Episode 21:
Lost Children

        Nimeesha Pembroke's plan has been put into action completely, Relena Yuy is dead. If this causes the chain of events she has predicted, the World Nation will fall apart. The year is After Colony 216, and the 20 years have peace have been shattered.

        Yoshino tempted fate by using the ZERO system in his attempt to reach Venus to obtain vengeance for his mother's slaying at the hands of former Venusian ambassador Kwannon Yokoshima. Fortunately, ZERO showed him what could have happened, and it wasn't too pleasant an idea. Over come by mental shock, the would-be avenger blissfully slipped into unconsciousness in the cockpit of the FalconWing, where upon he was retrieved by his pursuers- Sidra, in the Tallgeese, and Heero and Ariana using 'borrowed' Gryphon suits from the Preventers. Meanwhile on Venus, the former ambassador, Kwannon, had conveniently made the chances of escape more likely for Tiffany and Trowa, who she deemed no longer a threat to Venus and its plans. Back in the Chang household, things seem to be improving between family members, though Wufei has not yet regained his memories.

        Catherine sighed as she got ready for the night's performance. Logically, when the ceasefire had been started, Trowa ought to have come back. However, he hadn't. Quatre had called her saying that Trowa had left for Earth, but had vanished and that no one had heard from him yet. She'd heard a bunch of jumbled female voices in the background shouting various things concerning Trowa and shooting people. Quatre had told her to pay the PMS no mind. Though it was a little unnerving hearing "DA!!! TROWA SHOT AT MOMOKO, NO DA!!! TELL HIM TO BEHAVE, NO DA!!!" in the background of the conversation, among other things (such as "ANYBODY HAVE WUFEI'S PHONE NUMBER!?!"), including something about drinking. After the call she'd spent considerable time worrying about the safety of her adopted little brother.

        Trowa leaned back in his seat and silently gazed at the sleeping PMS founder, Tiffany, who'd fallen asleep about an hour ago, and was probably getting the best night's sleep she'd had in awhile. Unfortunately, this gave silence an unfair advantage over the pair, thus abandoning Trowa to his own thoughts, which he would have preferred not to think about.
    Why did I do this? And what is it about her-? Trowa mused to himself, as he looked over the albino woman. Is this what Quatre meant back at that party? ... And Catherine-? That little bit of news still left him speechless (and almost thoughtless), at the thought of it. How will she react-? Maybe it would be better for her if she didn't know. Although, I doubt Tiffany will let me get away with that. But then, what say does she have in it? She was the one who talked me into taking a DNA test... Why did I listen to her? Trowa argued with himself.

        Shino slowly struggled back to consciousness. He could hear voices, but didn't bother coming around enough to open his eyes yet.
    "Where did you get the parts?"
    "Well... most of them I salvaged myself, but I kinda got the gundanium and the parts from Wing and Wing-Zero from Uncle Duo..." Ariana meekly explained, "I didn't know it had the ZERO system... It never really bothered me... But then, I didn't have it plugged in... Shino must have done it when he took it for a little test drive at our last practice session..."
    "'Practice session'? Sidra..." Heero turned his icy Death Glare on his niece.
    "Well, I needed some one to practice against, and lo and behold, my idiot cousin happens to have a Gundam, so....." Sidra flippantly replied, "She's pretty good. Probably gets it from her old man."
    "You're not going to take FalconWing and use it yourself, are you Dad?"
    "... I'm going to remove the ZERO system from it. We'll deal with what will become of the actual suit later." Heero dodged the question, being as he himself was not sure of the answer.
    "I can take it out..." Ariana protested, not really wanting her father poking around what she considered her suit.
    "I'll remove it." Heero left little room for further protest, turning to leave the room.
    "Don't you DARE even think of putting a self-detonator in it, Dad!" Ariana threatened.
    "Hn." Heero left, presumably to remove the ZERO from FalconWing. Ariana gave chase to make sure he did it right, (and didn't try and blow it up 'accidentally' in the process).
    "She's... really attached to that suit, isn't she?" Tiana looked over at Sidra, who nodded.
    "She put a lot of work into it, so it's kind of logical she'd be kind of attached to the thing. Who knows how long she'd been working on it before the war broke out." Sidra replied.
    "... the war..." Tiana sighed and looked down, feeling on some level responsible for it, though she'd played no actual part in the process.
    "Yeah, the war. Another 'shining' example of human stupidity. Or as Siduri might say, just another reason why 'people suck'." Sidra leaned against the wall.
    "My twin brother- pardon, older by 5 minutes, or so he likes to remind me now and then." Sidra informed Tiana, fiddling with the silver earring her brother had given her, "He's kind of... weird."
    "... Aren't all brothers?" Tiana smiled slightly, "Arthur's a jerk, Chayton's nice, but a bit strange."
    "It must be a guy thing." Sidra shrugged, "They're all pretty strange."
    "Well women are just as strange..." Shino muttered, opening his eyes slightly, "It's rude to talk about someone when they're unconscious."
    "Welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Avenger." Sidra noted with suitable sarcasm.
    "How are you feeling?" Tiana helped Shino sit up.
    "Like I'm hung over, only worse..." Shino groaned and accepted the glass of water Tiana offered him.
    "And you know what a hangover is like, HOW?" Sidra raised an eyebrow.
    "... Christmas party at Preventers HQ... Somebody spiked all the drinks and nobody knew. Where's Ari and Dad?"
    "Hopefully not fighting over explosives." Sidra answered dryly, "I'll go find out for sure." She picked up Shino's pistol from the night stand and left the room. There was a minor commotion outside, followed by a gunshot shortly after she left.
    "....." Tiana blinked. Silence claimed its place upon the room. The green eyed girl walked over to the window and opened it to let some fresh air in.
    "... I'm sorry..." Shino mumbled to Tiana, who looked over at him.
    "What for?"
    "For earlier... I just lost it. And then the ZERO kicked in... I can't believe Dad actually fought using that thing." Shino shuddered at the recollection.
    "... They explained it a bit to me while you were unconscious. It doesn't sound very pleasant..." Tiana sat down in a chair by the bed, "Do you want to talk about it?"
    Shino shrugged, "I hallucinated going ballistic and killing everyone... except the two I was after."
    "... Are you still... going to try to?" Tiana inquired fearfully.
    Shino shook his head slightly, "Not after what ZERO showed me. There's no telling what they've developed down there."
    To Shino's surprise, Tiana threw her arms around him, crying with relief.
    "Thank you..." She whispered.
    Shino blinked, a bit confused as to what to do. The Preventers didn't train one for situations such as these. At a loss, he hugged her back.

