Story: GOOD FORTUNE
Author: FancyFigures
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 2X4, 4X3
Category: 2 parts, AU, POV, romance/angst
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon
Spoilers: None

Notes: Nothing in Trowa Barton's wealthy, relatively sheltered life could have prepared him for the shock of taking in the two street rats. His life was going to be turned upside down by both of them, in different ways. And by the end of it all, no-one was going to be quite what they seemed at first.

Good Fortune + Chapter 1

I don't think there's much time left now.

The doctor has been particularly discreet, but I know that it is probably a matter of hours.

I smile at the picture on my bedside table. The young, fresh-faced boy, smiling back as if he could see me here. A picture from those happier times.

I ache for him.

Will he come back to me, now? At the last?

+

He came to me last spring.

They both did.

I can't remember exactly how I ended up in the park that late afternoon, unattended by my staff. I suspect that it was another of my vain attempts to seek some solitude. I can do very much what I wish with my life -- except to be alone. There are always bodyguards, or nurses, or someone in attendance -- my father's will saw to that. But occasionally, because I'm still quite young and slim and quiet, I can slip away from them, and make my own way to and from my house. Please understand - I never want to go anywhere else. I just want to choose my own way, and my own company. Is that too much to ask?

There was a chill to the evening, and the dusk would soon sink into darkness. The bodyguards would be out, looking for me, I thought wrily. I had seen no-one else for over half an hour -- I'd chosen a particularly secluded area for my route home. The grass was uncut, the trees untended. There were several old sheds leaning against the perimeter, broken, abandoned. There were night animals already roaming about -- but I merited nothing more than a curious stare from a passing fox. A few more hundred yards and I'd be back on the main path.

Then there was a sudden rushing noise, the patter of feet on the flattened grass. I had no time to stop or turn and look -- there was only the consciousness of someone behind me, the wind from a moving body as it passed, and the shock of a hand hard against my back. I fell -- both slowly and quickly -- I was full of the astonishment of falling when you're an adult, you're never prepared for it like children may be. I fell hard on to the ground, and the air was slapped from my chest.

I thought I might not get up. But it was strangely soothing, just to give up. I waited to see what would happen to me.

Then the voice came.

"Are you all right?" It was very soft, but I could hear it clearly. I could feel my heart beating, my sight clearing. I wondered if I'd had some kind of stroke -- but the moment passed, and I thought that all my faculties were restored.

"Thank you, yes. I -- I have spells of illness, I'm afraid. But that's all it is." The speaker took my arm and helped me to stand up. When I started shaking, he pressed me back down, to sit on the grass. He sat down beside me, still watching out for me. And I took a full look at him.

He was a boy -- well, a young man. I'm hardly an old one myself, am I? Perhaps in his late teens. He stood a couple of inches shorter than me, probably five or so years younger. The illness makes me look a lot older than I actually am. His hair was pale blond, curling around his face, and his blue eyes were sharp on mine. His hand felt very strong under my arm, and he was confident in handling me. But overall, there was an impression of softness, of kindness.

And astonishing beauty!

Don't misunderstand me, I appreciate beauty in any person, regardless of their sex. I suppose that I do have a weakness for boys over girls. But it has always been an aesthetic weakness -- not a sexual one. And he was -- truly -- lovely. An angel growing up, I would have described him. Not the unformed, naive beauty you'd expect of a new angel -- but one tempered with experience of life, and a developing adult body. Yet still an ethereal quality that might take your breath away.

And no wings, of course! I almost laughed out loud at being so fanciful. I've always been a very calm, logical man. I understand subjective feelings -- I feel my own desires and I can work to my own instincts. But I have always had control.

"Who are you?" I asked. "Where have you come from? I didn't know anyone was here. I've walked here before -- it's always deserted."

He smiled. His mouth curved softly, the lips full. He was looking at my mouth as I spoke, and I think I may have blushed. Ridiculous!

"That's why we like it here. We hang out in the old sheds. No-one bothers us, and we can make our own way. But I saw you fall, and I had to come out to help..."

"I -- fell -- " Yes, I remembered now. The rush of a body beside me, running feet... "There was someone else..."

"No," the blond boy smiled. "Just me. Oh -- and maybe my partner, Duo."

