's difficult to overestimate the value of the vaccine
you brought us. We already started negotiations with the Northern Region. When
the assignation itself happens, you'll have the right to be present there. It's
a big honor for someone so young as you. Don't endanger your good
standing." Une's lips curved in a smile briefly.
He understood everything she said and didn't say. Don't resist, be a good
boy - and you'll be awarded. And Trowa's reason told him the same. Be good,
don't give them an occasion to lock you up. He would try to find Quatre... just
to make sure the boy was all right, no harm was done to him...
Trowa nodded. The room was swirling in front of his eyes - but he did the
right thing, demonstrated his readiness to obey.
"Daniel, Alexander, show Lieutenant the way to his room," Une
said. Two men from behind her walked forward; they probably were the same ones
who had taken Quatre away yesterday. Trowa couldn't help feeling a kind of
animosity towards them, even knowing they were not to blame.
And then he understood. She didn't believe him, she still wanted him to be locked
Trowa stepped away, his hand seeking the handle of his saber instinctively.
How weird... he wasn't given boots but the saber was there.
"Lieutenant, no need to be violent." Une's voice was perfectly
composed. "We don't like to apply force but we might be compelled to do so
if you resist."
No, he wanted to say, no. He thought about Quatre, recalled the gentle face
with so serious and yet so vulnerable eyes. It was so easy to hurt Quatre. He
recalled the thin voice calling his name - the last word he heard from Quatre
was his name; this time Trowa failed to help him.
He couldn't unclasp his hand; it was spasmed on the handle of the saber. The
men looked at him without anger, just with tried patience. Was he going to
fight them? It was absurd, they were his folks.
But as it happened, the choice was taken from him, because one of the men
raised his hand with a small black box in it, and a second later the paralyzer
was activated. Trowa felt every muscle in his body turn into nothing, his feet
give up, as he slumped on the floor.
Lying crumpled, he saw fine boots of Une walk up to him, stop at his face.
"It's for your own good, Trowa," she said in a soft, almost sweet
voice. "The Order will protect you from your own mistakes."
"We appreciate your assistance. Misque Order won't forget your help.
Please accept this small sign of our gratitude."
The female voice was melodic and calm. It flooded and ebbed somewhere behind
on the edge of my consciousness. There was blackness in front of my eyes; now
and then some objects floated out of it, colored in blinding light, and
disappeared again. I felt a grip on my wrist - and then something cool lay in
my palm. Money. They probably realized I was not holding it well, so, the same
hand put the plastic cards in my pocket.
I felt so weak. The pain was so harsh and continued for so long; it'd taken
me too much strength not to scream. I remembered lying on a surgical table and
them talking above me.
"Better fasten him down so that he won't thrash."
Then I didn't know yet why they needed it. They were a man and a woman in
lab coats and masks. Straps tightened on my wrists and ankles. I was about to
panic and try to fight but at the next moment met cherry-black eyes looking at
me from the next table.
A child; a girl, pretty like a doll, staring at me from under a fringe of
sleek dark hair with quiet seriousness. I think I smiled at her. I knew she was
going to take over the vaccine - and she was so young, she probably was afraid.
Her long curved eyelashes fell and rose but her expression didn't change.
A hand probed my belly, against the scar that almost healed. J had stitched
it very neatly, I hoped they would re-stitch it so that there would be no bad
trace. Like on Zechs' hands... his scars were really bad...
What was I thinking about? My mind wandered. J, Zechs, Trowa... If Trowa
only could be with me now; I remembered that time at the infirmary - then it
all seemed so easy because I could look in Trowa's eyes, so dark-green - like
leaves in dusk. And hold his hand...
"Here, I think," the man said - and suddenly pain splashed like
scalding water over my side. I hadn't realized they hadn't done an injection or
something, like J had done. For a moment I almost thought they just forgot.
It hurt; I didn't want to scream, bit my lips fiercely but the pain went on
and I didn't know how I would bear it.
"Hold him down," the man said, "he's trembling too
It was when I understood that they didn't forget but wanted it this way for
I hoped it would end soon; then I prayed for it to end - but it didn't, the
pain continued as the fingers went inside me, searching for the capsule. I felt
sick with blood that filled my mouth and I couldn't swallow it all, so, it
trickled from the corner of my mouth.
There must've been some sense in it, I told myself; maybe, it was things
like this that made Trowa as he was, made him that strong. Maybe, if I could
bear it, I would be at least in a way up to him, I would deserve him. For him,
there was nothing I wouldn't do.
They took out the capsule but pain didn't stop; it was tearing, like claws
cutting my insides.
"We'll stitch him later," the man said. "Now let's take care
I saw a scalpel in his hand and saw a cut he made on the girl's belly. They
cut her without anesthesia as well! I felt terror and felt shame for my
weakness. It surely was not so bad, if such a little one could endure it. Her
face wrinkled in pain, as if she was going to cry - but no tears appeared in
her eyes. She opened her small pink mouth and hissed - a sound like a kitten
makes when scared. They slid the capsule inside her and the woman got a
stitching machine in her hands.
Then the world started losing clearness for me. I barely felt how the
stitches were put on my cut. It hurt not there but deeper, as if I could still
feel fingers digging inside me. The girl was taken away - I wasn't sure when.
The darkness was pulsing slowly around me.
It was okay, it would pass soon, I told myself. I just had to bear it for a
little while. Then Trowa would come and everything would be okay. I just needed
a little rest.
Someone came; my vision was so bad for some reason that I couldn't even say
clearly if it was a doctor or one of dark-red-clad people - Misques. He pulled
me from the table.
"Come on, dress up."
Pain slammed so hard I almost fell on my knees, would do if he didn't hold
me. He shook me in annoyance and started helping me with my clothes.
"Trowa," I said. I thought they wanted me to meet Trowa. The man
didn't answer. He walked me somewhere, the grip of his hand on my upper arm
hard and steady. Then the female voice came.
"You can go now. We don't stop you."
I seemed to be in the elevator, go down - and then the door opened and I
felt cool draft of fresh air on my face.
* * *
It was when I understood I wouldn't see Trowa. I turned back, wanting to
protest even though I didn't quite know what I could say - and the man stepped
forward, caught my shoulder and said looking down at me:
"Leave Trowa Barton alone. He doesn't want you."
He pushed me away and I stumbled - and the door slammed shut.
I hovered on the front steps; pain made me weak and dumb. It took a little
while for the meaning of the man's words to settle. I felt shell-shocked - so
slow in taking in what happened, what I was supposed to do. Trowa didn't want
me... he wanted me to leave.
"It isn't true," I whispered. It was a bright day; the sun blazed
in the sky; but it was also cold - or it seemed so to me. I wrapped my arms
around myself, trying to get warmer. Under my touch, pain pulsed in my left
side, burning hot. The sun was turning black now and then.
Wasn't it true? I never expected to stay with Trowa after he got back to his
Order. I knew it was not possible - his whole life was with Misques; and in
this life I didn't have place. I just didn't want him to die - wanted him to
have what he wanted, couldn't see him so unhappy. I just wanted to stay with
him a little longer - at least as long as it took to get here.
Now he was with his people - and what did I expect? What did I want, what
kind of award? Trowa never made any promises to me. So, everything was as it
had to be.
I just wanted to see him. Just one more time; just to see his beautiful face
half-hidden under the long bangs, meet serious gaze of his dark-green eyes.
Even if he didn't touch me ever again... if I only could see him, it would be
so different. I knew it would stop hurting then.
But he didn't want me - so, I had to go.
The first steps brought waves of agonizing pain through my belly. I held my
side, feeling tender stitched gash under my hands. It didn't stop throbbing but
I kept walking, just one step after another. And when, after I don't know how
long, I looked back, I couldn't see the building of the hotel, lost among other
glass towers of the city.
I had to start my life on my own; without Trowa. It surely was possible - I
had lived no problem before knowing him - so, I would be able to do it again. Maybe,
I just needed some time; some time to heal - some time for the thoughts of
Trowa to lose their excruciating freshness. But, maybe, I didn't want to heal;
I didn't want to forget.
I stopped on a quiet corner and counted the money I had. It was enough to
get a room in a place where no one would ask questions - and stay there...
until the pain passed. It was a good idea and I tried to will my body into
moving. I would manage it if thoughts of Trowa, Trowa's face and voice didn't
haunt me. I couldn't stand it; pain broke me down on my knees and I crouched,
Time seemed to get funny. I didn't know how long I stayed like this. It got
even colder; maybe, evening was approaching. After a while I made myself get up
- and nearly fell again. Pain in my side was so bad I would throw up if I had
something in my stomach.
There was a curious feeling on my skin and I looked down. The left side of
my shirt was soaked in blood.
It wasn't supposed to be like that, I knew it; something was wrong. I prodded
myself in making a few more steps and then thought I wouldn't be able to find a
room, just wouldn't be able to walk that long. And anyway, they would hardly
take me, bleeding like this.
Blackness threatened to surround me again and I thought panicky that if I
fell in the street, they would take me into processing - a person without
documents as I was. I didn't know why I cared but the thought of being
deconstructed into organs somehow made me sick.
It was what made me move, after all. I hobbled to the taxi box and pushed a
button. An air-car appeared almost immediately; the driver gave me a look as I
got on the back seat.
"I have money," I mumbled, desperate for my words to sound clear.
"Take me to a hospital, please."
He still kept casting suspicious looks at me; I hung on the remnants of
consciousness desperately. If I passed out, nothing prevented him to take the
money and dump me again - and then processing... But there was a moment when I
knew I wouldn't hold on - and, anyway, what did it matter what happened to me.
So, I closed my eyes and let it go.
I didn't expect to wake up. But as it happened, I did. The room was white
and warm and seemed a bit fuzzy - but pain was gone. I wanted to turn and
didn't know why I couldn't; I grew so weak.
"Shh, don't move." A woman with kind aged face bent to me; her
soft hand brushed over my forehead. "You don't need to go anywhere."
"Don't I?" I couldn't hear my own voice but it didn't matter. Her
words sounded so good; it was so nice not to have to go. She smiled and patted
"It was a close call, you know. You're lucky the doctor got you, child.
Someone had done a butcher's job on you, your spleen was all shredded. But
you'll be okay now, you'll be okay..."
The End of Chapter 11
& & &
They did lock him after all; and they took away his saber. The latter didn't
matter - he wasn't going to go violent anyway. With all this time at his
disposal, alone in the room too cold to sleep, Trowa had come to some
decisions. There must've been a way to find Quatre - or to find out if he was
okay. Please, Trowa thought, please let him be okay... even if I won't ever see
But to start searching, he at least had to be out. Une understood it as
well; or perhaps she was not satisfied with his repentance yet.
He got a book on the history of the Order, the regulations and the book of
oaths as his company - the reading that was supposed to turn Trowa on the right
track of mind. He read them; he prayed and repented kneeling, three times a
day, as it was expected. But, maybe, for Une his unceasing pacing told more
than his proper behavior. Trowa knew it was unreasonable to give himself away
like that but his anxiety was too strong, and again he found himself measuring
the perimeter of the room... like he'd done in prison cell a few weeks ago.