        Meiran yanked open her locker, annoyed at the presence of a former school mate visiting.
    "Hey, Meir, everybody has been wondering where you've been." The guy informed her.
    "Don't call me that, Morrie. How many times have I told you not to call me that?" Meiran scowled.
    "Since the start of the year or since I met you?" Morrie smirked.
    "So you've been keeping track?" She was slightly amused by the notion, "Since you met me."
    "592 and a half times. Once you got interrupted."
    "So what do you want? I was under the impression you'd been expelled and told never to set foot on this campus again."
    "Well, a bunch of us have noticed you haven't shown up at the races. What's up with that?" Morrie leaned against the lockers. Meiran yanked her Mars Defense Force jacket out of her locker and slammed it shut.
    "And what's with THAT? When'd you join an army??"
    "It's not an army. It's a defense force. In answer to your first question, you recall I'd run away from home for awhile and, what you don't know is, and this should help answer your second question, I fought my father for the right to go to Mars to pilot one of the Gundams they have." Meiran carefully explained.
    "So it's not just rumors!?" Morrie stared.
    "No, it's been proven, if you recall, by the Venusian ambassador-turned-assassin." Meiran narrowed her eyes, "And when I returned here during the ceasefire, my father, who'd come to Mars after me, had amnesia. And he still does. I've had to take care of him."
    "Whoa. For serious??"
    "... yes. Now what is it you want? I have to get going home. I don't like leaving him there alone." Meiran rolled her eyes.
    "There's a race this Saturday. We're all kinda hoping you'll show up."
    "So I can kick all your asses?" Meiran asked sweetly.
    "Uh... Well, ya know it ain't the same without ya." Morrie sweatdropped slightly, "I finally got myself a new bike."
    "I don't think I want to know how you came up with the money for it."
    "It'll be too easy to kick everybody's ass without you around. So ya gonna come and give me a run for my money, Meir?"
    "Don't call me that."
    "593 and a half!" Morrie declared.
    "As much as I'd love to leave you in the dust, I've got too much to do."
    "Aw! What's one night?" Morrie lit up a cigarette, "You're the only girl who gets out there and races with us!"
    "I told you, I don't like leaving my father home alone." Meiran snapped.
    "I thought you hated your dad." Morrie noted, confused.
    "Things changed." The raven haired girl snapped again.
    "If you can be out in space piloting mobile suits, let alone Mars' Gundams, I don't see why you can't come out and race for one night." Morrie sulked.
    "All right, fine. If you want me to kick your ass THAT badly, I'll come. But I'm going to have to bring my father along with me. I hope that isn't a problem." Meiran glared.
    "Nah, not at all. Just as long as he doesn't call the cops on us or anything. He really doesn't remember anything?"
    "Not a thing." Meiran's voice held a warning note, "I'll see you Saturday."

