Not Charmed at All

By Jillian Storm

(Disclaimer: This little bit was inspired by Alithea. I must thank her for granting me a half-competent muse for the evening so that I could spin this yarn. Post-GW Dorothy and Catherine find they have a journey in common. Characters not mine. But, where's Nichol? Enjoy.)


They happened to meet in a twenty-four hour grocery store in the aisle that had traveling conveniences: tiny packages of soap, tiny toothbrushes, tiny razors. They met because both of them were trying not to look like they'd forgotten something essential for whatever trip, vacation, journey they were on. With their back to the necessities, each woman surveyed the boxes of hair dye.

Dorothy loosened her scarf and flipped her blonde hair away from her face, where it was pinned snuggly under her black, wool cap. She was on a business trip back to consult with the leader of the Preventers. Of course, in the hurry to make her shuttle back to Earth, she had left behind her toothpaste. And no matter how comfortable, no matter how close or connected she was with Une, Dorothy was not going to share her tube of minty Crest with anyone. Instead, she read the instructions on the side of an obviously recycled-brown box advertising to turn anyone a natural red.

"Have you tried that brand?" Catherine, of course, was the one to start the conversation. She knew how to approach strangers and disarm them with a smile, charm them with a well-phrased compliment. Entertaining and circus life had molded her into a comfortable stranger. The out-going cheerfulness lingered even after the circus disbanded. She stayed on earth hoping to find some sort of work she might fit into, but systematically she rejected every employment offer she was given. Trowa couldn't understand her reluctance to have an ordinary job, but he didn't hesitate at all to offer her a place to stay when her finances finally started to run low. She needed a spray bottle for the new plant she'd bought to "spruce up" Trowa's modest apartment. And she wanted some dental floss for her purse, but instead, she pointed to the box modeling hair that was pure black, "Now, I think this one would certainly be a different look for you."

"I'm a bit fair complexioned for that option." Dorothy replied. She wasn't one to start a conversation with a stranger, but she wasn't one to back down either. She tapped her black shoe against the tiled floor, the resounding click resonating up to the buzz on neon lights, one which seemed to flicker once touched by the sound. It was with that moment of sound then silence that Dorothy took a second look at the stranger that was making her late. Taking in the bow shape of the prominent lips balanced over a sharp chin and swallowed by softly rounded cheeks, Dorothy drew the connection.

Catherine felt the twinge of recollection a moment after she spotted a crimson ribbon among the other generic hair decorations just to the left of the boxes of hair colors. The ribbon reminding her of Trowa's boss on her more stern days, not that Une had the severe split of disposition she had during the war (or so Trowa reassured her). Une, who was having rather scandalous company (also relayed by her brother). She had only seen Dorothy Catalonia once before at a Christmas party, but the silver yellow blond and the ceramic white skin on the rather tall woman fit Catherine's memory.

"You're Trowa's sister, aren't you?" Dorothy asked first. She wasn't asking, since she knew the answer. But now knowing the other woman rather than seeing her as simply another stranger gave Dorothy renewed initiative and solid footing for further conversation. "Catherine Bloom." The name suited, as Trowa Barton's sister turned to smile in sheepish confession to her identity. The overall effect not unlike a blossom turning toward and following the course of the afternoon sunbeams. Catherine's hair came alive on its own, curls and petals of reddish waves.

"Yes, do I know you? How do you know Trowa?" Catherine chose the path of innocence, even so she felt a small pain of jealousy, since sharing Trowa in any fashion never pleased her much. At times gaining a brother only seemed to bring out her more maternal and territorial instincts that she hesitated to acknowledge or hold in check.

Dorothy's lip curled a little in a sarcastic grimace, "You could say that Trowa and I have a common interest in making sure that the Preventer's commander keeps her good sense and her position at the head of their unit."

Catherine knew that Dorothy probably did more than make sure Trowa's chief took her medication on time. By the first Christmas that Catherine made it to Earth to celebrate the holiday with Trowa, rumors were already setting the facility a blaze to the clandestine affair brewing between the two unconventional women. For all the chit-chat (Trowa reserved his opinion with a blank look whenever Catherine asked), neither woman seemed more than normally attached to the other, even indifferent at times. (When she persisted, Trowa's face had shifted to what Catherine stretched to label as 'wistful' and his ears 'might have' turned red.)

From what little Dorothy knew of Trowa's sister, Catherine was always trying to find out exactly how close people were to her brother. Perhaps it was an extension of narcissism. Dorothy could see the familial resemblance in the lankiness of Catherine's tomboyish figure and the high trim of the other woman's hair line, that still left wayward pieces threatening to hide if not cover Catherine's brilliantly alert eyes. Rumor had it that Catherine and Trowa had only learned of each other after being allegedly 'alone' for most of their lives. Trowa compensated by appearing lonely and making several close friends. Catherine appeared attached, but seemed to harbor a deep loneliness. That, Dorothy smirked, she could relate to.

