Author: pyrzm
see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Broken Warriors + Chapter 115
Brothers

The Paris show closed with accolades, and opened to an adoring crowd on L-2 two weeks later.

The performances were a little bittersweet for everyone, knowing that Heero and Duo would be leaving, at least for a while. Heero caught Quatre being weepy several times, and got a little choked up himself, holding him to comfort him. He'd never been quite sure how to define his feelings for Quatre, but he knew he was going to miss being able to touch him like this. Duo had his teary-eyed moments, too.

"Damn, Heero," he'd sighed one night, cuddled in Heero's arms. "How can I want to stay and go so much at the same time, huh?"

It was Trowa who seemed the most accepting. He was outwardly warmer than usual, and participated enthusiastically in the wedding plans. The only difference Heero could see was that when the four of them slept together, which they did most of the time on L-2, he never seemed to end up next to Heero in bed. Heero tried not to feel hurt; Trowa was as friendly as always otherwise, and their act had never gone better.

+

Somewhere along the way, Duo and Quatre had decided that it would be easier to divide things up, and that it would be "romantic" if that division of labor kept Duo and Heero apart for the week leading up the ceremony.

"C'mon, 'ro!" Duo had pleaded when he balked. "You know we can't keep our hands off each other if we're sleeping together. This will make the actual wedding night more special. Please?"

As if Heero could deny him anything.

At the end of the L-2 run Duo and Quatre would go off to the house on the Cape, where Wufei would meet them and help them get ready for the beach wedding, while Heero and Trowa took up residence in a hotel in New Provincetown, to arrange the reception at Ma Rainey's Club.

"Why do you get Wufei?" asked Heero.

"I flipped a coin. You lost," Duo told him, with a kiss and a shrug.

Heero had discarded a good many plans before it occurred to him to recreate their first date. Luckily, Quatre had gotten the house on the Cape as part of his settlement with his family. Duo had, in his own words, "gone all gooey" over the fact that Heero would think of such a thing.

The informality of an outdoor wedding at the beach house had appealed to both of them, and Heero was quietly, deeply happy to return to the house. It was the first place that had ever felt like home, even though it wasn't theirs, and the memory had as much to do with Duo as it did with location. They'd taken their first real steps toward being an actual couple there, had their first real date, been able to relax and act like lovers instead of ex-soldiers. Heero treasured the sketches he'd done there, but in truth, all he had to do was close his eyes and he could summon up a host of beloved mental images: Duo coming down the stairs, breathtakingly beautiful in the new clothes Heero had bought for him; Duo at work over his masks, so calm and content; Duo stretched naked and tied up on the bed, washed with the colors of the sunset and sea; Duo, waiting for him on the beach, admitting that he'd missed Heero, the day he'd gone shopping, and the way he'd blushed when Heero gave him roses for the first time . . .

A piece of Heero's soul had come to life there, or back to life, anyway. Whatever the case, it only seemed logical to return there as they began this new phase together.

The week apart, though? That he was less keen on, but it clearly meant too much to Duo and Kat to say no.

He was also a little uneasy at spending the week alone with Trowa.

"I trust you, baby," Duo assured him the night they parted, the day after the last L-2 performance. "I trust Trowa, too. And---well, I think he needs this."

Heero suspected he was right. The last performance at L-2 marked the end of his act with Trowa, and when it was over and they were bowing to the crowd, Heero had seen tears on Trowa's cheeks, trickling down from under his mask. Heero almost reached out to him right there in front of everyone; as well as he knew him now, it was still a shock to see Trowa cry. But he had disappeared into his dressing room before Heero could say anything, and afterwards he seemed fine. He wouldn't talk about it at all, and his smiles had been strained.

"Is that why Wufei is joining you, rather than us?"

"Yeah," Duo admitted. "You're still OK with it, right? Kat's been having a rough time with Tro again lately, and he really needs a break. You know how to handle Trowa better than anyone else."

So Heero still wasn't sure it was a good idea for them to be alone for a week, but if it meant doing Quatre a favor, and helping both friends, then he would do it.

+

They took a private shuttle down to Massachusetts and set up their headquarters in a large hotel suite just down the street from the club. The wedding was being kept a secret from all but the close friends they'd invited to share in it. As far as the public knew, he and Trowa were arranging a private function for members of the Circus. It was a little maddening, knowing that Duo was just a few miles away, but Trowa and Quatre were coordinating all movements by cell phone, making certain they wouldn't run into each other by accident.

