Heero was definitely getting the hang of dealing with a room full of thoughts as he went about his work each day, adjusting to the specific sound or flavor of each person’s projected reflections, and could complete his own tasks without too much distraction most of the time. Occasionally someone would get boisterous or interesting enough that it became harder to ignore, but he was gradually learning to deal with that too. He had to admit to some pride in this; for having literally no training, and no great freedom to pursue any right now, he felt he was doing very well.
When, just after 10:00, his efforts were interrupted by the silly-sounding laughter Duo had for some reason set as his incoming text alert, Heero reached for his phone with half a sigh and half a laugh of his own, and found Trowa wondering, Do you think Quatre would like living in High Palms?
It seemed a somewhat odd message, but Heero nevertheless took a mental walk into the neighborhood in question. Anything inside the city that lacked four storeys and five acres would be a step down for Quatre, but High Palms was quite a nice area — though not extensively familiar with it, Heero had been there occasionally. He might, he replied. Looking at houses? Trowa, clearly very uncomfortable in his current displacement, had mentioned that he intended to do so sometime soon, but hadn’t given Heero a specific time and date.
Yes, came the reply. I considered Peregrine, but I think Quatre would prefer something more established.
This Heero believed to be accurate. Quatre would love to have neighbors, which wasn’t an immediate guarantee in a brand-new development like Peregrine. You’re probably right.
I also considered the Old Glazebrook Avenue area, was Trowa’s next comment. It seems to have a lot of houses similar to Quatre’s, but it’s not nearly as active a sale market, and the chances of finding something suitable for sale right away seem lower.
Trowa did love his research. It couldn’t have been anything but extremely boring to look into the qualities of different neighborhoods in a new town, and only served to prove more definitely just how much he wanted out of Heero’s apartment. If he weren’t so desperate and uncomfortable, he could wait to look at houses until Quatre could come with him, and wouldn’t be bothering Heero with his least favorite communication medium.
Quatre might prefer a change anyway, Heero texted back.
Do you think so? came the quick reply.
Heero smiled wryly. This (and possibly the entire affair) was insecurity, not ignorance. Of course Heero knew Quatre better than Trowa did, simply from lengthier experience, but that didn’t mean Trowa couldn’t figure out any or all of this stuff on his own. But before Heero could comment on this, assuming he intended to, another message arrived saying, My confidence in my expertise is overwhelming, I know.
Current events, it was true, couldn’t be doing much for Trowa’s confidence. That he could possibly receive a great boost from a text conversation with Heero, the latter doubted. Surely Quatre had acquainted Trowa at some point with Heero’s distaste for text messaging? Not that there was any other way for Trowa to ask questions at the moment, since Heero wouldn’t have sat on a call with him while he wandered around houses… but did he really need to be asking these questions at all? Heero supposed he did.
Quatre might like a change, he reiterated at last. He likes his living situation, but going to a new home that’s very similar might be disappointing.
Sensible, Trowa replied. Thank you.
It was perhaps half an hour before Heero heard from his friend again. I know Quatre has only the one car, but how likely do you think it is that he’ll want a second or a third?
This, Heero judged, was a garage-size question. Two maybe, he wrote back, but probably not three.
Yes, probably, Trowa replied. Do you think Quatre would mind stairs up from the garage to the kitchen?
Heero gave this some consideration, but only very briefly, before answering, No. Having to carry groceries up a flight of stairs would drive him crazy after no great while, but Quatre (as long as he wasn’t magically angry) might not even notice. And honestly Heero was a little tired of this conversation.
That was unfortunate, because it wasn’t over. Trowa’s next query was, What kind of storage capacity do you think Quatre needs? I’ve seen his attic, of course, but how much of that tendency was his family and how much was him?
Not none but not big, Heero typed out with a sigh. He keeps stuff, but organizes well.
Of course, Trowa acknowledged.
Heero had by now silenced his phone, seeing that text messaging was the order of at least the next little while if not the whole day. If he needed to make any phone calls — and at the moment it seemed like he might after not too long — Trowa would have to wait a bit on whatever answer he needed next.
A nice kitchen probably won’t do us any good, Trowa remarked — and that wasn’t even a request for advice; it was just a comment.
Heero tried to keep his annoyance down as he composed and sent his reply. Then he realized he’d sent, You need one anyway for when I come cok for you guys, and grumbled inarticulately under his breath as he sent a correction. This was only one of many reasons he hated texting: you got going so fast, you didn’t double-check what you’d written, and made stupid mistakes.
He was just about finished looking over yesterday’s transactions when the next comment came: Quatre will need a separate room for music, I think. Heero didn’t feel the need to respond to this fairly definitive statement, but then Trowa asked, Do you think he’d want a closed room, like a bedroom, for that, or something more open, like a living room?
This should really be obvious upon viewing the spaces in question, shouldn’t it? Where a huge piano would fit, surely, would immediately solve the problem. But his response was, Aren’t you a musician too? Can’t you tell what would be best?
