Quatre thought he could definitely get used to waking up in Trowa’s bed late on Saturday mornings in the warmth of a very long (or possibly just recurring) afterglow. Actually, he thought he could get used to waking up next to Trowa any day, anywhere, no matter what they’d done the night before.
Now the sleeping magician’s hand rested lightly on Quatre’s arm as he lay on his side with his head tilted in this direction; as Quatre awoke, he smiled at the sight of the pale, peaceful face not far from his own. He slid forward to press himself against his lover, wrapped an arm around him, and laid his forehead against Trowa’s. This, of course, woke Trowa up, and Quatre was pleased by the thought that the first thing to meet Trowa’s eyes would be Quatre’s. The moon must be about at the half.
“Good morning,” Quatre smiled.
Slowly Trowa returned the expression. Quatre noted that, for all Trowa’s increased cheer and confidence over the last few days, he yet looked at Quatre as if astonished he was there. And, while Quatre was still flattered that Trowa seemed to attach so much value to his presence and attentions, he still wasn’t terribly pleased that Trowa seemed to believe they might cease at any time. But whatever its type, Quatre loved to see Trowa’s smile.
“Good morning,” Trowa said.
Quatre kissed him on the cheek. “It’s Saturday,” he said contentedly.
“Yes, it is,” Trowa agreed.
“What are you going to do today?” He could provide a suggestion or two if Trowa didn’t have any concrete ideas.
Trowa did, though. “Continue some research I started the other day.”
“For your book?” Quatre ran his fingers idly over Trowa’s smooth, bare arm.
“No… Since the other day, I’ve been thinking about the curse ending, and I’ve been doing some research again into past curses that I have documentation of. I don’t know how likely it is, but I believe there is a possibility that when the curse is broken, all the time I’ve lived will catch up with me at once.”
Quatre’s hand on Trowa’s arm stilled. “What would happen then?” He feared he already knew the answer.
“I would die,” Trowa replied, simply and calmly.
Quatre took a deep breath, trying to push past the cold, clutching feeling these words had called up in his heart. He tried to match Trowa’s disinterest as he remarked, “Like the knights in Indiana Jones.”
“Like M. Valdemar,” Trowa replied in a tone that clearly indicated he had never seen Indiana Jones and was submitting this instead. Quatre, in turn, had no idea who M. Valdemar was, but thought they were nonetheless on the same dreary page.
“What about Duo?” Quatre’s mouth had gone dry.
Trowa shook his head. “The precedent for fully transformative curses is that the victim simply returns to his previous state, takes up where he left off. But for the caster, it’s more of a condition being lifted, which may be a problem for me. I’ll leave information easy to find about whom to contact in case this happens.”
“You seem awfully calm about all this.”
“I should have been dead years ago. I’ve been living for the breaking of this curse for so long, it only seems natural that my life should end with it.”
Quatre stared at him, unsure of what to say. The implication that Trowa had been and still was existing solely for this, and that when this was over it would be perfectly acceptable for him to die; that there was nothing else in the world that meant enough to him even to be referenced in his considerations on the subject…
From someone like Trowa, Quatre definitely didn’t expect a declaration of love and devotion at this point… but to be told, essentially, that he was so unimportant, that he’d made so little difference in Trowa’s life, that his presence weighed nothing in the question of whether Trowa would rather be alive or dead… perhaps he was simply arrogant, but he’d thought he meant more to Trowa than that.
But, then, maybe he was overreacting, applying to himself what really wasn’t about him at all. It might just be Trowa thinking badly of himself again, and assuming it made sense for anyone else to agree with him.
“I don’t know what the physical effects would be,” Trowa went on placidly, “but my guess is that my body would go through rapid decomposition and probably disintegrate.”
Quatre sat up.
“No body for the coroner is the greatest problem I can see if anyone wanted to, for instance, take legal possession of my house. But one of my contacts is a legal consultant, and she understands my situation; she can make sure things go smoothly, though I don’t know what she’s likely to charge if I’m no longer around to do her favors.”
“Are you leaving a will?” Quatre couldn’t quite believe he was having this conversation.
Trowa frowned. “I currently have one that leaves everything to charity. I’d like to leave Duo something, but he doesn’t legally exist at this point.”
