The Room Where the Light Won't Find You

PART 3

"Quatre! Quatre!" Duo yelped sprinting down the hallway. Still no answer. Down to the second floor for another run-through. He was going to have to start throwing open doors if he wanted to find him. "No!" slam. "No!" Slam. Pant. "No! Hi Anabel, Scoundrel." He was about to take off again but instead, "Have you seen Quatre?"

"Oh my no. I something the matter?"

"Trowa! Any sign of him?"

"I'm afraid not."

"SHIT! Excuse me, little situation here. Quatre!" He banked down the hall again, screaming all the way, smacking doors open all the way. /His room's still empty, where has he./ yet he could have sworn he caught a little sigh before he slammed the entrance closed again.

Certainly enough, there was a tiny blond boy scrunched up in the corner between the desk and the sliding glass doors to his balcony, knees pulled up to his chest as he cradled in his arms so vigilantly, so defensively, a flute. No one's, just the one from the cabinet that had always been there but had lip prints on it still. Duo heaved a relived sigh and crouched down before him, still panting and sweating but sensitively he offered, "So here you are,". Holding out his hand it was rejected with a quick flinch, but at least the wet eyes had fallen on him, wide as a fearful child. That was who they belonged to. "I was worried about you." This time, he tried brushing his fingers over and ankle before it was yanked away with a little noise of protest. He edged back then. "You don't have to do this. I'll listen if you just tell me."

"Did you find him!?" Sharply but shaken as it was interjected.

He swallowed the lump in his throat as best he could, grasping the edges of his shorts that were loose over his kneeling thighs because at least for this, he needed something to hold onto. "Ni-chan, Trowa's gone. I looked everywhere. He. he musta left real late last night."

"The grounds!? The beach!? The spaceport!?"

"Quatre, he's not here."

"But." There was a quiver running through him as he clutched the instrument so tightly that the perspiration from his palms began to trickle down it. ".but. NO!" His little cry was more piercing but still eerily akin to the scream of a wounded rabbit as the tears oozed out from over his stringy lower lashes. Each wail shook him so hard it seemed as if he was holding his wounded heart in his hands instead, watching its final beats.

"Ni-chan, it's not worth much, but I'm still here. It's no fun to cry, I know, but it's worse when you're alone." Leaning forward, he slid one hand over his damp cheeks and behind his neck, tugging him forward just the littlest bit. His little brother had gone so limp and numb he tipped forward and bumped his nose into the other boy's shoulder, landing at an angle that must have driven the flute into him, but he never went to move or complain. It was simple to pull him out of his corner then, but every inch of it hurt.

He was back where he'd started at best.

And there was nothing he could do in penance but to stretch out his legs and pull Quatre onto his lap so he was laying on his side, his hair spilled out over the crook of his arm as he cradled him like a baby, let him cry all he needed to.

"I just wanted. I just wanted him to say it!"

"Shh, don't think about it like that. You didn't do anything wrong."

"But I was so rotten to him! I shouted, I didn't mean to! I just don't understand. he meant so much to me but. I just wanted to hear him say that I meant a lot to him to. I wanted him to let me know he was happy."

He sighed once more in his regret. "I don't know that much about Trowa, I don't think anyone does, not even that Ralph Kurt guy, so I can't. I mean, it isn't my place to say anything about how he feels or what he was thinking. It's not my place to say anything about right and wrong when it comes to being lovers. I think though, that he's got a reason besides being indifferent and that this may be the best thing I can offer but sometime, you know, people just aren't meant to be together, no matter what they feel for each other." He wasn't expecting an answer, he only rocked his beloved friend back and forth as carefully as he could manage. "I'm sorry, Ni-chan. I'm so sorry."

"Don't say that! I'm the one who should be sorry enough for both of us. I'm the one that was in love with him, you only tried to help. I should have known."

"But do you still?"

"What?"

"Do you still love him?"

He felt his head twitching against him in a shameful nod. "But I shouldn't! I'm not a whole person inside! I have no business wanting anyone like that because I can't even keep everything about myself straight!"

"You can't choose who you love, but if it still hurts, then you MUST be a whole person. You just have to be." He looked down into the puddle of those sea green eyes then, half lidded and a sickly pink, weeping and extinguished, yet so endless and so fragile. "This is going to be one of the hardest things I have to say to you but you have to try to listen, to. to let go now. It's just easier this way." Half of him didn't even mean it. A smaller side of his usual voice came and told him of those eyes, that he might never see them again as they had been those past precious weeks; shining, glorious and innocent as a toddler enamored of everything. No, not ever again, or at least, not for untold ages that may have grazed the times of another space. It was really over. and it was his fault. Everything. Oh what hands the jester had when he took to meddling in place of foolery. He cuddled his brother closer, lifting him up further against his chest. "Let it out, Quatre! Let it out!"

And just let him cry, trying to hold him all over with some semblance of warmth, rocking him back and forth and back and forth. his own clothes were growing cold where the tears had fallen. Somehow, he knew there was little else he could say and whatever words he could summon would bear with them only further agony. Even in the face of something the absence of speech had brought, he could not find a word to utter. Trowa, Silencer indeed. His own eyes were starting to sting a little, but he wouldn't ever leave. He knew that now. How could he? This broken emotion, this might be some family for him, and with that the duty to remain in good times and bad, he would not go away, nor let anyone else. Especially not Little Brother, orphan too, who began to draw more and more lightly on the air, become more sated and quiet himself. He thought maybe now it would be best to ask if he needed anything and was just shifting the little body in his arms to inquire if the dear was thirsty, but in doing so he found with some relief, the sea green eyes were closed now and his face was now relaxed, somewhat peaceful.

He had cried himself to sleep.

/If I move, I might wake him up./

It was hours later that Iria found them. Duo hadn't moved and his eyes too were red from his own dearth of rest.

*****

"Hey! How's my little Ni-chan?" caroled the braided one, casting open the door he had been waiting at for some time before his companion was even halfway up the sidewalk.

"Hi, Duo." He was almost whispering.

The figure at the entrance cast his arms about him, squeezing with a loving and half selfish tightness as he rubbed a warm little cheek against his shoulder. /Poor baby, you feel so listless. Aren't you gonna answer me with anything?/ "Well, you're home early, so I guess everything went okay, right?"

"Sure, of course."

"You want some coffee?"

"Just a little with a lot of sugar."

The ex-Deathscythe pilot lead him to the salon as if it was his house and not the other way around, then made sure he was comfortably placed in the fuzzy arm chair before seeing after the drinks which he prepared himself, bringing them in on a teacart after putting on the most ridiculous frilly pink apron in the house that accented his stupidly exaggerated chewing gum walk as he moved in it. "T'ere you go sah." He added bending over with the saucer with some feign of an English accent. Seeing the little blond's outline never tipped away from the floor, he made sure to trip over his own tow feet and go sprawling across the room as if he was the vice president of Monty Python's famed Bureau of Funny Walks. He wondered if he had brush-burned his nose though.

"Thanks, Duo." The clink of china against china. There was hardly a drop gone but he stayed staring into it even as Ponzu started to kiss his ankle. "Sweet kitty," he tried to pull her onto his lap but she snapped at him and went off at once.

The other boy flopped down on the couch. "I brought you some candy too. And some madalines, and some crackers and some pokey." speaking of which, he decided now was as good a time as any to shove some up his nose.

"I'm not hungry." Another feeble sip.

"You sure?"

"Yes. My stomach's been bothering me again today."

"Did you remember your medicine?"

"It's been making it worse lately. It feels like I haven't got anything let inside me. Like it all just came out and now I'm just soar."

"You might feel better if you ate a little something. Just coffee can't be good for you."

"I can't even finish it."

With a dismal moan, he looked over the wraith seated in the chair beside him, only some skeletal figment dusted with pure, white snow. /You knew you'd be having this conversation sooner or later. Duo! What kind of a friend are you anyway?/ "You have to eat something, Quatre."

"I'm not hungry. I just said that." Slightly irritated, he turned the other way in his seat.

/I still can't believe this is MY voice! I've NEVER had to do anything like this!/ "You're going to starve yourself. I mean, what have you had to eat this week: one plate of grapes, half a mayonnaise sandwich, what was just barely a cup of soup and that teeny-tiny cupcake. You're really scarin' me!"

"I can't!" he fussed shrilly, wringing his hands.

The gestures that he took then weren't forced, they seemed to come naturally to him all of a sudden. "*You're* what's making it worse! C'mon, you don't want to go keeling over at work again, do you? And I'm not gonna have you bedridden, no way!"

"Look, would you just leave me alone?"

"Absolutely not." He seated himself on his companion's armrest and snatched up a plate of crackers. "Please?"

"No."

"For me, little brother?" Petting the dry, downy hair. "Pretty please. I'll feel a lot better and you will too."

"I'll get sick! There's nothing left in me to throw up and if I eat there will be. I don't want to spend another day hanging over the edge of the toilet bowl."

"You're not gonna get sick." He picked out the most inviting, crispy, golden butterfly and pressed it into his palm. His friend took interest in it at last, gazing at it as if it was some totally foreign object that had caused his hand to bleed.

Duo shook his head and selected another cracker that he meticulously balanced on his fingers so that it was a simple matter to make it appear to flutter as he moved it about the other boy (who eyed it dubiously). Eventually, it came to hover about an inch from the colorless lips, but provoked nothing. It might as well have been invisible now. But it landed inside the mouth then, tail end precariously poking out. No fighting back, no whine, no comment but at last a crunching sound and the rest of it vanished only to be chewed for what seemed like forever and eventually swallowed.

"There. That wasn't so bad. Let's try another, hm?"

He remained motionless as if trying to feel the last mouthful as it went all the way down.

But the other former pilot decided he wouldn't chide him any more and taking up another cracker, made it flit to his lips. His little brother was only taking it this way. Still, when Iria caught him in the kitchen a few minutes later.

"If you're hungry, you can always just ring for one of the servants, but I guess you're one to do things yourself though."

"No, no!" he was usually one to face whoever he was addressing but this time he remained focused on the celery he was slathering with peanut butter. "I have to do this myself. I just got Quatre to eat, and without threatening him."

"You did?"

"Yeah, but don't come in to marvel at it. Sorry."

"Oh." Puzzled, but not in the mood to pry, she watched him fetch a small bowl of soup out of the microwave, taking it and the celery on a tray and going to dash out the door, but not before snagging a napkin. Odd behavior certainly wasn't anything new to her, but something made her sneak after him as he made his way back to the salon. Through the glass she observed their remaining guest feeding her younger sibling with all the patience and the pathos of a mother alone. He glanced to the entrance once and smiled at her; an optimistic look back before unsettled roads he had vowed to take. No matter what.

*****

The last thing he remembered before he drifted off was the ariose noise of the night; the air swishing with no more than the rustle of his sheets with no one else to hear its lament, the house creaking in the lightlessness alone, the insects, whatever they might have been, in tune with in and the heartbeat of the earth.

But he left his nest and went elsewhere. Also alone.

At first it was only the vastness he felt. Not to be nowhere but to be some place you can imagine is nowhere. It was a ballroom, empty, the firmament of its ceiling coated with crystals dangling down like gossamers unfurled. Instead of the floor, he stood on a mirror in which he had first seen the vault and himself standing almost in the center, seeming only ordinary. He glanced first to his left and in it's emptiness he made out the walls- alternating panels of windows overlooking a garden in which grew every dew-drenched blossom of the day and white stucco on which the garden had been sketched back in with colored chalk. It had surely been done by children.

One child there was, a boy of no more than twelve with flaming red hair and a content, cherubic face. Even though he was wrapped all over in a pale grey cloak, he knew somehow that he was clad in simple jeans and a T-shirt but still bedecked with gold. He slept. There on the floor, so very soundly, between himself and the wall.

"You mustn't get too close, the light will burn you." came a breathy, glassy voice and he turned to the other side of the ballroom which was spilt down the middle: one side bathed in gleaming light, the other like a window to an aquarium, for there was no fall-off between them, seething with a somehow welcoming scheme of blues and only deeper blues. The side he was standing on, where his vision crept with half-supposed beckonings and the deep dusk. The mirror and the crystals still, but the windows showed a forest lush with evening blooms so fantastic he came to wonder later if he had been the one to create them. Fireflies too, mimicked even on the dark panels with phosphorescent paint.

Standing beside him was a nymphet child, her coloring undefined in the sumptuous swarth, but he could have sworn she looked almost as he would have as a young girl with his hair unbound and wearing a black sailor fuku with nothing else but for a few chains of silver stars and moons twined absently about it.

"Who are you?" he asked as she lead him deeper into the dimness. Something on her half of the room; it wasn't bare like the rest. There was a single table placed opposite to the sleeping child and she motioned for him to sit on it. She seated herself in mid air and crossed her legs.

"I'm the Night Girl, but who are you, Duo Maxwell?"

He had opened his mouth to say just those two words.

"Please. Speak or you will be silent forever."

"Shinigami."

"If you were Shinigami, you wouldn't be here. I am just the Darkness and the Night. I am not even Sleep, and given my choice I would keep Death out of my half of the world. Who are you, even in your dreams. Who are you if you aren't falling in the waking world?"

"I'm a sex toy," he sighed dejectedly, for the first time regretting his reveries.

She blinked uncertainly. "You can't be because I don't understand."

"But you're just a kid, I wouldn't expect you to understand."

"Even for what you knew as a child? I am the Darkness though and I haven't covered your heart as I do sometimes only to ease the pain of those in the Light. You are here with me, your heart is hear with me and somewhere laid bare."

"My heart is in the Darkness?" he rubbed his chest concernedly. "I always thought so, but what exactly does that mean to you?"

"This is all what you imagine. Shh... don't be scared." And she lifted her fingers into the air where appeared a very tiny man clad in a dun robe whose back gave way as he sprouted a fantastic pair of butterfly wings that slowly fluttered and sparkled even in her realm.

"So it's because I feel dark, because I imagine things the way you made him here?"

"Yes, but your thoughts are like everything you see here, inexactly and free to change or vanish whenever they choose, back into the shroud. If it is that you are troubled by something in the Light, you would know it more clearly than anything else in your world even as it shifts forms under this veil."

"Yes, you may veil us well enough, but you would rather haunt."

She turned and faced the boy who had risen now, fingering a scabbard under his cloak, his blue eyes burning more than the sun in his window.

"I am the Day Boy and I challenge you again."

Nodding to him, the girl leapt down from her invisible chair, the butterfly man flitting away through a pane of glass. As she walked a silver sword bejeweled with moonstone and sapphire materialized in her hand out of some smoke, an even match for his gold, ruby and malachite that he had now drawn and brandished so defiantly before the entrance to her side of the room.

With scarcely a nod, their duel began, each with blades longer than they were tall. They wheeled as the fought, he with fervid might as looks foolish on the young, she with a fluid and near effortless grace in the steps that spun them in and out of their realms. For one second and a clash of their metal she would be lit up like a smoldering candle in his world and he would turn to a white apparition in hers. They were... dancing. They were so gorgeous together, even if it was only her that had poetry to her steps or he that showed any malice not to mention a wish for her end. He was not less exquisite than her, he was only so driven by his quest, impeled by the battle and the miasma of hate. He could have had peace.

And he did. The Day Boy froze and fell upon his knees, his eyes closed in exhaustion already. As passing glimmer as she came to stand behind him, her sword pressed flat against his neck and she kissed his cheek.

"Duo," she said. "Death may find respite in the Darkness, but why find Death for what you desire here when you can keep it forever?"

"Do you love him?" he asked sincerely.

"The Day? I love him more than mortals will ever understand. He is a part of me even if he is of the Light and so arrogant he hates me." She took then the stunned warrior's mouth in a lingering, childish second kiss. "And I am part of him too even if he will not hear of it. Oh Duo, what would you rather have? The truth of the one that you would love or the truth of your own heart? I beg you not to make the same mistake I did so many eons ago. If you fear, you will surely be bitter before you are ever sweet. Tell me who you are."