They formed connections in their own fashion without saying much, since they were *not friends.*

"Not getting the hair dye?" Catherine said simply watching as Dorothy's chalk white fingers put the container back to its assigned space on the shelves.

"No, I've got what I need." Dorothy flashed a single packet of grape purple Kool-Aid between two of her fingers as if she were showing age required ID.

"Have a good evening." Catherine called after her with politeness so sincere she didn't know where it had come from.


"Welcome home." Dorothy mimicked the unspoken greeting as she unlocked the door and entered the dark of Une's home, stepping into the dim light only able to enter as long as Dorothy held the door open. No one waited for her on the couch, the television was long cool and the last remains of dinner had been put away before Dorothy ran out for her errands.

Errands became synonymous with escape after too long. They found that weekends worked best, holidays stretched their patience and weeks led to a strange feeling that something-more-must-be-done. The pressure drove Une to her pills and deep down Dorothy found that frightening. Although, they mutually tipped toward silence at that point, ignorance being much easier.

Dorothy stayed preoccupied with the reconstruction of the colonies. There, no one recognized her and few even acknowledged the political inclinations connected to her real name. She enjoyed the freedom to remain herself and feel as if she were part of the new, struggling world. That part was easy.

Even on Earth, where she could scarcely go unnoticed, Dorothy managed an aloof involvement that earned both eager and begrudging respect. She had not gone unnoticed by the Colonel Une, nor the Lady.

For all public relations, Une was beyond reproach in her mental stability. Those close to her knew of momentary relapses of either unchecked rage or flashes of utopian isolationism; although, nothing significant to hinder her work or prevent her from pursuing the young heir to the Catalonias. Dorothy had never considered her sexuality before, but she knew how to respond to powerful interest. The first evening on Earth on any given visit, Dorothy inevitably found herself gasping underneath the undivided attentions of the older woman, bruised by her lips and trembling from aggressive passion brought by battle honed limbs.

Putting the grocery bag on the kitchen counter, Dorothy felt her way through the hall with confidence even in the shadows untouched by the spilled moonlight. She knew the house well. The door to Une's room was open only part way to help the air circulate. Even without seeing, Dorothy knew that the woman slept under only a sheet wearing nothing but a gold chain around her neck, her skin smooth, flawless and dark in the evening. On the second evening, Dorothy would come back late after an evening watching others drink. Sometimes Quatre would have small gatherings or Dorothy would visit her cousins in the suburbs. She would slip in and smell the last evidence of something Une had baked while waiting the hours of the evening. Dorothy would undress quietly and then swallow the always unexpected thrill of initially slipping into the cool welcome of the bed's sheets then easing into the warmer embrace of her half-drowsy lover. The gold chain causing her flesh to burn wherever it touched her.

Letting the memories fall off her shoulders, Dorothy crossed to the bathroom and closed the door before turning on the light. She studied her hair thoughtfully for a moment and watched in the mirror. First, she pulled it back from her forehead as she used to keep it in high school remembering how childishly long it had been once. Then she let it fall free again into a perpetually straight thinness framing her face to her shoulders. Without another thought, Dorothy took the only toothbrush from the holder, wetted it and picking up the toothpaste, she carefully squeezed from the end of the roll.

Her own room was on the west side of the house, so when the new day came Dorothy slept halfway into the afternoon because for her the morning would not arrive until sunset.


Catherine saw the extra car in the parking lot and knew that the last of Trowa's friends had yet to go to their own homes for the evening. No matter how long she seemed to wander, she always felt as if she were intruding as every eye turned to see who hadn't been part of their group just the moment before. Trowa had invited her to stay many times, especially since she'd taken up a more permanent residence with him, but the bonds shared between his wartime friends and co-workers were often forged and rooted in theories and lifestyles that she didn't agree with. Always amiable for Trowa's sake, Catherine found herself frustrated with the multiple occasions during which she would bite her tongue synchronously with a half-hearted smile.

Most of those who'd gathered that evening to watch some sporting event had gone home after the party snacks disappeared. She took in the empty bowls and red, plastic cups littering Trowa's living room (which on most days was immaculate). Crouched over the coffee table from his spot on the floor, her brother concentrated on what seemed an almost complete game of Scrabble. His opponent sat on the couch, gelled to her boyfriend in such a way that they might have been Siamese twins. Both of them wearing identical looks of affectionate amusement as Trowa regretted the lack of "U's" for his recently drawn "Q."

"Catherine." Trowa glanced up at her, sheepishly, "We're almost done. If I only hadn't taken up such a stiff gamble that I'd beat Hilde this round."

"He has Heero to thank for that risky gamble. I guess your competitive testosterone just took over again, didn't it, Trowa?" The girl, who hardly looked sixteen given her eternally doll-like lips and playful set to her eyebrows, tapped her boyfriend's chin with her index finger running it along the edge of his jaw.

"It was a logical choice," Heero fought back one of his more sinister smiles which only served to make him look more like he narrowly survived a soldier's life with his sanity intact, "Given that Trowa had won every other game against Hilde this evening."

