“I would have to see him.”
It wasn’t exactly a request; it wasn’t even a demand; it was a command. And, whether magic was involved or not, Heero thought it would take a brave man to look into those bizarre eyes and tell him no. At the same time, he couldn’t exactly bring himself to tell him yes either.
“Quatre,” he said, rising abruptly, “can we talk?”
Quatre slid out of the booth after him, but didn’t follow until he’d pulled out his wallet and found a card with which to pay the bill. Leaving this on the table, he walked after Heero.
The latter made his way out of the dining area and into the corridor leading to the bathrooms. “Are you sure you want to leave your debit card sitting on the table with that guy?” was what he said first.
“What, you think he’ll steal it?” Quatre laughed, sounding a little surprised at the question.
“If he didn’t use magic to find us, he must already be an expert at getting information. One message board post, and he shows up two days later? He could probably steal either of our identities without needing my Visa.”
“That isn’t exactly comforting,” mumbled Heero.
“Do you think he’s dangerous?”
“I just don’t know that I want to invite him to my apartment. He wants to see Duo, but…”
Quatre stared at him. “But you heard everything he said… he has to see Duo.”
“I heard a good story,” Heero agreed darkly, “with absolutely no proof, still. Throughout this whole thing, there hasn’t been one single bit of proof.”
“But do you at least admit that, if his story is true, he does have to see Duo?”
“Of course, but how could it possibly be true?”
“Earlier you didn’t seem to think it was so impossible.”
Heero gave a half-angry sigh. “I don’t know what to think. Except that it would be stupid to let some stranger into my home on nothing more than some crazy sob-story about magic. A talking doll is one thing, but this…”
Thoughtfully Quatre gave a brief glance around them. Evidently he was not, as Heero would have been, checking that nobody else was nearby and listening to their insane conversation; rather, he seemed to be deciding whether or not to say something he had in mind. Finally he did. “You know what? I believe him. I don’t think he’s crazy, and I don’t think this is a hoax anymore.”
“I thought so.” There was just the tiniest bit of sourness to Heero’s tone. “You always did go for the emo type.” He probably shouldn’t have said that — at least not like that — but the symptoms had been unmistakable all through the stranger’s story, and now this declaration of belief after less than an hour…
Quatre’s eyes narrowed, but he smiled as he said sweetly, “At least I don’t go for the plastic type.”
“What do you mean?” Heero demanded as if he didn’t know perfectly well. He felt his face growing warm.
Quatre’s smile was triumphant for just a moment before it opened out into a more real, sympathetic expression. “The bad news for both of us,” he said a little forlornly, “is that those two are obviously long-lost…” He shrugged slightly. “Lovers, I guess, is the best word. ‘Boyfriends’ doesn’t seem to fit.”
“You think so?” asked Heero, startled.
Gesturing impatiently, Quatre didn’t expand on the subject. “You have to let him see Duo,” he insisted instead.
Heero ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “I just don’t want to be robbed and murdered,” he said. “Is that so unnatural?”
Quatre let out another surprised laugh, but sobered immediately. “I guess I see your point. I think we can trust the guy, but better safe than sorry.”
Heero nodded. “Maybe we can go get the doll and meet him somewhere.”
They stared at each other for a long moment, as if there was more to say and neither could or would be the first to say it, before, with almost simultaneous sighs, they turned to head back into the dining area.
As Quatre signed the receipt — the stranger hadn’t stolen his debit card and bolted, it turned out — Heero stared at the man. Still seated, the latter was finishing his glass of wine and gazing blankly at the table. When Quatre was done, Heero simply said, “Come on.”
Outside, as they approached Heero’s car — why had they come in his car, anyway? — he began to explain the intended plan: that they would go retrieve Duo and meet the stranger somewhere with him, preferably right here or in the vicinity. But, despite Heero’s brevity, the man interrupted him before he was halfway finished.
“You don’t trust me. I understand. Would it help if I could prove that everything I’ve been telling you is true?”
Heero turned to face him, meeting strange sober eyes with his own hard stare. After a moment he admitted, “Yes, it would.”
The man nodded. Turning to Quatre, who walked by his side, he said, “Please excuse the liberty.” And to the extreme surprise of both Heero and Quatre, the stranger put an arm around Quatre’s waist and pulled him a half-step closer to himself. Quatre was evidently too startled to break away as the man said something else under his breath; and the next moment, with a slight flash, they had both vanished.
You know that if Quatre hadn’t brought it up so bluntly, Heero would have put off for the longest time admitting, even to himself, that he likes Duo.