The Room Where the Light Won't Find You

PART 2

 

Duo licked his lips absently as he rolled onto his side. Something salty and syrupy on them with just a faintest aftertaste of French roast.

"You don't fancy a go at it on the sand, do you?"

They both laughed but Quatre paused uncertainly, glancing sheepishly at his feet. "You aren't. serious are you?"

"I'm not sure. Do you want me to be serious?"

"Big brother!" he started to glance away again but then faced him with a nearly wicked resoluteness, approaching him with such delicacy, taking one of the rough, worn hands in his. "I do. But we'll have to wait, won't we?"

The other boy shook his head, now sharing in the secret, dewy smile. There was just one moment of gazing hotly at each other before they both banked for the seagrass and went rolling into it's encapsulating fae green. Duo scooped him up in his arms at once, handing over a quick, reassuring kiss that drew the most luxurious moan. "You like that?"

"Duo.ah! Kiss me some more."

He was ever so eager to oblige, taking his companion by the shoulders he pinned him to the ground and eased himself on top. What if some imbalance of his weight crushed the fragile boy that was already squirming and wriggling, bringing their clothes together in the slightest, most titillating ways? He couldn't stand it. He buried his lips on the other boys, feeling his heart surge. The innocence in him was so grateful, trying to take in and keep the sweet moisture between them. With one knee he nudged the skinny knees, apart, all the way apart and jerked his own leg against every sensitive place there, still lapping up every bit of his mouth even as sharp, erotic gasps escaped him. Quatre was so soft. He slid his hands under the tank top and deeply massaged whatever skin he could reach, grinding his thigh onto the stiffest spots under his swimtrunks.

"Duo?" He was moaning frustrated. "C-c-can you do it just a little harder?"

He smacked his leg into the blond boys crotch. /That was too much./ and he did scream, but in what must have been complete transport. He'd never had anyone do that before, not under his hands. He could only watch for awhile, watch his peaceful countenance as it tried to discern the shocks of pleasure he cried out at. He really was pretty when he screamed this way. So pretty. "Quatre, you can fuck me now if you want." Underneath his gradually slowing caresses, he felt him freeze and smiled comfortingly down at the wide sea-green eyes. "But I though that's what you wanted? But if not we can stay like this I guess."

"Only if you're sure it's alright, Duo."

"Of course but," he ran his had down just to the edge of the swimtrunks, letting his fingers creep inside, just to brush against the very base of his arousal. "I don't care if I'm bleeding, I want you to take me like a girl. That wouldn't be like screwing your older brother, that would be like having a girl, even if you wouldn't normally."

"I could."

He sighed and rolled over onto his back. Somehow from there he took off absolutely everything so for awhile he only laid their watching his friend try to accomplish the same task. "Don't be nervous. Just come over." He beckoned, his companion got down beside him and for the fist time laid his fingers on the bare skin of his partner, soft as some twisting of the air running over his body. Murmuring in appreciation, he tugged on one of those generous hands until the other boy was sitting on his lap, the weight ever so slight but still heated almost frenetically. He pulled his legs around the other boy and held him tight. His hardness had brushed against him, and it was too much. No more. No more waiting.

One of Quatre's hands slipped at last between his lips, caressing the slippery crimson-stained folds before the entrance. The rest of Duo went numb, he couldn't fell the sandy earth beneath him anymore or the previous discomfort of his feminine half. Just someone sweetly assaulting him. With a jolt the fingers slipped inside him at last. He moaned, , lifting up his hips, easing them closer together. Even as soaking as he was, he wasn't sure he felt inviting enough, so purred and groaned at even that slightest twitches of his digits. Quatre had such perfect hands, wriggling and sliding in and out of him. "Go on. Don't be shy. I'm waiting for it."

The other boy's cock slammed up against him and it was his turn to cry out. He had been rendered so slick that the member had penetrated him at once, sliding over every pleasing place in one thrust with an unexpected grace. His partner was on the skinny side as it was, wasn't he? Or that he finally felt himself being opened after all this time he didn't notice any pain? It was just enough for him, he lifted his hips and swung himself over and over that.

Duo tried to stifle a gasp when he came. /Damn! I wasn't even halfway through that! Why do the foreplay scene I imagine always take so long?/ Then he could only lie still for a few moments, serene, his fingers still buried inside himself. It wasn't any change in the rhythm of the falling rain outside that made him stir at last, but the most darling reminder that he was not alone. The real Quatre, not the one he had set in a daydream that had supposedly taken place a week ago, made a small noise and shifted a bit. They had both been reading at first. He had nodded off while paging through one of the braided one's books, and considering the drowsy, wet afternoon, he couldn't blame him.

The guilt finally laid a hold of him and stifled. Wiping off his fingers on the inside his boxers' pockets before pulling his fly closed, he rolled to his other side and gazed thoughtfully, shamefully at his dear host- undisturbed and smiling in his rest, looking no more than twelve and wholly untouched by the world.

/I never wanted you like this on purpose I. I couldn't really do anything like that to you. I couldn't make myself. I do love you. I do! But you're my little brother and I wish that's all you ever have to worry about again./ He leaned over and kissed one cheek before getting up and sneaking back to his own room.

It was actually quite obvious he didn't spend time there otherwise- the area had not come to resemble the wake of a cow-twirling hurricane. Though the room surely wasn't sparse. Some of Quatre's paintings hung on the wall so everything kind of gleamed then in the pale grey filter of the clouds. He had a desk and a chest of drawers on the far side of the room by the bay window with it's cushioned seat. The thing was, though it was surely a generous room, he had pushed his bed into the corner to the right of the door, the bookshelves they had brought him and he had easily filled shielding the other side, his night stand at the foot. He had built himself a cave. Sometimes he liked to imagine he was in a little box that nothing on the outside could ever find or come to bother him as long as he was in it. It was a nest to hide in if he needed to. This or any of the others he had built.

There was the cardboard house he and Solo and the other children had snuggling in on chilly days, even if it didn't make that much difference. His cozy closet of a room in the back of the church that would still smell of incense days after the rare occasions it was used. The blanket tents he had constructed to keep out the others wherever they had ended up staying- sometimes just a fortress of pillows even when he was sure he was alone.

This new one was of crisp, warm white and marigold sheets in the house he shared with his brother beside the slate sea. He clambered up in the middle of it and pulled out the laptop he had been offered by them to keep track of what finances he had. He fired it up and started the vid phone program, taking a few seconds to adjust himself so he was some semblance of presentable.

"Hi! And welcome to LivePhone 5.3!" chirped the disturbingly perky woman's voice. Ponzu, who had just been peeking in the door, screeched in terror and bolted down the hallway tripping four or five Manganacs judging from the volume of various crashes and Middle-eastern curses. "How are you today?"

"I'm good."

"That's great! Who would you like to call today?"

He though for a second before responding in a demure mimic of his usual tine. "Heero."

The laptop proceeded to make all manner of twangy dialing noises, wooshy Internet hookup, and a few sounds he could neither identify nor wished to.

Brrring!

Brrring!

Click.

"We're sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service. If you believe you have reached this recording in error."

"Hang up." He could have kicked the accursed computer but he only sighed in frustration. "Damnit Heero!"

"I'm sorry, I don't have a number listed for 'Damnit Heero'. Would you like to place another call?"

And just like that, the mischievous glint returned to his eyes He checked his alarm clock (which required fishing it out of the trash can). "How about. Wufei at work!"

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

The animated graphic of the old-fashioned cell-phone jiggling about in it's case disappeared and in it's place faded in one very irate Chinese boy.

"Hey Wufie!"

"Maxwell! I have told you many times NOT to call me while I am working UNLESS IT WAS AN *EMERGENCY*! Not knowing how to make General Tso's chicken for you girlfriend is *NOT* an emergency! Saint Swivven's Day is *NOT* and emergency! Wanting to show me a picture of my own bare butt that you took for NO good reason is *NOT* and emergency! And I seriously doubt that whatever it is you have decided to annoy me with today *****IS***** an emergency!!!!!!!"

"I'm fine thank you!" he smiled pleasantly taking his fingers out of his ears.

"What ever it is I want you to spit it out this second, you insolent cur!!!!"

"Well."

"And what have you done to your hair!?!?!?!?!?"

"Quatre was playing in it."

"Quatre..?" Was good ol' Chang actually confused???

"This is a REALLY LOOOOONG story."

"You have one minute."

Okay," He took a deep breath and proceeded to spit it all out as one terrific word. "For starters, Hilde ditched me a few weeks ago for reasons you SOOOO don't want to know about then I was all by myself when all of a sudden this Manganac comes to my door and he gives me this letter that says Quatre's sick and he's depressed so I went to live at one of his places for awhile and it's by the beach but it's all swanky and sometimes it just drives me crazy but that's okay because at first I was just like his personal fool that was fun I got to do stupid stuff with licorice and wear dresses and all kinds of other weird crap but eventually we had all these deep, meaningful conversations and we're really close now but not that close because we've decided we're brothers and he told me he's got this nasty crush on Trowa!" GASP! "End mission report."

"Could you repeat that? Some ONNA was yelling at me for making a personal call."

Duo faked passing out onto the covers before hauling himself back up to a sitting position and reiterating himself more slowly and with some additional coherence.

"And this concerns me how.?" was the former Shenlong pilot's response.

"Wu-man!" He shook his laptop where doing such a thing to the other boy would have resulted in his untimely demise. "You were the last person to hear from Trowa! You told me you called him while we were arguing over the biography of Saint Swivven!"

Grumbling. "It was Trowa that called me. He at least had the good sense to wait until after hours."

"Well.?"

"Well what?"

"Do you know where he is or don't you!?"

"He's supposed to be on one of the L1's for a few months."

"Oh. You know he doesn't have a phone, right?"

"And at this point I'm considering following his example."

"So. err. could you do me a teeny-tiny favor?"

"Absolutely not."

"Could you get the number of a phone he could theoretically reach? You know I'm no good at this sort of thing and what I was gonna do is get him to come here as a surprise so it wouldn't do AT ALL if Quatre caught me looking him up so could you.?

"If you WILL NOT EVER call to torment me with your inane blathering ever AGAIN! You will not call unless it is an EMERGENCY!"

"What constitutes an 'EMERGENCY'?"

"All defeated OZ generals rising from the dead and mounting an all out assault of the Sank Kingdom."

"Okay! I'll remember that, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a poodle in my eye."

"I will hold you to that." the voice could have frozen the nose off a Sherpa. "Mission will be completed within twenty-four hours."

"Oh! There was one more thing!"

"WHAT!?!?!?!?!?"

"You. ahh. haven't heard from Heero at all, have you?"

"No!" he replied sharply. "Where ever Yuy has gone, he wishes to be alone. That's all I can say."

"If he should happen to call, would you drop me a note?"

"I will see what I can do. Now good day Maxwell."

"Bye Wufie!"

"Don't call me." Click. ".that." Wufei shuddered in revulsion and shut down his phone program. Without Duo's over-enthused blabbering the noise of the office returned to him- the humming of his own terminal, the perpetual chatter of those on permanent coffee breaks, the haughty laugher of the boss over a poorly typed report, the zhirupping of the communal printer and of course (he twitched furiously) the unmistakable sound of inhumanly high-pitched yodeling that indicated someone in the next aisle was running the 200th anniversary edition of the hamster dance.

