I like this chapter :)  It makes me happy.  Anything with Trowa in it makes me happy, but this is a nice, warm, fuzzy one.

by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 7

I smile to myself, recalling the afternoon's conversation, as I pull the car that Quatre loaned me into my old parking spot at the circus. Heero's in a loaner from Quatre too. He assured us that we can just leave them, along with our car, in some of the parking spots in his row - his row! - at the apartment building. I wonder how long it'll take Duo and Heero to figure out that Quatre just gave us two cars.

I shake my head as I turn off the ignition and remove my seat belt. It should be bothering me more than it is, all of the generosity that Quatre is showing us. I've never been the type to just calmly take things from other people, and just because Quatre is rich doesn't mean that it's ok to impose on him. But I let him support me for a year, rent us an apartment, provide me with meals and transportation…

It just seems, since the war, silly to quibble over material objects. Quatre has them, so he shares them with us. If we had them, we'd give them to him. I'm sure that as I reacclimate to Sanc, I'll remember why I shouldn't impose. But for now, it was convenient to borrow the car.

I cross the parking lot, stepping carefully over cables and hoses as I make my way to Catherine's tiny trailer. I smile faintly as I knock on the door. I'm pleased that I'll be able to surprise her.

I feel a twinge of guilt. I haven't seen my ‘sister' since the day the Gundam attacked Earth. We left the planet for the war that same day, and after that was over we went straight to the island. I sent her a message through Quatre, but I should have done more. She deserves more.

I frown at the door as it remains closed. I knock again, but she still doesn't answer. She must be practicing. I turn, and make my way to the smaller practice tent.

I pass a few people I know on the way and stop, accepting their greetings, responding vaguely to their questions. Mostly they want to know where I've been since the war and whether or not I'm planning to rejoin the circus. I can't give a straight answer on the first question, and I'm not sure on the timeline for the second, so I probably come off as being unnecessarily mysterious. I do manage to discover, though, that Catherine is in fact in the practice tent.

I step inside the tent, squinting slightly through the dimness. It's not hard to find her - she and her partner are the only people in the tent. I feel a strange pain as I realize what she's practicing. It's the knife routine. Our routine. But someone else - some guy I've never seen before - is strapped to the backboard in my place.

I try to shrug it off. Throwing knives at someone isn't generally perceived to be a sign of affection, so why should she think that finding someone else to do the routine with would bother me? She hasn't replaced me; she just needed someone else to do the routi4ne with. It's a very popular part of the show. I couldn't expect that they would just drop it for over a year.

As I force myself to stop being ridiculous, I become aware of what Catherine is saying to her new partner. Actually, I become aware of her tone of voice first. She isn't talking to him - she's yelling at him.

"God, Davis, I didn't think it was possible, but you really are as stupid as you look," she accuses him loudly, her voice the slightest bit shrill. "I must have been on drugs when I agreed to try this with you."

Agreed to try this? Does that mean she hasn't been doing the routine regularly?

"The Ringmaster said…" the kid begins.

"I don't care. I've been telling him for over a year that I wouldn't do this routine with any of you idiots, and I mean it. You can't even manage it in training."

"Oh, come on, Cathy," the boy whines. "You gotta admit, it's a little unnerving to have someone throwing knives at you."

‘That doesn't mean you squish your eyes shut and hold your breath!" Cathy yells, throwing her arms wide in exasperation. "Ninety percent of this is presentation!"

Catherine is wearing her typical off-stage outfit of jeans and tight top, and as she throws her arms out, the material of the shirt strains across her chest. The kid's eye brightens, and he looks happier than he has since I came into the tent, his eyes fixed on her breasts. I scowl. No lowlife kid is looking at my sister like that.

"Should I demonstrate the proper technique?" I ask mildly, stepping forward out of the dimness from around the entry area.

Catherine stiffens at the sound of my voice, then whirls around to face me as I finish my question. Her eyes light up when she sees me, and before I can say anything more, she hurls herself at me with a delighted shout. I swear, her feet don't touch the ground once despite the twenty feet between us, before she's slamming against me, her arms around my neck, wrapping me in a fierce hug.

My arms go around her, instinctively, and I hug her back, holding her against me as I lift her off the ground. I set her back down and pull back a little, smiling down into her face as she looks up at me. I'm dismayed to see that her eyes are wet.

