When dreams and pasts intersect, two young men are
drawn irrevocably towards each other
hesitated at the threshold. For a moment, he almost considered returning
to his hotel room, but in the end, he kept his face expressionless and
stepped through the door.
Barton!' The voice was shriller than usual, and seconds later, the speaker
appeared in the doorway. 'You're late again!'
hid a sigh, bending down to remove his shoes. 'I was at work, Miranda.'
woman yanked at her apron, tossing it onto the couch. 'So was I, and yet I
managed to get back in time for dinner.' She took two steps towards him.
'I'm asking you now, Trowa ¡V are you cheating on me?'
rose and pivoted slowly, his expression carefully neutral. 'No. I've told
you before. Why ask if you won't believe the answer?'
can I believe you when you're so obviously lying? Besides...' Trowa's
steady stare stopped her. 'What?'
tired, Miranda. If we're going to argue at every meeting, perhaps I should
The woman's mouth fell shut. Trowa held her gaze for another instant, then turned and walked wordlessly into his room. The door clicked shut behind him. He could still hear the call of his name but it was faint; the soundproofing had been professionally done. He took a glance at the track lists, then refolded them and cued a song from memory. Quatre Winner's 'Sahara Nocturne' flitted through the silence.
Trowa ignoring his clothed state and leaned onto the bed. This piece never failed to relax him; the tinkling, barely audible piano arpeggios sketched distant stars in the sky, while the sustained progressions on the violin captured the calm and almost overwhelming majesty of the Sahara. It was a beautiful composition, and one that lingered in its audience's memory.
As did his dream. Try as he might, Trowa could not ignore it as he could most other things. He was not a supernatural person, but the dream felt real. Every time Robert was stabbed, Trowa would wake, aching and disoriented and unable to escape from the pangs of emotional pain that simply could not be his own. The aches he could and did deal with, but the other two took longer to fade away.
And somehow, Miranda was linked to it all. Trowa was certain of that much, but the doctor's hypothesis did not feel correct and he trusted his own instincts where the dream was concerned. Yet every time he awoke, he would feel an unbreachable distance between them; not hatred or resentment, but simple emotional detachment, as though what ties that originally existed between them had been totally and irrevocably severed.
He had tried, at the beginning, to care for her again, but any positive feelings proved impossible and his attempts increasingly pointless as she herself began to change. That may have been partially his fault, but her paranoia threatened to break what little control he had, and he resorted to staying away from her as often as he could.
But there was one problem ¡V he could not break up with her. He wished to, and he knew it was the sensible option, but he simply could not. Every time Trowa tried to broach the subject, he would suddenly feel a sense of something unfulfilled. Exactly what, he could not say, but there was something he needed to do but had not done yet, and until he completed that task, he could not be free of her. The result was the minefield that existed now.
Sometimes, he wished she would initiate the separation and spare him the trouble, but something appeared to be preventing that also. It was all extremely vague, and illogical, and those aspects drained him even further. He disliked ambiguity, and ambiguity seemed to shroud his life of late.
There was a rippling glissando, and the 'Sahara' faded to a close. Trowa allowed himself a sigh as 'Dreamscapes' began ¡V its gentle rubato contradicted so blatantly with his own dreams that he felt momentarily disconnected, but the sway of Quatre Winner's violin soon reached out to him, and in spite of himself, he found his eyes falling shut.
And as usual, the dream came.
A nod. Quatre met his eyes across the stillness, and waited.
'I thought something had happened to you,' Duo murmured at last.
The musician averted his gaze. 'I... got picked up. By the owner of Winner Enterprises. He said I resembled his deceased wife.'
Duo's brow knitted. 'Why didn't you tell me?'
A hesitation, and a mild flush that teased at Duo's memories. 'I... wasn't well.' Quatre glanced up, then, as though expecting a rebuttal. When none came, he dropped his eyes and fell silent.
After several moments, Duo said quietly, 'Cat, can you look at me?' His companion paused, then did so. Duo gave a slight nod. 'We haven't seen each other for ten years, but some things haven't changed ¡V you still can't lie, and you still hate half-truths.' He reached out and brushed Quatre's shoulder. 'I won't force your story, Cat. We each have our own pasts. It's all right. You have my word, 'kay?'