Then he grew so weak that walking became an ordeal.
One time after he got locked, a robot brought him food and pushed it through
the opening in the door. But later there was nothing. Fasting was a normal
penance for lawbreakers, so, Trowa wasn't surprised. There was water in the tap
and it was good because it meant he didn't need to suffer with thirst as well.
He felt hunger pains only first two days and ignored them quite easily - and
then there was just weakness.
Trowa stopped walking finally and just lay in bed, facing the door, waiting
for it to open. It must've opened, sooner or later - they were not going to let
him die, right?
He thought he started having hallucinations from long staring when the
window on the door suddenly opened and an apple rolled through it and landed on
the floor. Trowa blinked but it didn't go away, so he got off the bed
cautiously and picked it up. It was big, hard and red and smelled beautifully.
It smelled so good, in fact, that for a few moments Trowa couldn't believe it
"Hey, are you going to eat it?" a thin voice came from behind the
door. The shutter of the door was slightly raised. Trowa came closer, looked
through it and met a gaze of very black bright eyes glistening from under a
dark fringe. "Eat it before they find out."
"Thank you," he said, slightly lost, and bit into the apple.
"Ugh-ghu," the girl said. "I'm Susanne."
She was standing on a stool, he could notice, to be able to look into the
opening. She looked like a doll in her tight-fitting uniform, with a small
saber and a cap of smooth black hair. She tilted her head awry, listening to
the sounds in the corridor.
"Be careful," Trowa said. "They'll punish you if they see you
"I am careful," she said and Trowa knew she meant it. She had that
usual feeling of a Misque disciple around herself - so serious, so dignified;
even as they were talking through the half-raised shutter. And then something
glittered in her eyes. "Why did they lock you? Because you wanted to see
He felt a pang of apprehension at her words; she knew about Quatre...
Susanne seemed just of the right age, could she be the one who carried the
"Did you see him?" he asked with faltering voice. She nodded and
suddenly pulled her jacket up. A scar under her ribs was long and glaring red.
"Does it hurt?" Trowa asked quietly.
"No. Not any more." She added seriously. "In the beginning it
did. And your friend - he was hurt, too."
It was nothing Trowa didn't suspect - but knowing it for sure suddenly made
him feel weak. He pressed his forehead to the door, waiting anguish to let him
"He's strong," Susanne said. "Almost like a Misque."
There was stinging in his eyes and Trowa struggled, knowing that tears were
so close. Of course, Quatre was strong. His beautiful boy, his little prince
was strong and brave. Trowa's vision became blurry but he raised his head and
smiled at Susanne.
"Did he draw that?" she asked suddenly plucking a folded paper
from under her jacket.
The lush forest of startling colors - emerald of leaves, blue and red and
yellow of exotic birds; and among green, a long stealing body of a great black
cat, a brown bulk of a bear, golden coils of a huge snake... Trowa had thought
the drawing was lost, gone with his clothes, maybe, burnt. He missed it so
"I know this book," Susanne said.
"The book," she repeated. "It's about jungles, about a boy
who was lost and brought up by wolves. He didn't draw the boy, did he? My
mother read the book to me."
Trowa couldn't let the paper go. His fingers clasped on it too hard. But it
was all he had left from Quatre, wasn't it? He managed to take control over
"When did your mother give you away?" It probably was not so long
time ago, if Susanne remembered what she was read; it must've been so difficult
for her, at this age.
"She didn't give me away," the girl said seriously. "She
wouldn't ever do such a thing. She always said if she was to have a child above
the quote, she would better leave Nevis than give her own child away. She
died," Susanne finished abruptly.
"Oh. I'm sorry."
He saw her blink quickly, her eyes wet. Then she looked up.
"It's okay. Une loves me. She takes care of me. She trusted me to carry
the vaccine. It's an honor."
"Don't you feel bad?" Trowa knew she wasn't supposed to but it
still surprised him.
"Not at all," she shook her head. "And, anyway, soon we'll
pass the vaccine to the Coalition. Une is negotiating now. Soon we'll go to the
Northern Region and give it away. It'll be so interesting! I'll see new places!
I haven't seen anything but Nevis and this place..."
She suddenly stopped on a half-phrase, rolled down from the stool.
"Someone's going! Bye!"
"Bye," Trowa said letting the shutter fall.
The apple tasted wonderful. He tried to make it last as long as possible but
it didn't quite work. Then he just lay touching Quatre's drawing with the tips
of his fingers.
It turned out I'd spent four days unconscious after being brought to the
hospital and having my spleen removed. It cost way more money that I had.
Megan, the kind nurse, asked whether I by chance had an insurance. I said 'no',
I never had one. She still made me give her my name and checked it in the
"No, you don't," she agreed with a sigh. "All right, maybe,
the doctor will come up with something. She won't want you to go to the street
in your state."
I really had no idea what to do; they could've kicked me out now but I still
had nothing to pay with.
"I can sign a contract and pay as I earn," I suggested when Doctor
"And how are you going to earn?" she asked with a frown on her
Well, I wasn't going to discuss it. In fact, I wasn't sure I would be able
to earn money as before. What good was I when a man touching me made me freak
out, sent me into unbeatable panic? But if I had to, I knew I would be able to
cope with it. After all, they'd saved my life at this hospital.
"All right," finally Doctor Po said with a wince. "Stay here
until you get well - and then we'll decide something."
It was two days later she came to my ward glowing quietly, excitement
filling her eyes.
"You know what, Quatre?" She sat on my bed, which was unusual, and
she smiled - with was even more unusual. "I've got your blood test. I
thought there was something, so, I sent it to re-check. Have you ever been in
the Northern Region? Well, I meant to ask if you ever had seizure-flu."
I didn't know what to answer, so, I nodded.
"It's amazing. Seizure-flu, even if a patient survives, doesn't leave
immunity. But you have it in your blood."
It must've been the aftereffect of the capsule.
"In fact," she continued, "it's so strong it's apparently
possible to make a vaccine... It can save so many lives."
It wasn't necessary, I wanted to say; Trowa had delivered the vaccine, and
the Northern Region would receive it soon. But I didn't know if I could talk
"It's amazing," Doctor Poe repeated. I just nodded. She looked at
me and then said with a sigh. "You're a good kid, Quatre, but you're so
quiet. You aren't in pain, are you? Megan can give you something."
"I'm okay," I said.
"Well," she shook her head. "We'll work together now, right?
And a good thing is that you'll stay here so far. Actually, you won't get away
from me until we're through," she added gently.
It was good I could stay here so far. When she left, I turned away and
stared at the wall - as I usually did.
They finally came for him. Trowa got fresh clothes, boots, his saber back
and a proper meal. The men treated him indifferently but without condemnation,
so, he thought he must've redeemed his fault. He felt anxious about being let
go, left alone - wanted to get to the computer and start checking whether he
could find Quatre. It was hardly a good way but at least he could check... he
couldn't bear the thought of it - he could check if Quatre was on the lists of
But a man called Daniel never left his side - and there were others around -
and then the General appeared. Trowa saw Susanne at her side, caught a short
sly gaze the girl cast at him.
"I'm pleased to inform you that negotiations with the Coalition of the
Northern Region has just completed. They fully agreed to our conditions. So,
we'll starting there tomorrow."
Despite his weariness, Trowa felt a wave of excitement, probably induced
from others, felt the familiar pride for the Order, pleasure of being a part of
something so good and so powerful. Une waited until restrained exultation
stopped, then raised her delicate hand.
"The delegation will consist of me, General Une, the leader of the
delegation; Captain Daniel Hayes; Adjutant Masanori Aono; Adjutant Darla Aster;
Lieutenant Trowa Barton; Disciple Susanne Wright."
Her beautiful eyes stopped at Trowa as she mentioned his name. She hadn't
lied telling him that he would participate in the final procedure. Well, a
Misque General wouldn't lie, would she?
"See you all tomorrow at five," she said. "Daniel, check that
Lieutenant Barton stays in his room till departure, will you? He isn't fit to
walk around much yet."
It wasn't right! Unfairness of it shocked and sickened him. Trowa needed
time alone, he needed a computer - had to do something to find Quatre... If
only he knew Quatre was alive - it would change everything. Then he would do
whatever Une and others wanted him to do.
He thought he could make a deal with her.
"Sir, I need..."
"Please, Lieutenant," she winced as if he was causing her
headache. "I thought you learned your lesson. In any case, I don't feel up
to arguing with you any more. You go to your room now, tomorrow we all go to
the Northern Region and then I'll pass you to our brothers from Nevis. I'm sure
they'll find a way to come to understanding with you."
If she hadn't said it, if she'd just let him make the search - everything
probably would have been different.
He spent the night looking at the dark-green sky through the huge window of
It was so difficult. The Order was his only home, the place where he was
always accepted. Even punishing, they never turned away from him, never
rejected him. Everything they did was just to keep him as a part of the Order.
As long as he was with Misques, he never had to feel alone. He always had a
place where to go.
He thought about Zechs, rejected by his own people and not accepted among
humans. This fate scared him so much... Then, in prison, Zechs had been right -
it was what Trowa feared most of all. He recalled how Zechs walked away from
them in the spaceport - to nowhere; it still filled him with sadness and sense
of wrongness to think about it. But there were things that caused him more
anguish - so much anguish, in fact, that Trowa wasn't sure he would be able to
live with it - with knowing that he'd left Quatre alone, never done anything to
find the boy.
In the morning Daniel came up for him. Trowa followed the rest of the
delegation for the early breakfast and then the air-car took them to the
spaceport. On the backseat, Susanne took the place between him and Daniel, and
Trowa was grateful for it. He could feel her bird-like light body pressed
against his side and he liked it. She kept silent - they weren't supposed to
know each other, apparently, and Susanne was good at keeping secrets - but her
small hand touched his once or twice, as if accidentally, and Trowa felt sad
and warm with it.
The girl still had so much of a homely child in her; in few years she
probably would become just like any other Misque.
The lounge where they waited for the flight was a glass cupola with huge
deep armchairs. Only two groups settled there so far: Misques and a delegation
of Sillarians - their black round bodies shining in the rising sun, their long
thin tentacles touching unceasingly as they carried on their tactile
A robot suggested drinks. Trowa took a few sips of orange juice and thought
it was even better that Sillarians were here. The aliens had to use
speech-adapters to talk with humans but they understood everything. Misques
wouldn't allow a scandal in front of them.
He put the glass on the robot's tray and got up.
"Where're you going, Trowa?" Une looked up at him from the book
she read, her gaze tired and slightly miffed.
"I quit," he said. Oh God, till the last moment he wasn't sure he
could say these words. But then he said them - had broken his oath; and nothing
happened, he didn't fall through the ground. It didn't become easy either - but
at least there was no way back.
"Sit down," Une said. It looked like she didn't understand, just
wanted him not to stand out in front of the aliens.
