AUTHOR: Amet (amet)
FANDOM: Gundam Wing
SUMMARY: Trowa thinks too much. Maybe it's the amnesia?
PAIRINGS: shades of 3x4x3
WARNINGS: Endless introspection, fatalism. It's Trowa.
SPOILERS: I guess if you haven't seen the series past mid-point you're going to be upset with me, but who hasn't?
ARCHIVED: Onion Girls
FEEDBACK: Yes please! ^.^
THANKS: To sephyelysian, for giving me an opinion while I typed this out. In pieces! ♥
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is totally unbetaed, so um, sorry if there are any glaring errors? I've got half of a sequel to this blocked out already wherein the boys actually interact for reals, so stay tuned. *goes to bed*
The Rest of Yesterday
" Everybody needs his memories.
They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door. "
Trowa's first clear memories are of the circus, the riotous colors of glitter-painted, beautifully costumed colleagues with their calculated smiles and their signature props—hoops, torches, scepters emblazoned with esoteric symbols—simulated grandeur in cheap sequins and spandex, oily body paints and dyed plumes. He walks canvas hallways with artfully dimmed lights, the better to hide the paint just beginning to peel from star-spangled murals lining bleacher backed walls, the dusty, peanut-riddled, straw covered floors in the main tents. He's memorized the sounds—the roar of the animals, the clatter of feet and hooves and props falling from overburdened hands, the bombastic voice of the ringmaster over the loudspeaker, the thunk of Catherine's knives into the corkboard. The smells too, the ever present haze of stale popcorn, sickly sweet animal waste and mud.
The circus is a spectacle, as the adverts say, the posters he and the other performers post in transport stations and on community boards in each new destination. A mask to hide the struggling, impoverished performers in its ranks, the animals with too-small living spaces, the horrors of the war that rages still on distant Earth that its patrons come looking to forget.
It is not real. Disturb the surface of it and the illusion shatters.
And with it, so does he.
He stands near the animal pens, ignoring the smell, cuddled close to the lions—his lions—for comfort, shoulders hunched and arms wrapped around himself for a long moment before he turns to look for a shovel. His days between performances are lazy, unstructured, spent looking for something to do with his hands before the shaking starts, the endless attempts at recognizing something from the great yawning chasm of Before. Some days it's harder, and he finds himself clinging to his animals, leeching a sense of tacit calm from the great cats, turned away from the horses and the lone, elderly zebra, the elephants and the ostriches. Prey animals make him nervous.
It is his custom to see to the lions' cage, carefully cleaning the area with a sense of reverence he knows the others would not understand or bother with, shaking off his colleagues and their insistence that, "Trowa, hijo, you don't have to do that," their nervousness at how little mind the mighty animals paid his intrusion upon their domain.
They call him hijo, son, more often than not these days, a subtle possessiveness that belies the hushed fear that creeps into their voices when they say his name. Hijo, as though he has belonged to the troupe his entire life, as if they need him to understand this fact, to believe in it, make it his own. In a way, Trowa wishes he could. It would certainly be simpler if he found himself in the place where he had always been, always belonged, but some central part of the boy he was knows the half-truths pressed so carefully to his skin, whispered in his ear, for what they are. Knows that there is something greater than this waiting for him to rediscover it, waiting for the yawning chasm of Before to fill him up, make him whole and sound and feel again.
He waits. Watching, always watching for any spark of recognition, for the truth behind the illusion to reveal itself.
And mucks out stalls, but it's as good a way to pass the time as any.
He does not turn at his sister's voice, concentrating instead on raking another swath of soiled straw from the cage, feeling the muscles of his shoulders tense and relax with the rhythm of the task. This is all he has—his body, a few scant routines still familiar enough to give him comfort, and the way his sister says his name. There's truth in the solicitous tones of her voice, the slight hesitance whenever she calls him by name, as though she would've thought better of letting him have it if she'd thought about it when he came back to himself. There's something about that name—Trowa—that rings false, as though he should know better than to answer to it, until it is said in that tone. His sister says his name like a benediction, with all her relief (and perhaps a little disbelief) that he is here and whole warming her voice, and in it he hears the faintest echoes of something stirring in the great yawning chasm of Before, another voice from another time.
