Title: Here We Go Again
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairing: Trowa/Quatre, others may be implied.
Word count: 3,766
Warnings: Slash, angst, language, plot contrivances*, possible liberties with canon based on faulty memory
*Let's just say that I think this would have qualified for the 2011 (or was it 2010?) Moments of Rapture contest, "everything old is new again".
Notes: I heard the song Here We Go Again by Demi Levato many times on the Radio Disney CD, and it eventually spawned a fic idea. The more I listened to it, the more I pictured the protagonists just had to be Trowa and Quatre. While lyrics from the song precede each chapter, this is not a song fic, nor will the chapter content be forced to fit the lyrics exactly.
I throw all of your stuff away
Then I clear you out of my head
I tear you out of my heart
And ignore all your messages...
Trowa opened the door to his new studio apartment. The inside was as he remembered - sparse, clean, and best of all, familiar. He set down his olive green duffel bag and sat on the floor next to it. Although he was past the stage of worrying that someone would sneak up on him, the feel of the wall against his back was reassuring. As the saying went, today was the first day of the rest of his life, and it was good to be home. And it was home, because it was his - for four hundred credits a month.
There were dust motes in the air, he noticed. He'd never seen any at his last place of residence, but both the furniture and the decor were to blame for that. He hadn't needed the opulence. More than one argument had involved Trowa reminding Quatre that he didn't belong there. He hadn't realized how much it bothered him until their last fight, when he'd finally blurted out what he and everyone else, save Quatre, thought.
I'm a kept man. Your boy toy, and you're too blind - too naive - to see it.
It was just one of many reasons why the relationship failed, but Trowa had always known it was doomed, right from the very start. It was why he'd fought so hard against it, but memories of Heero droning on about following his emotions, combined with Quatre's quiet persistence, had worn him down. It wasn't his friends' fault; Trowa blamed no one but himself. It was his own fault for wanting to believe in a fairy tale, at least for a little while. He'd postponed it long enough, though.
"What are you-" Quatre stopped abruptly and looked around the room. His gaze finally settled on the overstuffed bag on the floor next to the bed. "I see."
Trowa realized that he'd known all along that Quatre would see. For someone with no tactical training, Quatre was brilliant when it came to looking at a situation and evaluating it. Heero had known it, too, or he'd have never trusted Quat with the Zero System. He hoped that would make this encounter easier; he hadn't wanted an emotional scene
"I wouldn't have left without saying good-bye." He meant it. He would never sneak out like a thief in the night; he owed Quatre at least that much.
He thought he detected the tightening of a muscle in Quatre's jaw. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. The clock in this room was electric and their watches were digital, but Trowa would swear he could still hear a steady tick-tock somewhere in the background.
"Well," Quatre said finally.
Trowa frowned slightly. He'd not wanted a scene, but he'd expected more of a reaction than this. He hadn't wanted Quatre to try to change his mind, because this had been a long time in coming. This wasn't what he wanted. Except it was. He owed Quatre more than a simple good-bye. Quatre would understand. He was that kind of person. The least Trowa could do was give him the courtesy of a breakup speech. It was too bad he hadn't prepared one ahead of time.
"It's not anything you did, Quatre," Trowa began. "It's..."
Quatre held up his hand to halt any attempt at an explanation.
"I know," he said quietly. "It's not me, it's you."
Trowa's frown deepened. Hearing Quatre say it made him feel that Quat agreed with him. Which was what he'd wanted, kind of.
Quatre swallowed. "I think it best that neither of us say anything right now. We might say something we'll regret later." His expression softened, and his eyes looked suspiciously bright. Trowa felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. The look on Quatre's face was exactly what he'd hoped to avoid.
"I'll call you later," Quatre said, and he turned to leave the room.
No, this wasn't what he'd wanted.
"Quat," he repeated, and Quatre stopped in his tracks. "Don't. Don't call me. It will just make it harder for both of us."
"I see," Quatre said again, before walking out of the room and out of Trowa's life.
Trowa sighed. He'd gotten what he wanted, all things considered. A clean break, a fresh start. A chance to discover who he was after the war, without the expectations of others directing his future. He'd seen what happened to Heero after the war. He'd been expected to stay with Relena. He was expected to be a hero and a role model, both of which clearly made him uncomfortable. Trowa vowed that he would not suffer the same fate.
It hurt, but he'd expected it to. If nothing else, it validated his emotions.
