Author: pyrzm
Summary: That mysterious night before the New Edwards raid.

Lost Souls + Chapter 3
His Smile

Trowa's fingers hesitated over the keyboard. He should let this go. He was a soldier. He had missions to concentrate on.

// And maybe Rashid was right. //

Somehow his little finger found the return key, initiating the search.

Quatre Raberba Winner wasn't hard to find.

Trowa told himself he didn't feel anything in particular as picture after picture scrolled past: a rich little boy living a rich boy's life, in the upper echelons of L-4 high society. He skimmed the available information, not noticing how his fingers strayed to his lips.

Quatre was something of an enigma to the press. His family was known for their great philanthropy and their staunch pacifism, but also their intense privacy. It didn't appear that Quatre went to public or private school, yet he'd struck Trowa as well educated. Tutors, probably. There were few social appearances, either, and never away from his father or some of the elder of his twenty-nine sisters. A sheltered upbringing, just as Rashid had said.

But then about eight months ago the young heir had disappeared inexplicably. There were rumors of a scandal, a rift with the family, that Quatre had run away. The family closed ranks, refused to confirm or deny anything. It was assumed that young Winner had been sent away in disgrace, but no reasons could be found.

"Guess you're not much of a pacifist," Trowa murmured. He downloaded one of the more recent pictures, a shot of Quatre standing solemnly in some garden, beside a flowering tree. He was dressed in Arab spacer clothing and was looking wistfully off to one side. He didn't look sad, exactly, just like he was longing for something other than what he had at the moment. Trowa sat looking at it for a long time, then hid it away in an encrypted file.

They were both soldiers. They both had missions. They might never meet again, and perhaps that was just as well.

But he saved that picture.

+

Quatre Raberba Winner might be sheltered and a little innocent, but he wasn't stupid. He knew that what he'd felt, kissing Trowa Barton that night, had been more than just friendship. If he'd had any doubts about that, the dreams he started having a few nights after Trowa left the base ended them. Sometimes it was just that face, those sad, guarded green eyes that drew him like a magnet and tugged at his heart. In others, they played music together, and in the best ones Trowa kissed him and called him "meli" again.

His body responded to those dreams, and to daydreams that seemed to steal over him more often as the days passed. As nice as those feelings were, they made him feel bad and guilty, too, even as he rubbed himself against his mattress and whimpered into his pillow. You weren't supposed to have such feelings for another boy! It had seemed all right, that night at the oasis, but he'd let himself get carried away. If his father ever found out, or Rashid and his men? Such thoughts killed any arousal very quickly.

Well, usually.

He knew he should just forget about all that, but his body had other ideas, and one day he found himself doing a computer search on "Trowa Barton". He found a few people with that name, but none of them were his Trowa.

His Trowa! When had he started thinking of the other boy like that, and why did it make him feel all shaky and hot?

Days turned to weeks, and the dreams came less frequently. Now, they ended all too often with Trowa walking away from him that last morning, only in these he didn't reply or turn around; he just walked away.

+

San Francisco

"Trowa? That is you!"

Trowa froze on that dark San Francisco street, hand stealing automatically to his gun, but it was only reflex. It had been over a month, but he recognized that voice at once. He turned slowly and found Quatre waving to him from a phone booth just down the street from the warehouse where he'd just delivered Heavyarms. That smile. Those eyes. The obvious delight at seeing him again.

Trowa took no notice of any of that, of course, disciplined soldier that he was, or the jolt that went through his own heart at the sight of the golden haired boy. He had a mission.

Quatre was still smiling as he strode over to him as Trowa stood beside the transport. "Hi! So we meet again! Funny we both ended up in the same place, huh?"

They both knew exactly why the other one was there, of course.

"I'm doing this alone," Trowa told him firmly, trying not to get caught by those eyes.

"So am I, but what if we helped each other? Two's always better than one."

