by Aoe

Stuck With You... + Part 5

12/10/204

Trowa didn't bother to look over as a blast of cold air and squealing hinges announced the return of his fellow agent. He just remained hunched behind the steering wheel, binoculars trained on the window of an office in the building across the street.

Isn't this guy ever going home? Trowa wondered irritably. What's he doing up there, his secretary?

The mission Une had sent him on was a simple one, routine surveillance, along with a little judicious rifling of files. Currently he and his partner were staked out, waiting for their quarry to go home for the night so they could break into his office and copy his files. The man was suspected of diverting company funds to a radical terrorist group of which he had once been a member. Trowa didn't think there was much doubt of the man's guilt, after trailing him for two days. So tonight they would break in and find the evidence they needed, and tomorrow they'd pick the guy up and drag him back to Une. After that, Trowa didn't really want to know what happened to the man.

He couldn't wait until this stupid case was over. Which was ridiculous, because a week ago he'd been languishing in boredom, wishing for something, anything, that would get him out from behind his desk and into the field. Now he just wanted to get the mission over with and get home.

Of course, a week ago "home" hadn't included Duo Maxwell.

Trowa sighed and lowered the binoculars, rubbing wearily at his eyes. He passed them over to his partner, taking a paper cup of coffee in return. The cup was so hot in his chilled fingers that he almost dropped it in his lap. He frowned at the pain, but managed to get the cup into the little detachable cup holder hanging off the dashboard of the rented car.

His companion peered up at the office for a while, then lowered the binoculars with a frown. "Agent Barton?" he asked politely.

"Yes, Ken?" Trowa replied wearily. Normally formality was just fine with him, but after two days in close quarters with the younger man, "agent" this and "sir" that was starting to wear thin. Especially when it was pretty obvious Nasir wasn't all that sincere in his respectfulness.

Ken glanced at him, brown eyes thoughtful, expression neutral. "Well, sir, I was just wondering... I mean, Mr. Granton up there, he always turns his lights off when he leaves, right?"

Trowa nodded.

Ken licked his lips and narrowed his eyes slightly. "And we can't actually see into his office from down here," he continued.

Trowa nodded again. Ken stared at him for a moment, his mouth slightly open as though he wanted to say something else, but then he just shook his head and raised the binoculars again. "Just checking," he muttered, sounding slightly annoyed.

Trowa repressed a smirk. "No, Ken, you seemed to be going somewhere with your logic. What did you want to ask?" Trowa pressed.

Ken lowered the binoculars again and gave him an odd look. "What I wanted to ask... sir... was why the hell we need to watch the window every second," Ken replied irritably.

Trowa blinked at the younger man. "We don't," he said calmly.

Ken frowned at him in disbelief. "Well, excuse me for asking, Agent Barton, but if that's the case, why have you been staring up there almost constantly all night?" he demanded, a bit snappishly. Trowa wondered if it were past Ken's bedtime.

In reply, Trowa simply shrugged and declared calmly, "I was bored."

Ken looked shocked by this admission. "Sir!" he said in tones of astonished disbelief. "You're bored by a Preventer mission?"

Trowa stopped repressing his smirk, recalling some of the hair-raising missions he'd gone on in his youth. After his time as a Gundam pilot, sitting in a car slowly losing the feeling in his toes was supposed to be thrilling? "Aren't you? Isn't that why you've been out of the car every twenty minutes, buying snacks from that little mini-mart down the street?" he asked pointedly. "By the way," he added helpfully, "you might be advised to cut down on the ding-dongs and ho-hos. Quatre definitely won't be interested if you develop a spare tire."

Ken turned bright red at this candid comment, and again exclaimed, "Sir!"

"What?" Trowa asked innocently. Ken opened and closed his mouth a few times, but no words came out. Trowa took the binoculars from the other agent's limp fingers and turned back to the building, grinning wickedly at the window. Nobody ever expected him to say things like that.

Eventually, Trowa's coffee cooled enough to drink, and he lowered the binoculars to do so. Ken was now staring moodily out the frosted windshield.

This was pretty much par for the course between the two of them, Trowa reflected. He and Ken had just never really hit it off. Probably due to Ken's utter fascination with Quatre, and Trowa's rather disenchanted view of the Arabian. A clash of philosophies, as it were.

"He's not interested in me anyway," Ken said softly, breaking Trowa from his reverie. Trowa blinked at the younger man in surprise. Not only had Ken left off his usual obnoxious honorifics, he actually seemed to have made a sensible remark.

Intrigued by the notion of an actual intelligent conversation, even with Quatre as the topic, Trowa answered honestly, "No, he isn't."

Ken frowned, sliding lower in his seat like a pouty child. "Of course he isn't," the younger man muttered petulantly. He shot Trowa a scathing sideways glance. "Because he's still in love with you," Ken accused bitterly.

Trowa nearly choked on his coffee.

A few minutes later, when Ken had finished pounding him on the back and apologizing profusely, and Trowa had finished coughing and hacking and laughing his head off, the two stared at one another with matching bemused expressions. Their quarry was momentarily forgotten.

"Ken," Trowa finally began slowly, "I don't know where you got that idea, but... Quatre certainly isn't hung up on me. He thinks I'm still hung up on him,
but -- "

"But that's just it," Ken interrupted. "He's... projecting, you know? He still wants you, so he can't see that you don't want him anymore, and -- "

"He's the one who dumped me," Trowa snapped, frowning. He didn't like thinking about his break up with Quatre. Not because he was carrying a torch for the Arabian, but because it still irritated him how... foolishly he'd come across. Whatever he said or did, Quatre would twist it into an attempt to get back together, or if he was clearly stating that he was over Quatre, the blond would smile sadly at him and call him brave, and tell him it would be true, in time...