His own cubical was Spartan yet amazingly functional. The only frivolous thing was a parchment hanging on the wall bearing the Chinese inscription of "I will lead a normal life". Hamsters. Everything in it was perfectly arranged according to the principals of Feng Shui, from the icons on is desktop to the vast array of writing implements to the paper-clips in his drawer. Hamsters. He was however getting the impression that the latest coffee stain on the carpet was throwing everything out of balance as he was finding it more and more difficult to meditate as he had to do every day in order to keep from.

Hamsters.

"Bastard!" he cried flinging a binder of rejected mission statements with amazing accuracy. It just missed a secretary, knocked down a few cubical walls and smacked the emergency shut off button on the machine thus slaying, in a matter of speaking, all the not-so talented rodents. He coldly glanced about the bewildered eyes fixed upon him. "What are you staring at!" and straightening his tie, he went off to make some copies, jangling his key to the machine with it's mini speedbike chain. (Quatre had given it to him and out of respect, he let himself use the thoroughly ridiculous thing.)

Naturally, someone else had thought of that first. Now, while his specific "leader" had only one secretary the next position on the corporate ladder came with not only that but also a person to go scampering off to the Xerox room for any and all occasions. His name was Andrew, Andy to everyone except the retired Chinese terrorist who never did address anyone in the familiar having a preference for offensive Asian terms in the first place. Andy had stringy yellow hair that was usually a horrid wreck, huge blue eyes obscured by thin steel glasses that were perched on an elegantly long nose. He was just out of high school, still had smooth, young features and if confronted by any of his elders he would usually have to produce his driver's license as proof of his age or a damn good explanation for the purple shirt, pink paisley tie and khakis he favored. Otherwise though, he barely appeared nubile.

This was all well and good except that Wufei was met with the sight of him seated backwards on a chair his legs spread wide open as he fished through his briefcase for an escapee sticky note that needed to be applied to his latest heap of duplicated faxes.

"Good morning Mr. Chang!"

"It's Wufei," He corrected sternly not bothering to look up from his task, choosing to ignore the fact those khakis had been stretched so very tightly over what appeared to be quite a bounty. Everything wonderful in his own pants had suddenly gotten the most wicked ideas.

"Oh gosh! I'm sorry. Here, do you want me to take care of that for you?"

"Baka! What manners you have! This is a place of business! Clear your mind of such thoughts!"

"Geeze, I was just going to copy that for you." he finally got back to his feet as his co-worker mentally hung himself.

"That is not necessary. You do not work for me."

"Well, okay, but if you need any help just ask. Bye Mr. Wufei."

Who took one last sideways glance at him as he wiggled his hips trying to realign his undergarments most likely, the other boy's fingers shaking with impure considerations as pressed the start button.

BEEP!

"What!?!?!?!?"

BEEP!

"What in the name of. oh, out of toner." He fetched the spare cartridge he had stashed in his desk in case of just such an emergency replacing it with a note indicating it needed to be replaced in the first place, and inserted it into the machine according to the exact specification on the package.

BEEEEEBEEEEEBEEEEEP!

Smack!

BEEEEEEEEP!

"Damn you!" kick, punch, punch.

The copier only regurgitated some papers.

Kung fu kick, karate chop.

The toner cartridge spontaneously ejected and he just dodged it. "There is no JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD!!!!" So he went back to his desk, opened up his top drawer, took out his sword, and went back where he proceeded to brutally impale the offending piece of machinery which needless to say generated quite a racket.

"He really should switch to decaf," Elaine calmly pointed out.

"That IS decaf," Yawned Wally.

"It's been decaf and this is still the third copier this week!" Andy sighed. "He must be SO high strung! I pity him."

Everyone glared and went back to work

*****

"Don't be ridiculous, I like to play model!" Duo scoffed.

"But it's not exactly like you to stay still." Quatre replied leaning out from behind his canvas for another look at his subject.

"After all those years of mercenary training, holding a pose is a sinch!"

"And you look VERRRRRRY uncomfortable." As do most people who happen to be leaning backwards from their waist, balanced on one heel and one set of toes not to mention holding a gazing ball in one hand and an ornamental sword in the other.

"Eh, it's not so bad. How's the painting coming?"

"Very good. You're sure that you're alright?"

"Absolutely."

His host added the finishing touches to the oil sketch and laid his brush down to examine the work. "Yes. Duo! You can get up now. Come and see."

"I'd be happy to 'cept I think I'm kinda stuck."

"Oh dear." He trotted over and took his companion by the shoulders, titling him upwards.

"Oooh! Owie! Yeah, that's better. Thanks a lot." Taking a second to toss his props on one of the tables. "So, are you gonna finish it today or tomorrow or sometime next week?"

"I think tomorrow. I need a break, and some coffee. Would you join me?"

"Sure, can I have some cocoa for in mine?"

"Of course." He shook his head and they went inside to the dining room taking their appropriate seats at the table.

"Master Quatre," Rashid butted in, "your sisters have asked that you please not sit in the nice chairs with your painting clothes on."

The look on his pale and generally calm face just seemed to scream "We can get some more damn chairs so kindly tell them to." "Fine. I'll go change."

"I'll come too."

"Why?"

"I dunno. Because I'm coming too."

"Goodness Duo!" but they both skittered upstairs and sought out the proper linen closet. The little blond however found himself confronted with piles and piles of khakis. Endless miles and miles of khakis. Tons of khakis. Enough khakis to cloth all the people on any given colony. He moaned. "Rats! All my other pants are in the wash."

"You can borrow a pair of mine."

"You're wearing your only clean pair."

"So? You can still borrow them."

"No thanks. It's very kind of you and everything but." he pulled on a pair of the pale brown things he had moments ago cringed from. There was room enough for two of him easy. "My own barely fit me as it is."

Duo's reaction came as a bit of a shock, even for sometime Duo did. "My poor little baby brother's so skinny." Then he sighed in a downright melancholy way, giving him a little affectionate squeeze. Quatre looked like he hadn't eaten in days, like he was just a fleecy skeleton and this stirred up remembrances that he never expected to face on the wealthy estate.

"It's okay, big brother. I'm eating again. You don't need to worry even if I stay like this for awhile."

"Alright. But I won't stand for it! C'mon!"

*****

"Are you sure about this?" A bit of mint green fabric printed with cartoon ducks peered over the edge of the stall.

"Just try 'em on, I bet they're really comfy, much comfier than say, a pair of khakis! Ooooooh! Scary."

Next thing there stood Quatre in the pajama pants he had questioned and a pale blue short-sleeved top with red trim that only reached halfway down his stomach.

"Kawaii!" he applauded. "But I mean, it's up to you and everything. Turn around for me."

"Well, I look like less of a fruit than usual, huh?" Fortunately they weren't facing and he didn't notice the other boy chuckling as he yanked the back of the waistband down so the flannel wasn't hanging crooked over his bottom.

"You never looked like a fruit."

"Regardless of the fact I am one. Ha!"

"Aw! Didn't we discuss this already? You're Quatre and you're wonderful the way you are. No need for derogatory terms and what's with this dark sarcasm anyway? You're infringing on MY job!"

"Duo, I have thirty sisters each one of which has a different idea of how their only brother ought to be presented. Clothes shopping doesn't exactly hold a lot of pleasant memories for me."

"Oh. oh damn! That musta sucked!"

"It could have been a lot worse!" The pajama pants sailed over the door. "They don't. have any more like that do they?"

"I'll go look. Don't buy anything I wouldn't buy." He wandered off to where he had first come across the sleepwear, grinning at all the ladies who shot him cross glances as he rooted around it what they must have regarded as their racks. After retrieving a dark blue pair with clouds moon and stars and a pink one with sheep wearing little nightcaps he started back, cutting through the men's section in case he had missed anything. He had.

Novelty Boxers: 20% off.

There were selves upon shelves of unusually printed undergarments. He had even thrown on briefs at his companions somewhat desperate request and so he could try them on! "Lord, I thank you for this bounty I am about to receive," He all but sobbed as he reverently clasped his hands before diving headlong into the display. Daisy print, peacock print, several kinds of fish print, jungle print, Hawaiian dragon print (where was Wufie when you needed him?), colored pencil print, silhouette of naked chick print, squirrel print, Pochacco print, stylized cat print, Mona Lisa print, asparagus print, tomato print, potato print, salad print, fish and chips print, orange print, lemon print, banana print, cherry print, grape print even fruit salad and seven sorts of spotted print, but no apple. /Well, the red polka dots are a little like apples./ He stretched a pair between his hands. /I know I've splurged enough lately and all but. eh, what the hell!/ He started off with at least two industrial washing machine loads worth before scampering back. /Purple silk! Ooooooh!/

And he returned just in time to catch his friend in a pair of black wide-leg jeans and a holographic fabric skater shirt. "You need a hat to go with that."

"But it's alright otherw-." He really had no further remarks to offer the walking heap of shorts which happily added-

"I brought some for you too!"

"Yeah, but how can you see through all that?"

*****

"No! I'm carrying the bags! It's mostly my boxers anyway."

"And my new work clothes so give me one at least."

"But I just got them all balanced and arranged on my arms!" he was whining loudly enough for the whole mall to hear.

"Oh dear, I guess we should have brought Rashid along , then we wouldn't have to carry them in the first place. How are we going to get them home if we came here on our bikes? I can't believe I didn't think ahead! I. Duo?" He looked over his shoulders to see his companion with his face plastered up against a store window. "Hmm?" leaning down beside him.

"Patent leather pants." He was drooling, but making a good slurping effort not to let it show. "Just like the one's I swore I'd never wear again after. you know. They're even nicer I think, better made." Noticing the longing sigh at the end of this the little blond laid a hold of him and marched him into the interior of the shop that he was quite sure the American felt at home in: bad techno, mostly black inside, poorly lit, extravagant use of various textured and deeply colored fabrics to cover things (anything), clerks of questionable gender.

/Wait! That's mean! I shouldn't hold that against them! Not after big brother. but judging from the way he's feeling up those poor pants./ "Oh! Get a few pair, they're on me."

He considered protesting but changed his mind and ducked behind the crush velvet curtain to happily yank off what he was wearing. Quatre swept their packages into a corner and resolved to stand guard over them while the store attendants looked him over, whispering among themselves. He had been forced to done a pair of, err, those pants in order to go out and from that they had decided he was not worthy (.) of the premises or they had begun to recognize him.

/So much from trying to keep my face off the news during the war. Why do I have to be so self-conscious about it? Duo never seems to care./

/Well, he's probably been self-conscious about other things his whole life. Then I shouldn't even have to worry about. that. I can't even think it to myself! Alright! Alright! I like other boys. It shouldn't bother me but./

His companion came bouncing out in nothing but a pair of the black patent leather pants. "I love 'em but hey, you're payin'. What do YOU think?"

"They're great if you can really breathe in them."

"And they're not too tight at my crotch are they?" Wink. Wink.

Now the clerks were really staring.

"Uh. no."

"Now are they too tight?" He turned away from his friend and bent completely over until he was looking back at him through his own legs, his bottom at a somewhat compromising position. His braid flopped onto the floor despite his attempt to grin at everyone who was observing the show from a more tasteful vantage than he had given the other boy.

