“A curse affects both the victim and the caster. A skilled curse-caster can bend this effect so that their share in the curse is something they don’t mind, something that doesn’t inhibit them… but even if they manage that, repeatedly having a share in any curse leaves a mark eventually.”
When Heero rescues an abandoned doll from the gutter, he hardly thinks it’s going to change his life; but now he and his best friend Quatre find themselves involved in the breaking of a curse from almost a hundred years ago, and perhaps in falling for exactly the wrong people.
Heero was becoming fairly skilled at getting rid of Wufei. Wednesday’s encounter seemed as if Wufei wanted it to involve a discussion of Star Wars and probably its merits relative to Star Trek… but, although Heero was a good deal more familiar with one than the other and might at least have known what Duo and Wufei were arguing here, he discovered to his great surprise that Duo was almost entirely ignorant of Star Wars.
So, as Heero really only knew Star Wars casually and couldn’t hope to meet Wufei in a discussion of it, he disentangled himself from the conversation with what he thought was growing expertise.
This necessitated Heero clarifying the whole Star Wars thing to Duo at lunch, as Duo, though he had, of course, heard of it, wasn’t even certain how many movies there were. He got very excited upon learning there were six, and eventually, smiling, Heero promised to rent them all for him to watch. After this their conversation drifted into comfortable silence.
He imagined Duo, once the curse was broken and he had freedom of movement and of choice, tracking down every single sci-fi movie he’d never seen. Actually, there were a lot of things he could imagine Duo doing as a non-doll, and some of them seemed mutually exclusive.
With this in mind, Heero eventually asked idly, “So what will you do when you’re human again?”
He’d been expecting Duo to mention, if not all the movies he planned on watching, at least the foods he planned on eating and the sleep he planned on getting; Duo’s actual answer, “Move in with Trowa, I guess,” was something of an unpleasant surprise. “I can’t wait to see that weird house of his,” Duo went on with discouraging enthusiasm. “Quatre says he’s still got a Victrola. And you’ll be glad to have me out of your hair, too.”
Feeling that some response was required, Heero muttered something about Duo being no trouble.
“Oh, bullshit,” was Duo’s relatively cheerful reply. “You’re a trooper, but don’t think I can’t see how much this sucks for you. I’ll be buying you lunch every day for a year, remember?”
It occurred to Heero that, if hearing Duo talk about Trowa was bothering him now, a human Duo, affable and oblivious and flirtatious and probably extremely hot and still talking about Trowa, would drive him right over the edge. How in the world was he going to deal with this once Duo’s curse was broken? Would it even be possible for him to be around Duo at that point?
“That was just a joke,” he said, more shortly than he’d intended. “You don’t really have to do that.”
“Oh, I… OK.” Duo seemed a little surprised at this, but recovered almost immediately. “Since when do you make jokes?”
“It does happen sometimes.”
“Well, good. Good to know.” And they drifted again, though this silence was, at least to Heero, far less comfortable.
It was easier to make it back to work in a timely fashion after an exchange like that. He’d been pleased with himself for leaving to go to lunch and getting back from it on time every day so far this week, but today he could hardly take any credit for it, and there was no pleasure in it.
He thought Quatre must still be having a hard time with punctuality, though — and no wonder, if he was making a twenty-minute drive to Heero’s apartment and another one back — and today seemed to be no exception, as the email Heero received from him that afternoon came at around two thirty. The subject read, Personal stuff I probably shouldn’t be emailing you about at work, at which Heero smiled faintly as he opened the message. Then the latter started out with, Insofar as the word applies, Trowa and I are now dating, and Heero got no farther than this for a very long time.
Stunned, he read that line over and over and over until eventually the symbols on the screen in front of his eyes lost all meaning, after which he simply sat and stared. Finally, though, dragging himself out of that red-hot rut, he forced his eyes and brain to concentrate, and read on.
This started last Tuesday, and I’m sorry I haven’t let you know sooner. I’ve meant to tell you every single day, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to announce right in front of Duo that it’s OK for you to put the moves on him, and when you two weren’t around I’ll admit it just slipped my mind. Please understand that I was distracted, not indifferent.
Trowa says that he and Duo were in love in the 20’s (god, that’s strange to write), and that the whole argument that started all of this was about each other, not about the woman. But they were never actually together, and it’s all over now.
So my point is that I hope things go as well for you as they are for me.
Heero sat back. He restrained himself with an iron will from looking down at Duo, who would surely remark upon it if Heero turned a shocked and horrified gaze on him.
Trowa and I are now dating.
He and Duo were in love in the 20’s.
“Move in with Trowa, I guess.”
He remembered what Duo had told him about Trowa on Saturday: “He seemed really… agitated. But not in a bad way. He didn’t tell me anything that would explain it.” Well, now Heero had the explanation.
Quatre may have thought he was giving Heero good news and a green flag; not having spent nearly as much time with Duo, he couldn’t have known the burden he was placing on his friend’s shoulders. Because this was obviously going to be just as much news to Duo as it was to Heero, and not the good kind.
But they were never actually together, and it’s all over now.
Could Quatre really know that? Heero found himself grinding his teeth. He had a feeling Trowa understood the situation better than Quatre did; Trowa must be aware of how Duo still felt about him, or else why hadn’t he mentioned his involvement with Quatre on one of the several occasions when he’d talked to Duo since last Tuesday? He knew — he knew, and he’d been too cowardly to say anything about it.