Jerk. Condescending asshole!

"Yeah, because he knew you were gonna dump him," Ken asserted impatiently. Trowa scowled at him.

"Oh, he did, huh? Well, I wish someone had told me that," he griped.

Ken frowned, waving a hand dismissively. "Everybody knew it," he declared firmly. "It was so obvious. He was smothering you, you were getting nervous and antsy... We all saw it coming."

Trowa frowned thoughtfully at the younger man. That was true... Quatre had been driving him crazy for a while before they broke up. He just hadn't been ready to give up on such a long-term relationship yet...

Trowa knew he'd never really been that upset about the break up. The only thing that really bothered him was the way Quatre's attitude made him look stupid, like he was desperately clinging, when really he...

"I was glad... when it was over," Trowa said thoughtfully. Ken nodded in agreement. Trowa frowned again. "But that doesn't mean that Quatre wasn't," he added. "We tried, and it worked for a long time... but eventually, it just didn't anymore. We grew up... and the people we grew into just didn't fit together."

Ken frowned skeptically at this statement.

Trowa sighed and shook his head. "Look, Ken, just trust me on this one. Maybe he has regrets... Hell, maybe I have regrets. But Quatre and I... we're over. We'll always be friends, but... " Trowa trailed off, shaking his head, surprised to feel a wistful smile tugging at his lips. He'd always been so annoyed by the thought that he must have come off like an idiot during the break up that he'd never really thought about how he felt about it all. Maybe... it was time to let it go. Even if he'd made a fool of himself, he wasn't the first, and certainly not the last. Quatre was still his friend, and Trowa's anger over his embarrassment had been getting in the way of that friendship for a long time.

He really has to stop calling me a broken clown, though, Trowa reminded himself firmly.

Ken was frowning thoughtfully at Trowa. "You really mean that," the younger man observed. "You're over him."

Trowa nodded, happy with this realization. He'd been worried lately that his uncharacteristic continued annoyance about the whole debacle meant that he really wasn't over Quatre. But now he was quite sure any unresolved issues had more to do with his pride than his heart.

Ken sighed wistfully. "That still doesn't help me."

Trowa frowned, considering the younger man's problem. "I really don't think Quatre's still hung up on me," Trowa asserted firmly.

"Then why does he ignore me?" Ken demanded, slamming a fist against the dashboard. "I spend as much time with him as I possibly can without getting fired, I do more of his damn work than my own, I compliment his looks, his clothes, his intelligence -- why the hell doesn't he notice me?"

By this point, Ken was red-faced and yelling, and Trowa stared at the younger man in astonishment. Ken always seemed like such an easy-going, laid-back type of guy, especially with the way he let Quatre walk all over him...

Hmm...

"You know... Ken... " Trowa began thoughtfully. Ken was instantly silent and attentive. Trowa looked over at the younger agent, giving him a thoughtful perusal. "Before Quatre gave up his company to follow his ideals... which, by the way, was a foolishly romantic notion on his part that he will never admit he regrets... he was pretty high up in society. Practically a young prince. He's always been charismatic and charming, and as long as I've known him, he's been surrounded by people who adored him, obeyed him, hung on his every word... " Ken was nodding.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Ken agreed. "I try to always be right there for him, but I'm not the only one. People just seem to bend over backwards for him without even thinking about it."

"And how many of them has he slept with?" Trowa asked bluntly.

Ken flushed dark red at the unexpectedly crude question. "Trowa! I -- I mean... Agent Barton... "

"Trowa will do," Trowa assured him with a slight smile. "But think about my question. Have you ever seen Quatre get involved with any of those people bowing and scraping to him?"

"Well... no," Ken admitted.

"You know," Trowa mused, "the first time I met him, he took me home with him, had his Maguanacs repair my Gundam, gave me food and shelter for days... and until the day I left, I wouldn't even tell him my name. And I wasn't exactly gracious about it when I did," Trowa added with a smirk at the memory. He could still see Quatre leaning out the window, those wide sea-blue eyes seeming almost entranced... He'd never really thought about it before, but... that had to be it.

Ken was staring at him expectantly. Trowa smiled slightly at the younger man. "Quatre is too much of a gentleman take advantage of his underlings," Trowa explained. Ken blinked in confusion. Trowa's smile widened. "He's not the type to have random sex, but he only wants a relationship with an equal, not a servant. He's not going to reward you for fetching and carrying by screwing you like he'd pat a dog on the head. If you want him, you have to show him that while you respect him, you don't consider yourself below him."

"But... but... " Ken protested weakly.

"The sun doesn't rise and set on Quatre's ass," Trowa remarked tartly, getting a little tired of Ken's persistent worship of the blond. "Trust me. I'd know," he added with a wink. Ken blushed again.

Trowa was starting to enjoy provoking that reaction.

"So I... you think... " Ken mumbled in confusion.

"Quit bowing and scraping to him," Trowa snapped impatiently. "He's not a young god, he's just a man, just like anybody else. He doesn't want to be put on a pedestal. It's damn lonely."

Ken blinked in surprise. "You think?" he murmured wonderingly.

"I know," Trowa assured him sagely.

"Huh," Ken murmured, leaning back in his seat with a thoughtful frown. After a moment of silent contemplation, he glanced up reflexively and announced, "Hey, the light's out."

Trowa looked up at the office. The window had gone dark. Finally. "Let's get this over with."

[part 4] [part 6] [back to Aoe's fic]