Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero booked passage from Vladivostock to Moscow along the Trans-Siberian Railway. The particular train he was to take made stops along the Baikal-Amur Magistral, serving the dense suburban development that had grown to the north of the older Siberian population centers. Heero was aware that people in other parts of the Sphere might think of Siberia as cold and dead. It was true that the region was dry and long winters and short summers kept the temperatures cool throughout the year. Compared to the surface of Mars however, the Siberian cities were lush. Colonists now lived in colonies on Mars, Relena's brother Millard and his newlywed wife, Lucretia, being two of them. If colonies on Mars were accepted or floating mega-cities in space then shopping malls and other landmarks of suburban development in Siberia should not be surprising.
Some degree of this density was new; Heero understood that. The end of the war had marked booms in birthrate and construction in all parts of the Sphere. The cities along the TSR's more southerly route had already prospered for centuries. Before that the ancestors Russia's various ethnic groups had lived here. The people were as acclimated to the cool dry climate as Quatre's people were to desert. They could have been Heero's people. Heero had grown up in the Colonies, but her felt at home here, as much as he had on Sakhalin. Some of his ancestors could have lived and died here over many centuries. Once Heero had died here.
Heero was sitting in his private compartment on the train as it moved west, his mobile computer open on a foldout table displaying the text of an electronic book. He gazed out the window, his hair newly-dyed a deep green hue that caused the spiraling mop to appear nearly black in his reflection on the window; but Heero knew it was quite green, enough that in certain surroundings the hair appeared emerald where light hit the strands most strongly. This was his bit of greenery to take home to the Colonies and he found the overall look pleased him. Colonial eyes often did starve for green and in hair it would only be considered attractive and not very strange.
Heero stared past his thoughtful reflection to the mountains, trees, houses and frost outside as the high-speed train continued on. He thought about the time he had died here, or nearly had.
Some of the memory was quite painful. Some parts, almost good. Heero thought that back then Duo and Relena both had demonstrated an uncanny ability to track him. Heero had not believed it coincidence all of the time Duo posed as a student at the same school he did. He had been fairly certain that whoever Duo's contact had been (before he had learned that it was the man known as Professor G.) Duo's cover had been left up to his own discretion. Heero had been aware that he and Dr. J were deviating from a plan others had given them and he trusted the Doctor enough to follow the new orders. Heero hadn't immediately trusted Duo, because he wasn't altogether sure of his motives.
Duo had helped him in some ways and so, as he had let Relena live knowing so much about him, Heero had let Duo live and tolerated his presence though he believed two Gundam pilots hidden in one school was poor strategy.
One day another mission had come in. At the time Dr. J had still contacting Heero on a mission-by-mission basis to give him orders. Heero was self-reliant as a soldier, but had not then learned to make up his own missions for himself. Duo had appeared in the doorway. He had a way of appearing before Heero had noted an approach that worried and impressed Heero at the same time.
He had been worrying Heero long enough that Heero had tried to gather information on him but he hadn't found much, just some old Alliance Military Police arrest records, a single year's tax record, and nothing else traceable. Dr. J had offered no information, but then Dr. J had disavowed all knowledge of their being more than one Gundam mobile suit when Heero had already scanned four others by that time. Duo had demonstrated that he had some small affiliation with Sweeper Group, which was so far as Heero understood it, like a labor union for the salvage industry. Otherwise he knew what all smart Colonials knew, that if you were planning to fly inside the space of the Earth Sphere you should tune in the Sweeper channel or connect to their 'net site to get reports on known debris fields and traffic, because no government controlled source was ever as straightforward or as accurate.
The little Heero knew about Duo gave him cause to take him seriously; even if he disappointed Heero by fitting nearly every stereotype he had heard about Americans. He was so loud and obnoxious. Yet, that day Duo had managed to sound serious and hadn't joked at all.
Duo suggested they share information and cooperate to carry out this mission. The way he had phrased his words allowed Heero to confirm in his mind that Duo did have a contact that could send him orders as Heero had J. Ironically perhaps, this mission was to bring that type of contact to an end for all of them. That they had failed had not been Duo's fault. In fact the suggestions he made agreed with Heero's previous analysis: their enemy was transporting a new model of mobile suit and they were clearly transporting something along two different routes and, as there was no way to know which transport contained their target with the available data, no one pilot could be sure the mission could succeed unless they did have a partner they could trust following the second transport. Duo had even agreed that Heero should target the air transport vehicles while Duo targeted the rail transports, but any kid who knew the capabilities of both Gundams should have figured that out.
Heero decided he had no choice but to focus on the air route and trust that if it was a decoy Duo was able to destroy the rail transport. He knew there were three other Gundams and was reasonably sure they all would want to destroy these new models, but he could not say he trusted the pilots. Heero had admired that Quatre had kept his head when things went wrong and was grateful that Quatre had called out directions to him that enabled him to stop things from going even more wrong, but he couldn't trust that Quatre would be listening in on the same frequency again or be in position to intercept the land route. Trowa had seemed like a good soldier and had supported Quatre in battle taken initiative to go right after Treize, but he'd also fired on Wing and Deathscythe when there were other strategies open to him. Wufei hadn't demonstrated that he cared to share a com channel or work with anyone.
None of them had tried to save Heero's life yet, but Duo had. He was annoying, but Heero did trust him as an ally.
Unfortunately they had not counted on two things in making their plans: Lady Une's ruthlessness or Tallgeese in the hands of Millard's alter ego.
In retrospect it was all so obvious, but at the time Heero had not known just how many of OZ's previous plans Lady Une had been charged with completing. If he had understood that she had already assassinated Vice-Minister Darlian, launched a military assault against a school in order to kill the sole surviving witness to that assassination, been integral in planning the trap at New Edwards Base, assassinated General Septem, and ordered the activation of the missiles at the base that could have wiped out most of northern California with the base and likely triggered quakes all along the coast then Heero would have predicted that Lady Une would be in charge of this plan as well and she was the type to use the Colonies as leverage.
And though Dr. J had educated Heero on Romefeller's mobile suit development for the Alliance and OZ he had not indicated that there might be enough of a Tallgeese prototype to reassemble or what its exact capabilities were. Even though he had later tired of their duels, Heero had always found Millard worthy to be his opponent. Heero was a very good mobile suit pilot and Wing was a fine Gundam, but Millard had always been a challenge to defeat. Millard had even had the upper hand sometimes.
