The Right Guy
by Kebzero

It was the closest thing a human could get to flying, and Trowa was enjoying it to the fullest. Sure, drifting around in space also came close, but there was no air rushing against your face there, and directions like forwards, backwards, up and down tended to lose their meaning in zero gravity. Besides, Trowa had only had bad experiences with that sort of flight.

He stretched out his hands and caught the bar swinging towards him perfectly, followed its momentum to the end of its pendulum movement, and flung himself into the open air again, heading for the next trapeze, twisting his body in a spin as he went. The crowd far below cheered. He grabbed the bar, his timing just a little off, but well within the safety margin. Not delaying even a moment, he shifted himself so that he hung off the bar from his knees, hands free to receive Catherine, already on her way after him. They reached for each other, and with carefully rehearsed coordination, their hands closed around each other's wrists, locking them together for a few brief seconds, before Catherine let go and used the momentum to enter another spectacular spin.

For the audience, the whole trapeze act was meant to look very dangerous. They were a good way up, and there was no visible safety net - but there was the deception. While not much, there were several thin lines and thicker cables stretching up the support pillars and main mast. To the untrained eye, they would look like they were part of the rigging. It wasn't much; the wires were scattered about the potential fall area - but if they missed the bars, the cables would help break their fall just a little, and above all help them change the angle of their fall. If they slipped and fell, they would most likely end up with broken bones and some impressive bruises - but they could probably save their necks.

A few months in a cast was preferable to a lifetime in a wheelchair - or eternity in a casket.

He shifted himself around, preparing for Catherine's rebound. Their grip was better this time, but part of that was how Catherine's in-swing was fairly routine. It was the outbound salto mortale that mattered now, as it marked the end of their show.

Trowa had long since accepted that she was the real star here, not him. He was supporting cast, at best. He didn't mind; at least this way, his costume still left most things to the imagination. Catherine did not escape quite so easily - but she carried the tight costume off very well.

She executed the final spin through the air perfectly as well, and landed firmly with both feet on the platform, turning suspense and silence into a deafening cheer. As the finale of the accompanying musical score played down to make way for the next act, Trowa turned upright, slung himself towards the middle trapeze and then onto the platform, taking a bow to get a fraction of the applause.

The spotlights - and with them, the attention of the audience - shifted to the ring below them. The manager was about to call in the 'wild beasts'. Never mind how some of them were as docile as family pets, despite their impressive fangs. Well, that's how Trowa viewed them, at least. If you respect the animals, they will respect you in return - most times.

Catherine grinned at him, and leaned in to whisper - though that was hardly necessary; even a bullhorn would have problems getting through the circus orchestra playing their tension build-up score. "You were certainly into it today, Trowa - and what was with that extra back flip?"

One side of Trowa's mouth curled up in a dim smile, but he didn't answer.

"Oh, come on... You can tell me, can't you? Who were you trying to impress? Some pretty guy or gal in the audience catch your attention?"

Again, no answer but the smile.

She gave a slight scoff, then promptly got Trowa down in a headlock under her right arm, putting her left fist against his skull. "Now, tell your big sis, or take the penalty."

He tried not to laugh. "Cathy, no. I-"

"Way wrong answer," she stated, and proceeded to thoroughly fuss up Trowa's hair, despite his mockery of a struggle. It lasted a whole five seconds, then she let him go. She snickered as he did his best to hand-comb his hair back into place, especially his rather unique bangs. "You never diverge from the program, Trowa. Why-"

"Friends," Trowa answered.

Catherine considered that for a second, then looked down in the audience. "Ah-huh... Where?"

Trowa looked to a section far in the back, close to the entrance and gave a slight nod in that direction.

She squinted a little, scanning the crowd. It didn't take long to find them; two matching sets of dark baseball caps and full jeans outfits. She smiled. "I should have known... When did you-"

He shrugged. "When I'm lined up on your dagger board, I have time to move my eyes. I don't dodge, remember?"

A most unladylike snort. "Only because I haven't made a really bad slip yet - and I've gotten used to how you seem to faze out sometimes, it doesn't unnerve me anymore." She pulled at his sleeve. "Well, come on, Trowa - we have to say hello before they manage to slip out - the show is almost over."

"I think they'll wait for us."

Quick sigh. "Wait, huh? Isn't that what you said about-" She stopped herself, biting her lip. "Let's go, Trowa. We need to help get the animals back to the cages - the boss' act is almost up." She went for the rope ladder in the rigging. They would escape the ring in the cover of shadows; the manager was busy harassing the lion at the far end of the ring, and his finale took up all three spotlights - and just as certain, the rapt attention of nearly the entire audience.

