Trowa hadn’t slept a minute last night, not even after Quatre had completely worn him out and gone to sleep himself with arms clasping Trowa possessively. Circumstances were simply too agitating.
After eighty-seven years, he had forgotten what it was like not to be cursed, and he’d rather anticipated general sensations more distinctly different than they’d turned out to be. But he felt essentially the same as he had yesterday, and, though he didn’t really mind, the lack of difference was disconcerting. It wasn’t what he’d expected. He wondered how Duo, who had changed a good deal more, was feeling.
It was the thought of Duo, primarily, that had kept him awake. He understood why Quatre had dragged him out of there last night, but still he was dying to see his friend. He wouldn’t really feel that the curse was broken until he did.
Quatre had pulled himself wearily out of bed early this morning and gone over to his own house to shower and change, then come back here to give Trowa a rather frustrated kiss and a longing look before leaving through Heero’s apartment for the airport. Trowa had promised to attempt to jump to him this afternoon and spare him the flight home.
And now, agonizing hours later, Trowa was sitting around idly surfing the internet and wondering whether or not it was still too early to go to Heero’s apartment. Someone that woke Duo from his first sleep in ninety years would probably meet with a violent death, but Trowa was just so desperate to see him… He had no idea what Heero and Duo might be doing if they did happen to be awake, though he doubted they would appreciate its being interrupted, whatever it was… but he wanted to see him… And Duo had the whole world to experience now he was human again… but Trowa still wanted…
There came a knock at the front door, and at its emphatic sound Trowa was instantly out of his chair and the room. It seemed he’d barely gotten the door unlocked, with hands that felt clumsy and slow, when Duo was hugging him. But ‘hugging’ wasn’t the right word. ‘Crushing all the air out of, throwing completely off-balance, half-deafening, and inspiring tears in’ would have been a better description.
“Trowa!” Duo was shouting. “Trowa, look at us! I can hug you for real now! It worked! Check it out, I’m crying again! Your skin’s back to normal! Oh, let me see your eyes!” As Duo abruptly pulled away, his jerky movement almost toppled both of them, and he laughed. “Sorry, I’m still a little– oh, my god, look at your eyes… they’re back to normal…” And he flung his arms around Trowa again, and again sent them both staggering a few steps — this time right into the clock, which gave off a not-unpleasant jangling sound as its weights were rattled. Duo laughed again. “It worked. Oh, my god, it worked.”
Trowa just tried to hold onto him, the tears pouring down his own face once more, overwhelmed by the final, certain knowledge that it was really over; the curse was really broken; Duo, human and healed and happy, was here holding him. He’d forgiven Trowa for what had happened so long ago, and it was all behind them now. It was over.
Duo finally calmed and quieted enough to ask in a more level tone, “So how are you feeling? Everything’s OK now, right?”
Nodding as Duo finally released him and looked at him with a more serious, critical eye, Trowa wiped tears away and said, “Yes, everything’s fine. More than fine. How are you?”
“I still sometimes fall over,” Duo admitted, though he was grinning as he said it, “and there’s other parts of having a human body that I’ve totally forgotten… but I’ll figure it all out. I’m just so glad to see you like this!”
Again Trowa nodded, and this time he smiled as well. And then, as Duo began poking around the entry with eager curiosity, Trowa noticed Heero standing in the open door looking rather stiff. He’d never been in here, after all; Trowa couldn’t help thinking back with some interest to when he’d had Heero in mind when he’d linked the door, only to find Quatre taking advantage of it instead. How differently than he’d expected everything had worked out!
“Come in, Heero,” he said, smiling at him too, “and close the door.”
Heero obeyed, and immediately Trowa went to him, reaching out to clasp Heero’s hand and shake it with both of his own. He hoped — indeed, he suspected — that Heero would understand how meaningful such a physical gesture was from Trowa, even more than his statement, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Heero said quietly. He looked distinctly apologetic, and Trowa thought they reached an understanding in that moment without words: they could forget everything that had passed and become friends. They knew very little of each other, but they cared about the same people, and that was definitely enough for a start.
Trowa drew back and said, a little hesitantly, “So, you two…”
Heero nodded. Although this was all the confirmation Trowa needed, Duo also answered the half-formed question. He came bounding from where he’d progressed some distance into the computer room, and ran into Heero, flinging arms around his neck apparently as much to stop and steady himself as to hug him. “Heero and I are lovarz,” he announced. “L-O-V- A-R-Z- Z-Z-Z.” And he kissed Heero on the cheek.
Heero blushed, but all he said was, “I don’t think you need quite that many Z’s.”
Duo nuzzled his face into Heero’s neck. “You deserve all the Z’s.”
“So– so– so–” Duo pulled away abruptly from Heero and turned toward Trowa again. “You and Quatre! I heard that rumor!”
“Yes,” Trowa replied; it was his turn to blush.
“That is so great,” Duo said heartily. He launched himself from Heero to Trowa, and hugged the latter again. “I’m so glad. I was thinking all along that you guys are perfect for each other. But why didn’t you tell me?”