Heero remembered that their dueling had lured Heero away from his target. Trowa had taken up the mission Heero should have been doing, but their had been no new models on the air transports. Radio chatter said that Quatre and Duo had both targeted the rail transport, but their target had also been a decoy.
And when they were already fighting just to escape from the trap Lady Une demanded their surrender or she would use the military's space station to target the Colonies. Even a minor hit would have caused a 'death hole' and blown the atmosphere. Heero had studied the schematics of the station. Its cannon could destroy a whole colony if it struck a direct hit.
Heero knew he could not surrender the Gundam to his enemy. He knew he should not be captured. But he also knew he could not do anything that would endanger a colony. He couldn't call the bluff, because he could not be sure it was a bluff. Then he heard Dr. J claiming responsibility for the Gundams and surrendering himself. And Dr. J had said, "But I will not surrender the Gundams." Then Heero had known what he had to do.
He had stepped out onto the hatch, maybe to show Millard what he was doing, maybe to look at the land around them, at Earth and Siberia, one last time. He had activated the self-detonation device within his Gundam, believing that he was a weapon without a hand to wield it. He was useless and compromised and there was no option but to take his own life. He hadn't hesitated at all, because he hadn't thought himself very worthwhile. Relena and Duo had been the ones to keep him alive that long.
He had died.
And then he had been carried away and revived. For a month Trowa and Catherine had cared for him while he was comatose, his body in too much pain to allow itself to be conscious.
Heero still liked and respected Trowa. They had found that they worked well together. Trowa had not been raised by an assassin and a scientist, but by mercenary soldiers who had not always fought for the same side. Trowa had learned a broad range of knowledge on military bases, protocols, weaponry and vehicles. In some ways he was even more thoroughly a soldier than Heero was. Atop that, Trowa had always demonstrated ability to take initiative if called for and seemed the type of person that would have easily risen through the ranks under other circumstances. He even had decent strategic sense, though Heero didn't always agree with Trowa's strategy, he sometimes did.
Heero thought that he and Trowa might have even been friends. If Trowa wanted to ever leave the circus, which was now where he lived and worked for real and not his cover, Heero would eagerly work with him again. Trowa had helped him when he had needed a guide for a while.
Heero thought, it had started then, this present journey. After he had died in Siberia the pain and regret and realization of the true horrors of war had hit him. At New Edwards Heero had been stunned, but his mind had repressed his regret over falling into the trap of causing the death of pacifists when he had intended only to kill those who continued the war and conquest. After Siberia, after his coma, he had truly begun the journey here, to this place and time, AC198 and in Siberia again.
Now he wanted only peace. He didn't wish to fight any more. He wasn't a pacifist, he supposed. He still believed in defending oneself, in defending freedom or peace or life. Heero just hoped, sincerely, that he did not find himself in the position of having to take up that defense; at least, he did not want to have to kill for any reason.
Heero shook the memories and returned to the book displayed on his monitor. War and Peace. It was an expansive work and he just hadn't been able to get through more than a few paragraphs. He would rather stare out the window than read about the Napoleonic invasions and Heero already understood how history might proceed inexorably to its own ends.
Heero shivered thinking about Treize and how he had told Heero he was weak for fighting his own destiny. How was any man supposed to know his destiny before it came to be?
Heero sighed and looked at the rapidly passing scenery again. If he had died here once it seemed fitting that he should pass through this place as he was attempting to begin a new life.
Still Heero Yuy, but he would have a more peaceful occupation and hopefully he would figure out how to conduct a social life. Heero laughed softly to himself as he pictured the catalog of non-lethal weaponry now in the Preventer arsenal. Maybe he wouldn't mind trading in guns for disabling weapons and devices of the spy trade. Aa... but he was good with a gun, perhaps he'd just look for tranqs to load his weapons. Sally for one had proven adept at infiltration and rescue missions without causing death.
Heero would think of his new job as another new challenge for himself. Collect pay to infiltrate and report on his success. Provide security. A few more stops and Heero might start this new line of work. A partner or two would be useful, but there were only a few people Heero already trusted and they seemed content with their own jobs. Heero wouldn't expect anyone to leave their own life to do something just to help him.
The train slowed and then stopped. Heero had been keeping track of the stops. They were at the Lake Baikal station now. Heero watched the traffic on the platform through his window, knowing it was tinted to give him a better view of the outside than they had of him. He didn't expect trouble, but he was still in the habit of always remaining aware of his surroundings and looking for potential threats.
It was cold enough at this season that the scarves and hats that covered heads and faces were understandable. But it left a worry in the back of Heero's mind: that each figure made themselves so hard to identify. He even noted one man who wore large sunglasses so that his entire face was hidden. It was evening, but Heero had to allow that some people did have more sensitive eyes than others. People that were from the colony cluster at L2 usually needed fairly dark glasses when on Earth because S3 was the furthest cluster from Earth and thus fractionally closer to the sun and without an atmosphere to shield it as a planet would have, on the days when sunlight did hit their home they were obliged to shield their skyglasses because of the amount of radiation that came with the light. Duo had grown up there and Heero recalled that Duo had sometimes worn sunglasses and when he did not he usually had a hat with a brim that shaded his eyes. Without either and forced to be out in the daylight Duo had squinted. He had tried to hide the fact, because he was often posing as someone other than himself, but Heero had noticed. Duo's eyes were like bright cobalt glass in sunlight and very sensitive, more so than blue eyes of any Earthling and more than Heero's eyes, which were gray-blue and accustomed to the light of S4, where sunlight came through the skyglass after being reflected off mirrors and passing through a layer of light-permeable copper tinting that S3 had not invested in. Heero decided the man on the platform might be traveling from the Colonies and may not be hiding anything on purpose.
Heero knew that after moving from this station the restaurant car would serve dinners. Snacks and drinks had been available through the day but it was the policy of the rail service to bring onboard pre-prepared meals only at certain stops rather than put a full kitchen on the train. It seemed logical that Heero get dinner while it was available.
He put his mobile to sleep then loaded it into his satchel to carry it. He checked that he had his ticket with the bar code that functioned as key to lock and open the compartment. Heero pulled on his overcoat then left the compartment. In the narrow passage between the private compartments a porter was helping a passenger with his luggage. From the corners of his eyes Heero saw it was the man with the sunglasses. Heero slipped his ticket over his door lock as the porter was indicating in gesture the scanner beside the door of the compartment beside Heero's. "Pakazhítye bilyét," the porter prompted the passenger.
As he was turning Heero saw the passenger wave his own ticket before the scanner. Heero began to walk to the end of the car and he heard the passenger speak behind him in an English dialect, "Which way is the dinning car?"
