Warnings: Awkwardness, Yaoi/Slash, a few unsavory topics
Pairings: Multiple and Changing
Companion to Reflection
Written drabble style, so there's no telling how long or short a chapter will be. "Reflection" happens in AC 200 roughly, four years after EW. This fic starts after Christmas in AC 196 and continues to and past "Reflection".
AC 197 - January
Trowa didn't want to see it anymore. He'd never felt this kind of possessiveness before, nor had anything ached within him quite like this. He didn't want to feel that or anything anymore. It was as painful as it was stupid. But he couldn't move.
Why did Catherine's happiness kill him as surely as a bullet to his heart?
He watched from the tent, gripping his mask tightly in both hands. They looked so happy, deliriously so, as if nothing could ever hurt them again. Catherine giggled and swooned as that man held her close, murmuring too softly for Trowa to hear the words, but they made her blush and smile shyly. She's say something and he would chuckle and look so adoringly back and...
Trowa finally managed to look away. He felt constrained and uncomfortable in a way that made him want to run from there and not return. He'd never thought he'd want to run from the circus. From his oasis in a world he'd never been fully welcome in.
She'd told him the night before that the man had proposed to her. She was so happy. Trowa'd barely been able to keep from tracking him down and sliding a knife across his throat. He was disturbed by his own blood thirst and possessiveness.
When Quatre came and invited him to join a quasi-police force that had been set up, Trowa agreed without hesitation. Within a week, he'd moved in with the blond to a rather nice apartment near Headquarters and was an official member of the Preventers. Agent Heavyarms seemed as appropriate as anything.
Trowa stared down at the ID card, running a finger over it in quiet contemplation. It seemed right, using the skills he had accumulated to make the world safer. Peace and love the politicians could preach for eons, but there would always be a need for people like him. People willing to face the ugly dredges of society left over.
A letter from Catherine came only a little while after he'd settled in. Trowa read it once then threw it away and tried very hard not to think about it again.
AC 197 - February
When Wufei awoke, he was shaking. His breath came in hard gasps, face pale and clammy, his muscles tensed for a fight that wasn't real. He saw shifting shadows around the room, lengthened by the pre-dawn light slipping through his closed window blinds, and couldn't convince himself that they weren't enemies. Weren't dangerous.
Within an hour, he managed to slide from his bed and get to the bathroom, splashing his face with water. He was still shaking, hands barely keeping hold of the towel as he pressed it against his face. Even the soft, expensive cotton, one of the few luxuries he'd afforded himself, couldn't soothe him. His mind was a muddied jumble of here and there and now and then, too confusing and mixed up for him to think straight.
He didn't really notice when he picked up the soft leaded pencil and started drawing on his smooth yellow wall. He covered the whole thing in a scene he didn't see and something inside started to loosen, to heal. He found his paints, one of the few mementos from his home and in need of replenishing, and began applying color.
It was evening before Une realized one of her more prized agents hadn't come in or called. Visions of a man-child too sick to move circled guiltily in her mind. She got a message to Sally and then went on with her duties. The Preventers couldn't fail because of inattention due to one sixteen year old boy, fond as she might have been of him.
Sally arrived then minutes later to a locked door that refused to be answered. She was suddenly glad for a less than savory education, for it had given her the knowledge of lock picking. The fact that she wasn't immediately met with a sword when she opened the door worried her quite a bit more than the lack of answer to her knocking. She called for Wufei as she stepped into the place. It had a cool, sterile quality to it that made her shiver a bit. White walls, black furniture, no amount of personalizing... She heard movement in the bedroom. Opening the door slowly, she started to utter an apology when she found her voice caught in her throat.
Vivid gold splashed across one wall. Violent streaks of black and blood red crossed through it like sword strikes, a chaotic mess of pain and anguish. She didn't know what she was seeing but it wrenched her gut and made a lump form in her throat. It was utterly upsetting and she felt her heartbeat speed as she stared. There was nothing definite, only half formed and twisted shapes that couldn't have anything to do with reality, yet with a startling clarity it hammered into her mind horrors she still dreamt of.
Wufei didn't answer her when she gained a voice again. Sally didn't dare touch him, not when his face looked so intent and far away. He continued painting as if she wasn't there and perhaps to him, she wasn't. She felt a cold chill inside at how deeply locked in his own mind he was. Someone as strong and skilled as Wufei...
