Innocence Reclaimed Part 18
Trowa sat astride the bay gelding and stared in disbelief at the scene before him. It stood high enough that he couldn't see over it, it's rough stone surface running as far as he could see. Off to his side there was a solid iron gate cut into the stone. Locked... he'd already tried it. A wall... someone had built a wall around the keep. A rough cut road ran from the gate towards the small village, where only a few days ago there had been only woods. Somehow he knew that if he followed the crude road, it would swing up to the old Khushrenada manor on its way into the town.
They'd done it fast too. He'd only been out of the area for three days.
He sighed and turned his horse around his eyes sad and distant. Throwing one last glance over his shoulder at the offensive barrier he rode back towards his home. His last haven was lost to him now.
Reaching the stables, he jumped down and handed the horse over to the young man, he'd hired recently, and with a look of grim determination headed for the house.
"Cathy?" Trowa called out as he shut the door and pulled his jacket off.
His sister's auburn head popped out of the library and she frowned. "You've been out riding like that?" She said as she took note of his jacket.
He hung the coat up and turned back to find the girl standing right in front of him. "I swear, Trowa, you are trying to kill yourself the hard way!! It's coming on winter... you're going to die of pneumonia if you keep going out dressed like that!"
"Come to the kitchen." She grabbed his hand and starting dragging him down the hallway. "I'll make some tea... you're ice cold!!"
"Cathy, stop!" He snapped.
She stopped and looked at him, her lavender eyes wide. Her brother rarely raised his voice to her. "What?" She asked dropping his hand.
"Are the books all up to date?"
"Of course. I keep them current at all times." She said quietly.
"I'd like to see them. The accounts and the bank books."
She turned to go get them and he spoke quietly. "I'm sorry... I was just trying to think."
"It's okay. I'll get the books and you can tell me what's going on." She replied.
"Meet me in the kitchen. I'll tell you over that cup of tea."
A short time later, Trowa was sitting at the kitchen table, tea in hand, his head bent over the books that tracked the stable's finances. Catharine sat across from him, her arms crossed in front of her, and waited. Finally he sat back and stared at her, taking a drink from his cup.
"I've decided to sell the stables."
"WHAT?!?" She cried sitting up straight, her face showing her astonishment. "But... Trowa! You can't... you've worked for years to establish this. You wanted this since we were kids!"
"I'm not closing them. I want to move to a bigger place. We are going to need more room. The only barn we have is full... and I don't plan on just stopping now." He leaned on the table. "I want to sell this land, buy a bigger piece and see if we can acquire a few more horses."
"Can we do that?"
"If we win the next hunt. Yes. The purse from that and what we have should just about cover us. We'd be starting from bottom again." He replied.
She thought for a moment before responding. "The next hunt is next month. Autumn Luck should be ready then, I've been training with her for it."
"No. I want to put Raberba's Dream in."
Catharine started. "But he's only run one course. Autumn Luck is a seasoned horse... like every other horse that will be there."
"Autumn Luck is slowing down. She's hesitating on the jumps. I think it's time to retire her." Trowa mused quietly. "Raberba's Dream is fast... he takes the jumps like they aren't there. I don't feel the unfamiliar course will bother him at all."
She sighed. "Fine. I'll start preparing him."
Trowa stood. "No. I'll do it. I'm going to ride him in this one."
"Do you have any other surprises for me?" She quipped, irritated at having her race taken from her.
He stopped in the doorway and looked at her. "Did you know that they enclosed the old keep? It's been shut off... no one can get near it now." He said before turning back around and leaving the room.
Catharine stared at his retreating form. "So... that's what this is all about." She murmured. "New land my ass!" She grumbled as she set their cups in the sink. "We have plenty of land here to build on. Riding unseasoned horses in a veteran's race and selling a perfectly fine stable!"
She turned and looked around the kitchen. "He's losing his mind!"
Quatre walked out of the gate at London's Heathrow to see Duo jumping up and down and waving his arms excitedly. Beside him stood Heero with his arms crossed, rolling his eyes and trying to pretend he didn't know the excited violet eyed man. The blonde stifled a chuckle as he walked towards the pair.
As he approached them, Duo rushed forward and wrapped Quatre in a tight embrace. "I'm so glad you decided to come back!!" He cried happily.
Quatre hugged him back and then moved away. "It's not like I have a choice... for some reason my lawyer seems unable to handle the lawyer for the real estate agency. I was afraid if I didn't come... he'd kill her."
