Disclaimer: I do not own GW or any of its characters. The Bandai, Sunrise, and Sotsu Agency do.
A/N: These are the old/alternate prologues to my fic "Scissored Kismets". For those who're currently reading the said fic, I recommend you to check out the new prologue and the new chapter. The ending of the new chapters and the ending of these old ones are more or less the same, but there are a lot of change there that would have an effect to the coming chapters. Apologies!
As to why these old prologues were still here, well, I couldn't bring myself to delete them. They're my first pieces as a fanfic writer anyway.
by Schizoid Sprite
"If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?" –Lily Tomlyn
Peace. I just couldn't believe that I was embracing the warmth of a war-free Earth now. It's been months since that fateful day in outer space, but the memories stamped through my heart seemed to tell me that it just happened yesterday.
Sighing, I noted how the clacks of my loafers against the cobblestones sang in an odd duet with the whistling wind. I wandered around the town without a particular direction in mind. Earth, I realized, was a great refuge for me who schemed a temporary escape from my duties. Thanks to the Maguanacs and my secretary thinking that I deserved a break after burning the candle at both ends, the getaway didn't look very illicit at all.
It was a long way traveling here from L4, but it was way better than making a hermit of myself in that office. Just the sight of the heaps of paperwork suffocates me. Sometimes, however, the lack of something to occupy my mind seemed to be a little harder than suffocation—for the happenings of the past comes to haunt me. It's not a nice feeling.
The past felt like a disease. It comes back whenever I'm not knotting my eyebrows while signing a contract or whenever I'm done scheduling my next escape. Times like…this one.
I kicked a stray stone and sighed again. The world around me was in peace. I think I was left out. Inside me, I was still fighting a battle that would be the largest battle of my life: the battle against myself. The phantoms of yesterday wouldn't just leave me alone. My father's death was the biggest, gnawing at my very soul, and during such times I wish I were dead. Not that I could escape everything that way, but I think it'd be better if that happened.
During the war, I couldn't remember how many times I uttered an apology. Yes, like an apology was enough for an excuse to take someone else's life; like it was reason enough to direct my fury and anguish to an innocent colony to quench my thirst to 'destroy everything'. It was not an excuse to say that I was under the mind-warping influence of a deadly interface called the zero system. It pained my heart whenever I picture the scene where I piloted the Wing Zero, crashed ferries wheels, pulverized little homes, and wiped hundreds of the precious things called lives. I could hear my own angered voice and the maniac laughter that escaped my mouth, ringing hundredfold inside my head—never stopping, maybe until I go berserk again.
I was, still am, and forever would be a sickening monster. No one could ever change that.
The showy little shops that came into sight arrested my attention. Though, they couldn't completely take my thoughts away from the throbbing past…and the present that stung just as strongly.
Everybody has moved on. Relena Darlian, busy as ever, was the Vice Foreign Minister of the Earth. I would see her in occasional business meetings and on TV. When we get the chance, we would talk or phone each other about non-business matters but since almost every detail of our biography was publicized, there was not so much left to add in our little catching ups. In our intermittent public encounters she would just give me a smile that could be construed into a silent 'hello', a wish of success for my company, or a mysterious way of offering some hope. So often I wonder if she knew I was still in the middle of a private battle. She herself was in one, though it wasn't very personal: carrying the brunt of the Earth's present problems concerning its co-existence with the colonies. I know she could manage. She's a strong woman—strong enough to forgive, strong enough to move on. Stronger than me.
The other Gundam pilots? I haven't heard anything from Heero after my seemingly eternal hospital stay, but wherever he was, I wished he would find what he was searching for. My Space Heart once told me that the silent pilot was trying to fill up a vacuity within himself. With what, I would never know. That's where the line of limitation for my emphatic abilities appears: I was not allowed to do anything with the emotions of others I could perceive but to…well, to feel them, as it were.