"That look the teeniest bit suspicious." He swallowed hard despite the fact he'd been anticipating something like this, but he had not expected to be mentally slapping himself for enjoying it. /Okay, I think this explains your little fetish for tight pants, you really have got a nice ass and everything but. Wait! He WANTS me to be embarrassed. I'll bet anything,/ He smacked the upturned cheek as hard as he could. "Behave!"

"Ouchie! Well, that means they are too tight then, huh?" and turning to the clerks in utter disregard for anything they might have been imagining against their own will. "Hey! Have you got any that have a little more room between the legs?"

Quatre snickered to himself. /That was kinda fun actually. I must be flushing though, I've been doing that a lot lately. You know, I don't care if it's silly, I like it when he does stuff like this. He's an exhibitionist of sorts so I know it makes him feel better, but me too! Really./ He could hear the other boy wrestling a zipper on the other side of the curtain not to mention making no secret of it. /I wonder if./

Duo came back out into the store quite a few moments later, a heap of black items slung over one arm, to find the heir to the entire Winner fortune wearing the absolute smallest pair of black patent leather pants in the store, a magenta vinyl top held up only by a collar since it had no sleeves and not much of a back, a few chains hanging out of various pockets, blue fuzzy bunny slippers, two bondage bracelets and a backwards baseball cap. The braided one was beaten. He didn't so much as budge, maybe because his eyes were in danger of falling out of his head. "That's a good look for you," he finally squeaked.

This lead to giggling. Lots and lots of previously repressed giggling.

"No! Really! Okay, so you got me and everything but it does look, ah, perfect on you. No fooling this time and hey, you found a hat too."

"Well, actually, I was."

"EXCUSE ME! CLEEEEEERK! My 'friend' here would like to buy all of this and he wants to wear it OUT."

He was still laughing when they handed him the change with what was most likely a hemp-induced sneer. The only other thing that caught him as he was snipping off the tags, trying not to cut himself, let alone the threads, was that his companion had gone to change into something too. But there was something about standing there himself that made him feel all jittery and chilly (aside from the notable absence of sleeves) inside, rather like stage fright if he would have ever known what that was like.

"Are you ready to go, ni-chan?"

He felt and arm on his shoulders and looked over to see his house guest- a tremendous, poofy blue and gold bow tied around his head and sort of lolling off to the side which was okay seeing as he was wearing a tight electric blue spandex top with a collar that wasn't in use since he had left it halfway unbuttoned, several hundred multi-colored metal bangle bracelets, two humungous crystal teardrop clip-on earrings, a small black lace skirt and a pair of little suede ankle boots with mismatched laces. But the thing was, since his shirt was mostly undone, it was rather obvious that he was a boy and a Christian one at that; his crucifix was dangling in plain sight. "Let's just say I felt I was becoming a little too attached to some of your sister's things. But hey, I'm a teenager, I'm supposed to look outrageous and you, you're a kid pretending to be a teenager so which either one you decide on for today, you'll be fine."

"Yeah," He leaned up against his fellow former pilot and put his arm around his waist.

"Are you tryin' to make people think we're a couple because I mean that's okay by me and everything but."

". but we're not so who the hell cares?"

"Practice?"

"I guess you could say that," He yanked the rubber band out of the ponytail. "It's not that I don't."

"I brought it up, I understand. C'mon. I'm starved. Let's go get somethin' to eat. While we're at it, we can show off to the world!"

*****

Iria pulled into the mall's parking lot surveying the sidewalk for a little boy in khakis and s pink shirt accompanied by another boy, this one with long hair and dressed in vacation clothing. Well, she couldn't find either, but from a distance that pair of punks kinda... "Oh jeeze." She parked at the curb and observed her two charges clinging to each other to try and support themselves amidst their mirth so as not to go falling into the heap on bags. "Hi Quatre, Hi Duette. I see you had a good time today."

"Did we ever!" chuckled her little brother helping the other boy stuff their things into the trunk before ducking around to give her a quick kiss through the open front window.

"Are you wearing lipstick?"

"Actually, it's just chapstick, but if you insist. Onainisama! Can I borrow that iridescent purple gooey stuff you bought?" That applied, he kissed her again before they all burst out laughing and finally started home.

"Duette dear, how much sugar did he have?"

"It was just one root beer float, I swear! I told him not to drink it! He's going to burst his pants."

"Was that before or after...?" the blond ended up cutting himself off with chuckles.

"That was right after."

"Right after what?" she inquired raising her eyebrows.

"You tell her Duo! I can't! It's too funny!"

"Okay, well, after we were done shopping and we'd changed into what we're wearing now, we decided to go get somethin' to eat. So while we were at the food court this guy was like hitting on me from behind, but then he tried to grab my chest right. Of course, there's nothin' there TO grab. Man, you shoulda seen him! He totally gunned it outta there."

"Because then you turned around and you were hitting on him!"

"True. I probably shouldn'ta asked him if he wanted to know how the guards used to do it."

"And just now some lady..."

"We think it was a lady."

"Yeah, but she came up to us, waved this wad of twenties in our faces, and said 'You boys need a ride?' And for some reason I just put my arm around him and said 'I've already got a ride ma'am.'"

"He didn't realize what it looked like he'd said until after she was gone."

"I was scared!"

"Not scared enough to keep from going out in that again I hope!"

Iria swallowed the last of her chuckles before adding seriously, "But you two are still brothers, right?"

"Woul yeah but... sis, how did you know?"

"I heard Duo call you ni-chan once."

"Awe! You weren't supposed to!" he pouted.

"Oh come on! I know about everything" [Their guest gulped.] "It's fine with me. If you want a sister... err... brother to be your very own that's fine with me and if both of you are willing to put up with the occasional sideways look..."

"We get that anyway," the crossdresser sighed as if it was the most
perfectly ordinary thing.

"Speaking of which you two might want to change when we get home. Janice is bringing some friends over for dinner and you know how she is." Pause. "But you will model everything for me tomorrow, won't you?"

*****

"Master Quatre! Mind you don't get wet!"

With half a grin he took the umbrella out of Rashid's hand and folded it up. "I thought I told you to take the day off," He remarked half-absently, more watching the splattering trickle running off the edge of the stone overhang above the office doors. All manner of skittish people were dashing and scurrying about trying not to mess up their hair or their business outfits as they went from the warm gold of the lobby out into the fading blue grey of the evening shower. The streetlights were just starting to come on for them, the roads were just wet enough to show the reflections of the traffic signals and their headlights as they made their way home. The thing that took his thoughts though, they were saying "goodbye" to him as if he was at least three times his age, grey and wise as the clouds rather than flowering and clear like the raindrops.

With a heavy sigh he walked slowly out over the slate steps letting those kindred raindrops stream over him, stopping to catch a few, watching them fall into his hand.

"Master Quatre, please, I've no where else to go. I've been with you since you were so little and so sad and those have been the best years of my life, now that you've learned not to be sad."

"That's why you deserved a day off," he smiled climbing into the back of the limo and pulling down the screen between the driver's seat and the passenger's area. "I'm not still mad at you about what happened the other week."

"But you needed me and I didn't come to you. That's unforgivable."

"Bullshit Rashid!" he was all but laughing in annoyed disbelief. /He doesn't know the meaning of the word. What nerve./

"I'm sorry Master Quatre."

/Now look what you've done! What was that? How could you have said it?/ "No, don't be. I... I want you to forget it. I'm alright now. Really I am. Please."

"Anything, sir," For a moment there was nothing but the pitter-patter of the rain and the swooshing of the windshield wipers. "How was your first day back at work?"

"Dull, but it's supposed to be that way, right? I'm just a little tired since I'm not used to getting up so early."

Speaking of which.

"Quahahahahahahtre! Why'dya have to go away! You don't ever have to work again as long as you live!"

"Duo, we've been over this before. Daddy left everything to me which means I have the responsibility of looking after the business and my sisters, not just the money. It's what everyone expects of me. I have to."

"But who will plaaaaaaaay with meeeeeee!? I'll be lonely!"

"Oh it's ONLY three days a week, eight hours a day! I'll be home before you know it. In the mean time, maybe Janice will play with you."

"Janice locked me out of the candy cupboard and she's planning to cut my hair off! I can see it in her eyes. So..."

"If you come along you'll just end up more bored than you would if you just stayed here. So please let go of my leg, you are going to tear my pants."

His friend set back on his heels and sniffed dejectedly nearly mimicking one baffled Ponzu.

But he had hugged them both goodbye and managed to get out with his slacks intact.

To his immense relief, the mansion was still standing and there was no smoke emanating from any part of it. Still, he stood off to the side as he opened the door, just in case. Ponzu tried to jump him and ended up running into a puddle instead. "Why hello," he chuckled picking her up and rolling her onto her back so he could rub her belly. "I sure missed you, yes I did." There went the outboard motor. "I bet you and big brother haven't been up to any good today. No you haven't, I bet you've been bad. So bad."

Rashid was really tempted to avert his eyes as his young master rubbed his face against the puffy fur.

"MEEEEEow."

"Hey! Why don't you show me where he is?" He set her back down on the floor with one last pat. "Go on. Where's Duo? Can you find Duo?"

She lazily wandered under the china cabinet and started to wash off her damp fur.

"Oh well, it was worth a try." /Now, I can't hear him, so he must be upstairs asleep or out. Rashid didn't tell me he left, so I'll just check the upstairs./ But after about ten minutes of searching, through every room and every linen closet and every bathroom...

"Oh, hi sis I..."

"Pervert!"

"I could have sworn she gave that up," he shuddered placing the thrown pillow in the hamper and trotting back downstairs. Stealing about though, he found the dining room filled with someone's bridge club. /That's odd. They usually meet in the salon. Aha!/

The salon was a smallish room towards the back of the house that looked out over the garden and, unlike nearly every other room, could only be entered one way and that was though a pair of glass double doors frosted with gulls and plovers. It's only defining feature was a gas fireplace directly across from the doors around which was arranged a collection of authentic English Victorian parlor wares which included some end tables, a sidebord against the wall, a loveseat and several chairs. Even before he opened the doors he saw Duo sitting off to the side , talking and laughing into a teacup.

"See? I said I'd be back," he teased.

The other boy almost dropped his beverage but instead a roguish grin took him in that single stunned second as his host registered the soft jazz drifting from the stereo. "Hi there! Everything go alright today?"

/Damnit! He ALWAYS looks like he's up to something, why should this be any different?/ "It was just fine."

"No surprises?"

"Not at all I..."

"Not one?" Giggles.

"N-no."

"Would you like a surprise?"

"D-d-duo!" he was giggling uneasily himself now. The two of them were quite alone except for the music which was coming from the couch as it faced the false flames. He had been talking to a CD player? Could be. "I love your surprises."

The braided one just winked and flicked his hair.

He heard something shuffle in the right corner against the wall. Instinct overcame him for a split second and he whipped around snatching an a non-existent pistol.

"Hello, little one," Greeted a slow soft voice that nonetheless had no shyness to it. A very secretive tone, but never small or uncertain, neither cold nor totally honest but the sound of it warmed him straight through even as he feared his heart would burst. Some luscious sensation of remembrances crashing against real time swept through him to the very edges of his fingers.