For a split second Heero froze still before he forced himself to walk slowly forward, that voice had triggered a memory. It was unmistakable in Heero's mind. Trant. Former Romefeller Faction OZ technical officer Trant Clark. He had gone MIA sometime after being reported AWOL, when he had taken the Gundam Wing ZERO and forced Duo to perform tests for him.
Duo had not spoken of the details of what he had seen or done while piloting Wing ZERO, they knew its system could cause hallucinations, especially if the pilot fought the system's attempts to merge with their mind, but Heero was certain Duo's experience had haunted him. Before Trant had blackmailed Duo into taking his orders by threatening to destroy the colony where he lived, Heero had been the subject of Trant's ZERO system tests at the much contested moon base, where most of the Gundam pilots had been held prisoner at some point.
Heero had eventually come to learn to use the ZERO system. In fact, he had come to depend on it so much that, in his wanderings, after the destruction of ZERO, he often craved the focus and clarity of mind that came from merging with the machine. Before that, when no one had learned to use the system without loosing their mind or committing destructive acts they would otherwise never have dreamed of, all use of ZERO had been heartbreaking.
Quatre had happened upon the system on his own, built it from Instructor H's schematics and used it without understanding what it could do. Heero's first time had not been by choice or accident, but because Trant had ordered it. Heero had been a prisoner of war and Trant had ordered him hooked up to an experimental, mind-altering system so he could continue his study. When Heero had been Sally's prisoner or Une's prisoner they had never experimented on him. Sally had restrained him, but that was after Heero had woken once and broken lesser restraints in an attempt to escape. Sally had learned that even injured her prisoner required more elaborate and stronger restraints and Heero had learned that it would be wiser to feign unconsciousness until he perceived an opportunity to escape that didn't require so much exertion of force from his injured body. Held by Une and Trowa both Heero had actually been treated very well considering he'd been a prisoner of war. Experimenting on prisoners of war violated a list of past treaties and international laws and Trant had done that entirely on his own.
That first time Heero was made to use the system he had not fought the system, but he had not understood how to work with it either. The result had been that he had nearly killed Quatre and himself and the scientists and destroyed the moon base. If Quatre had not talked him down, somehow, Heero did not know what he would have done. He might have just killed everyone, indiscriminately, as he had the first time he had piloted Epyon, which also contained the ZERO system.
Heero shivered between the train cars just thinking about Epyon. Sometimes those memories left him nauseated, but right now he was more concerned with Trant.
After the Eve Wars, in the year that had seen further violence caused by a White Fang remnant and the Barton Foundation, when the newly created ESUN had been a fledgling government with an understaffed and under-financed defense force, various agents of that government had to take on the tasks of investigating reported war crimes, building defenses that would prevent future wars, collecting weapons and creating law that would make it more difficult for weapons of mass destruction to ever be constructed.
In that year of 196 Heero had felt some regret but his inability to truly believe that peace would last had kept his mind focused on watching for trouble, so he had not dwelled on his memories or come to terms with all that he had done or experienced. That year Heero had still had ZERO to tell him what to do. Between his own resources and what data he found in the Preventers' system when he hacked it Heero had often been aware of the activities of the new government before they were reported to the public.
Many people had been investigated and judged for war crimes. Some had volunteered themselves for questioning and judgment, feeling responsible for their past actions or even guilty. Quatre Winner and Lady Une had both faced judges and due to past mental instability and the many things they had done to bring peace both had been acquitted. Other people had fled before they could be made to face local security, government agents or judges. Most had been caught others were wanted still. In general the judges had gone easy on lesser soldiers following orders, no matter the despicable nature of the orders and the courts had tried to pardon offenders whenever they had demonstrated change for the better or helped the peace effort. Those who had acted on their own and for personal profit, if they had violated past treaties and laws were often severely punished to the extent of the ESUN's new laws, meaning they would live in penal labor camps, mining asteroids or constructing colonies, whatever was most dangerous. A few people, like Trant Clark and Millard Peacecraft were wanted for questioning but also listed as MIA and possibly dead. Millard had resurfaced at the end of the year and for his actions in saving the ESUN from collapse had been pardoned of past crimes. Trant Clark had never been reported to have resurfaced alive.
But he was alive! Heero knew that had been him. He knew it and he felt angry. Trant hadn't only been an enemy; he'd made his prisoners help him in his tests. He'd hurt Heero. He'd hurt Quatre. And when they had escaped he had intentionally sought both Wufei and Duo so they might be made to participate in tests. As it happened he had located Duo first. It was well known that Duo Maxwell loved the Colonies. Duo had never hated Earth or all Earthlings, but he had sworn to fight the Alliance and the associated OZ for their treatment of the Colonies. Even when the Colonials had been misled into thinking the Gundam pilots were criminals Duo had still defended the Colonies. He hadn't been treated so well as Heero had when he was a prisoner and so Duo had even suffered beatings for his people and never betrayed an ally, no matter the torture. All of this had made it too obvious to Trant what Duo's weakness was: threaten the Colonies if Duo did not cooperate and Duo would do what you demanded, even if he despised you and himself while doing it. Heero knew that in Duo's mind, it was better he do terrible things and suffer terrible things rather than allow anyone else to stand in his place. Trant had taken advantage of Duo and whatever he had done haunted Duo and that made Heero furious.
Heero forced his face to remain blank as he took a seat at a table in the restaurant car. He was angry, but loosing control now wouldn't help anyone. He was on his own and not well armed and in public. Even if he wanted to fight, this was a bad time and place for it. Trant probably hadn't got a good look at Heero yet. He was probably intent on hiding himself. If Heero remained quiet, maybe Trant would stay put long enough for Heero to contact someone who could help.
Heero fetched his mobile computer from his bag and opened it. Concentrating on breathing slowly and remaining calm Heero composed a text message to Director Une. She was likely at the Colonial Headquarters now; in his recent efforts to track down old acquaintances Heero had learned that the Director was now most often in the Colonial Capitol, near Relena. Preventers had agents throughout the Sphere; even on Mars, where Lucretia Noin was their CO, now at the Preventer rank of Colonel.
Heero stated the facts as briefly as possible, saying that he believed he had identified the wanted Trant Clark, giving his location and situation. He said that until he heard from Une he would not take action on his own and would attempt not to be identified himself. Heero then continued his way. Not with threats and guns as he had learned, but the way he had known to get what he wanted since childhood.