"Where's he?"

The boy shrugged. Very gently. Very expressively. "Duo does his own thing. We work together, we stay together. But we're different people, I think."

I was regaining my strength, but he didn't seem to want to leave my side. It felt surprisingly good, to sit beside him, to talk to him like this.

"I -- you seem almost familiar to me," I laughed lightly. "I feel very comfortable with you. What's your name?"

"Quatre," he replied. He didn't seem to resent my prying. He didn't have the aggressive nervousness that I would have expected from a street boy.

Because that's what he obviously was. I lead a very sheltered life, I know, but even I knew who lived in these parks, who moved about so confidently at night. Street gangs, thieves, men and women who sold themselves. Despite my fear, I felt a thrill of excitement at being out here among them myself. I knew that the bodyguards would turn up soon, and I'd be taken back to my relative safety. Meanwhile -- well, meanwhile I had this boy to keep me safe instead.

"I'm Trowa Barton," I said. "I live on the other side of town..."

"I rather thought that," he grinned. "I don't think we have the same tailor, do we?"

He sat there in ripped jeans, and a complex set of vests, variously torn and mended, and layered over his upper body. His face had smudges of dirt on the chin, his hair had been unevenly cut, and probably only washed in the rain. And he looked fabulous.

I sat in an Italian hand-made suit, boots tooled from my personal last, and I looked like nothing in comparison.

I heard the call of a man that I knew. One of my bodyguards. He wouldn't yet be able to see me, particularly as I sat on the ground, on the spiky grass. His voice was a mixture of anger at the inconvenience of searching for me, and fear that I may have come to harm. I sighed, and turned to Quatre.

"Will you come back to my house? Have something to eat or drink? I'm not far away. Just so that I can thank you properly for helping me. I don't have anything with me --"

He looked at me in some surprise. Beautiful, deep pools of eyes. "I don't think so."

"Quatre, why? Just a meal -- perhaps a small reward, if you won't be offended --"

"By money?" he smiled. "Not at all! Easy to be offended when you have some in the first place. But I can't come to your house. I have Duo to consider."

"Your friend? Partner?"

He nodded. And then I think I noticed it for the first time -- a moving shadow behind him, half hidden in the dark shapes of the trees. A shadow that moved independently of the trees, that had limb shapes attached.

"Let me meet him, then. If he's your friend, he could come too."

Quatre didn't seem to say anything or make any gesture, but immediately the shadow broke away from the evening darkness, and came to his side. It was another boy, as I'd guessed. But perhaps I'd been imagining it would be someone like Quatre. Similar looks -- similar bearing. This boy, although probably the same age, and dressed as roughly as Quatre -- well, they couldn't have been more different!

He was taller, he was broader in the shoulders, and his stance was immediately more aggressive. His skin was darker, tanned by the sun. He wore a baseball cap tight on his head, the shade from the brim half hiding his eyes. But even with that, I could see the glint in those eyes - wide, violet-flecked eyes - staring at me with hostility. As he moved, I saw something sway at the edge of his hip; from the cap fell a long, thick braid of chestnut coloured hair.

He wasn't as beautiful as my new friend, by any means. And dirtier. And scowling. But despite that, I heard myself draw in my breath. He was striking in a very masculine, physical way. He put out a hand to Quatre's shoulder -- possessively. The blond of Quatre against his thick, dark hair was startling; an angelic beauty against a handsome ruggedness. I couldn't believe that these two were typical of most tramps. Or maybe my mind was playing tricks -- imagining the strange aura from both of them, as they stood there together, looking back at me. I wished I were a painter -- a photographer. I was rather stunned. You don't expect to find such creatures living rough in the park.

"Come back with me for a meal. For a reward," I quickly added, somehow knowing that Duo would be more impressed at the thought of money. "I'll bring you back later if you want. Or you can stay for a while." I turned to Quatre. "I want to get to know you better."

"Jesus, Q, he wants to do it in a decent bed, rather than a shed --" hooted Duo. His voice was loud -- it was strident compared to Quatre's soft caress.

"No!" I blushed despite myself. I could hear the bodyguard approaching, knew I had little time to persuade him. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing, myself. But I wanted this boy back in my house -- like I said, I wanted to know more about him.

