Warnings: Huge angst, brooding, language. Trapezes. Trowa being very, very male :P
by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 17

"I'll get a ride from Catherine. Don't worry about it," I tell him, turning away. I need some time to myself. Please Duo, don't remember that Catherine doesn't have a car.

I can walk. I don't mind walking. I don't want people hovering around me.

"Use a net!" he shouts after me.

I tense at that irritating instruction. I'm not using a net. I wish people would stop advising me to.

He's trying to get a rise out of me. That's Duo's tactic - if someone's not speaking to you, irritate them until they do.

It isn't that I'm not speaking to him though. I didn't say much after we left Quatre's, but there's not really much to say, is there?

And after a day spent discussing how we're going to deal with intense public humiliation by countering it with overdone public melodrama, all I really want to do is go on the trapezes for a while.

I knock on Catherine's door to let her know that I'm coming in, but push the door open and let myself in before she answers.

"Can I get my stuff?" I ask, glancing at the couch where she's curled up under a throw, reading another of her sleazy romance novels.

"Nice to see you too, dearest of brothers," she says sweetly.

I hold back a sigh. "Hi, Catherine," I greet her as patiently as I can. "How are you? How was your day? Do you mind if I go into your room to get my practice clothes or should we have tea first?"

"Well, you're in a bad mood, aren't you?" she clucks disapprovingly, frowning at me.

I sigh. "Yes," I admit, "yes, I am in a bad mood."

"Well, get to the tent then," she orders, waving her hand at me. "Don't drip gloom on me."

I don't respond to that one, but head for her room.

"Your clothes aren't in my room," she calls after me. "They're still in the bathroom. I didn't have time to wash them."

I turn and frown at her. "So they're still dirty?" I ask. I guess I sound less than pleased about that because she scowls at me.

"Sorry that I haven't done your laundry overnight," she apologizes insincerely. "I'll be sure to schedule in a daily trip to the Laundromat so that your practice clothes are always pristine," she assures me sarcastically

I smile at her, surprising myself. "Be sure you do," I tell her mildly, closing myself into the tiny bathroom, smiling over the sounds of exaggerated outrage from the other room. Catherine always makes me feel better.

I pull the clothes out of the hamper and put them on, wrinkling my nose at the smell. Oh well. I'm just going to get them dirty again anyway. I glance at the tag of the shirt before I put it on, tugging it down and tucking it into my pants.

"I would swear that you shrunk it," I tell Catherine as I emerge back into the main room. "It says it's an extra-large."

She shakes her head at me. "Daiquiris," she says meaningfully. "Coladas. All those empty calories... "

I snort, interrupting her. I know she shrank it. I steal another bottle of water out of her fridge. "See you in a few," I tell her, heading for the door.

"Are you going to tell me what's bothering you first?" she asks quietly.

I stop. "The divorce is looking ugly," I say finally, reluctantly, turning to face her. "We had meetings about it all day." I don't really want to discuss the Preventers issue with her. I don't really want to think about the Preventers issue.

"So, what's going on?" she presses.

I sigh. "I'll tell you about it later, ok? I just got out of meetings with Quatre, I really want to go work on my routine."

"You can buy me dinner later," she suggests brightly.

I turn and smile at her. "If you want to walk somewhere," I offer. "Duo and Heero dropped me off, so... "

She gasps. "How are you going to get home? It's not exactly around the block. Damn it, Trowa... "

"Shush," I tell her in exasperation. "I told them to drop me off. I'll walk home. It isn't that far."

She huffs in disbelief. "Really, Trowa... " she begins. She's working herself right up.

"Later," I tell her firmly. She scowls at me but subsides, and I let myself out.

It's raining. Great.

I sprint through the living area to the big tent. Just like yesterday, it's deserted at this hour, on a weekday in the off season. I choose the center ring with the five trapezes again, quickly climb the rope ladder, do a few runs across the tightrope, then lower myself onto the trapezes.

I immediately start a series of rapid transfers, crossing back and forward and back again, not pausing, trying to work off some of my frustration.

I don't like this. I don't like any of this.

I don't like telling Dufasion the details of my life.

I don't like the idea of memorizing responses to questions that might be asked of us in court.

I don't like being expected to share the most intimate details of my life with the world.

I don't like formal balls.

And I don't want to be a Preventer!

I move faster and faster through the simple, basic routine. Instead of loosening me up like it usually does, I feel tenser.

Probably, I'm behaving like a petulant child. So what if I don't like what's going on? Too bad, right?

I stop briefly, hanging by knees from the first trapeze, swinging while I catch my breath.

I'm not unreasonable. I can see why we have to get through this divorce. I want it done as much as anyone else does.

I resume the routine again, adding a full vertical rotation on the fourth and eighth transfers.

I can even absorb all the lawyers, the double talk, the strategy, the games. I can deal with the testimony, the personal questions, the sneering, the attempts to turn what Duo and Heero and I share into something ugly.

I can deal with that. Really.

But adding the fucking Preventers to the whole mess at the same damn time is piling it on a little thick.