He had to smile a little. He had been challenged but had not found a system he could not defeat. He did his best work with some food nearby and in a locked and shielded room, but the train's restaurant car would have to do. Heero did have supernormal speed of thought... he was reasonably sure this was among his supernormal traits, though he could not say why he had any of them. His typing speed was preternatural as well.
Ticket sales. This wasn't even difficult. Heero was familiar with the computer systems of many public and private transportation providers. Calling up a passenger list or charges to accounts in exchange for ticket sales was even easier than getting free tickets. Not that he had stolen tickets this time, or needed to.
The list. He didn't expect to see the name Trant Clark, but that wasn't a problem. Heero merely had to identify who on the list of passengers boarding at the Lake Baikal station was not who they claimed.
It took a while. There were many sources to check information against. And Heero also had to remain aware of his surroundings rather than devote all of his abilities to one task. He ordered dinner shortly after beginning his work. The work had given him something to focus on, a way to be productive and so it had calmed Heero enough that he felt like eating. He did not feel up to eating very much, so Heero just ordered a basic potato salad and ate it now and then as he typed one-handed or waited for results to be processed.
While Heero was working the man he had identified as Trant came into the dining car. Heero remained as calm as he could, at least on the outside. He did not want to kill anyone, but he did feel like he could make that man hurt and not feel any regret over that. Heero told himself that it was best to be patient. It was difficult to do so, but Heero understood the virtue in it. He believed in a number of virtues that a man ought to possess: integrity, determination, efficiency, courage, manners, honesty and loyalty... Heero had heard it said at times that discretion and patience were also good things to have. He didn't have a religion to guide him in what was right or wrong and he did not believe that a government was necessarily right because it was currently in power so Heero had only his own personal code to guide him. It was a code made up of the best parts of what Lowe and the Doctor had taught him and what he had learned from others.
Heero combed hair over his eyes and bowed his head slightly and was glad Trant took a seat facing the counter and did not look toward him. He reminded himself that some of the people who had taught Heero about being good people were the same people Trant had hurt or intended to hurt. Heero would honor them the most if he did not sink to Trant's level because he was angry with him. Trant might have tried to hurt Wufei and Wufei's sense of justice was beyond integrity because Wufei did not follow anyone else's set of rules but defended what his heart said was right. Wufei would probably say if he was here that Trant should be defeated but only by an opponent that refused to be like Trant. Lowe had taught Heero something similar when he said something that might be translated as, "My Boy, if you act in accordance with your own feelings then you will not be wrong."
Relena had determination and courage and good manners. Heero felt those were admirable qualities. Relena sometimes seemed to say that she wished she could be as courageous and determined as Heero, but he didn't understand why. One reason that Heero did admire Relena was that unlike him Relena had had no training at all in combat or the real politics of war or in how to overcome pain when there was work to do, yet she had stood unflinching before assaults and worked bad situations toward her advantage just by speaking and she had never given up on trying to do what she believed was right, even when she was surrounded by people who believed differently. And she had never stooped to backhanded tactics or name-calling. That demonstrated determination and courage and manners and was not the full extent of Relena's virtues. He might say that at some points they had seemed equal in courage, but the fact that Relena had not been trained to face danger and suppress fear made her seem stronger than Heero. Heero had been trained to be strong; Relena had just been naturally strong.
Duo had mostly taught Heero about honesty and loyalty. Heero wasn't sure if forgiveness was a virtue, but Duo had demonstrated that as well. Heero had stolen from Duo and lied to him and Duo had entirely forgiven that and kept on supporting Heero and showing him by example what it was to be loyal and honest. Duo probably had more virtues than that, but Heero had appreciated the loyalty and honesty most. Duo was a really good pilot too, but that came under skills rather than virtues.
Efficiency Heero thought he possessed but Trowa had it, as they said, in spades. Trowa was highly efficient. It might seem at times that his bullet-spraying tactics were wasteful, but more often than not Heero had seen that each bullet found its intended target and even when out of ammunition or completely unarmed Trowa was resourceful and dangerous. He was frugal and efficient. Trowa could use his own body most efficiently, he didn't even eat more than he had to, and his machines were always perfectly tuned. He'd even made use of mobile suit components in ways that Heero had not thought of, with the result of accomplishing a task with the least waste in effort or time.
There were other people that had taught Heero, like Quatre. Quatre hadn't so much demonstrated the types of virtues Heero valued, though he had demonstrated them. What Quatre had mostly done was help Heero to see value in intangible things above and beyond himself, like life and happiness. Quatre was a good leader of people because he valued people, all of them. And even in the middle of a war, which he participated in nobly, Quatre found time to have fun and be creative and love people.
Quatre would want very much to punish Trant if he were here, but Heero thought that Quatre would show mercy first. Quatre would not sneak up stealthily but announce his presence and give Trant a chance to surrender himself. After Trant rejected the offer Quatre would find a way to disable Trant until the new courts and judges could deal with him. This was how peace loving people should act, Heero supposed. They should take control of their lives in demanding they had a right to live in peace but stop short of taking what they wanted with violence that would taint any peace they attained. Punishing those who disturbed peace and other individuals' rights was the terrible responsibility of their Justices.
Heero hoped he would receive word soon. He understood that the safety of the world was not solely his responsibility. Everyone had to protect each other. But, Heero also knew that if he lost track of Trant now he might be able to escape again and for a long while. Someone like him should not be loosed on the world.
Heero looked at his monitor. He had done much cross-referencing and research and found that two individuals boarding at Baikal could not be who they claimed. One was a man traveling under the name James Clark. His file ID photo showed that he was Caucasian, brown-haired, blue-eyed and had heavy facial scarring and the text description on file matched this. Trant as Heero remembered him matched this description, but for the scarring, which could have happened during or after his fight against Duo, when Trant had tried to pilot Wing ZERO himself and Duo had recovered Deathscythe.
That fight was the last sighting of Trant and Heero believed Duo's report that ZERO had taken a hit and the explosion had directed the Gundam away and Duo had not attempted to track or recover the machine. OZ soldiers had later found Wing ZERO but their reports had not mentioned finding a pilot or remains anywhere near the Gundam. Thus, Trant was MIA rather than just dead.
In any case, the ID was a fake. It was a paper fake, in which one found a similar looking person, usually one who was not very active or likely to travel and made a forged ID to match the computer records on which the forged copy had a photo, thumb print and signature that matched those of the user. Unless the real ID holder had been tagged for some reason no one would do a check of the physical ID against computer records. If they had done a computer check they might have realized that another James Clark was in the region of Canada buying cigarettes on the same day that his double was in Russia buying train tickets.