'Thanks for the show of confidence," Hilde's teasing relaxed the severity of Heero's reactions. Undeniably, they were each a point of stability that the other needed. In turn, they gave Trowa a constant and appreciated friendship. Catherine decided to sit in the rocking chair and wait until they left. The seat being some rescued bargain from a garage sale that Trowa said he found himself at upon the insistence of Hilde, a self- proclaimed, bargain-shopping fiend. The chair needed a blanket to be properly comfortable, and Catherine squirmed as delicately as she could for a moment to find the best way to sit without feeling the awkward wood. Even so, nothing she did could stop the dependable squeak of wood-in-motion betraying to everyone that its seat was occupied as the contraption swayed back and forth.

The constant noise from her seat didn't hide the new awkwardness in what had otherwise been a comfortable conversation. Heero checked his watch more than once and let the others know in a gruff voice what time it was in various other countries and colonies at that same moment. Trowa apologized no less than twelve times for persisting that his "Q" was playable. Hilde started to put her shoes back on, even as Heero deviously wrapped himself around the limbs necessary for her to complete the task.

Catherine knew she wanted Trowa's attention, and she reluctantly noticed that she was being less than warm-spirited to the stragglers. Since she'd opened a few boxes and committed to a somewhat longer stay than normal, Catherine had only been able to use the kitchen and make her brother a complete meal once. Somewhere in the plan making, she'd assumed she'd eat dinner with Trowa most every night. He, it seemed, did not receive the same instructions.

Trowa's instructions seemed to include inviting Catherine to game nights with his closer friends, and she even sensed that Trowa's group of friends had designs to set-her-up with Duo Maxwell who had his own charm (to be sure). Catherine was determined that she was not going to entertain boys who had seemingly just left their teens when she was enjoying the end of her twenties.

In spite of her distance from them, Catherine could not neglect to see the disappointment highlighting Trowa's "good evening" as Heero and Hilde finally let go of each other long enough to bundle up into their coats and scarves. Trowa closed the door with a touch of heaviness, then walked back to the couch to collapse into a pile of overlarge green sweater, slender jeans and socked feet. One hand balanced across his forehead as the other tossed the useless wooden chip with the others on the game board.

Catherine spotted a half-eaten pear on the dining room table as she surveyed the damage to his apartment. She knew that was all he had eaten for dinner, the snacks all items he didn't really enjoy and only supplied to draw in others' company. She wondered if anyone else noticed that Trowa didn't eat the extra cheesy Nachos or kettle corn or honey roasted peanuts.

She stopped mid-rock and stood up, systematically collecting the plastic cups. Catherine poured the unfinished liquids into the top while stacking the glasses easily from the bottom. She bent at the waist to gather some paper towels that had fallen next to the couch.

"Stop," Trowa said without moving his hand from covering his eyes, "I can clean up after myself, Cathy." Then as if an afterthought, he added, "You don't have to do it."

Wordless now she was alone with her brother, Catherine set her armful on the table next to the pear and simply continued back to her brother's room where he was letting her sleep in his bed. She sank into the mattress and curled around his pillow thoughtlessly.

In the morning, Catherine would find Trowa sleeping on the couch, his head propped up at one end while one long leg stretched to the floor, one balanced on the far end. Even in the boyish sprawl, his arms always crossed over his chest like he'd been prepared for a coffin. And she'd imagine that he'd turned a little brown in his sleep not unlike the pear, not unlike the plant she'd brought going dry in it's corner.


"Going home?"

Catherine looked up to see Dorothy Catalonia sitting on the bench next to her. The bench facing the schedule of shuttles going back to the various colonies from which they had started. Dorothy liked to show up late for her flights, arriving just in time to muscle her way through the employees and demonstrate her willpower born under pressure. Catherine, herself, already seemed politely settled as if she'd simply sprung up in her seat and had time to put down roots.

"Yes, I needed to figure out what it is I'm going to do with my life now . . . and . . . " Catherine paused, feeling a strange, unwarranted intimacy. Shaking the fear, she continued, "Well, I decided I can't just borrow Trowa's to satisfy mine."

Dorothy raised an eyebrow, "That sounded like a confession."

"Maybe so," Catherine brashly continued, since she'd already chosen the path before her. Trowa had offered to help find her another roommate, but Catherine had felt the pull of the stars, of the un-tethered performer, "Maybe it didn't quite work out. But, it was nice to try . . . don't you think? I can always visit or write letters. I *liked* that."

"Nice to try," Repeating the words, Dorothy wondered if she might feel the same. Une hadn't seemed surprised by the packed bags. Really, Dorothy had only stayed a little longer than usual. Some of her visits had taken many more days. But never before had Dorothy tried to look for something . . . more.

Some pause in the transitions from days one to two to three.

Dorothy leaned into Catherine with her eyes closed and breathed in deep of the similar colored aura between them.

The blonde almost didn't feel the kiss of the red-head's lips as they met her own in a gentle connection. Almost understanding each other in a way no one else could. And for the briefest of moments acknowledging: they were still searching. And that they didn't always like to look.