Trowa found himself unusually restless on Monday afternoon. It wasn’t simply that he was unable to concentrate on the book he held and the notes he was taking — that he was more than accustomed to — but that he could barely bring himself to sit still at all. He kept drifting out of his comfortable chair and out of the study to look through the little windows in the front door, as if he were waiting for someone. And eventually he realized that this was, in fact, precisely the case, and explained what was wrong with him.
It didn’t really matter, of course, that Quatre hadn’t shown up for lunch, nor could it surprise: Quatre had gone back to work today, and wouldn’t have time to be forcing food into antisocial misanthropes… and yet Trowa, almost without knowing it, had been expecting him. Realizing this now, hours after the fact, he found himself recognizably disappointed that Quatre hadn’t appeared. How very different from before, when he’d considered Quatre just another follower…
Ever since Friday evening, he knew, his attitude toward Quatre had been changing, and yesterday had only hastened the process. He doubted anyone could spend an entire day with Quatre and fail to be struck by his almost aggressive good will — a natural talent that Quatre seemed to have honed into a razor-sharp skill and practically made a business procedure out of. Quatre didn’t just want to help people; he strategized to help people.
But even friendly concern had its limits, and perhaps Trowa had been too extravagant yesterday. Maybe the choice of Paris had been a bit… strange. Not that Paris was any more difficult for him to get to than any other place he’d visited before or could fix on a good clear mental picture of… but it said something more. People had a… thing… about Paris, didn’t they? It was a symbol. Trowa was definitely not up to speed on cultural implications, but, even back when he had been, taking someone to Paris meant something totally different, something above and beyond accompanying them to some random seafood restaurant in a little east coast town.
It was just that when Quatre had looked at him with those flawless, shining grey-blue eyes and called him by his old nickname and said “Please?” as if he were asking for a personal favor rather than trying to get Trowa to do something healthy for his own good… well, the impulse that had overwhelmed Trowa hadn’t been just to comply, to do anything Quatre asked — he’d been downright determined to impress. That was what it was. Something about Quatre, at least in that moment, had made him eager to show off.
True, there might have been, in the back of Trowa’s head somewhere, a faint desire to see Paris again for himself, but all that had really done was contribute to the ease with which Quatre had convinced him to stay and walk around the City of Light like an idle tourist instead of getting back home and casting that spell on Heero. And perhaps Quatre, on reflection, had decided he didn’t like how easily-swayed Trowa had been when there was something else he should have been doing. Or maybe Paris really had been too much.
In any case, whatever the reason, Quatre hadn’t come over for lunch today, and that probably meant he was not going to be doing so routinely in the future either, and Trowa would just have to feed himself. He was under the impression that this had been the point: to get him into the habit of eating at about the same time every day so that he would continue even when Quatre was no longer at leisure to come compel him.
Although Trowa was conscious of hunger, however, what he did not feel was any inclination to do anything about it. It had only been seven days in a row that Quatre had come over for lunch — the span of an indrawn breath in comparison to the forty thousand Trowa had lived — and yet, even in that short time, Trowa had gotten used to more than just a regular midday meal: it was the company that made all the difference. Eating lunch simply wouldn’t be the same without Quatre there.
This was not, of course, the only thing about which he was brooding today. He’d gone to Heero’s apartment that morning to catch him before work and divine the precise dimensions of his psychic field, wish him luck, and say hello to Duo — and this had served to remind Trowa of how little control he had over the situation, how much he was being forced to depend on someone else, and how easily everything could go wrong during the coming month. Such was the surface of his thoughts, from which he’d been trying to distract himself with books and notes; but it wasn’t what was causing his restlessness.
And then he heard his front door open.
Surprised, he made his habitual inquiry as to who the visitor was, and felt an even greater surprise at the discernible pleasure the answer, “It’s Quatre,” occasioned in him. He put his book aside and rose, thus meeting Quatre halfway across the room.
“Hi,” Quatre greeted him with brisk cheer. “Have you eaten anything today?”
“No,” Trowa replied, eschewing the explanation of why, precisely, this was.
“OK.” Quatre sounded a little relieved, which seemed amusingly at odds with his desire for Trowa to eat regularly. “I usually take my lunch at one, which I didn’t even think about is four over here. For some reason it never crossed my mind that if I was going to make you eat on a work day, it’d have to be an early dinner.”