Unfortunately, this was a cowardice that Heero could easily comprehend. Duo had been waiting so long, putting that cheerful face on just about the worst situation Heero could imagine, probably staving off insanity only with the hope that he and Trowa would someday be together again… how on earth could you tell someone in such a predicament that the man he’d been waiting for, putting all his hope in, faithfully thinking of for eighty-seven years… the man he was in love with… had abandoned him for someone else?
And how on earth had it fallen to Heero’s lot to be the one to tell him?
He did spare a thought or two for Quatre, wondering vaguely whether this would turn out well for him. Quatre had a history of attracting emotionally high-maintenance guys that wanted their lives lived for them — people with huge issues they weren’t willing even to attempt to solve for themselves, boyfriends that would request Quatre’s presence at any inconvenient time for support and comfort but offered very little (if anything) in return… Heero couldn’t help feeling some doubt that Trowa would be any better than the previous lineup.
But Quatre could — and did — take care of himself. Heero couldn’t dwell on this subject long, since the issue of the doll sitting on the desk beside him was nearly all-consuming. He risked a look down at Duo, who at that moment happened to have his head turned in another direction and didn’t see, and felt his heart clench with a stabbing sense of pity and sorrow. He couldn’t do it; he couldn’t bring himself to hurt Duo by telling him this news. It had to be done, of course, but right now, today, Heero was certain he could not manage it.
“Move in with Trowa, I guess.”
What was he going to do about this?
Heero, Duo found, was still not in the best mood on Thursday. Duo wanted to bother him to find out what had been bothering him, but, after Heero’s remark yesterday about the whole lunch-for-a-year thing having been a joke, didn’t feel he was quite to the point where he could pry into such personal matters. Which was disheartening when, if you’d asked him on Tuesday, he would have said that he probably had reached that point.
But, then, that remark had been disheartening in general. Every time he started to think that maybe…
Well, it didn’t matter. Heero was breaking the curse for him; Heero was his friend; that should be enough. When Heero was already giving him so much, Duo shouldn’t be bitter about not getting more. And he could enjoy Heero’s company no matter what was or wasn’t likely to come of it, and, to some extent, no matter what Heero’s mood.
The latter, at least, did improve as the day progressed. Heero was still a good deal more quietly pensive than usual at lunch (which Duo tried to make up for by being twice as cheerful himself), but by mid-afternoon his normal demeanor seemed to be back in place. Duo thought it helped that not a single person had come by to stare or ask stupid questions today. That was a first — although, as Heero had hoped it would, the harassment had slowed up quite a bit this week. People still gave the doll funny looks when they came seeking Heero’s help, but they’d stopped showing up specifically to see Duo.
Of course Live Long And Prosper Guy was still around, but he was a separate category: he didn’t come to see Duo, but rather to find out Heero’s thoughts on tanar’ri, baatezu, and censorship. When Heero had no idea what he was talking about (and was forced to admit it, since Duo didn’t either), the guy didn’t appear at all put out, as his real purpose seemed simply to have been to rant about it to someone. Heero tolerated him for a while, and then dismissed him with the threat of Dorothy.
Heero still had to hasten through the door when the day was over, though; Hazard A Guess Guy had been eyeing him at around five o’clock lately as if he might want to corner him on his way out and talk more nerd at him. Today, at least, they made it downstairs and out to Heero’s car safely, and as they commenced the homeward drive, Heero mentioned, apparently more to himself than his companion, that it was the fifteenth.
“How many days left?” asked Duo.
After only half a moment’s thought Heero answered, “Eighteen. But the fifteenth is bill day, so you’ll have to watch TV or something for a while.”
“Nooooo!” Duo cried. “Not TV!” As he’d hoped, this made Heero smile a little.
Unusually, Heero didn’t change clothing when he got home. Duo hadn’t ever been able to decide whether he liked the t-shirts and jeans or the suit and tie better, and was glad to have regular exposure to both, but he did wonder at the reason for this behavior today. When Heero explained briefly that looking over his bills felt like work, Duo had to restrain a laugh at this interesting compartmentalism of thought.
Bill time didn’t last very long; evidently it was more a financial checkup than any real sort of diagnosis and treatment. That seemed like a good idea, if you happened to have money; Duo had never had enough in his life to give much thought to budgeting. He wasn’t terribly surprised that Heero was responsible about this sort of thing, though.
There was actually no TV involved, since most of what Heero was looking at was on the computer. Evidently to Heero’s great annoyance, however, the one thing he still couldn’t do from home was pay his rent — which meant that the last part of bill day was walking down to the apartment office to put an enveloped check into the night drop-box.
“I only even have a checkbook anymore for rent,” Heero complained as he turned away from this successful operation and directed his steps toward the mailboxes up the hill. “Everything else I either have set up on an automatic payment, or else I can do it online.”
Duo laughed. “The internet makes life so much easier for anti-social people, doesn’t it?”
“I am not anti-social,” Heero said calmly — but it was a hopeless calm that bespoke the frequent repetition of this sentiment.
Heero made a doubtful sound. “I guess I’ll accept that.”
“I’m sorry?” As she pulled something from her own mailbox, a woman that Duo, at least, had not noticed as they approached looked up with this startled query.
“Oh…” Heero sounded embarrassed. “No, I was talking to myself… sorry.”
The woman smiled and went back to what she was doing. Duo tried not to laugh. It would have been even funnier, probably, if she had noticed him in the pocket of Heero’s slacks, but it was already pretty entertaining. He didn’t want to make Heero feel bad, though.