"Good bye," Trowa said. He wanted to say special good-bye for
Susanne but didn't want to endanger the girl. Her eyes and mouth were round as
she looked at him. He walked to the door.
"Daniel, follow him," Une said behind him. Trowa turned to her.
"You won't try to stop me, will you? It will be most
He walked out of the lounge and the glass door closed behind him. He
couldn't afford lingering, so, he kept going.
"Barton!" It was Daniel's voice; the man did follow him, after
"What? Are you going to paralyze me..." he started, looking back -
and suddenly in front of his eyes the transparent dome of the lounge burst out
in fountains of glass. There was no sound - and it made the picture completely
unreal, like some crazy dream. It only seems to me, Trowa had time to think -
and then something heavy, like a huge paw, hit him. The world swirled around
him - and darkness came.
When he could see again, it was the floor he saw in front of his eyes. Or he
thought it was the floor; bright geometric ornaments that decorated it were
barely visible now, hidden under a layer of crushed glass. Glass was smeared in
red - and for some reason Trowa didn't like how it looked, even if he couldn't
quite find a word for it.
He moved a little - and saw a few prone bodies, on the right and in front of
him. One man didn't move - but a woman next to him knelt and her mouth was
opened as she pressed her arm to her chest. There were muscles visible in her
arm and white bones, and Trowa understood suddenly that she was screaming.
He didn't hear it; he heard nothing. People were running away and towards
him but it was so quiet - just steady rustle of blood in his ears. Trowa got on
his knees and saw Daniel. The man lay on the floor, face down, and long slivers
of glass stuck from his jacket-covered back. There was such awkwardness in the
position of his arms and legs that Trowa knew at once he was dead, even before
seeing a huge pool of red spreading under him.
Behind Daniel, there was the lounge. Or there must have been - because it
wasn't there. Just heaps of glass and plastic piled on its place.
It couldn't be; it must've been some mistake... his imagination... It just
couldn't have happened. Trowa walked towards the crushed heap of debris. The
floor seemed to rock under his feet and there was something that hindered him
to walk but he didn't pay attention.
He saw Sillarians first, their black bodies thickly coated in green of their
blood. And then there was wine-red - of Misque uniform - and broken bodies on
the floor. A terrible feeling of deja vu flooded him. He had seen it before -
his comrades lying dead on the floor of the hangar in morph prison. But this
wasn't a memory; it was real.
Glass among glass broke under his foot. Une's spectacles. And then he saw a
smaller body among adult ones - a broken doll left by a giant child. He fell on
his knees on the shattered glass and picked Susanne up.
The front of Susanne's jacket was soggy with blood and torn - and in thick
red Trowa saw black splinters of broken capsule stuck there. Her eyes were
opened, not even dulled yet - and there was a surprised, uncomprehending
expression frozen in them.
He felt warmth of her face as he closed her eyes - and her blood was soaking
into his clothes as he pressed her to his chest. He shook in dry, racking sobs.
Someone touched his shoulder. He reacted violently, jerking away. A man in
police uniform said something but Trowa couldn't hear a word. There was just
this quiet noise in his ears and that's all.
//"Give her to me."// He finally understood what the man said but
it didn't mean he was going to obey.
"W-why d-did they do it?" he asked. He suddenly realized he was
stammering; it didn't happen to him before. The man's eyes got a compassionate
look in them. Trowa knew he said something, probably answered Trowa's question.
Another man took Susanne from his hands - and then there was a doctor next
to him. Obtrusive hands patted him all over. He wanted to shake them off, to
say he was okay. Then he understood what bothered him all the time, even though
he didn't feel pain. A fragment of his own saber stuck from his side. Trowa
reached to pull it out but the doctor got agitated suddenly, brushed his hands
away - and then an oxygen mask was put on his face and he felt very
light-headed. He didn't resist when they put him on stretchers and took him
somewhere. He just didn't care.
* * *
He didn't care what they did to him. He would prefer they stopped fussing
around him but to tell them that meant start arguing, and Trowa didn't want it.
Finally they left him alone, after taking out the piece of the saber and a few
splinters of glass. No one bothered him any more; there were other people in
the ward but they all were too wrapped up in their own suffering to pay him
attention. Silence enveloped him like a swaying shroud.
Well, the truth was he started hearing just a little. Bits and pieces - just
enough to understand that he was considered 'lucky'; that the explosion was an
attempt of assassination of Sillarian delegation - a successful attempt,
obviously; that the blast was so strong there were over thirty wounded among
those who just had been near to the lounge.
So, he had his answer to 'why'; or hadn't he? There could be no answer, no
explanation as to why Susanne had to die. The same was about Une and others;
and how many more lives would be lost because now the vaccine was destroyed.
But it was Susanne Trowa mostly thought about.
In some way, the thoughts of her were connected in his mind to the thoughts
of Quatre; her death amplified his loss. She was gone - just like Quatre was
gone. Trowa lost both of them. He never could protect anyone who was near to
him; neither the girl who was so kind to him, nor the boy who trusted him. He
failed them both.
Trowa would hate himself - but instead of self-hatred there was just
emptiness inside him. He didn't want anything; he didn't want to exist - to get
attached to someone else, to lose someone else. It would be better if he just
let it go.
Shadows flickered in front of his eyes, from the big TV screen - his
neighbors watched news. It didn't bother him; nothing did. There was numbness
spreading through him slowly - and Trowa knew soon he wouldn't feel sad any
more. Everything would just be gone.
There was some movement next to him but he refused to look, refused to hear,
wrapping himself deeper in his cocoon of solitude. And then something made him
look and he turned - and there was Quatre looking down at him, his huge
dark-blue eyes full of worry.
At the next moment Quatre's eyes brightened, his small hands lay on Trowa's
face and he said something, Trowa couldn't discern what.
"Y-you're real, aren't you?" It was a silly question - no
hallucination could feel so real as the hands cupping his cheeks - but Trowa
had to make sure. Quatre nodded eagerly; there was a smile on his lips but his
eyelashes trembled as if he was going to cry. "You're okay..."
"Yes," Quatre said, and now Trowa could hear him, better with
every word. "I saw the news, about the explosion, and that there were
Misques there. And they brought the wounded to our hospital, and I thought you
could be there, so, I looked for you and found you..."
Of course, it was Quatre; who else could talk that much without breaking for
"G-good," Trowa said. "That you f-found me."
Quatre's eyes went round.
"You're stammering! It must be shellshock. But it'll pass, I know it'll
Trowa looked at him, frowning, recalling how Quatre said 'our hospital',
taking in his hospital shirt. He wanted to ask so much but Quatre's soft palm
covered his mouth.
"No, don't talk! You must not. You have to rest, have to be
I don't want to be quiet, Trowa thought, I almost went too far into
quietness. He caught Quatre's hands and pulled him closer - and after a little
resistance the boy climbed on his bed, pressed towards him. Quatre's thin arms
wrapped around Trowa's neck. He felt Quatre's warm breath tickle on his neck
and moved getting even closer.
"Careful, you'll hurt yourself," Quatre said insistently - and
then whispered in a small voice, his fingertips touching Trowa's face
tentatively. "Please get well, okay?"
It was bliss; he could spend all his life like that, with Quatre pressed to
his side, feeling the boy's skinny form in his arms, with fluttering touching
of Quatre's fingers on his face. But there was something he needed to say, so,
he moved to be able to face Quatre.
"Will you stay with me forever?" he asked. "Please don't
Dark-blue of Quatre's eyes was so deep he could drown there - wanted to
"But how..." Quatre started and Trowa knew what he was going to
ask - and it was easy to answer.
"I left the Order."
"It's nothing. Will you just be with me?"
Quatre's arms tighten around him - and he knew it was the answer, knew it
when Quatre pressed his head to Trowa's shoulder, his hot forehead and soft
hair against Trowa's collarbones. But he still was glad when he heard the boy
whisper quietly with his face hidden:
"Of course, Trowa. Of course, I will."
The End of Chapter 12
& & &
Sometimes at night Trowa woke up in a fit of unreasonable fear when it all
seemed an illusion to him, seemed that he'd never found Quatre. But then he
looked at the boy, curled in the next bed, and a glowing feeling of
completeness came to him again. He'd never been happier in his life. He got
Quatre back - and Trowa knew he wouldn't make another mistake like losing him
once again. Everything else was almost dispensable. They had nowhere to go; it
was, maybe, days till Trowa would recover and it wouldn't be possible to stay
at the hospital. They had no money. They actually had no past - well, the only
past Trowa had was with Misques and he knew he would never go back to them.
"What shall we d-do?" he asked Quatre. His stammering almost
passed, recurring just occasionally.
"Something. Find a job. Find a flat. Live." Quatre's thumb pressed
to his lips to make him silent and it distracted Trowa from any arguments he
might have. He pulled Quatre in his arms and kissed; he could never have enough
of the boy's closeness, of feeling Quatre's fragile body and soft skin, of
Quatre's ability to kiss so, that Trowa forgot how to breathe and felt
wonderfully lightheaded after that.
They'd made love two days after Trowa got to the hospital. It was awkward,
because Quatre insisted on his lying still - and Trowa just couldn't lie still.
But the thought that they had so much time before them, would have chance to do
it again and again filled him with wild, intoxicating joy.
Doctor Po and others at the hospital didn't seem to mind their affair. One
of the nurses, a kind-looking elderly one, said to Trowa once:
"It's good he found you. He was always so sad, I thought he would never
It looked like it worked out somehow with the vaccine for seizure-flu, and
Trowa couldn't help seeing it as anything but a miracle; although what supreme
forces could be so kind to him - certainly not the ones of Misques. It might be
some Quatre's guardian angel.
It was early morning and Quatre was in Trowa's bed, his head on Trowa's
chest. There was something going on TV but Trowa found it difficult to
concentrate while Quatre's small cold feet rubbed against his. He cast a glance
at Quatre and caught a sly sparkle of dark-blue eyes under the long eyelashes.
"I'm just trying to get warm," Quatre grinned. And at the next
moment the door opened and Doctor Po walked in. Her usually serene face had a
strange confused expression - and there were two men in civil clothes behind
"Quatre." Her hands were clasped tightly, in a gesture so nervous
that Trowa felt suddenly disturbed. "There's someone who wants to see
The men stepped forward and Doctor Po backed away.
"Quatre Winner. You're under arrest."
It was crazy. They couldn't mean it. What for were they going to arrest him?
Trowa saw Quatre look at them, his head raised from Trowa's chest, a pink trace
left on his cheek from crumpled material.
"Before you ask whether it's a joke or a mistake," one of the men
said, "here's the warrant."
Trowa felt his arm tighten around Quatre involuntarily, as if by holding the
boy hard enough he could make these crazy people go away. What the fuck was it
all about? Quatre wasn't supposed to have anything to do with police at all.
Some officials had visited Trowa when there had been an investigation about the
explosion - but Quatre wasn't involved in anything.
The boy's eyes were so huge and dark, and there was such a weird expression
in them, Trowa couldn't figure it out. He felt Quatre move away and held him
"No, wait. What's the charge?"
