It had been an effort like none he could remember for Quatre to keep his mind on work today. Like a strong spring snapping back into place, it wanted to retract from the task of giving half the staff clearance reapproval, and the tedious ins and outs of system organization, to the exponentially more interesting topic of his friends whose curse was at last broken.

Of course he’d hurried Trowa out of Heero’s apartment last night — it really had been the only option at the time — then done his best to distract him so he wouldn’t be tempted to wander back in there before it was appropriate to do so… but that didn’t mean Quatre himself wasn’t burning up with curiosity and the wish to see and congratulate Duo (though he knew full well that his desire could only ever hope to be a fraction as strong as Trowa’s was). He flattered himself that Duo would be pleased to see him too, and, besides, that Duo was certain to be glad of congratulations from anyone offering them. It would surely be an interesting meeting.

Heero too was in need of congratulating, since things had evidently finally gone his way. Quatre was very glad of it, though he would be glad of a little more confirmation than just the kiss he’d impartially witnessed last night. He hoped they would be happy together. He thought they would be good for each other.

And besides all of this, of course, there was also the very simple fact that he wasn’t yet done admiring un-cursed and still-alive Trowa. He’d made a fairly extensive exploration of him last night (which was why he’d needed an unusually great amount of caffeine this morning), but it was going to take a while before he was really satisfied. The long and short of it was that he didn’t want to be here.

Fortunately, he had this recovering-from-a-system-failure thing down to a sort of science, and could usually make a fairly accurate estimate beforehand of how long he would need to spend and what time he could reasonably expect to be able to leave. Today’s prediction was 4:00, and, though he had purchased a plane ticket for 5:55, he’d also requested that Trowa attempt to jump to him in the hopes that he would not have to return to the airport at all.

If 4:15 arrived without bringing Trowa, Quatre was to assume he wasn’t yet capable of using Quatre as a destination, and call his cab as usual. He hoped Trowa would succeed, though, for more reasons than one: of course it would be much quicker and more convenient, eat up less of his evening pointlessly than the flight, and thereby give him more time to talk to Trowa and Duo and admire their state of humanity… but he also hoped for success because of what it would say about his relationship with Trowa — a statement that would be pleasing to him and, he hoped, specifically affirming to Trowa.

So at 4:00 he let himself into an empty conference room and stood quietly waiting in the dark, fingers (at least mentally) crossed. And he was more pleased even than he’d expected when Trowa arrived.

He appeared quite close to Quatre, though the angle of his body prevented more than about half-contact. This Quatre immediately rectified, however, by pulling Trowa fully against him and reaching up to kiss him leisurely.

“You did it!” he said when he withdrew. “It worked!”

Trowa smiled at him. Though this had been less infrequent of late than when they’d first met, it still made Quatre’s pulse quicken slightly. He had a feeling it always would. “Yes,” said Trowa. “It was easier than I thought.”

Quatre also smiled, broadly. “Does it help that I was wishing for you?”

“Maybe.” Without any great or easily discernible alteration of expression, Trowa looked pleased.

Quatre rose up on tip-toe to aim a kiss at a freckle on Trowa’s temple. “I don’t think I got them all last night,” he said thoughtfully. He would have gone on, but an irresistible yawn came out instead.

Trowa caught it and yawned as well. “I’ll tell you what you didn’t get last night…”

Quatre chuckled. “Wow, the curse breaking really has changed things if you’re talking to me about not getting enough sleep.”

“If you want your turn,” Trowa replied gravely, “I’ll tell you: I didn’t sleep at all last night.”

“Trowa! You didn’t go sneaking over there bothering Heero and Duo!”

“No, I just thought about it all night. But they came over and spent several hours at my house today. Actually, they just left when I said I needed to pick you up. They invited us over for dinner; I hope you don’t mind I accepted on your behalf, if we could manage to get you there in time.”

Quatre grinned. “No, not at all. I’ll be happy to see Duo eating, I’m sure. And then you and I can go to bed early, and if it’s early enough we won’t even have to go straight to sleep.”

