"Memories of Pain"
Knowing Trowa had amnesia was one thing.
Seeing it first-hand was something altogether different.
Wufei stood with his arms crossed, his face a perfectly composed mask of arrogant indifference. His newly acquired partners were discussing battle tactics. He listened with half an ear, unconsciously storing away anything he deemed important or worthwhile, while he discreetly watched the silent clown from the corner of his eye.
Trowa didn't remember any of them. He didn't seem to remember anything solid about the war, the Gundams, or any kind of mission he might have once had as a pilot. Wufei had personally watched him fly one of Noin's mobile suits into battle, so it seemed that only the most harrowing of his memories had been wiped. No one could control a suit that skillfully on instinct alone.
He was still as chatty as ever-- which meant he only spoke when he thought he absolutely had to. He was slightly more opinionated than Wufei remembered; a little more willing to counter an idea or a plan. But his emotions were still stored behind a blank mask. Duo had said the other boy had shown plenty of emotion when he'd shown up to retrieve him that first time; it was only once he'd relented and joined them on the shuttle that the mask had made a reappearance. Wufei found himself wondering just how long Trowa must have been hiding behind the neutral persona if even amnesia couldn't rid him of his instinctive retreat behind it.
Heero didn't seem to be handling it any better than Wufei was. Not that he looked overly bothered or even said more than three words to Trowa; but he was treating the boy like he treated the others. Which basically meant he ignored him until his skills were needed. He hadn't even spoken to Wufei much since Trowa had appeared, seeming to become the cold-eyed, blunt soldier Wufei had first met. Wufei couldn't blame him and wasn't miffed; he wasn't in the mood for any strange feelings Heero might invoke in him. He was too busy mentally wrestling with the concept of having a Trowa around who wasn't really Trowa. Quatre seemed to be having a hard time handling it, too, though he was more obvious about it than any of the others. Duo, who had been happy as cake to have his little blond friend back, dropped reassuring words whenever Quatre was looking mournfully in Trowa's direction.
Wufei had it in his head to follow Heero's lead and treat Trowa with the same cool, distant attitude he treated the others to, but somehow he kept finding himself watching the other boy or dropping a random question out of the blue. He was careful to keep it mostly about warfare and tactics, but once a question concerning his memory slipped out. Trowa had been so obviously distraught internally at his inability to remember the people around him-- a sudden flash of agony in jungle green eyes set in a carefully emotionless face --that Wufei had dropped it and left to kick himself in the head for his thoughtlessness.
Quatre was a little less discreet, to put it mildly. Afterwards, Wufei was never quite sure if it was the Arabian's constant comments and questions or the attack against the colony Catherine was on that opened the door to Trowa's memory.
It happened abruptly and almost too subtly to notice. In fact, no one else recognized the change for awhile. Trowa had always been an enigma, always been an expert at schooling his expression and voice to reveal nothing. Heero would have picked up on it-- he knew Trowa best, perhaps, of all of them --but Heero was off fighting when it happened.
It was Wufei who was there when Trowa let it slip.
It was so minute, so unextraordinary a thing, that no one else in the ship would have noticed it.
Wufei strode down the hall towards what Sally called the Break Room-- a small room with a card table and a squat refridgerator --upon returning from his own skirmish. He was trying to bandage a long scratch on his right forearm with a little bit of success, and thinking he would grab a quick drink or snack before showering. He'd already tended to Nataku-- she was safe and ready in the hangar.
Trowa was already in the room, seated at the card table studying his long fingers, intertwined together. His face was set in its customary blank expression, and his eyes flickered just briefly towards the doorway when Wufei entered.
Wufei offered a short nod in greeting as he headed for the fridge. "Barton."
"Wufei," Trowa returned quietly, raising his eyes to meet Wufei's for an instant.
Wufei reached for the fridge door and faltered. He turned his head to stare at the boy, wondering at the little niggling to his subconscious instincts.
Trowa was still watching him, looking perfectly calm and composed. In fact, he looked more collected than he had since he'd come aboard. He was meeting Wufei's stare straight on with a steady gaze that gave him away even more than his casual use of Wufei's given name.