Sally left a plate of cut up sandwiches next to him before she left. She didn't even go home, heading right back to the office. Une hurried the phone call she'd been in the middle of when she saw Sally's face. She hung up and gave the woman a hard but worried look.
"Chang-" Une started and Sally slumped back in her chair.
"He's in his own world."
Une frowned a little. "What?"
Sally explained and that didn't comfort Une at all. At least she knew the boy wasn't on his deathbed, though.
"Did anyone speak to him yesterday?" Sally asked suddenly. Une thought about it, then nodded, remembering being notified of someone.
"Yes, a representative from...Oh." Une sighed softly, shaking her head a little. "...Well... I suppose it's a good enough reason to give him a day or two off..."
"At the least," Sally replied with a shrug. "He's lucky I know him well enough not to recommend him for a psych evaluation."
The next two days, Sally visited Wufei's apartment and left sandwiches, shivering with each glance at the incomplete painting. Twisted shapes became identifiable and were all the more disturbing for it. On the fourth day, she found a somewhat weak, very groggy sixteen year old who was again aware of her presence. She didn't mention the violent painting on his bedroom wall as she got some food and water into him before sending him right back to bed.
Wufei was at the office an hour early on the fifth day. Neither Une nor Sally mentioned his absence past giving him the accumulated paperwork.
AC 197 - March
The world was starting to pull itself together, but Duo was still in a state of shock. No more war, just horrible images of what happened when someone tried to start another one. It had only been a little while. There just wasn't time to get used to it all just yet.
It took two months for Duo to decide to join the Preventers, a fledgeling organization of peace. Little more than a glorified world police squad, but Une gave him a dirty look when he said that. She accepted him easily however, and that he was grateful for. He moved in with Heero to make things easier, an arrangement neither disliked.
Heero, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei had become members almost from the very beginning. Duo hadn't been surprised with Wufei and Heero, but he'd thought the other two would return to their less dangerous lives. They had the choice. The rest of them didn't.
Duo'd expected Quatre to go and take over his father's company. When asked, Quatre promptly explained that he was only sixteen years old and not at all ready to undertake such a vast empire of business. Nor did he really want to. So, WEI was entrusted to some of Quatre's older sisters, who excelled beautifully. He was getting lessons on the side of his missions so that if and when he felt ready enough, he could join them. Duo felt vaguely embarrassed that he hadn't thought of all that himself.
Trowa only shrugged when Duo asked why he hadn't gone back to the circus. No explanation, just a shift of his shoulder before he tottered off to put away a few files. It was Quatre that informed him of the fact that Catherine had gotten a boyfriend before Christmas and was now engaged. Duo looked at Trowa a little differently after that. He didn't quite know what the relationship between him and the circus performer was, but he knew they were close. Duo wondered if he should feel sorry about a hidden crush or amused at brotherly possessiveness. One really couldn't tell with Trowa.
So it was, all five of them working for peace. Funny how hard that was.
AC 197 - April
Quatre had very nice legs. Trowa noticed this with a start one day in the gym swimming pool. It wasn't that he'd never seen Quatre's legs before (safe houses weren't always conducive to modesty,) but he found himself suddenly noticing. He'd been living with the other teen for a good amount of months and no thoughts such as that had ever entered his mind.
Quatre was slim, streamlined. His body was deceptively weak looking, muscle compact and strong, but Trowa found it to be quite pleasing to look at. The uniform pale peach attracted his gaze when he cared to let it (though he'd often wondered how such a fair Arabian had ever been born. Blonde hair and blue eyes puzzled him as well on the same front.) All in all, there was nothing displeasing about Quatre. Trowa still rather liked his legs.
That is, when Trowa allowed himself to find anything attractive about Quatre.
The fact of the matter was that Trowa tried very hard not to. He'd been surprised once when his friend came out fresh from the shower with his blonde hair still dripping down his neck and face. Quatre's hair curled when wet. Trowa had been unable to look away which led to an odd conversation consisting of worried inquiries and one word answers. Thankfully, Quatre'd dropped the issue quickly enough for Trowa to salvage some of his rarely noticed pride.
It happened again the three days later but Quatre dropped it more quickly and, instead, gained a strangely thoughtful look on his face. Trowa didn't know what that meant and he couldn't make himself ask. After that, Quatre didn't even flick an eyelash at Trowa's staring after showers.
