4-23-2002

Title : The Killing Tide18/20
Author : Dalton (AngelDalton6@aol.com)
Rating : R
Category : AU only in the fact that this takes place 10 years after Endless Waltz
Warnings : Swearing, angst, violence and death.
Disclaimer : Gundam Wing is the property of Sunrise, the Sotsu Agency, and Bandai. No infringement is intended upon their rights. (4/23/2)
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"Noin? Noin!"

It had all happened too fast. The shout, which surely came from her brother, then the sudden shove from Noin, and finally the uncomfortable position she now held atop a heap of extremely hard objects. Relena maneuvered herself into a kneeling position, after several unsuccessful attempts to stand and gently tried to find some purchase for her feet and hands among the luggage. It had to be luggage, for she had felt the sharp poke of hard handles, small wheels and the tough plastic surfaces beneath her wriggling body. She tried to be careful as she stood, because the baggage seemed to be piled around her like dominos--one nudge, and the whole bunch would topple. Gingerly, she rose, her hands held out in front of her as she began to feel her way to the door. Her palms touched something flat--however, what she encountered was not a wall, but a heavy tarp which moved away from her as she moved toward it.

A small cry of surprise escaped her, and the slick material slid up past her hands as she tumbled forward. The tarp offered no support, but slithered across her face during the descent to the hard cement floor below. With a most unladylike "oof," Relena met the floor with a hard thud. Ignoring the pain in her stinging palms, she hastily tore the lingering tarp off her head, and found that she was kneeling just outside of a luggage tram. Some of the bags had come with her, and she pushed them roughly away as she stood to reorient herself.

"Noin! Milliardo!"

Her voice echoed, but the noise did not travel far. This part of the terminal seemed to be enclosed, and was perhaps as large as a warehouse. Relena rubbed her hands gingerly as she listened for any response, but she heard nothing after the echo had died away. Noin had left her in the dark, lost in the back area of a deserted shuttleport.

"Noin," Relena sighed, her shoulders slumping a little as she realized she was as abandoned as the luggage she had wrestled with. She did not understand what was going on. They had left the hospital so quickly, and had not even stopped to pick up her things before going directly to the shuttleport. Noin had not even tried to explain, and the fearful confusion that played behind her friend's steady gaze had caused Relena to cease her protestations.

Relena blinked as her eyes began to adjust to the dark space. She could identify the shapes in the grayness, and realized there were random emergency lights tucked about the place. But their light was muted, most likely from storage items placed by employees who ignored safety regulations. Not all the bulbs were blocked, though, and Relena had enough light to find her way without encountering any more hard objects.

Finding her way out was a bigger challenge than she had expected. As she maneuvered her way past triangular cones, piles of coiled hose, large barrels, tall rolling ladders and haphazardly-parked trams, Relena began to peer into the darker recesses to find a flashlight. The trams had to have come in through a bigger opening, and Noin and she had definitely come in through a door, but Relena could not manage to find an exit. When she walked around another tram and saw the pile of luggage that she recognized as the ones from her starting place, Relena bit back a curse. She refused to become frustrated, knowing that she would eventually find a way out, or Noin would return for her. Even though this area seemed to have been included in the police restrictions, someone would venture out for some necessary item--she hoped.

"Hello!"

Relena's head snapped toward the voice, and she thought she saw a difference in the darkness to her left. She called out, "Here!" as she strained her eyes and ears to find her savior. As she moved around two forklifts, the darkness was split by a spill of light from an open doorway--probably the one from which she and Noin had entered--and within the bright rectangle stood the silhouette of a man she knew. "Thank goodness! I'm afraid I got lost."

Relena stopped, squinting from the change in light. Though she recognized the man, something did not appear right. Within the outline of his shape, the line from shoulder to arm and from waist to hip to thigh was smooth. There were none of the typical bulges resulting from a tucked-in shirt, cuffed sleeve or belted trousers in the outline of the body standing in the doorway.

Relena took a confused step back as she discovered the man's nudity. "Mr. Noventa?"

"You must forgive my rather unseemly appearance, but Miss Schbeiker helped me realize how much trouble clothes can cause." William played his fingers upon his chest as if toying with absent buttons. "Does it disturb you?"

Relena could barely nod in response.

Noventa began to smile as he closed the door behind him.

"Good."