Amnesia Trowa tended not to look any of them in the eye, at least not for more than a couple of seconds.
Wufei's grip had tightened on the fridge door as he stood staring stupidly at the other boy, unable to think of anything to say for several moments. The silence stretched, then..
Trowa's lips thinned a little in the faintest shadow of a smile. He picked up something by his elbow and tossed it. Wufei caught it reflexively, eyes darting down to the water bottle he now held. His heart gave another surprised little thump. He looked up quickly. He was secretly grateful that his voice came out so casually. "I see your memory's back."
That not-quite-a-smile touched the corner of Trowa's lips again, and he rose to his feet. "I thought you might notice," he said mildly, and exited on silent feet. Wufei watched him go in silence, the corner of his own mouth twisting up in a fierce half-grin of private satisfaction.
Wufei kept a discreet eye on Trowa for the rest of the day-- especially when Heero returned. He was sure Heero would pick up on the subtle differences to Trowa's character, and the two of them would go off and... talk. Yes. It would be good for them to.. catch up.
That's what Wufei told himself, anyway, while he stubbornly ignored the quick little twist in his stomach as he watched Heero descend to the hangar floor from Wing's cockpit.
Trowa had gotten up from supper without a word and headed for the hangar when Duo had popped in to say Heero had returned. Wufei had followed before he could convince himself not to. Now he lingered in the doorway to the hangar, observing carefully as Trowa stood close to Wing, watching Heero leap from the zip-cord to the floor. His poker's mask was perfectly composed, but Wufei could have sworn he saw a slight softening of the eyes as the other boy watched Heero stride towards the doorway. Wufei kept expecting Trowa to call out or to follow the other boy, but he didn't. He remained in the shadow of the towering Gundam and watched in silence as Heero, ignoring him, walked away.
Belatedly Wufei realized Heero was headed his way, and moved aside. Heero spotted him and flicked him a sideways, questioning glance as he neared. Wufei's eyes moved unconsciously towards Trowa, and Heero glanced over his shoulder to look at the boy on the other side of the hangar. He looked back towards Wufei, probably wondering what the hell the two of them were doing there, supposedly waiting for him.
A part of Wufei knew he should suggest Heero go and talk to the other boy. But the other part of him-- the part that had pinched inside for some reason when he'd seen Trowa watching Heero --told him he'd better keep his mouth shut.
Seeing he was not going to get an explanation, Heero turned his back on the both of them and walked off, disappearing down the hall. Only then did Trowa move, walking slowly towards the door. Wufei crossed his arms over his chest as the other boy neared, eyes narrowing slightly. "Why didn't you talk to him?" he demanded.
Trowa flicked him a glance, arching a brow.
"He would have noticed, too," Wufei said. "He would pick up on something different in someone he works with. You should know Yuy well enough to realize that."
"I see you know him well enough to realize that, as well," Trowa pointed out, his face still perfectly composed.
Wufei's fingers flexed on his arms, but he kept his eyes narrowed and didn't betray the slight surprise at Trowa's keen observation. When he turned sharply and stalked off, Trowa followed.
Wufei ignored him, figuring the other boy would veer off at the kitchen to finish his dinner. Wufei himself had lost his already bird-like appetite and was musing to himself as he made his way towards his bunk.
Now that Trowa's memories were back, no doubt Heero would pick up on it fairly quickly. And Wufei was nobody's fool. He had seen how the acrobat's eyes softened as he watched his partner descend from Wing. And he knew the two of them had spent some time together. Not to mention that little scene at the hangar back on earth... Trowa looking unusually flushed, and Heero with his hair all mussed. Wufei realized he was scowling, and wiped his features clean. So what? he grumbled to himself defensively. Whatever's going on with them was none of his damn business, not that he had much room to talk. He hadn't exactly pushed Heero aside that time in the cell, when he'd kissed him. Or that other time in the hangar... when they'd...
He slammed those thoughts to the back of his mind as he suddenly became aware of the presence at his back.