AC 197 - May
Heero got the idea rather quickly and wondered belatedly why it had taken so long. Une had partnered each of the five gundam pilots with advanced agent recruits in an effort to bring them up to pilot level, but the effect hadn't been achieved. Instead, it was stressing the five teenagers as they effectively had to babysit agents twice their age.
No one had thought what to do about the situation until Heero went to Une's office and asked rather politely if he could request a new partner. Considering the reports she'd gotten from Heero and his current partner, both of which detailed the same problems with the arrangement from different sides, Une was willing to listen. She asked if he had someone in mind.
It took 2.54 seconds for Heero to decide between the four other pilots. When he said Duo Maxwell, she almost called for a psych evaluation before she remembered that the two lived together. Une accepted the proposal, after getting Duo's approval, and sent Heero on his way to prepare for the next run. She called Agent Sanders in after to reassign him to Duo's previous partner, Agent Yerns, and found the two were quite happy to stop seeing sixteen year olds out-doing them. There was no career building as the lagging party to a gundam pilot.
The arrangement proved to be a good one. Heero and Duo achieved great things together and soon enough, Quatre was in to request Trowa as his permanent partner. Une half expected Wufei to grab Milliardo next, but the Chinese man never came to her office. Besides, Milliardo was overseeing the Mars project with Noin as the permanent Preventers representation there. She idly wondered when the wedding announcements would go out and smirked a little as she remembered the special dispensation and psych evaluation the couple had had to undergo to be assigned together as partners.
The look on Milliardo's face when Une asked if they'd needed it had been worth the troubling paperwork.
AC 197 - June
Catherine got married in June, of course. That was when it had to be done because otherwise, she'd have deviated from her fantasies. Actually, she and Timmothy chose June for all the traditional history and the fact that neither of their birthdays was anywhere close. Both were rather concerned with birthdays and they liked to throw parties on as many occasions as they could, provided such occasions were relatively evenly spaced within the year. They were nearly six months apart themselves.
In any case, the wedding was held on the sixteenth because it was open, most of their invited guests could make it, and Catherine absolutely refused the fifteenth. The service was lovely, Catherine strode through in a beautiful, if somewhat short dress with a detachable train that hung yards behind her, and when Timmothy started crying half way through his vows, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
Well, rather, there were six dry eyes which belonged to Heero, Wufei, and Trowa respectively. The former two sat stoically with a sobbing Quatre and Duo, all four dressed in a range of suits and colors. The last, however, had not been seen by a single person there. Trowa had never RSVP'd and still hadn't decided whether or not he was okay with the whole thing. He'd not spoken to Catherine since he left the circus six months ago, feigning sick anytime she called. Quatre had gone along with it for the most part and when he didn't, Trowa simply left without saying anything.
There were cheers and hollers with the kiss. Trowa watched it from his perch in the rafters. He'd crawled up there before things started and remained unnoticed since. It wasn't comfortable but that hadn't made him move. The newlyweds walked down the isle together, laughing and crying while family and friends cheered and threw confetti and rose petals at them. Trowa finally climbed down from the ceiling amongst the chaos and watched Timmothy open the door to his car for Catherine before getting in himself. The car drove off and things died down as the crowd disbursed to go meet up at the reception.
Heero and Duo headed off almost immediately to follow the crowd, but Wufei lingered a little to talk to Sally. They left soon enough but Quatre stayed until everyone had gone. Finally, he turned and looked straight at Trowa and the taller pilot knew immediately that the blonde had known he was there the entire time.
"That was very rude of you, Trowa," he said quietly. Trowa stuck his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans. He hadn't even dressed up. "She wanted you to give her away, you know."
Trowa looked off. He didn't know what to say.
Quatre narrowed his eyes. "You are going to the reception. I brought a tux for you. Change in the car."
There wasn't a fight. Trowa changed and the two went to the reception. As soon as Cathy saw him, she threw her arms around him, crying, and told him how happy she was that he had come. Trowa ended up having to go to the men's room to keep her from seeing him cry.
Later, he denied his reddened eyes and Quatre backed him up. When they got home, however, Quatre sat him down and made Trowa finally talk about his possessive feelings until satisfied that the taller teen was on the road to conquering them.