"I am someone who wants nothing more than to be love, but I can't..."

She had come to stand before him and so whispered. "You only can't admit it to yourself. You could be cherished by every other person in the universe and you would still not be satisfied." he felt the warmth her hands had left on the hilt as she pressed the blade into his hands. "But if you fight for it, if you at least try, that will be better than nothing."

"But I have Quatre my Ni-chan and Trowa was my friend and Wufei... well I know I piss him off and everything but he's my friend too."

"Whatever they mean is not diminished by this. You have had the chance to speak and you have not wasted it. If you trust, if you hope, even through what you fear in the Light..." The Night Girl had lead him to the center as the Day Boy had lead his opponent, who wore also a grey cloak and was now bearing the companion's blade, but cast no reflection in the glass.

Duo raised his own sword. It hurt so much even with both hands and everything he had.

His opponent's hood fell back as they began their dance.

As he had both feared and craved, it was Heero.

*****

"Don't go."

The words came back to his lips with a sudden, foggy chill, and glowed white in the air as they left him. The wind sang it's dirge in his ears again where he should not have known such a word. He could hardly make it out under the pulsating noise. He was younger than twelve, but he was in the costume again, the one that made him look like a whore, and he sat in the evening snow all by himself. There were two veins of crimson running from his hands where they so clearly failed to pain him. The mist that clung to the air about him smelled of blood. He made out streaks of red through it and the piles of bodies. Hundreds of them. Cold. Some still twitched under their own failing power or that of the wind.

"Don't go."

"Quatre?"

"Daddy?"

"Don't come near me."

"Daddy! No! Daddy please!"

He kneeled over the carpet of knives on the ground between himself and the voice, That couldn't have made him scream, but he did scream. No one had spoken. He was hearing things again. The figure before him was almost nothing. a sanguinary muck spilled and shining with the juices of its rent organs.

No tears, only his cries.

All the snow and the fog burned up in one fiery breath. The stifling heat then. he could see everything he'd done shifting but clear under the boiling stillness. He clawed that the edges of the knives to try and get away. That grinding noise. He had to get away from it. Covering his ears. that just made it louder.

And louder.

It sounded like the inside of a gundam.

He saw one of the handles before him and he struck it away.

He saw the instrument panels before him and he smashed it to bits.

He went to break the frame of the viewscreen from his field of vision but it only thumped against his hand, flashed a second in the blackness of the cockpit.

His hands were clean and hanging off the joysticks. He heard the screeching rise louder in his left, wondering if it was his sickened curiosity then for anything, anything at all was better than this shapeless terror that had kept him. The arm moved across the outside cameras and the hand reached into the heap of dead bodies, seizing a hand full and squeezing.

His little toy and it was broken in four pieces, it's plastic bleeding. "I make you happy I know but what about the real one? Did it make you feel special before me?"

He was holding it then and crushed it in his palm, one pulverized blue eye running out with the red. It hit the floor and the whole mech creaked. Slipped. He had no weight, he was falling. Down, down! Faster and faster.

"Don't go."

"Who am I talking to."

He opened his eyes to the blurred screen and saw the most comforting face looking down on him and worried.

Sandrack landed with a crash and the whole thing fell over throwing him out the loosened cockpit door and into a pit of swirling cerulean. A complete haze with no bottom but he fell against a barrier of nothing and crouched there shaking. He didn't look up, but he knew.

"I didn't like it did I? I wasn't special, was I Trowa! Tell me I wasn't! I didn't mean it!" One of his fingers grazed the skinny leg and the whole boy before him shattered leaving reflections in the little bits of him- reflections of a lonely room and another view of the same moon. Staring at the shard he reached into it, or tried, it wouldn't take him! It wouldn't! He was going to fall again if.

The face again.

"Mmm. You came back." With half a giggle though his gasps he reached up and took the figure in his arms, nearly forcing their lips together in a long, unforgiving and wet kiss.

Duo gagged and shouted into his little brother's fully bared mouth before wrenching himself away at last. "Quatre! Wake up!"

The little blond gasped and panted heavily a moment, repentance flooding in against his fear as he brushed the saliva away from his companion's cheek. "Wh-wh-what are you doing?"

"Quatre, never mind!"

"Big brother, I'm scared! What's going on? Where did Daddy go? And Trowa! Who stopped me from..."

"You were dreaming! You're not alright but that's over! I swear but you have to listen to me."

"Why do you always have to hold onto me like that when you yell!"

The ex-Deathscythe pilot took the wrist he had been grasping and held it to his lips, pressing the fingers to his cheeks. The small boy under him shook his head, chasing the phantoms and they fled for the comfort of the warm body next to his own drove them. Dread still, speaking dread. "Please."

"You didn't hurt me, Duo. Don't look like that.

"No! I did! I was wrong I was so wrong. You can't let it go. Not like this. Quatre you have to believe me even though I lied."

"Duo I will I."

"Because I was in love with Heero once, but he's gone now."

"What!" This was a snowstorm in the middle of Duo's June and it struck him so that he was wider awake despite the reading on the clock of three AM. Everything else was gone, just the confession. Gently then, "You were?"

"Umhm. You're the only person that knows. Damnit! The whole world could find out! I don't care, he'll never hear!"

"Do you think that something. happened to him?"

"He's gone! He's just gone!" Helpless, he smacked his fists against the mattress but shot him and apologetic glance then. "I'd made myself forget. I wanted to so much, I didn't have anyone but then I had you, and I did forget, I really did. But it all just came back up after. after *I* hurt you because I was trying." his voice gave out and he began to half mumble, half stutter. "I tried to tell him, but it always came out as a joke. It seems like now. well, I don't know what it seems like but her's gone, he's really gone! Just off into nothing like if he'd died with that damn gundam of his! That's why I tried to bring you Trowa. Now, I know he left you but if you love him half as much as I love Heero and that's a stupid question! Of course you do! Don't let him go like this! You have to make him talk. It's crazy! It's just so fucking crazy but."

"Big brother!" One small hand came up and petted his cheek accompanied by a fragment of an amused smile. "You never sounded crazy to me. Not ever."

"I think that that's." he gagged a bit apparently upset with the scene he had made. The Night Girl though would not come before innocent among them. She had given him the message in the most pitiless way and he had handed it over where it turned back to a proper girlish beauty on the lips of this small boy she had hid now and again since the war began, and failed because he was so bright she burned her fingers, even in this. ".one of the sweetest things anyone ever said to me."

"But I, I was just going to ask this morning, if it was okay if I left. I want to. Is it then? Even if I won't be here with you and I want to go alone?"

"You should go alone."

"But I won't really be by myself. I swear, sometimes it's almost like you're my mommy's too."

*****

"The forecast for this afternoon is partly cloudy with a 50% chance of thunderstorms starting in the late evening. Tomorrow though, you'd better get out your sunscreen. We're headed for another scorcher with highs in the mid to low 90's and a humidity of around 75%."

"Days like this one ahead, it's no wonder this place is so crowded, is it, little bro?" He stopped as soon as he realized the reason he wasn't getting an answer was because the little blond had left his side someways back and was standing with his tiny black suitcase clasped in front of him, watching the screen with the departure times. Iria had already gone back through the myriad of people for him, backing through the passing people after him as if he couldn't have heard her. Maybe he couldn't. Outside wasn't that loud, but his thoughts must have been playing up a symphony of questions. While he waited for them to catch up, he craned his head back and watched the ships take off through the skylight, reverse shooting stars, or were they? His own childish side asserted a quick musing though, /Wow! You'd almost never think that we could have learned to do that!/

The gentlelady's voice cut short his own. "Quatre, are you sure?"

He shook his head, trying to still her worries. "I have to. Please, you mustn't worry."

"Oi, Ni-chan!"

"Yes Duo?" creeping up so they were in a line walking.

"It's still cool if I stay at your place, right?"

"Of course! It's your home now, isn't it?"

"Well."

"Say it is, for me."

Petting the creamy-yellow head, "It's my home."

Yet winking at his sister, "You must promise me that you won't be alone the whole time though."

"Okay, not all the time."

"Good enough."

They had come as far as they could go with him.

Iria: /This is just like the first time you left and I though I might. no! My little baby brother who keeps leaving and coming back in pain. This time I know it's just for yourself, but maybe that could do you more harm than all the wars in the world./ "You have a safe trip."

And Duo: /If inside, you're thinking that it was too modest for me, not to ask you for a minute and confession, don't worry about it. It should be the least of your cares. I have trouble remembering what it feels like to *need* to speak anyway. I'm usually just running at the mouth but this time. Nah! Just say what you want, Maxwell./ "You come back in one piece."

"Oh don't worry! I will."

They both went to put their arms around him as he tried so hard to smile, but ended up bumping heads. After a few seconds of negotiations, she went first. "Goodbye," Two proper sisterly kisses. "I love you and I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you to. Big brother?"

Probably no one involved was prepared for how he clasped the other boy too him, as if it was all he could do to keep him safe, to comfort him as he shyly petted his back. "Now, you be good, and don't eat all your snacks right away, don't flirt with anyone suspicious, or throw coins at people that don't have boxes and don't let anyone tell you you don't know what your doing and always remember that you don't have to tip waiters and porters in the L3 cluster but it really makes their day 'cause they're dirt poor most of 'em and you shouldn't eat your butterfly crackers in bed because you'll get all crummy and you won't be able to sleep and if you pet any other cats or dogs Ponzu will chew you hand off when you get back."

He silenced him with a kiss. "You behave yourself too."

"Sayonara, Ni-chan."

"Bye-bye, big brother."

But he just couldn't let go.

"In other news today, a number of musicians from the L3 philharmonic were laid off for persistent drug use. The sponsors have thus far refused to comment but *BEEP* Flight 417 to colony 56GH in the L3 cluster now boarding. Flight 417 to colony 56GH."

"Sorry, gotta run," But he didn't. He just rather wandered off and vanished into the crowd even as he waved.

/So that's it. There he goes, there's nothing else to it./ "Damn, I suck at goodbyes."

*****

So there was no one to listen to him but the sea that mumbled on and on in it's secret language that few could understand and even fewer had learned to render in a common form of speech. For once he felt no compulsion to interrupt and instead only wiggled his toes, watching them flex for a moment before slumping backwards on the sand. The sun laid on him like a sheet of hot canary yellow chiffon, the crags about him were tumbled and weedy as they had perhaps always been. The latest wave roared and a little of it's spray came down on him.

/I probably won't hear from my Ni-chan until tonight. I hate waiting./

He thought he felt something starting to crawl up his leg and shook it off even though it turned out to be his imagination after all.

/This is not how I pictured my life after the war./

/Well then, what did you want?/

/It's not about what I wanted, it's about how I though things would be./

/You're not happy?/

/I just feel like an incredible jerk./

He sighed and stole one more look at the cloudless sky, not particularly caring if he roasted out there in the sun.

/Sometimes I feel like the closer I get to people, the more I push them away. Death is just the epidemy of that. Quatre's my brother now, but he may never come back. There's always that chance. Heero. for awhile it was. well, I'll never know what I had with you or exactly what it was I felt in the first place. I can only guess. No one can find you when you won't be found. No one. Heero. You don't belong to anyone, not even to yourself./

But he kicked that out of his mind and though only of the rolling of the foam at his feet. The light pounded down on him, but he could have sworn he was instead swallowed up by an ocean of blue tears, completely enveloped in a drifting and indirect place.

This was the dream he hadn't remembered before.

He was sitting on a window ledge. Everything around him was half before the dawn and half after the day. No, he wasn't inside as would have been usually expected, he was outside at the window gazing into the freakish indigo and deep cyan of the glass. A puddle- he tapped on it and it rippled like the surface of a lake, just for him. His anticipation was glass too, fluid but still, remaining, only slightly shifting. For the first time, they were meeting again. He knew it was the first time because he was dressed exactly the same, could still feel the flair in his hand until he tossed it away. This time, he wasn't going to screw up and shoot the wrong person.

Past the wobbly pane he soon beheld a midnight stained figure, alone at a desk, pounding out something on a laptop. Even in strict profile against the screen, he was extraordinary.

/Oh my lovely, my prettiest, sometimes the way you wouldn't even look through me made me sure you were autistic; one of the children in a bell jar./ He rapt again upon the window, it pulsed the touch, the barren, wooden room behind it fluxing in and out of focus, not that he ever took his eyes from the object of his desire. Heero rose at last, a perfectly pre-programmed piece of combat equipment, turning over his shoulder with that glare that almost seemed to say he didn't want to know what was going on. Yet he came to the panel of blue glass and he just stood there a minute without the slightest change in his expression, but somehow, something in him must have must have fired off an unused switch because he raised one of his fists and tapped three times so lightly there was only the slightest clink against the frame. And then he stared.

/Come to me, my lovely, leave your empty house./ Any other way and he would have laid his palm to the window, hoping for a mimic but this was his way and no one else's so his fingers slipped past the cobalt barrier and gently laid a firm hold on the still raised wrist, tugging it towards him Some noncommittal resistance, a tug just strong enough to keep him still. He responded with one fluid yank that freed him from the splintered floor and took him through the puddle that had been the window, sliding easily away from him as his colors washed back in some ways, back to their sparse, technical beauty except for the eyes which were, as always, unmoved.

Now they were together, floating in some light, breathable water that would hold them however he wished but let them move as easily as air, letting him feel as if he *was* on air, even though he wasn't. Or was it their strange not-quite-union that brought that not-quite sensation as they dangled side by side like two coats, unrelated but haphazardly placed together in a cloak room?

They were in Duo's world after all.

It would have been futile for him to even think of words for it, what it was like, even if it was the place where all his years of gothic daydreams and unbidden boyish images wound together with the war between Shinigami and the people he had become for playtime. Let it be said of it though two things.

First, that it was indeed dark. Darker beyond words, but as they washed so slowly down they were not blind. Though the world itself was blacker than the blackest reaches of space there were things within it that glowed with a pale blue light softer and more welcoming than the sun or the moon or any union between them in stories of old, so light came to be as the first shreds of dawn falling on a city like New York beneath the waves if it would ever fall or anyone imagined it so as he had once.

Second, that for this special occasion, and only for this, they two were
alone on the faintly glittering street that they found at last.

Having alighted at last on the concrete he took the arm of his companion and lead him down the road, watching more how his eyes remained fixed ever ahead forsaking what wonders stood or flew or sang away from the avenue. Oh, how he tried with every fluttering gesture to get him to move, to get him to feel something besides the orders in himself, dancing with him all the way up to the steps and the door he lead him inside.

Maybe, if there would have been a day in his world, the things in the room where he took Dr. J's perfect toy would have been peach but in the slight periwinkle light, everything was a peculiar, dingy but soothing blue, sad as a glass harmonica playing out imaginary notes. A color of winter pretending to be spring that would have moved even a creature without eyes or sense of hue to the emotion of a fading romance against the scent of melting ice and broken promises that friendship alone would not amend.

He and the other boy were that blue now too. He and that other boy that he could see so clearly as if he was standing before him again. /If only you knew, My Lovely. we were never really friends, I guess. And I think it's my fault, for not being whatever it was you needed but it's yours too. You could never admit you needed anything in the first place./

/All I ever felt for you was lust, but it was a lust tinged with compassion./

Even if it would have caused a protest, he put his arms around the statue. In the dream he was like Quatre: he could feel every bruise on the body he embraced, every scrape, every broken bone, every place he'd ever bled. The skin was just as warm as a human's and he felt it, still with barely a stir but the pulse, under his fingers as he reached under that damnable tank top and started pulling it off.

/"It doesn't matter."/

The fabric he was allowed to remove. He wasn't being fought, away by someone of such inhuman feats-they'd always amazed him, made him what to scream out loud because. They were always like the first: appalling, meaningless, so damn like him in all of this. Then wondered why he'd been allowed this gesture at all, but the faint list to the other boy's head marked some kind of almost bereft quandary (the first sign of feeling he had made). He found himself shortly gasping in the softest shock of pleasure.