Duo was doing well in his salvage business with his 'friend' Hilde Schbeiker. Every once in a while he would pay me a visit, only to comment how the exorbitant luxury around me could send him asphyxiated. He caught up and got closer to Rashid and the others too, and whenever the Maguanacs have free time they would drop by Duo's salvage yard and offer some aid without asking for compensation.
Ditching a couple of meetings and a local ribbon-cutting ceremony (ones that I promised myself to be the last), I was able to catch the last performance day of the traveling circus on my colony last week. That was one of the few times I could see Trowa. He seemed to be contented with his life now with his 'sister' Catherine, who was still in the process of warming up to me. I always looked forward to the day she would stop gawking at me as if I was some kind of a troll hiding underneath a rich kid's skin that would snatch her little brother away the moment she blink.
The whereabouts of Wufei, like Heero's, was a mystery to me as to everyone else.
I came to a halt in front of a brightly colored toyshop and a random thought skidded into my head. Childhood. We who participated in the war didn't really have much of a childhood. For some reason, I picked out nothing but vacuum when I tried to discern the pilots' happy past. I rolled my eyes. Oh, like a past we unfortunate creatures have would be happy at all. I did have some 'happy' time before I rebelled against my father's wishes. I did play with toys, eat a lot of sweets, and taste all the perks of being the only son of an extremely well-off family. But I was not certain if I was 'happy'—really happy—at all. During those times I kept on bothering myself that I was just an artificial creation, chemicals boiled and crammed inside a bag of fragile human skin. I was wasting my time thinking about the wrong thoughts.
I scanned the playthings in the display window and stopped when I spotted a little porcelain doll. I was confused why I zeroed in on that particular doll for some minutes, even bothering to look at its every detail. It was garbed in an emerald green tea-gown, its raffles and laces swirling in intricate patterns that were reminiscent of the synthetic sargassum weed mats floating along the pseudo-seas of L4. She has long, sunshine-colored hair that reached down behind her knees, pooling around to frame the delicate lines of her precious, alabaster-toned skin. Her pupils, partly concealed by her long lashes, shone a glassy cold violet that sent shiver racing down my spine. My eyes fluttered above hers.
"She's got the wrong eyebrows," I found myself muttering. "They have to be forked."
I widened my eyes. What did I just say? Almost against my own will, I reached up to touch the scar on my stomach. My sight focused more on my own reflection on the display window than the doll now, and in there I saw my slightest trembling.
I couldn't quite work out what this feeling was. Am I afraid of her? Why do I always shake when I thought of her? And why, in the first place, am I almost always thinking of her?
I shivered. I know I was imprisoned. She was another part of my yesterday that I couldn't escape; she inhibited my dreams at night to the point that I nearly refused to sleep at all. Every dream where she resides was painful. I would always see her there, slumped against the chill floor of the battleship Libra. Even if it was only a dream, I could clearly feel the throbbing pain in the gaping stab wound that she gave me. But that wasn't the reason why I was gasping for air. I could feel her pain.
The bottled up heartache reeking off her was beyond bearable. I could hear the soundless sobs and wails spilling out of the smallest holes on the walls she built to isolate her true self from everyone. The reverberations of those very sounds snaked in the gaps of my rib cage to devour my heart. I have never felt this kind of pain before. It was…different, yet somewhat redolent of a nameless familiarity. There was something, mixed in the bitter hurt, that tugged at my arteries like an old memory. I felt something that reminded me of who I used to be…
My sight, exactly like the one I have when I was in Libra, was blurred with tears that threatened to spill as I looked at her. She looked so…fragile. Like the porcelain doll. In the dimness of the control room, her hair cascaded over the floor in an almost magical effect to give off a faint light akin to morning sunshine. Her countenance was pulled in defeat and sadness. The ever so slight rising and falling of her shoulders as she attempted to stay calm, in vain, enticed me to throw my arms around her and protect her. But I just couldn't; there's something in her that wanted me out, like I was the dirtiest thing she could have ever laid her eyes on. Which was probably not far from the truth, considering all the things I have done. I think I was…a little afraid of her. I don't know why.
