Trowa on a trapeze. Sibling interactions. Again, I am amused by my own humor ;)
by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 11

I rap sharply on the door of the small trailer, shifting my weight from foot to foot as I wait for my sister to answer the door.

I don't have to wait long. The door opens almost immediately, and Catherine is there, smiling at me, surprise and pleasure mingled in her blue-violet eyes.

"Trowa!" she greets me. "I didn't expect you here today. I thought you'd have lots of stuff to do... "

"Well, I'm not here to see you," I interrupt, softening the words by grinning at her. "I want to work on my routines. Do you still have my practice clothes here?"

"Of course," she replies. Her eyes narrow slightly as she looks into my face, but she doesn't say anything as she steps aside to let me in. "Same as always - the bottom drawer of my chest."

I murmur my thanks, let myself into her bedroom, and open the indicated drawer. There, in a neat pile, are my practice pants and shirt, and even a neatly folded pair of socks and my shoes. She is too organized to be real.

Of course, people say that about me, too.

I pick up the pile, and move into the miniscule bathroom to change. "Is the big tent open?" I call through the door as I change my clothes.

"It should be," she replies. "The Ringmaster was in there earlier with Greta and Marie, but I'm sure they're done by now."

I don the socks and pants, and lace up my shoes. Lastly, I don the green T-shirt, frowning as I pull it down. I flex my arms experimentally - it's definitely tighter than it should be.

"I think you shrunk my shirt," I complain as I step out of the bathroom, setting the towel I'd filched down on the kitchen counter.

Catherine looks up at me from her perch on the couch and frowns. "What do you mean?" she demands, sounding offended.

I lift my arms, twisting around to try to look behind me. "It's tight," I tell her. "I think you shrunk it."

Her eyes narrow as she surveys my form. "I don't think the shirt shrunk," she tells me meaningfully.

Now it's my turn to frown at her. "What are you saying, exactly?" I demand.

She grins, and stands up, sauntering closer to me. "I think you've had a Mai Tai or two too many in the past year, little brother," she drawls, poking me in the ribs.

I scowl. "You shrunk the shirt," I tell her flatly.

"You've put on weight," she counters sweetly.

"I did not!" I deny hotly.

"Did too," she counters. "Right... there," she concludes, poking me in the ribs again.

"No, I didn't!" I insist. I pull the hem down and lift my arms, peering down the length of my torso. "Did I?"

Catherine bursts out laughing and pats me on the shoulder. "Yeah you did, a little," she affirms, entirely too cheerfully. "It's ok, though - you were too thin. It looks good."

"Great," I grumble. "Now I definitely need to go practice." I retrieve my towel and open her refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of water.

"That's right, anorexia boy," Catherine taunts, pointedly not commenting on my petty larceny. "I can't count every rib. You're positively disgusting. Go get back in shape."

"Shut up," I mutter. "The big tent is open?"

"Probably," she tells me. "So, why the sudden drive to get back into the routine?"

I stifle a sigh. I must have been crazy to think I could do anything unchallenged.

"I'm way out of practice," I tell her, truthfully enough. "If I want to get back into the act anytime soon... "

"So you really plan to join back up?" she interrupts. She sounds pleased, but surprised.

I turn to look at her, and now I'm surprised. "Of course," I tell her, frowning. "Is that a problem? Has the Ringmaster replaced me in the... "

"Of course not," she interrupts. "Don't be silly."

"So why wouldn't I... "

"Well, you were away for a long time. I thought maybe you'd decided it was time to move on and try something... "

I sigh loudly, cutting her off. "Catherine, not this again," I appeal tiredly. "I've told you before... "

"It's just that we're really ok," she tells me earnestly. "You traveled with us through the tight years after the war, you got us this permanent location... You've pulled us out of more tight spots than we can ever pay back. I'm not going to lie and say we don't want you to stay - you're one of our biggest draws. But if you want to pursue something else... "

"Catherine, listen to me," I insert firmly. I pause for a moment, waiting until her eyes are fixed on my face. "I like working for the circus," I tell her. "I like working with the lions, I like the trapeze act, and I like doing the knife act with you. I enjoy doing it. That's why I do it. That's the only reason I do it. Ok?"

She stares into my eyes for a moment, then nods, smiling. "Ok," she agrees simply.

"Ok," I repeat. "Well." I'm silent for a moment. "I'll be in the big tent then," I state, turning away.

"Trowa!" Catherine calls.

I turn around, raising a brow at her.

"You didn't answer my other question," she reminds me.

"Which one was that, Catherine?" I prompt, allowing a touch of exasperation into my voice.

She smiles at me unrepentantly. I really think she enjoys irritating me. Sometimes, she's very like Duo. I should tell him that. It would drive him crazy.

"Why today?" she repeats.

I frown. "I told you, I'm out of practice and... "

She shakes her head firmly. "This is only your second day back," she points out. "You probably aren't even unpacked yet, which must be driving you up the wall."

I repress a grin. She does know me.

"So, why are you here, instead of unpacking?"

"I just want to go on the trapezes, Catherine," I say, knowing that this pathetic attempt at evading the question will be manifestly unsuccessful.

