Quatre didn’t know whether Trowa had somehow (perhaps magically) been aware of the exact instant he would arrive on Thursday afternoon, or if he’d been in the entry just at that moment by coincidence; but whatever the cause, the result was the same: immediately inside the door they were in each other’s arms without any verbal intimation that this was the greeting they both had in mind. It had happened exactly like this yesterday too, right down to the almost palpable despair in Trowa’s movements. Quatre still wasn’t quite sure what to do about that.

Trowa was thin — very thin — bordering on what Quatre would have called unhealthily thin. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, given that Quatre knew what his eating habits were, but he wasn’t used to it yet; every time he was blessed with the opportunity to run his hands over Trowa’s arms and chest and back (and sometimes farther down because he simply couldn’t resist), he was startled all over again at how scrawny his new boyfriend was.

It made him want to sit Trowa down to a three-course meal at least twice a day from now on until he bulked up a little. Since this urge, so far, had arisen almost exclusively while Quatre was kissing Trowa, however, and was usually forgotten when some tentative experimental shift of Trowa’s lips or the desperate clinging of Trowa’s hands thoroughly apprehended Quatre’s attention, he hadn’t given it much thought at any moment when he might have made practical use of it.

This particular kiss came abruptly to an end when the bag Quatre had completely forgotten he was holding slipped from his otherwise-occupied hand and the plastic box inside it let out a crunch as it hit the floor. He pulled away from Trowa and said, somewhat breathlessly, “Look how much you’ve distracted me.”

“I’m sorry,” Trowa replied, and, though Quatre knew he was responding to the laughing comment in kind, there was just a little too much honesty in his tone. Probably better not to tell him how spacy Quatre had been at work over the last couple of days.

Quatre released Trowa and bent to retrieve the bag. “Much as I’d love to keep doing that all day, we need to eat lunch.”

“Must we?” said Trowa.

With a wide grin Quatre turned to face him, excessively pleased. “Trowa, I think you’re flirting with me!”

“I may be,” Trowa replied with a reluctant smile.

“You need to smile more,” Quatre breathed, moving right up against Trowa again. Not wishing to spoil the expression in question, he kissed Trowa’s jaw and cheek and temple instead — but after only that, Trowa turned and caught Quatre’s mouth once more with his. He was getting better at this.

Eventually they did make it into the kitchen and to some sort of rational thought concerning lunch. This was a set of microwaveable components that combined to form what the box claimed was mushroom stroganoff, which made Quatre laugh. At Trowa’s curious look he decided to share his nostalgia.

“As a little kid,” he began, a bit absently as he’d also begun reading the microwave instructions on the side of the box, “I’d gotten it into my head that I hated mushrooms more than anything in the world. I probably really didn’t like them much, but you know how little kids are… they think any food they don’t absolutely love is unbearably disgusting, usually after they’ve tried it exactly once.”

Trowa didn’t much look like he knew ‘how little kids are,’ possibly because he hadn’t been one in a hundred years and his interaction with humans had been at a bare minimum for almost as long. Maybe sometime (sometime when Trowa’s ability to deal with people had improved a bit, that is) Quatre would introduce him to some of his nieces and nephews.

For now Quatre just went on in amusement, “According to my family, I had such a strong aversion to mushrooms that I was actually afraid of them. I don’t remember it exactly like that, but that’s what they tell me: I wouldn’t touch mushrooms; I’d run away from mushrooms; if there were mushrooms on the table, I’d back my chair away and try to eat from a distance…” He mimed eating with his arms stretched out at full length. “I guess they found it pretty hilarious — and I can’t really blame them — because I do remember my sisters chasing me around with mushrooms. I think I ran more just because they were chasing me, though, than because they had mushrooms in their hands.”

By their hot edges, he pulled the flimsy plastic containers from the microwave with his fingertips, and began carefully peeling the already-punctured plastic cover from the sauce. “This smells good,” he murmured.

Then, to his surprise, he felt the warmth of Trowa against him, leaning in somewhat hesitantly to find out what he was talking about. “It does,” Trowa said quietly.

Abruptly Quatre turned, putting himself chest-to-chest with Trowa. “Mmm, so do you,” he said, and buried his face in Trowa’s shoulder and neck. There was a stiff button-up shirt collar in his way, and Quatre pulled it slightly aside to get at Trowa’s skin. Admittedly much of what Quatre could smell at the moment was mushroom sauce, but there was still about Trowa that air of dusty leather and crumbling paper that was so intriguing to Quatre.

At first Trowa stood absolutely still as Quatre nuzzled and then began mouthing the pale flesh of his neck, but his breathing did quicken, and eventually his arms lifted, slid slowly up Quatre’s sides, and came to rest around his back just above his waist. “Now who’s doing the distracting?” Trowa whispered, his breath stirring Quatre’s hair.

