Trowa felt as if he’d been pushed unexpectedly into a deep pool, then just as unexpectedly found the water quite comfortably hot. He was off-balance, disoriented, perhaps drowning… and yet disinclined to struggle.
The possibility that he might be attracted to Quatre in such a fashion had never even remotely occurred to him. Only when he’d awakened suddenly to find Quatre’s lips pressed to his cheek and Quatre’s breath on his skin had he realized, abruptly and shockingly, not only just how much he wanted him, but that he wanted him.
It should be no surprise, really, that he hadn’t noticed until the idea was literally shoved in his face: it had been so long since he’d felt anything of the kind; he’d grown so accustomed to being alone; he’d been so used to considering pleasant social interaction something he’d cast off back when he’d cursed Duo — even the concept of Quatre as a friend had been difficult to get his head around… and yet it seemed marvelous, bordering on impossible, that any time had passed since meeting Quatre during which Trowa hadn’t been conscious of a bone-deep desire to have his companionship in any and every way.
Quatre usually sat two chairs down from him and talked cheerfully as they ate, but this evening he’d set his place across the table’s corner from Trowa, right in the next spot, and at the moment was just looking at him and smiling. Trowa was glad there was currently no call for conversation, as his thoughts were a chaos of contradictory ideas and indecision, none of which he was likely to be able to put into words even if he wanted to.
Not least among these was the concern he felt at Quatre getting himself into something like this. He’d been perfectly serious, when Quatre had wondered at the space of time Trowa had gone without friends, reminding him what he’d done to his last one: Trowa’s friend was not a safe thing to be. To be something more was insane; there was nothing about Trowa that was worth that risk. And this was only one of several reasons he didn’t necessarily think this was a good idea, much as he’d realized he wanted it. Yet when he’d tried to give some warning of this, all he’d managed to say was something about his own antisocial nature that Quatre had undoubtedly long since guessed.
And Quatre’s smile was so inviting…
Trowa had been perfectly disinterested in eating for a very long time, but never in seventy years so much as right now. After Quatre’s lips, the taste and texture of food seemed almost offensively bland to Trowa’s mouth. He’d felt like he could go on kissing him forever, but Quatre had insisted on dinner. Now Trowa had no idea what he was eating, and could barely even turn his eyes toward it.
“What are you thinking?” Quatre asked suddenly.
Seeing no reason not to answer with the truth (if not the whole truth), Trowa said, “What a wonderful smile you have.”
“Thank you,” said Quatre, ducking his head slightly and looking momentarily quite pleased. “But you seem awfully serious to be thinking something like that. What else are you thinking?”
For perhaps the first time, Trowa turned his gaze down toward his plate, sighing. “I just,” he said, “don’t know if this is a good idea.”
Without needing to ask what ‘this’ he meant, Quatre inquired quietly, “Why?”
Trowa opened his mouth to answer, but found he didn’t have the words. How could he explain that, among other things, someone like Quatre didn’t need to be putting up with all the trouble and unhappiness that must be attendant upon a relationship with someone like Trowa? That someone like Trowa didn’t have any right to be making a claim on the thoughts and feelings and time and effort of someone like Quatre? ‘I don’t deserve you’ seemed trite and overly dramatic, and yet how else could he put it?
“You’re afraid you’ll hurt me,” Quatre supplied quietly at last.
And there was that too. Trowa nodded.
Quatre said his name very seriously, and reached out to grasp Trowa’s free hand. Trowa looked up into beautiful sober eyes that held his just as tenaciously as Quatre’s arms had held him earlier. “I haven’t seen everything you’ve gone through,” said Quatre, “but I’ve seen what it’s done to you — and I don’t believe for an instant that you will ever do anything like what you did to Duo ever again. You’re an intelligent man who’s learned from his mistakes.” It had only been moments since his smile had faded and given way to that serious look, but its return was reassuring (as Quatre seemed specifically to intend). “You’re not going to turn me into anything.”
“You can’t be sure of that.”
“I can’t,” Quatre agreed levelly, “but I believe it anyway.”
Trowa returned to his tasteless meal without replying, the chaos in his head hardly diminished. He was simultaneously delighted and appalled that Quatre trusted him thus, and none of his other misgivings had been allayed.
After several moments of silence, Quatre spoke again. “You are willing to try, though, aren’t you?” Trowa thought that, despite how confidently he’d phrased the question, there was a touch of concern to his voice that he couldn’t hide.
And right in the face of all his better judgment, Trowa found himself answering, “Yes,” before he even realized what he was saying.
Once it was obvious that each of them had eaten all he was going to — singularly, Quatre seemed nearly as disinterested in food as Trowa was — they set about clearing up. Somehow, though, to Trowa’s pleased bewilderment, this turned into kissing against the kitchen counter. And Trowa certainly didn’t care enough about the cleanliness of his dishes or the state of his dining area to mind neglecting them for this.
He couldn’t begin to think why Quatre was interested in him in any sense, and he couldn’t imagine that someone whose only experience in this area had been almost ninety years ago could be in any way enjoyable to kiss… but since Quatre seemed willing, Trowa didn’t question. He still didn’t really believe this was a good idea, and he was awash with the same guilt that always overcame him the moment he started enjoying something, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull away.
Quatre, he found, was bulkier than he’d expected; he wondered why this should surprise him, when he’d seen Quatre in t-shirts and knew he had well-developed arms at least. There was a firmness, too, to the way those arms held Trowa, not to mention the way Quatre kissed him, a strength and insistence that was also unexpected — and, again, why this should be, Trowa did not know. Perhaps he’d been viewing Quatre as more fragile than he actually was simply because he was aware of what he was capable of doing to him.
Then Quatre’s hand slid into Trowa’s hair, and his tongue teased at Trowa’s lips, and all the cold, dark thoughts in Trowa’s head began first to blur at the edges and then to fade into something shamefully like contentment.
He wasn’t sure how long Quatre put up with his amateurish kissing, but when the entry clock struck a quarter Quatre pulled away from him somewhat abruptly. “What time was that?” he demanded, startled. Trowa, who definitely hadn’t been paying attention, shook his head. Pulling out his cell phone, Quatre checked. “Damn,” he whispered. He was smiling ruefully when he looked back up at Trowa, his slightly-parted pink lips just a little swollen and, for the moment, absolutely riveting. “I’m already late. I’ve got to go.”
Trowa felt the one arm he still had around Quatre’s chest stiffen, tightening almost instinctively, and he had to exert actual will power to make it release. To be honest, he didn’t think this whole thing was going to last very long, but he also didn’t think it was going to end this very same day it had started; there was no reason to hold on desperately to Quatre just yet. Not that he would have any right to do so whenever Quatre did decide to call things off…
Maybe Quatre sensed some of what Trowa wasn’t saying, for he smiled again and said, “I’ll come back after work.” And then maybe he sensed the absurd pleasure Trowa felt at hearing this, for the smile widened into a grin and he lifted his face to kiss Trowa briefly one last time. Then, as he pulled completely away, he let one hand trail lightly down Trowa’s chest before all contact between them ceased.
Trowa followed him to the entry and watched him smooth out his rumpled shirt, then straighten his tie with one hand while he reached for the doorknob with the other. “See you later,” was Quatre’s goodbye. And Trowa, almost without knowing what he did, hastily moved up to the door as it closed to look through the little windows and follow Quatre’s form with his eyes across Heero’s living room and to the next door.
Once Quatre was totally out of sight, Trowa stepped back and gazed dully around the dark entryway, seeing nothing, waiting for the real guilt to make impact.