        "What should we name the baby?" Hilde looked at her bulging stomach.
    "I guess it depends on if it's a boy or a girl, Hilde." Duo grunted as he continued to put together a cradle, "How about Shiniga-"
    "We are not naming it after the Japanese God of Death, Duo!" The Goddess of Death by marriage glowered, "I don't care how cool you think it sounds! I will not have my baby go through life named Shinigami!"
    "Eee... Okay, Hilde...." Duo squeaked slightly, "How about Solo, if it's a boy?"
    Hilde's face softened. She'd learned about Duo's tragic past, and his attachment to his late friend, Solo.
    "All right. If it's a boy we'll name him Solo."
    "And if it's a girl?" Duo blinked.
    The two exchanged looks and nodded, not needing to voice what each one was thinking.
    "I still hope it's a boy though!" Duo grinned, "I'll teach him all the important things in life! Computer hacking, explosives, how to build stuff,  and if he wants to grow his hair out, how to braid it- OW!"
    Duo's little fantasy was cut off by a wrench, held by a very annoyed Hilde. (Duo's a real wrench magnet, ain't he?)
    "If it's a boy, my little boy won't run around with hair long enough to make him look like he was raised by wolves!"
    "Heeey!" Duo protested in defense of his braid, "Come on, when you first met me, it was the braid that turned you on, right?"
    Hilde smacked the God of Death with the wrench again, then departed for the kitchen.
    Love was in the air at Death's house.

        "What are you doing?" Wufei looked in the garage to see Meiran quite occupied working on her motorcycle.
    "I have a race tonight. I'm making sure everything is okay. You're coming, by the way." Meiran cleaned her hands off on a rag.
    "I am?" Wufei raised an eyebrow.
    :"Well, I don't want to leave you here by yourself." Meiran frowned, recalling what the incident with the sword.
    "....." Wufei borrowed Trowa's favorite phrase.
    "Anyways, it shouldn't take too long. You can stand at the sidelines and watch with some of the others. If any of them give you any trouble, just let me know after the race." Meiran sighed.
    "... all right. Why would they give me any trouble though?"
    "Might be because you're A) my dad, and B) at least 20 years older than most of these guys. Even though you don't know how to use your gun, you just might want to bring it."
    "... Are you implying you're hanging out with armed and dangerous people?" Wufei blinked.
    "Eh... I suppose... some of them... I don't think they've got anything but knives though."
    "... My daughter is hanging out with gangsters??" Wufei stared, "Was I aware of this before??"
    "Um... kind of... but I can take care of myself!" Meiran stated, "So don't worry."
    "... As your father, shouldn't I be worrying?"
    "Well.... yeah, but... Let Mom do the worrying, okay?"
    "She's not here."
    "Exactly." Meiran sweatdropped slightly.
    "Are you taking any weapons, Meiran?" Wufei studied his daughter.
    "... I only have a sword. It's hard to race my bike while wearing it. So, no. But I learned more than just sword play. I told you, I can take care of myself. I'm not exactly a little girl any more, you know." Meiran looked over at her father.
    "... I suppose so." Wufei frowned slightly and left Meiran to her work.