Trowa was vindicated. The pair hadn't snuck away at the first available moment. Instead, they had waited until the bleachers were virtually deserted, and then made their way down to the artist entrance. Trowa met them there.

"Hey, Trowa!" A hand extended; Trowa took it and got pulled into a hug, two pats to his back. "Damn good to see you, man."

Chuckle. "Good to see you too, Duo." Released again, he took the next hand offered, two firm shakes. "Heero."

"Trowa," Heero replied. "Welcome to L2."

"Thanks, I guess..." He brushed his bangs back into place; they hadn't quite weathered the brush against Duo's head. "So, did you enjoy the show?"

Flash of purple in blue. "Yeah - that was amazing, that flip you did up there. I don't get how the heck you managed that. Thought you were through risking life and limb, Trowa."

Grin. "It's not as hard as it looks, Duo. I'm sure you could do it too, with the right training."

Duo's grin put Trowa's to shame. "Sure - but I was wondering if you could train Heero. Civilian life is taking its toll - he's not as agile as he used to be anymore, and- Ow!"

Heero rubbed the palm he had struck the back of Duo's head with. "Anyway... Impressive show, Trowa."


"I was wondering, though - the poster outside said 'last show of the season'?"

Trowa nodded. "Yeah. We're closing down for the winter."

Two baffled faces.

Chuckle. "Yeah, I know. Seasons don't really apply up here, but it's an ancient tradition. Besides, we spend a fair amount of our tour on Earth, and most of the one-year contract artists come from there, so... we abide by the old customs. Winter is downtime - meaning, vacation. At least for the performers."

Duo rubbed his hurt head. "Yeah... but why did you pick L2 as a final stop? It's hardly a good place for a grand finale, and-"

"It's cheap."

Duo's expression darkened. "Hey, I might put the place down a bit every now and then, but I know where my loyalties lie, and-"

Sensing Duo was about to move into Trowa's face for slandering his home colony cluster, Heero stretched out his arm and put his hand to Duo's chest, holding him back.

"I meant the plot rental fees, Duo."

"...oh." With Duo relaxing, Heero stood down.

"L2 is a good place to store our gear for the winter. We can get a storage building for a bargain, and we can get cheap shelters here for the animals that aren't part of the hired acts. Those are all dismissed now, unless the manager signs them up for another year." He shrugged. "That doesn't happen too often, though. In the circus business, it's always about coming back next year with some even more spectacular acts - and most of the performers want to change venues, too - go somewhere where their act is still new. Fortunately, that's the boss' responsibility - he'll probably be going 'shopping' for new performers now."

Duo saw a problem with that. "Wait, if he's gone, and you're all on vacation, who is going to take care of your animals?"

Trowa shrugged. "It depends. Usually, some of us stay behind to tend to them. I think Cathy volunteered this year, and a few of the riggers will probably stay, too."

"And you?" Heero inquired.

"Oh, I'm definitely on vacation now. I've been working full-time for months now, and my contract is really a flimsy part-time deal. I'm long overdue for a break."

Chuckle. "So, where are you gonna go, then? Back to L4?"

Trowa's smile faded. He took to studying the sawdust. "No," he cautiously answered.

"Huh? I thought you and Quat were all-"

Clenched teeth. "We've... drifted apart."

Duo as about to press on, his mouth already open to speak, but Heero reached for Duo's shoulder and grasped it firmly. Duo glanced at him, saw the subtle headshake, and desisted. Heero released Duo's shoulder, and Duo took a step forward to put his own hand on Trowa's shoulder. "Sorry to hear that, Tro'. Always thought you two were a cute couple." He was itching to know, but when Trowa looked into his eyes, that desire was stumped. There was quite a bit of hurt there, and stirring that up could lead to no good.

Heero decided to intervene. "What are your plans for the downtime, then?"

Duo stepped back, and Trowa straightened himself up. "I... don't know. I was thinking of getting a short-term job. I could really use the extra money. I can't stay with the circus forever, but I still need some starting cash to get going. There aren't that many willing to hire someone without any formal education, though - and 'circus performer' doesn't look too good on a resume. Haven't found anything yet."

You could almost see the thought slip before Duo's eyes, just before he turned to grin at Heero. The look alone was enough for Heero to figure out what he was thinking. In affirmative reply, Heero grunted. "Uh, Trowa... if you're serious about that part-time job... why don't you come back with us?"


Wide grin. "You see, Heero and I have a lot to deal with on the salvage yard these days. Hilde signed us a big contract - well, big for an operation our size, at least - and we're short on hands."

"It would be manual labor, though," Heero cut in, "and the pay wouldn't be much."