Quatre looked strained, but he took a deep breath and forced a smile. 'And you can still read me like a book.' He exhaled, slowly. 'I'm sorry, Duo.'
The artist regarded his companion, several possibilities crossing his mind. His eyes darkened, and he opened his lips, but finally shook his head instead. 'Don't be. Some stories are better off forgotten.' He thought for a moment, then asked lightly. 'What was the world-famous prodigy doing out here, anyway?'
Quatre's gaze flickered towards him. 'I wasn't apologising for that... but I think you realised as much.' He paused. 'Thank you.' Like Duo, he allowed a slight smile to cross his face. 'And I just wanted to walk through these streets again.'
Duo eyed their surroundings. 'It sure brings back memories, doesn't it?' He gestured for Quatre to keep walking, then chuckled. 'Come to think of it, that was far from the first time the Alleycat got chased here.'
Quatre raised an eyebrow. 'I'll have you know that the Alleycat always got away.'
'Of course,' Duo replied, his expression amused. 'I shouldn't have interfered; you could have done your cat trick again.'
The musician laughed. 'I think I'm a bit too tall for that.'
Duo regarded him thoughtfully. 'But you were thinking about it.'
A bemused headshake. 'I needn't have stepped in.'
'I'm glad you did,' Quatre returned.
Something in his expression made Duo frown. 'Cat, you weren't looking for me, were you?'
'Duo...' Quatre glanced at him, then sighed. 'Yes. I didn't like the thought of you living here still, and this was the first time I could fit this region into my tours, so I decided to take a look.'
'Alone. On these streets, after you'd left for a decade.' Duo's expression was inscrutable.
The artist fell silent for several moments. 'You're an idiot, Cat.' He drew a deep breath then looked up, meeting his friend's gaze. 'Thank you.'
'You're welcome,' came the simple reply. Quatre smiled at him. 'And I haven't yet asked ¡V how have you been? Are you well?'
'Not as famous as you are, for sure.' Quatre's cheeks reddened, drawing another chuckle from Duo. 'And you still blush too easily.'
The musician tried to scowl, but his lips curved. 'I'm serious, Duo. You're not here anymore ¡V so where are you?'
Duo stretched his arms before him. 'Relatively well off, actually. A year or so after you left, I took to doing bits of charcoaling here and there ¡V sort of like busking, but not quite. People would never approach streetrats, so I sat and remembered what the usual passerbies looked like and drew them and approached them instead.'
He nodded at a half-broken wall as they walked past. 'That's where I sat. So anyway, one of the ones I talked to was an Agent at the Preventors, and he asked to look through some of my work.' A grin crossed his face. 'And it turned out that I'd managed to catch a regular dealer on his rounds. They recruited me. I stayed there for a while, scrounged a bit of money and started painting in my own right, but I still help out when they need me.'
'An artist and an Agent,' Quatre murmured musingly. 'Agent Maxwell, hey?'
Duo grinned. 'It has a nice ring, doesn't it?'
The musician squeezed his shoulder earnestly. 'I'm glad for you, Duo.'
'Thank you.' A pause. 'Are *you* happy, Cat?'
Quatre's lips curved automatically, then he seemed to check himself. He inhaled slowly. 'Duo, can I ask a favour of you?'
'I need to find a woman called Lisa Bennet.'
Duo sent him a searching look. 'Who is she?'
'A relati...' Quatre's face grew sheepish, and he shook his head. 'Someone I'm looking for.'
Duo studied him for a moment, then nodded his acceptance. 'I'll introduce you to my partner, Detective Chang. Where are you staying?'
'Are you free tomorrow noon?' At Quatre's nod, Duo finished, 'Then I'll pick you up at twelve.'
'Don't mention it.' The artist grinned. 'Nothing like a good mystery, right?'
Quatre returned a smile, but his eyes were distracted. Duo hid a thoughtful frown. After a few minutes, the conversation resumed, but something seemed to have come between them. And the something had managed to trigger all of Duo's internal alerts.
/ They punched him hard, and continuously. He tried to fight back. The taller one snarled out something, but his ears were ringing so hard that he could do nothing more than scream as he fell. He stared up, then, and found two mocking gazes bent upon him. He opened his mouth and a heavy heel struck him in the chest. He gasped in pain. His vision dimmed.