That piece of past visits to torment me every night and every time I take forty winks, most of which are accidental and at the workplace. I could have taken drugs in order to stay awake, but I thought better of it.
I wasn't helping myself, really: I, unconsciously, could connect her to anything. Every morning, right after I temporarily escape the terrible dream, the golden colony lights—scornfully tagged as a 'faux sun'—would teasingly peek through the window to remind me of her hair. And since these lights were on for almost fourteen hours, I was trapped in her surreal omnipresence. I knew I was influential enough to request a change in the color of the lights, but that wouldn't be proper. I didn't need the colony to share the upshots of my selfish desire to escape someone who was not even really there. The yellow brightness of the day somehow dwindled when the simulated snowflakes signaled the commencement of colony winter, but when I stared at the window pane, blurry with the coldness, I would remember the mist hovering in her eyes. The turning off of the day lights was a cue for me to be ready for the nightmare again.
Also, I seemed to have acquired a sort of phobia. Every shining metal—knives, razors, or even just the forks—seemed to be impossibly suggestive of the foil she stabbed me with. I forced myself to eat my food with wooden spoons or chopsticks since I developed this fear, and I have to put on a pretense of nonchalance during formal parties when I see a plethora of silverware everywhere…
There were, however, minutes that I would not think of her, her images to be replaced of either other moments of the war years, just like this morning, or the weight of responsibility of being the heir to the vast Winner Mining Enterprises. It was a bit funny, but Dorothy does fill a larger space in my head to be compared with the paperwork I should be more concerned with.
Probably for the hundredth time that morning, I sighed again before I walked away from the toyshop. The first time I saw her was in Relena Peacecraft's Sanc Kingdom Institute of Pacifism. After I and Heero introduced ourselves, I readily noticed that certain blonde standing out in the crowd of soft, vulnerable-looking girls. I was a little troubled of the unusual ambience of the room after I saw her. It was indeed disturbing.
Shortly she challenged Heero to a fencing duel. From that moment on I knew something was awfully…wrong with her, only I was a little confused as to why I could not feel what she feels. Yes, I have this speculation that she was aching from the inside but I could not find any evidence to verify this. Something was blocking it.
She then began assaulting Heero—and I have to hold my breath. It's the first time I saw someone fought with such grace; it seemed to me like she was almost waltzing. Regally. And with each swing of her sword she spoke of a sour fairytale about two people with the same name. Really, I could barely make out what that was all about. For in her every utterance, I began to perceive something.
And it hurt. What was it? Every note of her voice sent a sharp sensation to mar my heart; every air she exhaled was tinged with the emotions kept for seemingly couples of years. It was raw and at the same time rotten. In a matter of seconds the soreness became maddeningly intolerable. When I realized my heart could not be twisted anymore, I wobbled forward and clutched at my chest. I tried to look inconspicuous, but I was never really sure if I succeeded. Oh, I didn't know what to do back then—it's as if the oxygen supply in the air was suddenly thinning. I drew in agonizing breaths.
After the tension-filled duel, Dorothy must have felt my stare on her. She snapped her head to my direction and held my eyes prisoner in her icy glare. Which did no good—it just acted as a catalyst to the depleting of the air entering my lungs. I hope I didn't look like I was having an asthma attack. I gritted my teeth when a whimper threatened to come out. My effort was in vain, of course, and I sounded pathetic. She smirked at me and marched out of the room. The pool of fresh air surged into my nostrils after she had gone.
Everything seemed to be in turmoil after that. I searched for the music room that afternoon. I needed music to calm myself. I listlessly sat at the piano and played a self-composed piece. I couldn't escape the tight claw she now had in my mind. I struck the ebony keys with conviction, and realized that for some reason I was comparing myself and Dorothy to the keys of the piano. Ebony and ivory. That's right: when she stared at me at the fencing room, I knew she regarded me as her complete opposite.