Duo nodded. "Yeah, but you could cut down on expenses - we have a spare bedroom, so you could stay with us for the duration. What do you say?"

Trowa thought it through for a few seconds. "Well... It's not like I have anything else lined up for me, and it's been a while since I've been with friends outside the circus..."

"Then it's a deal! Pack your bags, and we'll take you home with us right now. Heero, I'll go get the car."

Before Trowa could reply, Duo was halfway across the ring, headed for the audience entrance. A bit taken aback, Trowa looked to Heero. Heero shook his head, giving a lopsided smile. "Don't let it get to you, Trowa. He's always like that. You should have seen him when he sought me out after the Mariemeia war."

Soft smile returned, nod. "I don't think I've ever heard the full story."

Smirk. "If I have anything to do with it, you won't, either. Suffice it to say, he hauled my ass back home with him - and convinced me to stay."

Chuckle. "Yeah... good thing I'll only be a temp, then."

Heero shrugged. "We'll see... Maybe you'll find our line of work more honest than the circus business."

Raised brow.

"I noticed the safety lines, Trowa. Catherine's daggers are the real deal, but you have plenty of room for movement, if things go bad - and don't even get me started on the so-called wild beasts. That bear practically ate out of fancy pants' hand!"

Trowa snickered. "Yeah... he does, actually. Born and raised here at the circus."

Heero nodded, then turned to track down Duo. "I'll go stall him a bit. Should we pick you up tomorrow? If you need some time to-"

Trowa shook his head. "No, that's fine. I can probably come with you guys tonight. I just have to let Cathy and the manager know, and pack my duffle. That shouldn't take more than thirty minutes."

Heero halted, flagged a brow over his shoulder.

"I never fully unpack, Heero. Bad habit left from the wars."

Understanding, Heero nodded. "Habits are there to be overcome and unlearned, Trowa."

"Did you?"

Heero hesitated in answering, but finally ventured one. "I'm still learning - but I don't plan to flee, ever again." With that, he walked away.

The car didn't look like much - but then again, few cars in the entire L2 cluster did - or were. Most preferred walking over vehicles - not only because of the extra financial burden of a car, but also because the distances tended to be short, and the streets narrow. Space was at a premium - there was much of it up in orbit, but very little of it had a breathable atmosphere, air pressure, simulated gravity and an acceptable temperature range.

Still, it was obviuos that Duo was proud of his old car. The paint was coming off in places, rust was creeping up from the wheel caps and there were small dents in both fenders and a large one across the trunk - but the engine sounded solid enough. Heero informed Trowa the car was one of Duo's pet projects, codenamed 'Lazarus'. It had come in as salvage, but had been brought back to life and purpose. Few machines had that fate once they entered the yard. Most were dismantled into components and sold piece by piece, if not as separated pieces of scrap metal, rubber or circuitry.

Duo stopped the car at the curb. From memory, Trowa pegged it as the road at the back of the yard - although the yard itself was the same blessed mess on all sides of the building, with piles of assorted salvage everywhere.

Heero stepped out and through a small door in the tall wooden fence. Trowa heard the scraping of the bracer beam at the back of the larger gate as it was lifted off, soon replaced by the shrill cries of the gate hinges long overdue for a greasing. Duo flashed Trowa a sheepish grin, and mumbled something about how he kept forgetting to see to that before he drove through the gate to park the car. Once in, Heero closed the gate behind them. The engine died with a sputter, but not before sending a last loud bang through the exhaust pipe. Evidently, Duo had not worked the car to perfection just yet - Heero hastily explained as much, despite Duo's mutters of what a great car Lazarus was, and that at least he had one baby appreciating his tender, loving care. That remark earned him another pat to the back of the head. He took it with a grin.

Trowa picked his duffle bag out of the trunk and followed the bickering pair up the winding path leading up to the house between the piles of junk.

The yard had definitely changed since the last time Trowa had been there for a visit - alone - eight months prior. That was its nature. The car was an addition, but fit in rather well.

Inside, there had been changes, too. Much of the furniture had been replaced, including the couch. Trowa grimaced at the memory of the old one; that sofa had been a lumpy, highly uncomfortable thing. He'd slept in it during the last visit. The back pain had bothered him for days after he left. Trowa was not sorry to see it gone - though it had apparently been replaced by a huge, green thing that had overly soft, if not outright bouncy cushions. Trowa had a suspicion who had pushed that choice through, and for what purposes.

The fish tank in the corner was gone too. He already missed that; it had been a most serene fixture, despite its living, shifting contents. He'd spent quite some time studying the fish at his last visit. Still... why were they all gone? Hilde had fussed about them like a proud mother the last time he'd been there.