With the littlest smirk, Heero unfolded from his back a small pair of grey angel wings that he stretched a bit as soon as they had fully appeared on his back.

/".If this all shatters."/

He felt his own smile speak for him then, as he again put his arms around his companion, pensive against his neglect of responding. He was going to hold him, to have himself against that bare skin without threat, without pain, without any interruptions even if the other was a stoic seraph and he himself a usually rowdy specter of the Dark.

/".Nothing lasts forever."/

Maybe?

This wasn't lust? But who knew? He could feel a slight breath from the Wing pilot's mouth, and it was shaking, tickling the hairs on his neck. How prefect, how precious. What grim little lips. But without hesitation, he brought his own to them.

/".But I'm praying."/

And he kissed him again and again. Little sinless touches that the other boy was answering with nudges of his soft flesh next to him and.

/".That we're staying."/

tears? They were his own because they were salty and human. Angel Heero just looked at him pitifully and couldn't understand. He was so cute like that.

/".Together."/

/That's the last line, "Together" but we're not so. so./

/Go away My Lovely! Go away and find what you want./

But even as he opened his eyes and saw instead the day he had temporarily forgotten but not missed, Lovely was still there under the hot sun incapable of acceptance because he was only a memory of someone. Not that the real him could have done any better.

"Duo?"

He sat up quickly as if he had been caught napping in class. Jovial as was expected of him: "Hey Iria! What's up?"

"Well, Quatre didn't want you to be by yourself the whole time."

"Yeah. I did promise him that, didn't I?"

"You sure did!" With a heavy sigh she seated herself on the sand beside him, a bit awkwardly. She didn't look at all used to what she was doing and slipped a little, smiling abashedly afterwards. "Before I left, Quatre said to me."

"No, no! Lemme guess."

"Well, considering what he told me," she chuckled, "I'm afraid to let you try. You might say the wrong thing."

The ex-Deathscythe pilot proceeded to do something he hadn't done in ages: his eyes became unnaturally large and he blushed, just the littlest bit.

"He said you wanted him to go because you'd lost someone you loved."

Sigh. "Ain't it the truth. Try a few someones. Well, at least it wasn't a one of my really *juicy* secrets. Most people know that."

"Juicy secrets? Come now, Duo! I was kidding." He jumped suddenly but almost shrank towards her in the end. He'd always thought she looked like she was good at hugging, how true. "Now, I realize I don't know you that well but you're already more a part of this family than Janice or any of the bitter ones will ever be."

/I'm acting so tame! I'm scaring myself! Oh well./

"So why don't you come inside with me and I'll tell you all the dirt on your other twenty-seven sisters?"

"Sure, but you don't have to call me 'little brother' or if it comes up 'the OTHER little brother'," He batted his eyelashes at her. "You can always call me 'little sister'!"

She slapped his back a bit. "Oh! The cross-dressing's adorable!"

Shaking his head, "I was serious! I'm a he-she! I though that was what he told you." Just as he'd suspected, she took his rather roughly and held him away for a second so she could look into his eyes and gauge weather or not he was telling the truth. They of course proclaimed a strangely smug "Would I lie to you?". "So?" she admonished him playfully at last, "I bet I can top that."

"Thanks, Iria." He got to his feet and offered her a hand up before quite glomping her as they started up the stairs. "Now, where were you planing to start with this dirt thing?"

[Song Quoted: Depeche Mode- "It Doesn't Matter", from the Some Great
Reward album.]

*****

/It's been this way since we started: neither of us wanting to fight the other, neither wanting to hurt. oh Trowa. Couldn't you see it in my eyes that first time we met? You may not know what true peace is, and I may not know either, but from that split-second we had to take impressions of each other, didn't you see the shy longing in me? I thought I had dreamed you into life for sure. Then, sweet dream of mine, time is so precious and I can't help but feel its running out. Give me one more moment before I wake, I beg you./

/This is my last chance, isn't it?"/

"Here you are, sir. That'll be."

He shoved the wad of bills into the cab driver's hand, offering a removed "Thank you. Keep the change." Before leaping out, almost forgetting his suitcase. The door slammed behind him so loudly he winced, but he wouldn't even stop to see; he knew it was the right circus, he simply knew and sprinting over the grass it was all too familiar. The dreadful hope, the choking hands of an incognizance that couldn't be helped, the suppositions. This time, a curly, red head. Close enough. "Catherine! Catherine!"

She jerked sharply, almost dropping the two buckets she was carrying. "Quatre!"

He ran straight up in front of her and bowed, refusing to rise. "I know I'm intruding, but where is he, please?"

"You came all that way?" She sounded as if she was still trying to sort it out.

"Yes. I have to see him! I just have to."

Calmly then: "He's around the back of the far trailer." But taking a hold of him as he went to flee: "Could you smile for him?"

"Of course," and he put on the most despairing little smile. Every part of him was soar. He couldn't stand it. Not another minute, the waiting, the endless waiting as it seemed. If it didn't consume him soon. every step he took seemed to last a thousand years, every breath a thousand winters. He was so cold, so glutted with the despondent anticipation.

There he was- sitting on a crate, nothing else, staring as if he didn't know where he was. But it seemed he might have recognized those light yet suddenly clumsy footsteps anywhere, and the pleading cry surely so.

"Trowa!" His trembling hands dropped his bag.

The former Heavyarms pilot stood then, and spoke with a voice that showed no thoughts through, was more machinelike than the Gundam that had once been his. "Little one, I wish you hadn't come."

"But I had to! I had to! Please, I know you didn't want me to but Trowa. I'm so sorry. What I said was so heartless. I.I didn't mean to!"

"Yes you did."

He tried to open his mouth to speak but all that came out was a faint squeal, echo of the little stab he felt in his chest. That was it. The last of the calm adult persona he had adopted for the trip was taken away and he began to sob. "It just came out so wrong."

"Drop it. It has nothing to do with this."

He had to make himself look up, to try an guess what was moving his tongue but there seemed to be nothing at all. "What are you saying?"

"I left so this wouldn't happen."

"Would you just tell me why then? That's all if this is where you want to leave it, but please, please I wish you'd hear me just this once and that you'd believe me. There are things I should regret more, things I *did* regret more, but not after this. What was it then? I was so sure that we. that we had some kind of understanding, even if just a little one. If it's not true then I can learn, I can try."

"You just shouldn't be here."

"But why? Why can't you answer me? I don't understand!"

"I can not bear to live long in your world, it is too bright for me and you do not deserve my world."

"What does that have to do with anything!? It sounds like you're trying to speak in riddles to me and I'm already so confused. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

"Stop apologizing."

"Then what is it that you're telling me matters? Is this what's important to you, the circus? Why do we have to worry about that now? We haven't even worked out anything between US. Don't you think we could deal with that later? We could find a way, even if I had to. I had to. you've got me so turned around I can't even think of anything! Why won't you just give me a straight answer? What *does* matter to you?" For a long stretch of otherwise nothing, he could do no more than cry. Ages it would have seemed but to him, it was only the same second of bitter truths played over and over, that made no sense and were wracking him alone. Alone. The other boy, he wouldn't even move.

"That you're happy."

"You couldn't even say goodbye to me!"

"You should have known it wouldn't work."

"You won't tell me why."

"Be strong now."

"Stop it! Why do you have to fucking do this too me! I don't understand!"

"We can't. You have to leave it."

"But you won't even tell me why I should and I'm begging you!" The little blond cast himself upon his knees, watching the other boy track him in disapproval. He didn't know what else to do, but he sued, he entreated with everything he had left. "Trowa I love you. I'll be anything you want but it all that is, is for me to disappear, I'll do it. Anything! I'll do anything at all! It's been years we've known each other now and I'm still so confused and I'm such a bastard for not being able to accept this. I know you would rather not talk but I keep mixing myself up inside and you're the only one. I can't make sense out of this on my own. I can't live like this. I don't even know what I'm trying to ask but why? Please."

"What do you want?"

Blotting the water out of his eyes with his fists he said it in a low and shaking sigh. "I want you to come back with me so we can be together and happy like we were before. So I can love you and you can love me. We were happy, weren't we?"

"But I can't come back. Whatever else I said. I have one question: if you have no answer, you'll promise me you'll go regardless of weather or not you can understand. Its better you don't."

Quatre's eyes grew wide and expectant and he hugged himself to try and stop the shivering.

"Why do you love me?"

It was one query in answer to another. /So, I guess I'd lost you from the start. you're the one that needs the answers, not even me though. I'm no answer then./ One last and utterly defeated sob that rang his sigh. "I just do." And he made himself get to his feet that almost seemed intangible they were so weak. It had sunk in before. This was just the confirmation. Wiping a few droplets off his cheek /This was all I could have expected, enough to have traveled the stars to here. This would never be over and deep down I knew it./

"Goodbye, Quatre."

"Goodbye, Trowa," he turned over his shoulder and forced another look of his false joy, a flower under frost, perfectly suited to the situation. Picking up his bags he made up his mind not to look. No. Not ever again.

And he was the one that ran away at last. Out into the streets as fast as he could, down the sidewalk he swore was empty even as in the rush he must have tripped over ten people all of whom glanced over their shoulders then wondering, perhaps hoping, that he would be alright. He couldn't have told them.

/I was all by myself when I was with you anyway./

/I'll get better./

/But where am I going?/

All of a sudden it hit him: he had never booked a hotel. He was going absolutely nowhere and there was nothing else to it. So? He couldn't bear the thought of going to a suite only to cast himself into the dark and torpid oblivion of tears and perhaps an inner refusal to ever get up again. For one moment he stood under the sentinel of a traffic light, waiting for the signal to change? I wouldn't matter if it did, he'd still be going nowhere if he moved. All he did was try to collect what little of himself he had left though. He ended up walking with the others, walking alongside people in the streets as if he knew neither them nor the concrete. He felt halfway that he had vanished, halfway that he was glowing. Where was he going and how far was it? Still and maybe always: nowhere. The voice of his thoughts spoke naught, or was so incoherent not a word could be made to coalesce from it. His feet were moving but.

/I'm in a park. I always end up places like this./

/Since when?/

/Another thing I don't know. Must be instinct./

/But it's not real big./

/It's just a playground./

Swings squeaked close by and finally looking away from the ground he saw a little girl, no more than five, sitting all by herself on the set, kicking her sneakers back and forth trying to gain some momentum. She too, wasn't going anywhere.

"Hi there," he called softly even if he had no idea who the girl was. /I think I'll loose my mind if I don't talk to somebodyif I haven't already. Oh why a little girl but what else am I to do?/

She raised he hand and flopped it back and forth at him cheerfully.

"How are you today?"

"Well, I'm real good I think. I'm waiting for my mommy to come back . She's been gone a long time but I have to stay here until she gets back an' I'm sooooo bored. The swings won't work."

"I'm by myself too. Can I push you?"

"Oh yes! Oh please! Oh thank you!"

He stood behind her and pulled the chains back, releasing them for a little start. Soon he had her flying in a neat little arc; exciting to one so tiny but also nice and safe so she wouldn't go soaring away. It was almost restful to be there, listening to the metal squawk as it flailed one way and then the other, tapping her back so lightly with the perfect rhythm of it. Perfect because it was so utterly non-musical and if he had heard even a snippet of a tune now...

"Y'know, my mommy says I'm not s'posdta talk ta strangers 'cause they're mean and nasty, but you don't look so mean and nasty."

"Why thank you," just for that, he gave her an extra little shove.

"And ya look kinda like I've seen you before."

He blushed a bit and missed her once or twice.

"Are you on Big Blue Ducky's Smile Hour?"

"No, I'm afraid not."

"Oh." she sounded just a little disappointed.

"Cynthia! Time to go, sweety!"

"Rats! I gotta go. Bye-bye!"

He waved to her until she was strapped into her seat in the little blue car and merrily licking away at the ice cream she'd been given, but sure to shout farewell to him one more time. As soon as she was out of sight, he caught her swing and sat down on it himself. His feet dragging on the dust underneath of course, so he could do little more than sway himself a bit as he sat and counted the headlights going down the road.

He, as anyone else, would have been just fine without any other concern to disturb him in the world, but he was Quatre and he was by himself again. He could have kicked his own shin. A day like this and the heart he was so sure had been torn out and ground into the pavement was starting to ache again.

/Not in public! I don't want to make a scene!/

/But I'm alone so even though there's no one./

/I'll just let it come and stay still. I should be alright then./

/Sorta./

So he set his teeth and closed his eyes.

But at the first surge of the freezing heat it wasn't the sheer agony of it that made him flinch but the indisputable image that came to him, clearer than crystal, clearer than a child's eyes.

He saw Trowa, little Trowa seeming frail and light in the company of mercenaries. He was standing before them with a man and the ghosts, the impressions of several others. The real one was carelessly spinning a flute as he slid his arm around the bare shoulders. he was naked! Naked in the snow amidst the thugs. The one with the flute, he took him and kissed him so hard it looked like he was trying to bite out his tongue. No attempt to break free. His only defense was his closed eyes and it was also only that the kiss was to distract him from the finger that inched down his back and slid inside him before the raucous hoots of the others.

It couldn't have been two seconds. /He couldn't. no, I.It can't be that you. you would. not just for that!/ "No." he moaned almost defiantly.

"Yes, little one."

His half-clouded vision still made out the figure that had come before him and was now casting a dark silhouette against the brightness of the town.

"T-T-Trowa!" the sobs welled up in him again.

"I knew you would feel it and I couldn't leave you out here like that. I try not to be that cruel anymore."

"But you."

"That was Nanashi you saw. I'm Trowa Barton, but I used to be Nanashi." He added almost nonchalantly but with a hint of some kind of half-atonement for the huge, unsullied eyes fixed upon him, "Nanashi was a whore."

The little blond swallowed the gunk in his mouth and tried to speak steadily, but the gloomy apparition of the truth was hanging over him and trying to take form. "Is that what's been tormenting you?"

"It's because I'm not guilty."

"But you must be or you wouldn't feel this way."

"What way? I don't feel anything about it."

Nothing had changed in the other voice but with ever so soft a chide, "You're lying."

"Never mind it." He bent and leaned over with his hands on the chains to the swing, his companion once again looking up at him with a searching naiveté as a few more little droplets ran out of his eyes and spattered on the dirt below.

"How come. but I. I must remind you then."

"Hush, little one," he laid his fingers to the petal soft lips then turned as if to leave but, "Now go find someone who can make you happy. I can't. I'm not good enough for you." As a sentry he stood, tall and straight and utterly removed from everything but his task at will.

That was until he felt the other dejected, skinny pair or arms clinging about his waist and the ardent little body that smacked up against him. "Trowa, I don't care. It doesn't mean a thing to me. How could you think I would turn you away because. because of that. I love you and the reason that I couldn't answer you before is. is because I know sometimes love is blind, but it's not now. I love everything about you, even if you puzzle me sometimes. And if you love me too, nothing else matters anymore. Do you love me, Trowa? Because that's what I feel when you touch me and when you look away from me sometimes, like you're shy. You don't have to say anything at all I."

The overwhelming meekness in his voice would have shocked him into tears had they not been there already. "I do love you, little one. I love you more than anything else in the world." He didn't fight now either as the other boy turned him around in his arms so he could look into those ivy green eyes of his, broken down to the glossy ruins behind.

"Its alright if you're crying too. It really is. I don't expect you to be tough all the time. Didn't you say the same thing to me once? And I'll never blame you for anything."

"You shouldn't have to love a dirty slut like me. I'll always be like this. There's nothing in me to change."

"Who said anything about changing? We're just learning, aren't we?"

"I think so."

"It's been hard for us. Everything went wrong from the start."