One of the men was younger, the other old and fat, with hoarse irritated
"What the hell?" Trowa didn't know whether he was more angry or
astonished. It was so ridiculous he even felt some kind of relief. "Does
he look like a prostitute or anything? He's at the hospital if you didn't
"The statute of limitation for this crime is three years. Three years
didn't pass since the last act - so, we have every reason to arrest him."
The twisted logic of that made him feel creepy. And he knew there must've
been something else, they couldn't bother just with this absurd accusation.
"You don't have any evidence against him."
"Oh yes, we do," the younger man said with a short smile.
"The most solid evidence there can be. His own confession."
Trowa felt Quatre sit up, move away from him - and felt sudden emptiness of
not having the boy close any more. As if Trowa's arms could really protect
him... The man turned his wrist, his watch showing a small screen, and Trowa
heard Quatre's voice, distorted slightly with recording but completely
"I was with a client... Morphs were after the man, I think, so, they
arrested us together."
"Did you know the man?" It was Treize's voice, quiet and
"Barely. He picked me up once or twice before."
"You mean he bought your services?"
So, it was a part of Quatre's statement - the one Trowa had never heard, the
one Treize had sent wherever he wanted to send it. Trowa felt anger fill him.
They didn't have right to use it - how dared they? Quatre's face was flushed,
his eyes cast down - and Trowa saw him move a little more away unconsciously.
No, don't go, he wanted to scream. There's nothing to be ashamed of - it's
them who should've felt shame!
"He told it all on his own accord," the fat man said with
satisfaction. "We usually have to spend more time coaxing criminals into
confession. But the little fool made it all so easy for us."
The man's voice, open contempt in it made heat rushed in Trowa's face; he
clenched his fists. The man must've noticed it because a paralyzer, much
similar to the one Misques used, appeared in his hand.
"Don't move, kid. Or you'll get really, really hurt. You know what's
the difference between a police model and a standard one? Ours works much
faster - but has a side effect: hurts like hell. All right, let's take him,
The younger man moved towards the bed and Trowa tensed, ready to lash. He
was pretty sure he would be able to take the man down before the other one
would shoot. But how to let Quatre know he should run?
He cast a look at Quatre and knew suddenly that it wouldn't work. Quatre
wouldn't try to escape. And anyway, where would he go? To become a fugitive,
hunted by police? Yet the thought of these men taking Quatre away was
"Don't try to play smart," the man said. "Did you hear what I
said? I'll shoot if you just move a finger."
A dark-blue flash of Quatre's eyes was desperate, pleading as he turned
"Please, Trowa. Don't do anything. I'll go with them."
He didn't know what to say; he couldn't be quite reasonable. Quatre gave him
a look, both stern and imploring, and got up from the bed.
"Let's not get it trouble, please, Trowa. I'm sure they'll let me go
"Five years," the fat man said. "I can promise, it won't seem
soon for you. Five years of working camps is the usual sentence for your kind
The man wanted to provoke him, Trowa thought. The other one, Ramirez, looked
at his colleague with some distaste on chiseled face.
"Come on, Parker. There's no need to intimidate him."
He had cuffs in his hand.
"I need to dress," Quatre said.
"No way. He'll bolt," Parker shook his head adamantly.
"I can keep a look on him," Ramirez suggested.
"No. I'll do it myself."
"Please, Trowa," Quatre said in a very quiet voice. "Don't
"Don't," Ramirez confirmed. "Believe me, you don't want your
friend to be hurt as well, right? And Parker is a mean bastard."
Oh please; not 'good cop/bad cop' thing. Quatre walked out of the room and
Parker with him, and Ramirez stayed, looking down at Trowa with thoughtful
"Your friend seems to be a reasonable guy," he said finally.
"It might... be helpful."
"For God's sake..." It was keenly humiliating not to be able to
express his anger in anything but impotent words. "What are you doing,
guys? There's no more delinquency in the city that you're going after
prostitutes? The fuckin' article probably didn't apply for last ten
"But it exists," Ramirez said. "And sometimes it can be quite
"For example if the statement with confession was recorded in Treize
Everything suddenly made sense - including why the men were in civil, not in
"You're ISS?" Trowa asked - but he surely knew the answer.
"Right. Interplanetary Security Service. And if your friend cooperates
with us, he'll get off without a scratch. If not... Working camps on Balsa are
an icky place, believe me."
"Oh God." He could say nothing else; he almost couldn't breathe
with shock. Ramirez looked at him with pensive, distant expression. And then he
bent towards Trowa and said:
"A good lawyer can probably get your friend out. But you don't have a
good lawyer, do you?"
The man, Parker, had that sickening manner of eyeing me. I could read every
thought of his, every idea of what he would like to do with me; not that I
would like to dwell on it. It was good at last that he kept his hands to
himself when I changed my clothes - and in the car he probably felt
self-conscious before his companion. Which was lucky for me; if I could only
manage to stay away from him later...
I wasn't going to slip into panic; I repeated it to myself so many times
that it sounded like mantra. No matter how little control over the situation I
had - I could at least keep control over myself. Thinking about Trowa's
forlorn, darkened eyes as I'd seen him the last time before being taken away
made me bite my lip. It hurt to see him upset; he didn't deserve it to happen
At the first moment, when they'd said they were going to arrest me, I
thought it was because of my father, that his enemies reached even Adrianopolis
in search for him and for anyone and anything that could be used against him. I
didn't know whether my father was alive or dead but I knew that people who
wanted to destroy him would stop before nothing. Maybe, my sisters already
suffered from their revenge.
Finding out that it was just that ridiculous charge of prostitution made me
so relieved I almost couldn't take it seriously. Well, cuffs on my wrists
surely made it less of a joke. And later, when Parker and Ramirez explained
what they wanted from me, I guessed I might've really been in trouble.
"Treize Khushrenada's camp. What can you tell about it?"
"It's big and there's a lot of sand."
"Don't you dare to laugh at us!" Parker slapped his palm against
the table. Too little to have an effect... at least he didn't slap me.
"We'll laugh at you - when you take the first ship to Balsa and stay in
mining pits for five years. Do you think your boyfriend will be waiting for you
when you come back from there? *If* you come back."
"Just tell us everything you know," the other man said. He didn't
sound so eager - either didn't care enough whether I answered or not, or it was
the role he played. "How do they open corridors in protective
They didn't know Trowa had been in Treize's camp as well, I realized. It
made me feel almost dizzy with joy.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said.
"All right," Parker said. I saw the paralyzer in his hand. The
thing worked blinding fast, he'd been right about it. Next moment I was on the
floor, all my muscles clenched in pain that spread through my body like
It was so bad... I only thought it was lucky the bastard didn't try it on
Trowa. I didn't scream - but not because I could keep from it; I surely would -
but my throat was paralyzed as well. Parker squatted near to me, his hand
turning my face.
"I don't have any patience to smart-ass bitches as you are. When you're
ready to talk, blink twice. You can move your eyelids, I know. Then Ramirez
with give you a medicine."
I didn't blink; what I really wanted to do was to spit in his face. But I
couldn't do it - and it would be unreasonable anyway.
They talked some more - part-threatened, part-convinced, part-scolded me.
Or, rather, Parker talked, and Ramirez inserted well-placed and completely
necessary remarks like:
"You know prisoners on Balsa lose all their teeth within first year?
They have such shitty water there. How do you think your lover will like you
I didn't blink.
"He's probably just stupid," Parker said. "Who else but a
stupid slut could set his own trap by recording the fuckin' statement?"
"If you think we need your help so much, Winner, you're wrong,"
Ramirez said. "It's rather that we give you a chance to deserve
forgiveness. Khushrenada's days are numbered. That little information that you
have will probably spare some lives when he's arrested."
I didn't know how much time passed; it could be hours. Pain never subsided;
I wondered if it was going to pass by itself or one needed a medicine Parker
had talked about. And whether they were intended to give me that medicine. My
vision blurred; tears leaked from my eyes and I could neither stop nor wipe
"Don't think you can be more stubborn than we are," Parker said.
"You'll either help us and walk out of here - or you won't walk out of
here at all. Time is on our side."
"And the paralyzer leaves no traces," Ramirez added.
Eventually it was him who injected me some stuff, and pain abated slowly as
I could move again. My head ached and my body felt weak and awkward as I sat up
on the floor.
"Take him to the cell," Parker said with distaste. Ramirez himself
took me there, talking in a quiet voice all the way.
"Why don't you cooperate? I thought you would catch it in the air
what's profitable for you. Don't you want to see your lover again?"
It hurt so much to think about Trowa; I wanted to see him... wanted nothing
more than to see him.
"I don't suppose you have some fancy stuff in your head about 'loyalty'
and 'betrayal', do you? You already got in trouble because of Khushrenada - now
it depends on you to save yourself."
I gave him a glance and didn't say anything. He didn't know that Treize had
saved me and Trowa, that I owed everything to him. And it was better that
Ramirez knew nothing; I was going to guard my memories from him as long as I
"You disappoint me," he said. "Do you know Parker already
hinted me that he would appreciate it if I left you two tete-a-tete when you're
in paralysis? I might want to be nice to my partner."
I wanted to say 'fuck you' but his words really distressed me so. I knew he
could do it safely; no one would even know. This thought made me feel
I was almost relieved when Ramirez left me alone in the cell. Locked
again... very funny: just a month passed and I exchanged morphs' prison to
human one. At least it was not cold there.
Trowa, I thought, I'm sorry. I miss you so much.
It was heart-wrenching, to think about him.
But, Trowa, I can't do what they want from me. Will you understand me?
* * *
They were right - time was on their side. It took two days to wear my
resoluteness so thin that a little more and I was ready to start talking.
Another push - and I would spill everything I knew, say things I would regret.
I don't want to recall it.
On the third day warders came for me. I moved in half-daze; the thought of
seeing Parker and Ramirez again filled me with helpless dread. I barely noticed
it was a different room they took me to - or, rather, I was so despaired it
didn't matter for me. It took me a real effort to stay upright.
What I saw first was that those two were not there. And then a man sitting
at the table got up - and everything about him was so familiar - his straight
back and big hands and piercing eyes - that my body reacted before my mind
could deny it as impossible. I threw myself at him, wrapped my arms around him,
and he picked me up from the floor effortlessly.
"Dad," I said. "Dad."
For a while he didn't let me go - and I couldn't break away from him, as if
without clinging to him it meant that the feeling of his strong arms around me
would become an illusion. Finally he put me down and held on outstretched arms.
"Hasn't he grown so much?"
"Oh yes. Hey, little brother, don't you notice me?"
There was a young smiling woman next to my father, and my jaw dropped.
"Iria! You changed the hairstyle. You changed so much..."
"You bet I did," she laughed, cuddling me. Of course, it was her;
I hadn't known how much I missed her soft hands and cozy smell and fluttering
kisses. She was big; I could feel her round belly pressed to mine as she hugged
me - she was pregnant.
I looked around; a part of me wondered if it was some beautiful dream - and
then everything was possible there, I might've missed someone else. But there
was just an unfamiliar man sitting at the table.