He and Trowa had separate bedrooms at the suite. Trowa went to bed early on the first night and closed his door, silently letting Heero know that he was on his own, with no expectations.

Heero accepted the gesture without comment and slept well, with a pillow in his arms in place of Duo. The same thing happened the following night. The next morning, however, Heero couldn't help noticing the dark circles under his friend's eyes. He looked a little bloodshot, too.

"Are you all right?" he asked over breakfast.

Trowa looked up from his eggs, his one visible eye revealing nothing more than mild surprise. "I'm fine, Heero. Hurry up and eat. We have to be at Loose Threads by nine for the fittings." There were a lot of last minute details to be seen to, but not enough to fill up a week and they were soon left with time on their hands. Trowa was good company, quiet as always, and easy going. Not wanting to draw undue attention around town, they kept to themselves during the day, playing cards and watching movies. Heero put on his wig and glasses and went out sketching. One Wednesday they drove down to Boston and took in several art museums. When Trowa had had his fill of hushed rooms and dusty paintings, he dragged Heero off to the New England Aquarium, which, much to Heero's surprise, they both really enjoyed. Heero especially liked watching the penguins, while Trowa was off lingering in front of the immense shark tank.

They had a good time, ate supper in the restaurant overlooking the sea lion pools, and drove home in comfortable silence, listening to baseball on the radio. When they got back to the hotel, however, Trowa headed straight for his room. He paused on the way, blushed a shocking shade of red, pulled a crumpled New England Aquarium bag from the backpack he'd carried, and tossed it to Heero. Before Heero could do more than catch it, he disappeared with a mumbled good night.

Baffled and a little concerned, Heero went to his own room and opened the bag. Inside was a small penguin plush toy, the funny-looking kind with the yellow feathers sticking out from the sides of its head. Heero didn't remember telling Trowa that those were his favorites.

He sat on the edge of his bed for a long time, looking down at the unexpected gift and pondering the events of the past few weeks. He waited until things went still on Trowa's side of the wall, then turned off his light and went out into the darkened sitting room and settled in the armchair in a corner by the window to wait.

Sure enough, within an hour he heard Trowa's door creak open, and saw a dark, lean shape move over to the couch. Not noticing Heero in the shadows, Trowa left the lights off, and turned on the TV with the volume very low. He was dressed for bed in sweats and a tee shirt, his hair mussed as if he'd been tossing and turning for a while. He flipped through channels for a long time, settled briefly on a soft-core porn channel, and then turned it off with a look of disgust. He then spent some time pacing around in the dark, arms wrapped tightly across his chest as if he were cold.

"Can't sleep?" Heero asked at last.

He hadn't intended to startle Trowa, but he did. Bereft of all his usual grace, Trowa jumped back and fell over an ottoman, coming within inches of falling through the glass-topped coffee table. As it was, he came down hard on his ass, wedged between the sofa and the table. "Jesus fuck, Heero!"

"Sorry." He switched on the lamp beside him and rose to help him up.

But Trowa scrambled backwards and clambered to his feet, keeping distance between them. His cheeks were flushed, as if Heero had caught him doing something embarrassing, and there was a tell tale hint of tears along his lower lashes. From the look on his face, and the way he kept darting glances at the door, Heero was glad Trowa wasn't dressed. He looked like he wanted to bolt from the suite.

Heero took a step toward him. Trowa took a step back, keeping his distance.

"Come here," Heero ordered, pointing to the space just in front of him.

Trowa wavered, then made a feint for his bedroom. Heero leaped the couch easily and caught him before he could shut the door against him. He expected tears or a fight, but instead Trowa went rigid in his arms, eyes fixed on the floor.

Heero carefully gentled his hold on him, but kept an arm around his waist in case of sudden moves. "Talk to me, 03."

"I-- I can't, Heero. Just let me go to bed, OK?"

"Not until you tell me what's bothering you."

"It's not your problem."

"I'll miss you, too, you know. We both will."

Trowa sighed and rested a hand on Heero's shoulder. "Yeah. I know. You should go back to bed now. We've got things to do in the morning."

"And leave you alone, not sleeping for another night? I don't think so."

Trowa was taller than Heero. He only had to raise his chin a little to look Heero in the eye. His own were filled with sadness, and affection, too. He touched a hand to his heart. "You can't fix what's broken in here, Heero. No one else can, not even Kat. Only I can, and I'm trying. I really am. I've been talking to that damn shrink of yours. A lot. I think I understand myself better than I did, but it doesn't make me stop--wanting." He looked away again.