"You're talking like we've been boyfriends the whole time. And we're not even now. I just couldn't."

/I had guessed it was too soon for him. At least we can part friends, we can know what its like to work things out. Bittersweet is sometimes delicious./

".I couldn't do this unless you were serious, not a playing a game like a normal kid."

"Trowa."

"Because I've got half a mind to keep you."

The hyperventilating had almost set in by then and his soaking eyes were pleading, madly bewildered because he. he could see something beside his own reflection in those green depths.

"There's no need to work anything out now. Did I scare you?"

This time, he was the one who got no answer. Well, no verbal answer, just the slim, silky lips touching his own.

"This won't do."

Blink. Blink.

"I should kiss you in private where we won't be disturbed. We need some quiet time together anyway. Would you come back with me to the circus? I've got my own trailer now and there's some coffee I think."

"I just want you."

"Simple enough." Leading his lover back to the car though he seemed a bit concerned, but it was not until they had both climbed in that he reached over and laid his hand on the pale brow, holding the bangs away for a better look at his face before reaching into his pocket. "Here, put your worries aside, I'll dry your eyes."

"I'm not worried! Those are happy tears now."

"Then let me have them for safe keeping." With a queer exuberance he kissed away each droplet before starting up the engine and driving them back. It couldn't have been more than a block, but hadn't he wandered further than that? "You must have walked in a circle. See? We are connected somehow. It was meant to be. Maybe. In an odd way."

"I think so too."

Trowa really didn't have to hold his finger to his lips as he opened up the door with nothing but the clacking of the latch. With a secretive but almost giggly quiet they slipped around the trailer and ducked inside.

Quatre couldn't believe how warm and cozy it felt. Perhaps, it might have not been that way at all, that it was all just inside him. Not that this was of any concern at the moment. He toed off his shoes and pattered over to the couch which was covered with a sheet of burgundy velvet and so old and squishy it seemed to suck him in. Across from it, over a very narrow space was a TV panel, next to it a tiny stove and some cupboards which were adjacent to the door. The walls were covered with a strangely homey yellow and brown patterned wallpaper and the lights were incandescent- they all went on with just one switch even the ones behind the white curtain that he supposed obscured the bedroom and that really made his heart twitch when he realized his companion hadn't joined him, but was busily locking up the door.

"Now no one will bother us. They know better than to knock when I've used all the bolts."

He couldn't really say anything to that, he could hardly even move with this new kind of waiting incredulity.

No need. The other boy seated himself, but on the far end of the couch, taking a second to adjust his conspicuous bangs. He was just about to huff about it when he leaned over and put his head against his bony shoulder, nuzzling it as if it was the softest pillow in the world.

The little blond's fingers went cold suddenly and he folded them in a somewhat aberrant manner to try and amend that. The rapture of being here at last, the floating yet sinky sensation between the sofa and the company he had missed for so long. Where were they going? Had they really come from that awful ordeal of just a few minutes ago into this? The waiting was so fresh, such a different sort he'd never expected. He had no idea where to take it.

This tranquil moment under the warm beige of the lamps instead of the sun, if he pinched it, would it go away?

"Luve?" he stammered at last.

"Yes, little one?"

"Are you sure you're comfy? I mean, I'm so skinny."

"But very forgiving." He wrapped his arms about and held onto him loosely, but as much of him as he could.

The other former pilot wiggled his hands out of the nice little tangle and rubbed just the back of his neck at first then ran one into the wiry brown hair, smoothing it out, and slid the other under his chin, lifting it just a bit. /I'd like to kiss you on the forehead, but I couldn't get to it if I tried. This is really unusual though, you don't seem to like people touching your hair. That's just one of the little things I know about you, I guess./

/But who are you? .you can't be!/

/You're mine, aren't you?/

He scrunched down a little lower in the embrace so they were now half slung off the couch and face to face, perfectly entwined. Scooting the other's hair to one side he gently licked his nose at first, like a puppy, before kissing him with a mild but palled affection.

Whispered softly as an unexpected breeze. "You have such yummy lips," He returned that kiss ever so lightly. "And you skin is sweet, not salty," More kisses. Gentle nips along his jaw line.

Quatre's heart trembled and he jerked a bit, murmuring in surprise. "Trowa." It was simple contact, but the twinge it started in his stomach, the sudden taught feeling in his thighs. /I wonder if he'd mind if I tried anything else? He must know he's driving me mad! I want some, anything./ But he didn't need to consider. He laid his lips against his once again and parted them the slightest bit, taking his tongue against the smooth and hungrily slick surface of the other boy's, drawing a faint jolt. Slipping away, he couldn't help but pout in perplexsation. /But if you're mine aren't I allowed to taste you? Just a little?/

Trowa was almost menacingly intent but for the faint smile playing on him. His hand washed down the side of his lover, made him shiver a little, finally taking him by the knee and pushing him into a recline, as prone as he could be, that wonder-eyed child slumped in the corner of his couch with one leg resting against the back, the other tentatively wrapped around himself. The rise and fall of his stomach as he breathed was unsettlingly uneven. "Curious, little one?"

"Umhm!" He nodded straining upwards from his repose catching his mouth again and this time letting his tongue slid all the way in.

It was the other boy that murmured this time, the warm, milky feel of his intrusion- he was all but sucking at his lips, twining them together and apart in no clear pattern, only trying to sample him as deeply as he could. There was no forcing between them, the boy he kissed was tilting his head back, sobbing into him for more, rubbing their faces together in spite of the hair. /You almost feel chilly, you must be so nervous. Shh, dearest./ He settled on top, letting the wetness between them run down over his chin, sweeter like wine. Cuddled together on the sofa, they tried to claim as much of each other's mouths as they could and for so long.

/This is almost like my first *real* kiss./ Trowa thought.

/This is better than all the coffee ice cream in the world!/ Quatre thought and found shortly that laughing into someone's mouth as they are trying to savor yours yields more wondrous delights than he had ever wished for in that one silly, fleeting thought.

*****

/They have told me all my life that I have the ability to sense darkn thoughts, but all I sense in this place is horniness!/

/I can't remember if that's a good omen or not./

Just then, Wufei's computer made a sound that was remarkably akin to a stalling motorcycle (and he knew plenty about that). What he did not know what the meaning of the strange, archaic numbers that popped up on his dozen or so error messages.

/Doubtlessly a bad omen./

So he cut the power then switched it back on. It complained loudly, almost as if it was in fact a squirrel being run over by a 4X4, kicked out his zip disk and hurled it across the cubical.

Configuration error detected.

"Great," So he set about adjusting the parameters regarding what was hooked up to what else and tried it again.

Configuration errors detected.

Now, Chang was not one to admit weakness to anyone, except maybe the possible exception of Sally Po bearing coconut cake, so, of course, it never crossed his mind that he could yell across the hall for help or call down to tech support, not that they would have gotten back to him, but on the off chance it could have been worth a shot. No, he quite determined to figure the mess out alone and sat still as stone in his chair, meditatively focused on the blue screen in front of him.

But in the otherwise lull in his mind there came to him the other noises of the office: 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, but without the inhumanly high-pitched yodeling that would have indicated someone in the next aisle was running the 200th anniversary edition of the hamster dance. Yet, where there were no hamsters there came to him a strain of the radio playing from an inderterminant direction. Any other song and he would have known in a heartbeat where it was coming from. This tune though was so familiar to him that it called up memories before it called up its own name.

My little China girl
You shouldn't mess with me
I'll ruin everything you are

The computer screen vanished.

In it's stead the lithe, extrinsic Asian child he knew so well, dressed in red and holding the blossom of a black lotus even where there were no such things. Her long, gleaming hair was unbound and lay like the shadow of a raven behind her. Nothing in his world could stir it. Nothing. Here she was still utterly unsullied, here she was more than the person he had once learned to love. It wasn't quite a goddess frame or anything half so mystical. It was an incorrupted as the memory of the song; not as it plays over with the words, but as every sensation, every sound, every scent, every feeling on his skin, the way the words sought to play upon his mind with their slightest connotations.

"You came back early!" she purred, jovial. "You never came back early when we were together." It was just one of her typical, adolescent taunts.

"I came to bed early sometimes. Don't argue with that."

"I wou~ouldn't. Which one will it be today?"

"The tea room, but alone."

The emptiness around her began to fade into the red lacquer finish and tatami of that same tea room he always came back to. Odd little fetish of his oolong. He could still remember the night he'd dumped boxes of it into a steaming tub and let her soak in it until the clean, earthy scent had woven itself into the silk of her skin and the taste mingled with her own natural flavor. But that was so long ago it seemed. He was older. She was not. If he could have had her back now, she would have been like a daughter to him. He would have done anything in that case- absolutely anything -to keep her from harm. There was no way. He had long ago resigned himself to that and she was now the mistress of his fantasies who brought him whatever delicacy he wanted as long as it only started out with her.

His hand brushed over hers and found it cold. Cold as gundam in the snow. She had that aspect to her as well.

In the mean time, they were two alone in the cherry lacquer tea room.

"Sit down now," she told him in that silly motherly voice she used to try and imitate.

As always, he obeyed.

Seeing he was placed just as she wished, she knelt for a moment as well, straightening the single tiger lily in the delft bud vase. Then off again, her small, round bottom nudging against the fabric of her dress as she walked.

He sat, he watched.

Into the kitchen and he could just imagine her there, preparing everything with the efficiency of a machine but the fatuous yet sometimes sumptuous nuances of a person, like the humming or the way she tilted herself with the kettle. Steam poured over her cold cheeks and turned to condensation that rolled down so evenly. She was smooth as metal. Impatience almost had him as he waited for the return. How she strolled back in, the way the hot liquid sloshed with that walk as she carried it in on a black tray balanced on those long nails. Red nails.

"Here's your tea, Wufei," Quatre beamed as he set the teacup and saucer down before his guest and joined him. The sea-blue eyes were all over him, trying to judge. whatever it was he always seemed to be after. He let himself feel it awhile, no harm in that, as he lifted the cup and sipped a bit, letting the contents roll down his throat only after he had savored it's aromatic but almost honeyed, but not that overtly sweet, taste. Speaking of overt and probably tantalizing. ooh, that was a bold statement even if it was more than true. The fine specimen of sensual simplicity did not belong to him, but Trowa and he had suspected that from the start. So it was respect for the two boys and what chances they had together that had stayed him. "Do you like it?"

"Yes," Dryly, but this would be the perfect time. "You know a lot about tea?"

"Well, more about coffee actually," the sunny smile was not lost as he began to recount ever variety that he was familiar with. A smile like the tea itself- warm and luscious on it's own without additions. Only women were supposed to be so well-versed in the nature of the drink and yet this boy knew so much, was so refined in the niceties of the art. So feminine and yet, because he WAS a boy, all that much more quietly astounding and seductive. The way he walked, the way he spoke and sometimes the way he fought, they were all so fabulously girlish.

Not that it was boring, but he had to interrupt. "What would you do if I told you I liked you as much as I like tea?"

"Well, that's very sweet of you Wufei!" he laid his arms to the side as he went to shift his kneel, inadvertently bowing his head with the movement so it came off as amorously shy. "I like you a lot too."

"And would you still not hold it against me if I said how attractive you are?"

This called upon the fair cheeks the most delicate blush.

"Because you are one of the most gorgeous boys who has ever lived. More gorgeous than anyone alive today." In real life, he never would have expended such a encomium.

"Oh Wufei!"

But this was a daydream so who the hell cared!?

As he took another sip from his beverage, he glanced in the corner his Little China Girl who looked at him and threw him that ridiculous thumbs-up sign she'd always been so fond of. It was all he needed.

He lunged across the table and seized his companion by his pink shirt, dragging him up over the smooth surface. Before there was ever time to react he was making a thief of himself, plundering what wet riches laid behind those lips, his tongue slithering around inside him, making him squeal an squirm so frantically. At last he let him breathe. There was no sound but his gasps and the drizzle from the water from the upset but vase, washing onto the floor and over the spilt lily.

"Wufei!" the little blond finally cried, really cried, then fought to extricate from the iron grip.

"Don't you want to by my neko, little girl?"

"You're hurting me!"

He started to ease his fingers out of the cloth. "Better?"

"Yeah but please. please. please."

"You'll like it better in a minute. Try to catch your breath."

"Like what!?" his panicked, shrill tone, the candor in his questions, it was so succulent.

"Everything I'm going to do to you."

As his breathing began to even out, Wufei edged back somewhat and examined every detail of his face, every slight rise or fall, every shift on it from one variant of hue to another, the way their mutual saliva glistened on his slightly opened lips.

"You will like it. It's not honorable for me to lie about it, but you *will* like it." he dipped his fingers into his cup and smeared what contents of it they had collected all over the blanched little cheeks. Such an aromatic stain, such a flawless union of two equally gratifying things. One of them almost looked ashamed as the shiny stuff dripped over them. Why let him suffer? Why not let him feel what he needed?

In one swift motion he had him on his back on the tatami and had kicked the table into a corner. He was half straddling half crouched over the small boy who he still had a hold of. His own pants were snapped tight over his hard shaft. Quatre boggled as he hung from his hands, but at least reached up his own , lightly stroking through the fabric.

"You don't have to do anything." He stated but still nudged his hips forward in answer, feeling himself beginning to surge into the palm that was squeezing him almost boisterously.

"But you look so uncomfortable."

"I won't be in a minute," He eased them both down to the floor, running his fingers down over his arms to his wrists which he took a hold of. It was wicked what he was panning, subversive, ignominious, but this way, no one would ever know except for the two of them.

But this wasn't real.

So this was what he truly wanted? Yet no one would know. No one except for her and she watched from the little blond's place for a second.

Wufei planted his legs on wither side of the narrow waist. He was thinking of going further than this, but not even as a solitary warrior could he last this out. He had to have it now. He lowered himself onto the other boy's lap, shifting to try and find his stiffness with his own. There, right there. He was only starting to get hard, but it was still the best place. He pushed them tight together and strained not to cry out as the other thighs twitched involuntarily at the sudden stimulation. Even between their clothes, the heat between them was extraordinary and the little jerks of pleasure more and more demanding.

So he bent as he thrust over his companion. Otherwise, it was just like he would have handled a girl, the constant gratifying motion as he ground away, but really, after that next kiss, he was more making love to him with his mouth. That was wet and he was inside. He still tasted like the tea and that was better than the salt of his skin that he wasn't even touching. He settled in though, churned, almost crushed him it seemed.

"WUFEI!"

He sounded unhappy. /I've got to let you have it. You're gonna love it and I'm almost there myself so./

"!!!!!!!*WUFEI*!!!!!!!"

He whipped around in his chair and was just jumping to his feet to strike but. that wasn't an enemy's face or even that of the eternal babbler. Not Quatre's. Not the ghost of either Nataku. It was the porky frame and jowls of the man he called "boss" nowadays.

"Yes, sir!" Instinctively, he stood and saluted, holding his visage as stern and dutiful as he could, even as he felt his pants sliding to the ground.

The woman standing behind him covered her eyes with a scream and looked about to faint while the leader himself, well, his eyes got so big he could actually see them for a second and a cold sweat started on his cue-ball brow. "What is the meaning of this!?!?!?!?!?"

His swollen Mr. Boing Boing should have spoken for itself but his mouth was closed in silence.

"Oh that's IT!!!!!!!! I was just coming down here to reprimand you for your somewhat wanton destruction of office property! Do you know how much you've cost us on copiers alone!?"

The woman behind him refused to turn around but waved what appeared to be an exponential check.

"And now this! This degenerate display of exhibitionist. exhibitionist." those jowls had started to quiver, "THIS MESS!!!!!!!"

Excuses would be dishonorable, blaming the hamsters would be dishonorable, finishing himself off would be really dishonorable but that was all he could think of at the time.

"You're fired! I want you out of here by the time I count to ten or I'm calling security. Oh no! This is going straight to the cops if you don't."