Heero had not expected a second person traveling under a fake ID. He'd done it enough himself to know how it could be done and what to look for. This second fake was a hack job, as opposed to paper. Someone had gotten access to official ID issuing authorities and created a new, but fake, file. This was what Heero usually did. These fakes were very hard to detect, unless one knew to study a paper trail. The fake ID was usually used only for travel or purchase of illicit materials through fronts. Without a steady history of everyday use and records the ID's file stood out dramatically. For one, it was a smaller file. Admittedly, some real people were not very active and had small files. But in their cases, the history did fit a regular established pattern from childhood issuing of ID until the present.
Heero's fakes had been in place since childhood and he rotated usage of all of them and only stopped using one when he knew it had been compromised. This way, each did show a regular pattern of use.
This second ID Heero had discovered was for a female named Midarako Vestiaz. He didn't really have to look at the photo or description. The name was so obviously fake. It was like she was daring someone to catch her. Heero supposed that to an English-speaker the name would just sound foreign. To someone of Japanese and Russian decent her name read like Slutty Namurt, in which namurt was an obvious reversal of Truman as vestiaz was of Zaitsev. Many Russians might recognize Zaitsev, even in Roman lettering and in reverse. Heero did anyway, but then his mind looked for codes in things.
Heero looked at her file photo and matching text description. She was of mixed Asian and European decent, specifically Roshia-Nihonjin; at least this was obvious to Heero's eyes. Blonde. Gray-eyed. She looked younger than her recorded age of 22; she looked no older than 18.
Heero kept an eye on Trant at the bar. He seemed to be drinking a lot. As he wasn't moving, Heero didn't move. He continued to research this Zaitsev woman, whoever she was. He decided to try searching for a match in the Preventer photo archives. Their database of various ID photos was presently the most extensive and Heero actually had legal access to their database.
After several minutes a match came up, and then another and finally one more. Midarako Vestiaz, Magdalene Noinori and Midii Une all appeared to be the same young woman. They had various ages but the descriptions matched closely and the photos seemed to be of the very same female. Compiling the histories of all three Heero noted a pattern that had been established since her childhood. Income in large chunks of money from Military accounts as well as companies he knew to be organized crime fronts. She always remained on Earth, in Japan, former CIS regions or within Europe. She seemed to have resided for long periods of time in Kiev and in Tokyo. As Midii Une she had several arrest records for breaking and entering or battery. Midii Une had also collected as the beneficiary of several life insurance policies in AC 195 and since that time had stayed more in Japan than in Europe.
Of the three Midii seemed to be a genuine ID. Magdalene seemed to be a long-used alias with a clean record. It was her safe ID; Heero had one of those, a name he used when he was not going to do anything illegal but wished to be left alone. Midarako seemed to be a throw away identity, one she wouldn't mind losing if she had to. It was also obviously fake and Heero wondered why.
War orphan? Probably. Spy? Hired assassin? Possibly. Connections to organized crime? Heero wasn't an expert on the subject. He did know that many regions in the Earth Sphere had underground organizations that were mostly legitimate but may participate in illegal activities. During the war connections with such organizations had been useful, because they could supply weapons and ammunition without the regulations that legitimate dealers were required to follow. As well, they often had good information on what was going on in their own area. Heero remembered that Adin had sometimes worked for a particular man in the Russian Quarter and Heero had understood that that man represented a powerful organization that was neither government nor corporation.
Heero knew that after the war it had been discovered that some members of underground organizations had been profiteers and sold arms to rebel forces only at a high price and had even sold information on rebels to the Alliance. The political climate being what it was during the war crimes investigations those individuals had been severely punished. But in general the underground organizations were left untouched by Preventers, though it would be within their jurisdiction to prosecute them. Heero figure that Une understood that her organization would last longer letting small infractions go seemingly unnoticed so that when a real threat to peace was encountered she could count on the organizations to return her favor by offering information.
On Earth Heero had no idea which organization covered which territory. It bothered him that a woman who could very well be employed by an underground organization had used her disposable ID to board the same train he and Trant were on. Heero could hope it was coincidence, but he was not sure.
Heero was also a little worried that he had not heard from Director Une yet. He would like to think that she was not writing back because she was so busy organizing the effort to capture Trant, but Heero could not confirm that. Instead he began to further cross-reference the names Midii Une and Magdalene Noinori.
The door at the far end of the restaurant car swung open and a girl in a uniform came through from the next car. It seemed to be some manner of school uniform, Heero thought, consisting of shiny black shoes, white tights, a short pleated skirt, white button-down and navy blazer to match the skirt. She had black hair, but as Heero returned his eyes to the computer he realized he had just been looking at Midii.
Heero raised his eyes slowly, trying not to be obvious. That girl did seem to be Midii; the black hair seemed to be a wig. He also noticed that the shirt was unbuttoned to an indecent point, that the blazer could easily hide weapons at the small of her back or in the pockets and that she was carrying a shoulder bag. The bag was the sort constructed to carry small pets and Heero could see through the vent holes a shape inside the bag.
Suddenly Heero found himself hoping it was not a dog.
Midii put her pet carrier on the floor then sat down on the stool beside Trant. Heero watched through strands of green hair as the girl waved down the counterperson and asked if the fish was very fresh. Told it was, she ordered the fish and some pelmeni. She called after the young man who was working behind the bar and asked if she could pay in cash. Midii produced some paper bills, apparently from inside her shirt, but Heero wasn't in a position to confirm that. The young man looked at the money.
Heero could tell at a glance they weren't Sphere Dollars. Esdees used a blue ink and these were green. They looked like American Dollars. All paper currency went up and down in value depending on what it was backed with and how much currency was issued and Heero was fairly sure that American Dollars were one of the more valued moneys now. Esdees were still being phased in and there was a thriving black market in other currencies while people held off exchanging all their cash for as long as possible. A greedy glance and a nod told Midii and anyone else watching that her money was welcome.
Heero saw Midii turn to Trant then, her hands falling to roll a fifty back and forth across her thigh to flatten the wrinkles, or maybe, Heero thought, to draw Trant's eyes to her thigh. Heero wasn't entirely clueless and this seemed pretty obvious flirtation. She asked if he would buy her a drink, implying of course that she was too young to order alcohol, though Heero doubted it. The ESUN hadn't managed to assimilate all the local laws or every former nation, but a seventeen year old anywhere could argue that they had a right to do pretty much anything, no matter what the local legal age had been.
"I don't speak Russian," Trant said, in English.