"Trowa..." he squeaked. He couldn't have made himself move, he wanted to so badly but... it was all he could ever do to watch him from afar, not knowing if he was weeping or singing inside. He only knew that somehow that part of him was dancing and totally removed from the rest. "You came back to see me."

"Of course. Duo told me you'd been ill. You are alright no, aren't you? But you look as if you've seen a ghost." At this he raised his hand, just a bit. His visible eye showed nothing but the other boy and even in that quiet he seemed not wholly callous. Maybe that was even some faint smile in those jade depths.

/So this is the riddle I've been waiting to see for so long./

/Someone speaking through the madness: "Quatre it's me? What's the matter?"/

/But I saw you sitting in the wreckage! I did! I did! Why did you have to go away again!? Why. I'd give anything./

/Didn't you notice that your hand almost brushed over mine? Wasn't that on purpose.?/

/You really were the only thing I had to hope for in the world you know? Don't you?/

/"Quatre, whoever you are, I know you're crying and I'll be right there. I promise. Shh. hold on." Ohmigod! If that's really you then why don't you in real life.?/

/I didn't really expect you to show up./

/I didn't ever expect you to come back for me when I was wounded./

/But you always did and I still don't understand. why I feel this way but./

"Trowa!"

Whatever blind faith in him that had been tied to the dream and he found that as it took a hold of him, clutched him so, he was casting his arms around the small tight middle, falling against his slim body in some complete weakness before him, pressing his cheek to his chest and listening for a heartbeat. "Trowa, I've missed you so much. Pl-please d-d-don't..."

His head was fitted perfectly under his chin and his fingers pressed into the fabric of his turtleneck, running over it a little, clinging. "I've missed you too, little one." One of those strong arms he'd spent so long admiring draped over his shoulders. His love was really holding him now, lightly stroking his hair, even if his gaze was just as enigmatic. It didn't matter. "But what don't you want?"

"D-d-don't disappear on me! Just stay, like this, for just a little while. That's all." And for all those blissful eternities they just stood there, even if he could halfway sense that as long as the one he cared so much for was willing to remain in this fashion, he didn't understand what was happening to him. It was still Trowa.

Duo finally put the camera back in his pocket and walked over to the new arrival, uncovered eye tracking him the whole distance. "Don't leave me out guys!" he joshed only, taking them both in a loose embrace. "Since we're together again, can't we all be happy?" He grinned then seeing how closely they were both watching him. "Quatre? Don't be shy."

In the following lull the little blond couldn't even breathe under that expectant gaze. /Here he is! This is what I wanted, isn't it? Isn't it!? But no one knows what you want Trowa. I doubt even you do. Then what are you doing here if you don't care? Why can't I talk to you? Why? I look like such a fool./

/I'm afraid. afraid of more silence. That's it and I do know that./

/But he is Silence./

/I don't care anymore./

/You're all I ever wanted. No matter what I said./

"Trowa. I love you." and somehow he didn't even catch himself getting up on his toes as the mysterious one went to speak. He only felt the feather light touch as their lips brushed together, hushing that Silence. He only felt that no one was pushing him away.

Duo smiled, not his usual smirk but a look of sated satisfaction. /And this makes up for everything I said to you and everything I dreamed of you that you never deserved in life. Besides, you really are precious together and between the two of you, I bet you'll know more about love than I ever will. Oh well./

He gently closed the door behind him and started upstairs.

*****

/Here goes nothing!/ Quatre thought, trying to open the door to the salon with as little noise as possible. It was very late by now, past midnight, but he didn't know by how much. There had been just one lamp in the room- amber glass with a dim filament, but he had found taped to it's switch a note in Duo's handwriting that said to try the drawer below that had been conveniently stocked with white beeswax drip tapers. Duo had come to dinner with them earlier but left once again. The two of them had filled the room with candles, lit every single one and now their space had a comforting beige glow that would flicker in tune with any movement they made. Now, sure that the others were all well asleep, he had gone and changed into the outfit he'd bought at the goth store, or most of it. He'd left his feet bare and in place of the baseball cap he'd donned one of Iria's black round hats with a silver feather in it that looked to be from the 1920's, and also one of the ex-Deathscythe pilot's crystal studded teardrop clip on earrings.

Reentering the room, he felt himself thrill inside. Trowa was sitting slightly sideways on one of the chairs, his flute laid across his knees as he ran his fingers over the other boy's violin case. But his face was still tilted away with the faintest air of reflection. The shadow the wheeling light threw off his hair though, it made him seem to have but half a visage. Hearing footsteps, he looked up from his daydream or his recollection and surveyed his host, still wordless yet somehow questioning. Gently, always gently.

He shifted his try to the other hand and tugged at the bottom of his top. "I can't stand to wear khakis anymore, even if that's what everyone expects of me of course. I guess I was trying to be rebellious, but I still can't make myself wear this in front of my sisters."

"You didn't have to change because I'm here." /And you don't have to dress like a boy harlot for me either./

"I just wanted to." He smiled and set the try down on the table. While he was in his stoop, the other boy ran his fingers over the faintly crimson ear and down over the bauble hanging on it. /If I didn't know better, I'd say that was a curious touch./ As he gave a faint chuckle, he let their eyes meet for a moment before seating himself on the couch, leaning against the closet edge. "Aren't you hungry?"

His only response was a nearly imperceptible nod and a glance at the little dish being presented.

"Have a little halva then." In encouragement he took a slice of it himself, popping the entire thing in his mouth. He found it a little difficult to swallow though. /I don't think this will ever go away, he's too stunning./

His fellow former pilot reached into the dish and chose the smallest piece, of which he took a very tiny bit and chewed noiselessly.

"Do you like it?"

Another nod, and he finished off his slice.

For just awhile longer they sat and nibbled their snack, throwing each other occasional glances as they did so. Trowa finally ended up fixed on the floor, or so it seemed at first, but before there was any disappointment from this, he had toes off his sneakers and slid his stockinged foot over the bare planes of his companions.

The little blond again showed just how pleased he was with and airy giggle. This time the reward was a little more of the odd caress.

"Mmm! Trowa, would you like to play now? No one can hear us in here."

The other boy swallowed the rest of his treat and took a sip from one of the champagne flutes. "Raspberry cordial, and it's very good." The liquid now caused his lips to glisten a dark rose. "Of course we can play." he trailed off even as Quatre had already reached for his instrument. "But there's dust on your violin case." His own fingers fell on the smooth dark surface, tracing out some archaic thing in the film.

"I haven't been able to play since I've been sick, that's all and it's ahh." He didn't know why it was so hard to say but /It's those love letters, that's all I did at first./ ".been a very long time. I was waiting for you."

Mildly then, "It can't be your space heart. You have PTSD."

His host eased away just a bit in some self-conscious recalling. "How did you know?"

"The second Duo said that you'd been ill. Don't be ashamed, little one. No one expects you to be strong in the face of every beast you would encounter. I don't."

"Trowa." he couldn't find anything else to say, but brushing his fingers over those on his case, he slowly removed his instrument, lifting it to his shoulder with the utmost delicacy, his cheek tingling against it at last- so silky smooth and yet at first perhaps unyielding. Taking up his bow he coaxed the violin to surrender to him, let out a single auditory frame of the sweet pains of the night. , some impassioned little moan. He hadn't intended for it to be so- it was a sound drawn out from deeper inside him that he had been ready to show. Trowa though, laid his flute to his lips and played the self-same tone in exact empathy to the first, though in the other voice it could have been mistaken instead for a mourning dove crying at the dawn.

As much as Quatre hated to think of it, for now at least there were no words between them. As if long before decided, they began the same piece of impressionist music that wandered through the room and maybe out into the darkness, ethereal and bluer than the ocean in full morning, more golden than the sun and regardless brighter than a heart there to see either.

[Note: Halva is Indian (as in from the country of India) sesame candy. It's good, go try some.]

*****

"I thought she'd never leave!" Quatre gasped, exasperated, finally coming out from behind the wall at the top of the stairs. He was clad today in his blue pajama bottoms, a tank top and an open, aqua, mostly transparent shirt that was handing off his shoulders and down his hands as he descended.

"You think she stayed because she was intrigued or because the pants pissed her off?"

"No offense, but it's probably the pants."

"Aw well. At least I got this." he flipped the key to the candy cupboard he'd "borrowed" up into the air just to gloat. "And Trowa isn't around either you know." Despite the fact they were utterly alone, he whispered in a sing-songy voice, "Somebody didn't come to bed last night." Tossing his head with an imploring grin. "Doesn't Onisan get to hear all about it? Hmmmmmmm?"

"We stayed up playing duets until about three in the morning." Triumphant nod.

"Ooooh! What kind of duets?"

"Not the kind you're thinking of!" he gave the flying hair a yank. /I've been waiting to do that for so long. Heh! I'm a nasty boy!/ "I said I'm not ready for that. But he did kiss me goodnight before I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder."

"Awwww! I bet you enjoyed that."

"I sure did! Up until the part where Rashid woke both of us up this morning. At least it was him and not Janice. He didn't say very much so I'm not sure what his opinion is on the matter."

"Well, considering everything the two of you have been through together, I'd say at worst he's jealous you've got somebody else that wants to look after you."

"Jealous?"

"It's not unheard of. Besides, if he doesn't like your choice of lifestyle, you can always fire his ass er. sumthin', right?"

"I couldn't do that to Rashid!"

"You are infinitely kind Master Quatre!"

"But I might if you keep eavesdropping!" The Maganac skittered away down the hall leaving his boss chewing uncomfortably on his bottom lip.

"That was just screwed," His companion commented dryly. "And now his worst fears are confirmed."

"Nah. His worst fear is that you and I made passionate sado-masochistic love the night I had that awful screaming fit. This is only his second-worst fear."

"Nani?" Duo sweatdropped and got all SD.

"Ah. hihihihi never mind."

Awkward pause.

Disgusted chuckling.

"Hehehehe. no."

"Anyway."

"Yes, anyway."

"Good morning Quatre, Duo."

"Trowa!" they chorused. He languidly walked down the stairs and the former Deathscythe pilot took a silent curiosity to the way his tiny blond companion to be inspired to a slightly shy demeanor even by this. /It's going even better than I hoped. Whoohoo!/ And in his delighted surprise, no sooner had the other house guest set foot on the floor thanhe had put his arm about the smaller boy and continued to hold him as they went into the living room. The observer chose a seat by himself and let the two of them have the couch. Better vantage even if there was plenty of couch to go round. Of course though, he was the first to speak.

"Y'know, there's something just the littlest bit nostalgic about being here with the two of you. Really. I know it was just a few months since we got everything tied up and all but I dunno. It's not like I'm reminiscing about the good ol' days, what a joke, but a few months are a few months and that's longer than you'd think. Eh, it's just stupid isn't it."

"Not at all." Trowa had been the one to answer. "Especially since we are the only three that talk." Another awkward moment. He cocked his head to one side as if expecting something.

The small blond started first, biting his tongue so at first just a little of it fizzled out his nose. The other guest snickered to himself and so chuckled for a brief second then looked back at the boy he was sitting beside who was smiling too, just the littlest bit. Not ambiguously though; this was plainly. oh never mind what it was! They were all laughing by then!

"Trowa!" his admirer blurted out between spasms. "I've never heard you laugh before! I wanted to so much, but I never have." [Umm. just check the episodes.]