It never rains but it pours, an adage nicely illustrated by the furious pounding of the rain on the canvas roof above me.

Why do we always have to be the ones to fix everything?

Because we're the only ones who can.

That's always the answer, the pert response, the reason we can't argue with.

But you know what? I bet if all five of us disappeared, or died, or made ourselves otherwise unavailable the world would keep on going.

Someone else would step up, or whatever needed fixing might just take a little bit longer to fix, or people would finally just realize that they have to take care of their own damn messes.

Noone in the world is irreplaceable.

Even us.

I move across the ring, high above the ground, again and again, trying to find the pattern.

Everyone is expendable.

Yeah, but try telling us that. I increase the rotation on four and eight to a double rotation. Noone can end the war but us. Noone can fight the Bartons but us. Noone else knows how to fight Gundams but us. The World Council won't listen to anyone but us.

Good thing we're so damn special.

I add a single rotation on two.

So let's go to parties and proclaim ourselves Preventers.

My heartbeat, already accelerated, increases even more from the rush of endorphins that slams through my system at that thought.

I am not a Preventer!

I have a job I like, that I enjoy, that I want to stay in.

So it isn't high prestige. I like it.

I don't want to run around the galaxy policing every asshole with a power complex.

You can think about it, Quatre says.

Mighty big of him, there.

We'll be at the party, Heero tells him.

I growl aloud. Sign us all up, why don't you, Heero? Don't bother to discuss it with anyone, or anything. His Highness the Prince Consort will make decisions for his entourage.

I add a single rotation on six.

Maybe that's not fair.

He didn't commit us to the Preventers, just to the party.

The party isn't really that big a deal. Except that I loathe big formal events like that. I never know what to say to people.

But I can see why putting in an appearance there might be a good plan.

But I would have liked to have a say in whether or not we're going.

I'd like to be told before the fact that I'm being subpoenaed to speak in court.

It might be nice to be let in on a few of these details from time to time.

I increase the pace of the routine by fifteen percent.

I need to be fair. Yesterday I was upset because he was too unsure, and because he didn't want me to testify. Today I'm... well, I'm angry! I'm angry at him because he was too abrupt in making decisions and committed me to a course of action without asking me.

What do I want from him, really?

I increase the rotation on four to a triple rotation.

I ignore the tingling in my forearms and strive to ensure that each transition in smooth.

Maybe I want him to pick a tactic and stick to it. I want... I want him to be the Heero I knew before. The one who weighed all options, got necessary input, analyzed the data and made the decision. Maybe I still wouldn't like whatever decisions he made, but at least I'd know there was a process to making them, not just the Yuy whim of the hour.

But he is doing what he has to - what he feels he needs to do.

He's making decisions the way he needs to make them.

Who the hell am I to criticize?

I just need to connect with this new... Heero.

I have to figure out what he's doing, and find my place in it.

I move through the triple on four again, and again my arms protest. Maybe I should decrease that back to a double.

I transfer to five, then to the double on six.

As I let go of six, as I'm flying through the air, I remember.

Six was a single.

Not a double.

Seven isn't going to be where it's supposed to be.

I stretch my legs, reaching out to grasp the bar with my knees...

And it brushes against my ankles and is gone.

I lost it.

I lost the pattern.

A shout tears itself from my throat as I hurtle down, down toward the floor of the tent.

Where there's no net.

Because I don't need one.

This is a stupid way to get killed.

I'm not fucking getting killed falling off a trapeze!

I push myself through the air, somersaulting against the force of the rushing wind until I'm upright.

Just in time. I land on my feet.

Damn. I'm good.

My period of self-congratulation is short. I land on my feet, but don't roll with the movement. I stupidly lock my knees, and one bends backward painfully. I feel something crack, and shout again, still swaying with the force of the landing as I quickly shift my weight off my injured leg.

Suddenly I'm furious.

"Damn it!" I bellow at the top of my lungs. "Fucking stupid bullshit... !"

"TROWA!"

I turn, livid, as Duo and Heero, both deathly pale, burst into the tent.

"Trowa!" Duo runs toward me, Heero close behind. "Are you all right? Are you hurt? I heard you yell... what's the matter... ?"

"What are you doing here?" I shout, glaring at both of them.

Duo stops in his tracks, staring suspiciously at me. "We were waiting for you... "

"I told you to go home," I snap.

"It's raining," he says simply.

I swear again under my breath.

"What happened?" Heero demands, his voice hard.

"Nothing," I spit angrily, turning my back on them. When I put weight on it, though, pain from my injured knee shoots up and down my leg, and it gives out under me. I stumble, barely keeping myself from falling on my face. I swear again, loudly and viciously.

"Fuck it!" I yell. "Stupid, god-damned, mother fucking, piece of shit trapeze... !"

"Trowa!" Duo interrupts. He's next to me, grabbing my elbow to keep me steady. "What happened?"

"Nothing!" I yell, trying to shake him off. "Just go away, Duo. I'm fine. I... "

"Something happened," Heero observes from my other side.