"Wanting what, Trowa? Me?"

Trowa gave him a sad, soft little smile. "Turns out you're a symptom, Yuy, not a cause."

"I don't understand."

"Me, neither, querido, but I'm trying to. I really am. Dr. B even says I'm making progress but-" He rubbed absently at his breastbone. "It still hurts, right here."

"That we're leaving."

"Yeah." It was a husky whisper now. "Don't worry. I don't hold it against you, or Duo. I really, really don't. I just wish I could get rid of these feelings, you know? I love Kat. I'm happy with him! I didn't even really think of doing anything sexual with Duo, not until--"

"Until I came back?"

"Yeah, you got it. How fucked up is that?"

"Maybe that's what it took to make a family in your mind. And maybe, if you hadn't met Quatre and I hadn't met Duo and I wasn't so fucked in the head during the war---"

Trowa pressed a long finger to Heero's lips. "Don't, Heero. None of that matters. Things are what they are. And you know what the most fucked up thing is?"

"Tell me."

"My life is so good! I love my life! I love Quatre and all of you, even Wufei, sort of, and Zechs. And the Circus? I did that and it's such a success. I didn't expect all that, ever. But what my head knows and what my heart and gut feel---it just doesn't match up sometimes. Do you think I'd ever give up Quatre for anyone else, even you?"

"No."

"No, I wouldn't. I'd die first." Trowa actually smiled. "You know, I can say that, and I know it's true. He's my life, my love."

"But you want a family."

"Maybe, and according to Dr. B you don't have to fuck someone to be family. How 'bout that?"

"I'm sorry about that night. It never should have happened."

"Well, maybe so, but no one, not even Batoosingh, is ever going to make me regret it. In my fucked up world, it brought us closer. It's like when two kids cut their thumbs and mix the blood. Blood brothers. It's kind of like that. You don't have to keep doing it. It's forever, right?"

"Yes." In its own crazy way, it made sense. "So if you've figured all this out, why aren't you sleeping at night?"

"Figuring stuff out doesn't make it go away, or stop hurting. Not right away. And-" He gave Heero an embarrassed little look. "I get lonely, sleeping alone. Always have. I used to sleep next to the lion's cages, just to hear someone else breathing in the dark."

Heero thought back to what Trowa had told him that morning after their "intervention", how the mercenaries who'd adopted him let him sleep with them, and kept him warm and safe at night. It didn't take a degree in psychotherapy to figure out why Trowa had later become a boy prostitute. Better that than being alone.

He tightened his arm around Trowa's slim waist and guided him toward his bedroom. Trowa tensed again, literally digging in his heels. "Heero what the fuck?"

"I want you to sleep. You need to sleep. You can't sleep alone, and it's just me here. Come on."

"I can't."

"Trowa, I understand."

"No, you don't. Duo made me promise that I wouldn't---that we wouldn't---"

"We're not going to have sex, Trowa. We're going to sleep. Duo wouldn't begrudge you that, now would he? Just pretend I'm one of your lions."

Trowa resisted a moment longer, but Heero gave him a firm tug that sent him stumbling forward. For a moment he was sure Trowa would grab the doorframe and struggle, but he didn't. Moving like one defeated, he slid under the covers on the far side of the bed and lay stiffly there, staring up at the ceiling.

With an inward sigh, Heero joined him, then reached over and dragged him bodily across the mattress, and wrapped his arms around him, holding on firmly until Trowa relaxed enough to rest his head on Heero's chest. Heero was long past regretting the return of his unusual strength. Holding Trowa carefully with one arm, he stroked his hair back and kissed his forehead. "I love you, Trowa, I always will, and did before we ever had sex. You saved my life. You cared for me when I didn't care about myself at all. Without you, the rest of my life wouldn't have happened. I'd have died on that battlefield. You'll always be my blood brother, whether we're together or not. Duo, too."

"Thanks." With that one word, all the tension flowed out of Trowa's lanky frame and he melted against Heero's side.

Heero stroked his back gently, and after a moment Trowa slid an arm around his waist.

"I really enjoyed today," he murmured, settling his head more comfortably under Heero's chin.

"I really like my penguin. Thank you."

"So you'll remember," Trowa whispered. And then he was fast asleep.

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