"What did we have to laugh at?"

"What about this?" Duo pulled one really dumb face that just send everyone, already sensitized, back into gales of merriment.

"Well if you could tell jokes, you sure didn't have to keep them to yourself. You never have to keep anything to yourself with us you know."

"It wasn't a joke. I was only being sarcastic."

"If it wasn't a joke then why are we laughing?" the braided one butted in again.

He shrugged and went right back to his normal state, only it was tainted with the remains of his grin.

Quatre scrubbed the saline out of his eyes and looked back up to his companion. /You're even more mysterious when you have that look on your face, even if you do seem a little more approachable, but being mysterious is what you are so if you're more yourself, then I guess I want you even more. Just in a little way, even if I don't believe you can keep somebody like that./ He leaned upwards and pressed their lips together in a gentle, just-because kiss.

"Quatre Raberba Winner!"

All three, stunned, flipped to the doorway.

"Janice...?" his heart was throbbing painfully hard and his voice was fluxing with it. His skin went clammy with a chilly sweat. Anything he tried to say was swallowed up in the burbling tremor noises of his humiliation.

In one swift move she had crossed the space between them and drug him to his feet by one arm. "You march right upstairs young man and change out of those disgraceful clothes. Then go to your room and don't you even think about coming down for the rest of the day."

"Janice, please, will you just let me..."

"Shut up and get going!"

"I tried to tell you before..."

"No more out of you! I said to go upstairs now you do it and you wait for me. It's time you had some sense talked into you. Understand?"

"I can't help it." His voice was soft and buried under a sob.

"Do you!?"

"Stop yelling at me!"

"I won't have you crying either! It's embarrassing." she administered a
shake that looked enough to break his neck.

"Don't you do that to him!"

Quatre froze. His sister's hand was off his shoulder leaving only a soar spot. Looking up through his fresh tears of frustration. /Duo!/ He had shoved between them and now stood arms wide open as if warding off instead a hale of gunfire, all but welcoming it, all this though, and there was a red splotch starting on her hand.

"Mind your own business and get yourself some manners, you creep!"

"Yeah, well, he is my business and you got no right talkin' to him like that."

Rubbing her hand indignantly, "Oh, so Mr. Self-appointed jester is suddenly the official caretaker of my poor, little brother. I swear, you've been nothing but trouble since you got here, what with your little side job as a drag queen and your constant destructive roaming of the house. Do you know how many times the servants have had to clean up after you lately? Why they told me you did something utterly inhuman to your bedsheets! Not to mention the fact your little candy fetish has nearly eaten us out of house and home! Why there's no telling what your aberrant helling around has done to him! I bet you put him up to it didn't you? How disgusting."

"Disgusting? You think your own little brother is disgusting?"

"Are you blind? He just kissed another boy. How much more disgusting can you get? Well, I wouldn't expect someone of your morals to understand that..."

His words kindled in vehemence. "Look lady, that's a fucking stupid backwards attitude! I don't give a shit what you say about me, but don't you stand there and tell me he's done anything wrong!"

The little blond in question cringed and put his hands over his ears. /All those years of war, all those years of training and I can't bear to hear one argument... I'm completely pathetic!/ But he jerked back into real time. Someone was holding him again but... it was Trowa? Trowa who had put one comforting but unmistakably possessive arm around him.

"You get your hands off him!"

And he lifted his hand, nothing but his hand.

"Now you stand there and you tell me what's the matter," the braided one hissed.

"It's unnatural, it's deviant and it won't do a bloody shred of good for his reputation to be labeled a flaming homosexual."

"Where'd you get your values? A 50% off sale at the Benny Hinde mind control warehouse? C'mon! You can do better than that. PROVE something."

"I don't have to prove anything to YOU!"

"I bettcha can't even prove it to yourself," he went so far as to stick out his tongue.

"Men belong with women, isn't that what families are all about? Isn't our entire society based off of families? Of course, you have about as much understanding of that as..."

"Cheap shot, bitch."

"It is not! You're about as amoral as they come! You're the one that showed him how to be a freak! You're no friend, you're just some guy who'll do anything to get in his pants, goodness knows why you brought this other looser here! No. I won't think of that, it's too sick. But if either of you have had him, mark my words I'll have your worthless personages incarcerated so fast! He's from a good family and he knows better..."

Duo sorted. "And I suppose the fact I caught Anabell sodomizing her sheep dog with a double dildo has no bearing on the term "good family" eh?"

"WHAT!? Liar!"

"You're the liar, you're a hypocrite. It's alright for her to do whatever she wants to man's best friend as long as she keeps it nice and quiet and it doesn't reach the ears of your bridge club bimbo friends. But oh no, if your little brother wants to kiss another boy in the living room where everyone can see, that's no good. I hate to see what you'd do if they wanted to hold hands in the park."

"Don't you even start! This is disgusting and it's ending today!"

"You still haven't told me why."

"Because it's wrong and it's not the way things are supposed to be!"

"Says who? We're right back where we started, chick! You wanna keep arguing in circles, because I can go on all day."

"It' not the way things are supposed to be! There's obviously something wrong with him, he's been sick so very long. He's not happy like this!"

"Because he was scared to death of you and other people just like you! Yes, yes, be a conformist, that's not what needs changed the most in you. You're a goddamn coward, you're afraid of anything that doesn't fit your definition of 'nice', 'easy to handle' or 'normal'. Take a hint, your brand of normal when out with the gasoline powered car. Besides, he's got other problems I'm sure you don't wanna hear about. But see, here we are again."

"I did NOT make him this way!"

"You didn't help either and that's even worse in my book!"

"Of so I'm the sadistic sister and you're the high and mighty savior!"

"I just wanted to be his friend. How many times did you, and just YOU here, I don't give a rat's ass about the others, brush him off when he tried to explain how he felt? And also, for your information, I never did anything to him except for one time we kissed like lovers. But he loves Trowa despite every prejudice and every mental kick in the ass you've drilled into his brain, and I respect that."

"YOU DON'T RESEPCT ANYTHING EXCEPT YOURSELF!"

"No. I just don't respect you because you're fucking selfish you couldn't see anything through anyone else's eyes if you tried for a million years."

"Why you uncouth little bastard!"

"Yeah, yeah. I'm a bastard. I admit it. Can you do any better than that or are you too much of a lady?"

"Deviant little prick! This is ALL your fault!"

"Ooooooh! Last part stings a little my self-absorbed, anal-retentive prig friend!"

"It's *your* fault!"

"Yah, been there."

"It's *your* fault!"

"."

"It's *your* fault!"

Duo's voice cracked as he shouted, truly wrung with pain. "I know that already! May My Father in Heaven forgive me for ever having loved! But who Quatre loves is no one's fault. Let him go! Let him feel! And good luck to him regardless of whose arms he finds happiness in. I can't fight with you. I couldn't win, you're too far gone."

"Oh I'll show you then! I haven't started with you, boy! You're going to pay for what you've been and what you've done to him!"

Maybe she kept screaming at him, but in that stunned silence of him mind he suddenly saw what he could do to put a stop to this, once and maybe, for some time longer but probably never once and for all. He glanced over his shoulder and with the splendor of a lighter day, winked at his little brother, jerking his head towards the lady as he did so. His words came out stunted and cautious but crystal clear. "I've punished myself enough for having a."

"JANICE!" the little blond screamed. Trowa raised his visible eyebrow and the braided one was struck with a running memory of the word zero. "Stop it! This is *MY* house! Drop it or get out!"

Turning green with rage she looked not so much a woman as some sort of Gorgon. "Why you ungrateful little."

"It's my own fault and YOURS! SHUT UP!" But with a sharp little cry he bolted and went stumbling out of the room, arm cast over his eyes, his enigmatic companion following after a second of hesitation.

Duo only grinned darkly at her for a second. "You heard the man." In half triumph he watched her storm out tempted and about to hold the door for her as she left.

SPLASH!

/That can't be good! Ohmigod! Quatre!/ He raced to the window in the kitchen and took a flying leap out, landing in the bougainvillea. He was too scared. Yes, scared, he couldn't believe it himself. Here of all places. He hadn't even felt the impact and now running over the lawn, he didn't realize how banged up he was. Over the fence and "Oh Quatre." He gasped sadly in relief.

The other boy was floating fully dressed on his back in the pool, staring vacantly up at the white mountain clouds that soared across the sky. The last of the three companions must have dived in after him; though there had been barely a plop there were a few stray bubbles still curling up around him as he tugged his friend over to the edge. After plucking his limp form out of the water, he carried him, even if he was sopping, over to one of the lounge chairs, climbing up behind him after draping his legs sideways over the edge. The onlooker was shocked. Trowa cooed melodiously into the ear he kissed and started to rub the shoulders that were leaning against him.

"I don't know," he began as the others pulled a towel around him, "I didn't expect that all to come out at once. It kinda hurt."

"Shhhh. That's okay. I know I say that a lot." the braided boy sat down in front of him, already ashamed of his panic, pulling a thorn that had gotten past his shirt out of his stomach the undoing his hair. Glancing over his shoulder he found the newer arrival to be somewhat intrigued, watching the ritual intently with that ever present dismal gaze of his as the little blond began to comb his fingers through the honeyed chocolate locks. "I know it must be hard to let it sink in right now, but please trust me. It'll go away and when it does you'll feel better than you ever did before. It's good to get these things off your chest. I just wish it hadn't been so traumatic for you. I guess I shoulda talked you into saying something before, huh? But I'm just so used to shutting up myself." . "For this sort of thing anyway. Speaking of which, Trowa? I might as well tell you them I."

"Duo! You don't have too!"

He felt a sharp tug and swallowed his words at once.

"S'okay, Ni-chan. I won't then."

The listener said not, expressed not in any way for this, but straightened a few stray yellow ringlets that had rolled out of place, tickling the neck that they clung to.

So they just sat there while, minute by minute where the sun would roll behind a cloud now and again, washing everything silver, only for awhile when the sun was brighter than before afterwards and more filled with color than the millions of things that lived beneath the waved and looked up to the rippled orb from the water to wonder what it was called.

That was just how Iria found them. "Are you alright?" she asked uneasily dashing over the sidewalk, her hands falling at once on the first guest's injured hand, pulling it out of his mouth where he had been sucking at his wounds.

"Aw! I just got a little scratched up. Don't worry about me."

"But it looks like it really hurts. Poor thing. I should have warned you the bougainvillea had thorns. I'll get you some band-aids in just a minute. Trowa? Are you hurt anywhere?"

He shook his head.

"Good, good," she turned to the wide, miserable eyes of the tiny blond. "Little brother?"

"Yes Iria?"

"What about you?"

"I'm fine." He was all but fussing too.

"Are you sure?" she swallowed hard and held his gaze with hers, firmly but inescapably. "I ran into Janice coming up the hill. She was very angry about something, but as usual when she's like this, she wasn't making a lot of sense and I eventually told her to *cough* shove it and go back to L4." Slight pause. "But there was one thing I did make out. Now I know I can't trust her, but."

"It's true." The murmur was shameful and he tilted his head down, wringing his hands.

"Quatre," she chided with a faint sigh, pulling his away and into her own arms. "You don't have to give me that look. I'm not upset with you. It doesn't matter to me, except that you. you didn't come to me, or do anything, or say anything to try and."