"Catherine? Are you ok?" I ask, nervously.

"Trowa," she whispers. She smiles, a bit tremulously. "I can't believe you're back! I've missed you so much."

I hug her again, more gently this time. "I'm sorry that I was gone so long," I tell her softly. "I should have gotten in touch with you, I just…"

"Quatre told me," she interrupts. "It's ok. I just…you're ok, Trowa? Really?"

I smile again, as I nod firmly. "I'm…great," I tell her simply, knowing that she'll discern all the layers of meaning in the words.

Her face lights up. "Really?" she demands.

I nod once.

She beams at me, burying her face in my chest as she hugs me tightly again. "That's wonderful!" she enthuses. "I'm so glad!"

I smile down at her again. "Good," I say, conscious of a strange feeling of…relief?

She frowns up at me. "Good?" she repeats. "You thought I wouldn't be glad?"

I shrug lamely, at a loss for words as I so often am with Catherine. Somehow, she always knows what I'm thinking, and she's sometimes rather disconcertingly direct about addressing my thoughts. "I…hoped you would be. Glad, I mean," I manage.

She grins. "Well, I've always liked Duo. Don't tell him that," she warns quickly. "And I know how much you love him, so I'm glad you worked that out. I admit I was surprised to hear about Heero…" She trails off, raising a brow at me, the Catherine Bloom version of a question.

"Me too," I admit, smiling at her.

She laughs, but her eyes are worried. "You're…ok…with that, right? It's something you want?"

I nod reassuringly. "Yes, Catherine," I tell her softly. "It's something I want…very much."

"Good!" she bounces back a little, surveying me from head to toe. Catherine never just moves - she flows or bounces or floats or dances - there's always a grace and lilt to all her movements. It's one of her greatest beauties.

"I've got to say though, Trowa, that this is very unfair," she lectures sternly, frowning at me.

I tilt my head to the side questioningly.

"You've got two gorgeous men, and I don't even have one! You're hogging more than your share."

"I don't know," I comment mildly, "Junior over there seems pretty interested."

With a huff of exasperation, she glances over her shoulder, where the boy is tugging ineffectually at the straps that hold his wrists in place. "Davis," she says disgustedly. "The Ringmaster's been bugging me for months about reinstituting the knife routine. I finally agreed to try a training session with Davis and see how it worked, just to shut him up." She shakes her head. "He closed his eyes and whimpered every time I threw a knife," she tells me, scorn apparent in her voice.

I smile slightly. "Want to show him how it's done?" I ask mildly.

She grins at me. "Sure thing!" she chirps. "I've been waiting months to throw knives at you."

I shake my head. "That kind of thing is why I avoid relationships with women," I tell her. Her surprised chuckle follows me as I cross the tent to the board.

I reach Davis, who is eyeing me with a mixture of suspicion and envy. I undo the straps on one wrist, and then the other. As he tries to move away, though, I grab a handful of his collar and use it to slam him back against the board. His head hits the board with a loud bang, and he yelps.

"Nice to meet you, Davis," I tell him in an even voice. "I'm Trowa."

"H...Hi," he stammers when I loosen my grip on his collar a little. "Dude, let go, you're chokin' me and…"

He stops with a gurgle when I tighten my hand in the cloth again. "Catherine is my sister. If I ever see you looking at any part of her body below her neck again, you'll be wishing that I only threw knives into you. Ok?"

I loosen my grip again, and he nods furiously.

"Trowa, let him go!" Catherine shouts behind me. "He's not the first person to ogle my chest and he won't be the last!"

I glare at her over my shoulder, and she grins unrepentantly back at me.

"Glad we've come to an understanding, Davis," I say as I let him go and he stumbles hurriedly away from me. "I look forward to working with you!" I shout after him.

"Are you finished?" Catherine calls, sounding exasperated again.

I turn and nod calmly at her, as I pull several knives out of the wood. I toss them to her one at a time, and she catches each one easily, each blade disappearing as soon as the handle meets her palm. I smile in silent tribute, and she nods, accepting my praise.

I place my back flat against the board. I affix the straps around one wrist, and, with the ease of long practice, use the fingers of my right hand to flick the straps into place around the right wrist.