But why? What did she know about me, exactly? Why did she know those things about Heero? Who was she? These questions battered my head for some minutes, until I felt another presence in the room. And it was her, the haughty lady distressing my thoughts. She was peeking from a small opening at the door. I saw her flinch when I turned my head. This time, surprisingly, there was no real pain; the temperature just seemed to drop by a couple of degrees. I shivered, but made no attempt to give away her gaze. Her eyes were just as cold as the atmosphere she set. I couldn't help but feel a bit sad. Somewhere inside me, I heard a tiny little voice saying that, once, those eyes were innocently sparkling like the stars in the Earth sky…
The chill of the violet orbs overwhelmed me. I turned back to the piano and played again, all the while feeling her presence dwindling away.
I anticipated encountering her again with a new determination to know what she was hiding behind her mask, but I was shocked to no end when I did—in outer space. Fighting from the other side, manipulating the Mobile Dolls with expert tactics. I knew it was her—the zero system fused with my Space Heart told me that it was indeed Dorothy Catalonia. I wasn't certain if it was just my imagination, but I thought I heard her hiss my name and I automatically whispered hers. I felt rage. Why was she here? Even though I have never really known her, I somewhat discerned that she was already hurt too much in the past. But why? She didn't need to do this. I needed to find the answer.
Then came our fateful battle at Libra. I couldn't convince her to get out of the battleship and she refused not to have a duel with me. So we fought; I joined her in her fatal dance of swords and words. My Space Heart never lied to me. It told me that she was wrong—she was never my complete opposite. She spat me for being kind and gentle like it was a crime, but couldn't she realize that she was just like spitting at a mirror? Not that I was saying she was my total reflection; it was just she was too afraid to show her kindness. She even seemed to hate it…
I couldn't hurt her. Everything went in a blur, and when I reiterated my arguments, she thrust forward, chill metal tearing my suit to slice through my stomach. Only hypocrites would say that this wound was just trivial. I trembled to my knees and gasped for breath, while Dorothy's voice shook ever so slightly.
Was it just an illusion? Or did I really see those jewels rolling down her cheeks? Precious tears.
Trowa arrived soon to rescue me. He said something to the defeated Dorothy on the floor as he messed up with the control room to stop the Mobile Dolls. When Trowa fluttered to take me out of the battleship, I somewhat panicked. Really, was he that dense? Dorothy was helpless right now, she was the one who needed to be saved. I requested him to take her out safely, but he refused. He informed me that she was strong enough to keep herself alive. For one last time before we drifted to find our Gundams, I told Dorothy—the frightened girl staring up at us with some more sparkling unshed tears hovering in her eyes—to make it out alive. Furiously, I decided then that I'd hold myself responsible if something bad happen to her.
That was the last time I saw her in person.
With an automatic prequel of apology for the disturbance, I would ask the vice foreign minister if Dorothy was doing fine, even prying on the latter's whereabouts. Her best friend was one of the topics I always include in our non-business palavers. Relena seemed to acquaint herself with my uncharacteristic phone antics lately, but I knew she couldn't help but grow suspicious. Well, who wouldn't? It does meant something if a boy would phone you in the wee small hours just to ask if your best friend was sleeping eight hours a day, right?
Oh, well. I myself didn't know why. I didn't even know what that something is. I simply couldn't name this feeling, for my Space Heart was supersensitive that I could mistake one emotion to another. Maybe I was just a little fed up with all the nightly dreams of her that I thought if I actually see her in person and apologize for leaving her in Libra, I would be at peace. Maybe everything would cease to be her symbolic representation and I could concentrate fully on running the corporation. Just maybe.
