Upon returning to Heero’s apartment late Saturday afternoon, Trowa found both of his temporary roommates evidently somewhat annoyed and trying not to show it. At first he thought this was because the housework they were attempting was somewhat hampered by Trowa’s possessions stacked all over the place, but he became more precisely enlightened when Duo said, “We were expecting you back any time!” — because if that had been the case, they wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the many hours Trowa had left them alone. Try as he might not to think about it, Trowa knew perfectly well how his presence was specifically inconveniencing his friends.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have let you know when I left.”

At this Duo seemed to relent even from the irritation he didn’t want to show in the first place. “Oh, it’s no problem. What have you been up to?”

“I’ve bought a house,” Trowa replied.

Looking surprised, Heero turned from cleaning the front of a kitchen cabinet with one of the Clorox wipes left over from dealing with Trowa’s smoke-damaged furniture. “Actually bought a house?”

Trowa nodded. “It’s in High Palms. I think it should work.”

“But you actually bought it?” Heero reiterated. “Or you’re in the process?”

“No, it’s bought and paid for,” Trowa confirmed.

Apparently Heero wasn’t sure what to say.

“Is that weird?” Duo wondered.

“You were never with anyone who was buying a new house?” Heero returned.

“Maybe a couple of times, but I wasn’t exactly involved in the process.”

“And you weren’t around here in time to hear Relena and Colin complaining about it. It usually takes months.” Heero gave Trowa a wry smile. “When you said the other day that you needed to get things done, you weren’t joking.”

Trowa returned the smile. “It turns out that, if you’ve been burned out of your house and you can pay cash for a new one, it speeds up the process remarkably.”

“So you’re allowed to move in right away?” Trowa didn’t think he was imagining the trace of hope in Duo’s voice. He also didn’t blame him for it.

“Yes. There’s some inspection that needs to take place, but because I’m out of a home right now…” Trowa held up a collection of keys on a small, cheap ring.

Heero stared at them. “And it’s a Saturday,” he said in a marveling tone.

“I probably should have waited instead of making my real estate agent work on the weekend.” Trowa gave a little shrug. “But getting something done like this made me feel better — and I believe she’s happy for the commission in any case.”

“What is all this about getting things done?” Heero, having turned back to his work, was lifting items off the counter — first the toaster, then the bread box — in order to clean beneath them, and asked this question in a carefully casual tone.

Trowa found he rather wanted to answer, to explain himself, to try to connect with his friends on this topic, in the hopes of diminishing some of the aloneness he’d been increasingly weighed down with lately. This was an odd sensation in light of his history (and with perhaps some irony attached when he was cohabitating for the first time in almost a century) — it seemed impossible that he should have become so accustomed to togetherness, to companionship, over the last five months that when some shadow of the aloneness of the preceding 87 years returned it made for a startling and unpleasant contrast. To share his resolution, he believed, would lessen that cold feeling of solitude. Moreover, he understood that personal goals were often better adhered to when you had even the impression of someone holding you accountable.

He looked at his friends in turn, though his eyes moved rapidly over Duo, whose cleaning efforts were much more random and evidently much less effective than those of the industrious Heero, and lingered on the latter. And for an instant — it was an almost automatic response — he shied from the idea of sharing something so personal with Heero.

It was only an instant, though: the thought of how supportive Heero had been lately, with so little reproof on any score, and the recollection of his admonition last night in an almost Quatre-like tone that Trowa should get some sleep… these weren’t even really necessary; they merely formed a capstone on a structure Trowa was a little surprised to find already solid: the awareness that he did trust Heero, even with something so personal. This realization already contributed significantly to the easing of his negative feelings.

As such, he addressed Heero more than Duo as he next spoke. That was only natural, since Heero had asked the question and Trowa’s ability to confide in Duo had never been uncertain, but still it might be somewhat novel. “If you remember, the morning after Quatre destroyed the artifact, when I came to talk to you two, you asked me why I was here, and said I was underreacting. You were right. I’ve developed a bad habit of hesitating… of being passive about things… of not taking charge of situations I should be doing something about. I don’t know if it’s because I was focused on the curse so exclusively for so long that now I have a hard time focusing on anything else, or some other reason… maybe it’s just the way I am… but it has to change. I have to be better at doing what I can without holding back.”

A brief silence and stillness followed this revelation. Trowa’s gaze had left Heero and fixed on the refrigerator as the least threatening place it could possibly rest, but he could tell that the other movement in the kitchen had stopped just for a moment. Then the corner of his eye informed him that Heero had resumed cleaning as if his pause had been perfectly natural. Simultaneously, Duo had come to lean against the counter where Trowa stood and bump one of his shoulders against one of Trowa’s in a friendly and reassuring fashion.