"That's not what I mean! Just for food, for -- company. Don't be afraid --"

"I'm not afraid," said Quatre, gently. "Not of you."

He turned to Duo, and their eyes met. I was suddenly, insupportably jealous of their friendship. "Duo, he doesn't want me for that. I helped him when he fell, and he wants to repay me. Us."

"Yeah, right. Like I'm gonna believe that. Fuck off, pervert."

He moved towards me, covering Quatre. He didn't touch me, but I felt his bubbling anger, and I felt the menace. I shivered.

He was only a foot away from me, his face almost on a level, though he was a couple of inches taller. I could stare into the unusually coloured eyes, see the firm set of his wide mouth. Somehow I knew it was important to face him out.

"Is that what you are? Some pervert, searching for rent boys in the park? We see plenty of 'em, don't we, Q -- though you seem to be startin' kinda young..."

"No," I replied, as clearly as I could. "I'm not into that sort of thing."

He stared a little longer at me. I felt as if he was searching me, looking for something -- and finding nothing but dirt. I felt it myself, and yet I was innocent. It was as if his gaze reached into me, and twisted something.

His hand raised very slightly and I think that I flinched. He grinned, and it wasn't for happiness -- something rather darker. He reached out suddenly and grasped my chin. I let him -- I don't think I could have done anything else. I don't let many people touch me in the normal way of things.

"You're too soft to be a danger to us, Rich Boy. Look at these clothes -- that skin! Soft as a baby. You'd be no fun in the sack, anyway. I think you should just run off home to your Ma before I get bored of you..."

"Duo!"

Quatre spoke quite sharply, but when Duo wheeled back to glare at him, he also flinched.

The boy Duo was angry and fierce and he scared me, to be honest -- but in that minute, I wanted to hurt him; to protect Quatre.

Then the tension eased. Duo shrugged.

"You wanna go, Q, OK. Fucking stupid, if you ask me, but I could use a good meal." He turned back to me. "That guy with you as well?" He'd taken a more defensive stance as we spoke, spreading his feet further apart, balancing himself as if he was about to fight. His head jerked towards the bodyguard now approaching us.

"Yes, he's with me," I said. I was trying to regain my breath -- to overcome my fright. I concentrated hard on Quatre's lovely face, full of uncertainty. "Follow us back. Please."

+

I suppose I should have known that it wasn't going to be an easy time. But that first night was like being in a dream. They both ate a huge supper, and took money, and then they stayed as well. In two of my guest rooms, on the second floor. Rooms beside each other. I saw Quatre to his door, to show him the towels, the bathroom, the way the air conditioning worked. Duo pushed past me to get to his door, snatching extra towels as he went, snarling that "the water better be fuckin' hot" and glaring at Quatre as he went. I heard him lock his door behind him. I watched Quatre shrug ruefully at his behaviour, thank me for the money and everything -- and vanish inside.

I felt bereft.

I knew, even that first night, that I wanted Quatre with me. I had no idea for how long, or in what capacity. But I knew that the rooms downstairs had been richer for his company: that I loved to hear his soft, clear voice; that he made me feel so very much happier. I'd known him only for a few hours.

I wanted him to stay.

+

"You're becoming a good friend, Quatre!" I joked one day, a couple of weeks after he'd moved in. I did a lot of my work from home, as travelling tired me so easily, and we were sitting in my home office, having a tea break. Well, I had tea. Quatre had water. "I hope that you'll stay a while. I like having you around."

He looked at me a little strangely. "Don't you have many friends, Trowa? A good man like you -- an important man like you?"

Of course, even in that short period, he would have seen the succession of professional advisers tramping through this house. The lawyers, the accountants. And the doctors, of course.

"No," I said, shortly. And it was true. The advisers attempted to become friends, but that's not what I needed. Annie and the rest of my office staff found me rather difficult to work with, because of my strange hours and my continual medications. As well as the frustration of working in a house so far from the city, enclosed by high walls and thousands of acres of professionally landscaped garden, with so few modern gadgets for entertainment.

I was sheltered, as I've said before, but I knew enough to know I wasn't a typical young man myself. I didn't go out, I didn't party; I didn't date. There wasn't much else, except for occasional trips to town, and my sad little attempts to rebel.