"I can imagine that, that stuffy suit's first problem is the fact that you sent him to deal with a woman. You know how he feels about females in business." Duo snickered.
"He's the best there is, Duo. He's also my friend."
"He's still uptight and stuffy." Duo insisted. He'd never admit out loud that he actually liked the young Chinese man that worked as Quatre's lawyer.
Quatre sighed. "Remind me to not leave you two in a room alone. He thinks you're abrasive and annoying." The blonde threw at his friend as he turned to greet Heero.
After the three had retrieved Quatre's luggage and headed out of the airport to find Heero's car, Duo turned to the blonde. "Don't pay any attention to how Heero's car looks." He snickered. "He tells me it runs fine."
"What?" The chestnut haired man blinked at his lover.
A glare from the cobalt eyed man silenced Duo and Quatre just looked at the pair. "Are you two always like this?"
"Most of the time." Heero growled as he unlocked his trunk for Quatre and then went around to open the doors.
Duo just grinned as he jumped in the car. "He wouldn't love me any other way."
"Try it." Heero grumbled as Quatre slid into the back seat.
"He's changed." Duo said as he slid into the bed beside Heero.
"Why do you say that?" Heero asked sliding an arm around Duo's shoulders.
"He's always been serious, but now he's even more serious... and sad. I wonder sometimes if I should have stayed here... maybe I was more needed there."
"You're needed right where you are." Heero muttered. "He's here now... spend some time with him and see if you can help."
Duo looked up at him in surprise.
"You don't think I can't see it too?" The cobalt eyed man asked.
"Well, no. You didn't know him very well."
"Not personally, but I know enough from what you've told me." Heero replied. "Do whatever you need to do to try and help him out... EXCEPT going back to the states with him. Your home is here now." He thought for a moment. "And leave Barton out of it."
"It's up to the two of them to sort things out, if they are going to, not us."
"Could I at least let him know that Quatre's back?" Duo asked.
"I think he'll figure it out soon enough, without you interfering."
Duo sighed and lay his head on Heero's chest.
"Fine! I won't start anything."
Quatre wandered around the manor for most of the evening trying to fight off an overwhelming urge to go to the keep. He just could not figure out what the pull to that place was. He told himself that he was not going out there. He'd come back to finish the paperwork for the sale, before Wufei strangled Ms. Po, and then he was going home. He was not going to the keep.
And he definitely was not going to see Barton! The desire to see him was almost as strong as his need to see the old keep.
A few hours later found him lying in his bed, hands tucked behind his head, staring at the ceiling, and frustrated. With a low curse he threw the blankets back and jumped out of bed. He pulled on his clothes and headed down the stairs, grabbing a flashlight and a set of keys from the stand by the door.
He stepped outside and turned on the light, quickly finding the narrow road that he'd ordered cut through the trees to the old building. Without thinking about his reasons he walked until he found himself standing in front of the gate to the new wall. He unlocked the gate and slipped inside, walking up to the building he looked up staring at the ruined battlements above him.
Then time seemed to shift... the ruined stone was whole again, he could see the outline of the stones against the moonlit sky. A slight movement caught his eye and he peered closer.
"Uncle... why don't you and Trowa have wives?" A childish voice floated down to him.
"Well... you see... Trowa and I love each other very much and we don't have any desire to be with anyone else." He heard his own voice respond.
Looking closer he could see a young boy sitting on the stones, the slender figure of himself leaning beside the child, looking out over the trees.
"But... you're both men!" The child exclaimed. "The priest says that it's wrong. That to lie with another man is evil and it will lead you to unhappiness."
"Do we seem evil or unhappy to you?"
"Then where's the wrong in it? There are too many unhappily married people because they were forced into something someone else thought they should be." Quatre sighed. "Bryce... look down and around you. Do the people seem happy? Are they well taken care of? Do we seem happy?"
"Then there's nothing wrong with the relationship between Trowa and I. Our people are what's important. If Trowa and I were bad or unhappy... then they would be unhappy too. The people around you can tell you a lot about yourself."
As the words drifted on the night air the scene faded from Quatre's sight and he sat down on the ground in front of the old keep. He still didn't know what he kept seeing here... almost like images of a past self... but... there was a lot to think about in those words to that boy.
He drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. With a choked sound he buried his face against his knees and started to sob.
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