Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of the characters.

Notes:  Catherine worries about Trowa even after he comes home.



Choices of the Heart



Part Twenty-Two


Catherine stared at the clock on the wall as she scrubbed the dish in her hand.  True, she knew where Trowa was since Duo
had called her before he had gone off to work.  But she was still anxious and worried.  ‘He shouldn’t watch tryouts!  They’ll
just depress him!’ She sighed and dipped the dish in the now-cold water and started scrubbing it yet again.  She worried about
whether or not Trowa would know enough to take it easy walking home, to not rush.  But on the other hand, she wanted Trowa
to hurry up and get home.

Then she heard the door open and she spun around as Trowa walked in.  He looked somewhat flushed and it was obvious that
he had perspired quite a bit.  She quickly dried her hands off on a towel hanging near the sink and walked right up to her
brother, pulling a thermometer from her shirt pocket as she approached him.

“Trowa, what on Earth were you doing that made you all flushed and sweaty?” she asked, though he was unable to answer her.  
As soon as he had opened his mouth, she had put the thermometer in.  “Are you faint?  Do you feel hungry?”  She grabbed his
shirt before he could protest and pulled it off of him.  “Now, I want no arguments from you.  You are going to take a bath and
then go straight to bed and I’ll bring your dinner in for you.”  She grabbed the button on his jeans and undid it.  She had his fly
unzipped and was about to yank his pants down when he let out a yelp of protest and pulled the thermometer from his mouth.

“CATHY!  Quit it!  This is embarrassing,” he practically whined as he struggled against her a little, his one hand gripping the
waistband of his jeans to hold them up.

That’s when someone behind Trowa cleared their throat.  “Umm, if this is a bad time, I can go home.”

Catherine froze at the sound of the voice and looked past Trowa to see a teenage girl of Asian descent.  She was blushing very
brightly and making a point of staring straight down at the floor.

Catherine gasped and immediately released Trowa’s pants.  “Oh!  Oh, hello.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know Trowa had brought
someone home.”

Trowa snorted softly, fastening his jeans again.  “You never gave me a chance.  I walked in the door and you were on me like a
rabid dog.”  He walked over to the sink and pulled the dish from the water.  He scrutinized the plate, then shook his head.  
“Didn't this dish used to have a design on it?”

Catherine blushed as she realized how she had been acting.  “I’m sorry for going a little nuts, Trowa.  But you’re my little
brother and I worry about you.”

Trowa sighed and quickly rinsed the dish off, his hands shaking as he did so.  He placed it on the small drying rack, then dried
his hands off.  “I understand, Catherine . . . really.  And I do intend to change and relax until dinner.  Just, not in front of
Meiran.  She’ll explain what happened.”

Catherine watched Trowa walk down the hall toward his room, then she turned to face Meiran.  She cleared her throat and
motioned to the small table that had been in the kitchen since she had been a little girl.  “If you’d sit, I’ll pour some hot water for
tea, coffee or hot cocoa.”

The girl, Meiran, shook her head a little.  “Thank you, but a glass of water will be fine.”  She sat with a slightly embarrassed
smile.  As Catherine went to get two glasses of water, the young woman spoke.  “I feel I should apologize.  I had no control
over the situation, but I feel that it’s my fault that he’s exerted himself the way he has.  Some jocks were hassling me about my
wanting to join the wrestling team.  Trowa didn’t fight any of them, but he did help me out of an awkward situation.”

The sound of two doors opening and closing told Catherine that Trowa was now in the bathroom, probably taking a shower or a
bath as Catherine had suggested.  “How so?” Catherine asked, sitting across from Meiran and placing the glasses down.

“Well, tryouts for the team were held this afternoon.  They tried to keep me from it by tying me to the flagpole up on the roof of
the school.  Trowa overheard them bragging and he came up and untied me.”

Catherine couldn’t help but feel alarmed.  “The ROOF?  He shouldn’t be climbing the stairs!  He could make his condition
worse!”

Meiran sighed, her fingers idly fiddling with the glass of water set before her.  “I didn’t have any control over what was going
on, or I would have stopped him.”

Catherine felt guilty.  “I didn’t mean to sound as if I were blaming you for what happened, but . . . I worry about Trowa so
much.”  Then she sighed and rubbed her fingers over her temple.  “I worry about Duo, too.  He tries so hard to make things
easier for me.  I just know he’s running himself ragged.”

“Wait a minute . . . Duo?  As in Duo Maxwell?  He lives here?”  Meiran blinked.

Catherine nodded.  “I guess you could say we kinda adopted him.  Trowa found him out on the street, brought him home.  He
was so sick, and he had nowhere else to go.  He doesn’t talk about it much, but I gather his home life wasn’t good at all.”  
Catherine shook her head.  “Listen to me, gossiping on like this.  Duo really has been a lifesaver though.  With the money he
brings in from work and all the help he is with Trowa . . . I don’t know what we’d do without him.  I only wish he’d get it
through his thick skull that he doesn’t have to push himself so hard.”

“Well, boys can be stubborn,” Meiran shrugged.  “But they can also be really sweet when you give them a chance.”

Before either of them could say anything else, there was a soft clatter from the bathroom.  Catherine immediately stopped what
she was doing and ran down the hall to the bathroom so that she could help Trowa out should he need it.  Not wanting to
intrude in case he had just dropped something, Catherine knocked on the door politely.  “Trowa, are you all right?”

When there was no answer, Catherine bit her lip in worry.  She didn’t want to barge in if there was really nothing wrong.  But if
he had hurt himself, or worse, Catherine knew she would never be able to forgive herself.  So, taking a deep breath, she grabbed
the doorknob and began to turn it.

