In some alarm Quatre crouched down beside Trowa, who was kneeling limply on the floor and clutching the old catalog to his chest in much the same way he had held Duo when they’d been reunited — and, Quatre noticed with a start, he was shedding tears now just as he had then.
“Trowa! What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Trowa replied with surprising haste, and repeated, “Nothing…” Continuing the trend, his tone was very similar to the one Quatre had only ever heard from him when he’d been talking to Duo that first evening.
Settling onto his knees and putting an arm across Trowa’s bent shoulders, Quatre made an inquisitive noise and then forced himself to wait patiently to be enlightened.
Trowa brushed moisture from his face with one hand, which subsequently smeared dust in a muddy line across his cheek. “It’s all going to be all right,” he said, and not only were the unusually positive words unexpected, but so was the tone: it was one of absolute certainty, something Quatre hadn’t thought Trowa felt about anything pleasant in this world.
“This is a sign.” Trowa finally released his tight embrace of the catalog and let it sink to his lap, his eyes still fixed on it. “The curse will break. It’s going to work.”
“Because of this catalog?”
“Raberba Manufacturing. That was the factory I worked at in 1922 and ’23. That was where this all started. And now with you I’ve found the same company again. I had no idea it even still existed, but here I’ve come back around to it. To where I started. It’s a complete cycle.”
While Quatre supposed he could to some extent see the logic in this, and the circumstance certainly was interesting, it wasn’t something from which he would have drawn any particular hope. But he would rather die than rain on this unexpected parade. “That’s wonderful,” he said, hugging Trowa tightly.
Trowa twisted to return the embrace, sandwiching the catalog between them. “The curse will break,” he repeated.
“You’ve never really believed it would, have you?”
Against Quatre’s shoulder, Trowa shook his head. Quatre held him tighter.
After some time, during which they simply sat in silence and Trowa’s grip did not loosen, Trowa finally sat back and stared at the catalog again. He wasn’t smiling, but there was an intense, focused look of profound pleasure and relief in his face that took Quatre’s breath away. Trowa was so often unsure and unhappy… in this unusual moment of the precise opposite, he was more beautiful than ever. He was, Quatre thought, going to be consistently, absolutely stunning once he recovered all his vanished confidence and enjoyment of life. And Quatre was determined to help him do so in any way he could.
“I lost my job there eventually,” Trowa murmured, as if continuing a narrative. “I was looking for Duo so obsessively, I couldn’t pay attention to work any longer. And after I left the city, I didn’t even think about the company again for years. But eventually I realized how important a part of all this it had been: plastic wasn’t a common thought back then… if I hadn’t been working at a plastics factory specifically, if I hadn’t had the idea of ‘plastic’ in my head because of the kind of business I was in, the nature of the curse would have been totally different. But since it was… and here, after everything, your company is still in plastics…” He finally looked up at Quatre and smiled.
Quatre took his hand and squeezed it, returning the smile. He still wasn’t certain why Trowa didn’t take these circumstances as a portent of, for example, the whole thing starting all over again, but perhaps this was something a non-magician couldn’t be expected to understand — and he wasn’t complaining.
Unexpectedly, Trowa raised a hand to Quatre’s face, leaned forward, and kissed him. There was no hesitance, no sluggishness in the movement, and simultaneously it seemed less desperate and fearful than Trowa’s kisses had up until now; it felt more real, somehow, than any time Quatre’s lips had been against Trowa’s before. Then Trowa released him and murmured, “Thank you for bringing me here.”
That kiss had left Quatre somewhat stunned, so it was a moment before he managed in a tone of almost giddy breathlessness, “Thank Duo; he’s the one who wanted the bed.”
“Yes!” Trowa got suddenly to his feet, moving with an energy Quatre had rarely seen in him. “We still need to find that.”
Quatre joined him standing and took his free hand. “This way,” he said.
“May I keep this?” Trowa held up the catalog.
“Of course!” Quatre smiled.