Trowa hadn’t considered the time difference either. “Oh,” was all he found to say.
Quatre smiled. “So come have dinner,” he commanded, and turned.
Watching him walk back toward the study door, which he’d left open, Trowa didn’t follow just at first. Quatre had easy but controlled movements that seemed to match his temperament very well, and the suit pieces he wore — charcoal grey slacks and a pale pink shirt with a candy-stripe tie — looked particularly good on him. They also fitted well enough that Trowa judged they must be some expensive brand or perhaps even custom tailoring. None of this was at all important, his brain informed him… but his eyes, for some reason, begged to differ.
As he moved to catch up heading for the kitchen, “How are Heero and Duo doing so far?” Trowa asked.
“I don’t know for sure.” There was a definite hint of laughter to Quatre’s tone. “I haven’t gotten any miserable emails from Heero yet, and that’s a good sign. I’m definitely going to get a report from him after work, though, about how the first day went.” Trowa nodded, and the motion clearly caught Quatre’s eye. “You look like you didn’t get any sleep last night again. What have you been working on?”
“If you can call it working,” replied Trowa somewhat darkly, “I’ve been making some notes about that book I’ve been thinking of writing.”
Quatre looked over at him again from where he’d begun surveying the contents of the freezer as if he hadn’t bought all of them, and his eyes shone with interest. “Really? You’re starting on that already? Before the curse is broken?”
“I need something to distract me,” Trowa admitted. “I can’t help Heero with this, and worrying about it all day won’t do any good.”
“How sensible of you!” Quatre commended him. He’d turned back to the freezer, but Trowa could see the amusement on his face and hear the slight teasing tone in his voice.
“You say that as if I’m generally without sense.” Trowa was a little surprised at the good-naturedness of his own reply.
“Weelllllll…” said Quatre reluctantly, though still with that repressed grin. “When it comes to things about Duo…” He pulled a box from the freezer and turned toward the microwave.
“You’re probably right about that,” Trowa agreed gravely, though in actuality he felt lighter at the moment than he had in longer than he could remember.
Presently, as he set about readying whatever they were eating this evening, Quatre asked, “So what kinds of notes are you making?”
This was something Trowa could talk about more easily. “I’d like to produce something comprehensive,” he explained. “A number of magical guides have been written in the past, but most of them are either too general or only focus specifically on a narrow category.” At Quatre’s nod of understanding he went on, “So I’m looking through existing books on magic and noting down what areas they’re lacking in. And where they’re incorrect,” he added. “They often are.”
“But you know better, huh?”
“You’ll have to take my word that I’m not boasting. With the artifact, I am extremely powerful, which allows me to see the truth about many aspects of magic others can’t.”
Quatre turned his smile on Trowa as he moved to gather dishes. It was such a remarkable smile… it seemed to have its own gravitational pull. “I believe you,” he assured Trowa. Then thoughtfully he added, “Hey, are there schools for magic?”
“I’ve never heard of any, but I’ve never looked.”
“Wouldn’t it be fun to start one?” Quatre’s tone was a mixture of dreaminess and enthusiasm. “You could be the headmaster and I could be your squib caretaker.”
It wasn’t even close to the first time Quatre had made some statement that was clearly a reference to something out in the ever-changing world with which Trowa was totally unfamiliar. Typically when people said things like that, Trowa simply ignored them, as the effort to find out what they were talking about was rarely equal to the satisfaction of knowing… but all of a sudden he felt that, for some reason, he wanted to know what Quatre meant. Unprecedented, but there it was. So he asked.
Quatre turned toward Trowa again, looking amused and contemplative. “I’m not really surprised you don’t know,” he said. He started handing dishes over, which constituted an unspoken command to help set the table. “You’ll probably find it pretty funny, actually.” He lifted their two plates, which were now full of corn and potatoes. “I’ll tell you while we eat.”
I barely even feel the need to mention this, but just in case… a “squib” is a Harry Potter thing: someone born into a magical family without magical abilities. And in truth, Trowa is not nearly as unfamiliar with it as he thinks; you can’t go online more than a couple of times without eventually learning something about Harry Potter. He may not recognize that term specifically, but he undoubtedly has a general idea of what the series is.