Laughing, Quatre withdrew and looked into Trowa’s still-mostly-serious face. He gave him a quick, hard kiss before squirming around in his arms to face the kitchen counter again. “You’re right,” he said. “Our food’s going to get cold before it’s even put together.”

“I wasn’t really complaining,” Trowa murmured into his ear, making Quatre shiver.

As Quatre began stirring up the noodles and the sauce in a couple of bowls, Trowa released him — which was disappointing, but probably better for productivity — and said, “Was there more of your mushroom story?”

“Oh, yes!” Quatre had completely forgotten he’d even been telling a story. “Set the table,” he ordered. “So I was afraid of mushrooms, apparently, and my sisters — at least the youngest three or four — thought this was really funny.” He lifted the two bowls and circumnavigated the counter to bring them to the table. “And one day — I don’t know whose idea it was — one day they decided to take this one step further than just chasing me around with mushrooms. So they went into the kitchen and made some muffins, and they chopped up some mushrooms and mixed them into the muffin dough.”

Trowa, who was now settling into his usual place at the table, raised a skeptical eyebrow.

Quatre laughed. “Yes, I’m sure they did have something better to do,” he said, taking his own seat across from Trowa. “But apparently this was important. So they brought me a muffin and asked if I wanted a ‘muffroom.’ And I told them, no, I didn’t want a mushroom. ‘No, a muffroom,’ they said, and showed me the muffin.”

“And how old were you?” Trowa asked.

Quatre grinned. “Um, six? Maybe five. I’m not sure.”

“And was this before or after they’d started conning you at cards?”

“I think that started soon after this.” Quatre’s grin widened. “Hey, this is good,” he added after taking his first bite of the stroganoff.

“Your opinion on mushrooms has changed,” Trowa observed.

“Yes, it has,” agreed Quatre, and took another bite with relish. When his mouth was free he continued his account. “So I had this ‘muffroom,’ and I was suspicious of it because of the name. But my sisters insisted that they were only calling it that because it was shaped something like a mushroom, and eventually they got me to eat it. And obviously I couldn’t taste the mushroom in it — either that or I just really didn’t hate mushrooms as much as I thought I did — because I ate the whole thing and thought it was pretty good.

“And of course after I’d finished it my sisters told me — gleefully, triumphantly told me — what had been in it. I think at first I didn’t want to believe them, and repeated what they’d said to me about it being called a ‘muffroom’ because of how it was shaped and all that… but eventually I just started screaming and crying. I was upset that I’d eaten mushrooms, of course, but I was even more upset that they’d tricked me.”

“I can’t imagine you screaming and crying,” said Trowa, fixing him with a thoughtful gaze. “Not even as a child.”

“Oh, really?” Quatre found himself rather pleased at this

Trowa shook his head. “No. I can’t imagine you as anything but a very well-behaved child who was always in control of himself.”

At this Quatre laughed heartily. “I’ll show you some pictures sometime of just how well-behaved I was as a kid,” he said.

And to Quatre’s great delight, Trowa smiled.

When they’d finished their lunch/dinner, Quatre with solemn pride brought out the key lime cheesecake he’d bought on the way over. It had smashed somewhat against one side of its box when he’d dropped it earlier, but he doubted this would affect its flavor. Trowa looked at the dessert almost suspiciously, at which Quatre laughed. He opened it with faux ceremony and made a show of plunging a fork into it and taking the first bite. “I have a Cheesecake Factory in my town,” he said complacently.

As Trowa made no move to join him at this pursuit, Quatre forked another bite and, leaning forward, brought it insistently to Trowa’s mouth. Though he still appeared more than a bit wary, Trowa submitted to this and allowed himself to be fed. Then Quatre sat back and watched him, waiting to see how he liked it.

There was no marked change to Trowa’s expression, but Quatre saw the twitches of his eyebrows — first down, then up a little higher than they had been before — because he was looking for them. Mission accomplished, he thought.

“That…” Trowa said presently, slowly, “is very good.”

Quatre beamed. He had a feeling he was going to be late back from lunch again, but he couldn’t really bring himself to worry about it.

Previous (Part 49) | Chapter Index | Next (Part 51)

So the mushroom story is a true one, of which my brother and I were the stars many years ago. He was perhaps six, I perhaps sixteen, and things pretty well went as described here. To this day I remember it in a mixture of shame and excessive amusement, and I thought it fit quite well in this story. Also, I find it hilarious that Quatre can refer to “the youngest three or four” of his sisters. I would love to have ten children.