If he could just put his finger on it...
"Trowa," Catherine says more firmly, stepping forward, "Look at me."
He pauses, looking over his shoulder through the shroud of heavy bangs, a concession to the quavering tone in her voice. He thinks this is where a normal teenager would sullenly inform her that he doesn't want to talk about it, but he has no mind to, silence saying it for him and with the added bonus of unnerving his sister enough that she might leave him in peace to escape it.
"Trowa," Catherine says again, eyes imploring, another step closer to his personal space, "We have to talk about this."
He lets the silence stretch for a long moment, then replies, "No."
'No we don't, because you sent him away and I'm angry, I'm lost, I don't know how to feel about this and I don't want to let you know how scared that makes me.'
He'd prompted her to, cowering so, watching a thousand emotions play across the other boy's—Duo's—face, friendly at first, then shifting to confusion and horror before shuttering off completely. He'd known that face, the impish smile, the violet eyes alight with some private joke, the long plait that should have seemed ridiculous but somehow Trowa had seen it and known that it was right. The boy stood out among the crowd of glittering reproductions, the artificially beautiful people of the troop, dusty and plain beneath a worn baseball cap and yet so vibrant and alive, really alive, joyous and desperate as he asked after someone and begged Trowa to tell him what he wanted to hear.
It was exhilarating, terrifying, a moment more real in its urgency than any other he could remember, the moment he'd been waiting for since he'd come to himself in Catherine's trailer scant months ago. The great yawning chasm of Before had opened to him—
—and then the moment passed.
He'd frozen. Shocked, scared, a thousand questions flitting through his mind and not one making it past his lips. Catherine had jumped forward to protect him, defend him, hold him fast, and he had let her.
With the tents falling around them, Duo hadn't had time to wait.
"This isn't over," Catherine insists, breath hitching, "He'll be back! Or one of the others—Trowa, you don't understand! I know these people—"
"What do you know?" Trowa demands, pivoting toward her, voice strained and icily quiet. "What do you know that I don't?"
She's quivering, fidgeting beneath the weight of his stare, seemingly unable to decide whether to reach out to him or back away. He should feel something—guilt or triumph, maybe both—for causing that discomfort. Should feel anything for the woman who has watched over him for as long as he can remember, but there is nothing but a faint, comforting familiarity and he knows, knows there is more to feel than this. Saw it in Duo's eyes before the boy had run to the fight, knew it in his heart when he thought of the gaping hole inside him and knew with an unbreakable certainty that it had once been filled, at least in part.
He hadn't considered that people from Before would one day wander back into his life, but perhaps that was what he had been waiting for all this time. Watching the crowds, waiting for someone to stand out and Duo—wasn't what he was waiting for, he thought, but Duo was close. Close enough to lead him somewhere better, to answer his questions and maybe then he would find some peace.
"I—" Catherine is stammering, and he takes pity on her, sighing.
"You know more than you're telling me, Cathy," he says, letting the nickname cut—he never uses it and she's always 'wished he would, they're not strangers, after all.' "You think I don't know, but I can see you all trying not to help me remember."
She doesn't deny it.
There's nothing he can do. He hopes she's right, that Duo isn't done with him despite his cowardice—and he's not used to thinking in those terms, knowing he's brave enough to launch himself from a trapeze nearly ten feet up without a net. That he'll get a second chance to look inside the Before and find himself again. He knows he won't get it by upsetting Catherine any more than she already is.
He goes back to his work.
He's maudlin today.