That thought made him wonder where she was.

Following Duo's lead, he found himself approaching...

"Here we are." Duo pushed the door open. It creaked just a little.

Trowa hesitated before it. "Duo, isn't this..."

"Huh? Oh, right. Yeah, it's Hilde's old room. She moved out six months ago."

Mild surprise. "Hilde moved?"

Nod. "Yeah. Didn't you know?"

Trowa shook his head. "Nobody told me. What happened? Did you guys have a fight, or something?"

Chuckle. "I suppose we had something..." Duo shook his head. Trowa had a feeling there was more to that story, but Duo pressed on before he could ask. "I think she got fed up being cramped up with the two of us all the time. Isn't easy bringing home a boyfriend when you have to explain the fact you shack up with two guys. More than one of 'em took it the wrong way - and explaining that we were together didn't always make the matter better. And finally, there was the time-"

"Trowa doesn't need to hear about that," Heero cut in. "Trowa, the room is yours. We converted it into a spare bedroom after Hilde left. Wufei has been here a couple of times, so has Relena, Sally and Lady Une. I'm sure you'll find the bed there a much better choice than the couch - even though I'm sure the new one is better than the old, lumpy one you used last time."

Trowa cringed again at the memory. Heero noticed; you could tell by the smirk. Of course, he was also glad his attempted ruse had worked.

The evening passed in a flurry. After unpacking, they had dinner, chatted a bit about what had happened in their lives lately, as well as reminisce a little of old times - which as Trowa pointed out was rather eerie, given that they weren't even twenty yet - though closing fast.

They offered Trowa first dibs on the bathroom while they took care of the dishes. Worn out and wanting a shower, Trowa accepted.

The warm water was bliss to his muscles. Normally, he showered after the show ended, but today he had been whisked away by this quirk of fate, into the home of the happy couple. Trowa resented that just a little bit; they shared something he longed for - and lost to nothing; to neglect. It hadn't really been his fault. He'd waited patiently. Then again, perhaps that had been his fatal flaw - to simply wait, ever more distantly.

Disgruntled, Trowa shut the water off, reached for his towel and hurriedly rubbed the worst of the water out of his hair, before doing a quick sweep of his body. Not entirely focused, and courtesy of the warm, steamy bathroom, his skin was still damp by the time he wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out, heading for his allotted room. He almost crashed into Duo at the turn of the first corner.

"Whoa there," Duo chuckled. "Sorry, Trowa, I-" Duo paused, staring at Trowa's torso, eyes drifting between Trowa's arms. Without thinking too much, he reached out to take a hold of Trowa's bicep. "Damn, you've grown some muscle, Trowa. I remember you as this lean stick figure of a guy. What the hell happened?"

Trowa shrugged, unable to ignore how Duo softly squeezed his arm, as if to test if it really was all muscle. He found he kinda liked the touch. He mentally shook his head. Perhaps he had been alone a little too long. "The circus, I guess. I helped out with the rigging - it takes some strength to swing the sledgehammers we use to drive the poles in, and raising the canvas itself is pure hell."

Duo grinned. "Well, I see we got the right man for the job, at least. Heck, you're probably even stronger than Heero, now."

"I heard that," came the voice from around the corner, the person stating it in tow. Heero too looked at Trowa's upper body - in particular his arm, still in Duo's clutches. "Trying to find my replacement, are you?"

A quick snicker, Duo had let go of Trowa and walked over to Heero, his arms soon around Heero's neck, their foreheads together. "Oh, you know I could never replace you..." A few seconds and a neck adjustment later, they were engaged in a decent kiss. Or indecent, depending on perspective.

After a few moments of watching that, Trowa smiled faintly, coughed once and slipped past them. This was growing to be a private moment. "I think I'll go to bed. Good night, Duo, Heero."

"Mmmph," they both seemed to answer. Trowa wasn't quite sure it was an answer necessarily directed at him, though.

One final glance from the corner of his eye later, Trowa was in his new quarters, door closing behind him. Now there was another thing he envied them for. Each other. He sighed, searched out some clean underwear, and went to bed.

It took a while before he was able to sleep, though. For nearly an hour after, he thought he heard distant noises, noises which could possibly be- He mentally shook his head. He was tired, perhaps his sordid imagination was playing tricks with him. Perhaps it was merely some of the random sounds houses make - old plumbing, or something. It didn't have to be the occupants.

As things seemed to quiet down, he drifted into sleep.

