The Beginning's End + Part 4 (cont)

I don't know why I'm here. It's not a good plan. He'll try to stop me, try to move me from my planned course of action. But…

I can't go wherever I'm going without saying good-bye to them. Six years ago, during the war, I could go wherever I wanted, beholden to noone. Just like six years ago I could go anywhere with just the clothes on my back. Now, my arm aches from carrying my heavy suitcase across town, and I have to try to discharge some of the responsibilities to the people who have expressed caring for me.

It might hurt them if I leave without saying good-bye. I won't take the chance.

Resolutely, I raise my hand and knock.

I don't know if I'll get a response. If I don't, then I will have to leave with this particular duty undone. I can't face that mansion, the horde of people always thronging through and around it.

Only a few people know about this place. Noone would ever imagine that Quatre Raberba Winner, with mansions in half the major cities in the world, would ever rent a dinky little three bedroom in the Sank capital.

But it's his place. Only his friends know about it. It's somewhere he can go when he wants or needs to be alone.

I can understand that.

I stand in the hallway for a moment. There's no response to my knock. I pick up my suitcase and turn to leave. I'm conscious of a faint twinge of regret; it would have been nice to have someone to say good-bye to.

But just as I begin to walk away, the door opens and Quatre's blond head peers around its edge.

"Trowa!" he calls. "What are you doing here?"

I turn to face him. I hadn't thought how I would tell him; how I would explain why I was leaving.

His face changes as he looks at me, the engaging smile slipping away, replaced by a frown of concern. "What is it?" he demands urgently, staring into my eyes. "What's wrong?"

"I came to say good-bye," I say slowly.

His frown deepens, and he moves back, opening the door wider. "Come in," he says simply. It is not a request.

I accede to the order. Leaving my suitcase beside the door, I follow him from the entry hall into his living room, a room that's bigger than the entire apartment that I had shared with Duo.

As I follow his slight form, I absently notice something curious. Though it's well past noon, Quatre is still in his bathrobe. Maybe he's on vacation.

He turns his head and smiles at me over his shoulder before we enter the living room. The expression seems somewhat nervous.

As we enter the room, I immediately see why. Sprawled on the large white sofa, clad in nothing but a pair of scarlet silk boxers and a somewhat petulant expression, is Wufei. His hair is unbound, the shining locks spilling across his shoulders. I've never seen Wufei's hair down before.

He looks up as we enter the room, and when he sees me he flushes almost as red as his boxers. With a muttered exclamation, he grabs a soft throw from the back of the sofa and throws it over his hips.

I turn to my head to regard Quatre, who now has a somewhat guilty expression on his face. "Congratulations," I murmur.

"We were going to tell you all soon," he assures me. "We just…"

His voice trails off, and I nod in understanding. I do understand. They didn't want to spoil their new-found happiness by bringing others into it too soon.

I turn back to Wufei, and nod to him as well. "I am glad," I say simply.
He nods back, acknowledging my congratulations and approval and thanking me for them in that one gesture. I've always liked that about Wufei - he knows when words are necessary, and when they are not.

A frown, much like the one still on Quatre's face, creases Wufei's brow as he looks into my face. "What's wrong, Barton?" he asks, leaning forward intently. "What's happened?"

"I'm leaving. I came to say good-bye to Quatre. I'm glad I could see you as well before I go," I tell him, aware that I've not answered his question. I turn, intending to leave now that I have said my farewells. Quatre moves swiftly though, and blocks my exit from the room.

"Uh-uh," he says firmly, his blond head shaking in a firm negative. "You don't just come here and announce you're leaving for parts unknown and not tell us what's wrong."

I look calmly at him, waiting for him to finish.

He sighs impatiently, and points at a large armchair across from the couch. "Sit," he orders.

I stare at him for another moment, then turn and seat myself in the designated chair. It's easier to just do as he asks; I could get past him, but Wufei would probably challenge me to a duel or something if I were impolite to Quatre. That would take too much time. I have to go.