"Nothing fucking happened!" I grind out between clenched teeth. I carefully try to put weight on my knee, and it buckles again. "Fuck it!" I shout.

"What's wrong?" Duo demands.

"Nothing!" I shout.

"What's happened?" he persists.

I test my knee. Still hurts. "Damn it!"

"Trowa... " he says warningly.

"I fell off the fucking trapeze!" I shout at the top of my lungs. "Ok? Happy now?"

"You fell off... " They both look up, and Heero blanches. "That's thirty feet," he tells me.

"No fucking kidding," I growl.

"How did you... "

"I landed on my feet. But I locked my knee. I sprained it. Ok? Satisfied?"

"I can't believe you fell," Duo tells me, frowning. "You never fall."

"Yeah, well, I should have had the net like you advised. You were right, you win, I'm a clumsy asshole who can't even manage his routines and... "

"Trowa." Duo grabs me by the shoulders, shaking me slightly. "Calm down. Calm down. It's all right. You're all right." He pauses, and his hands are no longer grasping me, but lightly stroking my arms, my back. "What happened, Tro? You've never fallen before. What happened?"

I stare at him, at his bewildered violet eyes. I turn to Heero, and see the same confused, hesitant puzzlement in his gaze. Duo's hands are still stroking my shoulders, and as I stand there silent, Heero's warm hand hesitantly moves to rest on my back. Suddenly, I'm no longer angry. I feel like... I feel like crying.

"I lost the pattern, Duo," I tell him, all the frustration and failure and disappointment I feel painfully apparent in my voice. I hate that! "I lost it. It was supposed to be a single and I made it a double and seven wasn't there... " I'm babbling. I can't seem to stop. "I tried to get in it, I really did, but I lost it, I lost the pattern, I lost the fucking pattern... "

"Shhh... " Duo moves closer to me, and then his arms are around me, and so are Heero's and we're all on the ground with my injured leg stretched carefully out in front of me.

"Trowa," Duo says after a several moments of silence. My head is resting against his chest, so I can feel the reverberations of his voice against my cheek. "I'm going to tell you something, and you might not agree, but you need to listen to me," he says firmly. I tense. Nothing good is ever prefaced like that.

"This isn't going to be as bad as you think," he assures me.

I move my head back and look up at him incredulously. How on earth does he figure that?

"I mean, I was thinking about all that stuff you said before... " He shakes his head. "Most of that stuff is inadmissible, Tro-chan. She can only really deal with stuff that happened during her and Heero's marriage, maybe during the year that they were engaged. Mostly though, we're operating between their wedding date and the date on the separation papers, which is the day the Gundam attacked. Everything else - New Edwards, the Eve Wars, even the last war - that's all out of bounds. Unless our lawyers completely suck, we're not going to have to answer questions about any of those things. They're irrelevant. And I doubt our lawyers suck," he finishes wryly. "Quatre would not pay good cash money for sucky lawyers."

I relax a little. "You think so?" I ask slowly.

Heero nods. "He's right." He sounds as surprised as I feel. "Why didn't we think of that before?" he demands. "Just because she might want to talk about all of that doesn't mean that she can."

"So there you go," Duo says cheerfully. "It probably won't be nearly as bad as we've been thinking it would be."

"And Quatre said it will probably move quickly," Heero adds, his thumb running over my fingers.

"Besides," Duo says, his hand running along my back, "We might not like having to talk about our relationship in court, but... at least there's a relationship to talk about, right?" He tilts my chin up and stares into my eyes. "We must keep perspective!" he lectures sternly. "We have endured worse than spinning lurid tales of our sexual frolickings for the pleasure of the open court."

I smile slightly at him. Some of my tension has dissipated, but I still feel stiff and strained. "I just... "

"I know," Heero says. I turn slightly so I can look at him. "But... geez, Tro, I'm damned if I'll let Relena cause so many problems between us. We can't give her the satisfaction."

I smile slightly. He's right. But... but what about the Preventers? The ball? The idea of our signing up? Our decision making processes? His indecision?

Well, he seems pretty decisive on this. Maybe it really was just Relena. Maybe now that we've put that problem in perspective, everything else really will take care of itself.

I force myself to smile wider, and nod. The smile comes more naturally when I see the look of relief in Heero's dark blue eyes and hear Duo's gratified laugh.

"All right, let's go get you checked out," Duo's says after a moment. He and Heero stand up, and carefully pull me to my feet. "X-rays for you, sir," he tells me firmly.

"It's just a sprain," I insist. "It needs an Ace bandage and some ice. I'm not going to get it X-rayed."

Duo groans. "You're a sucky patient, you know that?" he tells me, exasperated. "Just shut up. You're getting it X-rayed."

We continue bickering, Heero contributing to the argument from time to time, as they help me hobble out of the tent.

Maybe it will be all right.

Maybe it was all in my imagination.

I glance up as we leave the tent, at the middle trapeze, the one I fell from. It, and the one to its left, the one I was reaching for, are still swaying gently in the air high above us. And they're not swaying in tandem.

The pattern is still twisted.

[part 16] [part 18] [back to Shoori's fic]