I absentmindedly entered a café, idly staring up at the menu. I think I needed some refreshments. This day became unusually tiring, considering it was only early morning. Introspection and remembering seemed to sip all my energy out. Something sweet would be rewarding.
I found myself craving for some panna cotta and I've already pulled my wallet out when I heard a soft groan from behind me. At first I just tilted my head to see who it was, then I spun completely around when I recognized the face.
It was really her. Her.
Oh, the little porcelain doll blown up to life size. She was clad in a purple skivvy, and while I blush to admit it, I somehow noticed how the fabric appeared so beautifully snug against her curves. Automatically my eyes fell down to examine how a conservative amount of milk-colored legs showed from under a fit denim skirt.
And I was left wondering how long it has been since I last saw her. It has only been months! Her figure became so…perfectly...uh, feminine. I considered that, and thought that maybe she has always been a shapely little goddess and I just didn't notice this before because of the pressures of war…
I gulped. Honestly, I attempted to fight an urge of imagining her naked, but the image solidified in my head, anyway. Oh, how she has grown into a real woman in a short time!
And I became a grown man in a short time, too. Since when did I start to think like that?!
My cheeks went warm. Her face was slightly curtained by her golden locks that I didn't notice at first why she was looking down. When she straightened her neck, I saw her bloodshot eyes.
Concern shot through my veins. "Miss Dorothy? Dorothy Catalonia? Are you alright?"
She cringed slightly when she heard me, but she didn't look up. It looked like she was having an argument with herself. I watched as the delicate lashes fluttered down to conceal her eyes.
After shutting my impulsive mouth up, I swallowed the lump that formed on my throat. Of course I was worried, for this girl was not one to be usually seen weeping. In the next instant, however, I felt the hair on my nape stood on end—I felt fear. The blending of the two emotions was not pleasant at all… It was like approaching a wounded little wolf that you know would lunge at you at the slightest touch, mainly because it could not understand that all you wanted to do was to tend to its injury. When the teeth of a wounded animal sinks to your flesh, the sting it leaves you was twofold the pain the biter feels.
I was pinned to my position, a little spot on my side oddly beating. Here I was, standing in front of the woman who fueled a private hell to burn me alive, the woman who left a signature in my body as if to say I was a property of her…
In a voice that I both feared and longed to hear again in a long while, she spoke, "Quatre Raberba Winner, why won't you just stop torturing me? You've seen me naked already."
I froze. "I…what?"
What did she just say? I could almost feel my muscles literally freeze under my skin, but my face grew hotter. The fright in me minutes ago seemed to quell itself a little, leaving some space for another sensation: curiosity. Is she some sort of a mind-reader or what? Naked? She looked up at me and I noticed how her eyes shone with a hint of surprise. She heaved a heartfelt sigh and took a sip of her chocolate.
"All this time, all I wanted for you to do was to leave me alone," she stated matter-of-factly. "Is that too much to ask?"
I fiddled my fingers, not knowing what to say or what to do next. I have no idea of what she's talking about. Her gaze never left me, and just for the sake of doing something I shifted my weight to my right foot. Stupid.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Miss Dorothy," I said when she went on looking at me, her lips twitching up a little. " I-I haven't seen you in months, really. Uh, and what do you mean I've already seen you…naked?"
A master at word wars, Dorothy definitely knows when to shut up. Silence is a weapon, so to speak. Hesitantly, I settled myself to the seat across hers. She remained silent for some time, her misty eyes trying to say something I couldn't decode. She paid the whole café a glance, sipped at her cup, then looked back at me.
Now what? "It's nice to see you again, Miss Dorothy," my stupid mouth blurted out and continued, "I heard you're taking a vacation, er…never thought you'll end up in this place…"
Silence was followed by more silence. She just sat there, positively struggling to keep herself from smiling. For the first time in my life I hated for peace, just on this small café table between the two of us, to go on.
I feigned a laugh and it sounded awful in my ears. "...but really, I haven't got any idea when you said I've seen you naked…Uh...I don't get it."
