Garou + Part 23 (cont)
Alcohol

* * *

When Trowa entered the small TV room, at the far end of the corridor where their bedrooms were lined up, he was surprised to find Quatre, sprawled alone on the couch, sipping at a glass of Coca-Cola and staring at the television. He wondered what Quatre was watching that was so interesting; Quatre generally only watched TV at news time or for documentaries. And they certainly didn't make him giggle in that way. Neither did they make him sprawl bonelessly. In fact, Trowa didn't remember ever having seen the young Winner heir in such a relaxed position, him who had been trained since infancy to keep his back straight and a respectable countenance.

"Hey, Trowa!!" His friend lifted his glass in greeting. "Come sit with me!"

The tallest of the pilots obeyed. Right away, the lithe blond pulled a glass out of the drawer in the coffee table and filled it to the brim before giving it to him. Trowa accepted the glass in silence. He wasn't really thirsty, but after all, it wouldn't kill him to drink a glass of coke... He didn't like admitting it, but he loved the taste. Evidently, that was one of the principal reasons he refused to drink too much. If he drank as much as he wanted, he would probably get ill. His time with the mercenaries had not gotten him used to digesting sugary things.

The Arabian teenager was watching a comical program. And exploded in giggles with each joke, laughing sometimes long after said joke was finished. Politely, the green-eyed boy tried to pay attention, but after a while he renounced to his false interest and began to pay attention to his comrade instead. Quatre, too deep in his program, didn't even realize, still busting out laughing with his crystalline laugh, his eyes gleaming merrily, an immense smile on his face, and progressively Trowa let himself watch more openly. A few times, he had a small laugh himself, but it was more because Quatre's laughter was so communicative than because he had followed what was happening on screen.

He could feel his muscles slowly relaxing and a soft warmth spreading in his belly. He sipped a little bit more from his glass, and realized that it was nearly empty. He finished it in one gulp.

"Wait," Quatre told him, leaning toward the table to catch the bottle. "Wait... gimme your glass."

His voice was low, veiled, as if slightly hoarse, but still as friendly. Trowa held his glass out without thinking, and Quatre leaned toward him to fill it, taking care of catching the bottle with both hands not to make it fall. There was a slowness, a prudence in his gesture that slightly surprised his comrade. After all, Quatre was, as they all were, skillful and precise.

The blond teen let the last drop fall in Trowa's glass, then glared at the bottle.

"Empty..." he commented morosely.

Trowa stopped his arm just before the glass touched his lips and thought about giving it to his friend. But before he could take a decision, he felt the couch bend under the other boy's weight and an elbow landed on his shoulder. Sitting on one of his folded legs, leaning on the back of the couch and on Trowa with nearly all his weight, Quatre was staring at him, a big smile on his lips.

"It's good, isn't it?" he asked merrily.

Slightly embarrassed, not knowing what to do, Trowa sipped a mouthful to give himself a countenance. It didn't look like Quatre to be so touchy-feely. Duo maybe, but the braided boy had decided long ago, Trowa didn't know why, that he didn't want to hug Trowa as much as the other pilots. Something for which the ex-mercenary was grateful, physical contacts, in general, made him feel queasy.

He saw with gratitude that his comrade's attention was back on the TV, and continued to sip slowly.

Until he realized that Quatre was leaning more and more on him, and that the blond head was now resting on the elbow the boy had on his shoulder. Trowa froze.

"Quatre?" he called in a low voice.

"Hmm?" the other answered in a sleepy tone, looking at him.

Trowa felt himself blush, and blessed the darkness. They were less than a few inches away from each other. He leaned back, cautiously.

"You... Nothing."

The boy regarded him, curious, his head bent, then Quatre shrugged and settled down, even closer than before, snuggling against his side. Trowa clenched his hand around his glass, not knowing what to do.

"Stopit... you're gonna break it..." Quatre whispered, closing his hand around Trowa's.

If Quatre hadn't had such a firm hold, he would have dropped it; and caught himself regretting not having done just that, it would have given him an excuse to get away.

Guiding his hand toward his own lips, the Arabian guy drank a little then, looking up at him, smiled softly, his eyes half-closed. Trowa felt his own eyes widen.

"Hey, Trowa..."

The warm hand around his guided it until he had deposited the glass on the coffee table. Obediently, he let it go; but Quatre's hand didn't let go of his.

The couch dipped again when the blond boy shifted, lifting himself on his knee.

And then, Trowa felt supple and slightly sticky with sugar lips brush against his.

He needed a few seconds to realize that Quatre was kissing him. Slowly, softly, not insisting too much, but not letting him the occasion to escape either, he was methodically caressing Trowa's lips, first only with his own, then with the tip of his tongue, following the outline of his lower lip. Trowa briefly stopped breathing. Then the Arabian's tongue slid over the opening of his mouth, only a little, barely dipping inside, before disappearing. By reflex, Trowa tasted the place it had touched. It tasted like sugar, like coke. When the tongue came back, he didn't oppose its passage, nor its careful exploration.

