The Assassin

Life is just a swirling mass of confusion; a churning chaotic mixture of emotions and incidents. Nothing is sacred, and nothing is private. There is no love, there is no hate; there is nothing. Kari sighed, and once again checked the clip in her gun. “ Yeah, still loaded.” She chuckled softly, thinking of a joke she was told once about bullet gremlins. Then she stopped. Laughter was pointless noise, another sound to add to the bizarre melody of Life. “ I wish he would hurry up!” she hissed through gritted teeth. It was hard enough having to kill him in the first place; why did she have to wait to kill him? Trowa paused beneath the doorway, something in the air causing the hair on his neck to rise eerily. He looked to the left, then to the right. He reached for his gun, and began a perimeter check. Kari froze, spying the gun in his hand. “ Shit!” she cursed under her breath. This was going to be harder than she had thought. “ At least I don’t have to feel guilty about shooting an unarmed guy.” She said with a bitter smirk. She stood, brushed the hair away from her face, and slipped behind him. Trowa stopped, bringing his gun around to the sides. “ Who’s there.” He demanded. No one answer. Beneath the sound of the cicadas, he heard the deadly *snick* of a safety being thumbed off. He turned around, and pulled the trigger. Kari hit the ground, and rolled away. Damn, he had heard the safety! She knew she should’ve thumbed it off earlier, but she had been worried about hitting the wrong person. The Kitichi weren’t exactly fond of you if you hit the wrong person. She jumped up and ran. The Kitichi weren’t happy if you ran, but under the right circumstances it was acceptable. Especially if the target was shooting back at you, and doubly especial if the target was a Gundam pilot firing back at you. Trowa stared after her. The girl was a hired gun, no doubt about it. But why didn’t she fire back? Why had she run instead of trying to fulfill her mission? More questions to nag at him. He sighed, and holstered the gun. He wouldn’t be getting any answers tonight, so why not just go home and sleep on it? Kari ran the full eight blocks back to her car, and grabbed her cell phone. “ Hey boss? No, I didn’t get him. Hm hmm… he pulled a gun on me. Yeah, not sure what caliber, but it was a big-ass mother. Yeah? Okay, I’ll try to get him at his apartment. I know, I know. Don’t fire if the neighbors are home. Hey, don’t worry! You’ll get your money’s worth, guaranteed!” she hung up. “ You lucked out Trowa Barton. I hope that luck’s still with you.” She revved the engine on the classic 69’ Camaro, and took off to where he had last been living. Trowa slammed the door, and locked it. Walking through the living room, he noticed his answering machine was blinking. He sighed, but went ahead and hit the play button anyway. Message 1: Hi Trowa, it’s me Cathy! Just wanted to know if you were free Friday night, because I found a girl who’d be perfect for you! Call me later, okay! Love you little bro! That message made him smile slightly. Cathy couldn’t seem to understand his need to be single. People in general talked to much; but girls were particular bad, especially on blind dates. Message 2: Okay, I finally got through! *laughter* Hey, it’s the one and only God of Death here! I’m guessing that was Cathy trying to set you up, so if you need something to do, come barhopping with me and Hiiro and Wufei…and if you do, get Quatre to come along. Later man! That message made him cringe. Barhopping with Duo was dangerous; very extremely dangerous, even if you used to be a Gundam pilot. Message 3: You killed him! You killed him you monster! I’ll make you pay for killing him! *shriek* I’ll make you pay!!!!!! *dial tone* The last message made him pause, and check the caller id. The call was made from a pay phone down town. Great. Another psycho who wanted to dredge up old war memories. He sighed. Hopefully this was the only call from that particular person. Maybe that got it off their chest. Trowa sighed again, and headed for his bedroom. “ Maybe I should take Duo’s advice and sleep for 12 hours straight…” he mused, smiling at the idea of such lazy and unusual behavior. Kari checked the number