The last thing Trowa said before he cast his spell, under his breath and apostrophically, was, “I’m sorry about this.” Then he murmured the words that would take him where he needed to go, and fell silent as he went there.
Aside from doing something he didn’t feel entirely right about, he was taking a risk here. Though he used a teleportation spell that had a built-in clause against appearing (to great personal detriment) in the same space as some object, there was no guarantee that the room would be devoid of people — and in this case, unless by some phenomenal good luck it turned out to be Quatre, anyone that happened to be there would undoubtedly be startled and astonished, might well run and/or scream, and would certainly require quite a bit of explanation.
Quatre’s bedroom resembled his office last Friday — forlornly dark and empty, door closed. Trowa stood still for a few moments, listening. There was noise outside, rather distressingly close: a couple of people were talking on the landing, and, though Trowa couldn’t specifically identify the voices, they were familiar enough in this setting. They didn’t seem to be discussing anything that might lead them to enter Quatre’s room, but Trowa still stood poised to jump back out again should the sounds approach the door. But in fact they faded into the hallway across from it.
He let out a quiet breath and moved slowly toward the door himself. This old house had creaking floorboards, and it wouldn’t do to give away his presence by carelessness so that some member of Quatre’s family thought the wayward son had returned and came running in to see him. Beside the door, he listened for a moment longer, then murmured a spell. Once magically protected against detection from without, he flipped the light switch and turned to face the room.
The difference in the latter since the last time Trowa had been here was startling. The bulletin board that had previously displayed a number of happy photographs now stood on the floor leaning against the wall as if it had fallen down — or perhaps been knocked down — and Quatre just hadn’t felt equal to rehanging it. The photos were like the board in miniature; it looked as if some overly vigorous movement had ripped many of them off their push-pins, and then they’d all been, instead of put back with Quatre’s usual neatness, stacked and tucked into the corner of the board.
The bookshelf was in similar condition; the books had evidently been knocked off of it and then hastily replaced in a vertical stack that did not represent their previous organization. Even sadder than the books, the model cars on the other shelves all appeared to be damaged. Though they’d been returned to their places, it looked as if they’d been swept off prior to that or even thrown, and the pieces that had broken from each had been only carelessly tossed onto the shelves beside the cars rather than arranged with any care or repaired.
For the first time Trowa had ever seen when he wasn’t currently occupying it, Quatre’s bed was unmade, and one of the pillows lay, limp and lonely, on the floor. Beside it, a line of clothes was scattered from the open closet door all the way to the opposite wall.
No wonder Quatre had fled this place. This room should have been his sanctuary, his escape from a world that wasn’t doing much for his frame of mind… but through that very frame of mind, in breaking down the organization he valued so highly and damaging the comforting items around him, Quatre had turned even his own private space into something that must actually have agitated him more. It only made sense, at that point, to go somewhere else. But where had he gone? This was what Trowa had come to investigate.
He had turned the computer on as he’d looked around, and now he sat down at the desk. The roll-out shelf that held the keyboard and mouse was stuck, and took some wrangling to bring out; it felt a bit as if someone had pounded on it and twisted the metal track a little out of shape. Trowa was glad he had added a sound clause to his spell at the door, because, as quiet as he tried to be, this took some considerable rattling.
The mouse barely worked; perhaps it had been the primary target of the slamming. It required a combination of computer accessories, with emphasis on the keyboard, to get into Firefox and direct it toward the email service Quatre used for personal correspondence. He entered Quatre’s login information, thinking apologies at his absent lover again as he initiated this further violation of privacy.
He was looking for clues as to where Quatre might be, and, given that he was probably the only person that knew Quatre’s email password, he might be the only person that could look in this particular direction. He wanted to see the infamous email Quatre’s father didn’t think Quatre had really written. He wanted to see if Quatre had contacted anyone else about this supposed vacation of his, had said anything to anyone that might indicate where he’d gone. He wanted, he had to admit, to connect with Quatre again, even if it was only a shadow of their real connection and being carried out in a hopeless and underhanded way.
Given that Quatre, as long as he had his phone, could still access this account, it was possible he’d already erased anything that might provide Trowa with any useful information… but Trowa thought it worth checking even so. And there was a faint chance that, in any case, this would make him feel a little better.
The inbox was full; actually, it rather resembled Trowa’s at the moment, with many new items, several replies, and, below that, a long list of messages already read but not yet dealt with. Normally, Trowa knew, Quatre liked to keep his inbox empty by replying as things arrived; he’d even teasingly lamented the state of Trowa’s in the past when he’d seen it. But at the moment it was no surprise that he’d received many more emails lately than he’d had the patience to do anything about.
At a glance, Trowa counted at least four unread messages from Heero. Even Duo (display name ‘The Great And Singular Maxwell’) had tried to raise a response from Quatre once. All of these Trowa skipped, and clicked instead on the email from Bernard Winner whose subject line was Re:Vacation. He scrolled down (or, rather, arrowed down, since the mouse suddenly wasn’t working again) past Mr. Winner’s worried queries to the quoted original message.