Among the promising items he had located there was indeed a dollhouse, Barbie-sized but off-brand, that was protected by a trash bag and hidden behind some other toys. Quatre thought he recognized it as having belonged to at least three of his sisters in turn; it had to be more than thirty years old, and appeared quite well-used. Many of the walls had been decorated with stickers to cover the faded wallpaper, and there were doors and shutters missing here and there.
It was also full of furniture, all jumbled together from the whole ensemble having been carried up here inside a trash bag. Some of this was Mattel, and some of it seemed to have come with the house; the latter was mostly blue and purple and seemed to be the sturdier of the two options, but the pink Barbie bed was the only one to have a blanket and pillows.
“I guess this will have to do,” Quatre said, extracting it from among the mess and glancing through the rest of the little house again just in case an extra pillow had come free from the rubber band holding the bedding to the bed.
Trowa took it from him and examined it. “I suppose,” he said a little doubtfully.
Quatre laughed. “I don’t think there’s any particular function it needs to fulfill besides looking like a bed. Let’s take it to him!”
The way Trowa brightened at this suggestion was delightful to see. And, though he didn’t exactly smile at Quatre’s nephews and their friend on the way down, the look he gave them was a good deal more amiable and open than the one he’d given them on the way up.
It felt a little strange to walk through Trowa’s front door, close it, and then open it again onto Heero’s apartment. After that, though, Quatre’s mood shifted to one of slight guilt as he realized that this was the first time he’d been in here in longer than he could remember off the top of his head. It wasn’t the first time he’d gotten into a relationship and rather lost track of the rest of the world; Heero knew what was going on, and knew this tendency of his… but still Quatre felt like he’d abandoned his friend. He could only hope Heero was also distracted by a new relationship and wouldn’t be annoyed with him. This was something he really should have known, rather than having to hope and guess about, but, again, he hadn’t been paying attention. Well, now he could find out.
Heero and Duo were in the kitchen, one apparently making himself dinner and the other apparently entertaining the first. Quatre, who had always been of the opinion that Heero needed to laugh more, smiled when he heard him doing so in response to whatever Duo was saying. Perhaps things were indeed going well over here.
“We brought you a present, Duo!” Quatre announced as he joined them.
Duo, who was seated beside the microwave, waved his arms around excitedly. “Really? What is it??”
Following Quatre into the kitchen (which as a consequence was rather crowded), Trowa set the little bed wordlessly on the counter beside Duo.
Seeing this, Duo flat-out yelled (not that it was particularly loud), “Yeah! Oh, awesome!” And he kicked his legs and waved his arms until he fell over onto his side. Even then, though, he laughed and struggled to get back up until Trowa reached out and righted him.
In contrast to Duo’s extreme joy, Heero just looked quietly pleased. Quatre raised an eyebrow at him in silent query and glanced at the doll. Smile fading, Heero shook his head minutely. Quatre was instantly curious, but not about to ask in company.
“Look at the giant lace around the pillows!” Duo was saying gleefully. He ran a hand stiffly across part of the bed. “Heero, look at this! Isn’t this one of the ones that was going for a million dollars on Amazon?”
Heero bent to examine the object. “I think you’re right.”
Duo turned his grinning face toward first Trowa and then Quatre; as usual, the movement was rather disconcerting, but his apparent happiness somewhat negated the effect. “Where did this come from?”
“My attic,” Quatre volunteered, also grinning.
“Oh, Quatre, I looooooove you!” Duo went on exultantly before anyone could say anything else, “I am so going to little girl it up tonight: pretend the doll is sleeping in the bed!”
Everyone laughed except Trowa, but even he was smiling.
“Seriously, though — thanks, guys.” Duo looked at them both again, beaming.
“Have you two eaten?” Heero asked. “I was about to make something, if you want to stay.”
Quatre was about to reply that, yes, they wanted to stay (though he wouldn’t have added that the reason was so he could watch Heero and Duo and try to figure out what the hell was going on), but checked and looked at Trowa instead; he assumed Trowa wouldn’t mind, but figured he’d let him answer for himself.
Seeing Quatre’s look, Trowa gave a slight nod and turned toward Heero.
“Thank you,” he said in that formal way he sometimes had. “That would be very nice.”