Heero didn't completely understand that. He believed that Trant did not speak the language, but he thought it foolish for someone in hiding to draw attention to themselves in any way or give away information about themselves. Now Midii knew he was a man who did not speak the local language.
"Nihongo?" Midii asked, tilting her head and covering her mouth as she giggled. The hand with the dollar was hanging idly between her legs and her feet were swinging. Heero was starting to think that Midarako was an appropriate name.
"No. English and French."
He was not hiding very well, Heero thought.
Midii covered her mouth even as she smiled wide and then went back to rolling the bill across her tights. She continued to speak, now in Japanese, though Heero doubted there was anyone in the Sphere who did not speak some English. But now, seeing that Midii had not hesitated to approach Trant, Heero was certain he was her target. He could not be sure what Trant was targeted for, but Heero knew Trant was a target.
A text message came in from Preventer HQ. It was from the Director herself. Heero read the detailed message quickly. Une's people had also identified that Trant was traveling as James Clark. Lady Une instructed Heero not to approach Trant. She told him that plain clothes Preventer agents would board at Novisibirsk where the train was scheduled to link with cars coming from a southern line before continuing toward Moscow. The train would continue to Moscow, as scheduled and there Trant would be taken into custody. The plainclothes agents had orders only to identify Trant and then watch to see that he did not get off the train before Moscow. Only if Trant attempted to leave were the agents to make themselves known. Une had given them orders not to make contact with Heero if they saw him and Une suggested Heero leave them to their work. Une assured Heero that this was the best plan, which would cause the least disturbance to public order.
But Une did not know about Midii.
And Heero didn't know why Midi was after Trant.
The counterperson had brought her food and Midii slipped to the floor and bent forward from her hips to put the plate of fish on the floor and open the bag beside her stool. Of course this gave Trant the opportunity to see the back of her skirt rise. Midii straightened then turned, her left hand near her breast she asked Trant, in Japanese if he wanted to pet her cat. Heero was sure Midii was up to no good. The dollar, the bending, the cat, it was all distraction. Heero tried to focus, to look wherever Midii wouldn't be drawing attention.
He saw it then, Midii's right hand slipping something into Trant's plastic drinking cup. He knew then he had to do something. The Preventers wanted Trant alive. Any minute Heero expected they would reach Novisibirsk. It would be an excellent opportunity for Midii to leave the train, shed the wig and generally get away. That made Heero think that whatever she had put in Trant's drink must be deadly and not a sleeping agent.
Heero thought on what he might do, ran sims in his mind of all the things that might go right or wrong, tried to calculate all the known factors in. He had to make sure rant did not drink from that glass and he had to stop Midii from further attempts. Heero shut the computer and slipped it back into his satchel. Anything he tried would be difficult, because Trant might realize who he was if he got a good look at Heero.
What would Duo do? He'd improvise something. Heero forced a sneeze. It seemed everyone but Trant looked at him. Heero had been keeping track of the occupants in the car, including himself and the man behind the counter there were twelve people now. Several blessed him. Heero sneezed again and staggered across the space between tables and counter. He spoke to Midii in Russian, "Get your cat out of here, can't you see that I am allergic?"
She looked up at him, hard. Heero thought she might have recognized him. It happened sometimes, but often Heero managed to go overlooked because people just didn't expect Heero Yuy would be where they were. Heero forced several sneezed and a miserable groan as he moved to the bar. He made a point of sneezing in the direction of Trant's beverage. He apologized and offered to buy another as he poured the contents into the basin on the other side of the counter. Heero kept his head bowed and continued sneezing as he moved away from the counter.
"The cat," Heero was saying to Midii, "just get out of here!"
She shoved the cat into the bag and zipped the bag. For seconds she stared at him. Heero slung his satchel over his shoulder and generally sniffled as he made his way toward the door. Midii stood. She produced a packet of tissues from a pocket. "I am so sorry," she said, returning the same language, "Here. May I help you? Do you have pills you can take?"
She wanted a chance to talk to him somewhere, Heero understood. There were others listening besides Trant. So they had to both continue the display or they would reveal themselves to Trant when others showed confusion. "My eyes are watering. I can hardly see. Help me to my compartment."
Midii turned and spoke to the cat in Japanese. She called it Nanashi as she instructed it to behave and wait for her.
Heero opened the door to the passage between cars and backed into the small space. Midii soon came after him and Heero opened the second door. He took his ticket from a pocket and opened his compartment. As soon as the door was shut behind them Midii spoke. "I know who you are and that's the only reason I'm willing to hear you out, but I do not think you know what you are getting into. You should stay out of this. He's scum!"
Heero wiped his face with a tissue from his own pocket. "I do not think you know who you are dealing with, Midii."
"Well, I didn't expect it would be much of a challenge for you to find my name. So, what is it? Your pacifist girlfriend doesn't approve of killing?"
Heero glared and whatever Midii saw in his face caused her to fall silent. "I do not have a girlfriend. And Neither the Vice-Minister nor myself are currently pacifists. Now tell me why you have targeted that man."
"We don't have time for this. Any minute now we both could be fighting off every yakuza from Tokyo west to LA over that piece of shit, whether we want him dead or not."
"Then tell me what I need to know... quickly," Heero insisted.
"He raped a geisha."
That was bad. Heero hadn't thought there were geisha left anywhere, but if there were real geisha and not greeter girls or hostesses in traditional clothing it would be especially unfortunate that one was raped. It would be unfortunate that anyone was raped, but Heero could understand how some people would be particularly offended because it had been a geisha. "I did not think we had any more geisha."
Midii shrugged then continued in rapid speech. "She is a friend of mine, which is why I wanted to get to him first. You may not think much of me, I don't know if anyone you know has told you about me. It is true I'll do, or I have done almost anything for money, but I do protect my friends. Not that everyone can appreciate my friendship." She had issues with someone in particular but Heero did not recall anyone mentioning this girl. "He raped her. She is absolutely a real geisha and if she'd taken a boyfriend that would have been her business, but she was never remotely like a whore. You know what the gaijin always think?"
"I am not completely uneducated."
"But she hadn't even taken a boyfriend. She was a virgin. She's only as old as you or I and now she wants to die for what that... thing did to her!"
"And the yakuza?"
"Not just yakuza, Yakuza, as the English say, with a capital Y."
Heero understood. Midii was referring to a specific hereditary underground organization based in Japan and not gangsters in general.