of windows lighted in the building. “ 1, 2, 3, 4… damn! The neighbors are home…I might as well try.” She moved to the alley, set the emergency brake, and left the engine idling. Able to kill him or not, she still wouldn’t be there long either way. She made it to his apartment, and found the lights out and the door locked. “ Oh sure, it’s too much to ask that you make it easy.” She mumbled, fiddling with the lock. It snapped open, and she slinked into the room. “ Hm… kitchen, living room, closet…bedroom.” She frowned. So maybe it would be easier to kill him now. Didn’t mean she had to like it. Trowa turned over, oblivious to the 5’7” killing machine approaching his side. Tonight there were no dreams, which meant more than three hours of sleep in a row! He sighed, and flipped onto his back. Kari halted, her heart hammering in her throat. And then she sighed in relief; Barton wasn’t awake! He was just sleeping. She shook her head, and moved to where she had a clear shot of him, right beside the bed. She raised the gun, carefully thumbed off the safety, and hesitated. It wasn’t like she’d never shot anyone in their sleep, but this was…different. The target wasn’t just anybody, it was a Gundam pilot; someone who had risked their lives against people like her and the ones she worked for. And besides, while most people look completely closed up and shut off from the world in sleep, he looked so…so…so open, so inviting. He wasn’t frowning, or gazing at the world with those enigmatic sapphire eyes. He was just sleeping, merely slumbering, and perhaps even dreaming. She couldn’t do it. “ I can’t do it…” Kari whispered, letting her arm return to her side. She put it back in it’s holster, and leaned over Trowa. “ Sleep…” she commanded, kissing him softly on the lips. The Kiss of Death; how sweet. Feather light/ so gentle/ sweet voice/ whispering sleep/ no more/ Trowa sat up, reaching out and hitting his alarm clock out of habit. Today was his day off. He could’ve slept in; but that dream… why was it so different than the others? No bloody visions of countless massacres, no shocked face of disbelief as the real Trowa Barton sank to the ground; just someone—a girl—reaching out and kissing him. He didn’t even know what she looked like. This was too weird. He trudged for the shower. If cold water didn’t wake him, a caffeine hit would. Kari opened one eye lazily, glaring at the ever-ringing phone. “ Shut up.” She commanded. The phone ignored her, and rang on. “ Oh damn it to hell.” Kari reached for it, knocking over her clock, an extra clip, and a lighter in the process. “ What?” she asked, mumbling into the receiver. “ Have you killed Bloom yet?” “ Huh?” she had to pause and think. “ Oh, duh on me. No; his neighbors were home. Every last blessed one of them.” She lied. Three C hadn’t been home, but what the Kitichi Bitch didn’t know wouldn’t get either one of them killed. “ So?!!” “ So the walls are paper thin and my silencer is worn out. Therefore, I couldn’t kill him.” “ Fine. But when?!” “ When it’s the right time. I’m not getting caught.” Kari gritted her teeth; this woman had absolutely no idea how complicated it was to be an assassin. You didn’t just go in and kill them in front of witnesses; no matter what the movies said. “ All right. Make the right time happen and soon.” *click*. Kari sighed. “ Stupid bitch.” She said into the phone. “ You woke me up for no damn reason.” She sighed, and dropped the phone. “ Now to sleep…” she sighed, turning onto her other side and hugging the pillow. “ Cathy, I’m not going out on another blind date!” he declared, sipping his water. “ Oh come on! You need a good woman in your life, and Alana is just the perfect one for you!” Cathy pleaded. Trowa sighed. “ Look, Sis. I don’t want to go out on a blind date, and I don’t want to suddenly ‘run into’ these girls. I’ll find my own one, I swear!” “ No you won’t,” Cathy wagged her finger at him, “ you’ll just stay single forever and drive me crazy.” She grinned. “ What am I going to do with you?” Trowa eyed the woman coming up behind her. “ Huh?” he asked distractedly. The girl had had her eyes focused on him since he had first seen her, perhaps longer. Now she was gesturing for him to move Cathy out