Dorothy snorted. Seriously, it wasn't impossible for her to have mind-reading abilities…I myself have a weird Space Heart, haven't I?
I was about to say something—anything just to break the dense hush when she suddenly seized a fistful of my shirt and yanked me towards her. All of a sudden, I lost my slim borderline of reality and daydreams. Dorothy Catalonia crushed her soft, chocolate-cloyed lips against mine. Hungrily.
My cheeks boiled. I, almost against my own volition, managed to keep myself from reciprocating the gesture. Then she stiffened. As if I suddenly became as scorching as heated steel, she jumped back with a dumbfounded countenance.
"Oh God," I heard her mumble. It was the first time in my existence that I saw her wearing magenta circles on her cheeks.
"Dorothy..." I whispered.
What was this in my chest now? The thumping of my heart threatened to drown everything. But there was one fact I should underscore: it was not pain I was feeling now. Why haven't I noticed that the moment I entered this café? Months ago I would readily perceive the torturing soreness or coldness of her being, but now, I wasn't even aware that I walked into the same café she was in.
There was no pain, of course, but there was something else. I didn't know why, but after the contact I suddenly decided that it was the something I thought it has always been…
Something I don't need my Space Heart to identify.
"I hate you," she hissed, her mouth looking a little sad around the edges. I flinched at her reaction, and tried yet again to search for anything to say. "Uhm…"
Inwardly, I grinned. Oh well. It seemed that our war maiden wasn't too hard to read at all. And she wasn't a good actress now.
"You're such a weakling, Winner." She spat, but the bubbly light behind the misty films of her eyes were saying otherwise. "You're such a bloody fool. That's why I hate you so much."
Oh yeah? The fear was completely gone now, and I could feel that I have the upper hand in this situation. I wanted to patronize her, but I was too overjoyed to learn that the meters-thick defenses of this woman were finally crumbling. It's not really the first time I shook her walls, but back then it was a toilsome attempt. It was so easy this time around. It was disrespectful to take advantage of this, but it might be the only chance I could ever get…
"That doesn't tell me anything," I grunted, sending one of her exotic eyebrows to rise.
"Please elaborate," she responded almost timidly. It took all my willpower to push away the tug of a smile when I noticed that her voice quivered. But the small victory didn't last long, as I felt one of the corners of my mouth curl up.
"I can't see a clear explanation why you kissed me," I said, peppering my words with an amount of belittling just to shake her a little more. A shame, really, but it's a slim chance to know what she was thinking about when she kissed me. "Your ramblings were nonsense."
As soon as I have done it, I felt a twinge of remorse. I didn't think that she was that vulnerable. She visually trembled and focused her eyes to her cup, as if pleading for a chocolate fairy to pop into the scene and help her get rid of the big-eyed monster that was me. It was amusing to know that I always end up as her rival in everything. Almost everything, I mean.
She looked up at me with creased brow.
I kicked compunction away, for if I wouldn't do this now I know I would add another load to my collection of guilt—my biggest one, if you looked at it at the right angle.
"Why did you kiss me?" I asked.
"I've told you already," she replied uneasily.
Word war? It would be my pleasure to humor her. "And that is? Because I've seen you naked?"
She chucked me a look like I've grown a second head. Seconds past in hush, and she broke it with a sweet, un-Dorothy-like laugh that sent me to the edge of my seat.
"That's half the reason," she said with a smile, "but little thickhead, I didn't mean it literally."
The words she said barely registered in my head. That laugh…Of course that wasn't just a figment of imagination, right? I beamed. A peal of bells? The song of the crickets? No, not even my violin could ever compete with that music. It tickled my ears and I want to hear it again.
Out of nowhere, the thought of my forgotten panna cotta sauntered back into my head.
"I think I'll order something," I said in a low voice. "It looks like we have something to talk about…"