Quatre’s manager brain immediately started suggesting possible solutions, but the rest of his head and heart just wanted to get away from this discussion. Of course if what Trowa said did come to pass, it was best to be prepared… but the way he was talking about it was, frankly, quite painful. It wasn’t only the idea of Trowa leaving him so soon, but Trowa’s apparent indifference to how Quatre felt about it. And then there was the fact that the word ‘decomposition’ really shouldn’t ever be used in bed.
Quatre slid out and went to the chair where he’d put his things last night, keeping his back to Trowa. Finally he forced himself to say, “Well, it’s good that you have contacts and some kind of plan, just in case.”
He could hear Trowa behind him rising wordlessly, and Quatre began to dress in the same silence. It seemed they were done with the conversation, but in his head it was far from over. He was so perturbed… he needed to go somewhere else and calm down.
Trowa didn’t ask him to stay; Trowa consistently gave every indication of wanting Quatre around except this. When Quatre was here, Trowa seemed glad of it… but when he was gone, perhaps Trowa forgot about him — at least to the extent where he could calmly consider his upcoming death without thinking of him at all. But Quatre couldn’t keep having these thoughts here in Trowa’s presence. You didn’t chide your boyfriend of less than a month for not thinking of you when he realized he might die soon, no matter how peaceful he was about it… no matter how much you cared about him.
Quatre’s goodbye was a little cool, for all he tried not to let it be, but if Trowa noticed, he said nothing of it. So Quatre went back into his own house feeling cold and sad and agitated. A hot shower didn’t really help his state of mind, for the only thing he could think about was Trowa — Trowa’s quiet conversation and calming presence, and how much he didn’t want to lose him so soon after he’d found him. He didn’t want to say goodbye. He wanted Trowa not to want to say goodbye… but perhaps that was asking too much.
As usual on a Saturday, the house was fairly loud, and Quatre’s phone rang as he walked through it to add to the din. Observing the name of the friend that was calling, knowing it would just be an invitation to go out and drink tonight, he turned the entire thing off. He felt himself drifting toward the conservatory where he could make his own noise and drown everything out for a while. That he found the room empty was a relief, as he didn’t feel like explaining his mood to anyone.
His eyes and intentions moved indecisively from piano to violin, but eventually settled on the former because there was less preparation necessary: he had only to slide onto the bench and uncover the keys to begin playing. This was another thing he normally did on a daily basis but had been neglecting lately, and at the moment he took a bittersweet pleasure from being back at the instrument. He rambled through a few songs he knew by heart before pulling some less familiar sheet music from inside the bench and setting to with a vengeance. And all the while he thought about Trowa.
The biggest problem was that, while Quatre felt he had a decent imagination, he really couldn’t put himself in Trowa’s shoes with any kind of certainty. What did you feel like after living in misery for ninety years? Immortal not by choice but because of your own mistake; knowing you had a task to complete but never seeing how; unable to fulfill your purpose in life but unable to die? Perhaps, after such an existence, death would be specifically appealing. Perhaps Trowa would be surprised to find that Quatre didn’t see it that way.
The conclusion he came to at last was that Trowa’s manner of telling him his news probably wasn’t a reflection of how Trowa felt about him, but rather of a frame of reference so alien that Quatre could only just begin to see it. Trowa hadn’t meant to hurt him, and probably wasn’t even aware that he had — and Quatre would like to keep it that way. He didn’t want to lose Trowa, but that matter was out of his hands. What he did have some control over was how the potentially last days of Trowa’s life would go, and he didn’t want to spoil them with a reproof that Trowa might not even understand.
He stopped playing mid-movement and pulled out his phone to turn it back on and check the time; he found he’d been in here almost two hours with these bleak thoughts. Was Trowa still over there researching his own possible death in cold but placid aloneness, unaware of the reason Quatre had left but believing it was no more than he deserved?
Abruptly an overwhelmingly sorrowful feeling welled up in Quatre, a combination of forlorn longing and an aching pain that, at least at the moment, could not be healed. He knew where he really needed to be right now, whether he’d entirely worked through his thoughts on this or not. With a sad little sound, he scrambled off the piano bench and hastened from the room, hurrying back to his own and the enchanted door therein, desperate to return to Trowa.
Like Trowa, I have never seen an Indiana Jones movie. But I can heartily recommend The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.