Heero, Duo had noticed, rarely checked his mail, probably because the boxes were on the other side of the complex from where he lived and not even on his way in from the parking lot. The few times he had gone out there while Duo had been here with him, he’d come back practically overloaded with mail, most of which he threw away. Duo supposed it made sense, if Heero managed almost all his finances online, that he didn’t care much what he got in the paper mail. Now he took his armful of what looked like a large collection of coupons and whatnot and headed back to his own apartment without daring to speak to Duo again. Once inside, he began sorting through the mail on the counter, grumbling softly about the excessive amount of junk.
Duo was just beginning to ask whether it was possible to live without a mailing address when Heero suddenly went still, looking at an envelope he’d just picked up. Duo, who was sitting on the counter facing him, could easily see the slow smile growing on his face into an expression that looked happier than anything Duo had seen there all day. Duo broke off what he’d been saying to ask, “What is it?”
“It’s for you.” Heero turned the off-white envelope around and held it down where Duo could see it.
Duo found himself unable to speak as he stared at the rounded handwriting that spelled out his name above Heero’s address. Abruptly he was feeling all the incapacitation of being choked up without a throat to give him the actual sensation. Somebody had sent him mail, just as if he were a normal human being. Somebody had written out his name over an actual address on a real envelope, put a stamp on it, and mailed it to him. What he finally managed to say, inappropriately, was, “Shit…!”
Heero laughed. “How long has it been since you got mail?”
“I don’t know… ninety years?” Again he was having speech difficulties with nothing physical to excuse them. “And there wasn’t all that much of it for people like me back then anyway…”
“Want me to open it?” Heero’s eyes rested on Duo with interest. Duo was almost certain that, despite his limited plastic facial expression, exactly what this meant to him was plain to Heero.
“Let me look at it for one more second,” Duo said breathlessly.
Heero laughed again and complied, allowing Duo to look his fill at his own name, at the physical stamp featuring a basket of purple pansies and the word ‘love,’ at the post office stamp atop that, at the lack of return address. Duo got the feeling Heero knew where it had come from, but he wouldn’t for the world have asked and spoiled the best surprise he’d had since Trowa had walked into this very room and back into his life after eighty-seven years.
“OK,” he said finally, when the excitement and interest and pleasure had made him almost giddy, “open it.” As Heero’s hands moved, Duo added hastily, “But don’t mangle the envelope or anything, OK? I want… I mean, do you mind if I keep it?”
“It’s your mail, Duo,” Heero replied with a smile as he neatly slit the top of the envelope with a butter knife he’d had out for this purpose. “You can do whatever you want with it.”
“Well, in your space…”
Instead of answering, Heero pulled a card from the envelope and held it out for Duo to see.
What to expect from this Duo really hadn’t had the faintest idea. The number of people that could have addressed the envelope was incredibly small, and its contents, however much they meant to Duo, were unlikely to be particularly intrinsically meaningful. Or so he’d thought.
Inside the card’s low-relief floral border, it read in gold script, “The honor of your presence is requested at the marriage of Relena Yuy and Colin Elwynn Morris, Saturday, July 10th, 2010,” followed by the name and address of an Episcopal church in the area.
If Duo had been capable of it, he would have cried. The only written invitation to anything he remembered ever having received before had been in crayon and delivered simultaneously to two Barbies and a teddy bear. A mailed invitation to a wedding was something people sent to their real, normal, human friends. And he’d only met Relena just the once! Such kindness and thoughtfulness was unexpected and overwhelming.
“The actual wedding, even,” Heero murmured. “Not just the reception. And she knows you’ll be human again by then too.” He sounded impressed and pleased, and Duo in turn was pleased that his happiness at this was making Heero happy — especially as it seemed to have erased the last lingering traces of Heero’s previous mood.
“Can you call her?” Duo requested eagerly. “I need to ask her to marry me.”
Relena picked up just when Heero was sure the call was going to go to voicemail. “Hey, Heero,” she greeted him.
“Hi,” Heero replied, and went on in Japanese. “I called to tell you Duo got your invitation.”
“Wow, really?” Relena complied with his oblique request not to speak English. “Already?”
“Yeah. I wanted you to know how much he appreciates it. I don’t think he’s ever been invited to a wedding before, and he says he hasn’t gotten mail in ninety years.”
“I thought that might be the case. I thought it would be nice for him to have something happy to look forward to going to with regular people once he’s not a doll anymore.”
Said doll was making frustrated noises at not being able to understand anything Heero was saying, waving his arms in odd patterns in the air.
“Yes, definitely,” Heero agreed, smiling at Duo’s antics. “It means a lot to him. You don’t realize how happy you’ve made him.”
“And that makes you happy,” Relena guessed, sounding smug.
“Yes,” admitted Heero.
“And you’re talking to me in Japanese because you haven’t told him yet that you like him and you’re embarrassed to say this kind of thing in front of him.”
To be honest, Heero was a little embarrassed even to be saying it in Japanese, and had turned half away from Duo to hide his face. “Anyone listening to you would think you’d grown up with me,” he said with dry humor.
She chuckled. “I thought so.”
“Whenever you Japs are finished with your top secret conversation,” Duo said loudly, “I want to talk to Relena!”
“Whenever you plastic dolls are finished with your racial slurs,” Heero retorted, “maybe I’ll let you.”
“Oh,” said Duo. “Is that a…” He paused for a moment. “I guess it is. Sorry!”
“You even lived through World War II. You should know this.”
“Yeah, but at that point I was busy raising a family of stuffed animals bigger than I was with a porcelain doll named Shirley!” Duo protested. “But, still, I’m sorry. I’ll never say it again.”
