From the Ashes
Trowa gave a slight nod to the uniform waiting in the hall outside the bedroom door. Dismissing the man immediately, he regulated his report to his partner with a look. The door to the suite was open, and Trowa paused before crossing through. Behind him, he heard his partner leading the local constabulary to another room, somewhere private. Down the hall, he knew other locals had begun questioning staff, creating lists of guests, deliveries, and persons of potential interest.
But, before him, the woman waited, and she was his to interview.
It had been nearly four years since he'd seen her last, five since he'd vowed to take her life if given the opportunity and means. Memories surfaced, and Quatre's pale face image swam before him. The scent of his blood was strong, and instantly nauseating. Stepping into the room, he shut the door to that time and place.
"Miss Catalonia," he called to her quietly, professionally.
She had been standing at the window, its drapes had been left opened, but the view outside the glass filtered through filmy sheers. At the sound of his voice, she turned her head, and Trowa hid the sudden shock. Nearly swollen shut, her left eye was blackened, its bruise in vivid contrast to her pale coloring. Her mouth with its generous lips hadn't escaped injury; the upper lip split and swelled, the bruising equally as obvious.
"Why are you here?" Her voice was hoarse and raspy, and it was then that he saw the purple and blue marks dotting her throat.
"It was reported that you had suffered an assault," Trowa began, stopping when she gave a sharp shake of her head.
"No. Why you?"
"I am assigned to the embassy. Any and all threats to personnel, property, and security of this facility are under Preventers precinct."
She snorted softly, and turned back to the window. "And they sent you." She reached out a hand, and ran finger over the edge of a sheer. "How very ironic."
"Miss Catalonia, regardless of our... past, I am here in an official capacity. Our differences will not cloud nor deter my investigation," Trowa stated calmly, authoritatively.
"I know you won't," she told him, turning from the window and crossing the room. She pulled a chair out from the small table, and sat, indicating the other chair with a wave of a hand. "Have a seat."
Trowa watched her for a moment before moving forward and taking the seat across from her. Reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket, he pulled out his notebook and pen, keeping his eyes on her. "Has a doctor been to see you?" he asked, concerned with the size of the swelling over her eye.
Her glance flicked his way only to drop. "The in-resident medic looked at it." Her lips thinned, pulling at the cut and starting the bleeding again. She pulled a tissue from the pocket of the robe she wore and pressed it to her lip. "I refused to be transported to the hospital."
It was something she would do, he knew, and bit back the reply to urge her to seek additional medical attention. Instead of saying what he should say even though knowing they would be ignored or scoffed at, rather he requested in as composed a tone as he could manage, "Tell me what happened last night."
"Nothing to tell," she informed him, not looking his way. She lowered her hand from her lip and checked the tissue before putting it away.
He turned his head to deliberately to take in the disheveled bed, its coverings violently displaced, and its pillows and sheets stained with blood and possibly other fluids. "The evidence shows otherwise."
"Believe what you will," she dismissed his words with a shrug. Opening the silver case beside her hand, she plucked a cigarette out, and brought it to her mouth. There was a tremor in her hand, and the flame shook as she lit the cigarette. He wondered with faint interest when she'd taken up the habit.
"Dorothy!" she cut in. "I have never been Miss Catalonia to you." She drew in sharply on her cigarette, the ember flared red emulating her sudden anger. "I refuse to be so now," she said, letting the smoke trail out with her words.
"Alright, Dorothy," he said soothingly, "The maid states that you were restrained to your bed. That you failed to respond when she attempted to wake you," Trowa prompted.
She gave him a sardonic laugh. Another twist of her lips, another draw of her cigarette. "I'm a heavy sleeper."
"If you are concerned with reprisal or retaliation, I can assure you security has been reinforced." He was frowning and fought for control.
"There can be no revenge if nothing has taken place."
"Then explain your eye, the bruises, the cut on your lip," he demanded softly.
Her lip curled derisively despite the injury. "I fell."
"Dorothy," he started, frustration building.
"Isn't that what women in my position usually say?" The look she directed at him told Trowa exactly what had happened. But it also told him she wasn't going to tell him what he needed to know.
Keeping his voice soft, the tone one he used on spooked animals, he told her, "The evidence gathered would be enough to tell us who did this. The surveillance files and DNA tests will confirm and convict."
"But without a complaining witness, you have nothing." She took another drag on her cigarette, and stubbed it out blowing the smoke his way.
"What about other women? You can stop him from doing the same to someone else," he appealed, though he was certain it wasn't likely to work.
She dropped her gaze, and touched a finger to her lip. "There will not be anyone else."