"I'm axed?" He inquisitively raised an eyebrow.

"Hell yes! Now, I'm."

The Chinese boy did something then he hadn't done in years. He didn't just smile, he grinned from ear to ear. Then he ripped off his pants, snapped both of his oppressors over the head with them, spun back around, yanked his sword and his portable, hand-held Dragon Fang out of his desk, punched in his computer screen and went skipping down the aisle of cubicles bonking people on the head with his weapons. Having reached the window, he smashed it before leaping out and shouting, "YOU CAN TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT!". He landed in the outside laundry dumpster. Life was no longer normal, but it was good.

After tugging his shirt down over his erection, he neatly flipped out of the soiled fabrics and started to the parking lot after his car, already planning on swapping it for one of those, huge, noisy, fast, sexy speedbikes after he'd gotten home and retrieved some trousers that were more to his liking than the ones he'd left behind. He was just hot-wiring his car after busting out one of the side windows (well, maybe not the nicest speedbike in the world) because, after all, his keys had been in his pocket, when he heard a piercing little voice calling "MR. WUFEI!". Leaning out of the front seat, sure enough he found himself facing a somewhat sweaty Andy and yes, Andy was actually cute when he was sweaty. He also happened to be carrying something. "Mr. Wufei, you left this behind," it was his scroll he was holding out.

"That?" Another thing he'd forgotten. Where was his mind today? "Oh yeah. You can have that."

"Wow! Really? Well, thank you Mr. Wufei. That's very nice of you. But," he was swinging his arms about in frustration, "I'm so sorry about what happened. It's awful! Terribly awful! Why, you've been singled out unfairly! Everyone masturbates in their cubicle, heck even I do! But I haven't been punished an no one else had either! It's just plain unjust."

"If you want justice in this world, you have to make it yourself," he stated calmly taking one of those happy trigger devices out of his glove compartment and hitting that wonderful, wonderful red button.

KWASHOOOOOOOM!

Andy sweatdropped.

"Just miniaturized tactical nuclear devices in the septic system. I thought I might try this."

"Oh. oh my!" Andy was chuckling with a very familiar airy tone that just made him feel.. Very, very good. "I'm going to miss you, Mr. Wufei!"

"Thanks," pause. "Let me ask you an embarrassing personal question?"

"Sure!"

"Do you like. tea?"

[Song Quoted: David Bowie "China Girl" from the Let's Dance Album]

*****

"Ouch!"

"I'm sorry, Duo," Iria set the brush aside for a minute and ran only her fingers through the cascade of satiny, shiny waves of damp brown. "I didn't mean to."

"Don't worry about it," He took a second to stretched his arms behind his head before she went back to removing every single tangle and snag from his hair. So far, that was the first one she'd pulled on. "Ah, yes! The hair! The hair! It's always the hair and I love it." He was sitting on the edge of her bed in nothing but his blue polka dot boxers letting her fulfill her little fantasy.

"You didn't have to sit still just for me." Not that he was doing exactly that, mind you.

"Oi! Iria! Do you know how good this feels to me?"

"I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have all this hair."

"It's not just THAT. I dunno, I just. well, gee I can't even say what it's like. I kinda feel all gooky inside, but I love it, I just love it. And I hate to have it trimmed, it hurts me."

"You've had it trimmed?"

"Well, sometimes I have to get my bangs clipped."

"It's hanging onto the floor you know. It must be down to your knees."

"Past. I check last week. I won't worry about it till it gets to my feet."

Giggling like a hyper schoolgirl she gave in and buried her face in it, breathing through the gold-flecked threads. "You're not quite a brother and you're not quite a sister but you've got the best points of both and."

Just then, the phone rang.

At first they both only went rigid, cocking their ears as if instead listening for some exotic prey in the middle of a white jungle. There it was again! The little SD shinigamis in his stomach banded together, temporarily forsaking their usual past time of giving him "distasteful" thoughts and kicked him into action with the combined fluttering of their itty-bitty bat wings against his heart which caused him to burst into cartwheels. He sprang to his feet, catching the brush in his hair, and bolted like the dickens into his room leaving Iria with a somewhat conspicuous hairball that she didn't even notice as she took a moment to beg for good news. He threw open the monitor and hit the enter key to answer.

/Please, oh, please God! Say./

And he shortly beheld one of the most utterly radiant sights he was ever to see in his entire life and it was made doubly so, made totally heavenly, by all his waiting. Before a glittering panorama of and L3 evening in a park that was filled with white lights and Chinese lanterns was it Quatre's pale countenance, wholly complacent now with his enrapturing, quiet joy.

"Ni-chan!" He shouted ecstatically, shortly finding himself embracing the monitor and planting kisses all over the screen. "I wanted to see you happy so much!"

"Onainisama!" the little blond began to giggle, sending a cheery bubble into the rhythm of his speech. "Ummm. is that something in your teeth?"

"Eh.?" Frightened away he frantically started scrubbing at his incisors with the pad of his finger.

"Gottcha."

"Why you little!" said tossing his loose tresses back and laying his hands on his hips.

His distant companion, held up one finger in a gesture of a requested wait, then laid his palm to the receiver, pouting to someone and, despite his precaution, being heard to whisper something that sounded like "See? I tol' you I could do it." The turning back. "How are you?"

"I'm dying of anticipation over here! Oh your torture!" Gasping, fake Othello-style death scene. "How sweet it is! C'mon! C'mon! What happened?! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!"

"You first, Duo. Have you been good?"

"Uhm. I think so."

"Have you got any nice news?"

"Yes I do! Iria's looking into adopting me. I feel special."

"Oh boy! Wow! That's cool!"

"Buhuhuhuhuht."

"But what?"

"You're holding out on me! Do you think I can't tell. Out with it! Didja find him?"

It would have been impossible to tell between the two who was closer to wailing in expectancy, who was jittering harder, who was about to die of elation. "I did." Shying away as if he was, for once, contemplating nothing good.

"And..? What happened!?"

He glanced away for one second as if he was about to confess to some crime about equal to having pilfered a cookie, but then came back, or came back as much as his apparently dreamy state would allow, fiddling with his left arm a bit. "Well. we've kind of. kind of. eloped." The hand that shortly laid itself across his chest in a gesture of honesty was sure enough marked by a delicately twisted band of rose and yellow gold.

Duo fell over. Maybe he was trying to catch his jaw, but little good it did. He missed it. /I've been beaten. He got me. The little stinker, he got me! He threw me for the biggest loop in the history of man kind!/ "Quatre!"

"Yes, big brother?"

Eyes lighting up as he clawed his way back up to eye-level with his camera. "Quatre, that's wonderful, but I never in a zillion years expected."

"I just did something I wanted to more than. more than. well, I don't know what. I just felt it. I really felt it. You must know what it's like when something comes up inside of you all of a sudden, when it's so spontaneous but it's true, it's really true. You simply know that it's right. you just. you just." He was fidgeting up and down, looking this way and that, trying to contrive a word.

"Little brother, I *do* know! I'm happy for you! And so proud."

The tiny blond scooted over to one side and pulled Trowa into the frame, who leaned over and kissed the butter-colored, fluffy hair.

"Congratulations, Trow!"

"Thank you, Duo," with a cool wink.

"Hey! Where'd you two have it done?"

"Well," began his adopted sibling, "We didn't want to make a big fuss over the ceremony like if we'd waiting until we got back, well, we will anyway, but not one of those huge shcticky fusses like they usually do for weddings. This is all so extreme and it's hatter-mad because the music in me is just going along so sweetly and I couldn't interrupt it. The fact is we just had it done by a justice of the peace. Catherine and the ringmaster, his name is Mr. Westbrook by the way, they were the witnesses and I didn't even have time to wash my face I still had tear streaks all over it."

"Aww. Kawaii! Hey, I hate to interrupt a great story, and I honestly can't wait to hear the rest but you'll just have to hold on for a second."

"I was waiting for this. Go on, we'll hold."

With that, the braided one ripped out of the room to the stairwell, slamming the door into Iria who had been hiding behind the it the whole time, not that he noticed as he half pitched himself over the banister and screamed at the top of his lungs. "HEY EVEYBODY! I'VE GOT THE BEST NEWS IN THE WHOLE WIDE FUCKING WORLD! QUATRE AND TROWA GOT MARRIED!!!"

"They did what!?" gasped Rashid who had just been darning some socks so as soon as he heard the announcement, he stabbed himself in the pinky with the needle and began to swear loudly.

"They did what!?" gasped Janice who had originally intended only to sneak in and perpetrate some purloining to return some of the fine china to her possession but since she was here.

"They did what!?" gasped a half-naked Anabel peering out of her room, her "friend" prancing up beside.

"THEY GOT HITCHED!"

Rashid didn't say anything but his eyes got all wiggly at least partially because Janice had taken a hold of him to keep from swooning. Anabel blinked for a second before turning to Scoundrel and "Oh! isn't that splendid!"

/Y'know, I could have gone my entire life without seeing someone try to French-kiss a sheepdog but noooooo../ The ensuing silence struck him at last though. "C'mon guys! What's all this gloom and doom for? We should be celebrating!" With that, he vaulted onto the banister sliding down it's length and sending his hair every which way before his perfect dismount. Then he laid one on Rashid, he laid one on Janice, back up the stairs and he. very platonically petted both members of the beastly pair on the head before returning to that slightly dazed sister of his. She pecked him lightly on the nose and dragged him back to the laptop.

"Congratulations, Quatre!" She was flushing a little herself as she bowed before the camera and blew him a kiss.

"Iria! Hi!" He snuggled a little further against the other boy he was with, putting his arm around his waist. "You're not mad, are you?"

/Well, if your father was still alive, this would have done him in for sure./ "I couldn't be happier."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Their foster brother/sister butted in as was generally expected of him. "All things considered, it went down pretty well with the peanut gallery."

Just then a rather loud string of curses erupted and came soaring up the steps with a pitch so high, so akin to glass being ground over a chalkboard, it could easily be attributed to Janice.

Everyone sweatdropped.

"Oh, big brother! She doesn't count. I was only talking about the two of you, maybe Rashid. You aren't upset or anything, that you didn't know or that you were left out, that you could have been my bridesmaids."

"Quatre! This is your wedding day. Don't start now! I would have made an ass out of myself and you too. No more worries now.

"Yeah, it's time to spill the beans!" Iria declared, rubbing her hands together.

"Oh. okay. Well, Catherine's best friend is the publicist for the circus so we got lots and lots of pictures but the judge, she wouldn't believe I was any older than fourteen so we had to call up all my ID files. Then she wouldn't do it because she didn't want to get in trouble with the family. I wouldn't have been so excited, I think I would have died of embarrassment. We finally talked her into it and then," he sighed, "Everything was just so beautiful and so calm. It was like daydreaming. But after that, we went back to the circus and *everyone* was waiting for us. They were all cheering, and clapping and singing and they threw like all the rice for that night's dinner at us."

"Mr. Westbrook wasn't happy about that," Trowa pointed out.

"Oh, not at all! But he got over it and," chuckling, "We ordered takeout for everyone. Chinese take out. They had to bring the order in five trucks. Nobody had any idea whose was whose by then so we set up a buffet and everyone just kinda pigged out. It was great. A little strange and all, but that made it better. The Kung Pao chicken was out of this world."

"Better than the place you we all stopped last week?" and incredulous former Deathscythe pilot asked.

"Oh yes! You would have been proud of me, I ate a LOT. But by the time we were finished eating, we'd all gotten a little worried since Catherine hadn't joined us or come to dance later on. But all of a sudden, she came out from her trailer holding a big tray and she said 'It's not right for you boys to have a wedding with no cake,' She'd baked us a pineapple upside-down cake and MMMMM! It was out of this world. We saved you each a teeny piece and we fed it to each other too!"

"Then we took a shower."

"Oh Trowa!" he frazzled the rusty brown hair. "You were the one that smashed it in my face first,". and smacked him on the butt.

Iria leaned closer to the camera. "So, are you staying on L3 for your honeymoon?"

"You could say that."

"Oh! I get it! I won't pry. But what are you going to do afterwards? There's your job and there's Trowa's job. It's not at all like you not to have a plan."

"Oh!" his eyes shone devilishly cute. "But we *DO* have a plan."

"I quit the circus," Trowa sighed solemnly.

"So you're coming back here then?"

"Well, no. We can't."

"You. can't?"

"How come!? How come!" the braided one fussed leaping about beside her.

"Because we were just hired by the L3 symphony and we bought ourselves a house!"

Sister was speechless.

Brother whistled loudly and began leaping about clapping. "Whooohoooo! Way to go Trowa and Quatre!"

"Yes!" he was clapping with glee, spinning around like a child in a room filled with floating soapbubbles. "We're thrilled too. We're going to live the rest of our lives out here together and you're both welcome to join us. There's room enough in the house for both of you, or you can at least come to visit. It's the most darling little house."

"Little for you," his companion commented, "Four bedrooms, five in you count the spare room downstairs."

"There's even space for Wufei if he can bring himself to leave that awful office job!"

"Hey!" Duo piped up. "Lemme call him on the other line. We gotta tell him the great news. He should be off by now." Computer, split screen. Dial- Wufei at home. Uh, Ni-chan?"

"Yes?"

"You might wanna plug your ears."

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

Brrring!

"*MAXWELL*!" 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, red-faced and clad only in a bathrobe that he was still trying to yank on.

"Wufie! It's an *EMERGENCY*!"

"In that case, I'll get my Dragon Fang. Will I be using it on undead OZ generals or you?"

"Umm. you tell him you two! Yell really loud so the mic picks it up."

They giggled a moment before shouting jubilantly: "We just got married!"

Trowa then added. "Thank you for finding me. I owe you one."

Poor Chang facevaulted and the sound of his breathing was conspicuously absent.

"Isn't that the best thing you've ever heard Wufie!?"

"Married.?"

"With a house too!"

"Yes, come and stay with us. It would be ever so nice to see you again and we could finally get to know you better."

"You insult my duty as a warrior to assume I would be so easily taken from my post, but since it is that I have been *cough* terminated today."

"Oh." everyone decided but this shortly broke down into hooting and laughing and toasting the former Shenlong pilot who allowed himself somewhat of a grin as he crossed his arms and tried to keep anything improper from showing through his robe.

"I will make preparations to leave as soon as you have faxed me the directions."

"I'll get them to you tomorrow," Quatre promised.

"I'll pay my own way. Is there a place where I could practice my technique. Pushing papers has left me disgracefully weak."

"The house is on a great, big lot! There's plenty of room for you and Duo to run around in."

The little blond was not one to break off a sentence when not upset with anyone, the fact is, everyone had suddenly gone uncomfortably quiet. Someone on one of their lines was moaning. very, very passionately.

Wufei returned to his usual grimace and turned over his shoulder in such a way that he tilted just enough for Duo to catch a glimpse of someone sitting on the bed behind him. A half-naked someone pouring tea down his bare chest as he flexed enticingly against the leather thongs that were keeping him securely attached to the aforementioned bed. Someone that was a dead-ringer for Quatre who in a honeyed, breathy voice called. "Oh Mr. Wu FAAA-aeye!"

"Quiet you!" And not knowing anyone had seen anything, "I must go now, Maxwell, Winner, Barton, Previous engagements. Goodbye."

Click.

"What was THAT?" the little blond who had been spared the sight inquired.

"Umm." Iria was the one to answer this time. "I think your friend Chang is going to need space for an extra person in his room."

"Oh. oh that's super! So he's finally found somebody too! Wow!" his last word was somewhat garbled by a yawn as his companion took the receiver, giving him leave then to recline against him.

"Forgive us, we're both worn out. He hasn't slept in more than two days."

"Three."

"Three then. We really should go."

"No, no! That's perfectly alright. I hope you both sleep well in your new house."

"That goes double for me!" the braided one added.

