That Quatre had managed any sleep at all astonished and provoked him — astonished because he’d been so agitated the night before that sleep had seemed impossible; provoked because this wasn’t the time for it, because sleep was such a waste right now. Lying around unconscious for several hours contributed exactly nothing to any solution to his problem.
There had been some mention, yesterday evening, of drawing the energy out of him in batches, but Quatre didn’t remember hearing any convincing reason given for this plan, and it was extremely frustrating to find himself so angry so soon after the first session. Still, his attempts at not allowing that anger to be too pointedly directed at those around him — at the exorcists, one of whom Quatre knew not at all, or at Trowa, with whom Quatre had no reason whatsoever to be angry — were much more successful than any such efforts had previously been. It was easy enough simply to be angry with himself. God knew he had plenty of reasons to be.
The room in which he had spent the night was as new to him as the one to which Trowa had brought him from the Confrérie headquarters yesterday, but the presence of an air mattress beneath him and a blanket he recognized as having come off Heero’s guest bed atop him allowed him to make a guess as to where he was. And the ire aroused by the thought of Trowa’s having gone ahead and replaced his home in Quatre’s absence and completely without his input was also easy to rechannel toward himself; after all, Quatre was the one that had been unpleasant, unfeeling, and unavailable when Trowa needed a new house.
In addition to the trembling heat of anger, Quatre felt his eyes prickling as he looked around at the empty room, pale in the light of early morning through bare windows, to Trowa’s back turned toward him nearby beneath the blanket. He should be happy to find Trowa at his side, so close he could feel his warmth, but if he felt happiness ever again he would be just as astonished as he had been, upon awakening, to find that he’d slept. Abruptly he sat up and scrambled off the air mattress, turning away from the sight of his boyfriend before it entirely broke him.
He still wore the horrible clothing he’d been given by the cheap and tasteless Confrérie people, and the sight of it brought his rage right back up to something like its usual level. Why was he wearing this? Wasn’t there anything else here he could have changed into last night — or couldn’t he just have gone to sleep without clothing? Hadn’t Trowa considered the effect it would have on him to wake up in this outfit?
That was unfair, and again Quatre found it not too terribly difficult to bend the aggression around toward himself, where it was more appropriate, away from the innocent Trowa. His condition had definitely improved; he was capable of facing things much more rationally, and in fact capable of recognizing the irrationality that had gripped him for so long… but the fact that this was only relative, that he was still mad, still irrational, despite the improvement, actually increased his anger and made him long for something to strike out at.
“Quatre,” came Trowa’s voice from behind him, and it was like an echo of yesterday: it stabbed into Quatre with its beautiful familiar sound and its clear concern and pity, stirring in him all the desire he felt to be with Trowa, to allow Trowa to help and comfort him, and the contradictory desire he felt not to be with Trowa since he knew he would only hurt him with his behavior. Just like yesterday in the Confrérie basement ritual room, Quatre did not turn. And this time he said nothing; it was much easier to control himself today, now that he’d been brought back some distance out of the abyss of overwhelming fury.
The rustling of the blanket and the sound of the mattress shifting indicated that Trowa too had risen from the ‘bed,’ and a moment later arms slipped around him from behind. A slight hesitance to the movement immediately raised some annoyance in Quatre, but that emotion was tempered as he realized that this reluctance seemed based on uncertainty about Quatre’s possible reaction in this frame of mind rather than the old uncertainty about the entire world and inability to take initiative that had always bothered Quatre about Trowa. Something had changed, and trying to analyze it was an unexpected distraction.
“How are you feeling?” Trowa murmured.
Whether thanks to the aforementioned distraction or because of the general improvement to his condition since last night, Quatre managed to restrain himself both from shrugging out of Trowa’s arms and from retorting with something to the purpose of, “How the hell do you think I’m feeling?” The answer he did give, “Better, but not good,” was short and unfriendly enough.
“Should we see if those two are ready to help you again? Or would you rather find some breakfast first?”
Now Quatre did pull away from Trowa’s embrace. The thoughtfulness and practicality of the offer were too much at the moment, and only increased the snappishness of his reply, “Let’s just get it over with.”
As Trowa moved wordlessly past, he placed a hand on Quatre’s shoulder again briefly, squeezing, as if in acknowledgment of Quatre’s wishes, spoken and unspoken, and the gesture’s surety was another blow to what little composure Quatre had. He turned sharply so as to continue not looking at his boyfriend as the latter left the room, but he yet listened to the ensuing footsteps and the knock on a door not far off. Then there was a low conversation he couldn’t quite make out, the unknown door closed again, and the steps returned.
“Come downstairs,” Trowa said. “They’ll join us in a few minutes.”
With a nod, Quatre finally, reluctantly turned. Then his breath caught and his throat constricted painfully as he saw Trowa’s face for the first time today. For, although his memories of certain parts of yesterday evening were uncertain and difficult to summon, he knew without any doubt that he had occasioned those bruises. The sensation of solid resistance against his flailing fists flashed across his recollection with sudden, heart-rending clarity. He had actually struck his boyfriend, had offered physical violence against someone he loved. How Trowa could even bear to look at him at this point he had no idea.