Catherine blames it on the rain, the climate vents in this small colony's upper dome opening full-force to simulate a rainy spring day, dark and foreboding. She turns away from it, flicking through the view screen until she comes to a news broadcast, settling in to watch. It's important, Cathy tells him, to sound informed. Not be informed, because the news these days is depressing, but polite conversation demands that one be able to keep up with current events.
He doesn't really get it.
He turns to the window, tracing rivulets of water as they run down the other side, resting his forehead against the cool glass. The sensation is muted against his hair as he stares outward, not really seeing beyond the movement of water—there's not much to see, anyway, trailers parked so close beside one another in the small lot that he can barely see the tents behind the giant advertisement painted along the side of the Vespuccis' parked beside them. He listens to Catherine's program, blaring over the din of water beating against the tin roof of the trailer, spitting out facts and figures, impersonal accounts of the far off war that still rages—largely on L4, these days, and that makes something inside him shift restlessly. There's not much detail. There never is, Feddie censors making it difficult for colonies to communicate with one another, afraid of the resistance but not so stupid as to stop the news altogether. They just water it down beyond all recognition and hope no one notices.
The thought just makes him sad, the weight of all those years of silence pressing in on him in the little trailer, their little world that suddenly seems so far away from the real world, from people who are suffering dying, and he's only barely aware...
"Trowa?" Catherine asks, close beside him and looking for all the world like she wants to reach out and take him into her arms when he whirls around, surprised at himself that he'd let her close without paying attention. "Trowa, what's wrong?"
He throws her a questioning look, shifting uncomfortably. The news drones on in the background as they stare at each other.
She wants to touch, but won't quite let herself. They're all like that here, wanting... something from him, afraid to take it. Comfort, perhaps, and he wonders why they think he has any to offer. Or perhaps to comfort, sadness in their eyes when they look at him, and with the rain pounding outside it's almost more than he can bear.
"Trowa," she says again, and he turns away, doesn't want to hear her chant the litany of his name any longer. It does nothing to stop the next concerned, "Trowa. You're crying."
He blinks reflexively at the words and finally registers the sensation of tears, a silent wetness running in rivulets over his cheeks. He wipes them away with the back of his hand, staring at the wetness there in wonder. "I..."
Catherine's eyes are wide and fearful, finally moving herself to place a comforting hand over the small of his back, rubbing circles there as he collects himself to speak.
"I—" Trowa shakes his head, tells her honestly, incredulously, "I have no idea."
Real inter-colonial news is a novelty, and so it is remarked upon in polite conversation as often as the weather, whenever possible. So it is that when Trowa collects himself to head out to the main tent for dress rehearsal, no less than three people tell him on the five minute sprint to the dressing rooms that Ephraim Winner is dead.
He has no idea who that is, but it hurts him deeply to hear, every time.
It's terrifying, what's happening to him. The momentum he's longed for is moving at a breakneck pace he hadn't expected, and when Quatre comes to him, he knows it's all over.
Quatre, who says his name like a benediction, like it's the only thing that matters in the world. Quatre, who is beautiful, more beautiful than Trowa could possibly have imagined, bright eyed beneath a messy mop of white-gold hair, concern radiating from boyish features as every muscle in his slight form strains with the effort not to throw himself forward. Concern radiates from his entire being, and Trowa feels it, overcome as Quatre's desperation brings tears to his eyes, his dismay as he realizes that Trowa doesn't know him, not really...
It's too much. Far too much, the world coming into sharp focus, every emotion he's been unable to feel ripping through him at once, a desperate, clawing pain that forces him to his knees.
He finds himself speechless, struck dumb by the intensity of the boy before him, the certainty that this is it. Still he does not know what to do, only that he is running out of time.
Before Trowa can collect himself, Catherine has sent him away.
He wants to rail at her, but the anger fades as relief sets in. It's slight, but he can think more clearly, reason through his options with more than base instinct. Quatre is still in pain, muted now as he makes his way elsewhere, but Trowa can feel it. Realizes abruptly that he's always felt it, distantly, the separation wearing heavily on them both.
It's time to go.