"Thanks guys," were the last drowsy words of the former Sandrock pilot as his companion did his best to keep him standing as he slouched over.

"Nighty-night!" both those at the seaside house waved.

"Goodnight." So they hung up the receiver at the payphone and started walking back up the sedate suburban street they were just learning to call their own. The neighborhood was on the old side, the lawns had settled, the sidewalk cracked, the shrubbery grown up somewhat, each house was just starting to degrade. Theirs was halfway down the avenue, sitting on an entire acre of crisp, green grass which was all closed in with a white picket fence. The stepping stones up to the door had been worn into the ground by someone else's steps, the remains of the garden once tilled by another's hands. He'd had no intention of ever gardening himself, the notion in his circles bordered on madness. Not that he'd ever been allowed full ownership of his hands before. But it was worth a try; to make something beautiful by calling it up slowly then savoring it for days only. Maybe it would be a little like painting.

"Luve? Could I get some forsythia for the front?"

"That would be wonderful."

The house itself was light country blue trimmed with white and chocolate brown. It had actual shutters too, not the decorative kind. There was only a little overhang above the door, no porch, just a step or two with some shade-loving plants clumped on either side. There was a fish pond in the back he knew, surrounded by irises and white lilies. The whole place was peaceable as a cloudy day, not that they'd ever see one here, not like they'd known on earth.

They went inside and he flipped on the one light they had brought with them. Besides for the room one entered into, the house remained pristine but with all the loving scuffs and scrapes and oddly colored dents that lovingly proclaimed it had been lived in before. Here the only things about were their few belongings: a few piles of folded clothing (all of which were his lover's), the cases of their violin and flute, a few toiletries and an air mattress pushed up against one wall which was covered with the burgundy velvet from the old couch and some spare sheets.

Quatre had no time to admire it for the other boy suddenly scooped him up in his arms and carried him over the threshold with as much care as if he were made of porcelain instead of only looking so.

"My goodness!" he laughed.

"I've been waiting to do this since we bought the place. Welcome home, little one." This was answered with another yawn, so he took him over to the bed and stretched him out on it like sleeping beauty.

After rubbing his fatigue-glossed eyes for a moment he fussed a little,
"But Trowa, I haven't got my pajamas. I ran off in such a hurry I
forgot to pack them."

"That's alright. I was going to sleep in my underwear."

*BLUSH*

"If that's okay."

"It's fine. I think I'll have to do the same. I only brought one shirt. I wonder what was the matter with me." But he couldn't get up just yet, not while he had such a vantage to watch his companion undress. He'd already cast of his own shirt and was just going after his slacks, pulling his long, agile legs from them and rolling the fabric into a little ball with his feet. But this time the little blond really flushed: he was wearing denim underwear.

"It's actually very soft," the other boy reassured before taking a seat
on the air mattress. "Pull your arms up over your head. There."

The tiny former Sandrock pilot was too beleaguered to protest or even giggle much but he rollicked inside to have his clothes so deftly stripped off. It was more like being five or six again than anything else. The light fabric of his top catching on his ears, the feeling of someone else undoing his fly and pulling his trousers off in such a way they ended up inside out. But /Of all the days to have thrown on a pair of the boxers Duo bought me!/

"Cute."

/At least they're just the sunflower ones!/ "Are you sure you want to get in bed with me?"

"I'm going to take the best care of you I can." With a slight grin, he tugged the covers out from under both of them and let it drift back onto heir bare bodies, settling in to the little contours just so with all it's accidental folds. Then he leaned back and in the absence of pillows, folded one hand behind his head, leaving the other free, just in case.

Quatre wasn't about to pass up the offer. The one he had longed for all these nights was beside him at last, ever so warm, and mostly naked, and with no one else besdies. His skin smelled a little of sandalwood, the muscles of his torso relaxed with their gentle rise and fall as he let himself roll over onto his side, lay his head on the bare chest, sinking closer and curling that protective arm about him.

"Trowa?"

"Mmm?"

One bit of a chuckle. "It tickles my ear when you talk."

A brief second of silence followed by quite a few more of a low pitch melodious humming that had him tittering in spite of himself. "I just wanted to say that this has been the best day of my whole life."

"Mine too, little one. Mine too."

"I almost don't want it to end."

"It won't really. I'll still be here when you wake up. This time, I promise."

*****

"You're crazy Quatre!"

"And considering I just arranged to have your allowance cut in half you probably shouldn't worry your fluffy little head about it!"

"You did what!?"

"Good day, Janice!" He sighed as he forced the door closed at last, collapsing against it and wiping the sweat off his brow. "I did it. I got rid of her once and for all. She left. Well, she didn't really leave, I just managed to push her outside. Oh dear."

But from upstairs: "Duo, give it back."

"No way man! We've got *tons* of this stuff! Lemme play with it!"

"I never should have let you near the packing supplies. No! Don't stick it THERE!"

"I'll stick it wherever I want!"

"Ouch!"

"Ha ha! Trowa's all Taaaaa-py!"

"Come back here!"

And it sounded like thunder localized exclusively in the upstairs as they chased each other back and forth and back and forth.

The little blond was REALLY starting to want some cotton for his ears. "RASHID!" he probably wouldn't have shouted if he could have been heard over the din.

"Yes Master Quatre?"

"Can you please get me a glass of lemonade and some aspirin?"

"Of course." he returned momentarily and handed over the pills which were swallowed at once and swigged down.

"Ahh, thank you."

"Will you need anything else?"

"Well I don't know if I should tell you to take the tape away from them or if you should cover one of them up with it."

"I'll do both."

"No, no. That's quite alright."

But that Maganac wasn't leaving. "Are you sure there's nothing else?"

"Of course, you've done a very good job."

"D-d-done!?" Masculine, thewy, mighty Rashid without another hint of warning began to bawl somewhat shamefully as he obviously wasn't used to doing it at all, let alone with any dignity. "Master Quatre! Don't leave me!!!!!"

"Rashid!" he gasped as the big, burly man cast himself on the floor in the most humble Muslim bow.

"I've got no where else to go! You're my life and everything important in it. You're like a son to me! I love you, Master Quatre, and I'm begging you; don't just give me a wad of cash and send me on a permanent vacation. Take me with you!"

"But! You've been with me so long! You've given up so many years of your life fighting and working with me. You should go with the other Maganacs. They're your family, not me. I won't even be able to pay you or give you much of a room now."

"I'll work for free, I'll sleep outside your door! Anything! But don't leave me!"

At first it had almost been funny, the contrast of his frame and the melodrama of his spirit, but now he saw in him a sudden sadness, real sadness. "Come here and let me hug you."

"Mmm?"

"Yes, come on." It felt a little odd to be holding someone that big and strong so gently as he was slung halfway across him as they sat on the floor. "Do I have to order you to go? I don't want to, I really don't. I couldn't bear to be so harsh to you. Why, if it hadn't been for you, I'd still be that bitter, silent creature that couldn't feel anything inside, that couldn't believe in anything at all. Look, if I, after all that, could find happiness in this world, you can too! Would you try, for me?" He held the hankie in his pocket to his friend's nose and let him blow it rather loudly.

"Where would you tell me to start, Master Quatre?"

"Right now, if you could be anywhere in the universe, where would it be?"

He thought for awhile. A long while that would have been noiseless had it not been for the intermittent crashing. "Well, I rather think that it's a shame I've been on earth all this time and I've never seen the snow."

"Then go and see the snow! Leave right now. I'll go book you tickets to the French Alps and a hotel, and skiing lessons and uh. a translator! You can pick up some winter gear on the way there."

"You mean.?"

"Think of it as your going-away present." He gave the Maganac his biggest smile and a pile of hundred-dollar bills.

"Th-thank you, Master Quatre."

"You're certainly welcome, but next time we meet, will you call me Quatre, just Quatre?"

"Of course, Quatre."

"Well, don't just sit there! Looks like I won't be the only one packing in the mean time. If there's anything you need help with, just bother one of the movers. I'll go get you a ticket." With that, he bounded upstairs ducking under someone's dresser as it was carried down by two of the moving men. Well, that meant they'd already packed his computer, he figured. Duo's would probably be out though for the purposes of phoning and annoying Wufei or anyone else he happened to have found the number to for that matter. Seriously, he wouldn't have been surprised to find him calling Lady Une and telling her all about how his girl half used to get soooooo sticky because the seat of his Deathscythe had vibrated whenever it moved and used to spend hours going for test runs then refusing to come out afterwards until. come to think of it, he wondered what on earth had compelled the braided one to tell him those stories to begin with. /Well, if it made him feel better./

Of course, now he was going to have yet another dirty picture affixed firmly in his brain for the rest of the day, courtesy of someone named Duo. But now he was just trying to find him, suspicious of the fact that when he did, he might be in a state of having been firmly bound to any one of a number of vertical objects by Trowa. He ended up glancing into his sister's room though to find her sitting on her fluffy pink bed, staring at the sea, some cool jazz playing in the background though she seemed by it to have been left still listless. He rapped upon her doorframe, as the door itself was already open. "Iria, may I come in?"

"Little brother!" she gasped.

"Yeah, you doin' OK?" He meant to go on but she laughed hollowly.

"You sound like Duo."

Shaking his head, "You seem so sad. You know, you can change your mind any time you want. I can tell the movers to go get your things right away if you want." As he stepped inside. "Won't you tell me what's the matter?"

"I can't go. Even after everything, I just can't go with you. You should be furious with me."

"I'm not," he soothed and with a deep sigh crossed the room and sat down on the floor before her, placing his head in her lap. He remembered what it used to feel like when she would do this, and how at first he hadn't cared, when he was very young. But now. now it seemed so funny to be calling up those memories, today, the day before he would leave his name behind. It wasn't that it meant anything to him now. It was just as superfluous as he had once held himself to be, but this: the feeling his her skirt against his cheek shifting as she breathed, her fingers curling his hair about themselves, the feel of their breath falling in sync.

"But. but. after you just handed everything over to me! There is nothing, nothing material in this universe that could have been more generous. And you just," she waved her hand, there was no word.

"I don't want to fight about it any more."

"I wasn't fighting!"

"Shh, sorry. Poor word choice."

"Well, it's just that now all the money's mine, I know that I could move the offices back into space, to one of the L3 colonies just like we moved them from L4 to here for awhile. I was just supposed to be awhile, remember? But now that I've come to earth, I don't know what it is. I know I can't leave. There's so much here, it's where we started eons ago and it's where I want to end some day. I feel I belong here with all the wonders. And the sea! I love the sea so much. Not more than you, never more than you but."

"I'm not at all hurt, if that's what you're thinking. Stay then! The whole house is yours. I've given it up. This was all someone else's and I was watching over it. That's the real reason I poured myself into it at first, because it was my duty to that imagined someone. I may have found a home, but I know I was meant to be in the stars just as much as you were meant to be on the earth by the ocean, and I feel that I was meant to be a musician, that I was meant to be an artist, to make things MYSELF. You don't have to follow. I'm a big boy now. Actually, I just talked Rashid into leaving so. so you will be by yourself."

"I wanted to call Chantel up."

"Hm?"

"Chantel. You never knew her very well but she is your sister and you have a lot in common."

"Oh, the one that ran off with Judith?"

"Yes, her. I'm going to find her at last."

"Oh that's wonderful! But."

"Quatre! I'm so sorry I can't!"

"No, no! Shh. let it be. Everything has a chance to be wonderful now, at last, after all this. You will bring her with you when you visit, won't you? And I'm sorry Iria. *I* am. I never wanted it to seem like I was dragging you down with me."

"Sometimes, especially when Anabel's about, I think maybe the middle class would be an improvement."

"Well, just so long as you don't expect me to be normal."

At this, they both chuckled a little.

"But I just promised Rashid I'd book him a ticket. He's going to the Alps to see snow. It'll be the first time in his whole life." Grudgingly, he lifted up his head and gazed at her, his hands still wrapped about her legs.

"Wow! I bet he'll have a great time. You go on then." She kissed him and waved him away.

Her little brother watched her as he left. Yes, she looked at him here by the sea, she looked more alive than she ever had before. Some people belonged to the ground and some to the sky, but she, rarest of the rare in his age, belonged to the deepest and darkest watery abysses, to the clearest tide pool that made a mirror of the sky and in that mirror were everything they wished to be in every muted color of the beach.

"Duo! Big brother! Where are you?"

Ducking into the appropriate room though he found the other boys who proceeded to jump him, bind him with several miles of packing tape, tie him to a poll and march him down the hallway hooting all the way.

*****

That little incident ran it's course eventually as did the work of the moving men. It seemed it took them just a jiffy to get everything cleared out and ready for transport, but there was nothing left to do in the house at that last. So that final, cheery afternoon all five of the remaining residents found themselves on the steps to the beach. It was the most extraordinary afternoon indeed; golden all the sunlight breaking up into hot, minute butterflies on the clear broken glass between the waves. It was warm, but not too warm and they chased each other all over the heated, floury sand, laughing and carrying on as of they couldn't wait for something. To start their second chances? Why? Why when they were here where the shadows even glowed against the sunshine and the foam, here where somehow, in little ways, they all belonged? Tossing in the breeze more than the gulls were they, at the end of that day as the hermit crabs were sky and the shells they would not have washed up in pastel spatters all along the water line and were wrung with halos of seaweed. Those last few moments, dulcet and ever so escapist, that blew them away.

They grew ever louder as the sun began to go down, sinking in a flurry of clouds of every color that soared higher and away. Things turned ever so slightly colder and they came fresh and salty-tanged out of the waves to huddle together watching the last of the flames in the sky until Rashid went at last to clean up before he left. At first, they thought of staying just a little longer, just for a few more moments before they would freeze. But when he went to leave at last, he found them waiting and they all hugged him sandy before he climbed into the cab, their shouts of farewell ringing in the background until he had driven so far into the rising glimmer that must have been the distant city with its slight glowing penumbra of golden brown, that he could no longer be made out.

"Oh geeze! It's late! Iria gasped noticing the clock on the wall for the first time.

"Yeah," Quatre acknowledged, stooping to pick up Ponzu. "Hey kitty, hello."

"Mrrrrrow."

"I'm sorry, I know the nasty movers scared you."

She of course rolled right into his arms and started with the freakishly voluminous purring. As he cuddled her though, and they all just stood there indecisively in the foyer, she quite began to lick him. "My goodness! I must smell fishy. Yes, so fishy." taking a sniff of his own shirt, he then quite recoiled. "Yuck! I stink. I'd better go take a bath."

"Aren't you hungry?"

"No, I was snacking for most of the day." He gave his lover a little kiss on the cheek and started upstairs.

"Well, I'm starved," the braided one butted in.

"Then, let's see what's in the kitchen in the way of leftovers," suggested the lady of the house and turning to the third boy, "Would you like something to eat?"

He shook his head.

She stretched and the two famished individuals started out of the room quite leaving him behind though he seemed to be making up his mind what to do and so stayed awhile himself.

"Psst!" Duo had appeared and startled him out of his thoughts.

He responded with a faint mumble, what he found to be the only correct answer to that tell-tale glint he was still rather skeptical of.

"Why don't you go get in the tub with him? I bet he'd like that."

"Mmm. I think I will."

The former Deathscythe pilot grinned at him from behind him all the way up the steps before scampering back to the kitchen, sniggering lunaticishly to himself as if he'd left a whoopi cushion Relina's throne, just liked he'd always wished he had.

Trowa made his way to the bathroom at which he paused and listened a few moments only to the sound of running water and his beloved shuffling about; clanking the jars of bath salts, fiddling with the temperature, shedding his clothes as he hummed a bit to himself. Indeed, he waited until he could make out nothing else, but he wasn't sure as to the reason.

Quatre had just climbed into the tub and sunk into the steaming water with a huge, relaxed sigh when her heard the knock at the door. "Yes?"

"Little one, would you like me to wash your back?"