“Sounds like a good plan,” he said in a casual tone with an underlying seriousness to it. “I mean, it seems to me like you’re always busy doing something, but if you feel like you could be doing even better…” He shrugged, then grew more somber. “And actually I think you’re not the only one who’s thinking something like that.” Though Duo went on immediately to explain what he meant, Trowa didn’t properly hear, for at that moment he was very thoroughly distracted from the verbal conversation.

Communion magic was a secondary skill for Trowa, and as such the telepathic communications of others, on the rare occasions when actual communicators saw fit to contact him mentally, came across quietly and often rather vaguely. Physical proximity made a significant difference, however, and there was no way he could ignore the arrival in his head of a foreign thought — or, rather, a bundle of thoughts, like a solid little package of interconnected ideas and emotions wrapped up neatly and sent directly at him from so close by that they were all relatively clear and comprehensible:

Heero couldn’t deny that he’d meant it when he’d said Trowa was underreacting, or that he’d originally blamed Trowa for Quatre’s condition. He still thought Trowa had been underreacting that first day, but he’d completely forgiven him for that — fully admitting that, in these circumstances, not being the one wronged, he wasn’t really in any position to offer forgiveness. And he’d ceased to blame Trowa for the bad situation with Quatre. Trowa hadn’t known this would happen… and if he had taken it upon himself to destroy the artifact — which, though he probably should have done, he couldn’t really be faulted for not doing — then he might be the angry one now, and his friends in an even worse position as far as enacting a cure.

Heero thought Trowa’s resolution to be more proactive was an admirable one; he was impressed that Trowa had made it and started working on it so sincerely, especially without Quatre’s influence. At the same time, Heero was chagrined by the thought that his disapprobation might have made Trowa think worse of himself. Of course Trowa had areas in which he needed to improve — they all did — but it was abhorrent to Heero that Trowa might feel one of his had been thrown into his face by a supposed friend. It might not always have been the case — at least not 100% — but Heero approved of Trowa, and wanted him to know that they were allies in the situation with Quatre as in many other things. Yes, he’d meant what he’d said, but it hadn’t been intended as a stab at Trowa’s character. As if they hadn’t all been getting enough of that from Quatre lately.

Whether Heero had sent all of this mentally because he was embarrassed about saying it aloud, was embarrassed about saying it aloud in front of Duo, felt himself incapable of articulating it at all, or perhaps merely because it was such a numerous list of thoughts that he’d believed could be more quickly and easily conveyed like this, Trowa didn’t know. In any case, it overrode Duo, seized Trowa’s full attention, and resonated with him so strongly that he had to consider himself shaken. Just when he’d been thinking that he really did trust Heero, this was the perfect response, exactly what he needed. They were allies. They really were. They were friends that could be honest with each other, sharing the unpleasant along with the comforting, even about personal and somewhat troubling topics. It was a warmth and a joy and an unexpected relief to Trowa all at once.

“I’m sorry, Duo,” he said, interrupting with a raised hand whatever Duo had been saying. “I’m sorry, but can you wait just a moment?” And as Duo fell silent with a curious expression, Trowa turned away. Heero’s back was to him as he went on doggedly cleaning the kitchen — though Trowa was fairly certain it was a portion of the kitchen he’d already seen to — but Trowa addressed him anyway. “It wasn’t only what you said, Heero. It seems like everyone I’ve talked to lately has said something, and it’s all combined to help me realize this. It’s been more like the entire world reaching out to help me than anybody accusing me of anything.”

The gesture Duo gave at this, though Trowa didn’t see it clearly from this angle, conveyed even greater curiosity and now some confusion. Heero, however, did not turn from his work (increasingly pointless as it seemed with each moment that passed), just said somewhat gruffly, “OK, good.”

Trowa didn’t think there was anything more to offer on the subject, but still he lingered mentally. He wanted to give some indication of his appreciation of this display of solidarity between himself and Heero — without, preferably, embarrassing Heero. Struck with inspiration after a prolonged and somewhat awkward silence, he moved to where the container of Clorox wipes stood at the end of the counter and took one. Almost blindly he began rubbing at the stove, which was already gleaming from Heero’s prior attentions.

Duo cleared his throat. “Sooo…” He sounded curious yet, but his new tone was tinged with growing understanding — or at least hypothesis — that suggested Heero would probably be teased or confronted or grilled about this later.

Hoping he hadn’t set Heero up for an uncomfortable conversation, “Yes, sorry, Duo,” Trowa said. “What were you saying?”

And that Duo had recognized at the very least that Trowa hadn’t heard any of his story the first time was implied by his seeming to restart from the beginning: “Quatre’s dad called this morning…”

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