Trowa wasn’t exactly comfortable explaining in front of Heero, who still rather felt like a stranger to him, but neither did he want to refuse Duo anything. So he forced himself to say, “I’m sorry. I wanted to, but… I felt like I was… letting you down by allowing myself to be distracted.”
Duo had released him and stood back, but, on hearing this, hugged him again tightly. “Oh, Trowa,” he said. “I’m so sorry you felt like that. Because I was hoping all along that you and Quatre would get together. And not just because he fits our number pattern!”
Trowa smiled, simultaneously amused at the comment and glad of the subject shift. “He does, doesn’t he?”
“Yes! So the only odd one out is Heero, unless rhyming with ‘zero’ counts.”
Heero shrugged. “If you squint, you could believe my name is a reference to a Japanese word for ‘one person.'”
“Oh, really?” Duo sounded very interested. “But what is it actually supposed to be? I mean, if you don’t squint?”
“The kanji for my name actually mean a bright red color, like blood.”
“I don’t know what kanji is, but that’s sexy as hell.”
Heero looked pleased.
After this, Duo detached himself from his lovar and resumed his foray through Trowa’s house. “Quatre told me about how crazy this place is,” he said eagerly, “and I’ve been dying to see it. This is the same Victrola, isn’t it?”
Trowa, following him, confirmed this guess.
“Wow, and some of these have got to be the same records from back then, too!” Duo didn’t sound entirely certain, though, and no wonder: Trowa had only bought the machine and started collecting records a few months before the curse. Duo was right again, though, and Trowa said so. Then he helped get a record playing, and stood back to watch as Duo examined everything else in the room to the sound of Phil Napoleon. This exploration seemed to be half out of curiosity, and half to satisfy a desire to pick up and touch as many things as he could. Trowa looked on with a growing sense of joy and relief, and found that, even when the memories Duo called up in exclaiming over his possessions were bittersweet, the bitterness faded first.
When Duo was finished with the computer room and its contents, he bounced across to the study and kept at it there. And as they followed him, Heero remarked in quiet amusement, “He spent most of the night doing this at my place.”
“We’ll have to take him to Quatre’s next.”
“Through your front door?”
Trowa nodded, a gesture Heero mimicked slightly as if this had confirmed a guess.
Then from Duo, who had found his way over to the work table, came the interested call, “Hey, Trowa…”
Glancing in that direction, Trowa knew immediately what Duo wanted. “Yes,” he said, moving to where Duo stood, “that’s it.”
Duo was frowning down at the artifact. One hand moved briefly, as if he were about to reach out and touch it or pick it up, but fell back before it had lifted more than a few inches. “What are you going to do with it?”
“Destroy it, as soon as I know there’s nothing more I specifically need it for.”
Duo nodded thoughtfully, then slowly turned away, putting his back to the artifact in what seemed a deliberate gesture. Trowa wasn’t surprised to see him give no real indication that this was the object that had made his life so excessively long and difficult… though he also wouldn’t have been terribly surprised if Duo had spared it a middle finger or two before leaving it behind him.
Heero had drawn closer to where they stood, and now joined Trowa in looking down at the table. “A candlestick?” he said, somewhat blankly. At Trowa’s nod he went on, “I would have expected…” But he trailed off and shook his head with a shrug.
“Something that seemed more magical?” Trowa finished for him, smiling slightly. “That’s what Quatre said.”
“Wow, Trois, where did you get this chair? Why did you get this chair?” Duo had flopped down into the article in question, and was now bouncing slightly and laughing. “This is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“Quatre said that too,” Trowa admitted.
“It’s a pretty awesome ugly, though. And it’s really comfy! Heero, you should get a chair like this.”
For a moment Trowa, blushing faintly, imagined that Duo was aware of what he’d done with Quatre in that chair, and that there was more than one layer to this suggestion to Heero — but he got hold of himself and said nothing. Heero just made a disdainful noise to let Duo know what he thought of the proposal.
In an impulsive movement, Duo rose and hugged Trowa. “I can sit in chairs again!” he exulted.
Trowa would have pointed out that, technically, Duo had always been able to sit in chairs… if he weren’t still, out of residual guilt and a desire not to injure Duo further, reluctant to tease his friend. Duo was closer today to treating Trowa the way he used to than he had been since they’d reunited — but it still wasn’t quite the same, and Trowa doubted it ever would be again. The curse was broken and forgiven, but it could not be so easily forgotten. He could not expect a relationship like what they’d had; he wondered what he could expect.
“Technically, you always could,” said Heero, earning himself a stuck-out tongue from Duo and a startled look from Trowa. But after the initial surprise, all the statement really did was remind Trowa that, while Duo might not have the same closeness with his old friend that he’d once had, he wasn’t alone. Neither of them was alone, nor even unhappy; time and circumstances were on their side. But even if their friendship never did completely mend, and even if it stung a little to think of someone else closer to and easier with Duo than he was, he was glad Duo had been able to find someone like that.
So, although he wasn’t perfectly content, although he still had a long road to travel before everything would be right again, he felt he had all he could ask for in this — indeed, more than he would have thought to ask for — and that he could continue to celebrate, with his friends, the end of a long era of sorrow.
With the posting of this part, Plastic became my longest posted story, beating the forever-held record of my ancient Pride of her Parents.