I haven’t played for years, Trowa answered, but you may be right.
Again some time passed in relative peace, but Heero didn’t fool himself into thinking he’d been let off. So he was ready when Trowa texted, Quatre will obviously want spare rooms.
Separate dining room? He has one now.
Get a big kitchen you can put a table in and then a separate dining room too. After a moment’s thought, despite not wanting to set a precedent of initiating a message rather than just responding, Heero added, Get some kind of rec room for parties. Duo would certainly like the sound of that; he and Quatre could conspire together about social gatherings.
If this all worked, it would actually be fairly interesting to have Quatre inside town rather than on its borders. Quatre had lived in that mansion out there for as long as Heero had known him, and, because of its distance from everything convenient in the city, had visited Heero’s home far more often than Heero had visited him.
Big bathroom, was probably a specific comment on the house Trowa was currently looking at.
Big bathroom good for Quatre. Heero considered this appropriate diction for answering the message in question.
Is bathtub or shower more important?
Only because Heero had known Quatre for ten years was he able to answer, Both. One of those jacuzzi tubs, if possible.
Perhaps ten minutes later came, Do you think Quatre will want another dog after Cairo dies?
Probably. Get a big yard with good fences.
That Trowa was so single-mindedly dedicated to finding a perfect habitat for his boyfriend was sweet, but that very boyfriend would surely want Trowa to consider his own preferences as well. Did Trowa plan on any pets? What did Trowa want in a back yard? Of course Trowa might be simply keeping his own preferences in his own head as unnecessary to mention to Heero, but this entire process still seemed pathetically lopsided. The worst was yet to come, though.
Do you think Quatre will ever want children?
Heero sat back and put a hand over his face. Of course he understood all the aspects of the situation that made him the ideal candidate for an answer to this question at the moment, but it felt so… inappropriate. This was something that, if Trowa did not know already, should be discussed with Quatre himself — a personal part of their future on which Heero should not even be called to give an opinion. But it was also a point worth considering in relation to a house that Quatre might one day inhabit, and therefore something Trowa needed to think about today when Quatre was in no state to discuss it.
Still, only after he’d made the phone call he’d been anticipating — stealing time to collect himself and consider the matter — did Heero finally reply, No, I don’t think so. And if Trowa made some protest against the idea on the basis that Quatre was very attached to his nieces and nephews, Heero would turn his phone off rather than argue the point. But quite a few more minutes passed with no further message, and when another came it was on a different topic:
Does a big deck work as a rec room?
Probably works for parties, but you still need a place for a TV. Naturally Trowa, whom Duo had once called a ‘godless heathen’ for the lack of TV in his life, would not have thought of that; perhaps it was, after all, good for him to be consulting someone. Quatre would have been optimal, of course, but Heero was just about resigned to how things had to be.
Eventually, after another string of questions that mostly began with ‘Would Quatre,’ Heero felt compelled to ask something he’d been wondering all along: Does Quatre know about all this? What he meant was, Does your boyfriend have any idea you want him to move in with you and are tailoring your entire house-buying process to his rather than your needs and desires? Whether or not Trowa would interpret his short question as such, Heero couldn’t be sure.
No, was the answer. I may be setting myself up for serious disappointment.
I don’t think so. One of the few benefits to this method of holding a discussion was the relative smoothness with which some statements that might otherwise be a little awkward could be delivered. As soon as he’s cured.
Thank you, sent Trowa.
You should wait, Heero advised. It’s only till Friday.
I need to get out of your apartment, Trowa replied. I need to get things done.
Heero thought this another odd statement, and that it wasn’t likely Trowa, even if he made a decision on a house, would be out of the apartment any time soon, but he wasn’t going to press the issue.
Finally lunch time approached. Heero wasn’t sure how long Trowa planned on continuing to look at houses and ask him questions — surely whatever agent was showing him around would tire eventually, even if Trowa didn’t — but he had a feeling his lunch hour would not be free of text messaging. Fortunately, Duo was sure to be extremely interested, and that would stave off some of Heero’s annoyance.
Beyond that, they’d been eating lunch out in the car now that Dorothy had returned, so at least Heero could deal with the conversation in freedom from swirling uncontrolled thoughts about what needed to get done after lunch and excitement about going to see Machete tomorrow and plans for this Christmas and how much homework she had and curiosity whether humpback whales were migratory and whether he would be able to make rent next month (actually, Heero would want to figure out who that last one was and be sure the wonderer was going to be all right), and all the rest of it.
It was funny what he’d grown accustomed to since that day he’d picked Duo up from the gutter outside this very building, and since the twenty-second of August in particular; this business of dealing with people’s thoughts, even when he had a difficult time with it, had come to seem perfectly run-of-the-mill, and the situations of Trowa and Quatre — arson and anger and possession — weren’t much farther from feeling like fairly normal day-to-day occurrences in the lives of the magical. Heero couldn’t quite decide whether that was reassuring or troublesome, but it was what it was. He went to lunch.