"Don't think so." // Don't let that smile get to you. Don't remember what those lips tasted like! //

Trowa walked off. He would have gotten got away, too, if he hadn't heard Quatre mumble, "Oh. OK, I just thought--" He'd never imagined this boy could sound so miserable. It was ridiculous! He'd done nothing wrong. // Except make him sound like that, you heartless shit! //

He stopped, fists clenched, torn by indecision. Good sense said 'keep walking' but instead he turned and saw how defeat and hurt had replaced the happiness in those big blue eyes. It was the same look he'd seen that night at the oasis, only this time he'd put it there, treating the kid so cold. Was this really better for either of them?

He took a step back, but Quatre hunched his shoulders and walked away. Trowa caught up and fell into step beside him. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. I just have a lot on my mind."

Quatre increased his pace, though he was no match for Trowa's long legs. "Yeah, I know. Just take off. I understand!"

He was trying to sound cool and dismissive, Trowa could tell, but he saw the glitter of tears in those downcast eyes, and that "I've been hurt before and I probably deserve it" look again, loud and clear. Great. He'd really managed to hurt Quatre's feelings.

"Look, Quatre, I--" He trailed off, no idea what it was he wanted to say. "Hey, are you hungry? I just got into town and I'm starving. We could get something to eat somewhere." Quatre stopped, but wouldn't look up. "Really, I'm sorry. Don't be mad."

Quatre sighed. "It's you who has the right to be angry with, after the way I acted last time. It was wrong of me to-you know."

He'd seemed so natural about the kissing at the time and now he looked miserable and guilty. Had Rashid spoken to Quatre, Trowa wondered. If so, it was up to him to undo that damage. "It wasn't wrong, Quatre. I didn't mind. Not at all."

Quatre relaxed noticeably. "Really? You mean it?"

"Don't trouble yourself about it, please." // If a kiss scares you like this, if you had any idea what else I've done, would you even be talking to me? //

"Well, I guess I am hungry. We're not really dressed for a restaurant, but I passed a diner a couple of blocks back. Would that do? My treat?"

"No, let me pay. I owe you for last time, remember?"

Quatre smiled and it was like seeing the sun come out from behind a cloud. Trowa sighed inwardly. It was just a meal. No harm in that.

It was late and the diner was almost empty. The food wasn't anything to rave about, and suddenly they found they had nothing to say. It wasn't like they knew anything much about each other. Trowa saw Quatre growing uncomfortable again and felt the need to bridge the gap between them. "I looked you up on the web," he admitted. "I mean, you told me your name and all."

"Oh." For some reason this seemed to embarrass Quatre but Trowa blundered on.

"I saw that your family are pacifists. It must be hard for you to do what we do."

"No," Quatre said, surprising him. "I mean, I hate having to--you know, hurt people, but I think that peace and freedom are worth fighting for, don't you? Isn't that why you're doing it, too?"

"I've always been a soldier. It's all I am, all I know how to do. But yes, I think this is worth it."

Quatre stirred his fork around in a blob of mashed potato, then said shyly, "I don't think it's all you are. You're a wonderful musician. I really enjoyed playing with you. I'd really like to do that again sometime."

"Yeah."

They both went back to picking at their food. They finished in silence, skipped dessert, and Trowa paid the bill.

"Where are you staying?" Quatre asked when they were back on the street.

"In the truck."

"You won't be very comfortable there. You should get a good night's rest. You're-uh, well-" He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground. "You can stay with me. My hotel is right near where you-where you parked your truck. Mine is there, too. And if we're going to work together-I mean, if you think that's a good idea, maybe we should do some planning? At least we could talk freely there and it's a suite 'cause that's all they had left so there's lots of room and-um-- You don't have to stay but we could talk and then--" He trailed off again.

Quatre clearly wanted him to stay with him, but seemed really embarassed about it. Trowa wondered if he was afraid Trowa would try to kiss him again. He wished there was some way to reassure him that he would never take advantage of him like that without embarrassing the kid to death. "I'd better stay with HA overnight, but yes, we should probably do some planning. Do you have the mission specs?"

"On my computer. Come on, it's not far."

The Starly Hotel was a far cry from the fancy desert base, but the small suite was clean and it had all night room service. Quatre ordered coffee and they settled on the couch in the small sitting room to go over the New Edwards base plans. Talking about the mission put them back on safe ground. Quatre didn't look it, but he was a good tactician and Trowa ended up agreeing to back him in his assault plan.