Relena was laughing. “I’m only hearing bits and pieces of this, but it sounds wonderful.”
“He wants to talk to you.”
“Well, let him!”
Heero looked down at Duo solemnly.
“I’m really sorry.” By now Duo sounded a little distressed. “I promise I won’t say it again.”
It was impossible to keep up a stern expression when faced with a penitently worried Duo, and Heero hadn’t actually been much offended anyway. “It’s OK,” he said with smile, and lowered the phone to the doll’s level, placing it in what he thought would be the best position for the hearing and being heard of those involved in the subsequent conversation.
“Hi, Relena!” was Duo’s greeting.
“What’s this I hear you calling me?” Heero heard his sister say.
“I’m sorry!” Duo wailed.
She laughed, and said something else Heero couldn’t make out.
“Well, I wanted to say thanks for the invitation. Thanks a lot. I’ll definitely come, in one shape or another. I mean, I should be human by then, but you never know. Either way, I don’t know if I’ll have anything appropriate to wear.”
Relena seemed to answer with something to the purpose of Heero being surely able to find Duo a tuxedo.
“Yeah, but it may have to be a human-size tux, and he can’t be spending that much money on me.”
Heero thought he gladly could be, but didn’t say so.
“Well, maybe Heero can find you a job too,” Relena suggested, and went on to say something about the company Heero worked for only hiring people that were best friends with someone that already worked there. Heero snorted.
“Now there’s an idea,” said Duo thoughtfully. “I could keep that nerd guy from bothering Heero all the time…”
Relena said something else Heero didn’t catch.
“I will!” Duo replied heartily. “Right now! Oh, but first, I needed to ask you to marry me.”
Something in an amused tone from Relena was followed up by, “You meet me in the church on July tenth, and we’ll see what happens.”
“That’s good enough for me!” Duo grinned. “And, seriously, thanks again for the invite.”
“You’re very welcome. Put my brother back on, would you?”
Heero returned the phone to his own ear. “Here I am.”
Bluntly, though in Japanese, Relena asked, “Any particular reason you haven’t told this guy how you feel about him?”
Heero answered just as bluntly in the same language. “He’s in love with his friend.”
“The one with the psycho eyes who lives behind the door in your living room wall?” Relena sounded surprised. “That’s funny… I got the impression he and Quatre…”
“Yeah, there’s that too. It’s a little complicated.”
“Well, I’m sorry about that. I was watching you guys the other night, and I thought… well, that’s too bad.”
“I’ve been telling myself it doesn’t matter,” said Heero firmly. “Duo’s a good friend, and I wouldn’t want to lose that. I can be happy with that.”
“Oh, Heero,” she half laughed and half sighed. “You can keep telling yourself that right up until it starts to hurt, but then I expect you to get out of the situation, OK? Don’t be a masochist.”
“OK, fine,” he replied in much the same tone. He didn’t feel like admitting that it already hurt.
“And, seriously, if you don’t find a steady boyfriend, mama’s never going to stop plotting to make a grandchild-fathering straight man out of you.”
“Well, when are you going to tell her that you and Colin aren’t planning on kids?”
Now Relena gave a sigh that held no amusement whatsoever. “I don’t know. I haven’t had the nerve yet. It’s going to make her so unhappy.”
“I know that feeling.”
She gave a somewhat bitter laugh. “Well, I’ll talk to you whenever, and we’ll see what we’ve come up with by then.”
“Thanks again for inviting Duo,” Heero said.
Her laugh was more pleasant now. “I’ve never been thanked so much for anything before! He must really be happy about it!”
“You have no idea,” said Heero sincerely. He didn’t think he completely understood Duo’s happiness at this, and he’d watched it build.
They said their goodbyes and hung up, and Heero replaced his phone in his pocket. Then he looked down at Duo again.
“So do you think I really could get a job where you work, once the curse is broken?” was Duo’s immediate query.
Heero went back to sorting the mail. “Possibly.”
“What exactly do all those people I’ve met up there do?” Duo wondered next. “Besides asking you a million questions.”
So Heero explained about the sales team’s various functions, the job requirements, the training, and the fact that having a friend working there really was a good way to get hired yourself. And through it all he tried to brace himself for this actually happening. Having human Duo around him at work every day was an ambivalent prospect.
But he’d meant what he’d told his sister: Duo’s friendship was valuable enough to him that he didn’t want to push him away, even if the resultant closeness that wasn’t quite everything he wanted threatened to drive him insane. And as a friend, he would do whatever he could to make sure Duo’s new life as a human went well. He would help him land on his feet; he would get him a job, if he could; he would help him find a home and start living again; he would assist in whatever way Duo needed. He would tell him in the kindest possible manner that Trowa didn’t love him anymore. Just as soon as he figured out how.
With each day that passed, the moment of Quatre’s departure in the evening became more difficult for Trowa. He knew both that he probably shouldn’t be getting this attached to and desirous of Quatre’s extended companionship, and that Quatre really did have a job and places to be in the mornings… but he couldn’t help feeling disappointed when conversation started working its way around to Quatre’s getting up and leaving.
Thus Trowa was startled and pleased when, instead of the usual “Well, I should get going” on Friday, Quatre asked unexpectedly, “Can I spend the night?” Which explained why he’d brought a backpack with him. Not that Quatre’s bedroom and the rest of his house wasn’t just through the front door, but it was like Quatre to come specifically prepared.