"What? How can you be sure?" he demanded, leaning toward her. "Were you targeted?"
She snorted and shook her head. "No more questions."
"If you'd rather speak with a female agent, a rape counselor...," Trowa tried again, maintaining his calming tone.
"No!" her reply was quick.
"I can understand your reluctance to speak about what happened," he continued, watching her closely. "Victims often have difficulty coming to terms with their assault."
Her mouth drew tight while he spoke, and her hand curled into a fist. "But you don't understand, Agent Barton. I am not a victim. I have never been a victim, and I will not let you put me into that role now."
His composure on the brink, he shoved himself to his feet. "You were brutally beaten and raped! That qualifies as a victim, no matter what your convictions are."
"I have nothing more to say to you," she told him in a flat voice, rising slowly to her feet. Her eyes stayed locked on his, her lips firmly pressed together.
In that moment, no matter what their past had been, no matter his near-dissipated desire for revenge, Trowa wanted nothing more than hold her, offer her a measure of comfort, and let her drop that too tough façade. It was a visceral emotion, and he nearly bent double with the weight of it.
"Dorothy, please." Her eyebrow rose, and he swallowed hard against another plea.
"I plan to take a shower now," she told him, her neck straightening, head held proud. "So, unless you plan to watch, I'd suggest you leave." Her hands were undoing the belt at her waist, and as she continued to speak, she shrugged out of her robe. "Unless you get turned on by something like that."
As her robe slipped off her shoulders and slithered to her feet, further evidence of the trauma she'd endured was revealed. From the bite mark at her breast to the hand and finger bruises across her abdomen, hips and thighs, Trowa knew he was only seeing part of the brutality.
He reached for her, hand held out beseechingly. "Dorothy..." he gasped.
But, she was turning away, heading for a door on the far side of the room. "Goodbye, Agent Barton," she called out to him without looking back.
Dropping his arm, hand fisting at his side, he declared to her retreating back, "I will not drop this, Dorothy. I will find out who did this to you."
She stopped at the bathroom doorway, her hand came up to grip the jamb as she twisted about to face him. "Why would you want to do that?" The cynicism faded from her tone.
"Because, despite everything, I care."
Lips curved hinting at a smile. "I do believe you do." But her brow arched, and her shoulder shrugged. "Take care, Trowa Barton." And she entered her bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Trowa stood in indecision. He wanted to pursue her, wanted to implore her to talk, to tell him what had happened, who had done this to her. But, with the closing of the door, he knew it wasn't going to happen. There were other avenues he could take, even without a complaining witness, a victim for the prosecution to parade before a jury, there were always ways of making the bastard pay.
On leaving the embassy, he collected his partner, the surveillance files, and Dorothy's bedding in evidence bags. They would be pulled from the case as soon as his commander heard his report, and he delayed relaying that bit of information to his partner and commander. But, it was a momentary reprieve only.
Time ran out when they were only through the first set of video recordings. Another case was assigned, and Trowa was made to set aside Dorothy's file. His next two days were spent reviewing the recordings, going through visitor logs, and building a case. The list of potential suspects grew, and he had no way to whittle them down. Not unless someone talked - Dorothy or her attacker.
It was late on the fourth night after her assault, and Trowa was writing up a report detailing his narrowed list. Crosschecks of logs, histories, and surveillance zeroed in on three. If he couldn't nail the bastard through Dorothy, he planned to investigate detailed backgrounds of each man, squeezing information from them until one of them popped. Then he'd tie Dorothy's case to him, and let him hang.
He was nearly finished, wanting nothing more than to print off his report, put it in Dorothy's file and head home for the night when the call came. It was his partner, letting him know that they'd picked up a new case. A homicide, the son of a diplomat who'd been tortured and left to die. One of the three on Trowa's list.
Taking down the location of the DB, Trowa gave his ETA and hung up his phone slowly. His gaze had gone to middle distance, his mind replayed Dorothy's interview.
"There can be no revenge if nothing has taken place."
His eyes shot to the report he hadn't printed yet. He read over the steps that he'd taken to reach this particular suspect. The image of her with her robe sliding off her body was clear and bold, the bruises, the bites. It took only a second, but the report disappeared from his computer, would permanently disappear when he had more time.
On his way out of the office, he picked up Dorothy's file from his desk, the only copy in existence listing his notes of the interview, his notes from the surveillance files, and the evidence log number. Somewhere in space, miles from the colony, the shredded pieces of all but the most basic details from Dorothy's file would be jettisoned.
And Trowa knew his sleep wouldn't be disturbed if the bastard's murderer was never brought to justice.