"Why?" she presses. "Did you fight with Duo? Or Heero?" She frowns, and crosses her arms over her chest, a sure sign that she's upset. "Did you have a fight? Are you upset? What's wrong, Trowa? Did... "

"Oh, for Pete's sake," I mutter. "I didn't have a fight with anyone. Stop working yourself up."

She stares at me in amazement, then laughs. I guess I don't usually say that kind of thing out loud.

"Why are you here, though?" she insists.

I sigh again. "Because the trapezes always calm me down," I reply. That's the whole truth. Well, most of it.

"I thought you said you didn't fight with anyone." She's frowning again. "Why do you... "

"I didn't."

"Then why... "

"Because I... "

"Who are you upset with, Trowa?" she interrupts loudly.

I roll my eyes. "Relena Peacecraft," I snap. "She's being a huge pain in the ass, and Heero's divorce from her is going to be very, very ugly. I am upset with her."

Catherine bites her lip, her eyes troubled. "Is she... "

"It'll be ok, Cathy," I tell her gently, employing the diminutive that I rarely use. "I'm just a little... annoyed. So I want to go on the trapezes."

She gazes at me for a moment, then nods hesitantly. "The big tent should be free," she says softly.

I nod, smile briefly at her, and turn again to leave.

"Trowa?" she calls after me again.

I hold my breath as I turn back to her so that I don't sigh again. "Yes?" I ask, as neutrally as possible.

"Use a net," she suggests. "It's been a long time since you've been up there."

For some reason, that rather insulting suggestion amuses me, and I feel calmer than I have since Catherine began her cross-examination. "I don't know why everyone keeps saying that," I complain. "Nets are for amateurs."

"Well, don't expect me to mop up the ring if you fall," she shouts as the door closes behind me.

Catherine was right - the big tent is empty. I carefully examine all three rings, and decide that the center ring, with five trapezes hanging at intervals, is best suited for my purposes.

I set my towel and the bottle of water down beside the hanging ladder, and carefully make my way to the tightrope stretched over the ring.

Quickly, without pausing to think about it, I step onto the rope. My specially made shoes help with traction, but if you stop to think about balance up there, you'll fall. You just have to walk right out onto it, feel the sway of the rope and the light movement of the air and move with - not against - those forces.

I cross the rope several times, allowing myself to acclimate to the feeling of being so high above the ground. The ground looks far away, and the rope is so narrow that I'm hardly aware it's there.

It's a little like piloting. But the rope is easy to imagine away, and there's no bulk of a mobile suit surrounding me, locking me away from air and breeze and ground. It's more like... like really flying. Like moving through the air, walking on the sky. It's what piloting should be, but isn't, quite. Almost.

I want to get to the trapezes. They're even better than the tightrope. Those seconds in the air, flying from one trapeze to the other... That's the closest I can ever get to being free.

This time, when I approach the landing at the end of the rope I don't turn around and go across again. I take hold of the nearest trapeze, and let myself swing out over the ring.

I just hold it and swing for a few minutes, reacclimating myself to the experience. I pump my legs to increase my velocity and close my eyes, relishing the feel of the air rushing across my face.

After a few minutes, I begin some simple transfers - hand grip to knee grip to hand grip to knee grip. I swing from trapeze to trapeze, not moving too fast, occasionally swinging back and forth a few times before making a transfer if I don't feel I'm in the right position. I'll be damned if I'm setting up a net, but everyone's right in that I am a bit out of practice.

Out of practice and fat, according to my sister.

She's great for my ego.

I begin to swing more quickly, making the transfers across the ring in quick succession. I pause at the end of the ring each time, swinging back and forth a few times, catching my breath.

As my body accustoms itself to the routine, my mind starts wandering.

Relena is asserting that Duo and I both began an affair with Heero a year before he left her. How can she say that? It's just a blatant lie.

I scowl, and make the four transfers in quick succession. This time I don't pause at the end, but go back the way I came, making the return four and stopping to swing where I began.

Heero subpoenaed me.

I make the four across and the four back, not hesitating at all at the turn.

He had to. I'm not mad at him.

Eight transfers. Four over, four back.

It would have been nice if he'd called and asked, or told us he was doing it, or something. He didn't have to present it fait accompli like that.

This time, I push up and hold myself in a handstand on the trapeze at the end of the ring after the fourth transfer, then rotate three times around the bar before making the return journey.

But the lawyer probably talked his way through the whole process, more telling Heero what he was doing than asking him what he wanted to do.

I repeat that routine again, counting in my head to try to time it exactly to the last set.

When did Heero get so timid in dealing with these sorts of people? He didn't used to be like this.

I scowl as I repeat the routine for a third time, increasing the pace by ten percent.

It's not his fault. He doesn't know how to deal with Relena like this, and he wants to minimize the impact on us.

Again.

None of us expected her to be quite this... aggressive.

I slow the pace back down, but add the handstand and the rotations on the second and sixth transfers as well as the fourth.

I swing for a few moments, catching my breath. It's harder with those additions - the trapezes are at a different place after every transfer, and I have to remember to compensate for that. If I loose track of the pattern, I'll fall.