It was startlingly brief, rivaling anything Trowa at his most laconic could have written: I am on vacation starting now. I won’t be at home or at work.
Trowa shook his head. With so few words, and knowing how Quatre had been in recent days, he couldn’t judge, as Mr. Winner had, whether or not Quatre himself had written this. He moved back out into the inbox and glanced down the list again. When nothing looked promising, he clicked on the sent mail folder.
After only another half second of visual scanning, he stiffened in his seat and blinked several times. His first thought was that he must be imagining things; he couldn’t be seeing right. His mind already raced with the possibilities implied by this information. He’d come looking for clues, and he’d found one, but it pointed in an unexpected and unpleasant direction.
The name of the recipient of the last email Quatre had sent prior to the ‘Vacation’ notification to his father was Vallis Rheita.
As soon as Trowa could get to it — the mouse refused to cooperate again, so he was forced to tab around — he hastened to try to find out what Quatre had been doing emailing La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré. Not that Trowa couldn’t already guess; he’d heard the way Quatre had sounded last week when he’d asked about ‘that French cult.’ And it was no surprise to find that, just as Trowa happened to know Quatre’s email password, Quatre should know Trowa’s as well in order to get at the address of the person that had written about the arson.
The message was, for some reason, in French — perhaps Quatre had believed this would add a personalized touch — and Trowa worked in impatient haste to copy it so he could paste it, in another window, into Google’s translator. Then he attempted tensely to make sense of what he could now read:
This is Quatre Winner , Trowa boyfriend Barton. How dare you send this email you ? It is a part of your organization hit against him in this way is absolutely unacceptable , and one e -mail is not enough reward. I’ll tell you that it was I who destroyed the artifact you call the artifact Rousell , so your reactionary faction acted against Trowa for any reason whatsoever. His house was destroyed and his life is affected for any reason whatsoever, and all you can say is that it was not your intention? If your management skills are so poor that you can not prevent those under your command to do such dangerous and destructive things for no reason , I do not have to worry about any threat to you in the future : your incompetence is sure to destroy your organization before long. Before that, however , you must Trowa , you claim to revere him a much more meaningful and rewarding to practice .
He had assumed — he and Heero and Duo had all assumed, despite what Mr. Winner might think — that Quatre had gone into hiding trying to avoid everyone and his own behavior, but the contents and timing of this email strongly suggested otherwise. Quatre had told them that he’d been the one to destroy the artifact. Quatre had told them he was Trowa’s boyfriend. Quatre had practically invited retribution, even while demanding recompense. And if La Confrérie was keeping an eye on Trowa, it wasn’t impossible that, with this information, they now knew where the power from their precious artifact had gone. And what had they done then??
The panic sprang up so acutely that Trowa actually stuttered as he spoke a nearly unthinking divination. “Is Quatre alive?”
The sense he immediately received in response, not quite a vision but a clear and distinct feeling of Quatre as Trowa knew him (plus a hot, angry sensation that felt very much like the familiar energy from the artifact), made him shudder and his eyes prickle with tears.
His voice was even more unsteady than before, if a little less intense, as he asked, “Where is Quatre?” But to this there was no answer. No more was there to, “Is Quatre with La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré?”
A certain muffled feeling sometimes came in place of an answer to divinatory questions, and it was difficult even for Trowa to tell the difference between not having enough information or needing to alter the wording of the question and something blocking divination. Possibly a third problem in this instance was his not having a clear idea how to pronounce ‘La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré.’ In any case, though he would certainly try further divination when he got home, at the moment it probably wasn’t going to get him anywhere. Quatre was alive, and didn’t seem to be in any worse a state than lately, and that, at least, was enough to get started with.
Purposefully (and somewhat painstakingly), Trowa opened a new window and signed into his own email. He didn’t even glance at his inbox; at present he didn’t care what might be in it. He started a new message and set it to CC to every single magical contact he had. It didn’t matter what they might think of him. It didn’t matter what they’d thought of him all along. This was about Quatre.
Have you heard of La Confrerie de la Lune Revere? They existed in France in the 1700’s; the latest record I’ve come across is dated 1785. But it seems they may have migrated, and now have a presence in the U.S.. If you know anything about them, especially where they might be, please let me know as soon as possible. This is extremely important, and I would appreciate it if you would ask around to anyone else who might know.
Without taking even an instant that might allow him to rethink this, he sent the email. Then he sat back in Quatre’s chair, let out a long breath, and found he was still trembling slightly.
Quatre was alive. The sense of him had even seemed (relatively speaking) all right. Trowa had to keep telling himself this, and trying to refrain from replying to himself that if La Confrérie had done something to Quatre, ‘action against you’ would not be sufficient to describe what would happen; ‘arson’ wouldn’t even begin to cover it. Someone would regret daring to touch the lover of the most practiced command magician in the country.