He came to an immediate halt and turned his head to glare at the silent man treading behind him. Trowa also came to a stop, watching him almost expectantly, as if waiting for Wufei to speak.
"What do you want, Barton?" Wufei snapped, his voice sharper than he'd intended.
"To talk," Trowa replied quietly.
Wufei stared at him for a long moment. "What do we possibly have to talk about?" he demanded. "If you feel like talking, go find Yuy. I'm sure you have a lot to catch up on." Damn. Wufei cringed inside. He was sounding like a fucking child. Worse-- a woman scorned. He burned with shame.
If Trowa was hurt, he certainly didn't show it. Yup, poker mask still intact. Atta boy.
Wufei felt like hitting something.
He turned his back on the other pilot and continued down the corridor, his shoulders stiff. He got five paces and whirled around again.
Any other person following that close would have stumbled into him. Though his abrupt 180 had probably caught Trowa off guard, his reflexes were as quick as any of the other pilots'. He paused, a mere foot away from the seething Chinaman, and continued to gaze at him in that infuriatingly calm way.
"I want to talk to you," Trowa clarified before Wufei could speak.
Wufei offered up his best death glare. Trowa didn't so much as flinch. "I'm going to meditate," he lied through his teeth.
"Can I watch?"
"Watch?" Wufei stared. "I'm going to be sitting on my bunk. Doing nothing. And not talking."
Either Trowa missed the mix of sarcasm and warning, or he was choosing to ignore it. "Why are you so uptight around me?" he murmured.
Wufei crossed his arms over his chest, glaring. "I'm trying to go meditate," he reminded the other boy. "You're not going away. Why do you think I'm irritated?"
"I said uptight," Trowa corrected. "And I don't mean just now." He paused. "You and Heero have been acting strange around me since I joined back up. I thought it was the amnesia at first, but... now I'm not so sure." He arched a brow in question.
And that was the one thing Wufei wasn't about to explain. Oh, that? We're just a little jumpy because me and Heero kind of jacked each other off a little while back, but we both know you and Heero have this thing, so--
He didn't want to lie outright to Trowa, but he sure as hell wasn't going to blurt that little scenario out. Wufei closed his eyes and counted to ten silently. When he opened them again, Trowa was still there, waiting, but Wufei had composed himself. "Why don't you go talk to Heero about that," he suggested calmly. He turned and continued on his way.
Once he got to his room, he felt a little bit of relief as he pushed the door shut behind him. Heero was blunter than a butter knife. If Trowa wanted a real answer, Heero would give it to him. Especially after that whole "why should I choose?" bomb he'd dropped that day in the hangar. Besides, those two probably had some catching up to do...
A hand caught the door just before it shut, swinging it back open silently. Wufei turned and glared at the young man in his doorway. "Barton," he said in a low, warning tone.
Trowa was smart enough not to cross the threshold and invade Wufei's personal space. But he didn't leave, either. He leaned against the doorframe and stared Wufei down. They stood for what seemed like hours, gazes locked, until the silent victor was finally declared.
Wufei muttered a curse in his native language and spun on his heel. He all but stomped over to his cot, sat down, and crossed his legs Indian style, setting his hands on his knees. Back straight, head held up proudly, he glared imperiously at the other pilot and waited.
Trowa glanced around the room as if gathering his thoughts before he spoke. "I guess the first thing I should say is.." he hesitated, and Wufei frowned slightly. For the first time he realized something was really bothering his partner. Trowa's eyes flicked upwards, then shied away, his arms crossed defensively over his chest. "I should say congratulations," he said quietly.
Wufei arched an elegant brow. "For...?"
"Your marriage," Trowa muttered, still not quite able to meet his eyes. "It's a little strange that.. you would choose to get married in the middle of all... all this. The war. But I suppose if you've found someone..." he trailed off, finally noticing the sputtering noises Wufei was making.
Wufei gaped at the slender pilot, his eyes bulging. "My.. marriage?" he finally managed to croak.