And did this mean…? It probably did, and it would probably have been obvious to anyone else that knew people and the world better, and it would probably seem very stupid to request clarification… but Trowa had to be sure. “Are you saying,” he asked slowly, “that you want to have sex?”
Quatre’s face took on a smile that was simultaneously fond, pitying, and full of a laughter in which there was no derision. “Yes, Trowa,” he said kindly, “that’s what I’m saying.”
“And are you aware…” said Trowa, even more slowly, “that I’ve never done that before? With anyone?”
“I thought that might be the case.” Quatre leaned up and pecked him briefly on the lips. “As long as it’s all right with you…”
It was more than all right with Trowa, despite the nervousness that had gripped him and everything he feared he might feel afterward. “Yes,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
“Why do you always ask me that?” Trowa was surprised at his own impatience as he voiced this complaint. “Yes, I’m sure.”
Quatre also looked somewhat surprised. “You’ve been alone for a long time,” he explained seriously, “and I know I’m sometimes a little overbearing. I don’t want to push you into anything you’ll regret afterwards.”
“Everything I enjoy I regret afterwards,” was Trowa’s blunt response. “Sometimes I even regret it at the time. But you were the one who told me I need to stop pushing away good experiences because I feel guilty about enjoying them.”
Appearing at the same moment pleased that Trowa was making this effort and concerned that there was still regret and guilt involved in all of this — and overall as if he was about to ask, ‘Are you sure?’ again — Quatre seemed to struggle with his thoughts for a few silent seconds. Eventually he must have decided that Trowa was, in fact, sure — or at least had the right to act as if he was — for he leaned up to kiss him briefly again and then said, with a playful smile, “Well, let’s have a shower.”
Taken aback by what seemed to him a total shift in conversational focus, Trowa echoed blankly, “A shower?”
“You know, where the water comes out and you get clean?” Quatre teased. “You do have…” He paused, his smile fading and his brows lowering as a thought struck him and caused his joking question to turn abruptly totally serious. “You do have a shower, don’t you?”
“Oh, yes,” Trowa reassured him hastily. “I just never use it.”
Looking perplexed and amused, “You’ve never seemed anything but perfectly clean to me,” Quatre remarked.
“I use magic to keep clean. It’s quicker and easier.”
Now Quatre’s smile spread out into a wondering grin of sudden understanding. “That’s why you always smell like books,” he said: “you get rid of the dirt with magic, but never wash the smell off.”
Trowa wasn’t aware that he did smell like books — though Quatre had told him more than once that he smelled nice — but thought this assessment was probably accurate.
Now Quatre took him by the arm and began pulling him toward the study (and, presumably, the bedroom and bathroom beyond). “Well, come on,” he said. “A shower every now and then won’t hurt.”
Trowa rather suspected it would do just the opposite, and followed willingly.
He found himself very nervous about removing his clothes, something he’d never done in front of someone — at least in this context — his entire adult life. What if Quatre didn’t like him… what if Quatre decided to call things off right then and there, and walked out, leaving Trowa naked, heartbroken, and guilty… what if Trowa’s thin, pale, inexperienced body brought everything to an end?
Besides this, there were other considerations slowing Trowa’s hands on his shirt buttons.
Quatre stepped out of his shoes, which he placed neatly against the wall beside the door, and then, with no apparent hesitation, took off his pants. Trowa’s eyes lingered on his bare legs, following them up to where the shirt obscured everything else and back down to the black socks he had yet to remove, while Quatre unthreaded his belt from his slacks, rolled the former and folded the latter, and placed both neatly on the closed toilet seat. Then he removed his tie and began unbuttoning his shirt, and by this point Trowa was completely motionless, riveted.
Unsurprisingly, Quatre folded his shirt as well, and stacked it on the other items on the toilet, then folded his tie in half exactly twice and set it atop the shirt. This put his back to Trowa again, who took the opportunity to examine two little dimples in the smooth flesh just above where an interesting indentation disappeared beneath a pair of tight, plain boxer briefs. Quatre bent to remove his socks (which he then balled and placed in one of his shoes), and this movement caused every last aspect of the area Trowa’s eyes were fixed on to shift and tighten. Involuntarily Trowa caught his breath.
Hearing this, Quatre whirled on him with a knowing grin. Instead of saying anything, he advanced until he was pressed up against Trowa, who in turn found himself pressed up against the sink. Quatre seized Trowa’s hands and brought them sliding down his sides, abandoning them only when he’d tucked Trowa’s fingertips under the waistband of his briefs in an unspoken but unmistakable command.
Trowa wasn’t sure whether nervousness or arousal made his movements more jerky, but at least he didn’t hesitate: his hands dug in, pushing the garment down over Quatre’s buttocks. The briefs stuck and hung in front on an already-halfway-erect penis, and Trowa thought that the act of clumsily disentangling this, and especially the little breath of pleasure and anticipation Quatre gave as he did so, would drive him crazy.
Meanwhile, Quatre was attacking Trowa’s shirt with motions far more dexterous and sure than any of Trowa’s — was he good at this because he’d done it with many others? how on earth was Trowa supposed to compare? — and had it off in almost no time. He didn’t fold it as he had his own clothing; either he was content to leave any such obsessive neatness relating to Trowa’s clothes up to Trowa himself, or happenings had gotten too interesting over here for him to make the effort. He did, however, drop it behind him onto his things on the toilet, rather than onto the floor, before returning to deal with Trowa’s pants.
“You know I’ve wanted to get you naked ever since I first saw you?” he murmured as he eased the khaki slacks down Trowa’s thighs, revealing another bulging pair of briefs.