“Trowa, I’m coming in,” she announced, pushing the door open.

What she found inside stole her breath away.

Trowa was lying on the floor.  She ran to his side, dropping to her knees next to him.  In the background, she could hear the
steady drip of the water falling from the shower, but paid no attention to it.  Obviously, Trowa had just taken a quick shower to
wash the sweat from his body, as he was wearing nothing more than a pair of boxers and his hair was still wet.  

Carefully, she rolled him over onto his back and pressed her ear to his chest.  Her heart nearly skipped a beat when she heard the
steady rhythm of his breathing, though his heart was anything but steady as usual.  She pulled back, gently placing her hands on
either side of his eerily pale face, worrying about him.

“Trowa? Are you okay?  Please wake up,” she said in a quiet rush, lightly slapping his cheek in an attempt to rouse him.

Trowa groaned, shaking his head sluggishly in an attempt to avoid her hand.  His eyes fluttered, but he was obviously having
difficulty opening them.  “Cathy?” he asked, his voice a parched whisper.

“Trowa, it’s okay.  What’s the last thing you remember?”

Her brother furrowed his brow, his eyes finally opening a fraction.  “I just got out of the shower.  I dried off.  I was  . . . I was
drying off my hair and then the room started spinning.  And the next thing I know, you’re above me asking me questions.”

Catherine smiled, brushing his damp hair back away from his face.  “Another fainting spell.  You had me worried.  Does your
head hurt at all?  You feeling nauseous?”

Trowa shook his head.  “I’m just tired, Cathy.  Sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

“You always make me worry,” Catherine replied, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.  “Come on, up you go.  I think it’s
time for you to get to bed.”

Trowa didn’t put up an argument as Catherine helped him up.  After fainting, Trowa often had trouble getting his arms and legs
to properly work, so Catherine took on the majority of his weight as she led him from the bathroom.

“Oh my, what happened?”  Meiran’s voice called.  Catherine turned slightly, enough to see that the young girl had entered the
hall.

Trowa muttered something under his breath, too low for even Catherine to hear.  He hung his head, his eyes drooping tiredly.

“Trowa sometimes has fainting spells.  Would you mind giving me a hand?”

“Sure,” Meiran replied, moving forward quickly.  She went around to Trowa’s other side, taking his arm and placing it around
her shoulders to help ease Catherine’s burden.  

Together, the two of them helped Trowa to his bedroom.  They set him in bed, then Meiran stepped back and allowed Catherine
to take over.  Catherine went about her task without really thinking about it.  She had grown accustomed to helping Trowa, this
was really just instinctual now.  She got him to lie back, smiling all the while as she tucked him into bed.  

Then she turned to look at Meiran, casting the girl a grateful smile.  “Thank you.  Would you mind sitting with him while I get a
cool compress?  If I know him as well as I think I do, he’s going to get a headache any minute now.”  She stood, waiting for
the girl’s answer.

Meiran nodded, wringing her hands together before she took Catherine’s place at Trowa’s side.


*****


Meiran bit her lip and gazed at Trowa as Catherine left the room.  “I am so sorry.  I know this was caused by you having to run
up those stairs and I still feel like it’s my fault.”

Trowa, though pale, had a slight flush on his cheeks.  “I’m the one who should apologize.  I feel so embarrassed.”  He cleared
his throat.  “Actually, if it had been the stairs, I would have fainted before.  I don’t think this was caused by what happened at
school.  Just a random dizzy spell.  I get them all the time.”

Meiran grimaced at that.  “That can’t be fun.  And it sounds pretty inconvenient, too.”

Trowa yawned, his eyes slipping shut a bit.  “Yeah . . . dying is an inconvenience.”

Meiran was taken aback by his statement.  She opened her mouth to reply, though she wasn’t sure of what she could say in the
least, when Catherine’s voice rang out behind her.

“Trowa Barton, I don’t ever want to hear you talking like that again,” she chided, hastily walking around to the other side of the
bed to sit beside Trowa.  She gently placed a damp, cool washcloth over his forehead, a frown on her face as she regarded
him.  “There’s no way in hell that I’d let you die . . . not after all the trouble you’ve put me through.”  She smiled gently, her
fingers moving in a slow caress along his cheek.

Trowa’s smile was faint, but it was there nonetheless.  A moment later he closed his eyes, falling asleep.  Meiran looked over at
Catherine, worried for her newfound friend.  “Is he going to be okay?”

Catherine nodded, running her hand along her brother’s arm.  “Yeah, he’s just tired.  He won’t sleep for long, and when he does
wake up he’ll be hungry.  So I’d better get dinner started.”  She rose to her feet, fiddling a little with the blankets and covering
Trowa a bit more.

Meiran cleared her throat, feeling slightly nervous as she asked, “Umm, do you think it would be all right if I stayed a little
while?  I’d . . . well, I’d like to thank Trowa again for what he did for me today.”

Catherine smiled.  “Of course.  I’ll set a place for you for dinner.  We rarely have the company, and I’m sure Trowa will
appreciate having someone other than me to talk to for a change.  Duo’s almost always at work nowadays.”

“Great.  I’ll just call my mom and let her know where I am,”  Meiran replied, then stood as well.  “May I use your phone?”

“Sure.  It’s in the living room.”  She swept her hand outward in a gesture to the door.  “I’ll show you where it is.”

Meiran left the room, casting a worried glance back at Trowa once before Catherine closed the door behind them.  She hoped
he'd be okay.



To Be Continued . . .