of the way. His eyes widened, and he kissed dirt, pulling her down with him just as the bullet struck the chair he had been sitting in. “ Damn it!” the girl yelled, and ran out the back door, striking a waiter unconscious in the process. Trowa opted to run after her, ignoring Cathy’s pleas to stay behind. “ God damn him!” Kari muttered frustrated as she ran down the alley. She stopped. “ Oh shit!” there was a wall, and the fire escape dangled just out of reach. “ Shit!” she cussed again. “ Stop right there.” Trowa commanded, drawing a bead on the center of her back. Kari dropped her gun, kicked it over, and raised her hands above her head. “ Go ahead and shoot me.” She replied. Trowa hesitated. She was the one who had been trying to kill him, but…she was perhaps only doing her job. ‘ Yeah right. You’re just wondering if she’s available’ he chastised himself. ‘And why not?’ his own mind countered. Kari was—in his eyes—the most beautiful girl he had yet to see. Her green eyes were wide, gazing at him through a veil of thick black lashes. Her dark brown bangs fell in her eyes, and the rest of her hair was either very short or pulled back away from her face. Her lips were parted slightly, pink and anticipatory. He let his eyes roam past her graceful neck, to her slightly broad shoulders, to her toned arms, to her sculpted breasts, to her slight waist, over her sleek lined hips, down her athletic legs, and finally back up to her face. “ Get a good look?” she asked sarcastically. “ Why are you trying to kill me.” “ Because I’m getting paid to.” “ Why.” “ That’s classified.” “ Tell me.” He thumbed the safety off. “ I’ve been shot before.” She warned him. Trowa paused. She probably had, if she was an assassin like he had thought. “ I want answers.” “ 347.” She smiled. “ I want the answers to my questions.” He responded with a smirk. She shrugged. “ Either way, I’m dead.” He raised an eyebrow. “ Excuse me?” “ If I don’t tell you, you’ll shoot and I’ll die; if my boss finds out I talked to you, I’m dead. It’s a lose/lose situation.” Trowa put the gun away. “ I want to help.” The girl visibly swallowed. “ You can’t.” “ Let me.” “ I take it you’ve been here before.” Trowa said as he let her into his apartment the legal way. “ Maybe, maybe not.” She responded. “ How about giving me a straight answer?” he demanded. “ Hn.” She replied. He sighed, and shut the door. When he looked back, she had already curled up on the couch with her shoes on the floor. “ It’s going to take a while for me to explain.” She told him. Trowa nodded in agreement. He moved to the couch, sat down beside her, and turned to face her. “ What’s your name.” “ Kari.” “ Last name?” “ Atsukira.” “ What are you?” “ A bounty hunter.” “ Who hired you.” Kari sighed. She was screwed either way, why not tell him everything? But then why tie the noose when you can buy one already made? “ The Kitichi.” “ The…Kitichi?” who or what was that? Kari nodded. “ Yes. The Kitichi, started by Katrina Barton. She wants revenge now, because you killed her husband and stole his name. She wants you dead, so she hired me to do it.” Kari looked down. “ Some hunter. Even after all this time I couldn’t kill you.” She smiled bitterly. Katrina Barton? The real Trowa Barton’s wife? She hired an assassin? Trowa shuddered. The insanity was beyond anything he had ever known. Trowa questioned her, over and over, sometimes the same question to see if she was lying. Nothing in her story changed. He sighed. It was three a.m.; but he had one last question. “ Kari! Kari!” he shook her. “ One more question, and then you can sleep.” “ Huh? Oh, sorry.” She mumbled, blinking at the light and shifting to face him. He smiled. “ It’s okay. I just want your bounty number.” “ Don’t have a real one. Never had a real one. Just another illegal hunter.” “ Would I know of you?” “ Cross reference,” she yawned, “ Kari Atsukira with The Angel of Death. You should find a little information there.” She mumbled, closing her eyes again. “ Okay. And thank you.” He whispered, covering her with a blanket. “ For not killing Cathy.” 