"You never asked."

"Is that what you were waiting for?"

"Maybe. I'm not sure."

"You don't have to worry anyway. No matter what the others think, we'll stand up to them and."

"Not that Anabell would care." Duo mumbled.

Stunned silence.

"Hehe. Woof!"

*****

"Doesn't it remind you of the circus even a little bit?"

Trowa nodded. He was actually facing the window watching the grounds roll by as they pulled into the parking lot. /Just like a little kid! Neat!/ Quatre thought and of course whipped out his camera, nabbing a picture. Hearing the 'chp chp' the other boy turned over his shoulder quite questioningly.

"Gottcha!"

Iria honked loudly at an SUV about to take the space she had had her eyes on, but as if SUV drivers ever listened to anyone except the voices in their heads. She ended up letting them off at the curb. "You two have a good time now."

"Oh we will sis," He pecked her on the cheek.

"I'll be back to pick you up around four."

"Alright, but could you just check for me and make sure Rashid actually left for the day, that he's not hiding out in the laundry room or anything?"

"Okay, I will! Bye little brother."

"Bye bye." He stayed at the edge of the street and waved until she was gone. His companion on the other hand went right to surveying their destination which was titled clearly with a bright pink banner labeled in gold- Twenty-Seventh Annual Artists' and Dreamers' Convention. Behind it, the usual quietude of the seaside park had gone on vacation (probably with Rashid if he was indeed taking the break he had been ordered to) and in it's place had bivouaced a party of party of sortsfor all kinds of spirited noises. Not one of the pergalas or umbrellas or quick tents made out of bedsheets had been placed upon the cosmos of the dahlias that grew there on occasion as they re-seeded He even watched a long-haired gentleman helping his daughter brush the chalk dust from the sidewalk decorating competition off of their leaves. The sycamores provided more sun than shade and if you were going to take the time to set up a booth, why not make it stand out? Of course, EVERYHTHING pretty much stood out in it's own way. There was no crowd, there was only a collection of people from far and wide; everything from erotic photographers, to people who replicated the only masters on toast, to glass blowers, to street musicians to casual observers strolling though and having their eyes caught by paintings that they couldn't quite thing of what they reminded them of.

"Do you like it?" he asked turning to his companion.

Trowa was standing perfectly still, no longer watching the celebration but his accompaniment to which he had offered his hand, content to wait and see if it would be noticed or accepted.

With the slightest trickle of wrongdoing running down his spine, he reached out his own trembling fingers that were gratefully taken and he leaned up against he who had asked for them at all.

"I like it very much."

"Well, the play doesn't start for more than twenty minutes, I guess we could roam around for awhile."

"Of course."

"And if there's anything particular you'd like to look at."

"You're much better than that violinist," He remarked suddenly as if fearing the other former pilot would have at once thought otherwise. As it was he smiled in thankfulness and they started down the path together, the colored film on the concrete kicking up over the legs of their pants. Belicose and regailed, they couldn't have asked for a more splendid day to go out. He'd even forgotten his once initial dread of being close to his guest where there might well have been scroutinous eyes. The mysterious one even seemed happy. as happy as he could seem if he could seem anything at all.

/I never realized before how stuffy the closet was. Funny how these things work out. All this fresh air right on cue and I even have my lover with me! I suppose lover's the right word./ "Trowa dear? Can I stop for a lollipop?"

"Hmm?" This was probably not the remark he was expecting. "Certainly."

Close enough for a yes! He tugged him over to the correct stand- a purple booth littered with yellow, green and red transparent sugar gleaming as a treasure trove of sweetly tormenting tooth decay in ever shape imaginable.

"Good day!" caroled the lady minding the candy.

"Hello!" he waved and went back to examining the selection. "Oh dear," He finally pouted. "I'll never be able to decide which one I want."

"You could take this if you care to remember," his companion suggested holding up a yellow star.

"Oh, thank you! But what about."

He had naturally found an exceptionally large specimen that had been waiting for him off to the side- a pairing of the masks of comedy and tragedy.

"Okay, these two to go and six of you most oddly shaped in a bag," Wink. "They're for Duo. He'll fuss if we don't bring him something."

So they continued to the piazza; a huge circle of open salmon tile with a pantina dolphin fountain in the center. Today it was absolutely buzzing with passers by admiring their purchases, chatting, or just stopping to rest their feet. A few were dancing in the fountain so he was just reconsidering the change he had been about to toss into the water when he realized he had stepped on a poem someone had sketched over the ground.

Strawberry Candy, Cold Coffee in Bed
What you would ask, could deceive me to think
That these petty niceties
Are the most I could ever want in this world?
My darling, they remind me of you.

With a mutually understood but unspoken smile they went to the theater at the edge of the circle- a white building but at the request of the performers all the lights had been shut off so the patrons were staggering in only the light from the open doors. The sign outside read: Vanishing Point: Three Short Independently Produced Plays. They showed their tickets and were lead to their seats which were in the center but rather far back, and presented with programs that would have been impossible to read had they been a little more civilian minded. Instead, they caught themselves offering each other their miniature flashlights. They just shrugged and switched, going straight to reading the pamphlets.

First presentation: Ikomi Tazuki's "Anachronism". Time travel and ancient Rome at it's bawdiest when the future Japanese ambassador looses her olisbos and the wine-seller's slave is caught spying on the local senator's pool party.

Second Presentation: Mary Wynne and Stephen Crisp's "Many Voices". What if all the good little children in Heaven lost their Bibles? (WARNING: Leaving your seat during this play may result in bodily injury as the actors will be racing through the aisles and throwing books.) /Two good reasons we didn't bring Duo!/

Third Presentation: Anonymous's "Once I Was the Goddess of Winter". An elementary school deserted during a hurricane serves as refuge for some of it's more notorious alumni.

He looked over to his companion to gage his reaction but he remained just as unintelligible as ever. No matter. A light had begun to come through the drawn curtains and there was whispering behind them. He could wait to ask then and so leaned over and snuggled his head up against the other boy's shoulder.

"Do you like it when I do this?" he who was not inclined to speak out of turn asked as he placed his arm around the little blond.

"I love it. It makes me feel close to you."

"Then from now on you must tell me when to let go."

"Quiet you two!" snapped a woman sitting behind them.

Of course, by then the play had started. A man in a white and purple toga came and stood in front of the curtains. "Lo! You would see before you the full extent of the knowledge that the ancient Romans once possessed. Records they could not keep well against the threats of time, but time otherwise they mastered. Nay! Do not be shocked or yearn for a thing lost forever, even as they found their past and their grim future, still they were ignorant to the lesson taught them. Still, there was folly in the human heart, but not all so bitter. Yey, some was sweet."

*****

"Yeah, I'm sure it's okay. It's not as if I haven't seen you in your pajamas before."

Trowa pressed lightly on the door, allowing himself to see into his host's room. The little blond was wearing naught but a pair of flimsy pale peach pj's and sitting in the center of his bed, leaning back on his hands with he legs stretched out. There was only on light on and it threw nothing but the softest shadows on him, in especial the shadow of his body through the luminescence of his almost transparent clothing.

"Why are you so scared? Did you forget your teddy bear? Oh! I wanted to be your teddy bear."

"I've never had one before," He remarked finally entering the room.

Quatre smiled in diversion as he watched him slink over to the edge of the bed and crawl up beside him. The other boy almost seemed embarrassed to be in his bed! Well, he was a little nonpulsed to have him there himself. As always, the exquisite and shiny faint chill he carried himself with came to him, handled him. But he would warm up a little if touched. He reached up his hand to his face and tried to... instead he jumped. Trowa had wrapped himself around him and /What? What are you doing? I mean it's alright. I think it's alright. OH MY GOD. Ohmigod! Ohmigod!/ But he only pushed him down against the pillows with an accepting little gaze and stayed pressed up against him. So he giggled a bit and looked back at the jade green eyes hovering so near to his own, coaxing him a bit. His companion then stretched out beside him, keeping one arm over his stomach in his one gesture of his affection. He felt a little taught, a little unsure. And he didn't speak. Yes, surely a silence, but maybe not with the usual intent of those who refuse words.

"Do you have nightmares sometimes, Trowa?"

"Everyone has nightmares."

"Well, I don't think I will tonight." He felt the third boy's presence, but batted his lashes anyway.

The bed spasmed as he leaped onto the sheets, his blanket cape fluttering behind him. The newer arrival observed as he hiked down his T-shirt that had come up above his boxers someways. It was probably going to snap and twine as he tossed in his sleep.

"Trowa," the little blond began to explain, hoping to get a word in before his first guest. "sometimes, Duo sleeps with me, but just for company; just how I wanted you here tonight. Because he's my brother. Is that okay?"

"And I want to snuggle with you too!" the one in question broke in.

"Of course, why not?"

"Oh, nothing! But I..."

"I snore! Really loudly too! And I grumble, and I toss and I turn and I usually would steal all the covers right off your butts while I'm rolling all over you but I brought my own, see?"

"That's still fine."

Quatre sighed then and stretched against the mattress, his eyes falling
sleepily over his two bedfellows nestled on either side of him.

"Goodnight then, Duo."

With a wink he leaned precariously over and pecked the other guest lightly on the forehead "Night, Trow," before almost daintily holding his lips to the other boy's cheek. "Night, Ni-chan."

"Goodnight, Big brother." he returned the gesture but turning to the other, "Goodnight, Luve."

"I'll see you in the morning."

The braided one switched off the light but still watched closely in the ensuing dimness as they shared a brittle but ever so precious kiss before the more recently arrived boy drew the covers over them both.

"It's cozy." Unable to take his eyes from the object of his affection, so close, and yet. with the strangest thought of something beyond the stars that had a curious way of reflecting in his one visible eye. The other was always black.

The first arrival was thinking too. Almost the same thing. /Yes, it's
always dark in his one eye like that, like he never takes his mask off.
So dark./

So sleepy, he felt himself settling into the bed, starting to slowly shut down into a restful state, eyes falling closed and staying that way for the fluttering thoughts that overtook them inside him. Almost there, almost into a.

Someone shook him. He would have shot out of bed had the same hand not held him fast.

"Duo, don't wake him up. Whatever you do."

He shifted onto his back and rubbed his eyes, trying to smear the sleep out of them. The other boy above him with a candle. Hardly enough light to see by but still, the flame was a funny color- a hot bluish green as if there was copper burning on the wick. He sat up sharply, feet bumping into the ground under his cot. "Trowa, what is it?"

"Shh. Never mind. Come with me." Even in the half-illumination he could still see the cover of the tent, stories above them, fluxing in the breeze with it's ruffling noise serving as a lullaby for those who had known it all their lives, been there to listen every night. It must have been midnight. He could feel it on the stillness of the air, the way the others in their aisles of cots were dozing still, oblivious. Rows and rows of them, ever so neat. The grass tickled his feet as he stood, never taking his eyes from the one who had awakened him, beckoned, and without a sounds, lead him outside. This dead noise of the evening came to him, the snoring of beasts and the whistling drone of what machinery was still running. The colony sky had gone pitch black and would not even show up borrowed images of real stars or the lights of the distant city. Hardly any sound or image but themselves. He stopped a minute and searched for any indication, but the other boy's voice. "Duo, I need you."