A faint breeze came through the bathroom window, which had been left open to air out the apartment. The dust motes swirled around quickly, then settled once more, the disturbance in their past. It was just like life. Things came along to disrupt the pattern, but they always returned to the way they'd been. The dust motes continued their dance. In his head, Trowa played a simple melody to match the slow movements. He sat that way, watching unblinkingly, until his eyes began to feel like sandpaper. He blinked a few times and turned his head from side to side to work out the kink in his neck.
His cell phone chimed once. Trowa reached into his breast pocket to retrieve it. Without looking at it, he deleted the message. It might not have been from Quatre, but he doubted it.
He opened the duffel bag and shoved the phone deep inside, beneath the few articles of clothing he had brought with him, and drew the strings of the bag taut. He heard a car drive past the apartment, at least a decade old from the sound of it, and then there was silence, except for the melody in his head. He resumed watching the dust motes until his eyes grew heavy. For the first time in 36 hours, he slept.
It was dark out when he woke up and he could hear a cricket somewhere in the apartment. The kink in his neck was now a dull ache, but it was a small price to pay. The pain gave him something to focus on, as did the pins and needles in his extremities when he got to his feet. It reminded him of the days when he'd slept on a thin blanket on the hard ground, when he'd needed to rely on himself as much as the other mercenaries he traveled with. It was part of who he was. Everything from this point on was what would determine the man he would become.
He was no longer a soldier, but he wasn't a hero. Maybe he hadn't really been a rich man's sexual pastime, but he'd never really been a boyfriend either. They'd needed each other for a time - Trowa knew about that from the mercenaries - but that time had been very brief. The sex had been good; better than good, and he blamed his sexual urges for delaying the inevitable as long as he had. Quatre had been eager to please and adventurous and the way he looked at the moment of climax was the hottest fucking thing Trowa had ever seen, but it was still just sex.
Trowa yanked open the button on his fly. The memory of Quat sprawled on the bed, slick with sweat and gasping for air as he came, was still a little too fresh in Trowa's memory and now he was aroused. He took care of it the same way he'd done in secret in the past, and as soon as he was done, his stomach growled, reminding him that he'd last eaten sometime yesterday. He stumbled to the bathroom, washed his hands in the dark and wrinkled his nose at the musty smell. It was no wonder the window had been left open.
It was just a few steps to the door, which meant the light switch was there, too. The bulb in the overhead fixture hummed as he walked back to his knapsack, and he rummaged through it for the tin of sardines and loaf of bread he'd picked up on his way home. There was no point heading toward the corner of the room where the hot plate and cubic refrigerator were located. It wasn't the kitchenette that the listing had described, but it was still more than Trowa was used to. He didn't count the last year of his life; he'd never grown used to the comfort and luxury of Quatre's mansion or the servants.
His supper was lacking. The sardines dripped oil all over his chin and shirt, and the bread was bland and doughy. It was what he'd wanted, though, this sort of simplicity. There had been a time when he'd have considered this sort of meal delicious beyond compare. He wiped the back of his hand across his chin and dunked the spongy slice of bread in the tin again.
He chewed, swallowed, and managed not to grimace.
When he was done eating, he walked to the sink in the kitchenette and ran the faucet. The water was clear and there was no foul odor, so he tipped his head to the side and drank from the tap, ignoring the metallic taste, until his thirst was quenched.
He just had to allow himself a little more time than he'd expected. It was his own fault; he'd become too accustomed to Quatre's world, to being little more than a pretty adornment for a boyishly handsome young executive.
Resentment flared, and he sat back down against the wall. He never should have let it go on as long as he had. Tomorrow, he told himself. Tomorrow he'd visit the thrift shop for something that would fit in the apartment. Something simple and serviceable. The apartment was still more luxurious than anything he'd had before the war, and the neighborhood was, for the most part, quiet.
There was a slight popping sound as the overhead light winked out, and Trowa kicked his bag to the side, punching it a few times to move the clothes around. He laid his head on the makeshift pillow and sighed.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the first day of the rest of his life.
He groaned when he got up. Sleeping on the floor after months of down feather beds and more pillows than a man needed took some getting used to. The smell of sardines, only mildly pungent the night before, was now almost cloying. Trowa pulled up the hem of his shirt, wrinkled his nose in disgust, and pulled it over his head.