He was warm in his belly, and it was slowly spreading; and his heart was beating too fast. But what was it? Pleasure or fear?

Because he was afraid. He was terrified. Or at least, he knew that he would be if only he had time to think about it. Fear of the contact, fear of having authorized someone to such an intimate act... fear of having lowered his guard so far that the other boy could now just come up and do anything he wanted, take what he desired, without meeting any resistance... it was terrifying.

But Quatre was so gentle with him... Maybe...

No.

He was going to push his comrade back, gently but firmly, when Quatre leaned back, separating their mouths, and put his head on his shoulder with a sigh. Petrified, Trowa stayed a long moment totally unmoving.

When finally he decided to move, it was to realize that Quatre was sleeping. His head swarming with questions, Trowa slowly lifted the young man, against his impulse to just jump up and run, put him down on the armrest, and then left the room so fast he might as well have been openly running.

He would sleep in Heavyarms tonight. It was the only place where he felt secure enough to totally lower his guard and give his total attention to his thoughts. He would need it.

* * *

When Wufei arrived in the room, the only light came from the TV. He needed a few seconds to spot the curled up shape on the couch, sprawled on one of the armrests. Nothing looked broken.

He sighed, relieved. Looked like Quatre had not done anything as monumentally stupid as his comrade had.

* * * * * *

The ex-mercenary went camping in his Gundam for two days, immersing himself in a total revision of the mechanics to avoid crossing paths with his comrades too often. Strangely, he had seen at least from afar all pilots except Quatre, even if many times, when Duo had come bearing sandwiches, he had recognized the Arab's handiwork in it, his way to maintain contact while still giving him some time to think.

Trowa was grateful for the delay. Because even if he couldn't think about anything else, he still hadn't found out what he was supposed to think or how he should react. He was still caught between the immense surprise that the kind, loving, Sandrock pilot, the one everyone liked, had chosen him, who didn't have anything special to offer... and the terror at the idea that he was asking, demanding nearly, that he open up entirely for him, that he lower his last protections, that Trowa give him a power on himself that would permit him, if he ever chose so, to utterly break him without problems. Trowa... Nanashi had sworn that never would he let someone have this kind of absolute power over him. That one day he would be free. From childhood, he had closed himself off, layer after layer, in an armor of indifference that protected him from the outer world. Bit after bit, after having met the other pilots, that armor had thinned.

But Quatre wanted to take it all away. To leave him naked, defenseless. He didn't know if he ever could, probably not without losing himself.

* * *

Trowa was screwing a panel on Heavyarms, content with the fact that his work prevented him from thinking too much, when without any warning, a spear of sharp pain shot up his back, along his backbone. Caught by surprise, he froze, suddenly unable to move even a finger, to even breath in, without increasing even more the atrocious pain that was clawing at his back. He just had the time to wonder if someone was tearing his vertebras out one after the other before he lost his balance and fell off the ladder, unable to catch himself or even absorb the shock of the fall.

The impact bruised his shoulder, but in comparison to the torture in his back, it was totally derisive. He tried to breathe, his eyes damp with tears, succeeded in gulping in a poor lungful that he quickly breathed out in a pitifully feeble moan.
Slowly, the pain gradually disappeared. Ten minutes maybe, not much longer, but it had felt like hours. He slowly rolled on his back, panting, blinking to try to clear his eyesight, clouded by the tears of pain that were dampening his cheeks, unable to formulate even the littlest coherent thought.

He blinked once again, the again, and finally succeeded in seeing farther than his sticky eyelashes. The hangar's roof was surprisingly clear and precise. He could see each and every beam, detail by detail.

He lifted a trembling hand to his face to wipe off the tears, found that it was covered in blood. He stared at his hand for the longest time, dazed, trying to understand what it was and where it was coming from, then delicately felt his face. He was bleeding from his nose, not from his eyes, he understood with a bit of relief. With a hand that felt heavier than the canon arm of his Gundam, he grabbed a handkerchief in his pocket and pressed it against his nose.

The smell of dust and motor oil was invading, heavy. But that handkerchief was clean... He briefly pushed it away.
Everything smelled like motor oil in the area. He must have kicked a bucked over in his fall...

... but there hadn't been any close by him.

Everything smelled like mechanical lubricant, heated metal, fuel and dust, behind the warm, salty, coppery accents of his own blood. The scents were aggravating him, invading him, preventing him from thinking by their insistence to get recognized, hurt him as much as a scream in his ears or an electric torch in his eyes would. Too intense. The smells were too intense.

Sounds were, too, now that he thought about it. He could hear the sound of the wind against the door, fifteen meters away, the soft call of a sea bird nesting in the support beams at the other end of the hangar, the brush of a piece of cloth slowly sliding off the side of the Gundam ... It was too much. Just too damn much.