"And Milady?" I asked. Dad and Iria looked at each other.
"She's okay. She'll be with us, too."
"Son..." Dad pulled me closer again, patted my back. Now I
recognized his rather awkward movements when it came to hugging - so, he
probably was real. "Finally I found all of my children."
"You don't need to hide any more?" I asked. It was Iria who
answered, her eyes glowing.
"Not at all! The Executive Board granted him asylum. There are so many
changes. We'll probably go home soon, on our planet. There will be
"It's too early to talk about it, Iria," father said reticently.
"I don't know if I want to participate in those elections."
Iria just smiled, and I smiled, too. Surely he would; my father couldn't
live without politics. It had been his involvement that sent him first in exile
and then put his life in such danger.
"Dad became legal already a year ago," Iria continued; her arm lay
around my shoulder, her soft hand brushing my hair. "First he found me,
then Milady - and now you. Oh, we looked for you so much! Only when someone
checked for your name in the system, we could track you."
So, both Parker and Ramirez and my family found me the same way - after
Megan had checked for my insurance. It was rather ironic.
Iria's words reminded me painfully what I tried not to remember. They looked
for me... But they didn't know what I had become. If they had, they wouldn't
have looked for me. I dishonored them so much. I withdrew from Iria quietly,
freed from her arm. She looked at me with that breathtakingly kind smile of
hers. It hurt to look at her, at my father's serious, gentle eyes. Their gazes
would change when I told them. But I had to tell, I had no right to steal their
kindness. Iria was first to feel that something was wrong.
"What happened, Quatre?"
"I..." I didn't know how to say that. "Dad, Iria, I... I
wasn't like you think I was. I let you down... I was a..."
"Oh come on, Quatre, stop it!" Iria pulled me to herself suddenly,
her arms around my neck. The softness of her body was so accepting, and her
hand tucking a strand of my hair so tender. I heard her whisper in my ear.
"You don't need to tell anything. Dad knows it. We saw the statement you recorded
for Khushrenada. That's how we knew you were alive."
So, they knew - and they still wanted to find me? The thought was so
enormous that I shivered. Iria didn't let me go, holding me tighter. And then I
couldn't stand it any more. Tears ran from my eyes. She didn't say anything,
just hugged me and patted my back.
Finally I wiped my eyes and looked up.
"It's my fault." My father looked somewhere above me and the
corner of his mouth was twitching. "It's because of my ambition I lost all
of you for those years, such difficult years. But I won't lose you again."
"We'll take you out of here," Iria said brightly. "It's Mr.
Anderson, your lawyer." The man looked up at me from the laptop in front
"Give me forty-eight hours," he said, "and I'll clear him of
* * *
Mr. Anderson was as good as his word. Two days later I stood at a long
expensive air-car with my father and sister. I'd never seen Parker and Ramirez
"We're going to Rochengen," Iria beamed at me. "Dad got an
estate there. You won't believe it - it's huge! There're horses there. You have
to see it."
"Quatre *is* going to see it," father said. "But first to the
hotel. You have to change your clothes."
It was so good to be with them; it was so good to be out. I didn't want to
look at the prison building again.
"I won't go anywhere without Trowa," I said. My voice sounded
suspiciously trembling. What if they didn't agree? They had accepted me, with
my past - but what if they thought it would be too much? I looked at them
stubbornly. They exchanged a glance; I understood they probably knew something.
"By all means," father said. "Your friend can go with
"He's more than a friend." I felt so relieved with his words and
yet I wanted him not to misunderstand me. My life was like a kaleidoscope
recently, all broken glass - but there was the only thing that was constant
there. I probably could live without anything else - but not without Trowa.
"All right," father said, waving his hand.
In the car, Iria whispered in my ear, laughing:
"You've changed, little brother. You've become so earnest. But trust
me, you don't need to put everything out loud with dad."
"Losing all of you puts things into another prospect." Dad was
talking, sitting in the front seat. "It makes one see things more clearly,
children. There's nothing that can make me lose you once more."
So, I met Trowa again - something I thought would never happen. I had him
with me again. During the flight to Rochengen, I couldn't let his hand go, even
when I fell asleep. And when I woke up, he still was with me and his hand was
clenched on mine tightly.
Rochengen was a green planet, one of rather few with minimal industry there,
which made it so popular for having a villa or a house there. The estate was
really big, the house completely beautiful, built in a way that subtly reminded
about our old house on my native planet.
Milady wasn't there. But I had a video channel to her as soon as we arrived.
She was on Vesta, in a clinic for drug-addicts, and some things in my father's
words became clearer for me.
"She'll come back home in a couple of months," Iria said. "It
takes time. And she'll have to be careful for all her life."
My father was talking to Trowa in his study. I felt painfully nervous
looking at my watch - and a bit angry.
"What's the point of talking to him?"
"Don't worry." Iria walked in with two glasses of carrot juice and
shoved me one of them. "Drink this, it's full of vitamins. Dad won't say
anything bad. He's just... you know - wants to know your significant other
"I'm not going to marry Trowa," I muttered. Iria giggled. She
looked so peaceful in her blue wide dress, matching the color of her eyes so
well. For a moment her gaze acquired a distant look, as if she listened to
something inside her.
"Iria, is it a boy or a girl?" I asked.
"A boy." She smiled and yet something changed in her eyes. I
hesitated whether I could ask the next question. Some things might've better
stayed unsaid - but I thought I still needed to ask.
"And the father?"
Seriousness in her eyes was upsetting to see; but there was no hurt, just
some sadness there.
"It was in-vitro fertilization. Quatre..." It looked like she
wanted to say something, and then the door of my father's study finally opened
and Trowa walked out. "We'll talk later. Here's... your friend."
I couldn't keep myself away from Trowa, grabbed his hand and pulled after
me. In our room, some time later, I lay next to Trowa, looking at his face
under a wave of long bangs. The strands were tousled and Trowa's lips were
puffy. I kissed him again.
"What did he say to you?"
"Oh... what education I got and stuff like that. He said you need to
study, you've lost at least three years."
"I won't go to school!" I started shivering. To go to some
boarding school, to be locked up there - and without Trowa... I couldn't let it
happen. Trowa gave me a look and then his arm tightened around me.
"Don't get so nervous. You don't need to if you don't want. You can
study by correspondence - and I'll... I can help you."
I held onto him. His gaze was so serious. I caught his hand and pressed his
fingers to my lips.
"You don't like it here, do you?" I asked.
I felt a tiny instinctive movement of his body and it was the only thing
that gave him away, because his voice was completely quiet.
"Why? I do. It's your home."
"I just... it's a bit strange... that your father should support
"Oh please..." I felt another seizure of panic. "You're not
going to leave, are you? Please, we'll find some way, it'll get better - just
don't leave, okay? I just need a bit more time..."
I wasn't sure what I was talking about but all I knew was that I had to make
him stay. There were small tremors going through my body and Trowa ran his hand
over my back, along the line of vertebrae. It was so good to feel him touch me,
to be close to him.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said quietly. "I... I don't
think I can bear to go, anyway."
I nodded and put my head on his chest. Everything was going to be all right
- if he just stayed.
I was afraid Trowa would think me too clinging if I held his hand when going
to sleep, so, I struggled with myself and let him go. But in darkness he moved
closer to me and I felt his fingers intertwine with mine.
* * *
I was at the library, struggling with math books that Trowa decided I
should've repeated before going forward. Repeated! I forgot them so thoroughly
during three years that I might've as well started learning them anew. Then the
door opened and I saw dad and Iria come in. Iria's eyes were swollen with
tears, and my heart sank. I didn't want to wonder what happened.
"I have to talk to you, Quatre," father said seriously, sitting
down in front of me. Iria stayed on her feet, blowing her nose. "It's
about the situation in our family."
"Dad, you don't need to! I didn't want him to, Quatre!" Iria
looked desperately at me. I felt slightly sick.
So, that was it. Things came to a conclusion faster than I expected - faster
than I promised to Trowa they would. There was no need to look for some way to
make Trowa happy here because everything was resolved for me. Dad was going to
tell me they couldn't put up with my having an affair with another man, that it
was inappropriate for Winner family.
Shit; I'd spent just three days at home - I just started getting used to be
here. But one thing I knew for sure: I could live without anything and anyone -
but I couldn't live without Trowa.
I made a few deep breaths, preparing myself to what I was going to hear.
"Quatre," father looked at me seriously. "You know that child
Iria carries... When we thought you were dead... Well, we decided that we
needed a heir for the family."
"Milady can't have babies," Iria added in a voice thick with
crying. "So, there was no other way."
"The child was genetically altered to have enhanced intellect and
abilities - to make him a perfect heir for Winner family. His political and
diplomatic talents will be outstanding. I was going to pass him all my
knowledge and experience."
"It was only because we couldn't find you, little brother," Iria
It started downing on me. I looked up at Iria, trying to meet her eyes - but
she looked away.
"Quatre," father said in a solemn way. "I want you to
understand. We can't be any happier that we found you. You're my son, you'll
always be my son, no matter what happens. But at the present, genetic alterations
achieve such success - lay the foundation for a personality that will match the
"Not a word more!" Iria suddenly went red and angry and stopped
crying. "Quatre is at home now, what to talk about?!"
I got up and walked up to her, hugged her. She clenched my hand; her fingers
"I just want to say," my father continued, "that while I
never judge you, son, for everything that happened... the way of life you've
chosen at the current moment... is neither appropriate for a future politician
nor secures descendents for the family."
I almost chuckled when I heard how he put it.
"You can either take both rights and obligations of a heir or..."
"Father!" Iria cried out.
"Shh, don't cry," I patted her, "it's not good for the baby.
Dad..." for a moment I almost couldn't talk, relief was so great. If it
were the worst thing that was going to happen, I would be the luckiest person
in the world. "Dad, I don't want to be a heir. I never wanted. I think
there's something wrong with my... personality," I grinned. "I'll be
completely happy if Iria's child is be a heir."
"Don't say that..." Iria sobbed again and I pressed her to me. My
father looked at me in the way that made him seem both relieved and
"You just say it like that?"
"How am I supposed to say that?" I asked quietly.
"All right." He sighed and relaxed somehow. "All right. If
it's what you want, Quatre. You, and Iria, and Milady are always going to have
a place in my heart."
I nodded; I barely could stay serious - something was singing inside me. I
probably didn't feel that elated since we arrived home.
"Quatre," Iria turned to me, tears drying on her cheeks.
"Thank *you*," I took her face in my hands and kissed her, and she
tucked my hair away behind my ears. The gesture was so Iria-like that I felt
everything was going to be all right. My father squeezed my shoulder briefly
and they walked out - but I couldn't study again. I ran out of the library and
dashed to the garden.
He looked up at me from a book on his lap. His lips and fingers were stained
in orange-red from the berries he was eating. I flopped on him, straddling his
"What, have you already learned everything?" His book fell on the
ground but he couldn't reach for it, with me sitting on him like that.