"Yes." Trowa frowned a little, obviously curious about his reaction. "Oh," he said, as if figuring it out. "If you're wondering how I found out, I heard Sally Po mention it to Noin."
"My..." Wufei leapt to his feet. "That.. that.."
"Is she on the ship? I'd like to meet her," Trowa said politely.
"I'm not married!!" Wufei bellowed.
Trowa started, eyes widening slightly at the rare show of temper. "..what..?"
"What garbage are you hearing?" Wufei demanded furiously. "Sally Po was telling Noin I got married? And you believed it?!" Anger was rushing inside of him, burying the slight hurt. "You think I would drag a damn woman into the middle of all this? You think I even have time to think about that??"
Trowa was watching him a little warily. "She said," he quoted slowly, "something about your wife. I didn't hear the entire conversation. She just mentioned... your wife. Or have you been married all this time and-"
Trowa snapped his mouth shut with a click of teeth at the furious shout. His arms had dropped to his sides and he was tensed as if ready for a fight. He stared at Wufei with slightly wide eyes.
Wufei fought to control his anger and his harsh breathing as he glared daggers at the other pilot, his fists curled so tight his fingernails were biting into his palms. "Whatever you heard," he forced himself to say when he was sure he had control of his voice and wouldn't start shouting again, "was nobody's business but my own. I don't know where that damn woman heard it, and I don't care. It's none of your business, Barton."
Duo probably would have tried to wheedle more information out of him. Quatre certainly would have, and would have been determined to play sympathetic listener. Trowa knew Wufei just well enough to realize this was not a subject to pursue. He nodded slowly, looking away again.
"I apologize," he murmured after a long tense moment.
Wufei shook his head sharply and turned his back, his arms shaking with the urge to hit something. At the mention of Meiran, the dam in his mind had broken. Grief and guilt washed over him in a merciless wave, and he didn't want Trowa to see that on his face.
Trowa recognized the silent dismissal and retreated, pulling the door shut softly behind him.
Whatever warning Trowa gave the other pilots, it worked. No one bothered Wufei the rest of the day. He was left alone with his raging emotions, a consideration for which he was privately and desperately grateful for.
Duo let his head loll back in pure bliss, smiling dreamily, eyes sliding closed. "Ahhh... feels good," he mumbled almost incoherently.
Behind him, Quatre gave something like a giggle. "You're just like a cat, Duo," he teased.
"If I could purr, I would," Duo assured his friend drowsily, relishing the feeling of the blond's nimble fingers sliding through his unbound hair.
"It looks so beautiful when it's down," Quatre said quietly. He gathered a fistful of the long locks, wavy from being in a braid all day, and lifted it to his face to inhale the slight scent there. "Smells nice, too," he murmured. After a pause, he added, "Smells familiar, actually." He gave a slight tug, so that Duo's neck was craned back.
Duo opened one eye and grinned impishly at the expectant look Quatre was giving him. "Did you use my shampoo again?" he demanded with false indignance.
Duo snickered, closing the eye. "I ran out," he explained, flapping a hand in dismissal. "I'll buy you more later."
Quatre shook his head, smiling helplessly, and released his hold so Duo could lower his head again. He continued to comb his fingers through the long chestnut locks, knowing it had a calming effect on the other boy. He needed Duo relaxed for this conversation.
He'd been itching to get his hands on Duo's hair since that night the two of them had hidden in the midst of the Maganacs. It had taken quite a bit of wheedling, but finally Duo had grumpily conceded, shortly before they'd left for space. He had tried to act offended about the whole thing, complaining that only girls played with each other's hair, but had melted like butter after just a few gentle tugs on the loosened locks.
Quatre sighed quietly and twisted a bit of the long hair around his fingers, watching the back of his friend's head anxiously. Better just to spit it out, he decided wearily. Duo hated it when people beat around the bush.
"Trowa's got his memory back," he said simply.
"What??" Duo jerked, twisting his head around to stare--
Quatre's fingers were still twisted in the hair, and Duo yelped, clamping a hand to his scalp as it was yanked painfully at his sudden move.