6:00 a.m.: Trowa scanned over the last page. Kari Atsukira, known to bounty and hunter alike as The Angel of Death. Out of the 1,723 bounties she had taken, only 293 had been taken alive. That was only about 1/6 of the total. He shuddered. She had seen such violence in her two years as an illegal bounty hunter. And according to the reports she was only 18. Unless that was fabricated. He looked back into the living room. Kari didn’t look like a possible Angel of Death—at least when she was asleep. There was no telling what secrets those jade eyes held. ‘ And you want her’ he chided himself. Of all the women to choose, he decided to fall for the Angel of Death. Go figure. Kari stirred. Then she sat up, swallowing thickly. “ What the hell?” she asked, shaking her head. “ Morning.” Trowa said. “ Please tell me we at least slept together.” She groaned. “ It would explain this sudden shitty feeling I have.” “ Gee thanks.” “ Sorry.” Kari tried to stand up. “ Whoa!” she stumbled, and fell to her knees. “ Kari?!” Trowa ran over, and tried to help her up. “ I’m okay.” She tried again, and fell again. The cell phone in her jacket was ringing. “ My phone…” she said, her tongue thickening up. He handed it to her. “ What?” “ You didn’t come home last night.” The Kitichi Bitch replied. “ And?” “ And you didn’t get the antidote.” “ Andidode!?!?!” Kari yelled. Speech was becoming difficult, so she handed the phone to Trowa. “ Yes the antidote. Because you are what you are, I had a timed virus injected into you. It was kept at bay by the antidote that was injected nightly when you slept, but seeing as how you didn’t come home…” the voice laughed. Trowa was furious. “ YOU BITCH!!!!!!!!!” he yelled. “ What?” Katrina hung up. He stared at the phone, and then slowly put it down. If he didn’t, he would smash it into a million tiny pieces. “ Trowa?” Kari managed to get out. “ What?” She shook her head, and passed out in his arms. “ It’s a typical bio-weapon virus, but there isn’t an antidote on hand.” Quatre sighed, looking over the medical reports. “ Is there an antidote anywhere?” Trowa was stoic on the outside as usual, but inside he was panicked, afraid. No, it wasn’t fear for his life against Katrina Barton, not at all. It was fear for Kari, in spite of her past, in spite of everything. Quatre shook his head slowly. “ I’m sorry Trowa.” “ So she’s just going to die.” He replied flatly. “ It won’t be pretty.” Hiiro startled him, the Perfect Soldier slipping into the room as silently as a wraith. “ he settled into a chair across from Quatre. “ Minor paralysis at first, then complete paralysis, followed by total cerebral shut down. From there on only life support could keep her alive, and only for a few months at the most. Basically her body is beginning to shut itself down piece by piece in order to avoid the virus.” He sneered. “ Whoever did this didn’t want to screw around by making it easy for her.” “ We traced the phone call!” Duo ran in, waving the papers with the exact coordinates on it. “ Katrina Barton isn’t too bright. She made the call from her home, which we all now know is the HQ for the Kitichi.” He smiled. Wufei followed him. “ Don’t get too excited. It may have been easy to find her, but getting in and getting out is the hard part.” “ I don’t care.” Trowa said quietly. “ Huh? You wanna’ run that by us again pal?” Duo asked. “ Uh, maybe we should go down to the Weapon Storage and arm ourselves?” Quatre suggested, nodding subtly to the door. Hiiro nodded, and dragged Duo away before he could ask any more questions. Wufei and Quatre followed, leaving Trowa alone. “ Damn it!!!” he pounded the desk in frustration. Trowa swallowed heavily, and shifted his weight. Kari was now in the ICU, asleep and biplegic. He sighed, and leaned against the glass. He and the others would be heading out in only a few hours; he needed to say goodbye. Trowa wanted to say so much more than goodbye, but now wasn’t the time. Kari’s head turned, and her eyes opened. She waved lazily, an indolent smile on her face. While he didn’t return the smile, Trowa acknowledged the wave with a small one of his own. Then he watched as Kari’s eyes slipped shut and her hand dropped. Katrina would pay; and vengeance would not be slow. “ Okay, according to the map, the Med. Room is that way,” Duo pointed east, “ the Storage Room is that way,” now a finger pointed west, “ and that way leads straight to the bitch’s office.” He gestured south. “ Now don’t forget that north is how we got in here.” Wufei and Hiiro would head for Storage, Duo and Quatre would go for the Med. Room, and Trowa was left alone to face Katrina on his terms and at his request. “ Good luck guys.” Duo and Quatre headed down the east corridor. “ Don’t hesitate Trowa.” Wufei reminded him, starting for the west corridor. “ Hn.” Hiiro nodded, and went after Wufei. Trowa stared straight ahead. Right into the bitch’s den. This should be interesting. “ Copy, copy! Hey Trowa, we got the antidote. We’re gonna’ go ahead and get the fuck outta’ here. Got it?” “ Good. Hurry, I don’t think Kari will last much longer.” “ Copy, copy! The Storage Room only has a few A-10’s, some M-47’s, and one rusted piece of shit that used to be a land tank. Everything that could do any type of damaged is dismantled. We’ll be standing by as backup.” “ No, go ahead and get out of here. I’ll deal with Katrina on my own.” “ We’ll be waiting. You’ve got three hours.” “ Right. Thanks guys.” “ No problem! We’ll have Kari up and ready to rumble in no time!” “ Hn. Just get moving.” “ Right.” Trowa opened the door to the office area. Katrina Barton sat in a chair, as prestigious as a queen. And she was about 900 years old! He gasped. “ Good you could come ‘Trowa’.” She said spitefully. “ You’re Katrina Barton?” he asked, raising his gun. “ Yes. And you’re my husband’s murderer? A child? Bah!” she grunted. “ Husband?” “ I don’t need to explain anything to you!” she cried. Then the world went black. He could hear her in the darkness though. “ Fool. All alone and no one to care if you die or not.” And that was the end. “ How long will it take?” Duo asked the doctor. “ Not too long. A fast-acting virus with an even faster-acting antidote.” He replied, checking Kari’s vitals. “ Whoopee. Can I go now?” Kari muttered. “ Huh? This is remarkable!” “ No, this is a pain in the ass. Hey.” She turned her head, and smiled at Duo. “ Whoa! You’re an even hotter babe when you’re conscious!!” “ Right back at ya. Where’s Trowa?” “ He’s… uh… Hey Quatre?!” Duo called out the door. “ What?” he replied, entering. “ Is Trowa back yet?” “ No.” “ Okay. Well, that gives you your answer.” “ Whatever. Where’d you all go all dressed up?” she asked in a slurred voice. Kari may have regained consciousness, and some movement in her hands, but the thought process was taking as long to recover as her legs. “ Uh…” Duo looked around. “ The Kitichi HQ.” Quatre replied instead. “ What?!” Kari tried to sit up. “ He’s not still there, is he? You didn’t actually leave him alone with that crazy bitch?” the sudden adrenaline surge revitalized her, and she managed to sit up. “ Tell me you didn’t!” “ Well uh…um…” Duo stuttered. “ We um… well our plan was um…” Quatre stammered. “ His three hours are up. We’re going back.” Hiiro poked his head in the door. “ Not without me.” Kari said, edging off the bed and standing cautiously. “ You just got the antidote! Maybe you should take it easy?” Quatre asked. “ Not while that bitch is still alive.” Kari replied. “ Where are my clothes and my gun?” “ Down in the lab for testing.” Hiiro replied. “ Shit!” Kari frowned. “ Calm down. Here.” He tossed her a bag. “ Thanks. Now get out.” She dumped the contents onto the bed, and started removing the clasps on the johnny. “ Get up!” someone kicked him in his already bruised ribs. “ Ugh…” Trowa groaned. “ Don’t die yet. I’m not finished with you!” they shrieked. “ Duo, Quatre. Head back to the Med. Room; pick up another couple of antidotes. There’s no telling what surprises that crazy bitch has in store. Hiiro, cover me, Wufei cover him. Everybody got it?” Kari demanded. There was no way she was going to sit back and let the guys do everything. Not while Trowa was in danger; never. They all nodded. “ Good. Be careful.” She eased up from the crouched position, and started down the southern corridor. “ Wish she’d been around earlier.” Duo said wistfully, turning around to follow Quatre. Hiiro and Wufei said nothing, just followed Kari’s lead. “ Aaaahhhh!!” Trowa screamed, despite his efforts not to. Katrina was cutting into him again with the heated blade. “ Oh come