"Everything," I lied and caught his fingers in my mouth. They
tasted sweet and sour. "Now... we can... go riding."
He looked at me with that thoughtful gaze on his and then said in a quiet
"No... if you wiggle some more like that - we won't go anywhere."
He never stopped surprising me. I doubled with laughter, then jumped down
from him and pulled him after me.
"Let's go. I'll take Pearl and you'll take Orlov."
Pearl was a white horse and Trowa used to ride a bay stallion. He sent Orlov
in gallop and I had to chase him. Later, when we were on the hill and the house
was barely visible between the trees, I told him what happened.
"You look way too happy for someone who'd just been disinherited,"
he said and dismounted. I got down on the ground, too. He kissed me, holding my
face, and then his hands slid down, fumbling with my clothes.
His eyes with widened pupils, black in green, were so beautiful I almost
couldn't bear to look at him. So, I gave up and closed my eyes, just felt what
he was doing: the draft of cool air on my skin and warmth of his lips and heat
of his body pressed to mine. Then he slipped down on his knees and I felt his
arms around my waist, holding and cradling me. And then his lips enveloped my
I threaded my fingers through his hair. It became difficult to stand, my
legs went weak - but Trowa supported me. And it was absolutely impossible to be
silent - but it was not necessary as well, so, I called his name and sobbed
when coming. And later he called my name in the breathless, desperate voice of
his, as I felt him moving inside me and looked at his face against the
cornflower blue of the sky.
It was dusk when we finally rode back. The house was like a white shadow,
fluttering with its open windows and doors and light curtains swaying in the
wind. We walked through the hall. The TV was on; I heard a familiar name first
and only then realized what was said.
"A long elaborated operation on the capture of the terrorist # 1 is finished.
The trap is shut. Several hours ago Treize Khushrenada and six other members of
the brigade have been arrested by United Force..."
I saw Wufei on the screen suddenly, his lips white and his face frozen as
soldiers held him, wrenched his arms behind his back. He looked like he was
going to lash out or to collapse - but he did neither eventually. Past him, men
carried stretchers with plastic-covered bodies, giving a glimpse of UF uniform
or insurrectionists' fatigue now and then. There were other captives and I
recognized their faces. No Doctor J - but J hardly ever went on the missions.
And then Treize was there, his wrists shackled behind his back - but
soldiers still gripped his arms firmly. His eyes were wide open and had a
strange empty look in them as he turned his head as if looking for something
but not finding it. He stumbled against the debris on the floor and would fall
if the men didn't shake him upright. There was a kind of surprise on his face.
I turned to Trowa and met his gaze, darkened on the pale face. He must've
read the question in my eyes and whispered the answer I almost knew already:
The End of Chapter 13
& & &
"I cannot keep you from going there." The way Mr. Winner said it,
he surely would like to do it. "But I frankly don't see what you're going
to do there."
"I don't see how we can just stay here and wait for a result."
Quatre didn't look at his father, nibbling his lip nervously - and his
defensive stance affected Trowa as it always did, making him want to stand by
Quatre, to prove him he wasn't alone. It was unreasonable: Quatre didn't need
his interference - and Trowa again reminded himself not to appear
He wished he had a better knowledge of how to express his feelings, wouldn't
swing to and fro between being obtrusive and aloof. And there was so much he
felt; for all those years he'd spent with Misques he didn't even know there was
so much there. He just didn't have a good grip on his expressing things - and
it was a constant source of disquiet for him. What if Quatre found him
annoying? What if something went wrong between them?
"What result, son?" Mr. Winner said with a wince of exasperation.
"It's all pretty obvious. The Executive Board got itself in a very
inconvenient position. They should've let morphs get Khushrenada - it would
leave their own hands clean at least. I don't imagine how they are going to
sentence him without turning him into a martyr. I won't be surprised if there
is no any trial. Some accident - and both Marotania will be satisfied, and the
EB will save its face."
There was a weird logic in it, Trowa had to admit it. The calm, reasonable
voice of Mr. Winner made him feel uneasy, disturbed.
"But if there is a trial, our evidence can be useful for Treize."
"Why do you think they'll let give any evidence, Quatre? Nothing will
depend on the things you'll say."
"We'd rather go there," Quatre said flatly - and somehow it
"I put money on your account, so, you can use it in any way you want. I
just wish you showed your determination in other things," Mr. Winner
A quiet smile fluttered on Quatre's lips as he looked up. There was still
some dismay in his eyes, as knowing that he disappointed his father was never
easy, but Quatre seemed resolute.
"Thank you, dad."
"Just don't get in trouble," his father muttered. "The Earth
is a nasty place and I expect all kinds of weirdos visit Moscow for this
"Ugh-ghu." Now Quatre's eyes glowed.
For one thing, Mr. Winner was right; the city was full. The passenger ship
Trowa and Quatre took had to line for landing for over than sixteen hours.
"I wonder why all those people want to be here," Trowa said once.
"Probably an entertainment. Of course, there are some - from Northern
Coalition, for example - who really hate morphs and for whom Treize is a hero.
But for the rest... many had never even met morphs. So, it's just hot news to
On the TV screen, they watched how Treize found his place by touch in the
transparent box of super-durable plastic. His face had a strained, concentrated
expression as if he constantly expected some trick, his eyes unblinking.
He didn't belong there, Trowa thought feeling how his fists clenched
tightly. He recalled Treize from the time on the sand planet - his animated
face, his voice full of excitement as he talked about their future, their
victory. Now twenty of his people were dead, six arrested - and others
blockaded in the camp, presumably without a chance to break out.
It wasn't right, it shouldn't have been like that... The feeling of utter
helplessness made Trowa feel furious - and he was afraid of thinking how Treize
could feel; only he knew too well how.
Several weeks ago, when Trowa had left the camp of the insurrectionists, he
wondered whether he'd see Treize again. He didn't expect it would be like this;
he would give everything for not seeing Treize this way, in this state. And
Treize... Treize would possibly prefer to be dead than to be there, wouldn't
With time, it grew easier to find his place in the box. Maybe, in a couple
of weeks he'd be doing it in quite a dignified manner, Treize thought wryly.
The seat was narrow and as soon as he occupied it, force cuffs locked on his
wrists and ankles, fastening him to the place. Another force ring went around
his waist. His skin tingled with the touch, and complete immobility was
excruciating; he couldn't get used to it. Combined with complete darkness, it
seemed sometimes more than he could bear.
It was nothing; he didn't have to give away that it bothered him. But Treize
knew his nostrils flared all the same and he tended to hyperventilate. Taking
himself under control demanded almost more strength than he had - but he
managed it. He had to - if not for himself than for his boy...
Wufei was in the next box. If Treize could see, he would be able to see him
- if not to touch or hear: the sound in the boxes was switched off when they
didn't answer questions. Thinking about it made him regret the loss of sight
with special acuteness. Wufei was so close; and so unreachable.
Sometimes he thought he would give everything just for touching Wufei again,
for holding the boy's hand. It was exaggeration, of course, there were things
Treize wouldn't do for any promise, any award - like agreeing to admit himself
guilty, for example. But as time went, as the parody of the trial continued,
and he stayed in darkness and loneliness, his resoluteness was wavering. And it
frightened Treize most of all.
It would be such a cruel irony that, if he broke, it wouldn't be for the
hardships he had to go through. His life as an outcast was never easy and he
didn't expect it to be; he accepted everything: loss of his name, being called
a criminal, being hunted.
He even could deal with his last failure. The source that had given them
information for so many successful operations turned out to be a provocateur.
Treize didn't know if it was a set-up from the very beginning - he didn't want
to believe in it, really - or if the source got captured and only his name
used. In either case, it was Treize's fault, and the result was disastrous.
He wished it had been a real bomb, not a blinding bomb that had blown up
then. But they probably intended to take him alive; well, they succeeded.
Maybe, succeeded more than they planned. Darkness turned out to be an ordeal
that he found the most difficult to bear.
It drove him to despair that the simplest things became so cumbersome - like
shaving or trimming his fingernails. Every time before going to the courtroom
he spent an hour checking his face and clothes by touch to make sure there was
no untidiness, nothing that would make him laughable, stupid. He still kept
being nervous - and it weakened him more than anything else.
Soon after the arrest, a doctor checked his eyes. Treize was not informed
about the verdict. He didn't know what kind exactly the blinding bomb was but
he knew that the vision could be recovered if there was immediate treatment.
Maybe, he would've had to wear lens glasses, like Doctor J did, but at least he
would've seen again.
In any case, he didn't get any treatment. But it didn't surprise him, after
all. He was rather amazed they hadn't used the chance of declaring him insane
after psychiatric expertise. But they went after the second best thing.
"Witness, what can you tell about the state of discipline in the
"I'm not sure it could be called discipline." It was one of his
men who got arrested with him; the only one who testified.
"Explain yourself, witness."
"Captain Khushrenada neglected control over the camp. He was more
preoccupied with the relations between him and his lover... or drinking. Things
were falling apart. I'm surprised we lasted this long."
His heart was pounding so hard the man's words sounded distant. He did
manage to keep his face blank, though - or he hoped so. He knew there were
cameras watching him, catching every change of his expression.
Oh if only he could say that the man - the traitor - lied. The worst thing
was that probably everything in his words was true. Drinking, going crazy over
Wufei, getting into that affair with the morph... He, Treize, failed his
people. And now he didn't have a chance to die as a hero.
He knew he wouldn't be sentenced. Not to death, anyway. Death would return
him some dignity. But as he was - blind, with a reputation of a drunk and a madman
- he was not dangerous. They would show him mercy - would keep him alive.
The thought of it made a smile distort his lips, a smile that was as far
from amused as it was possible. The Executive Board wanted to keep him alive...
the conspirators, who, as he knew, were arranging an escape for him, wanted him
alive. Morphs, who sent assassins already trying to kill him twice, wanted him
dead... Nobody asked him what he wanted.
But the truth was Treize wasn't sure he had strength left to want anything
It was impossible to get a place in the courtroom, of course. Every morning,
as the prisoners were brought to the session, a special shield corridor was
built to keep the crowds away. And presumably to prevent another attempt of
Mr. Winner had been right about one more thing - no one was going to listen
to their evidence; but somehow Trowa didn't find it surprising. Eventually he
and Quatre managed to see a secretary of Treize's attorney. The woman looked at
them with tired eyes and said:
"Do you know how many people come here claiming they can say something
important about Treize Khushrenada? Do you think anything that you say can make
"It seemed what I could say made some difference when they were after
Treize," Quatre said angrily. He rubbed his arms unconsciously - in the
way he acquired after his arrest by ISS - as if he was cold. Trowa felt a kind
of stifled despair, seeing it - knowing that even if Quatre never talked about
what he'd been through there and seemed to be happy to forget it, his body
still remembered it.
The secretary did write down their names and data finally and promised to
call but Trowa didn't put much hope on it. He had a feeling of something
irreparable happening. Every day as this disgraceful trial continued, something
was shattered - around... inside him.