He curled up, slowly, moaning, his hands plastered hard against his ears.

* * *

Wufei deposited his queen on the chessboard, then smirked at Winner. 'Let's see if the little strategy genius would get out of that one,' he thought amusedly. Wufei had been beaten more than three games out of five all night long, but if he had his say it wouldn't last long.

Quatre smirked back, and then prepared to move his last tower. And collapsed on the board, screaming, sending the game flying to the carpet.

"QUATRE!!!"

Duo touched the blond teen's back and crouched at his side, worriedly. Quatre straightened up slowly, his eyes wide open, his face pale like marble.

"Trowa..."

Without one word in explanation, he jumped up and dashed off toward the hangars, the other three pilots after him.

* * *

A few long minutes after his fall, a cavalcade could be heard toward the hangar, accompanied by echoing voices. Quatre, and ... Heero, and Duo... Trowa clenched his teeth and plastered his hands harder over his ears. The sound of their steps was echoing like mad on the hangar's sheet metal walls, their voices were too high-pitched, brutal.

"Shut up..." he moaned, but too low to be heard farther than an arm's length away.

"So, what's going on?!" Duo's powerful voice demanded outside.

Trowa moaned again, growled. It hurt so bad...

"I don't know, he's hurting, I don't know why!"

"Shut the hell up, damn it..."he moaned again.

The four pilots ran in the hangar, and at first didn't see the boy. Then, they looked at the ladder and the pitiful heap at its foot.

Quatre and Duo threw themselves on their knees at the ex-mercenary's sides and turned him around slowly. His face was daubed with blood, his eyes closed, and he was whining low, his jaws closed tight.

After a moment of surprise, Heero went to lean over his comrade... and the scent hit him hard.

"What happened to him? Did he fall off the ladder?" Duo asked.

"His nose isn't broken, so why is he bleeding? He's got a bruise on his shoulder. He doesn't look hurt apart from that... I don't know..."

"Guys... guys."

The American and the Arabian pilots looked up to Heero. He was staring at Trowa, his eyes between fascination and total stupefaction, and his face hinted at refusal to believe, and ... fear.

"What?"

"He stinks like Were."

"That's not possible," Duo answered with a small laugh that sounded false. "When would he have been..."

Quatre threw himself back with violence, landed on his butt hard without seeming to care, and lifted his hands to his mouth, his eyes wide open.

"Oh Allah... Oh no... oh no! That's not..."

"Quatre! That's not what?" Wufei demanded.

"I think ... I remember when... but ... He can't! Oh gods, Trowa..."

"Why?"

"It was only two days ago..."

The pilots fell silent, suddenly all too conscious of the fact that the full moon was barely in two weeks and a half.

"... What did Hilde say, on... the necessary incubation time...?"

No one answered. They all remembered well enough. Four weeks. Four. At least.

"...were...?"

Trowa lifted an arm that weighted tons, slowly, put it on his forehead to prevent the light from hurting his eyes.

He had been contaminated by the virus. He was going to become a Were. An animal. He didn't really know what he was supposed to think ... How to adapt, if he would be able to bear it ...

...Who was he trying to fool here? Their scent told it. Their terror, their incredulity. The remark on the incubation time. And none of them had ever suffered like that, not before the big night.

He was going to die.

".... T-Trowa?" stuttered a terrified voice just over him.

He felt a hand on his forearm, a small and warm hand. He lifted his arm from across his face, glanced at the angelic face framed with golden curls leaning over him, with its wide open aquamarine, teary eyes.

He put his arm back across his face, shrugging away the hand that was touching him.

"Trowa..."

"Go away."

"Trowa!"

In his so pure voice, shock, stupefaction. Pain.

Ha! He wasn't the one that had gotten his backbone torn out. He wasn't the one who would probably writhe in the throes of agony for days on end, before perishing during a convulsion, contaminated by a virus he had never asked to get, that he could not have gotten if only he had paid attention.

It was all his fault.

He had been right to be wary. Quatre Raberba Winner was truly the one who was able to hurt him the worst.

"Don't wanna see you anymore," he hissed through his clenched teeth, refusing to look at him. "Go'way."

Quatre gasped, then getting on his feet clumsily, he walked out of the hangar, his feet moving faster and faster until he was running, hit dead on by the anger and the resentment of the boy he loved, by Trowa's thoughts that all accused, rejected him; and he couldn't block them out.

His fault...

He ran away, his gasps turning to sobs, ran until he fell in the deepest corner he could reach, and began to cry silently, unable to stop the feelings from coming.

* * *

The three other boys didn't get the time to run after him, or to berate Trowa for his cruelty. The moment he left the hangar, the ex-mercenary's back arched off the ground and he screamed, twisting on the cement-covered ground, his muscles jumping with spasms. They tried to get a hold of him to prevent the boy from hurting himself, but he screamed harder each time they so much as brushed against him. Finally he lost consciousness, but the spasms were barely reduced at all.

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