Quatre had never in his life found himself so distracted from a basketball game, especially not at the beginning of April. He’d done a little better paying attention to today’s earlier game, but after that he’d gone to force lunch on Trowa, and now his thoughts had so overtaken him that he noticed only about half of what was happening onscreen.
He’d sat in Trowa’s study yesterday for hours, doing almost nothing besides watching the magician work — honest, genuine work, if Quatre was any judge — joining in the occasional random brief conversation, and struggling with a mixture of emotions.
The idea that Trowa found his presence helpful in any way was elating, to the point where Quatre had been hard pressed not to sit there grinning the entire time; but he felt guilty too. He hadn’t recognized the depths of Trowa’s unhappiness, despite their being so understandable as to be almost predictable; and surely he shouldn’t be so damn happy about Trowa wanting him there when that stemmed simply from the fact that Trowa had no friends.
He wasn’t sure that Trowa had actually accomplished anything yesterday, but he’d definitely been working — first researching, then setting up another complicated divination ceremony — and that alone felt like a triumph. That alone seemed to make the whole week off worth it, even if the original wish that Duo might be human again before the time was up remained unfulfilled. Just to know that Trowa’s crisis of hope had been averted, at least for now, made everything worth it.
Quatre had been reacting only sluggishly to everything in the game he was supposedly watching, and he was sure Heero had noticed. Uncertain whether he wanted to relate to Heero or Duo what had happened yesterday, Quatre took a deep breath and tried to pay better attention to the TV. So when, not long after, a failed layup was saved by two of their players at once moving in such close synchronization that it was almost impossible to tell which had actually made the dunk, Quatre was able to respond appropriately and in good time.
He noticed when he’d finished cheering, however, that he wasn’t the only one reacting oddly today. Duo’s little voice, usually the most enthusiastic of the three of them, if not exactly the loudest, was even more excited than usual at the moment for some reason, and had transitioned from expressing great appreciation for what he’d just seen to shouting incoherently. It wasn’t long before both Quatre and Heero were staring at him, and a moment after that Heero had jumped to his feet, evidently losing all track of the basketball game.
“What is it?” Quatre asked, watching Duo flail his little plastic arms and swivel his head from side to side. Then, finally, he saw it too, and, like Heero, jumped from the couch.
Heero had picked Duo up and was staring down at him in agitated wonder. The doll was still waving his arms wildly, not as if he was struggling but simply for the sake of the movement itself — for, inexplicably, for the first time that Quatre had ever seen, his elbows were bending. And though Duo was no longer shouting, he was still making noise: babbling almost as incomprehensibly as before, he was exclaiming nonstop about his elbows and how long it had been since he’d had any. Heero, meanwhile, kept interjecting incomplete congratulations and broken questions as to how it could possibly have happened.
Abruptly it occurred to Quatre how utterly absurd this looked, and he laughed out loud. This seemed to break through the ongoing incoherence in front of him, and two heads — one with stiff, messy dark brown hair, the other with a tiny chestnut braid — turned toward him.
“This is wonderful, Duo,” Quatre said, smiling broadly. “I’m going to run over there and tell Trowa.”
Duo, who was still lifting both forearms over and over as if he couldn’t get enough of the motion, stretched his plastic smile as wide as it would go as he looked at Quatre. “Thanks, man!” he said ecstatically. “I don’t want you to have to miss more of the game, though.”
They all glanced almost reflexively back at the TV, which had gone to commercial while they weren’t paying attention, and Quatre shook his head. “Trowa will want to know this good news right away.” He started toward Trowa’s door. “Besides, he’ll know what it means better than we do, and it might help him!”
Despite the purely idiomatic quality of the phrase ‘run over there,’ Quatre was almost running as he came into Trowa’s entryway. All he could think of was that this information would surely give Trowa hope, allow him to work more steadfastly, perhaps even make him happy, if just for a moment. He probably appeared a little wild to the magician as he burst into the study.
In fact, he realized immediately, his desire to deliver a cheering report had been somewhat betrayed by his demeanor; for Trowa, observing his agitation, rose precipitously and came toward him, saying, “What’s wrong?”
Quatre reached out as they met halfway across the room, seizing Trowa’s arm and giving it a little shake. “It’s good news,” he said hastily. He let go of Trowa immediately, lest he be tempted further to test the shape of that wiry arm beneath its long buttoned sleeve and distract himself from the conversation. “Duo,” he went on excitedly, “just bent his elbows. He says he’s never been able to do that before as a doll, but now he can.” He realized even as he voiced this that it sounded every bit as stupid as it had looked back in Heero’s apartment; but there really was nothing to be done.
He wouldn’t have thought Trowa could possibly become any paler, and he would have been wrong; as Trowa’s eyes widened slightly, his face seemed to blanch as if with shock. For a moment he was obviously unsure of what to do, looking as if he might push past Quatre at a run and simultaneously as if he wanted (or perhaps just needed) to return to his chair. Then his face took on a faint expression of concentration, his bright moon eyes seeming to glaze over a bit as if he were no longer seeing anything in front of him, and he said something.
Quatre knew by now that these incomprehensible sounds were words in the magical language, and he wondered what Trowa was doing. He speculated that it was a divination to find out why this had happened, and considered this guess confirmed when Trowa focused again on the world around him and spoke, in almost a whisper, what sounded like an answer to a specific question on the subject:
“Because he’s been with Heero all week.”