With a growling sob of despair and self-loathing, Quatre ran past Trowa out of the room. He didn’t know where he was going, but ‘downstairs’ had been mentioned, so he descended, barely conscious of the rapid thumping of his heels on the unfamiliar steps. And as he moved into an echoing, high-ceilinged space, he felt he recognized the place somewhat. When he looked to his left into a lower room, in the far corner of which he could make out faintly, through his tears, the familiar colors of Trowa’s old sofa, he knew that this was where they’d sat last night.
Slowing his steps and wiping fiercely at his eyes with the back of one hand, Quatre made his way over there and, having no other evident option, seated himself. He couldn’t run away again; now that he knew with certainty that the techniques being used here were positively effective, he had to stay, had to get this condition eradicated. After that… after that, he didn’t know what. Maybe then he could run away again.
When he observed Trowa coming toward him, he swiveled with a gasp where he sat, forcefully, miserably directing his gaze toward the wall. And when Trowa sat down beside him, both of Quatre’s hands flew to his face, clutching angrily to block his view of anything that would only make the situation worse. Then the two men waited for a few minutes in silence but for Quatre’s ragged, unhappy breaths that echoed loudly off the palms in front of his nose and mouth.
The sound of a couple of voices, one Quatre somewhat recognized and one he knew only from last night, conversing as they came down the stairs and this direction, caused him to lower his hands but not to look around. He stared now at his knees, bared by the awful shorts he wore, and the floor he could see beyond them, and presently there moved into that space a pair of big bare feet. The less familiar of the two voices, deep and easy-going, said, “You’re looking better already.”
Grudgingly Quatre raised his eyes, up a pair of worn slacks, past a red polo with the words Imperial Panda II beside an embroidered representation of the appropriate animal, to a youngish face decorated with a number of piercings as well as bruises beneath spiky hair that looked like it had been slept on while the gel was still in. And while Quatre couldn’t help frowning at the absurd and juvenile overall picture, he did manage to restrain his scornful comment. Saying anything else in its place was beyond his power, but his attempt at a nod was successful.
“Well, let’s get some more out,” the young man suggested, raising a hand. Bruises dotted his arm in addition to his face, but Quatre was almost certain he hadn’t been the cause of these. He swallowed and nodded again.
Today he was in a better frame of mind to pay attention to the process and exactly how it felt. In contrast to the completely ineffectual rituals of La Confrérie, this apparently rather simplistic but perfectly sound technique was strange and uncomfortable, but did not hurt; he might have compared it to having bits of shrapnel magnetically extracted from his flesh if he could have imagined that process without the pain that must have been involved. It was agitating, though, and he felt increasingly tense as minutes passed and the expression on the young man’s face in front of him contracted into a scowl.
And at the same time, he could feel his own anger steadily decreasing. The stupid eyebrow and nose rings were irritating him less with each passing moment, and wondering why this couldn’t have been accomplished all at once last night was causing less annoyance each time his mind came back around to it.
That question was eventually answered in any case. The first exorcist, Hajime — whom Quatre had not yet seen, though he knew he was present — eventually took an abrupt step forward into Quatre’s line of vision and put his hands on the other’s arms in a firm grip. “That’s enough for now,” he said, evidently exerting some physical force.
The young man’s expression turned from anger in reserve to anger in full earnest, and as he wrenched backward, away from Quatre, and spun to face Hajime, he snarled out something that, though largely inarticulate, sounded a bit like, “You always fucking think you need to tell me what to do.”
“Because you’re too much of an idiot to–” Hajime had to abandon this reply in favor of dodging a punch that came flying at him evidently with all of the young man’s weight behind it.
Startled and appalled, Quatre stared as an all-out fist fight, complete with ducking, weaving, and loud, serious blows to body and face, began to range across this mostly empty room. It didn’t take much to interpret the reasons behind it, either: the younger exorcist had pulled so much angry energy out of Quatre and into himself that he was willing to attack his partner at the drop of half an insult, and this fight was what it took to work it off. In other words, the bruises the young man already wore — undoubtedly from last night’s batch of energy — really had been caused by Quatre, if only indirectly.
And his own anger still wasn’t entirely gone. Though the drawing-off of energy had, like last night, made that discernible difference to his attitude, the sight of the aftermath was dragging him back into rage and despair. It was as if all the blood had been cleaned from the surface of an oozing wound, only for more to well gradually up from within to take its place. He’d abused all of his friends, most especially Trowa, and put them to massive inconvenience; he’d forced a wretched state of mind and a violent, painful confrontation on the exorcist that was trying to help him; and his own anger was still coming back. Was there no escape from what he was, from the evils he had committed?
In a motion so forceful it seemed to mimic the hits going on out there in front of him, he once again buried his face in his hands, and once again found himself succumbing to anguished, angry tears.