We had a pattern on the island. It was a simple pattern. I understood it.

Over and back, rotations on two, four and six. I stop and swing.

We don't have a pattern here yet. I don't like that. I need to see the pattern.

Two, four, six, swing.

It's only been two days. It'll be unsettled for awhile. But when all of this with Relena and the Preventers is over, and I'm back with the circus and Heero's with the Preventers and Duo's doing whatever he decides to do, we'll find our pattern again.

I seem to have a grasp of this pattern. I increase the speed by twenty percent.

It'll be even better here than on the island. Quatre and Wufei are here. I hadn't let myself realize how much I missed them.

Again, I cross over and back, adjusting to the increase in speed.

But why is Heero so... hesitant?

I scowl, refusing to let my mind linger on that idea. I decrease the speed again, and add a handstand and rotation on the eight, omitting the period of rest. I repeat the pattern twice, three times, four.

I stop and swing.

That was good. I'd almost caught the pattern. I don't entirely have it yet, that's why I had to stop. But almost...

Why is he so... nervous?

No! I won't. It's just different. New.

I repeat the pattern again, three times, four, five.

I have to stop and swing. Damn!

It's fine. It will be fine. I won't let it be anything but fine.

I won't let it.

I will control it.

I will master the pattern.

I set out again, and this time it clicks. I know the pattern, I'm inside the pattern... I am the pattern. Again and again, across the ring, without pause, without stop... The pattern is ceaseless, it's never-ending and I know it and I'm in it and I fly up and around and over and through and we are one...

I don't know how long I'm immersed in my routine, but I'm slowly brought out of it by the awareness of a stinging sensation in my eyes. I slow down, and stop, hanging from the last trapeze.

The pattern is complete... for today.

I just hang there, not even swinging, panting heavily as I try to catch my breath. I'm suddenly aware of a myriad of fierce aches. Muscles that have been dormant for over a year are all protesting at once at being pushed so hard the first time out. I'm sweating and my heart is pounding and my chest aches and my arms and legs hurt and my muscles are screaming in pain.

I feel wonderful.

God, I've missed this.

As I finally start to catch my breath I swing slowly over to the ground wire, wrap one leg around it, grip it firmly and slide down. No way can I handle the ladder now.

My knees buckle as my feet touch the ground and I cling to the wire, using it to keep my balance until my legs strengthen enough to hold me.

I might have overdone it just a little bit.

After a moment I stumble over and grab the bottle of water, thirstily guzzling several swallows. Not too much, though - I don't want to throw up.

I've done enough of that today.

I squirt half the remaining liquid over my head, but instead of toweling it off as I usually do, I collapse to the floor of the ring, laying flat on my back as I regain my bearings.

I stare for a long time at the top point of the tent, so high above me. I shiver slightly as the cold water starts to evaporate off my heated skin. Some of the water has pooled on the earth floor beneath my neck. It's probably making mud.

That's great.

But I don't move to get out of the puddle of my own creation.

Even as I try to clear my mind, my thoughts keep stubbornly returning to the idea that I've tried so hard from concentrating on.

When did Heero become so indecisive?

He never used to be. He always told people the way things were going to be, then calmly went and made them that way, leaving whoever it was to try to adjust as best they could.

Why is he now so different?

Is it because of his time with Relena? Did she change him so much?

Or is it because of... what happened after he was with Duo the first time?

That first time was with Duo.

He regretted it later because of me.

He's been like this since the three of us became an 'Us.'

I don't know... I'm not sure if he was before.

Does he... does he really want me to be included in this relationship?

Or did he just want to be with Duo?

I've been telling myself that he's been so hesitant around me because of what happened during the war. He wasn't sure how to deal with that, or how to treat me to help me deal with it.

I thought.

Maybe that isn't it, though. Maybe he's so hesitant around me because... because he really doesn't want me there. And he feels bad for it, because it's what Duo wants and what I want.

Maybe he just doesn't know what to do with me because... because he doesn't want me.

I scowl, pushing the thought away as soon as I finally acknowledge it in my mind. That's ridiculous. Heero came to me the first time, told me...

Because he knew that's what Duo wanted, knew he couldn't have Duo unless he took me too...

I push myself up into a sitting position, groaning at the discomfort, then force myself to stand. I'm being stupid. We've all spent a damn year of our lives trying to convince each other we love each other. I'm not letting two days in the Sanc Kingdom destroy all that.

I'm not thinking about this any more.

I knock perfunctorily on Catherine's door before opening it and letting myself in. She glances up from the book she's reading as I enter.

"There's plenty of hot water, and a fresh bar of soap under the sink," she says. "Don't forget to hang your towels up when you're done," she reminds me as she returns her attention to her book.

I grunt noncommittally as I make my way painfully across the room.

"Overdid it, huh?" she comments not looking up from the page.

I snarl wordlessly over my shoulder at her as I reach the bathroom door.

"I hope you worked out all your issues," she calls brightly as I slam the door behind me.

Worked out all my issues. I turn the water on as hot as it will go, and step beneath the scalding stream.

Won't that just be the day.

[part 10] [part 12] [back to Shoori's fic]