        Meiran arrived with Wufei at the deserted stretch of of road that the group considered their 'race track'. Several people were surprised to see her A) with a helmet (if she'd learned anything back on Mars, she'd learned that helmets could be very important) and B) With her father, being as Morrie hadn't mentioned it to many people.
    "Hey, what's he doing here??" Somebody shouted.
    "None of your business!" Meiran shouted in response, "Just shut up and deal with it!"
    Wufei was, to say the least, surprised. It was like Meiran was a different person around these people.
    "Glad ya made it, Meir!" Morrie waved.
    "Don't call me that." She rolled her eyes, "Are we ready to start? Or are we still missing some people?"
    "Almost ready. Everybody who's watching is hanging out at the finish line, so why don't you take your old man down there for now?"
    "Yeah." Meiran headed off down that way with Wufei, and returned later by herself.
    "Okay, we all set???" Morrie looked around, eager to try his new motorcycle against the resident champion. Meiran shrugged. A couple of the other racers cheered in agreement. At a signal from the 'flag man' the bikes took off roaring down the half mile 'track'.
    Meiran was quite absorbed in her thoughts as she easily sped around her competitors, with only Morrie keeping up.
    It's strange having Daddy here... Nothing has been normal since back on Mars... And I still can't believe I said that to him... That it was the last thing I said to him before it happened. Is he ever going to remember? The doctors said it was likely he would in a few weeks... It's been a few months! If I hadn't said it, maybe this wouldn't have happened at all. Or would it have? Would I still have gone out there-? And what would have happened if it'd been my suit that was hit-? How would Daddy deal with it? And Mom... If he never remembers, I don't think I'm ever going to be able to forgive myself... Saying I hated him... it really is unforgivable. Nothing is the same anymore. Nothing... The PMS finished making Altron, but Daddy might never be able to use it... It's a shame, hell, a complete waste then. Then my teachers, damnit, they don't understand what's going on at all. I still have make-up work to turn in. But then I'm supposed to also be ready in case Venus launches an attack. Some how I don't think my teachers will let me out of class for that. I'd probably have to force my way out... Then get kicked out of school, which I'm sure Mom wouldn't like too much... She might complain to the school about it, but still. I wonder how things would have turned out if I hadn't won that duel with Daddy- Meiran's mind was brought out of its 'deep thought' state as Morrie roared up along side her suddenly. Almost idly edging his leg out to kick her bike over. There was no time to make up for the sudden impact and within moments Meiran found herself flying into the air as her bike toppled over, just short of the finish line, arousing gasps from the crowd, which she didn't hear as she made impact with the ground, skidding on her side until she finally came to a stop, leather severely scuffed and the arm of her jacket completely shredding, being as the ground acted quite nicely like sandpaper on her.
    "MEIRAN!" Wufei shouted. Despite how fast it happened, it seemed to go by in slow motion.
    A field of flowers. A wedding. A death. Meiran.
    Operation Meteor. Nataku. Treize.
    A battle.
    Sally Po. Preventers.
    A wedding. A child. His daughter.
    Meiran. "I hate you. For all I care you can just drop dead."
    Wufei snapped back to reality, aware someone was trying to hold him back from getting to his daughter.
    "Track rules, man. If you can't get up, you don't get up!" Somebody informed him.
    "Get out of my way!" Wufei growled, drawing his gun from his Preventers jacket. It was a good thing Meiran had suggested he bring it along.
    "Uh..." The guy holding him backed off nervously, "Ya wouldn't really shoot us, right? It'd be illegal?"
    A gunshot knicked the guy's ear in response.
    "As if any of you seem to really care about what is legal. Or honorable." Wufei snorted, stepping out onto the street.
    "I think you pissed him off, Morrie..."
    "I thought he had amnesia!!! That's what Meir said!" Morrie stared, getting off his bike, "And I didn't know he had a gun!"
    Wufei angrily marched over to where his daughter lay still on the pavement. Carefully, he checked her pulse. Although unconscious, Meiran seemed to be all right, except for her arm, which was bleeding from multiple lacerations. Once sure that his daughter was not in any critical danger, turned his attention to the cause of the accident.
    "Um.... It was an accident, sir?" Morrie backed away slowly, survival instincts starting to kick in. Wufei raised his gun and fired twice, neatly blowing out both tires of Morrie's motorcycle, therefore preventing him from escaping on it.
    "Hey!! I just got that!!" Morrie protested, little good it did.
    "Obviously you don't deserve it." Wufei retorted, "Though on some level I owe you. If this hadn't happened, I might not have my memories back. Thank you." Wufei fired once more, squarely hitting the gas tank of Morrie's bike, resulting in a suitably large explosion.

        Meiran was aware her arm hurt, but it felt distant, and it didn't feel like she was lying on the asphalt. She groaned and opened her eyes.
    "They gave me some trouble." Wufei looked over at Meiran.
    "Daddy!?" There was something about the way he was acting...
    "Other than your arm and a concussion, you're fine, excluding some bruises. Nothing less than I'd expect from my daughter." Wufei stated. Meiran blinked.
    "Daddy, do you...?" Meiran asked, daring to hope. Wufei nodded.
    "So do you still hate me?"
    "... Only if you go back to being an asshole." Meiran sat up slowly and looked down.
    "... I will only if you continue racing with those dishonorable weaklings." Wufei crossed his arms.
    "Deal." Meiran glanced over at her father, "Did you... believe me when I said I hated you, Daddy?" She asked, almost timidly.
    "... I didn't know if I ought to have believed it or not. If I believed it though, do you think I still would have saved you in that battle?"
    "... I dunno..." Meiran sighed and looked away, "I'm... sorry, Daddy."
    "... So am I."
    Meiran looked back over at Wufei in surprise, tears in her eyes. He nodded and she burst into tears.
    Wufei, in an uncharacteristic show of affection, sat down on the edge of the bed and embraced his daughter, letting her cry in his arms. Something neither had done since Meiran had been a little girl.
    Father and daughter hugged, the rift between them finally bridged.

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 22,
"Red in the Morning"