Again Trowa looked pleased. “This sounds like a perfect evening, then.” And he reached down and clasped Quatre around the waist in order to make the jump.

A further report from Trowa indicated that the others had gone shopping — first, to get some dinner components Heero needed; second, to find some shoes for Duo, who was apparently having trouble fitting into Heero’s; third, because Duo, who said he felt like a long-time shut-in, just really wanted to. So Quatre had time to admire Trowa’s freckles and natural green eyes for a while.

The wanderers’ return was heralded by an energetic knocking on Trowa’s door that Quatre assumed, just based on its sound, could only be coming from the hand of Duo — and so it proved. Quatre opened the door and found himself facing someone whose face he’d never before seen, but who was very familiar.

“Quatre!” Duo flung himself enthusiastically at him for a hug that crushed the breath right out of him. “Hi!!”

“Hi, Duo!” Quatre laughed as soon as he was able. “You’re looking good!”

Duo made a long, pleased affirmative noise like a sort of small yell, and finally drew back. Studying his pleasant features, which now held every bit of expressiveness they’d so conspicuously lacked before, Quatre could do nothing but widen his own grin.

In a tone that was much like that of a father conducting a suspicious examination of his child’s first date, “So I hear you’ve got this thing going with my best friend,” Duo said.

“Well, what about you and mine?” Quatre countered.

Duo gave him a transported look and sighed dreamily. “We’re wonderful,” he breathed. It was so very overdone that Quatre had to laugh. Then Duo went on in a more matter-of-fact tone, “He bought me shoes! See?” And pointed down at his feet like a proud child with a new toy.

When Quatre had admired these appropriately, Duo dragged him through Trowa’s door into Heero’s apartment so as to involve Heero in the conversation too. Quatre got the feeling that Duo didn’t much like being separated from Heero, even only by a few yards. It made sense, he supposed — Duo had gotten used to being within five feet of Heero at all times, and there was probably still a lingering, irrational fear of what might happen if they were too long apart. Knowing that Heero appreciated just a little bit of clinginess, Quatre couldn’t help thinking this could only be a herald of good things.

Trowa, who had slipped past them through his entryway, was already in Heero’s kitchen, and Quatre was pleased to see him taking instructions from Heero as he had last night. For those two to get to know each other, become better friends, was one of Quatre’s dearest wishes at the moment.

Remembering something else from last night, “So, Heero,” Quatre said, advancing to the edge of the linoleum, “when are you going to start learning how to cast spells?”

Heero glanced over at him. He was well aware that he was being teased, but his answer was just a calm shrug.

Quatre turned to Duo. “You don’t know how embarrassed he was when you told him you’d been the one to awaken his magical potential.”

Duo’s eyes seemed to spark. “Really?”

“Probably not as embarrassed as I was,” Quatre went on, just to make things fair, “when I thought Trowa might be able to read my mind, though.”

“Quatre! Were you having dirty thoughts?” Duo demanded, stifling a grin in favor of a not-very-successful attempt at a stern expression.

“The worst part of it was that I still thought he was with you at the time.” Quatre didn’t mind laughing, nor relating the details of that particular instance for Duo’s amusement.

The rest of the night went very much like this; there were myriad little moments, misinterpreted statements, and utterly missed cues to be explained on most sides, and a lot of blushing and laughter. And while complete honesty on all topics was not yet possible, they mostly managed without real awkwardness or unhappiness. Duo’s joy at being human again, which apparently could not be expressed too frequently, served to smooth over anything that threatened to become truly uncomfortable, and in general the group dynamic was good.

And it was unexpectedly gratifying, when the little party broke up, to feel that everyone knew where everyone else stood — and was going at the moment! — and approved. To see a smile on every face — even Trowa’s — as they said their goodnights; to see Heero take Duo’s hand when he thought no one was looking; to walk with Trowa back into his house secure in the knowledge that everything had turned out right after all… Quatre didn’t think he’d ever been happier.

Previous (Part 92) | Chapter Index | Next (Part 94)