Just as he’d become accustomed in an insanely short period of time to eating lunch with Quatre every day, Trowa was now quickly getting used to Quatre showing up every night after work. This meant he had dual distractions from his own work as he found himself caught between the neverending cycle of guilt facilitated by the artifact in his study and the unfamiliar, warm feeling of pleasure and anticipation regarding Quatre and when he would next appear.
It didn’t help that the latter made the former so much worse. A voice in his head kept asking, Should you really be doing this? Leaving Heero with all the real work for Duo while you enjoy yourself with someone you will never deserve? Someone whose entire life you might destroy at any time? For this he had no real answer, but he couldn’t dismiss it or ignore it during the long hours he spent alone in his house attempting to take notes or do research. Only Quatre’s actual appearance pushed such thoughts farther back into the darkness and let him rest a little for a while.
He’d fallen asleep in his chair again when Quatre showed up at about nine o’clock on Friday night, and was awakened when his new paramour climbed into his lap and made himself comfortable. “Hi,” Quatre said when he noticed Trowa had awakened.
“Hello,” Trowa replied, lifting his arms to wrap around and hold Quatre.
Quatre kissed him briefly and beautifully, then laid his head on Trowa’s shoulder and sighed. “Meetings all afternoon, and all I can think about is you…”
That wasn’t right. Inevitably temporary involvement with someone like Trowa shouldn’t be distracting Quatre from his real life… no matter how much, against his will, Trowa adored the thought that Quatre had been dwelling on him since they’d seen each other earlier.
Abruptly Quatre sat up and fixed Trowa with a stern look. “You just made that noise again.”
“You do that sometimes about things I say… and then you get this look…” Quatre appeared decidedly unhappy all of a sudden. “Trowa, what is it about this that’s bothering you? Is there something I’m doing that you don’t like? Because you seem like you want to push me away.”
Trowa didn’t know what to say. How could he tell Quatre that he was like a drug… that he rendered everything colorful and sensitized when he was around, that he made Trowa feel wonderful… but that the moment he was gone, everything was even more bleak than before he’d come? That the better a time Trowa had with Quatre, the worse he felt when it was over? That having experienced this high only increased Trowa’s guilt and self-loathing once he came down?
“I don’t… I shouldn’t…” He took a deep breath and tried to regulate his thoughts and channel them properly for once. Quatre had asked, and he deserved an answer — at least deserved to know that it was nothing about him personally that Trowa was trying to push away. “I love having you around,” Trowa finally managed. “It makes me… happier… than I have been… in a long time. But that doesn’t feel right, when Duo is still suffering and–”
Quatre broke in with a frustrated noise of his own, shifting all at once so that he was straddling Trowa’s lap, his legs pressed hard into the arms of the chair on either side, and looking him directly in the eye. He took Trowa’s face firmly in his hands and said, “Trowa. You need to get over this thing you have about Duo. This is not about Duo. Duo has nothing to do with this.”
“I know you want me to… forgive myself…” Trowa replied, “but it’s not that easy…”
“It’s not even that,” Quatre sighed. “Just stop thinking of yourself in terms of what you did to Duo eighty-seven years ago. Yes, you hurt him; yes, he’s still suffering. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have any good experiences ever again. Even if you do buy into the whole karma thing and believe that you have to be punished for your mistake, don’t you think you’ve suffered enough?”
Grey-blue eyes held a pair of crescent moons in an unbreakable lock of gazes as Quatre ranted on. “You don’t have to keep pushing good things away because you think you don’t deserve them. You’re allowed to enjoy food and sleep and — and me — without beating yourself up over whether or not you’re stepping outside some arbitrary boundary set by some mistake you once made.”
Quatre released him, and Trowa felt his eyes sink closed as his head bent forward; Quatre met Trowa’s brow with his lips as Trowa said softly, “Whatever I deserve, I’m sure it’s not you.”
A sad-sounding little laugh vibrated against Trowa’s skin. “What on earth are you thinking about me?” Quatre murmured. “Do you think I’m some kind of valuable prize that should have gone to a better winner?”
“Something like that,” Trowa admitted.
Quatre laughed again, ruefully. “Well, I’m flattered. But seriously, I’m just a normal person like everyone else.” He turned his face so that his cheek rested against Trowa’s forehead. “I am absolutely nothing special, and nothing you should feel like you ‘don’t deserve.'”
“You’re something special to me,” Trowa murmured. He still couldn’t quite find words for the full effect Quatre had on him, but he could at least try to articulate the more straightforward parts of it. “You’ve made me… see the world again… even if I’m not ready for it… I’m more alive now than I have been for decades.” And even when you leave, he didn’t add aloud, I’ll still be alive because of you.
“I’m glad,” said Quatre quietly. “I want you to be happy. I want to make you happy. Can you accept that? As something I want, maybe, instead of something you think you don’t deserve?”
“I can try,” Trowa murmured.
“Thank you,” said Quatre. And he drew back, took Trowa’s face in his hands again, and kissed him.
It was very much like their first kiss had been: Quatre’s hands sliding down to Trowa’s neck, thumbs pressing upward to lift his chin; Quatre seeming a trifle unsure of how willing he would find Trowa, but in no way uncertain about what he wanted himself; Trowa with no real idea how best to respond, but knowing equally well that, if he could have, he would have made this last forever. His hands ran up and down Quatre’s warm back, the latter slightly curved as Quatre, kneeling in the chair, had to bend a little to reach Trowa’s mouth; and Quatre’s hands crumpled and worried the collar of his shirt.
It was good… it was all so good, in fact, that the dark voice in the back of Trowa’s head started muttering grimly about how painful things were going to be later when Quatre had gone, when the guilt came crashing down again and the feelings of inadequacy Quatre had been preaching against returned from their shadowy corners to remind Trowa of what he was and what he had done.
Feeling the strength of Quatre against him, however, Trowa was conscious of a simultaneous steeling of resolve in those same shadowy corners of his mind. Quatre wanted him to be happy… Quatre wanted him not to feel undeserving. And Trowa had promised to try. Tonight, at least, he would not go down without a fight.