"Sorry," Quatre said quickly, untangling his fingers. "I said-"
"I heard you," Duo assured him, goggling at him. "When? How? He told you?"
Quatre scooted back a little on the cot, putting his hands in his lap and shaking his head slightly. "I just... knew. When he came back to dinner-- remember, when he told us to leave Wufei alone for the rest of the day?"
"Yeah, 'Fei must be in one of those dark brooding 'Everyone must die' moods he and Heero like to have like a monthly period kinda thing," Duo said impatiently. "He's PMSing. Tro said stay away. What did I miss in that barely-veiled threat of his that made you think he's got his memory back?"
Quatre touched his chest in silent answer. Duo caught on quickly. "I felt it," Quatre confirmed at Duo's quick glance. "The worry he felt was too strong for a stranger who barely knew Wufei. It was Trowa."
"Why didn't he tell us?" Duo demanded, scooting around to face Quatre completely. "Are we just supposed to figure it out by ourselves? We aren't mind-readers."
"I think he plans on telling us soon," Quatre assured the irritated boy. "I don't think the others know. I didn't say anything because it was obvious Trowa didn't want to bring it up. He probably knows he'd just get a million questions or condolences sent his way." He sighed.
"Meaning you and me for the most part, I take it," Duo guessed, giving a half pout, half scowl. "That retard."
"Just let him tell us when he's ready," Quatre pressed. "It must be hard for him."
"Fine," Duo sighed, shrugging. "He better bring it up soon, though. Heero and Wufei are going to keep expecting him to be half useless until he clues them in." He fell silent for a little while, frowning at his feet as Quatre fished around for his hairband and slid around behind him to braid his hair once more. "I think Wufei probably knows," he said suddenly.
Quatre paused, tilting his head a little in puzzlement. "What makes you think that?"
"Well, how else would he know Wufei was in a bad mood unless he was talking with him? Maybe he was telling 'Fei his memory's back. Maybe that had something to do with him being in a pissy mood. Maybe Tro's afraid we'll react bad like Wufei did, so that's why he isn't telling us yet."
"Hmmm.." Quatre finished braiding and attached the hair tie at the end. Duo turned to face him again. "It's a possibility," Quatre admitted. "But why would Wufei get mad about it?"
Duo snorted. "As if I understand the way those three think. Beats me, man." He sighed and shrugged, his instant smile already back in place. "Oh, well. I guess he'll tell us all when he's ready. As for Wufei, he'll get over it." He leaned forward quickly, giving the startled blond a quick peck on the mouth, then bounded to his feet and stretched. "Well, I'm off to bed," he said cheerily. "Lets hope the damn Ozzies are considerate enough to hold off their attacks and let us get a decent night's sleep tonight. Oyasumi!" And he was out the door in the next instant.
Quatre blinked, then chuckled helplessly, knowing he had to be blushing just a little. It wasn't the first spontaneous little peck Duo had given him, but it still managed to catch him off guard every time and make him blush in an embarrassing way. It was most likely just a brotherly little thing Duo had adopted; he certainly seemed the spontaneous, affectionate type to do that kind of thing. Shrugging it off with little success, Quatre dimmed the lights with a quiet sigh and slid under his covers.
His last thoughts before sleep should have been about an imminent attack, or even concern for his friends after that conversation about Wufei and Trowa.
But instead they were about a certain braided American. Consequently, he fell asleep with a drowsy smile on his lips.
Author's Notes: Once more I was unable to get ahold of the episode scripts when I felt like writing, so.. please exuse the rather sketchy details about battles and such in the time when Trowa had his amnesia and then was recovering from it. >_<;; Also, a lot of it seems to be really choppy crappy writing.. *wince* Sorry. Not sure why it came out that way, but I never have the patience to rewrite what I've already written. *sweatdrop*
Also... sorry for the delay. ^^;; Was working on my WK fic like a madwoman. >_< Maldoror, you are an effective whiner o_O; Here's the Gundam Wing-ness you demanded. XD;;
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