The tiny blond flinched a bit in surprise. Was it the especial heat of the water or was that just him warming up inside on his own for one reason or another? /How perfect, how delightful!/ "Of course, Luve." He called back brightly.

The other boy quickly slipped inside and shut himself in. "Are you sure there's room enough for two?"

"Certainly!" he beckoned, rising slightly from his relaxed pose.

His companion slowly stripped off his things and tip-toed over.

/Hey! This is the first time I've even seen you au naturelle. my. oh my. I hope you think it's the steam that's turning may face red./

But as he joined him in the water, something in that calming expression seemed to indicate he most certainly knew it was not. That moment's evil considerations fled him at last as did everything but the sensation of the soapy massage that was being bestowed upon him. "Oh boy Trowa! That feels *so* good!" As usual, his answer was a furthering of the touch and it was just what he wanted even as he began to suspect it was starting to take a lot longer than an ordinary rinsing would have. If he'd been tense, he would have calmed down to near sleep by then, but as it was he nearly melted into a puddle of suds. "Don't you want me to wash your back too?"

"If you want."

"Oh! I do!" The water slushed about as they shifted around and he found himself facing that incomparably sculpted back. He eyes them all the while as he soaped up his hands and his washcloth then laid them to the oddly broad shoulders that could not have been more appropriate or flawless in his mind. The hot new feeling in him, yes, he could grow to like it. Maybe he had already. He let it borrow him for a minute as he laid himself to the wet skin, curling up against it and rubbing his nose to the little scar on the back of his neck as one hand reached around and sought the little plastic pitcher Ira kept about for washing her  air. As the other boy shifted for a glance of what he was up to, he filled it up and dumped the contents all over the wiry brown hair, soaking the gel out of it so he could more easily brush away the bangs.

"Do you like me better this way?"

"I just wanted to see all of you. Don't be so serious."

"Do you want to be kissed too because I'd very much like to kiss you now."

One drizzly meeting of their lips before they finished washing each other. The little blond shortly made up his mind to rinse every one of the wet, ripping muscles and he did it was a juvenile curiosity even as some very skilled fingers played over his own frame. They climbed out at last though, wrapping themselves in the oversized beige towels as they dried off.

The it hit him. "Uhoh."

"What is it?"

"I've forgotten my pajamas again and so have you." He was shrugging as he said it.

"So? Where's the guest room we were going to use for tonight?"

"Down at the end of the hall."

"We'll make it." A dreadfully familiar grin of no good passed between them and with hardly a wink as a cue they threw open the door and made their escape, not even bothering to flip the lights on behind them after slamming the door to some serious jocularity.

Downstairs, Duo too began to chuckle, uncontrollably and with his hand cupped over his mouth lest they would catch a peel of his glee.

His little brother though had frozen. The room had to it a canopy bed, a chest of drawers with a mirror and two velvet chairs facing each other before a plate glass window. He could make them all out so clearly. The moon was full tonight, glowing doubly gorgeous as the sea gave up a rippled version. Everything was washed over in blue tech, almost to color in the pure but ever so weak illumination. He would have, any other way, gone over to the window and admired it until it sank away but nothing now could seem to make him move as he watched his lover saunter across the room, casting his towel to the floor as he went, and sit down in one of the chairs, his chin leaning on the back of his hand as he looked out over the dusky sapphire waves.

He was without a word, without the recollection of a single one as he saw at last, for it would not come to him at the start for he guessed it a trick of the moonbeams and their delectable tinting, a vision made more real to him, more true and fresh as that simple tainted light. The chill came back to him, not the chill of his lover's eyes at first, but another for against the heat that raged and danced within him.

/Isn't this just what you dreamed of? Oh dear! Oh dear! But we haven't. I mean I haven't. no, it's *we*. What if this is all spoilt once I try anything?/

/He'll still love you. He said he would no matter what, remember?/

So he crossed the space between them but a little more quickly than he'd meant to, coming right up beside him and the velvet chair where he sat, still immersed in whatever impression he had about the night until the nimble fingers brushed over his. Then he, with both eyes a strangely alluring jet black in the evening, looking upon the charming face of his beloved that neither smiled or frowned or even pouted but wondering which he might try, taking that hand and holding it to his warm cheek and letting his thumb wander over the blush on it which was otherwise invisible.

/Oh Trowa, it's a magnificent night, but not half as much as you or the way you make me feel. I'm gonna just let myself go and maybe, just maybe, that will turn out better, since it's both together./ He licked his lips a bit. /. and it's me. playing your flute./

He half-observed the other boy watching him so slowly as he shifted in the halo of the moon which was, in the dimness, no more bright than he, as he returned his lover's hand to the velvet, pushing it down into the fabric as he came to crouch before him, sitting on his own heels.

"Little one." It was a verbal gesture of affection, maybe a question.

"Shh." Holding his fingers to his lips, it seemed best that neither of them talked for the giddiness in him might have sent him over at the wrong word. The other boy scooted forward in his seat and the tiny palms played about his thighs which were to be found slightly warmed by the bath and easily willing to concede to trembling touch as his knees were slid apart. They were both savoring that moment; so smooth.

The little blond found with faint elated embarrassment that his partner was just starting to get hard. He had never seen anyone accomplish this in person (or at all not counting the odd photos that would turn up amidst his many female siblings possessions) and ended up ever so glad of the dimness for he felt the tint of his cheeks rising as he laid a lingering kiss to that dreamscicle of his, dragging his tongue about the edges as he finished, but was as he had feared unprepared for the reaction. The other boy moaned, almost in some sensual invocation, straining forward towards his moist lips. /You want this too? Oh, I've been waiting for it so long. I should just stop wondering./ He looked up for just one second into the unearthly black eyes that were, at his command, so fraught with appetite wand what might have been pity.

Only just breathed in reassurance: "I love you,"

The waiting was over, the saline on his lips he tasted as he licked them, his mouth was watering as he took one last gasp of the night air and pulled as much of his accompaniment's cock into his mouth as he could manage, moaning a little himself against the sharp cry. and just the way it felt to be having him like this at last. He wound his tongue about the other boy's length, flexed against him as he shifted, forcing restraint on his want, his salty skin tinged with the exotic taste of the bath salts and the sheer milkiness of being clean. He felt totally fulfilled even if it made no sense for him to have such a sense for it, yet it was pleasing to take the act of pleasuring, to make it come true. He leaned into his lover's lap, murmuring to himself his unspoken, fervent words, tossing tongue against the rigid member in his mouth.

This brought him another gasp, a reward coming from someone so longingly quiet, so controlled. He was making Trowa Barton scream! Even if it was just a little. So he rolled every muscle in his mouth, churned them against him. /Mmm. oh I want more! I shouldn't even be feeling anything but I love your. popscicle! It makes me feel just like a real popscicle on a hot day. I feel the heat but I'm so cold. so cold .. but./

The other boys' hands in his hair, tugging him just a little.

/You want it that badly?/ His partner was gasping hard, nearly wailing, his legs flung wide open as his hands rested in the satiny buttery locks, his whole body drifting upwards with his breath or the need to end the surprise that had ended any toying of his catamite. Quatre seized on the power that was his just as he seized upon his knees only at first but pushed his nose into the stringy curls of his groin, nuzzling them with a muffled chuckle. /I always wanted to be this close to you./ And he took a long pull off him, as if from a wine bottle.

"Oh little one." the words were punctuated with half-shrieks. "You don't have to, not for me."

/But I could go on like this all night./ Instead of speaking, he took another attenuated sip, indulgent and as sweetly as he could, almost humming pleasurably at it himself. To do this, to have his one dirty wish, to hear his lover's gasps grow ever more amorous. The member surged in his mouth; he felt every orgasmic pulse tasted salt upon his tongue but, /OH SHIT!/
 
The little blond hastily yanked himself away. It didn't help. He coughed so violently he didn't have enough air to curse himself out loud. His stomach heaved. He was sure he was about to be quite ill. There was one hand stroking his chest, a fist thumping him over the back, the most disgusting gagging noises he had ever heard but finally he spat and looked dismayedly at the white fluid oozing over his hand.

"Are you alright?" Trowa asked calmly, smoothing his hair a bit.

"I choked! I don't believe I choked!"

The other boy shook his head a bit and pulled him into his arms, petting him fondly, watching perhaps intrigued by the way his companion licked his own fingers so reverently as he tried to catch his breath despite. "If you think this makes tonight mean any less to me, your wrong. Don't worry."

Quatre swallowed one more time and gave a stinted sigh, trying to dab at his eyes with the back of his hand but that only made things worse. He found he'd missed a spot and ended up scrubbing at his lashes even harder trying to get the stingy cum out. As if things we're already bad enough. He sniffled.

"Oh little one," His lover shook his head a little and with his expression of a searching, tempered admiration, leaned over with his hand one on flushed cheek and tried to lick the pesky fluid away. "You know what?" The inquiry sounded awfully sugary - it was just an interjection among regular people but from him, it had a peculiar solace to it.

"Yes, luve?"

"On our wedding night I prayed until I fell asleep that when we consummated out vows I wouldn't make you cry."

He couldn't bring himself to say anything back, but let his teary eyes flit over the visage of the other boy, who was smiling. just for him.

"This is your first time, right?"

"Y-yes," Pulling away a bit, he held his own wrist against his breast. "And you can be as rough on me as you want."

"Am I still that imposing to you?"

Shaking his head.

"I love you very much too."

"I'm always yours if you want me."

"But I said I love you too. Would you come up on the bed with me? You're not deserving of the floor."

The cryptic exchange was strangely exciting as it was subversively heartening to him. They rose together, the sheets they fell on were of softened linen that had a faint scent of white ginger to it. He pulled himself into the corner of the covers that he tossed to one side, glancing bashfuly after him. He was white against white, here shown up only by the indistinct shadows.

The other boy stretched like a cat as he climbed up on the covers, looking at him upside down with what might have been a wink. "Your eyes sparkle like the moonlight on the waves. I think they're the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. But don't think I stop appreciating you there." He rolled over onto his stomach and drew his fingers over the silky, colorless thighs, kidding a bit. "Are you comfy?"

He was unsteady and so after leaning back on his arms, fingers spayed out on the lightly worn, softened fabric that they dug into with the edginess in him, "Umhm."

"Just relax and enjoy yourself. Let me enjoy you." That slow whisper of his had taken on the most aphrodisiacal edge, as if lulling him into some induced sleep for the purpose of play. No pretense, he felt wanted under it. Trowa's hand passed a ticklish spot tracing the contour of one of his hips, light like the feathers he could feel tossing inside him.

/I'm gonna remember ever second of this./

"No one's ever touched you before?"

Shaking his head.

Shortly, he would have had no need to. Those fingers were creeping forward again, drifting lower. Now he could only murmur a little, no words closer to the slight appreciating noises he made. He'd never felt that part of him twitch before, but it was twitching in answer to those slender fingers, his heart repeating the pizzicato chords it struck within him, the sensation rushing all the way through his blood. His lover was a musician after all. One who had chosen to play him rather than any other instrument. He was drawing breath so quickly already, but that though made him bounce it a little with a laugh.

"You like that, little one?"

He could only nod.

"Does it turn you on?"

"I don't ever think I've been this turned on before in my life!"

"I'd say I was honored but it's you that should be. This is what you do to me, even when you're not near. This is how bad I've wanted you."

Quatre was so piercingly hard he wondered if his hot cheeks were in fact left dull and ashen from loss of blood. There was something bizarrely sexual about watching someone else fondle him and it was just the littlest bit unnerving. That and. "M-m-me t-."

"Mmm?"

"Well, it's just not at all like you to be making sexy comments. It's making me feel kinda weird."

"Is it a good weird?"

"Oh yeah."

"But maybe you'd like it if I found something else to occupy my mouth?"

"Trowa! Don't be silly I-." His heart caught in his throat as he caught his lover's wink before he laid his damp lips to his belly button, dipping his tongue in and out with an minute amused purr. His hips jerked unconsciously and those same lips traced a liquidly line of licks down onto him at last. Each touch was like being run through with rose petals and he cried out at every one until finally, his companion swallowed him whole- every inch of his quivering member.

He scrunched his head against his chest, fingers knotting in the covers, his toes wiggling , stretching in a slow rhythm with his gradual pants. The warm juices of the other boys mouth were pouring all over him, the smoothness of them nearly tickled. It was exquisite agony this being drunk alive as he had swilled before, every motion pulling the breath out of him faster and faster. He'd never come this close before, to the doors of his own sensuality that he had just barely understood and so his innate childishness asserted itself and he sensed everything in such luminous, brilliant abstraction that could wheel together and turn into any image, any feeling of pleasure that he wished but with such expectancy in ingenuousness, a sort of play that can not understand with normal communication but is known, is felt, is made into things so well than can not be known but for the look they bring to their owner's face or the ring in their words:

And the other boy reveled at the simple sound of his own name: "Trowa, oh Trowa. oh. oh. oh, Trowa!"

Where sometimes it clicks inside people in a split second, it came upon him slowly but ended at last with one sharp gasp as release tore through him at last, waves of delectation as his blood settled at last as he spilled himself into his lover's mouth. And then he only felt like mist- a fine but heavy mist, as he fell backwards on the covers.

"Are you happy, little one?" his partner asked, lapping him clean before reclining at last, his head resting on the vary bottom of his stomach.

Quatre giggled, wrapping his legs around the body reclining on him. Yes was not enough. "You wouldn't hold it against me if there was no way to say how much?"

"I couldn't."

*****

"MEEEEEow."

"Hey baby!" Quatre was almost purring more than the not so little kitten as he walked along the avenue between the boxes in their living room. "Yes, good morning, this is the first time you've been yourself in awhile, isn't it? Yes it is, no more nasty movers. Yes, baby, they're gone." But after a slight pause. "Hey, where are you, baby?"

"MEEEEEow! Mrrrowow! MEEEEEEEEEW!"

His brow wrinkled in a frown of concern and he soon found himself peering all about the mountains of crates, not to mention wondering how they had managed to accumulate so much junk in the scant time since the war had ended! He was tempted to go back to the playground and see if Cynthia was there. Then he could invite her over for tea and a climb about his veritable jungle gym. He'd been thinking these past few days he owed her an awful lot. "Baby?"

Ponzu threw her startled gaze at him from the cavern between two rows of boxes that thus far hadn't seemed large enough for a mouse, let alone a cat. But there she was, racing up and down the space, forward and backward like a bouncing ball for she couldn't even turn around.

"Now how did you ever get in there?" he chuckled and reached for her, but she backed away into an even tighter space between a particularly precarious tower and the wall. "Oh dear."

"What's the matter, little one?" inquired Trowa as he wandered out of the kitchen, still clasping a can of Vienna sausages and wearing a blue apron which was covered with flour.

"Oh! Silly cat of mine's gotten herself stuck."

"Where?"

"Right here, see?" They both leaned in and peered at the feline's predicament though she herself seemed to be rather enjoying it and was rubbing up against all the cardboard she could reach. "We'll probably have to move the boxes to get her out."

His lover shook his head with a reassuring echo smile and removed a single sausage from the can he was carrying then held it down into the veritable gorge and made that little windy noise people sometimes make to attract the attention of a finicky cat. Ponzu surely licked her chops and made a jump for the smidgen of meat, mauling the elongated digits that clasped it. Well, had clasped it. He dropped the sausage and seized the poor kitty by the head, hauling her out. "There you are."

"Wow! Thanks!" the little blond laughed brightly and took his cat in his arms, rocking her back and forth like and infant and saying , "Oh yes, you're such a bad baby, such a BAAAAAD baby. Daddy loves you though, yes I do" Suddenly demure and serious against the sunshine of his words though. "What do you think about having real children someday?"

"Do you want kids?"

"I. I hadn't really thought of it at first, but I kinda think I would. Not right now of course, maybe in a few years. Uhm. if you don't, I mean, that's alright. We never really talked about it before and this isn't the best time to bring it up."