“Is that why you got me drunk?” Trowa wondered breathlessly, leaning on the sink while Quatre pulled his pants entirely off of him.
Quatre laughed, twisting around again to drape the slacks over the toilet. He stepped out of his own briefs, which had been stretched between his knees, and sent them to join the rest of it. Then he pressed up against Trowa once more, stroking him through his underwear so suddenly that Trowa let out a surprised groan.
Up over Trowa’s jaw and cheekbone and ear Quatre’s lips crept as his hands eased Trowa out of the last garment covering any human flesh in the room. And when this, too, had taken its place on the toilet seat, Quatre stood back and made a great show of examining Trowa from head to toe. In response to this Trowa was torn; he doubted that what Quatre saw could possibly be particularly pleasant to look at, but at the same time it gave him the opportunity to return the scrutiny with interest — and Quatre naked was the most beautiful thing he had seen in his long life. Everything, from his utterly unabashed little smile to his well-shaped chest and the perfect slight inward curve of his waist to the dusting of pale, curling hair around his erection to the muscular lines of his legs… everything Trowa saw heightened his arousal and desire.
His nervous fears were somewhat allayed, for the moment, when Quatre gave a thoughtfully pleased mmming sound and a widened smile. He took Trowa’s hand and pulled him toward the bath.
“You really don’t use this!” was his amused remark as he pulled the shower curtain aside and looked around at the totally empty tub and the showerhead above from which not a gleam of dripping water showed.
“I’m not even sure why I have a shower curtain at all,” Trowa admitted, allowing Quatre to pull him into the bathtub.
“It’s a good thing you do, or my shower plan would be ruined.”
“I could contain the water magically, if I needed to.”
Quatre, who had arranged the curtain in question and then started fiddling with the taps, now abruptly pulled the little metal thing that switched the water up to the shower, apparently without regard to the temperature, and whirled on Trowa again. “Could you?” he demanded. He slid his arms up Trowa’s bare chest and pushed him against the wall. “Have I told you how sexy it is when you do magic?”
Taken by surprise by the sudden burst of cold water against his naked body, the cold tiles of the wall against his back, and most of all by Quatre’s remark, Trowa was barely able to get out a halting answer in the negative before Quatre was kissing him hard, pressed up against him again in an electric shifting of newly-wet skin. Mercilessly teasing, Quatre ran hands down and up Trowa’s sides, over his shoulders and back down onto his collarbone and chest, but did not touch him anywhere else even as he thoroughly explored Trowa’s mouth with his tongue.
By the time he withdrew, they were both shivering with cold and, at least in Trowa’s case, frustrated need, and Quatre took a moment to adjust the water temperature before returning to driving his lover absolutely out of his mind.
Trowa had originally assumed that the idea behind the shower was to get clean for the sake of more pleasant sex; then Quatre’s manner of undressing them both and practically incapacitating Trowa with kisses had made him think rather that the sex was going to take place in the shower. Now, as Quatre dragged him under the newly-warm water and began leisurely to follow its trails down Trowa’s body with his fingers — but never quite to where Trowa would prefer they go — he really wasn’t sure what the point of the shower was.
But the sensation of Quatre pushing his wet hair entirely back out of his face and kissing him right in the midst of the flowing water, the like of which Trowa had never felt before and that made all his skin tingle and his erection throb almost unbearably, led him eventually to the conclusion that he didn’t really care.
The purpose of the shower had been to help Trowa over some of his painfully obvious nervousness and make things a little easier on him by getting him good and ready long before anything potentially daunting was asked of him. Quatre wasn’t sure how well it had worked, especially given that Trowa still definitely wasn’t taking any sort of initiative… but he did seem to be feeling a little less awkward.
Now Quatre, dripping onto the cool tiles of the bathroom floor, was frowning slightly as he looked around the room. “Towels?” he wondered.
In that blank tone indicating he’d been unexpectedly confronted by some aspect of the real world that he wasn’t ready for, Trowa echoed, “Towels…” and followed Quatre’s gaze around at the vacant rack on the wall and the small, equally empty cabinet under the sink that Quatre had just opened. He pulled himself together, though, and began to speak in the magical language.
Quatre made a little noise of surprise as a rush of hot air swept over him from nowhere and he suddenly found his body every bit as dry as if he had had a towel. And he couldn’t quite decide whether the sensation itself or the sound of Trowa’s voice casting the spell had turned him on more.
He reached out to pull Trowa closer to him, kissing him again and running his other hand up Trowa’s newly-dried skin into his damp hair. After a few moments he released him but for their clasped hands, and began to walk toward the door, smiling. Trowa allowed himself to be dragged out into the bedroom without protest, but Quatre thought his movements still indicated some serious nervousness. He had a strong urge to ask Trowa just one more time if he was sure he wanted to do this, but repressed it. He would simply have to trust him to volunteer any feelings of discomfort or any desire to stop.
The old bed creaked as Quatre scrambled backward onto it, and again as he pulled Trowa after him. At first Trowa was very stiff as Quatre kissed him from the seated position in which they’d come to rest, but Quatre’s hand on his equally-stiff erection melted him completely, and he lay back as Quatre pressed forward. Soon Quatre was half on top of him, straddling one leg, sucking on his neck and fingering the head of his penis while Trowa’s long hands clutched at Quatre’s sides and his breaths came short and hard.
