It was becoming something of a tradition for Trowa to help Heero make dinner for the four of them after work on at least a couple of nights of the week. Quatre thought Heero enjoyed observing the magic Trowa used for this purpose, though he hadn’t yet agreed to start learning how to do it himself; and that Trowa liked having the chance to make food for his lover rather than the other way around — though whether this was because Quatre’s hopelessness in the kitchen had shone through even in all those microwave meals or because Trowa simply enjoyed the reversal of roles, Quatre couldn’t guess.

“So, Duo,” Quatre said lazily as they were both lounging on the sofa one Tuesday evening waiting for their boyfriends to cater to their every whim, “you’ve been human for two weeks now… how are you liking it?”

“That,” said Duo solemnly, “is a very stupid question.”

“It is not. You were a doll for a lot longer than you were a human before; I thought maybe after turning back you might have realized you liked being a doll better.”

“That,” Duo echoed himself, “is a very stupid idea.”

Quatre stuck out his tongue. Duo threw one of the smaller couch cushions at him. It was too point-blank for Quatre to catch it except as it bounced off his face, but once it had done so, he propped it behind him and leaned back against it. “Seriously, though,” he went on. “What are your plans?”

Duo, his half of the couch now one cushion less comfortable, nevertheless also leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “Oh, there’s all sorts of stuff I need to do.” His tone sounded as lazy as the one with which Quatre had introduced this topic, yet perfectly serious. “Heero’s going to start teaching me to drive one of these days…”

“Wow, that’s a scary thought,” Quatre murmured.

“Isn’t it?” Heero agreed from the kitchen.

“You two can just both shut up,” said Duo. “Anyway, so then I’ll be able to get a driver’s license. Oh, but first I need a state I.D. and a birth certificate and stuff so I can exist.”

“I’m working on that,” said Trowa, also from the kitchen.

“He could just get you a driver’s license,” Quatre pointed out. “Trowa, your people can get him anything, can’t they?”

“Nobody is driving my car until they actually know how to drive,” Heero put in.

“There you go,” said Duo, grinning. “Also I think I’ll try for one of those GED things. Trowa’s people could get me one of those too, but it’s stuff I’m going to want to be sure I know.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea,” Quatre nodded. “Then I can get you a job.”

“Can you?”

“Yeah, we don’t hire high school dropouts. Usually we want a college degree, actually… but if a Regional Manager recommends you, you may be able to get in without one.”

“Well, I think I’ll want a college degree at some point too. But I will need a job for that.”

“If you promise to get real work done every day without distracting Heero too much, I’ll see what I can do.”

“I can’t help it if I’m distracting.” Duo tried to look innocent and failed.

Quatre laughed. “As long as it’s non-contact distraction.”

From the kitchen he barely caught Heero’s muttered, “That’s just as bad.”

“Hey! I said it’s not my fault!” Duo could hardly make this protest with a straight face. “Did I force you guys to take that week off? Besides!” He veered suddenly onto the offensive. “Trowa! How’s your book coming?”

“I haven’t actually started it yet,” replied Trowa placidly.

With a very pointed look at Quatre, Duo said, “See?”

Quatre just laughed again. Then he brought them back around to the real topic of discussion with, “I think it’s about $75 to take the GED; you could probably do it as soon as you think you’re ready. I know there are study guides…”

“Yeah,” Duo nodded. “I’m going to end up owing Heero my soul if he keeps paying for all these things for me.”

Just to see what Heero would say, Quatre suggested, “I could pay for it for you.”

“No.” As expected, Heero advanced to the edge of the linoleum and spoke directly out at them. “If Duo’s going to owe his soul to anyone, it’s going to be me.”

“Awww,” said Duo, sounding pleased. “See,” he added in an undertone to Quatre, “him I can pay back with sex.”

Quatre snorted. Heero said, “What was that?”

“Nothing!” Duo sang.

“Trowa, go see what they’re doing over there,” Heero ordered.

