Title : The Killing Tide 6/?
Author : Dalton (AngelDalton6@aol.com)
Rating : R
Category : AU only in the fact that this takes place 10 years after Endless Waltz
Warnings : Swearing, angst, violence and death.
Disclaimer : Gundam Wing is the property of Sunrise, the Sotsu Agency, and Bandai. No infringement is intended upon their rights. (3/26/2)

The oddest thought struck him as he watched the sleeping pair through the curtain's gap; "They left the television on."

He blinked as a night draft ruffled his bangs, which tried to hide this last refuge of normalcy from view. Trowa had kept his vigil before the window for an hour or more, risking the threat of the local 'neighborhood watch.' Despite the slight danger and the bitter cold of a November night, Trowa could not gather the will to go beyond the welcome mat. He did not want to wake them or disturb their peace, so he waited. He waited for the bleak chance that one of them might feel his presence and need through dreams and draperies, and might wake just enough to notice his huddled, lurking form outside the window.

The Maxwell/Schbeiker residence had not been his first stop. After leaving the precinct and wandering aimlessly in the downtown area, Trowa had found himself at a block of housing kept for the Preventers and their families.

#712 was way in the back, as far from the noise of the street and the neighboring playground as possible, and was the only door bare of nameplate or appropriate seasonal decoration. Chang Wufei's abode: the residence of one serious and stable enough to listen to bad news with the kind of emotion that Trowa felt he could handle. Unfortunately, there was no answer to his rapid knocking upon the door, only the lonely sound of his rapping knuckles echoing down the silent outdoor walkway. It was possible that the home's occupant was away on a mission or other random evening jaunt. Then, again, with the young man's temperament, he could have been inside, blatantly ignoring the knocks. Wufei was the type to pick up the phone after the first ring or else pull the line out of its jack. Peace and solitude were prized possessions for the pensive man, so if he hadn't answered Trowa's insistent knocks by now, he wasn't home or he wasn't in the mood for company.

Trowa hadn't waited to see if the trappings of a robe or the grogginess of sleep had delayed the ex-Shenlong pilot. Leaping easily over the rail to the fire stair, Trowa took his habitual short-cut to Heero's residence. The night had been quiet but for the clacking of his boot heels on the cobblestones of the quad as he crossed to the second building. The noise had seemed unnaturally loud to the young man, as if the echoes would announce his arrival before his curled fists could touch Heero's door.

Here, as before, Trowa's rapping knuckles received no response, and he felt things shift on a perilous slant inside of him. He had stood with his palms flat against the door, transferring a part of his weight to it, as if hoping to slip through the surface or draw support from it. Displayed like a private screen between his splayed hands, the door had become his world. Trowa's eyes had bored into the wood, seeing each line of its surface, but not seeing the calmly questioning face of the man he wished there. Trowa moved closer until he felt the cool surface press against his exposed brow. He had encountered too many obstacles that evening, and if one barrier didn't succumb to him soon, he would be forced to take a different, unwanted course of action.

There was one more person he could go to, but Trowa wasn't sure he was prepared to handle Duo. The jocular boy was too open with his feelings, and what Trowa needed now was a cork, not a tap, for the churning emotions that he was having a hard time bottling away. However, the two 'Hardwoods' were unavailable, so the heavy-hearted man found himself moving for quite a distance until he reached his current location. Frozen before this new window of salvation, Trowa was afraid to shatter the sleeping peace within.

A crash of tin against cement heralded the presence of other live beings, most likely animals, but the silent sentinel stayed achingly still, staring at the blue-shadowed couple through the window. His hand went to the chrome doorknob that still held a bit of warmth from the last time his palm strayed over its metal curve. It was a simple lock, so easy to circumvent with his skills, but, whether by stealth or invitation, the young man could not carry his intentions further. This time, when his hand left the knob, it was shoved deep into a pocket where, fisted, it felt the reverberated shocks of his shoes striking pavement as he turned and walked away.

Nothing else obstructed or altered his path on the way back to the quiet, dark circle of circus tents and mobile homes. His mind had managed to become blissfully barren during the long journey but had a rude shove back into play when he got home. There was a scattering of animal waste on and about his trailer steps that reminded him of what had started the mess that night: Catherine and the sheep.

The reminder sank back into the deep sea of his mind as he entered his dark lodging. Catherine was not there--otherwise she would have left one of the little decorative lamps on for him as she had every night he was out late. Her absence was understandable. No one in their right mind would have wanted to share an empty home with a dead animal. It was still there. He could smell its waste and decay like a cloying perfume trapped in the unopened space. No one had bothered to clean up, deciding to leave the nasty task for a stronger stomach and steadier hand.

Trowa would clean it up; he was the one it was left for. He would do it for Catherine because she relied on him. A lot of people tended to rely on him, and Catherine, with her own strong character, was no exception. She needed Trowa. Quatre had needed him, too.

Quatre shouldn't have expected so much from someone so dead inside.

Trowa stood in the kitchenette and stared out of the tiny window into the night. The wall clock's ticking somehow filtered through his reverie and made him glance away. From what the timepiece proclaimed, it appeared he had been standing there for a little over an hour, and the sink was running. Trowa brushed his bangs from his face and turned the water off, giving a cursory glance over the knife lying at the bottom of the small basin. Quatre would have dried it off and replaced it neatly into its proper slot in the wooden block on the counter, but Trowa left it where it lay, a bubble of collected water shimmering along its blade.

Devoid of the repulsion others would have felt; Trowa entered his desecrated room, paying no heed to the corpse on the bed. Choosing to sit on the floor with its unidentified clumps of dirt, Trowa drew his knees up close to his chest. He set his chin pensively on bony knees for a moment before he shifted to remove something from his pocket. As Trowa bent he caught a glimpse of something familiar on the floor, picked it up and placed it gently on his lap. He briefly wondered how the keepsake had come to be in his room, staring at it as if it would disappear when he looked away. He rubbed a finger across Quatre's goggles which lay upon his knees like a baby nestled in a cradle. Picturing the innocent allusion, Trowa suddenly laughed. His laugh was sharp and bitter and didn't end until the shot rang out.