One of his legs crumpled beneath him as the pins and needles returned, and he placed both palms against the wall as he shook out the offending foot. He eighteen, not eighty, and there was a lot he needed to get done today before it got dark, but he took the time for a downward facing dog, a half lord of the fishes, and a triangle pose before heading for the shower.
The hot water didn't run out until he'd nearly finished rinsing, indicating he had to limit his showers to seven minutes. He made a mental note to add shampoo to his shopping list, along with toilet paper, sponges, and a few plates. He'd find most of what he needed at the dollar store, He was sure he'd driven past one yesterday.
He found his cell phone at the bottom of his bag while searching for clean clothes, and he scrolled through the calls that had come in, deleting each of them off the call log. He was relieved to see there was no new voice mail, but sometime during the night he'd received two text messages. He deleted them both without reading them, but because he was paying more attention to his phone than to where he was walking, he tripped over one of his shoes.
He pinched the bridge of his nose. If anyone at the circus could see him now, they'd never let him anywhere near a high wire.
He looked around the small room, determining what would fit and what would be most versatile. He wanted a return to simpler times, but he wasn't about to martyr himself out of rebellion against the luxury that had suffocated him for the past year. A coffee table, maybe one with drawers or a movable top. An armchair, preferably a recliner, where he could sit to eat, read, and use for sleeping if the floor proved to uncomfortable. He glanced up. Light bulbs. He definitely didn't want to forget light bulbs.
He walked around the apartment a few times, creating a list in his cell phone that he added to each time he went in and out of the bathroom. It was going to have to do, because he could only stare at the blank walls and bare carpet so many times.
At least he had a flat bed pickup truck. It was going to make it a lot easier if he could get it all in one trip.
He did, too, and he brought the flimsy plastic bags filled with cleaning supplies and cheap linens up the flight of stairs to the apartment. He dumped them all on the counter next to the hot plate and went back down for the coffee table.
That was when he realized he'd been prematurely proud of his success. He stared at the coffee table and armchair, then at the entrance to the apartment. This was a two man job, definitely, but there was no way in hell he would call Quatre. Duo was out as well - too far away - but he was sure Heero would be able to swing by before it got dark, and he still had the ex-pilot's number in his list of contacts. He crossed the fingers of one hand when the phone began to ring.
Trowa breathed a sigh of relief and uncrossed his fingers. "Heero, it's Trowa."
"Barton," Heero acknowledged.
"Hey. Listen, I'm really sorry to bother you, especially on such short notice, but-"
"What do you need?"
For a guy who could talk your ear off when he wanted, he could also be brutally short and to the point. Which was just fine with Trowa, because the sooner he settled in, the better.
"I need some muscle."
"The Maganacs aren't enough for you?"
Trowa could picture the expression on Heero's face, bushy eyebrows raised, look of barely contained tolerance.
"Yeah, well, see-"
Heero either did see or just didn't care, because he cut him off again. "I'm tied up with Relena until this weekend. Can it wait until then?"
Trowa eyed the furniture in the bed of his truck and frowned. If he had to, he could, but it would be just as easy to pay a neighborhood kid to help him haul it up the steps.
Heero obviously took his silence for disagreement. "Call Chang. I'm sure his partner would be happy to let you have him for an hour or two." He paused, then added, "You still have his number."
Whether Heero meant that as a reference to himself or to Quatre, Trowa wasn't sure, but the idea of getting Wufei to help him wasn't a terrible one. It was just that he'd never really grown comfortable with Wufei, especially after that whole Mariemeia thing.
A loud screech came over the phone, causing Trowa to wince in pain. Wherever Heero was, he was close to something that was interfering with the signal on his phone. Trowa caught only snatches of what Heero was saying but couldn't hear any actual words. Finally he gave up and disconnected the call, raking his fingers through his hair in frustration.
He took a deep breath. This was what he wanted, though. Independence. For that, he was going to need an infinite supply of patience. He could do this. He'd worked undercover. He'd worked with gaining the trust of the circus animals.
If Heero thought Wufei would be able to help him, there was no reason why he shouldn't at least call to ask him.
He located Wufei's number and dialed.
Two hours later, the coffee table and the recliner were both in the apartment, in the far corner where it left more open space in the middle for Trowa to do his morning yoga. Already it was beginning to look a lot more like home.
"Thanks, Wufei," he said, turning to his friend. "You saved me a lot of time. I owe you."
Wufei was looking around the apartment, too, but there was no telling what he thought of the place.
"The least I could do is offer you a cup of coffee," Trowa said, gesturing toward the hot plate. He probably didn't imagine the slight wrinkling of Wufei's nose.