I move my head until my skull is cradled evenly into the slight groove in the wood, move my feet shoulder distance apart, and lift my hands so the backs are resting against the wood.

Catherine flicks her wrist, and suddenly three knives appear in her hand. I stare steadily at her and she throws each in quick succession. Two thump into the wood beside my head, the other slides smoothly into the board beneath my left armpit.

She flourishes again, and this time three knives appear in her left hand. She doesn't usually throw left-handed. This time, the knives find their places beneath my right armpit, and to either side of my waist.

I stare steadily at her, not moving a muscle, not flickering an eyelash, not allowing any expression to appear on my face. She moves her hand more slowly, and I can see the knife as she slides it out of a specially fashioned pocket in her jeans. I smile faintly - it isn't often that I can see through her sleight of hand.

She scowls as she stares at me. Her eyes narrow calculatingly, and she stares into my eyes for a long minute. She throws the knife - and the blade slides over the top of my right shoulder, cutting an extremely narrow furrow through my shoulder as it thuds into the wood.

"Ouch!" I shout, jerking from the blade. It doesn't really hurt - it is the most glancing of flesh wounds - but it shocks me. Catherine has only missed once before, and it was a long time ago. "Christ, Catherine, what are you doing?"

With an expert twist I pop the strap on my left wrist, and use my left hand to undo the other. I pull aside the torn pieces of my ruined shirt, and examine the wound. It's barely even bleeding - she just nicked me. But Catherine never misses.

She approaches quietly, and I look up and scowl at her. She stares calmly back at me.

"You did that on purpose," I accuse.

She nods calmly.

I stare at her for a moment. "Why?" I ask finally, when she doesn't volunteer an explanation. I'm completely bewildered - why would she hit me on purpose?

"Do you remember the first time I hit you?" she asks.

I nod.

"Do you remember why I missed?"

I shrug my shoulders irritably. It had been some nonsense about the look in my eyes…

"You had this look in your eyes," she explains right on cue. "It was….like you didn't fear death at all. Like you welcomed it - wanted it even. It unnerved me so that I missed."

"And I had the same look today, and it annoyed you or something?" I demand, peevishly examining the hole in my shirt. No use. It's ruined.

"No," she disagrees, shaking her head. "It was absolutely the opposite. You smiled at me. Your eyes…you want to live."

"Jesus, Catherine." I turn my attention from the hole in my shirt and stare at her incredulously. "You knife me if I look like I want to die, you knife me if I look like I want to live…Make up your mind."

"And when I hit you, you got annoyed," she continued as if I hadn't spoken.

"I'll hit you with a knife and we'll see how much you like it…"

"And now you're being grumpy," she plows on. She stops and stares at me. She shakes her head slowly, tears gathering in her eyes even as she smiles at me. "Oh, Trowa…you're alive. Really, alive. Inside," she clarifies, patting herself over her heart to emphasize her point. "I'm so glad."

I stare at her for a moment, then sigh, shaking my head. "Next time you want to tell me I look good, just say so, ok, Catherine?"

She laughs, and nods her agreement. "Ok," she sighs exaggeratedly, rolling her eyes. "Since you're going to be a pain about it."

Suddenly, she reaches out, and rests her palm on my chest. "Bad things happened in the war, didn't they, Trowa?" she asks quietly.

I stiffen, turning my head from her penetrating blue-violet gaze. "What did Quatre tell you?" I ask, the words coming hard.

"Nothing, really," she says softly. "But it's pretty easy to tell when Quatre is upset."

I nod. She's right on that one. "War is always unpleasant," I tell her, aware that I'm not really answering her question.

She sighs. "You don't have to tell me what happened," she assures me. "I'm just…glad you're ok."

I breathe in deeply, and turn my head to look at her again. She looks worried - a lot more worried than when she hit me with the knife, I notice, and the thought amuses me. "I'm…glad to see you again," I tell her honestly. There was a time I thought I never would, and the thought had hurt me.

Her eyes tear up again. She always knows what I don't say. She throws herself into my arms again, hugging me tightly. "Welcome home, Trowa-kun," she whispers. "Welcome home."

[part 6] [part 8] [back to Shoori's fic]