And he followed almost blindly as would have one in a trance. Into the main tent, it was still a little warmer in their from the heat of the lights and the voices, wasn't it? Was he only heating up himself, suddenly sweating? The candle went out. He became still, listening to the distant flicking of switches. Sure enough, the lights came on at what must have been less than one-eighth power. Everything looked hazy and erratic under them, so he just stood awhile.

"That's perfect," the other boy commented, turning away from his panel.

"What's perfect?" snapped, he was so tired, not to mention yawning.

"You are."

"He jerked sharply, eyes popping wide open. "What?! What the hell are you talking about?" And somehow the words were not as strident as they should have been.

"You'll do very nicely for my little game."

A hand grasped his hair, hard, yanked his face down so it was pressed into his chest. That wasn't what almost made him scream. It was the gun barrel jammed into him just below his ribcage and the tingling pain as he drew it closer to him. "You don't need that. I'll do whatever you want."

"If you've lied." the pistol clattered faintly in the dust. "I just want to remind you this is for all the times you screwed up."

His arms were wrenched behind his back, bound with a thong of heavy stiff leather that chewed him at the edges. "Whatever. whatever you want." Between some intense, submissive eros and the overall panging of dread, he felt like his was sparkling.

Trowa backed off a bit then, just a bit so he could better see what he was doing. Out of his pocket he drew a small, flat object that refused to shine in the dim lighting. "Hold still or you'll regret it." All the words he had so far uttered were just as concretely and sadistically ardent. Even so, he couldn't help it, he inched his stiffening member closer, letting it get tighter and tighter against the front of his boxers as if he was anxious to be unclothed. He wouldn't have to wait long it seemed.

It was a razor his intended ravisher was holding. With the utmost deliberation he began to slice off his clothes. First the bottom edge of the tank top grazed with the most acute incisions in the fabric- long, revealing ones and tiny threatening examples. The blade of it brushed against him and he shivered. Just brushed, not even scratched. The hand guiding it could not have been more intent upon the machinations that were slowly revealing smooth and mostly untouched skin. It would have been a simple and perhaps more satisfying task to strike his creamy covering to worn and sticky ribbons, strip him down to the bones. The though nearly made him seizure.

"You are impatient. I had hoped you wouldn't get hard at all. It doesn't matter though, not for what we're going to do." One quick yank and his top was off, lying in shreds about the earth. The razor started on his waistband, perforating the elastic, cut by cut by cut. Looser and looser, ever lower. His morbid excitement was the only thing holding them up.

The blade was gone, his shorts were bound about his ankles, his hot, dripping organ thrust into the night air as he was throw onto his back. Nothing hit him but the thought: /Oh Shit! Oh Shit! Now he'll see!/ Only now did he cower.

"That's more like it."

He had a superb view of the other boy now as he undressed himself, casting his things into the far corner of the room. Underneath he had nothing but a leather sheath for his phallus, closed ten times over with padlocks. Nothing else on him as he grinned at the way his prey eyed him from below. He went into the stands and came back with one of the whips they were wont to use on the lions and a pair of high heels that he slid on most seductively. However, with a crack of his weapon. "I won't use this unless you scream. Every time you cry one, you get one lash. You are very noisy, aren't you now?"

Finished laying out his rules, he threw back one of his spindly knees and threw at his captive a vicious kick that he took entirely with his swollen member. He found it surging of it's own accord even though the sting of the patent leather. It was ever fated to be soar. It hurt, it really hurt him, more than anything ever had before when he came close to making love. No. this was something else entirely. More blows though, more! He. he wanted it.

Duo's eyes flew open. He knew where he was again. Aside from his won ragged breathing there was only the murmuring of his little brother in uninterrupted sleep, and the hiss noting the third boy's existence- maybe a snore. The clock read 4:34 AM. Dreams only. He swung his hair about him for the blanket seemed suddenly thin. /It's just virgin's anxiety. No one knows about it but me, no one cares what I do in my dreams./ He felt the front of his boxers. They were still dry. Nothing to get up for then, so back to sleep for awhile. This time all he could recall was. blue?

"Duo. Duo, it's time to get up." His eyes came this time to a full dawn through the curtain he had woven around himself. No. something else. Someone had smoothed away his bangs.

Trowa was sitting beside him holding the stray hair out of his eyes. Seeing the faint glare this brought "I'm sorry. You just looked so happy while you were asleep."

*****

"How do you think I would look with real boobs?" Duo inquired apparently thinking nothing of the fact he had jumped out from under the bed and shoved his pectoral decorations in the little blond's face.

"I think you look good no matter what you have on your chest," he commented, not that it is easy to see something your face is flat up against. "Gee, these feel awfully realistic."

"Really? I bought some condoms and stuffed 'em with Jell-o. I wasn't sure it would work."

"Well, it did."

"Cool!"

Trowa cleared his throat for attention. "May I try?"

"Sure." He backed up a bit and put his hands on his hips to emphasize his bountiful fib.

The questioning boy proceeded to cop a feel with no more concern than is he was feeling for a light switch. "Not bad, but maybe you should try regular balloons, these seem a little tight."

"Hmm, yeah. They did squeak a lot while I was stuffin' 'em. Thanks. Say, did they ever make you put on a dress for the circus?"

"Duo!"

"It's alright," petting the irritated one's shoulder. "No."

"I was just curious. I wasn't trying to piss you off, maybe just annoy you a little."

"No offense taken."

"So what are you two up to?"

"Well we were." Quatre stopped for a second, shifting the finicky Ponzu from one shoulder to the other. "I mean I was reading him my letters. That's why we didn't hear you come in."

/Trowa must *actually* be listening. Wow! I never knew./ "I'll leave then."

"Well, you obviously want something or you wouldn't have bothered with the sneak attack or the outfit. What is it?"

"Well, I figured since Janice moved out for good I can dress however I damn well please and I was." striking a rather glamorous pose. ".indulging. Hehe. You know, Anabell told me I'm sexy in drag. Anyway, I just had a customer's check clear from ages ago which means that for once in my life I ain't broke, so I want to take you out for dinner, both of you. Not someplace to swanky. I mean, not that I'm on a budget or anything but we could just stay home for that."

He who was usually the host swung his feet and thought for a second. "That's very sweet of you.:"

"No! It's very sweet of YOU not to bill me for stuffing my face constantly."

"And even if this is rather short notice, I think I'd like to. Trowa? What about you."

Nodding.

"Yoshu! Just gimme a few minutes to page Rashid and finish getting ready!" he leapt up into the air and came down with half a spin where he was about ready to go tearing out the door until he noticed something slimy and green running down his side. "Oh shit! On second though, I may be just a TEENY bit longer. Ewe! Yuck!" And for once he left slowly.

The little blond sighed, shaking his head and started to gather up his wrinkled bits of paper. In this time though, this short time, he had learned what it felt like to have that gaze on him. To anyone else it must have been impending, cold, but to him. well, he couldn't quite describe it. Nippy, yet in a good way. As if he could hear some other part of him speaking, asking. As if he was a kid again waiting for an invisible friend. "Mmm?" But he couldn't acknowledge it in the same way and so looked up.

"Could I have one?"

"Woul you can have them all if you want. They were meant for you." /And I hid the err. risqué ones in the drawer. Maybe later./

"Thank you. Taking the papers he seemed to slip back into that quiet space that was his and his alone. Quatre went off to the bathroom awhile, leaving him for just a bit, glancing over his own shoulder just once. The other boy thumbed through the corners a moment, but got up eventually, carrying his things with both hands. Starting down the hallway, he caught himself glancing into the ex-Deathsycthe pilot's room as he fought to rid himself of the gooey residue while at the same time stirring an additional dish of the stuff to try and break it up a little. He was really looking at the picture on the nightstand. /I wondered who had taken that photograph. That's probably the best souvenir any of us could have asked for./

Quite some time later.

"Oh Trowa! Don't you look handsome!" a delighted host exclaimed, laying eyes on the one he had charmed in for so long. The person in question was actually the most formally dressed of the three having put on a plum dinner jacket, lavender slacks and a black turtle-neck. He was still fiddling with a pair of white Victorian gentleman's gloves as the other two entered the room, and bowed in accordance with this as he took the hand of his date.

Speaking of his date, he had gone for the elegant yet eccentric- gold lamé short sleeved shirt, loose red pants, embroidered with gold brocade and an oversized crimson waistcoat with what looked like a curtain tassel (and actually was, much to Iria's chagrin) about his middle. His more conventional guest apparently took some pleasure from seeing him in such a thing for after cupping one of the rosy cheeks him the kid covering his hands, he promptly snatched a garnet rose bud from the vase, stripped it of it's thorns with his teeth and slid it behind the excitedly flushing ear.

As for Duo. he had yielded to his gothic side to say the least of things: black leather crop-top under a loose mesh shirt, chain belt, tight, skinny leather skirt edged with fake fur, tattered fishnet stockings held up by dark blue garters, black clunky pumps and a long black cape. The dark eyeliner and ruby lipstick had been substituted for the stuffed bra. The faint odor of lime still clung to him.

Without further ado, they climbed into the car.

"Master Quatre, where shall you and your friends be dining this evening?"

"It's your choice, Duo. You're paying."

"Just drop us some place in town that has a lot of restaurants. We'll stop some place that looks good."

So, after a substantial drive, he deposited them under the ascedaline white of a fairly nondescript streetlight along an absolutely packed row of shops. Despite the deep evening, the sky actually held a slight dingy brown tone over the miles of city lights like ignited topaz in the otherwise blackness. The ribbons of the road were packed and bright with cars, the cool night air warmed by the throngs of pedestrians- chilly but having resolved to stay out anyway. The little blond was so glad he had a coat on and someone to lean close to as they lagged behind the hysterically hyper Duo who swung himself around a street sign and declared.

"Hey! Not to call attention to you two or anything, but I think you're both really brave to go out like this so soon after."

"I don't want to hear about it." Snapped, but he caught himself. "Umm. sorry. But I don't care anymore. I know I should and everything, but I've decided I don't. There are more important things than a worthless little issue like that. If I'm not alright with it yet, I'll make myself be." But he still shuddered a little and curled a little further under the arm that was almost his by now. "There sure are a lot of people out tonight. That's always what made me a little nervous."

Trowa didn't say anything, but gave him an all but motherly glance as if he could have said "That's my little boy I hear! But please, I'll keep you safe." But he didn't and there was probably no use in trying to figure out what he was actually considering at that moment. That and his self-appointed charge was suddenly caught by the image of something in a window and scampered over for a look. "What is it, little one?"

"The doll." He pointed out quite nonchalantly.

"???"

All three of them were shortly crowded around and fogging up the glass, Mr. Wannbe Goth bouncing about impatiently, wondering who had given them the right to imitate his habit of window shopping?

The toy that had snatched away their attention from his general misbehavior was a particularly splendid jointed resin mermaid dressed from head to toe in pearls and iris emerald. Her hair was midnight black, woven with clear plastic sea creatures, her eyes a fantastic reddish orange. Unlike most showy toys, she had an aura to her that said "Come play with me" She seemed durable enough. But their rumbling stomachs drove them on.

Duo was by then determined to have the next interruption. It was his duty! A matter of honor for his kind! It was.