now, it doesn’t hurt that bad!” she thrust again. “ AAAAAHHHHH!!!” Kari heard the screams. “ Oh you crazy bitch, I’m gonna do to you what you’re doing to him.” She hissed under her breath, jogging down the corridor. There had been no guards since the entranceway. Either the Kitichi had some super advanced security systems, or they were just plain stupid. Kari was voting on the later. Hiiro and Wufei hastened their steps to keep up. “ This is beyond a personal vendetta.” Hiiro remarked. “ I know. You think she actually…?” Wufei trailed off. “ Maybe. We’ll find out won’t we?” he replied. “ Ah-” his scream was cut off by the sound of a door slamming open. “ Guess what? The bitch is back!” Kari screamed. “ That isn’t possible!” Katrina dropped the hammer she had been using to crush his hand with. “ Oh yeah it is. And be prepared for pain, because I’m going to do everything to you that you did to him.” Kari lifted her gun. “ Now move against the wall or I forego that plan and just shoot your goddamned head off.” Trowa could see Katrina hesitate. “ But my revenge…” “ You’re not Trowa Barton’s wife. At least not his current. Maybe an ex, I don’t really give a rat’s ass. Against the wall; any funny moves and I shoot you into pieces.” “ I hope you know, you aren’t getting paid.” “ Fuck money; I got more than I wanted this time.” Kari replied. Trowa hesitated. Was that an admission of what she felt for him? Or was she trust screwing with Katrina’s head? No time to figure that out, because the darkness was coming over him again. “ You mean you have feelings for this murderer?” “ Drop the act! You are not Trowa Barton’s wife! Now up against the wall before I shoot your goddamned head off!” “ I am!” “ Don’t push me woman!!!!!” “ Fool!” “ FUCK YOU!” Kari pulled the trigger, and Katrina was dead, the bullet going straight into what used to be her heart. “ Trowa, oh my god, Trowa! Come on baby, wake up.” She murmured, undoing the chains that bound him to the table. “ Come on baby, what’d she do to you? Oh. My. God.” She hissed, seeing the burns and the cuts and the mangled hand. “ I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” She whispered. Hiiro and Wufei ran in. “ Sorry. The guards tried to retaliate.” “ She hurt him bad.” Kari answered. “ Holy shit!” Duo yelped, running in after the other two. “ That was one mean bitch!” “ Was being the keyword. I think he’ll live, but we have to get him to the hospital, now!” Epilogue Trowa looked around the apartment. Kari’s shoes were still there, right beside the couch. God how small and delicate they seemed. He bit his lip. Kari had disappeared after rescuing him from Katrina. “ I guess she was just screwing with Katrina.” He sighed to himself. That was the most depressing part of the whole thing. She didn’t really want him, and there was no way for him to tell her that he wanted her. Life sucked. He grabbed his keys, and headed out the door. Cathy had set up another blind date for him, promising that it would be the best. He couldn’t say no. Trowa made it to the restaurant, and stopped. It was the same one he had first seen Kari in; when she had tried to shoot him. He swallowed, and went in. The evening was dull, dragging on for hours and hours. This girl—Brittany—was perhaps the dullest person on Earth and in the Colonies. She chattered on and on about crystals and karmas and things that had no interest to him. He sighed, and looked out the window. Someone moved into his line of vision. He sat up, and blinked again. He knew that dark brown hair that flowed over the woman’s shoulders, he knew the green eye that winked at him—oh so subtly—and the hand that waved. “ Excuse me, I have to go.” He smiled politely , and ran out. “ Kari!” he called. She was nowhere in sight. “ Damn it.” He swore softly. Oh well, at least now he could get the hell away from the new-age ditz. A note was taped to his front door; something written in sprawling feminine hand: Hey babe! I know this is really cowardly, but I was never any good at telling people how I felt, either face to face or whatever.. So give me a break here if this starts sounding really crazy. I love you. Kari P.S. I’ll be around. P.P.S I need your answer by midnight. He stared at the note. Short