"And all their allies as well, every hired thug there is. You have to understand, Ursula wasn't just my friend or a geisha, she was the daughter of some underground lord in the Colonies... I don't know some guy they only refer as Honorable Father. And he'd sent her to Nihon to study and her warder was from the Yakuza. They are all absolutely disgraced that that fuck raped her and got away."
This was making a frightening amount of sense to Heero. "She wasn't his real daughter, at least she probably wasn't. The Family call everyone by familial titles and honorifics. I have had past dealings with them, when I was younger." Well, Lowe had, but Heero had been there. The man Lowe had sometimes worked for in the Russian Quarter was part of the underground organization known as The Family and they were mainly of Russian or Japanese decent.
"Any second this train stops at Novisibirsk and others will catch up to us."
That was a problem. "Do you know his name?" Heero asked.
"His assumed name. Listen closely. He's a fugitive ex-OZ soldier wanted these past two years for war crimes. He has offended me personally and my friends and I also want him to pay, but I will not have him killed on my watch. Preventer agents are also boarding at the next station and if Trant Clark is murdered they will be obligated to arrest whoever did it, even though in the Capitol the Preventers leave The Family to their business. Help me. Can you contact her warder or this Honorable Father?"
"Here," Heero said, taking out his computer and opening it on the table. He made the communications programs accessible. "Send them a message to say just what I tell you."
"Depends what you want me to say." But she was at the keys.
"Say this: 'Lowe's boy who has worked for The Family in the past has contacted you and swears that the offender James Clark, also known as Trant Clark fugitive Ex-Romefeller Faction officer, will pay for all his crimes if you call off the hit now and leave him to the Preventers. If anyone touches Trant Clark now they will be making war with the Preventers who have done their best to keep peace between all organizations.'"
"Sent," Midii reported.
Heero took back his computer and cradled it in his arms as he felt the train decelerate. "Quickly, go back and make sure he does not get off the train himself. Do what you can. If you disappoint me, you will pay."
"I have to send a message to Preventer HQ. I will join you, I hope."
Midii opened the door then ran through the passage outside. As the door closed Heero was already typing a new message to Director Une. He informed her of the presence of the woman named Midii Une and related everything he had learned from Midii regarding the situation Trant had gotten himself into. He also told Une the content of the message Midii had sent out at his request, hoping the Director would not be too angry with him for threatening action on her behalf.
Heero sent the message then hurried into the restaurant car. Trant was still at the counter. Midii was sitting several seats down from him with her cat perched on her lap. The car was very crowded and nearly everyone looked suspicious. Heero thought the only reason no one had approached Trant was that they all realized why the others were there and were all careful not to offend someone of a particular rank or organization by moving first.
Heero had only been in the car for several seconds when a phone rang. Then there was another. Then three more. It seemed the phones and electronic messengers of everyone in the car were all going off at the same time. Many different rings and tones, all at once. The whispered 'Allos' and 'Moshi-moshis' were deafening.
Heero felt relieved. Their superiors must be passing along new orders not to target Trant Clark.
Then Heero spotted the two men at the counter the other side of Midii. One of them was looking right at Heero. He looked familiar and then Heero placed the face with the matching name filed in his mind. Sobieski, formerly of the Sank Imperial Guard and previous to that a member of OZ. Heero made a very slight nod toward the former White Taurus pilot, as he was clearly now a Preventer agent. Heero could leave. If anyone dared make a move now there were to capable looking agents there to take care of them.
Heero was glad that the situation was no longer his responsibility. He'd had enough life or death burdens in his life. He just wanted to go home and get back in touch with old acquaintances and try working for a living. The security work might provide challenges and physical activity, but it would not be life or death. Heero would be paid to test security, and so if he was caught breaching security his employers would be pleased and pay him then send him on his way.
Heero sighed deeply, turned and walked right back out of the restaurant car and into his private compartment. Heero folded down the bed and then removed his coat. He heard a soft knock at the door. Mentally Heero reminded himself of where all his weapons were hidden. "Who is there?"
"It is me," Midii's voice said.
Heero opened the door. Midii smiled. "I liberated this from the bar." It was a full bottle of vodka, certainly more than one person should drink, and maybe more than two people should drink. She had two cups in her other hand.
"What are you doing here?" Heero asked. He couldn't think of anything better to say.
She put the pet carrier and a small knapsack on the floor. "I saw before that you had a compartment. My ticket only took me as far as Novisibirsk, but I don't think they'll check here. The bed looks big enough. Don't worry, I don't bite unless asked very nicely."
"But I..." Heero started. He backed up to the bed then sat at its edge.
"Never?" Midii suggested as she poured vodka into the two cups set on the fold-out table.
"Don't," Heero corrected, "I was going to say don't." He thought he did know what Midii was inferring and Heero didn't think she needed to know whether he was a virgin or not. Besides, he had only just met her and he didn't think he was attracted to her at all. Heero wasn't sure what attraction felt like exactly; he'd hardly ever gotten so far as toleration or fondness with someone and was fairly sure he hadn't yet gotten so far as attraction toward anyone he knew. Heero was also pretty certain that the strange dreams and fantasies he might have did not count.
If his dreams did indicate who he was attracted to then Heero was highly attracted to Eurasian bathing servants and night club singers of either sex as well as elaborately robed Space Princesses or Princes... or perhaps they had been Goddesses and Gods. Besides nightmares about the war all his dreams were very strange.
"Drink up," Midii said as she passed a cup to Heero.
He eyed the plastic cup of vodka skeptically. He had seen her poison a man not long before.
"Oh, seriously!" Midii said. Heero thought she sounded American. She lowered her voice. "I would be a fool to kill you with those two boys in blue out there."
"They aren't supposed to be in uniform," Heero hissed.
Midii chuckled. "They are in civilian attire. I still recognized they were agents. They're lurking outside Trant's compartment for one. So, we'll have to be quiet. These walls are thin."
"I wasn't planning on being very noisy," Heero whispered. He had the feeling that Midii was making fun of him somehow. She sat down on the bed beside him. He watched her take a drink from her glass. Heero took a drink from his glass. It wasn't so bad.
Midii laughed. She got up from the bed again. She put her drink on the table then bent to free her cat from its carrier. Heero got a good look at the animal then, as it looked up at him. It was large for a cat, he thought, muscular in a way that he associated with wild animals and not house pets. Silver blue fur. Bright green eyes. It lifted its tail and it switched rhythmically back and forth before Heero's eyes.
"His name is Nanashi," Midii said. Heero looked away from the animal. Midii was taking off her clothing. "He's a Russian Blue, it's what most people call his breed."