"Where's your family?"

I wasn't offended by his questions, much as he'd never so far been offended by mine, though he'd avoided most of my gentle enquiries about his own background.

"They're all dead, now. That's why I have this house to myself. Why I run the family business as best I can."

"On your own?" Quatre sounded admiring, and I suppose I was a little flattered. I was nothing compared to my father, of course. But I did my best, and the share price had increased significantly since my inheritance was confirmed.

"Why are you ill, Trowa? Does it hurt?"

"A little. Sometimes. I've always been ill, since a baby. I have a hole in my heart -- I had serious pneumonia as a child. It's difficult to breathe sometimes, and I'm expected to rest far more than I do. I've learned to live with it, Quatre."

"Can't anything be done?" He seemed genuinely upset, and it moved me. No-one's been upset for me since my mother died when I was ten. And it was all such a strain to her.

"No. I must be careful, and take the medication, and they say that perhaps I'll live to my forties."

"You might die?" His voice was a shocked whisper. "But you're young, like me!"

I forced a laugh. "We might all die, Quatre! It's just that I'm more vulnerable, that's all. To shock -- to extreme stress and exertion. I don't want to think about that --"

"Nor do I!" he said, quite forcefully. And he put a hand over mine. I didn't know what to say, because my heart started filling with something alien to me -- a deep, roaring ache. I don't know if I gasped. His eyes widened -- the big, vibrantly blue eyes - as if he saw it too. But he smiled reassuringly at me, and withdrew his hand just as gently.

"I'll fetch you another tea with your tablets."

As he went to the door, I thought I saw a shadow behind it, moving swiftly away as he approached. I was tired. I was probably imagining it.

+

Gradually, he became my personal assistant. My office girl, Annie, is a fairly timid person, and she's never inspired me with confidence. When Quatre started gathering papers for me, filing things away -- even answering the telephone a few times when Annie was busy or too flustered -- I felt a reassurance in someone else that I realised I'd never had since I took on the estate. He met many of my advisors, many of the professional people I dealt with. I could see that they were impressed by his manner -- by his calm, intelligent support to me. I suppose that they were used now to dealing with me, a man unusually young for their business. Quatre was therefore not such a culture shock.

"Have you trained in business, Quatre? What jobs have you had?" He could talk to anyone on the 'phone. He could separate junk mail from the important papers -- he had a rudimentary understanding of legal terms that had taken me hard months to develop.

"None, Trowa," he smiled. "None that you'd want to know about, anyway. I just like to help you. I listen to you when you talk about your life and it's fascinating. I think that I've picked up a lot from you. Thank you. Perhaps I can get a proper job some time." He looked wistfully at the door, away up the stairs. "Perhaps..."

I knew where his mind was looking.

"I think you'd be very good -- you're very bright." I looked at him sat there, barely months after we'd first met, when he'd been sleeping rough and dressed in rags. Now he was dressed by my own tailor, though not so formally. He had proper shoes, his hair was trimmed regularly. Good food had filled out his frame, and his body was already much softer yet fitter than mine. He looked like he belonged here.

And that made me happier than I'd ever been.

+

But despite this -- as I said - it was not an easy time.

To have Quatre come to my house, I had to take Duo as well. I saw the troubles begin that first night, even as he threw his grubby backpack on the couch. Even as he ran the hot water dry; commandeered the chair by the fire that I always used; drank all the beer as fast as the kitchen staff filled the fridge.

The days were bearable; he left the house most days after breakfast, leaving Quatre to work or relax with me. God knows what he did with his time, and I didn't really want to know. He'd come back at various times during the evening, sometimes after mdnight, and expect food, even though he'd missed the regular meals. I'd see Quatre leave whatever he was doing and go to see to him. Sometimes Duo got him up out of bed to cook for him, making such a drunken, clumsy racket that I'd wake and see what was going on. Quatre knew I wouldn't ask the staff to turn out again for my -- unwelcome -- house guest. But they'd respond to him -- the cook would give him leave of the kitchen, the maid would accept extra washing and cleaning at a moment's notice.