"I have to get back to work."
Trowa nodded. "Right. I appreciate your coming over on such short notice to help me get that stuff up here. Please let Sally know I appreciate her covering for you, too."
A small wrinkle formed between Wufei's eyebrows. "I will tell her again anyway."
Trowa smiled at him then. "OK. Would you like a cup of coffee for the road? Maybe one for Sally?"
Wufei was backing up toward the door now. "You owe us nothing." He gave a pointed look at the pile of plastic bags in the kitchenette area. "And I would not like to keep you from your work."
Trowa followed him to the door and watched him walk down the hall, raising his hand in a gesture of farewell. He wasn't sure what to make of all that, but he couldn't argue. Wufei was right. He still had things to do, and if he finished early enough, he was going to walk down to the corner deli for the biggest sandwich they had on the menu, because he was starving.
Heero looked around the apartment appraisingly, and Trowa held his breath, waiting for a reaction, any reaction.
"One door in and out," he observed, "And one window." The bathroom window wasn't large enough for a cat to get in and out, let alone a person. Trowa got the impression that Heero approved, but not for the reasons he'd hoped.
"I noticed that," he lied. "But besides that," he gestured around. The What do you think? remained unasked.
Heero stared at him, that weird, intense stare he was so good at. It was worse than the thoughtful look Quatre would give him, although both men had a way of making him feel as if they could read his mind.
"I think you need to prove something to yourself."
Trowa gave a short bark of laughter.
"I'm that obvious?"
Heero shook his head slowly. "No. Not too everyone." It looked like he wasn't going to say anymore, then he shrugged one shoulder. "Let's just say I understand."
It was probably none of his business, but now Heero had him curious. "So then, you and Relena?"
"I would die for her," Heero said fiercely. "Do not mistake my loyalty. I love her."
As tempting as it was to nudge Heero along or to attempt to finish the train of thought, Trowa wisely chose to remain silent.
"I am not in love with Relena. I'm not enamored of my job, but I owe her."
The temptation was too great, now, and Trowa was feeling reckless.
"So you two never, you know."
Heero bestowed him with a glare so icy, Trowa could feel the hairs on his arms stand up straight.
"I would never lay these hands on her in that way."
It didn't exactly tell him if Heero lusted after Relena from afar, but there was nothing in his voice that suggested anything of a more personal nature to their relationship. He should have known that Heero wasn't going to take the intrusions into his personal life without retaliation, however.
"I never touched her!" Trowa was outraged that Heero could accuse him of any such thing, then he realized belatedly exactly what Heero was saying. He could still try to bluster through it.
"I'm not talking about Relena, and you know it."
"That's none of your business!"
Now that Trowa was the one in the hot seat, Heero leaned his shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms. He was enjoying it, the bastard.
"No more than my relationship with Relena is yours. The only difference is that while everyone thinks I might be sleeping with her, no one dares bring it up. You, on the other hand," Heero shrugged that same shoulder again. "Everyone knows that you and Quatre were fucking each other senseless for months, if not years."
Trowa slammed his hand against the wall. "Leave Quatre out of this, Heero, or I will punch your smug little face."
That seemed to amuse Heero.
"I'd like to see you try."
He did, and Heero, predictably, blocked him and shoved him backwards. They circled each other a few times, Trowa throwing punches like he meant it and Heero doing no more than deflecting every one, with no attempt to strike him.
Trowa finally threw his hands in the air in defeat. "Fine! Believe what you want. Just leave Quatre out of your sick little fantasies."
"Quatre has never played a part in my fantasies." He gestured between the two of them. "Let me know if this worked."
"What do you mean?"
Heero was smart enough to wait until he was in the doorway to deliver his parting shot.
"If spending all your energy on a losing fist fight keeps you from jerking off tonight."
Heero slammed the door in Trowa's face. Trowa yanked it open and yelled after him, "You're an asshole, Yuy!"
He would swear Heero flipped him the bird before the door to the stairwell swung shut behind him.
Heero was an asshole all right. His sex life with Quatre was their own personal business and Heero was just trying to get him angry, to get back at him for any accidental insults he'd levied at Relena. Just because he'd had one last pud pulling session yesterday while thinking of Quat didn't mean he was going to indulge in that kind of thing again. Last night had been the bridge between his past and his future.
The shower he took before going to bed lasted thirteen and a half minutes.