Almost subconsciously, he heard them talking, and looked up in time to see a long stick of metal being thrown at him. He flinched as it crashed a bare inch from his body. Above him, the pair laughed scornfully, and the laughter bounced and resonated against the alley walls. He tensed in preparation for another blow, but to his disbelief, they turned and left. His body sagged.
time passed; he did not know how much, but the sun was almost gone. He
swallowed, trying to rid his mouth from the taste of blood. Suddenly, a
figure appeared and walked towards him, moving delicately between the
empty barrels against one wall. His eyes brightened in recognition, and he
struggled to sit, croaking out, 'Lily?'
stood above him, murmuring something. He tried to listen, but his ears did
not work. All he could do was whisper, 'Lily...'
cruel laugh cut through his hearing. His eyes flew upwards, and to his
horror, he found her smile curving into a humourless smirk. He raised his
hand in shock, but he was too weak; it fell, limply, beside him, and he
held back a moan. Even in his pain, he saw her smirk widen.
the knife fell. /
Barton woke with a scream.
Wufei's eyes flickered over the brim of the teacup. 'Lisa Bennet?'
The musician shifted slightly, but nodded. 'Yes.'
Wufei lay down the teacup. 'What else do you know about her?'
Quatre glanced down. 'Not overly much. Only that...'
'She may have been involved in a murder.'
The Detective's eyes sharpened. 'May have?'
A hesitation. 'I think she was.'
Wufei paused. 'What sort of murder?'
'Of a young man in his early twenties. Named... Robert.'
'Did she get caught?'
'I'm not sure,' came the reply. Quatre stared at the tabletop. 'I think it occurred at least twenty years ago.' Quatre closed his eyes momentarily, as though recalling something. 'Their clothes were from the eighties.' He hesitated. 'And prostitution wasn't as tightly controlled. She was a prostitute for an pub. The murder occurred outside the pub, in a narrow alley.'
Wufei's gaze grew thoughtful. 'Do you know what inn it was?'
/ She halted outside the door and listened; sure enough, the cook was out. Hurrying in, she rummaged until she found a knife, and pocketed it. Then, noiselessly, she ran out the front door. The sun was almost gone. To her left, neon lights suddenly began to flash, illuminating the words... /
'Night Haven,' Quatre murmured, then sat up straighter, nodding once. 'It was the Night Haven.'
Wufei made a note, then regarded him for several moments. 'Very well. I will have a look through some records, but please keep in mind,' he met Quatre's eyes, 'that this information is little and rather vague. I would advise you not to expect too much.'
Quatre inhaled and forced a smile. 'Thank you. I would be grateful for anything you can find out.'
At that point, Duo rose from his corner. 'Do you need an escort?'
A headshake, and a genuine smile. 'I'll be fine, Duo. Thank you.' He gave a courteous nod to Wufei. 'And thank you for your time.' At their acknowledgement, he opened the door and left.
Duo waited for several moments, then demanded impatiently, 'Well?'
The typing stopped, and Wufei looked up at him. 'Your childhood friend has secrets.'
'I know.' Duo sat down beside his partner. 'But so do we all.'
Wufei shook his head. 'Not past secrets; Quatre's still haunt him, and are still active and changing. His original story was extremely ambiguous. Then, when pressed for more details, he suddenly divulged much that simply did not suggest so little or such vague knowledge. It reminds me of a partial memory block ¡V a block where there is little that one consciously admits to knowing, but where all the details repressed within.'
The Detective leaned back, continuing musingly. 'But something doesn't fit about that, either. Because there is no block. He's consciously aware of everything, and recalling does not cause large reactions or pain, but it still takes time. It is strange.'
Wufei's fingers scrolled up the screen. 'And there are slight inconsistencies in his story ¡V the use of "their" when describing the clothes hints at knowledge of more than this Lisa Bennet, and yet he is unwilling to reveal anything more.' A pause. 'What do you think?'
'There's something strange, yes.' Duo frowned in thought. 'Could she be his mother? It would explain his evasiveness ¡V Quatre has never liked hiding the truth, but if he really suspects her of murder and prostitution, he'd probably want to hide it until he knows more.'
'Maybe,' came the reply. The typing stopped again. 'Here. Registration worked differently a few decades ago, but there were thirteen registered Night Havens even then.' He shut the laptop. 'I'll contact the Chief and request a restricted access license. This search will be pointless without one.'