And Duo provided plenty of work for them all. He ate like a horse, and drank alcohol like water. He seemed always grubby, even though I reluctantly provided him with new garments, and gave him the run of the guest bathrooms. If his clothes were torn or ruined, he'd bin them, and take Quatre's instead. Or even mine, on occasion. Like he took everything else he wanted. And none of us stopped him.

That evening, I'd come up to the guest rooms to call Quatre for supper -- I didn't know Duo was back in the house, but I could hear two voices in Quatre's room. I was already almost there, and I didn't want to go back. Nor did I want to interrupt Quatre's conversation. That was my excuse for hanging back in the corridor, waiting. Listening in.

The door was slightly ajar and I could see that Duo was in there with him. He was still in his jacket, as if he'd just returned, and he was dirty and dishevelled -- almost like the day I'd first met the pair. I could see Quatre's hands, could hear him clearly, but the rest of him was just out of my view. His voice was unusually disturbed.

"You've been in the park, haven't you? Look at the jacket, Duo -- it's ruined!"

Duo glared at the blond boy. "They're fuckin' clothes, Q, not important! Look! Look!" With an angry twist, he wrenched off his torn jacket and peeled the filthy shirt up over his head. I had a view of his naked chest -- full of taut, hard muscle, and scarred with various marks from God knows what experiences. I thought for a minute he'd rip off the pants as well, and I wasn't sure how I'd keep quiet -- but he paused. To snarl at Quatre.

"You're getting' as bad as him, Q, the Rich Boy! Carin' about clothes and food and -- and the other soft crap. It's all too fuckin' easy for 'im here, can't you see? This ain't us..."

"Hush, Duo," Quatre murmured. I couldn't see his face. He bent to pick up the shirt, but his body stilled.

"What's this, Duo? It looks like blood. Blood! Are you hurt? What have you been doing?"

"None of your fuckin' business, remember? I'm OK. You didn't wanna come out with me tonight, so you don't get to know the score anymore. What I do's my own affair."

"That's not fair --"

"Fair?" he hooted. "You're even talkin' like him now! Too much time on his hands -- too much pampering. Man's like an orchid, Q -- too bloody fragile, high maintenance, and no fuckin' use to anyone! And I'll tell him so, if you'll let me!" His voice was sneering.

"You shouldn't upset Trowa, Duo. He's been good to us..."

"You're a fuckin' fool," he growled. "It's you he's good to, not me."

"He would like you if you made an effort --"

"Chrissakes, Q, as if I give a fuck what that pathetic geek thinks of me! I don't need 'im and neither do you." His voice twisted to a wheedling -- he leant a little towards Quatre. "Come on, blondie, we were OK together, weren't we? I looked after you. We need to get back to that before you forget how to." His hand reached out and must have taken Quatre's. "I can make you feel pretty good, eh? Remember?"

I felt a chill all through my body. But before I could decide what to do next, his hand was pushed back at him. Quatre had obviously refused his offer. His eyes narrowed angrily.

"Q, what's here for us? Tell me, blondie! No fucking TV, no music system -- no girls, except for that tight-ass secretary who shakes whenever I goose 'er."

"There's Trowa," Quatre's voice sounded warmer. "He's my friend..."

"Jesus, Q, he's some kinda ghoul, poppin' those pills like candy -- and creepin' about the house at all hours. Damn guy doesn't hardly sleep, does he? I oughtta show him what the real world's like!"

"Leave him alone," came Quatre's voice. I was startled by its firmness. I think maybe Duo was, too. He paused where he stood, mouth slightly open. But he soon recovered.

"Look, I gotta pile of cash -- let's split back to the city, eh?"

He fumbled in his pants pocket, and brought out a wad of notes.

"Where did you get that? Not from guys in the park -!"

"Nooo..." he grinned. His eyes glinted at Quatre. "You think that's my only source?"

"Duo, what are you up to? What have you done?"

"Ahh, don't be such a tight-ass!" he snapped back. "What else is there to do? What you do?

Sitting here in this shithole, wearing his pants, eating his scraps --"

"It's better than ripping him off!"

"Shut your sweet mouth, blondie!" Duo's voice had dropped menancingly low. "You may like being a pet, but I gotta life of my own. And it includes you, OK? 'S long as I'm around, you better be ready to move on when I say. Or -- you know what the alternative is, don'cha?"


+

[cont]