They sat close together in order look at laptop screen. Suddenly Trowa was very aware of how their shoulders and knees were touching. Distracted from his embarrassment for the moment, Quatre had fallen back into that easy, confident manner of his that had first attracted Trowa. Turning his head just a little, he caught a whiff of that sweet, spicy shampoo smell from him, too. He really liked that scent.

// Yeah, too much! //


"I should go," he said, standing up abruptly. For an instant, this brought his crotch level with Quatre's face. Old memories and habits stirred, but the look of surprise and concern on Quatre's sweet, innocent face quelled that. Caught between the couch and the coffee table the laptop was on, he stumbled awkwardly, and ended up almost falling into Quatre's lap. The other boy grabbed his hip to keep him from falling on the computer.

That touch! It sent all the wrong messages to Trowa's body. "I should go," he mumbled again, feeling more stupid and awkward by the second. The kid was an empath. He'd picked up on his feelings before. What if he felt Trowa's sudden longing to hold him, kiss his lights out?

But Quatre must have missed it, because he slid his hand into Trowa's and smiled up at him. "Relax, will you? You look really tired. Sleep here on the couch, why don't you, and have a decent breakfast with me tomorrow."

// He's holding my hand. // Trowa's mind couldn't get beyond that for a moment. Quatre's hand was bigger than he'd expected. He really wasn't as small and childlike as he'd remembered. His grip was warm and firm, his hands callused just like Trowa's from working Gundam controls. Trowa's knees betrayed him and he found himself sitting next to the other boy again, closer than he had any right to and still holding hands. And Quatre was still smiling at him.

He had absolutely no defenses again that smile!

"Uh. OK."

"Good!" Quatre dropped his hand and got up. "I think this thing folds out. I'll ring down for some bedding."

Ever the natural host, Quatre saw to it that he was made comfortable on the fold out bed and wished him good night.

Lying there in the dark, trying to ignore the aching erection he didn't dare deal with, not with that kid right in the next room and the door ajar, Trowa couldn't stop his imagination from running riot. How could he think of Quatre like that? He'd never sully him that way. Trowa decided he probably would've gotten a better night's sleep in the truck after all.

+

Quatre lay stiff and straight, hands at his sides, trying to ignore his arousal and block the strong emotions coming to him from Trowa. It was a mix of the nice, warm affection they'd shared at the oasis when they kissed, mixed in with darker elements of sex thoughts and lots of guilt.

Quatre was having a similar reaction, and was mortified at the way it was affecting him. He hadn't meant to make his guest uncomfortable! Clearly, Trowa didn't want to feel attracted to him that way, any more than Quatre, a very good little Muslim boy, wanted to feel that way about him. It was confusing and frustrating. It was bound to get in the way of the friendship he hoped they could have. What was wrong with him? And why did he keep picturing Trowa appearing in that dark doorway, coming to him, touching him and calling him that nice, silly name again?

He lay there in agony, unable to sleep, and so was awake to hear Trowa moving around in the other room a short while later. He went to the bedroom door and found Trowa fully dressed, trying to get his shoes on in the dark.

Quatre found the wall switch and turned on the lights. "What wrong?"

Trowa wouldn't look up. "I should go."

Feelings flashed at Quatre, too strong for him to block. Need. Guilt. Affection. Protectiveness. But mostly guilt. "Trowa, you haven't done anything wrong. I'm sorry if I make you uncomfortable-"

Before he could finish he found himself enfolded in strong arms and Trowa's rich male scent, being kissed tenderly on the lips.

"You didn't do anything wrong," Trowa whispered, holding him close and stroking his hair. "You couldn't. It's me. I can't explain, I'm just-- I'm sorry. I'll meet you at the base like we planned. I'm sorry!" He kissed him again, a chaste press of lips to his cheek, and then he was gone.

Quatre wanted to run after him, pull him back, kiss him again, // be kissed by him again! // but the fear he'd felt in Trowa held him back. "Trowa!" he murmured, confused and trembling at the memory of the unexpected kiss.

// Meli! // The thought flashed back to him like an embrace.

[ch. 2] [ch. 4] [back to Pyrzm's fic]