Quatre had told Heero that he believed the stranger’s story, and he’d thought he meant it. Even before, when they only had Duo’s word on the matter, Quatre had, if not exactly believed, at least been ready to believe. But the truth was that, until this very moment, he hadn’t known what it was to believe.
Dizzy and extremely startled, he was clinging to the stranger with both hands as if he would fall when he released him. Thinking that he actually might, he didn’t let go for several moments after it — whatever it was — had ended, despite his embarrassment at suddenly finding himself clutching a man he’d just admitted he was attracted to.
They stood now in the grass in a park that Quatre recognized only after almost a full minute of astonished confusion as being across the street from the restaurant they’d just vacated. Deep shadow cast by a grove of trees, which hid that street from sight, surrounded them, and their advent had startled (besides Quatre) at least two rabbits into bolting.
Evening had set in, and their current unexpected location was far from any of the street-lights that made the edges of the park glow; as Quatre looked up into the stranger’s eyes, however, he thought they caught some inexplicable light source he could not see and reflected it in uncanny green. There seemed to be a strange glow about the man’s face, too: a pale, sickly luminance coating his skin like moisture. Oddly, this did nothing to diminish the attractiveness of the face, only increased its pathos somehow. The man smelled not unpleasantly of old books.
The stranger released him, gently disentangling himself from Quatre’s grip, and stepped aside. “Excuse me,” he said again.
Quatre, still almost stunned at what had just happened, could not stop staring at him. It took him some time to find his voice, but when he did he asked, “Can you go anywhere like that?” There was an almost childlike admiration in his tone, to which he wondered how the stranger would react.
“There are limitations,” the man replied simply. “I was ready to bring one of you here; I thought it would be easier to convince you if I took you with me instead of simply vanishing myself.”
“Why me?” wondered Quatre before he could stop himself.
“You seemed less likely to attack me if I touched you,” was the excessively logical answer.
“Well, I’m convinced,” Qutare assured him.
“Good,” the man nodded. “I have to see Duo.”
With the warmth of the man’s arm still fading from Quatre’s waist, Duo’s name was a timely reminder and warning. “Of course,” Quatre said. “I’m sure Heero’s convinced too; let’s go back.”
“Shall I take you back?” the stranger proposed.
“Yes!” replied Quatre, perhaps with just a touch too much excitement.
The man didn’t seem to notice that Quatre might be flirting with him a little, however, and, stepping forward, again put an arm around him. Quatre tried to catch the words he murmured this time, but they were too unfamiliar and quick to make out. Then, with another flash and that same strange sensation as before, they had relocated from the cool of the park to the concrete of the restaurant parking lot.
Heero was as startled to see them appear as he had undoubtedly been to see them disappear. He made an inarticulate noise of surprise, and seemed ready to take hold of Quatre and drag him away from the stranger. Restraining himself, however, he merely asked, “What was that?”
“Magic,” replied the man, releasing Quatre.
Thoughtfully Heero nodded, his look of surprise fading quickly; he’d had their entire absence to get over the bulk of his shock. Quatre speculated that, beyond that, he was reflecting on the implications of what he’d seen: this essentially proved that Duo was a real person, after all.
Finally Heero looked up from where he’d been pensively staring at nothing, and met the stranger’s eyes. “Well, I believe you now,” he stated, and actually smiled a little. “So let’s go see Duo.”
The stranger seemed to relax a bit. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
“We need to go back to work so I can get my car,” Quatre reminded his friend.
“I’ll take you to your car,” the stranger said.
“Really?” Quatre turned toward him eagerly.
“If it will speed things up.”
“Why not just magic all three of us to my apartment?” wondered Heero, the dryness of his tone clearly a mild reproof directed at Quatre for being frivolous.
Quatre would have had a good comeback, or at least made a face at him, if the stranger hadn’t been present with more important matters to think of. “Because we’ll both want our cars in the morning,” he replied levelly. “So we’ll meet you at home, OK?”
As Quatre turned again and took a step toward the stranger, he saw Heero shake his head as he agreed.
Once more the stranger put an arm around Quatre’s waist. This time, he leaned close to Quatre and murmured into his ear, “I need you to concentrate on the place we’re going to; picture it as clearly as you can.”
Somewhat reluctantly, Quatre closed his eyes, cutting off his view of the stranger’s, and imagined the parking lot at work. He felt the man pull him just a little closer, and then, with the same bizarre sensation of momentary weightlessness as before, they were gone.
Quatre’s already crushing so hard, heh.