'Thank you.' Duo paused. 'Cat... means a lot to me.'
'I know.' He met his partner's gaze with a brief smile. 'I'll do my best.'
'I know you will.' Duo touched his arm lightly, then asked, 'Where are you off to?'
A glance. 'How did you know?' Duo gestured towards the wall, his eyes flicking back and forth between the clock and the laptop. Wufei's brows knitted. 'Was I that obvious?'
'Not to anyone but me.' The artist grinned at him.
Wufei's headshake held a touch of bemusement. 'That will have to suffice.' He stood. 'I'm meeting with Doctor Yuy. He has a patient who would like to see me.'
'Ah.' Duo stood. 'I'll leave you, then.'
'I'll get word to you by tomorrow.'
'Thanks, Wufei.' The artist gave a wave, then left.
They arrived, as usual, within seconds of each other. It had become something of a habit over the years; neither men saw any point in arriving too early and both refused to be late, so Heero Yuy and Wufei Chang gained a reputation for arriving from different places at the same time.
On this occasion, both were slightly early. Heero introduced Trowa to Wufei, and with a minimal amount of small talk, the trio entered the restaurant. They were ushered to their seats at their exact allocated time.
Then, the story was told. Wufei listened with his usual attention, but at the mention of 'Lisa', he shot Trowa a sharp glance. 'Lisa Bennet?'
'Yes.' A pause. 'Have you heard of her?'
Wufei shook his head, feigning casualness. 'An acquaintance's mention; I know little more about it. Please, continue.'
The Detective did not interrupt again. Trowa's story was concise, but further questioning at the end drew little more information than he had already provided. That information ¡V a perfect mirror of Quatre's more disjointed details ¡V was enough.
'Would you remember the name of the pub?' he asked finally.
Trowa's brow creased briefly, but he shook his head. 'Something suggestive. I'm not certain.'
Wufei drew another mental link. 'You believe you were Robert in the dreams.'
'Yes.' Trowa thought for a moment. 'It is difficult to explain, but the sensation is too immediate. As is the scar.'
Heero mentioned his own suspicions, then, but Wufei could see that Trowa believed otherwise and turned to him. 'What are your thoughts?'
'Reincarnation,' came the steady response after a pause.
There was a silence. In the end, it was Wufei who said, 'I will look into it.' He nodded at Heero. 'If there is such a case recorded, I will find it and forward the details to Heero by tomorrow.'
Wufei turned back to Trowa. 'My culture has always believed in reincarnation, and also in unfulfilled desires in a past life being carried on to the next. I won't dismiss your conclusion. But if no such crime was committed, there may be other explanations ¡V a story or event from your childhood may be seemingly forgotten, but can still be imprinted in your subconsciousness. Those are often triggered by stress or other factors.'
Heero nodded. 'Trowa, if you are off-duty tomorrow morning, I can organise an appointment in the hypnosis room, as well as give you any details Wufei finds.'
Trowa considered. 'Then thank you.'
Quatre froze as the hand pushed him into an alleyway. His eyes darted round nervously, and only when he was certain of a lack of audience did he whisper, 'What do you want?'
A taller figure spun him around, roughly. 'What do you think I want, little brat? After yesterday?'
The musician tried to pull away. 'Steve, let go. Please.'
'Please,' echoed Steve Bradley mockingly. His eyes remained furious. 'And who was it who stood by yesterday, watching me get beaten up?'
The question was rhetorical. Quatre shook his head, almost helplessly, and repeated, 'What do you want from me?' He reached inside his pocket.
Steve stalled him with a slap. 'That's not enough this time, brat! You're going to have to do better than that.'
Quatre stumbled back. As Steve closed the distance again, he grabbed his wallet and held it up. 'The pin is 3-4-3-0-0 ¡V take it and go!'
The man snatched at the wallet and rummaged through its contents for the mentioned card, his lips curving in a sneer as he pocketed it and tossed back the rest. 'That's more like it.' His expression darkened. 'But I'll be back for my due, brat-boy, and you'll do to remember it.'
Quatre nodded in silence, and Steve sauntered away. Taking a deep breath, the musician turned back towards the hotel on the opposite street. Suddenly, a figure detached itself from the wall and stood before him. He gasped. 'D-duo?'
'None other,' came the reply. The artist's face was unreadable under the moonlight. 'I came to return your mobile.'