Shortly, an unexpected pulsating in the ground and ancient, tribal, no- wholly primal, urge. His limbs twitched, his body rolled was a readiness for absolute action.

"Quatre! You didn't tell me you had any clubs here! Alright!"

"Umm. that's a twenty-one and up club."

"So? We're master infiltraters, aren't we? Getting in should be a sinch! Then we can party down until the sun comes up, and get fondled by total strangers in a bathroom! Whoo hoo! Everyone still got your fake ID's?"

"Security hazard. Burned it."

"Also burned it." Trowa added.

"What!? AW! I don't believe you guys! It's every teenagers *dream* to have a fake ID and here you two were frickin' handed one on a silver platter and you BURNED THEM! Party poopers." Not to be daunted of course. "Well, we'll just sneak in the back then. If we want somethin' from the bar we can lie about our names. I bet they've got jell-o shooters too! Mmm. jell-o shooters."

"You've had enough jell-o today to last you for the rest of your life! Besides what if we get. you know. in trouble!"

"As if this would be the first time!" seeing their staunch glares of disapproval, he finally threw in the towel. "I'm still all argued out. Besides, we can always get wasted back at your place in the company of friends, right?"

"SHHHHHHH!!!!!!"

As they started walking away though, the braided one flinched with an abrupt change of the pitch in the raging caconaphy rolling out of the doors. "But can I at least take this song!?"

"Eh?"

"You guys don't have a law about dancing on the street, right?" Actually, the previous 'eh' was probably more for the way he had snaked around the nearest streetlight, acting as if it was a real and very lewd human partner.

Quatre giggled happily and clapped. His escort wondered what and he told him, "Oh! Just go with it!"

So as the not quite a gothic continued his passionate freak dance to that wonderfully sensuous tempo that was doubtless more seductive that the metal pole he had chosen for a cohort even as he writhed perfectly in tune with everything that gasping beat could offer, almost looking delirious, taken by their words further into his act. /Give me this, let me act it out this once, what it would be like to dance with someone besides myself./

"Little one? Can you tango?"

"What? Me?" he laid his hands to his face in a gesture of uncertainty. "I think I took a little of it with my ballroom dancing courses, but I don't remember much at all."

With a sweeping bow, "Then may I have this dance?" He was at best, unprepared for the titling, love-lorn reaction he got.

"Trowa! Oh Trowa! I've wanted to for so long! I really have."

"I know, you said so in your letter."

"But thank you!"

"No need," as he carefully arranged their limbs. "You mustn't be so shy. Ask for what you want. Now, is it alright that I lead?"

"Of course! Weeeeeeee!" And so they had their first dance before a cityscape of people who just happened to be out that night and chanced upon the side street in their less-amusing purposes.

Until the song ended and Duo's performance was shut off by a shower of change. Quatre blushed and Trowa hauled them both off down the street, feeling his blond companion's flushing indicated he'd rather leave the scene of the crime.

"Hey!" the braided one wined, "We missed most of the quarters! No fair!"

"There's a ten dollar bill and a note in your garter." The little blond pointed out.

"Hmm. so there is," he tossed the accompanying phone number in the nearest gutter, sniffed and proceeded to present the money to a well-dressed chinaman standing at a podium beside a pair of glass doors from which was gushing the most palatable odor of soy sauce and five-spice powder. "Chinese okay?"

"Oh boy!"

Trowa didn't look upset with the choice, he didn't seem to approve of it either.

"Table for five then."

"Duo, there's only three of us."

"Oh, right. Table for three then. Nah, make it a booth."

Quatre blushed again.

***

[Don't ask what this is.]

Pan back to the club. We now see two familiar personages in disco suits.

Zechs: Hmm.. they were almost acting like normal kids for one brief moment there.

Treize: if you happen to have an incredibly useless definition of "normal". Oh bourbon that I have swilled so long, say that it is so that that word and "kid" do not belong in the same sentence.

Zechs <Both suspicious and indignant>: Weren't you killed off at some point?

Treize: Well, I would ask a similar question of you! What ARE you doing HERE?

Zechs <Blank stare. Gives up and starts singing with the music in the club>: You can ring my behehehehehehel / Ring my bell.

Treize: As you can see, this has nothing to do with the story. It is just one pathetic, but nonetheless sadistic writer's neurotic outlet for an uncontrollable desire to make my Zero-System Addled associate and I fools by forcing us wear the ceremonial clothing of the late 1970's.

Zechs: Ding-a-ling-a-ling!

Treize: . and dance around like numbskulls because for some reasons, she doesn't like him. Personally, I don't care what she thinks of me, it beats being dead any day! In the mean time, we return you to

<Shot of Frodo and Sam playing tonsil hockey and feeling each other up.>

Treize: Not that! But the rest of the fic.

***

"Stupid irregular bleeding!" Duo hissed to himself or maybe to the colorful reusable ice cubes idling in his lemonade. The glass was soaked with condensation and every so often a single bead of moisture would go trickling down the side, leaving a transparent, doddering path behind. He stirred his beverage again with the twisty straw, peeling himself from the top of the table- it was so hot he had stuck to the glass. Resting his head on one hand he looked about, rocking one sunburnt cheek, but turned back at last to his sketchbook and started again on a clean page. The blue was doing more for his uncomfortable temperature than the tepid drink- a cooling, consoling, icy blue with only an item number, no formal or flippant name like the rest. It had a delectable chilly sensation on his eyes like frost would have had to his skin. The table was littered with pencils he had dug up from every crevice of the house. Every single one was blue and they were scattered about the table in fine disarray.

He scribbled for awhile with some thought, not totally concentration. He could see what he was drawing after all, but not outside with him, or on the paper. Not simply so flat but ghostly as the ephemeral lines as a specter of some other day. Not THAT cold. Not with full consideration, he picked up a darker shade and gave it eyes. Cobalt blue eyes that could have frozen away the paper they were on. The glower, no, more of a grimace, was painful. to the nonexistence it was in. Self-wounding.

/I could get in the pool if I wanted to. It's so fucking hot but. I just don't feel right. What if I get caught? And I feel so sick./ He shifted his lower body to try and ease the tense ache. Then another sip of the luke warm lemonade. Hearing the wooden clatter of one of his pencils, he leaned over the edge of the chair trying not to brush against the heated metal of the armrest. Then he actually took a minute to arrange them, from the faintest hit of a wispy clouds being gazed through to the deepest navy. For once, his side of the table was the neat one. The other half was covered with a small army of action figures in various stages of falling over. Not a one was scratched though and not a piece was missing.

Suddenly, their owner popped up from the depths of the pool, up through the large chunks of ice that were bobbing about in an attempt to keep the water frosty (one of them still had a ninja sitting on it from earlier frolicking), and hardly had a chance to catch his breath before laughing triumphantly and swinging his five colored rings about, his slick blond hair going every which way and sticking itself to his face in a most humorous way. Trowa only surfaced to his nose, his three balanced on his head.

"Yippeee! I win!"

Burble burble.

Between his laughs, tiny artist slipped back under water after sucking in a huge mouthful of air that puffed out his cheeks. The other boy tracked the wiggling splotch of light beneath the surface as it swam up behind him, one long, slender hand popping up and placing the forth ring on his head, then he rolled over in a perfect somersault emerging the third time in a shower of brilliant droplets which landed on what little of his companion was available.

He who was mostly submerged at first appeared to have little interest in
responding until he quite suddenly leapt out of the water curving his
back in a delicate arc as he made a fountain of his lips.

The other one in the pool applauded and paddled over. His own hair was quite a wreck but his fellow swimmer's. half his face was plastered over with a heavy dripping curtain of rusty brown that was so uneven and so mussed, bits of it were hanging over the usually exposed half of his face like stripes. It looked absolutely maddening, as if anyone else would have shaken it off at once. Instead, it clung to him unmoved with apparently no intention of changing. Somehow, Quatre found this strangely alluring and so quickly he was tempted. He slid right up to him and hung bobbing in the water off to his side, not touching, but close enough to feel where the water was warmed by his presence. With a hint of a shy smile, he swept the wayward threads away, tucking them into place.

Trowa almost cowered from the gesture, even if it was done with such a simple, jejune wonder.

"There you are!" he marveled for the first time beholding the entire face of his beloved. Both ivy eyes fixed upon him, looking out from what, despite everything they had seen in the world, was an inherently boyish set of features with soft yet somehow defined lines. Everything but the mirror of those eyes put them together by ages otherwise. "Now everyone can see the rest of your pretty face."

There was nothing in reply except the 'slop, slop' of the ice bobbing about but their gazes never parted as if his refusal to speak was some indication that instead he didn't understand. He mimicked the motion though, combing his fingers through the yellow bangs, only parting them at first, then jostling them so they perked up a bit despite being so wet.

"That tickles!"

"Of course, my little water sprite."

"Water sprite?"

"It's exactly what you look like right now."

"Hmm?" he flitted away and scrambled up on the side, giving the fluid a minute to settle before examining this wiggling reflection. Apparently not seeing the resemblance, he poked the transparent boy below him, waited for him to fade back in before wholly swatting him away. Any other person would have shaken their head, but his companion only watched. The little blond's manifested self-denial made him look even more like the fabled and curious creature, (not that he wasn't one already).

Duo shortly reopened his sketchbook and decided, that though he had not drawn from real life before, now was a fine time to start.

Trowa never even seemed to consider glancing elsewhere, but rose out of the pool to his shoulders. The one he watched was smitten afresh. If one eye watching had made of him a fool for silence, then two uncovered yet misering away their purpose like a dragon squirrels away it's gold, would take him places in his heart he'd never dared to tread. And yet, such eyes, in some little way adoring, perhaps in their unwavering stare, as if something true beyond all words was there, he nearly felt himself slipping away.

Still, he looked to the casual observer as if he would have had little reason for the way he cast himself back into the water and threw his arms around his guest. "Oh Trowa, I love you!" And rubbed their noses together not exactly surprised he didn't feel any replication- only the two hands that fell lightly on his waist. He just made some little sound of displeasure. "Hmm? How come you won't whisper sweet nothings in my ear when I glomp you?"

Slop-slop.

Slop-slop.
Slopitty-slop.

"Don't you love me too?"

The ice just kept disintegrating as the two of the stood vis-a-vis. Quatre's eyes so full and deep with hope and longing and the juices of his heart and so much more, facing into utter blankness. As one more plead, he kissed the motionless lips. "Come on Trowa."

"." /If you only knew. It's not by choice, that I don't speak to you./

His eyes suddenly narrowed but showed nothing unchartered of that sea green, yet he snapped. "For crying out loud, we've been together all this time and you can't even say three little words to me. I swear! Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to a statue. Are you even listening to me?" His cold fingers sought his breastbone and pushed. "Won't you say anything at all?"

The lips parted at last, but nothing came out.

"Master Quatre! Lunch is prepared!"

He paused another moment before giving his companion a vindictive little splash and starting up the stairs calling, "We'd better get out before Duo steals our sandwiches."

"Hey!"

The host turned over his shoulder as he toweled off. /I expected something like this, but really! He doesn't have to do this to me. It's like he doesn't understand what I'm going through at all. No. No, forget *me* what about us and out not-quite romance?/ Yet watching him leave the pool. some trick of the bobbing surface of the water gave the shadows on him turn to more the appearance of holes in his reflection.

*****

 

END PART 2