"What are you doing?" Heero demanded. He didn't feel there was anything exciting about Midii now being in her underwear and rubbing her blonde hair now it was free of her wig. He just thought it was improper. He didn't think that girls usually undressed in front of boys they hardly knew.
"Changing. You think I get off on wearing the school girl costume?" Her glare was meant to be evil, but it calmed Heero, because then there didn't seem to be anything in her manner that suggested she was trying to be seductive.
Heero couldn't think of anything good to say so he kept a straight face, drank vodka and looked out the window. He was starting to feel warm inside, but he was sure the feeling was associated with the alcohol.
Midii stood up. She was wearing black leggings and a little red and white T-shirt that advertised a soft drink in Cyrillic lettering. He noticed she had only one earring. Catherine had only worn one earring. Midii's was something like a cross dangling from her right earlobe, only it looked mangled and wound with bits of wire.
Maybe Midii noticed Heero's gaze. She lifted a hand to pinch her right earlobe, as if to assure herself that the earring was there. "So, you know Trowa?"
"I know Trowa." Heero said as he watched Midii pick up Nanashi from the floor then hop up onto the bed beside him. "Do you?"
"Knew him. Briefly. He wasn't Trowa then, but I know that the boy I knew is the same one that became a Gundam pilot."
"He didn't mention you. He is who you meant before? When you spoke about people appreciating your friendship."
Midii shrugged and pet Nanashi's head. "Do you see him ever? Is he well?"
"He's homosexual," Heero said quickly. As soon as he had said it he thought it had been a terrible thing to say. It was true, but Heero suspected a normally socialized person would have realized ahead of time that the timing was wrong.
"Yeah, well, that figures," Midii said very quietly. "Did you...?"
"With Trowa?" Heero asked. He shook his head. "I haven't seen him in about a year. I think he must be as well as any of us. He works in a circus. He has a sister there; at least, Catherine is like a sister to him. I suspect he likes his work there and living with Catherine."
"Well, I didn't expect he would be interested in me. I hurt him. It wasn't physical, you know, but I know I wounded his feelings very much. I only meant to protect him, but I'm sure he felt betrayed. I think I liked him very much. I don't need to see him, but I want him to be happy. Does he have anyone else? Do you think someone loves him?"
"I think someone loves him very much," Heero told Midii, "But I do not know how close they are now."
"A boy then?"
Midii giggled. "Quatre Winner?" She laughed warmly. "I see him on the news all the time. I remember the pictures of him from the war, he looked so young... but..." a throaty laugh, "Winner grew up so sexy, don't you think?"
Heero thought about it. He had not really paid close attention to the news while he had been traveling and recovering, that was why he had been so surprised by how Relena and Duo had grown. Over the last several months Heero had sought information about all his old acquaintances. Midii was correct if she meant that Quatre looked remarkably grown up now. He was only 18, as old as Heero, but he had gotten very tall and broad, muscular even if Heero wasn't mistaken by the fit of Quatre's suits and he had grown in facial hair. Heero thought it was a goatee, the kinky gold-blonde hair on Quatre's chin in recent video. Was that sexy?
"I suppose. He does look well-built and mature if that's what you mean."
"And he dresses nice, all those dark designer suits with his light coloring. And those round blue-green eyes. And he just moves in a sexy way."
"I had not noticed." Heero had honestly not noticed. He had seen pictures of many of his old companions. Trowa was grown too, though Heero thought Duo might have grown to be even taller than Trowa. He wished he had seen more video of Duo. He seemed to keep well out of the spotlight, except when he was seen with Relena. He was always in full uniform when he was with Relena, not Class As but the Navy and OD field jacket with the sage shirt and navy trousers, shirt and tie. Heero wondered what Duo did when he wasn't working. He rather wondered what Relena did with herself if she had a moment of time to herself.
"Who is it?"
"That makes you look so thoughtful?"
"I don't know." Heero thought the was an honest answer. "I honestly haven't seen them in over a year, any of them."
Midii gave a nod.
Heero poured himself another cup of vodka.
"So, it was coincidence you were on this train? The agents only came after you happened to see Clark?"
Heero wasn't sure he should offer any more information to Midii. She had admitted to betraying Trowa in some way.
"I don't expect you would trust me. For what it's worth, you handled yourself pretty well."
"It was courageous, tempting Trant that way when you knew what he had done to another girl."
"Ursula was kind to me. I told you, I protect my friends. When I fail that, I do avenge them."
Heero looked into his glass. "Do you want a job?"
Heero reached to the table for his computer and brought up the Lowe Security advertisement he had been working on. It was not finished but it explained the services Heero intended to offer and the type of experience the company's field agents had. He did not think the clients needed to know that the field agent was also the owner and the mission planner and the receptionist. Heero pointed to the monitor. "We are hiring and I think you have the right kind of experience, if you are interested in legitimate work."
Midii leaned over Heero's legs to read the text. Heero leaned back against the wall and drank some more vodka. He felt too warm in his clothing and tried to remind himself of the dangers of indulging in alcohol, but he didn't listen to himself.
"This is you? I heard some rumors about a company like this starting up over the last month. People I know were concerned that the company wouldn't keep what they did learn while on the job entirely confidential."
"Which is why I must prove we can be trusted by keeping things entirely confidential no matter how tempting it would be to sell information. Lowe Security must have a flawless reputation. If I can't find others who can follow the rules I will simply continue to do all the work myself."
"Yeah, but you're no good as a face man because you are famous and there are things you just won't know or be able to do because you are male. You need at least one partner."
"Yes. That was my logic. Though, the vodka may be effecting my logic somewhat." Heero handed Midii an empty cup and she refilled it for him.
"Make me an equal partner."
"I refuse to make any more decisions while under the influence of alcohol." Heero put his cup down on the bed carefully while he pulled off his shirt.
"You may as well trust me, Heero, I've already got you alone half-dressed and drinking beverages you didn't watch me pour."
"This is not my area of expertise."
Midii was curled in the corner of the sleeping alcove on the bed they shared with Nanashi licking himself at her feet. She grinned darkly. "You are better with the machines. I know how to get what I want from people. If I can make you trust me, really earn it and keep it, then I'll prove to myself that I don't have to betray everyone. I'll redeem myself in Trowa's eyes. And if you help me..."
"It will be my good deed for the day."
"We can discuss salary when you are sober."
"Accepted," Heero said. He slipped down into the bed and gazed out the window. He could see the moon now. It really did look pretty from Earth.
Heero fell asleep and dreamt of a god in black robes.