Wrapping his hand fully around Trowa’s shaft, he began to stroke him slowly up and down, simultaneously grinding his own against Trowa’s hip, his faint moan mingling with Trowa’s slightly louder one. Trowa’s fingers pressed bruisingly into Quatre’s ribs, a sensation Quatre rather liked, and his slender body seemed entirely tense, as if ready for some great effort.
Quatre drifted farther down so that he was straddling Trowa’s knee and his mouth could explore the pale, almost translucent skin of Trowa’s chest. Along Quatre’s back and into his hair Trowa’s hands slipped as he moved, and clenched almost painfully when Quatre found a nipple and began teasing it with tongue and teeth. Determined to leave a mark, he began sucking hard, and at the same moment discontinued stroking Trowa’s erection in favor of exploring down over his balls and beyond.
Trowa gasped and stiffened even farther as Quatre’s finger drifted across and then pressed against his tight opening, but if Quatre had been afraid this was a negative or reluctant reaction, he didn’t have to worry long, as Trowa’s unoccupied leg moved almost immediately to widen the space, drawing up and giving Quatre better access in a tacit gesture of permission.
Releasing the area of skin he’d been deliberately bruising, Quatre lapped at the spot as he slowly, very slowly, worked his middle finger into Trowa up to the knuckle and then began gradually pulling it back out again. Trowa’s hands were tangling his hair, tightening against his scalp in almost trembling movements, and when Quatre finally withdrew and shifted back up to meet Trowa’s eyes, those hands pulled him down into a kiss with desperate insistence.
Before they’d gone to shower, Quatre had been careful to set his backpack down next to the bed where it could be easily reached, but even so he had to get off of Trowa entirely and move to the edge in order to get at what he needed. Trowa, who might not even have been clear on what Quatre was doing, dragged him into another hungry kiss the moment he returned. He kept his bright moon eyes fixed on Quatre as the latter sat up, adjusted, and lay back down.
Now, draped across Trowa’s stomach and chest, Quatre had both hands available to get the plastic bottle open. This was his favorite brand of lube: water-soluble, non-staining, a bit thicker than other types, and only very faintly scented. And the breathy groan Trowa made as Quatre’s slickened finger probed at him endeared it to him even more.
Probably curious about what Quatre was going to do in this new position, Trowa had propped himself up on his elbows, but now he went flat on his back again and clutched once more at Quatre’s side with groping hands. When Quatre’s entire pointer finger was inside him and beginning a slow, circular motion, Trowa choked out his name. Quatre paused. “No, don’t stop,” Trowa gasped. “Please don’t stop.”
The desire in the words made Quatre harder than ever, hot blood pounding through his erection as if driven by a hammer, and not to stop was what he wanted more than anything. In fact, going a little faster might even be nice.
Trowa was squirming and panting as Quatre added another finger and quickened the pace with which he pushed them in and drew them out. Quatre was trying not to imagine what it was going to feel like to be inside Trowa with more than just fingers, lest he go crazy wanting him before Trowa was ready; and yet the glowing, gorgeous imagining that would take place no matter how he tried to repress it was making him pant. But he kept himself under control, working at preparing Trowa as thoroughly as possible; knowing how Trowa was likely to feel about this after it was over, he wanted to make damn sure that he enjoyed it at the time.
And yet, the farther he reached into Trowa and the more he stretched him, the more desperate became the little cries that issued from Trowa’s throat and the tighter Trowa’s hands gripped. Quatre didn’t think he could help being somewhat disappointed if Trowa came before he was buried inside him, and this impelled him to remove his fingers entirely and sit up.
Trowa was watching him through slitted eyes, and his lips were trembling; the coloration of his face looked almost natural, which Quatre thought must be his version of a flush, and the faint glow Quatre had always observed about him seemed brighter now than ever before. As Quatre looked down at him, Trowa swallowed hard in the midst of the gasping breaths that made his chest heave, and gave a hesitant little smile. This was enough to drive Quatre right to the edge, and he was positioning himself between Trowa’s legs even before he started to ask, “Are you ready?”
Almost manically, Trowa nodded, and replied in an uneven whisper, “I think so.”
With hands that weren’t entirely steady Quatre ripped open the condom he’d brought and practically fumbled it on. Then, as he slathered a final helping of lubricant across its outer surface, he moaned helplessly. He wanted in there so badly, and raising his eyes to meet Trowa’s gaze — still clearly nervous, but trusting and anticipatory — did nothing but increase his need. But he must not do it too quickly; he had to do this right.
He took a deep breath and smoothed his hands out over Trowa’s thighs, pushing them to a better position and encouraging his whole lower body up into a better angle. Then he slid forward, spreading his own legs a little farther for better stability, and, supported on one hand on the bed beside Trowa’s chest, used his other to guide the head of his erection to the heat of Trowa’s anus. And, though it was an ongoing, shuddering battle against the aching urge to slam into that tight space, to make Trowa yell and writhe, to thrust into him as fast and hard as possible until he came, Quatre pushed in as slowly as he could bring himself to move.
Trowa’s entire body stiffened as he received Quatre inside him — except for his penis, which softened somewhat — and his hands found Quatre’s back once again and clawed in. Eyes squeezed tight shut, lips still trembling slightly, he let out a long wavering breath that eventually turned into a deep groan and then a series of staccato gasps. Quatre, his own body similarly stiff and trembling with the desire to move, let them settle into a position of readiness and then stilled. He bent and kissed Trowa’s sweating brow. “Does it hurt?” he asked.