Presently Trowa’s face appeared above Quatre’s, leaning over the back of the couch to look at him. “What are you doing over here?” he asked quietly, appearing amused. Quatre reached up suddenly and dragged him into an upside-down, off-balance kiss.

“PDA! PDA!” cried Duo, and began beating at them with the one small couch cushion still within his reach.

Trowa stepped aside, but Quatre wasn’t going to take this. He retrieved one of the three pillows on his end and retaliated. Soon the combat escalated off the couch, and laughter was threatening to defeat them both before either could force the other to yield. But then Duo called out something in the magical language, and the other two small cushions — which Quatre had been keeping his eye on, as backup weaponry — jumped into the air and flew toward him.

“That is not fair!” Quatre protested breathlessly. “Trowa, help!”

“How old are you two?” wondered Trowa, unmoved.

“I’m a hundred and eleven!” Duo cried triumphantly.

“You shouldn’t be allowed to use magic!” Quatre was laughing helplessly as Duo and Duo’s accomplices battered him and he was rarely able to get in a shot of his own. Then, finally, he heard Trowa’s voice calmly coming to his assistance. In response to the mysterious words, one of the aggressive floating cushions sped off abruptly in another direction — a poorly-chosen direction, it turned out, for it careened into the lamp on the end table. Trowa started forward and spoke a quick, brief phrase, and the lamp halted in response to his outstretched hand, hovering and turning very slowly in mid-air.

Duo, looking impressed, cast a quick spell of his own to make the last couch cushion stop attacking Quatre, then came to look at Trowa’s work. “Good lord, Trois… you didn’t even specify an object! You’ve got to be the best magician of the century or something!”

“I may be,” Trowa replied. “I did gesture, though.” There was only honesty — not even the slightest touch of braggadocio — in his tone; Quatre doubted there could be anything sexier in the world than his quick-thinking use of magic and subsequent modesty.

Heero, having left the kitchen and joined them where they were gathered around the end table, was examining the floating lamp with some interest, peering closely at it and bending to look from all angles. “You just said, ‘Let it hover.'” He sounded as impressed as Duo, though presumably Duo knew better than he did why this was so impressive.

Trowa nodded.

Taking the lamp in his hands almost gingerly, Heero guided it back onto the end table and watched it for a moment as if it might float away now that he’d let go. Then he turned to Duo. From this angle Quatre couldn’t see the expression on his face, but Duo started backing away with raised hands and a winningly sheepish grin. “Duo,” Heero said darkly, pursuing his retreating boyfriend around the TV stand, “you’re going to owe me more than your soul if you start breaking things in my apartment.”

“It wasn’t my fault!” Duo protested, disappearing into the hall in his attempt to escape justice.

“You started it.”

“But the spell–” Duo’s words were suddenly cut off, and Quatre assumed that Heero had caught up with him and was exacting whatever revenge he saw fit.

Laughing, Quatre bent to retrieve the scattered cushions and straighten the couch. When he was finished, he found Trowa close beside him, raising his hands to smooth out Quatre’s hair — which, he informed him in a murmur, was a mess. Liking the feeling of those long, slender fingers, Quatre raised his face and smiled. Trowa smiled back, summoning the usual butterflies that this time fluttered up into the joyful thought that it was taking less and less to get Trowa to smile these days.

“Thank you,” Quatre murmured.

Briefly, unexpectedly, Trowa bent and kissed him. “You’re welcome.” Then he returned to the kitchen to resume whatever he’d been working on before all the drama had started. “Heero, can this bread come out?” he called after a moment.

For some time there was no answer from down the hall, but eventually a very disinterested-sounding affirmative floated out to them. Quatre chuckled and returned to the sofa. Eventually their friends emerged, both looking just a little flushed; Heero went back to the kitchen without a word, and Duo came to sit beside Quatre again.

“In answer to your question earlier,” said Duo, putting his hands behind his head once more and relaxing back into the replaced cushions, “I fucking love being human.”

Previous (Part 97) | Chapter Index | Next (Part 99)