The colony light levels were far into the morning routine by the time he woke up again. Not that he was much troubled by that; he hadn't gotten a timetable for his new temp job yet. He got dressed, went through his morning routine and headed for the kitchen. He heard muffled voices from there, so he assumed-

He turned the corner. Heero was leaning back against the counter, engaged in what could best be described as a very voluntary tonsillectomy with Duo; a kiss more for fun than anything else. The subdued snickers suggested at much. He cleared his throat to get noticed.

The couple didn't respond right away, though. Trowa got the feeling they were already aware he was there, but didn't care. He shrugged it off. Well, he'd just have to get used to the view, if he was to stay here. He drew a thin smirk. Then again, was that such a bad thing?

"Morning, Trowa," Duo greeted him, snaking his arms around Heero's waist.

"Good morning."

Soft grunt. "It's closer to lunch."

Duo chuckled, kissed the tip of Heero's nose. "Don't be a grouch, 'ro. No barking at the new employee, even if he is a little late for his first day."

"I'm starting today?"

Two sets of nods.

"Okay... Well, you didn't tell me last night when I was going to start - I guess I figured-"

"Yeah... Sorry about that, we kinda got distracted yesterday," Duo said with a sheepish grin. "Anyway, never too late to get started. We'll just get something to eat first, and then head over to the administrative building."

Trowa raised a brow.

"The big room at the back of the house," Heero cut in. "That's where we keep all the paperwork. Hilde is probably there already."

"I thought you said-"

Duo scratched his head. "Yeah, she's moved out - but she still owns half the business, and-" He caught Heero's glare in the corner of his eye, grin widening a tad. "Okay, a third of the business-"

"Thank you."

"But she's usually the one to deal with the paperwork - sales, accounting, legal documents, that sort of thing. Heero does most of the manual labor, and I kinda boss both of them around - or vice versa."

Heero snorted, amused. "A fair summary."

"Yeah... anyway, important things first - what's for breakfast, 'ro?"

Heero balked. "I thought it was your turn to cook."

Duo shook his head. "Nuh-uh. I made dinner two nights ago, and-"

"I'll help," Trowa offered. Judging by how fast the other two accepted, he couldn't shake the feeling he had been set up.

Hilde had been rather pleased to see him. After the initial greeting, she had quickly laid out how badly they needed help, as well as what exactly they needed help with. "Now, the big thing around here is of course the dismantling of the wreckage of Libra and Peacemillion, but we're too small for that. We don't have the zero-g equipment, so we only come in the second round of things, where the smaller chunks of spaceships, mobile suits and dolls get taken apart and recycled, either as full components, or as basic scrap. We've just signed a big contract for a sorting task like that. Essentially, that'll require a keen eye for useful things, and strong muscle to cut the goods out, and separate the rest into what we can make a profit of selling - like sheet metal, electrical wiring - that sort of stuff - and typical junk."


She nodded. "Exactly. Now, the three of us can only do so much - and this time, we have a rather annoying deadline. With you here, we won't have to work ourselves to death on overtime to get the job done. At least, that's the plan."

Trowa nodded.

Hilde finally broke eye contact, studying the cork board on the far wall. "Now, about the pay... We can't spare all that much, and-"

Thin smile. "That's okay. Heero and Duo offered me three meals a day and a place to sleep while I'm here. I can live with a small pay check - it's not like I'm likely to find some better short-term job, not with my record."

Impish grin. "Or lack of it?"

Nervous chuckle. "I suppose so..."

She sighed. "Anyway, it's good to see you again, Trowa." She paused, a little too obviously mulling on something. "Duo told me not to ask, but I never could take his advice... Trowa, why are you here?"

A bit taken aback at first, Trowa began to answer. "Well, to work, and-"

She shook her head. "No, I didn't mean it like that, I meant-" She bit her lip. "Why are you here alone? I've hardly ever seen you more than two steps away from Quatre, and-"

Trowa wasn't fond of the question, but still decided to answer. Perhaps he could get them to bury the issue that way. He didn't want any more reminders than he already got. "We... broke up, I think."

"You think?"

He sighed. "Look, I'm alone now, that's all there is to it. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to start my new job, and-"

She put her palms up defensively. "I'm sorry, Trowa - I didn't mean to butt in on your business. I just-" She sighed. "Some other time, maybe. You go out in the yard. Heero will show you what to do." She grinned. "And then I'm sure Duo will tell you the better way of doing it. Be wary of taking sides between the two of them, Trowa. They'll rip you apart if you're not careful."

With a little effort, Trowa was able to smile back. Buried, at least for now. "I'll remember that. Thanks, Hilde."

She grinned even more. "That's 'boss' to you, Trowa."

He gave an amused snort. "Right... Hilde it is."

Her light laughter followed him as he walked out the door.

-End Part #2-

On to part three. Back to part one.