They walked to the court building daily; not that it could change anything -
but the feeling of anxiety was too strong to stay at the hotel. There were
always people around, despite cold weather - a grey crowd fluctuating in the
street. Maybe, some of those people were there just to be a part of a mass,
just to feel others around - and Trowa thought it was not so wrong about him as
well. Among people his helplessness was not so choking.
He felt Quatre's thin arm wrapped around his waist as the boy held him
tightly. Not far away from them, on the border of the porch, a boy-preacher
recounted the Bible:
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do
you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not
labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was
dressed like one of these..."
Wet snow fell on the preacher's bare arms and legs and thawed quickly. The
boy's face, tilted up, under tangled bangs of dark hair, was enraptured - as if
he could see something no one else could.
Treize used to have the same kind of look in his eyes; not so mad - but with
slight edge of distraction in it. Trowa thought it'd been what made people
follow Treize - that Treize made them believe he could see more than they
could, see a bigger picture.
This look was gone now; and Treize couldn't see anything any more.
Several long sleek looking air-cars landed at the building. The police went
alert again, keeping the crowd away. A group of tall, long-limbed people walked
out. Trowa felt how next to him, Quatre grew very still, and as he looked at
the boy, Quatre's gaze was wide and frozen, his eyes following the morphs
The crowd went still. No one dared to denunciate morphs openly - and morphs
knew it. Trowa saw one of them lean towards his companion, say something with a
deliberate smile on his face. Then the delegation entered the building.
The crowd burst out with yells and curses. Trowa saw Quatre wince a little,
as if this noise caused him headache.
Trowa nodded, feeling how Quatre's arm tightened around him.
They managed just a few steps as a man grabbed Trowa's arm, stopping him.
They guy was probably drunk or just high on the shared emotions.
"Did you see those freaks? They should be put on the trial, not Captain
Khushrenada! These monsters - they give me creeps, just breathing the same air
with them! I would die if one of them touched me!"
Trowa put his hand on the man's wrist, freeing himself effortlessly. He felt
Quatre being pushed against him and held onto the boy tighter. The man seemed
displeased to be ignored.
"Why are you silent? Don't you want to say how much you hate morphs?
Maybe, you're a morph-lover?"
He reached again, and Trowa saw Quatre push him away with sudden violence,
heard the boy's voice distorted with fury:
"Don't touch him!"
"Hey, look at these two! They like morphs!"
Trowa yanked Quatre after himself but the crowd already went denser around
them, not letting them go. Hostile faces around them made Trowa have a sick
feeling of apprehension. He sensed Quatre's nervous shiver and shoved away a
man who tried to grab the boy. A fist flew in his face but Trowa didn't have
time to get frightened. A long thin shadow stepped between him and the
"Get out of here!" The voice was familiar but Trowa almost
couldn't believe he heard it. The man who shielded him turned back briefly,
allowing him a brief glimpse of dark-blue eyes and a mouth curved in a smile.
The next blow got his protector in the face - and Trowa saw the attacker
look at his hand, streaked bluish-purple, in surprise. It took just a few
moments for the information to settle.
"There's a morph here! One of them is a morph!"
Trowa grabbed Zechs' hand and pulled him away, pulled Quatre as well. At
Trowa's side, a blond girl pushed through the crowd. As their eyes met, she
gave Trowa a kind of conspiring look.
They managed to get out at last and then Zechs pushed him.
It was probably the best variant, judging on how aggressive the crowd was.
So, they ran, until stopping on a quiet street, making sure no one followed
them. Zechs looked down at them, smiling with split lips and without any regret
in his eyes.
"You turned up... v-very timely," Trowa said in a slightly shaky
voice. Zechs' smile became wider.
"As always, ne? Why can't you watch for yourself not to get in
Trowa rolled up his eyes; Zechs' condescending way seemed to never change.
The morph managed to be exasperating even at the moment when Trowa felt real
joy at seeing him.
"You're all right, aren't you? You're bleeding," Quatre said.
Zechs sniffed blood running from his nose and finally wiped it against his
"Perfectly all right."
Was he? How was he going? Trowa looked at him almost greedily, trying to
make sure that everything about Zechs was as it had to be. Zechs looked skinny;
his hair was cut short and tangled - but somehow it made him look younger. Or,
maybe, it was the look in his eyes - wide and bright on the angular face; the
look of almost childish amazement.
"I see you aren't in the Order any more, Trowa Barton! How came?"
"You'd better tell how you are," Trowa said. "Hey, aren't you
He just noticed Zechs had only a thin sweater on, too little for such a
"Nope." It hardly was true, judging on Zechs' bluish lips - but
the morph smiled again eagerly. "I don't care for cold or hunger. Physical
needs are nothing - body is nothing at all, that is."
Trowa frowned, meeting Zechs' excited look. The words sounded vaguely
familiar. He followed Zechs' gaze and saw two other people in the street,
standing a little away from them. The boy-preacher in his t-shirt and short
pants and the girl whose gaze Trowa had met in the crowd. They stood on a
distance - but in such a way that their connection to Zechs was obvious. Maybe,
it was how they looked at him - the girl kindly and patiently, the boy with
that mysterious captivating expression in his big fierce eyes.
"Your friends?" Quatre asked.
"More than friends. My sister and brother... and I'm like brother for
It looked like Zechs finally found a place and people where he belonged.
Trowa found it somewhat sad that these people were a sect of a kind; he
couldn't feel well about sects or orders after his breaking with Misques. But
if Zechs was happy...
"I'm not crazy," Zechs said in an unexpectedly quiet voice. Some
blood trickled from his nose again and he wiped it with his hand. The scars on
his fingers were still crude, marring the tips harshly. He'd probably need a plastic
surgery to make them look normal... but Trowa knew Zechs hardly would do it.
"I know it's probably silly, all that stuff about not caring of body
needs, not thinking about another day. But they... they accept me. They don't
care what I was."
"I understand," Trowa said. Yes, Zechs was happy this way. Wasn't
it the most important? "By the way, does you religion allow you to have a
cup of coffee with us? And your brother and sister?"
"I don't think they will want to," Zechs shrugged. "But I'd
like to. Wait a minute, okay?"
Trowa watched him as he walked up to the boy and the girl, said something.
The boy kept this distant gaze of his but the girl smiled and nodded. Her frail
hand touched Zechs' shoulder briefly, in a gesture of simple affection,
obviously natural for her - and then the boy raised his hand and touched Zechs'
face as well.
They looked like they belonged together, Trowa thought.
Zechs walked back to them, turning on the way, and Trowa heard his bright
voice as he repeated:
"I'll be in an hour, Relena."
The girl and the boy wrapped their arms around each other's waists and
walked away, under the falling snow they didn't seem to notice.
* * *
In a small cafe Zechs warmed up his hands on a mug of milk coffee. Trowa
noticed people were staring at his fingers - but they surely didn't realize
what kind of accident left those scars. Zechs seemed to guess his thoughts.
"I still didn't quite learn to use them deftly. Always forget they're a
bit shorter than I'm used to."
There was no bitterness in his voice - and, maybe, that made Trowa feel even
"Why are you here?" he asked finally. "Do you live in
"We live wherever we want," Zechs shrugged. "Nomadic life,
you know - when Heero decides he should see new places, we just move. You think
I'm here to see Treize die, right?"
Frowning, Trowa shook his head. The truth was this thought came to his mind;
but really, how could he blame Zechs for hating Treize?
"I don't hate him." Zechs, as usual, seemed to read his thoughts.
"Yes, I'm here because of him - but I didn't come to gloat. I don't know
if you believe me..." He caught a longer strand of his bangs and pulled it
over his eyes, in a fitful gesture that was in a stark contrast with the
calmness of his voice. "I don't want him to die."
It was strange but Trowa understood suddenly that he did believe.
"He... changed my life," Zechs said, letting a strand go. There
was tension in his eyes but he didn't look away. "Well, it was rather a
cruel change but... I don't regret it... I think I don't regret it."
"It's like... you don't have to wear the helmet any more, right?"
Quatre said softly. Zechs' gaze became more peaceful.
"Exactly. He said once... that I was beautiful."
Trowa didn't want to wonder at what moment Treize could say this - if it was
true at all.
"I still miss my people sometimes," Zechs said in a different,
rather hard voice. "Some kind of nostalgia."
"What do Marotanians do here?" Quatre asked casually - almost too
casually, Trowa thought. "The trial is not their jurisdiction."
"Maybe, they want to check whether their enemy is going to really get
an appropriate punishment," Zechs smile wryly. "Or, maybe, they look
for a base for future expansion."
It was half a joke but nobody laughed.
"One of them said to another," Quatre said, "that this place
will be theirs in fifteen years."
"So, I might've made a wrong choice," Zechs said, and this time he
chuckled. "Well, I guess I gotta go. Maybe, we'll see each other
"Sure," Trowa said. I hope so, he thought.
The sun had set and snow was falling thicker now. Zechs stood in the doorway
for a moment, as if preparing himself for stepping out, then huddled and walked
Suddenly Trowa thought that it was unimportant whether he'd meet Zechs again
and when. There was just too much uniting them - and he knew these threads
would never be separated fully.
He felt Quatre's hand squeeze his under the table and met the boy's sad
smiling eyes. He had an overwhelming wish to hold Quatre closer - close enough
to make sure that nothing would separate them.
"Wufei Chang, how long do you know Treize Khushrenada?"
Till the last moment he couldn't believe Wufei would answer their questions.
How could they make him? Why didn't he refuse? And when it finally happened,
Treize felt more helpless than ever; if only he could see Wufei... if only he
could stop the boy...
"Three and half years."
"How long do you have intimate relations?"
"Two years and eight months."
Such a flat voice; as if nothing was happening.
"That means that you were... how old when it started? Twelve?"
"Almost thirteen. But it was me who initiated it. Captain Khushrenada
wouldn't... He thought it was too early. He thought I was traumatized."
There was a mere shadow of irony in Wufei's voice, making it sound painfully
recognizable - so, that Treize felt he almost couldn't bear it.
"Were you traumatized?"
"I was taken hostage by morphs."
"Wufei Chang, will you please open your shirt?"
Treize found himself striving up - and being thrown back by the force cuffs.
It felt like his wrists were about to break - but the bonds didn't fail.
Nothing he could say would be heard, with the sound switched off - he
understood it; and yet for the first time he couldn't keep silent, begged
knowing that even if Wufei couldn't hear him, he still could see... could
possibly read his lips.
"Please. Please don't."
There was a pause. He didn't know if Wufei hesitated. There must've been
some agreement between him and the lawyers, some plan - but Treize couldn't
think about it now.
He heard a soft rustle of cloth and thought he didn't want to see it, was
glad he couldn't see it. The sound, a joint breath the audience in the
courtroom gave out, told him enough.
Then, almost three years ago, when he'd got Wufei back, was the last time
he'd seen it, and then, unhealed, the traces of acid burns on Wufei's body were
scarlet and seeping. Treize remembered Wufei at the infirmary, in bed - so
small and so quiet; never crying, not even once, despite all that pain. He,
Treize, cried then. And when he tried to take Wufei's hand in his - and the boy
withdrew, rejection in his eyes, Treize wanted to kill every morph he could,
wanted to put his life for it.