"You're just a kid yourself."

"I know," his sighed dejectedly and gave his fuzzy surrogate a squeeze.

But with a kiss that landed on his neck, "I'd love to have your baby."

"Oh Trowa!"

"But now, I have to go finish lunch."

"I'll help. We're having stuffed cheese balls, right?"

"Catherine's recipe. We wouldn't be otherwise."

"Yay!" But looking Ponzu straight in the face, "No butter for you, brat."

"Mrrrrrow."

The kitchen had a cheery ambiance being lit mostly by a huge bay window that opened onto the freshly tilled black soil of the garden, lately planted and so still naked unlike some of the landscaping but the window itself was open allowing the earthy, dark pacifying scent of it and the grass and the water from the sprinklers. Also through them trickled a soft breeze that riffled the blue and white gingham curtains every which way with a calming sound, Most of the rest of the kitchen was also blue and white, the large round table in the middle of it all and had sat down at his chair and rested his chin on the clean, mirror-polished surface of it.

Duo shortly came in, announcing himself with a tremendous yawn. Though he wore nothing but his jungle print boxers, he plunked himself down at his own seat after snatching the newspaper and leaned back, feet on the table, chair at a somewhat precarious angle, as he rooted noisily about in search of the funnies. "Mornin' ni-chan," he finally volunteered.

"Good afternoon, big brother. Please don't put you feet on the table."

"Oops." With that he let himself fall down with somewhat of a loud clack. "Hey, Trow, wassup?"

"Nothing very much."

"What's for breakfast?"

"Lunch."

"Uhoh. Okay, what's for lunch?"

"Noodle soup, cheeseballs, tea sandwiches and fruit."

"Yay!"

"Oh!" the little blond interjected. "I'd completely forgotten." And with that he skipped over to the fridge, planting a kiss on the side of his lover's face as he did so, and removed a platter of adorable, miniature sandwiches half of which were labeled 'Sesame Chicken' and the other half 'Watercress'. "You can try one if you like," he informed his foster sibling as he peeled off the pink plastic wrap, "But just one." Then he whisked out a honey dew melon and started slicing it up.

Shortly thereafter- "So you finally decided to wake up, Maxwell!" snorted one of a pair of rather frazzled looking boys who joined them. It was Chang of course and despite the fact he was dressed himself, his hair was sticking out in the most utterly absurd way, looking to have been clawed at. No one said anything in a silent consensus to see how long it would take him to notice and go stalking out of the room in shame. His Porta-Dragon Fang was still bumping against his companion's bum every now and again as they walked in and assumed their usual positions before a lengthy exchange of greetings and retorting raspberries between everyone who was present. The married couple was soon to present them each with large, steaming bowls of soup and all the trimmings before seating themselves. Everyone was just about to dig in when

"What's that noise?" Wufei's house guest was awfully fast to pipe up before he was bonked with the illustrious weapon of his companion- now in handy everyday size of course.

Quatre let out a huge sigh then let Ponzu out of the refrigerator, smacking himself over the head as soon as he realized she had run off with the entire pack of salami, but he was hungry, so he let it go and sat back down with a sigh. Then they all dug in with a cavalcade of deafening slurping noises.

"That's a cute pussy you've got," Andy remarked.

The former Deathscythe pilot gagged on his chocolate milk and was nearly in need of the hymlic. It was perhaps better that he did, as the cat's owner had a chance to reply, "Why thank you, she's awfully bad though, always getting into trouble."
 
Ponzu, who was upstairs eating her prize on her master's bed, might just have heard him and been insulted for they found out later she had made a mess of biblical proportions.

This near outburst was immediately followed by a few minutes of silent munching, chewing, quaffing and possibly a belch or two from someone with uncommonly long hair who probably would have been better off with coffee other than his polluted milk that he kept yawning into. Needless to say, Quatre was just the littlest bit disappointed. Only asmidgen, a tiny particle of dissatisfaction not worth of being equivocated to a grain of sand. Well, no point in being glum about it! So he took it upon himself to start a conversation, yes, that would make everything all better. So he focused himself on the new guy, swallowed the last of his watercress sandwich and asked of him. "What have you been up to this yummy day?"

"Well, Mr. Winner," he began, setting down his spoon indicating he had quite a bit to say, "I went for my yodeling lessons at ten. I hadn't at all booked them or anything but for some reason, you always seem to be able to drop in for yodeling lessons. Oh yes! There's always room for one more. It just goes to show you what kind folk yodelers are. I think this afternoon, I'll check about town and see if any of the retirement centers need and orderly. Oh! I've always *dreamed* of being an orderly for an old-folk's home, and you're all following your dreams, aren't you? But if I have no luck in that, I think I'll organize my collection of newspaper clipping about cheese curls. Or you know what? I may do something inhumanly strange, like go to a movie, or the zoo. Whoever heard of going to the zoo?" this was marked with a slight laugh. "Anyway, I plan to finish off the day by having my brains fucked out."

"Suuuuuuure." Responded the former Sandrock pilot with a rather forced grimace.

But the other blond's catamite broke in with astounding sterness, "Yes, we've been going at it all night /"And I haven't fixed my hair!"- thought Duo and he snickered at his cheese balls./ "Good for the Ki you know."

"I never heard that before," Quatre stated somewhere between being intrigued and being nauseated.

"It's true if I say it's true!" exclaimed Wufei and he reached across the table with his weapon and snagged the slice of melon Trowa had been diving for.

The little blond smacked the offending weapon "No dragon fang at the table."

"HN!"

"You will fuck my brains out, won't you Mr. Wufei?" seductive blink.

"HN!!!"

Various gulping noises. Duo griped in silence this special occasion. The whole thing was really starting to put him off! Such distraction for a small incident, and those were his job anyway. He glared at his little brother, who nodded in perfect understanding.

"Well then," The resident conversational expert was determined to put the scandal behind them. "What have you been up to all day yourself, Wufei?" /I'm just begging, please, kami-sama, say it's something that won't send *everyone* screaming!/

"Well," the indigence had still not fled form his voice, "I, unlike SOME people," glare at the braided one who returned him a some seefood, "have not intention of slacking. I'm going into the fireworks business for awhile, mostly to teach the rest of you not to run for your gundams when something explodes."

The logic of this could not be argued with, though it lead to some serious eyebrow raising.

"I'm sure it will be a blast."

"I'll need the basement."

"Oh dear."

"I swear I will not destroy it very much."

"No! I mean that damn wild dear is back and it's eating my begonias!" The little blond dragged himself up from the table and retrieved the broom labeled "Deer Broom", then went over to the window and crying "Back! Back!" thrust the poll at the errant wildlife.

"I didn't know any of the L3's had wild deer," remarked Duo.

Trowa sighed. "Well, you don't want to know why."

One whimpering Quatre returned to the table, eyes wobbling in frustration as he dumped a pile of somewhat chomped blossoms on the table. This meal was quickly turning into as much of a disaster as some of their missions and he just couldn't take much more! "Oh! This is just awful."

His lover reached over and pulled him into his arms, kissing his temples. The distraught gardener fussed a bit and brushed the bangs away so he could return the favor. "No need to worry about that any longer, little one."

"You're finally gonna unpack your gun?"

The braided one chuckled and was unanimously sneered at.

"No, not *that*! My hair. I'm having it cut off this afternoon."

Duo spat his melon into his napkin. Andy continued to lick the soup off his spoon very erotically, Chang turned a funny shade of purple for one reason or another.

"YOU'RE WHAT!?"

"I won't, if that would make you happier. I've been thinking of it for awhile. I have nothing left to hide. With the hair goes the memories. Besides," this brought a sinful little smile to his lips, "It gets in the way when we. kiss."

The former billionaire flushed a deep red, his look of stupefaction growing somewhat worse. Trowa evidentially would have to learn that without his trademark bangs, he was going to have to put up with people making rude comments because they'd be able to see when he chose to put his tongue in the blushing ears of his spouse as he did that particular moment.

"Alright," he consented to the assault on his cartilage and calmed down a bit, his hands still wriggling uncomfortably. "But I'm coming along!"

"Me too!" his brother broke in. "I wanna see! B'sides, I've never been to a bobbing party before."

"You're really going to do it, luve? Are you absolutely sure?"

"It's only a mask of mine. I want it to go away. If you give me a scissors, I'll get ride of it right now."

"No need to be so romantic about it," he gulped down a little of his lunch, hoping it would further relax him. "I think I'll miss it though, because it was part of you so long."

"I'll have it saved for you."

Duo was beside himself. This was the most irksome day and for him, it had only just begun! He was completely loosing his place in the setup. Who was the joker? Him! Who was the fool? Him! Who was sex-ay baby? Well. He banged his spoon against his glass.

Everyone went to attention in that they all resumed eating.

"Well, well, guys! What a deal this is! Oh yes! And I'm really getting off on this whole truth-telling thing. I think it's great." /Yes I do, oh little white lie o' mine!/ "As a matter of fact, I'd like to bear my soul too. Lessee now, how can I put this delicately.?" He actually sat and faked pondering for a minute. After this while, he snapped his fingers and decided with a look of sheer trickery and guile on the word. Then he put his arms behind his head and sighed in a voice much like he would have used if he was asking them all to the park. "I've got a cunt."

Quatre just kinda sat there.

Trowa kept an eye on him but still managed to spear another slice of melon before Wufei could.

And speaking of Wufei, he turned bright red now which was actually somewhat of an improvement from purple.

Andy gasped and smacked his hand across his mouth and looked aghast despite the fact he probably had not business doing so.

"And a dick. I'm a boy AND a girl. Isn't that cool?"

Quatre suddenly started to babble sadly and unintelligibly, and reached over for his sibling's hand which he began to pat very fondly halfway in sympathy for the confessor and halfway in reprimand because lunch, after all, was a lost cause by now.

Andy screamed, "HOLY MOTHER-FUCKER!"

Wufei stunedly remarked, "Uh, Maxwell! Stop with the bad jokes."

"I don't lie Wufie! Even you know that!" in his best sing-songy voice.

Trowa suddenly though: "I've known a few hermaphrodites but you're the first one that came out without being asked."

"Really? Wild."

"Oh Mr Wufei! He's scaring me."

"Yeah," OK," wry thoughts returning, no, this wasn't so bad at all. "How else was I s'posta explain the tampons in the bathroom?"

Quatre up and died into his soup.

"God! What else do you want me to do? Draw you a diagram? Mmm. actually, it's kinda cute. Ya wanna see?" He shamelessly got up from his seat and bent over as he turned around, fumbling with his boxers.

Wufei's nose began to bleed.

"EEK!" Andy wailed. "Aren't you supposed to be embarrassed?"

"Well, yeah, but I ain't. And it's all thanks to my ni-chan!"

The bubbles rising out of his soups rather sounded as if they said, "Big brother, this really isn't necessary."

"I frickin' bled through my clothes in front of him and he was SOOOOOO good about it!"

"Mr. Wufei!" Who, by the way, was lying in a gelatinous heap on the floor, "You promised me!" The frantic new guy leapt from his seat, fists balled up in a not exactly threatening manner as the kicked his consort. "You *promised* me NO MORE PERIOD JOKES! You said this would be a dude's paradise. You promised MEEEEEEE!"

"Well, I admire you," sighed Trowa with somewhat of a shrug.

"Me to," burgled Quatre who promptly rocked backwards in his chair, bonking his head against the counter and laughing hysterically.

"Oh little one, you just got soup all over the floor with Chang's blood."

Duo gave a contented sigh. /At last, it feels like home./ "Uh, guys? The deer is back."

*****

It made him chuckle a little inside, to see Quatre as he was outside that next afternoon, kneeling over his forsythia, his back to the sky that only just reflected the sun. He was wearing only a pair of Trowa's old cutoffs and a T-shirt that had probably been white at one time or another. Despite the addition of a straw hat, his pale skin was already starting to bronze, his cheeks and nose scalded rose red. And he was dirty! Covered with a smudgey brown mist, soil caked all over his bare feet and under his nails. He shone though, gleamed like a little pearl under a film of perspiration. "You know, Duo?" He laughed instead, even that had an earthy quality to it. "Just a few months ago, I never would have gone near a garden, not to work on it myself."

"It's the most wonderful garden in the neighborhood and with you takin' care of it, it'll be the most wonderful garden on any of the L3's in no time!"

"Why thank you!" he leaned over to the side and placed a kiss on the closed bud of his morning glory.

"And that's a lucky flower."

The small blond rocked back onto his bottom and tipped his head dejectedly after putting down his spade. "Big brother, are you mad at me?"

/Poor thing! Here he goes. I knew he would./ "Mad? Why should I be mad at you? I anything, you should be pissed at me 'cause of my. err. outburst yesterday."

"Because I deserted you. I never. I didn't ever want you to feel. that anyone would take your place in my heart. And here I am now, and I've run off with someone else that I love, even though it's a totally different sort of love. Someone that you gave to me. Twice. Remember the first time?"

"I do."

"But I never even thanked you, for that either. I've been so neglectful of you. I look back on the last week and I hardly even acknowledged that you were there and after everything.. You know that I'd be."

"Hey!" He plunked himself down beside his sibling and pressed his hand against his arm. "I said it before and I'll say it again: I'm happy if you're happy. And you haven't neglected me! Dude! You're married now, you don't need to make time for me! I understand! And I can pretty well make time for myself, huh?"

"Well."

"Don't sweat it. Onisan's always gonna love you."

"Thanks Duo."

"Ya know, I never expected that you'd enjoy getting all down and dirty." Wink. Wink.

"I've got lots of time to make up for!" Wink. Wink. And running his fingers about a handful of soil. "I've decided I love dirt."

"Cool. It's gotta be good for someone like you. I've never seen you look so."

"Ruddy before?"

"Sure."

"I have you to thank."

"You don't have to."

"I know but." he trailed off as if he had no intention of ever finishing the thought.

"It's still sweet. And look, we're spending some time together right now, just the two of us even though."

"Even though what?"

"Well, It's just I came out here to ask you something. Look, I know we just moved in and everything. We've only been settled a few days but the fact is, I'm not."

"Hmm?"

"Well, when I first went to see you I kinda. I kinda left in a hurry. I got loose ends you wouldn't believe. All stupid stuff I wouldn't usually give a damn about but I left a lot of my books behind and I have to go back for 'em."

"Oh. Okay." He sounded quite surprised.

"I'm gonna be gone a few days, maybe a week. I won't be able to relax otherwise and you know what I look like when I don't relax!"

"Really, that's alright. You should go then."

"Well, y'know, part of me doesn't wanna. It's hard to explain. I don't care if my L2's a hell hole, it's MY hell hole, so no matter how perfect this place is, it won't always have been my home. I lived there before I ever had a name. And so much stuff went down on those streets, a lot of things I haven't quite come to terms with yet. Part of me wants to go back and stay back, part of me says that's the dumbest thing and that I should try to forget. But I just can't. Whatever that place holds
for me."

Very tenderly as he slouched against the braided boy's shoulder. "Are you afraid we'll disappear while you're gone?"

"It wouldn't be the first time! I know I should be okay with it, just like I'm okay with my. well, it, now, the other it." But he obviously wasn't because he pulled his knees up to his chest and leaned on them. The second boy rinsed off his hands in his water can before pressing them cool and wet to his forehead, stroking his bangs a bit.

"Then I'd also like to apologize. for leaving you so soon after you told me. I wanted to sit down with you so much, but time just sort of vanished before me I."

"You mean about Heero?"

"Umhm. You were really hurting and I bet you still are but I just walked away from you when you needed me the most."

"Quatre, ni-chan, darling, you can't undo the past. Let me teach you that with something easy. I couldn't lie to you and say that everything's alright with me at this moment. It's not. It hurts, and it may hurt for a long time. But I know I'm gonna be okay."

"You sure?"

"Well, maybe some chocolate would help."

*****

 
END PART 3
 

*****