After gulping another breath, Trowa tried to answer, but evidently coherent words wouldn’t come. Finally, his eyes dragging open to their previous slitted state and casting their glow upward onto Quatre’s face, he shook his head. Quatre, thinking he probably meant that it didn’t hurt more than he could handle, remained motionless for the moment.
And Trowa, with a long, shuddering breath, began slowly rotating his hips, testing the sensations of having Quatre inside him, and lightly clenching various internal muscles. Quatre, who really had not been expecting this of him, was taken by surprise and jerked forward in a hard thrust, gasping out as he did so, “Oh… Trowa…”
Trowa gave a surprised cry of his own as Quatre thrust into him, and his legs drew up so that his bare feet were curling against Quatre’s thighs. Quatre, who hadn’t meant to move despite how wonderful it had been, tried even harder now to keep still, though he knew it was only a matter of time before he wasn’t going to be able to anymore. Shifting back onto the one hand, he bent and kissed Trowa hard, and with his other hand reached down between them to try to tease Trowa fully erect again. He could feel Trowa’s errant moans through his own lips and tongue, and Trowa’s fingers were digging into his back harder than ever.
If Trowa was still feeling any significant discomfort, he gave no sign of it, and it didn’t prevent his penis hardening right up again under Quatre’s touch. And he was still moving, too, squirming as if this were more than he could bear, or perhaps as if he knew what it was doing to Quatre and genuinely wanted to drive him mad. Or possibly both. Whatever the case, Quatre was already beginning to draw out and press back in again almost without realizing he was doing it. At least he was still moving slowly.
With a long groan Trowa went even stiffer, every muscle in his body seemingly taut — including the ones that were currently surrounding the part of Quatre that was inside him. Quatre echoed his groan, and, putting both hands once again at Trowa’s sides, quickened his pace. He found a pattern that he liked, and Trowa’s continued movement that changed the angle slightly with every rhythmic thrust made it absolutely perfect.
There wasn’t much warning, but still Quatre wasn’t terribly surprised when Trowa came after not too long. Evidently Trowa was surprised, however, if the mesmerizing cry he gave or the captivating expression on his beautiful face was any indication. Quatre appreciated these indications of ecstasy, was conscious of the nails digging into his flesh and the burning heat between them, through a sort of erotic haze, for Trowa had tightened so much around him as he’d orgasmed that Quatre was seeing stars.
His earlier impulse, to pound into a writhing Trowa hard and fast until he was satisfied, was all of a sudden a reality. Trowa curled upward against him, gasping into Quatre’s neck and shoulder, clinging to him, twisting and panting and moaning, as Quatre moved at greater and greater speed. For a second time, in his abandon, Quatre whispered Trowa’s name as he felt himself drawing close to fulfillment.
And when Trowa replied by whispering Quatre’s name in return, with no hint of despair or guilt to the word — just simple pleasure and satisfaction at being here now sharing this with him — that was more than enough. Everything seemed simultaneously to tighten and expand as that lightening-shock of enjoyment hit him; he gave two last deep, forceful thrusts into Trowa as he came, groaning out his satisfaction as the wave of orgasm shuddered through his body, and then gradually stilled.
Slowly they both unclenched, relaxing down onto the bed and into each other’s arms in a hot haze of calming breaths. Trowa’s eyes were closed, but a little smile was on his parted lips, which Quatre kissed briefly before letting his own face fall to the blanket as his head sank down past a shoulder and his cheek came to rest against Trowa’s.
The scent of sweat and sex was in the air, and Trowa’s hands were slowly caressing his back, and he was already sinking into a warm, comfortable afterglow. Though fully aware that he might have to start thinking about damage control after not too long, Quatre was very pleased, for now, just to lie here and enjoy this moment.
His Own Humanity is an AU series set in modern-day America (plus magic) featuring characters from Rurouni Kenshin (primarily Saitou and Sano) and Gundam Wing (primarily Heero, Duo, Trowa, and Quatre). In chronological order (generally), the stories currently available are:
Sano enlists the help of exorcist Hajime in discovering the nature of the unusual angry shade that's haunting him.
Best friends Heero and Quatre have their work cut out for them assisting longtime curse victims Duo and Trowa.
During Plastic (part 80), Cairo thinks about thinking and other recent changes in his life.
A look at how Hajime and Sano are doing.
A look at how Trowa and Quatre are doing.
A look at how Heero and Duo are doing.
A meeting between Kamatari and Wufei.
Couple analysis among Heero, Duo, Trowa, and Quatre.
Quatre undergoes an unpleasant magical change; Heero, Duo, and Trowa are forced to face unpleasant truths; and Hajime and Sano may get involved.
During La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré (parts 33-35), Sano's 178-day wait is over as what Hajime has been fearing comes to pass.
During Guest Room Soap Opera (part 3), Cathy learns a lot of interesting facts and Trowa is not happy.
A few days before the epilogue of La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré, Duo and Sano get together to watch football and discuss relationships and magical experiences; Heero listens in on multiple levels.
On the same evening as That Remarkable Optimism, Trowa tells Quatre's parents the whole truth, as promised.
What was Wufei talking about in part 62? “Baatezu” and “tanar’ri” replaced “devils” and “demons” in the second edition of Dungeons and Dragons in response to concerned parents’ belief that their children would be sucked into Satanism by the inclusion of devils and demons in an already extremely dangerous game. (They changed it back later, though, when at least some people realized that this was utterly idiotic.)
Then, as you can see, Trowa is one of those people that thinks “sex” = “penetration,” and therefore what they did last week doesn’t count. Fortunately, Quatre understands.