"How did you acquired these marks?"
"Marotanians left them."
"Have you been a prisoner of war in Marotania?"
"I wasn't a prisoner of war." Wufei's voice was hard and toneless.
Another rustle of clothes - the jacket buttoned again, probably. "I was a
hostage; they used me to make Captain Khushrenada comply with their
"Didn't it work?"
"He didn't surrender to exchange places with me, if that's what you
They wouldn't have let Wufei go anyway; Treize didn't need to say it - Wufei
knew it very well. There was no way to come to an agreement with morphs - the
only thing they understood was force. And finally it worked: he managed to free
By then acid excretions had destroyed thirty per cent of his skin.
"How long did you spend in captivity?"
"You were raped, weren't you?"
"Did Treize Khushrenada know about it?"
"Of course, he did. Of course."
"What was his reaction?"
"He was... he was enraged. He said he wouldn't stop as long as he could
keep fighting morphs. And when the truce was signed, he said it was
unthinkable. He said there could be no truce between him and these
It was not the truth... Or it was only half-truth. To reduce what he did to
personal revenge... But Treize knew why Wufei was doing it.
The boy was saving him from death. Whatever way they were going to present
it - like temporary insanity or something - it was all done to mitigate his
sentence. Who wouldn't go mad after seeing his young beloved defiled and maimed
by the enemy? Who wouldn't understand this kind of hatred?
That's how they made Wufei testify - by promising that it would save
If they wanted to keep him alive so much, there must've been something wrong
* * *
"This is another letter you'll never get. They probably think me mad
that I ask them for paper and pencils all the time - what can a blind man
write? And in any case, nothing will leave my cell: neither a note nor a
letter. Well, I don't even try - and this one will go where all others do:
ripped in pieces, small enough for no one to be able to read it. No one would
be able to read it anyway, I think - the letters must be climbing on each other
atrociously. It doesn't matter. Because as I write it, just for a moment, I can
imagine that you'll be able to read it, you'll be able to hear what I say.
My dear boy, I think you forgave me - judging on how you tried to spare
me on the trial. I know why you did it. Your courage and your self-sacrifice
could win it for me, could change my sentence to just twenty of thirty years
instead of death. I wonder if you know that *I* can't forgive myself I wish I
could've prevented you from doing it - because it wasn't needed. I can't accept
what you've done for me. I can't accept any mercy. There is no way for me to
walk out of it.
Remember I used to tell you about my dreams - of us being together,
walking hand in hand in a beautiful place with green grass and blossoming roses
around? Somewhere, there is probably this place. Somewhere but not here, not
I lost my case. I lost everything. When I think about living for more
thirty or forty years with the thought of my failure... living in darkness, as
a helpless invalid, I pray for it to be over in some way. Death... death would
be such a relief.
I would do it myself - I think it's possible to find the means, even
under constant surveillance as I am; but that would be an ultimate proof of my
weakness, wouldn't it? So, I just hope that someone else will do it to me, that
another assault will be successful.
I don't know if you'd understand me - should you know what I think about.
You'd probably call me a coward. Would you hate me?
No, you wouldn't. My beloved, my beautiful one... Yesterday as you talked
on the trial, I could hear your voice, even though I couldn't see your eyes -
and your love was there. Your love that survived everything I had done to you.
And I always fail you..."
It had been shown so many times on TV that one could learn it second by
second. The transparent cage and a slim, too pale man with reddish-brown hair
sitting very straight in a narrow chair. His eyes, sky-blue, wide open,
blinking slowly, looked absently at nowhere as another witness was
No one had noticed it when it happened - just the camera fixed it
impassively - how Treize's calm face distorted with a grimace of pain suddenly.
There was no sound but his hands moved convulsively as if he tried to reach to
his chest - and the cuffs held them in place. He lowered his head and his hair
fell down hiding his face.
For another minute or two the trial went on as if nothing happened - and the
another convulsion, much stronger than the first, racked his body. Now it was
noticed. The audience startled and soldiers rushed into Treize's box
immediately. He collapsed on the floor, spasming, as the cuffs were released.
There was blood leaking from his mouth, and for once the sound in the box was
not switched off, so, one could hear the tearing cries of pain he made.
There were enough cameras in the courtroom to monitor everything - and one
of them followed Wufei's reaction closely - as the boy struggled to get up and
was held by the cuffs, as he screamed something that had no sound in it.
He was held on his place all the way when doctor appeared - and Treize's
body, still twitching violently, was placed on stretchers and carried away.
Then Wufei stopped struggling and just looked, very quietly.
At night Trowa felt he couldn't stay in place; Quatre caught him on his
usual pacing around the room, put his arms around Trowa's waist and held him
for a few moments, then said:
"Let's get out."
The prison hospital was surrounded by people. There was a constant humming
around but Trowa barely could distinguish words. They stood and waited. At
three a.m. it was all over.
"They said if he lived till the morning, he had a chance to
survive," someone said next to him. "It happens like that."
"They found the guard who did it - but the guy's a dummy, nothing
"Khushrenada was a murderer, he just paid his debts!" another
voice yelled from far away.
Holding Quatre in the ring of his arms, Trowa felt the small trembling of
the boy's body and pressed him harder.
"Without Treize, the trial doesn't make sense," Quatre said in a
small voice that sounded level but Trowa wasn't deceived with it. "And the
scandal... Maybe, they'll let others go. Maybe, they'll let Wufei go."
"I don't think so. And Wufei... I don't think he wants to be let go
I don't think he wants anything at all... The thought of how much Wufei lost
made Trowa clench almost convulsively, his arms tightening on Quatre's
shoulders so much that he might've hurt the boy. Quatre didn't seem to notice
but Trowa made himself relax slightly. Treize was dead. Now it was too late to hope
for something. Nothing could be changed. The thought of his own helplessness
was burning; Trowa bit his lip, fighting the pain inside.
Quatre turned to him, without freeing from his arms. The boy's eyelids were
red, his breath thick; he'd been crying all the time quietly.
Still having his arms around him, as if it could shield Quatre from whatever
threatened him, Trowa walked him away from the crowd. A street just a little
away was empty and dark and the noise from the hospital reached there like the
rustle of sea. They stopped. Trowa kissed Quatre's face, feeling the wetness of
the long eyelashes against his lips. The tears leaked again and Trowa kissed
them away, their salt on his tongue - and felt his own tears sting his eyes and
didn't resist, let them trickle.
A distant voice came, of a preacher - not Heero but another one - who kept
raving at the hospital.
"Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord,
mercy shall surround him."
It was dark; street-lamps were broken or switched off, and Trowa barely
could see Quatre's face - just the gleaming of his darkened eyes. Yet Trowa
couldn't stop staring at him, holding the boy's face in his cupped hands - as
if it could secure that Quatre was real and wouldn't go away.
"Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all
you upright in heart!"
The words were so creepy, so inappropriate that they made him shiver - and
Quatre suddenly pulled him closer, wrapped his arms around Trowa.
"Tell me I won't lose you," Trowa whispered so quietly that he
wasn't sure Quatre heard. But he did hear; his light fingers ran over Trowa's
face and his quiet voice answered earnestly.
It was a promise Trowa accepted - and confirmed it with tightening his arms
around Quatre's waist, suddenly wanting to feel him closer, as close as
possible. He felt Quatre holding onto him and buried his face against Quatre's
shoulder. And in the cradle of the thin arms around him he felt safe and sure,
for a little while, felt that everything just could be okay and they could be
He remembered pain but now it was gone. For a few moments he did nothing but
reveled in it, in the absence of hideous claws tearing his insides. He
remembered shame as well - for his own weakness that had made him scream and
thrash in agony, begging people whose faces he didn't even see to stop it and
kill him. Shame was there but felt blunted, distant. He wondered if being free
from pain meant that he was dead. It was funny - he didn't believe in
afterlife; and why would he have this rather pleasant kind of afterlife,
Treize felt a smile on his lips and at the same moment a rather annoyed
voice reached him:
"Well, if you can laugh, you surely must be okay."
Grey light broke between his trembling eyelids. Light... he hadn't seen
light for so long. Yet there was nothing else he could see.
"What's so funny there, I wonder," the same irritated voice said.
"Who else. You really got on my nerves this time, Treize. It could've
happened we wouldn't be able to drag you out."
His eyelids felt enormously heavy and he couldn't see anything, so, Treize
let them fall.
"I don't believe it. I died."
A huffing sound Doctor J made indicated that he was not going to condescend
to answering that. A little later he continued.
"All right. You died for everyone. And I'll tell you - if you stayed at
that hospital a bit longer, you would really die. But we managed to get you out
"You saved me," Treize repeated.
"I hope we did."
"It was... it was cruel." He thought about the remorse that would
flood him now - as soon as he had just a little strength: remorse for choosing
an easy way, for leaving his people... for the words he wanted to say to Wufei,
words that only death could justify.
He asked quietly, more himself than J:
"How shall I live now?"
The doctor's voice came unexpectedly serious, almost mild.
"You'll decide it yourself. It depends on how you can live. If you have
strength to keep fighting - why not? You can always come back to the world of
living. I'd say it would be even... cool."
"And my vision?"
"Not much of it will come back, I'm afraid. Twenty to thirty per cent.
But one can do a lot of good even with such vision. Even blind at all."
J's words made him ashamed. And as he felt it, the numbness inside him was
gone suddenly, replaced with burning anguish. What had he done? He had escaped,
in one way or another - but he had. And he left Wufei behind. His boy, alone,
in prison, thinking that Treize was dead.
It hurt so much it made him moan.
"Shh, shh," J patted him on the shoulder without much compassion.
How could he say what was wrong? How could he admit he'd ditched his boy...
What if he wouldn't see Wufei again - and it would be his fault? He couldn't
even cry out.
Treize heard distantly a sound of opening door - and then quick light steps
approaching the bed. He didn't even start recognizing them - but he tried to
sit up, his body moving instinctively. He could see nothing but a narrow
And then he was slapped.
"You son of bitch."
"Don't hit him, Wufei," J said, "he isn't that well
"Oh." There was nothing else Treize could say.
"How could you?" Wufei asked - and then repeated, in a voice
breaking with pain. "How could you? You promised you wouldn't leave
"He was trying to open his veins through when the help came," J
said to Treize. The words were like a distant booming; he felt so weak he was
about to collapse and so desolate he started shedding tears.
"Wufei... come closer."
"Why do I have to do what you want, you bastard?" Wufei said
antagonistically. But then he came up and sat on the bed, and Treize felt
losing the remnants of his strength. His head fell against Wufei's chest - and
suddenly there were light touches of small hands on his back. Then he cried for
real; not quietly, but with great sobs. The movements of the hands became
"Hey, don't be upset, it's nothing," Wufei said in an awkward
"I don't want to die," Treize said. "Not any more."
"At last he said one marginally clever thing," J chuckled