and to the point, the way he would’ve figured Kari to do it. But what it said! Trowa couldn’t picture her picking up a pen in those long agile fingers, putting it to the paper and scribbling out her message in her beautiful script, then running here to tape it up, maybe a little afraid of what would happen next. But that didn’t matter. What mattered now was that he could tell her without feeling foolish. Now how could he find her before midnight? [Ending One] Kari looked at her watch. Five minutes till midnight, and then she would have to forget all about Trowa Barton. She didn’t want to do that. “ Oh God please let him have at least gotten my note!” she prayed under her breath. Trowa ran frantically through the airport. This was the only one that would go straight to Colony L-27, her supposed home colony. God help him if he was wrong. “ Now Boarding Flight Number 1752 to Colony L-27. Please Enjoy Your Flight.” The sexless voice of the auto-announce system chirped. Kari sighed. Now it was time to forget all about Trowa, and to get back to work. There was no telling how many bounties had escaped her because she had wasted time falling in love. She picked up her bag. “ Kari! Kari!!” Trowa yelled, pushing his way through the crowd. “ Huh?” Kari stopped. Reaching above a sea of heads, a hand waved a solid sheet of white paper around. She managed to grab it, and opened it up. I love you too. Trowa “ Trowa? Trowa!” she yelled over the people. But she was pushed onward by the throngs of people. “ Hey, quit shoving! Trowa, Trowa!” Trowa pushed his way through the crowd. If he could just reach her, touch her, grab her hand, before the people ushered her into the shuttle, maybe they could stay on Earth together, or go out to the Colonies together. Anything, just so long as he could be with her. “ Kari!” he cried one last time. Then the doors shut in his face. “ No…” he whispered over the dying noise. Someone tapped him on the shoulder. He didn’t bother to turn around. They tapped him again. “ What?” he snapped, not turning around. Someone brought their lips to his neck, kissing it ever so slightly. “ Kari?” he asked. “ The one and only.” She whispered, each breath dancing against his skin. He turned around. “ Kari…” Trowa reached out, and brought her close to him in a warm embrace. She wrapped her arms around him in response. Then she looked up. “ I think maybe I can put off going home; just for a little while.” Kari smiled. “ Whatever you want.” He kissed her forehead. “ Whatever you want.” The End [Alternative Ending] Kari looked at her watch. Five minutes till midnight, and then she would have to forget all about Trowa Barton. She didn’t want to do that. “ Oh God please let him have at least gotten my note!” she prayed under her breath. Trowa ran frantically through the airport. This was the only one that would go straight to Colony L-27, her supposed home colony. God help him if he was wrong. “ Now Boarding Flight Number 1752 to Colony L-27. Please Enjoy Your Flight.” The sexless voice of the auto-announce system chirped. Kari sighed. Now it was time to forget all about Trowa, and to get back to work. There was no telling how many bounties had escaped her because she had wasted time falling in love. She picked up her bag. “ Kari! Kari!!” Trowa yelled, pushing his way through the crowd. “ Huh?” Kari stopped. Reaching above a sea of heads, a hand waved a solid sheet of white paper around. She managed to grab it, and opened it up. I love you too. Trowa “ Trowa? Trowa!” she yelled over the people. But she was pushed onward by the throngs of people. “ Hey, quit shoving! Trowa, Trowa!” she stretched out one hand over the crowd, struggling to reach him even though the people pushed her onward. “ Kari!” he reached for her, desperately trying to grasp her hand. If he could just pull her away from them, away from those hurried travelers, then they could maybe stay on Earth together, or go to Space together, anything, just so long as they were together! Their hands touched briefly, and then were broken apart. Kari was shoved onto the shuttle, despite her struggles. Trowa ran to the window, watching as the shuttle carried her away from him forever. And then he wept. The [other] End