Quatre sits on the other end of the couch and regards me with eyes narrowed in contemplation. I'm a little uncomfortable with both he and Wufei staring at me so intently, but I return their gazes steadily, saying nothing.

"What's wrong, Trowa?"

"I'm leaving," I repeat. "I wanted to say good-bye to…"

"We know that part," Wufei interrupts, frowning at me. I turn my gaze to him, and the frown deepens.

"Is it something about Duo?" Quatre asks, going unerringly to the heart of the matter. I try not to wince when I hear the name.

I say nothing. I don't want to talk about it.

"Is he all right?" Quatre presses, concerned.

"He's fine," I say shortly. I don't want to talk about him.

"Did you have a fight?" he questions relentlessly.

I stare fixedly at him, not replying. I thought he was supposed to be empathic. I don't want to discuss it, Quatre.

"What happened, Trowa?" Quatre asks again, his voice very gentle.

I hold back a sigh, and tacitly acknowledge defeat. He isn't going to let up until I tell him. My best option now is to tell him quickly so I can leave.

In a few crisp sentences, I relate the events of last night, and my discovery of this morning. As I describe the scene I was met with in my living room Wufei's eyes narrow angrily and Quatre gasps, his blue eyes filling with tears. Tears for me.

"So…you're leaving him?" Quatre asks, his eyes uncertain.

I nod.

"You will not stay and fight?" Wufei demands.

I look at him. I don't doubt Wufei would fight if he were in my position. Particularly in this case - he and Heero have always been very competitive. But I realize that it is a battle I am doomed to lose, that the only thing I stand to gain is more hurt for everyone.

I am responsible. I should never have allowed it to continue so long, knowing…I wanted to believe that what I wanted to be true was true. But noone can live a lie forever; there is always a day of reckoning.

"Trowa…" Quatre hesitates, obviously trying to think of a way to phrase what he wants to say without angering me. He doesn't need to bother. I'm not going to get angry with him.

"You've been with Duo for three years. Don't you think maybe you should try to work this out, instead of just walking away?"

I stare at him. How do you ‘work out' something like that? Duo wants Heero. He may want me too, but to a lesser degree. Therefore, it is Heero that Duo should be with. It is impossible for that to happen with me there, so I have to leave.

Quatre tilts his head to one side inquisitively. "Trowa, do you think…Are you afraid that this happened because he loves Heero more than he loves you? Is that what this is about?"

Maybe he is empathic. Or maybe…maybe he's just able to analyze available data and come up with a logical conclusion. Either way, I don't think I need to answer that question.

"Did you tell him that that's what you think?" he asks.

I can handle yes/no questions. I nod my head once.

"What did he say?"

The sooner he's done, the sooner I can leave. "He said I was wrong."

Quatre lifts a brow at me. "And?"

And what? What does he want to know now?

"You don't believe him?" he clarifies.

There's another one I don't need to answer.

Wufei clears his throat. "Did you ask him why he was with Yuy?"

I shake my head. "No need," I say shortly.

Quatre sighs. "I wish you hadn't made up your mind on this," he says sadly. "I think you may not be right."

At least he's diplomatic. I sit straighter in the chair, preparing to stand up.

"I just wanted to say good-bye." I sound like a damn parrot.

"Where are you going?" Quatre asks.

I blink, startled by the question. I haven't really thought about it. I just want to get as far away from…here…as possible. I don't know that the whole world is big enough to get me far enough away…

I blink again, struck by the idea. "I think," I say slowly, "I think I'll go back to outer space."

Quatre utters a soft exclamation, and even Wufei looks startled. None of us have left the planet in several years. Even Quatre has been running his family's business affairs from Earth, allowing several of his sisters to oversee the colony operations. We've never discussed it, but none of us have left.

But I think it's time for me to go back there. The thought of travelling through the dark void of space isn't bothering me anymore.

"I'll go back to L3," I say, almost to myself. "Try to find the colony I'm from."

Wufei shifts position. He stares at me, his dark eyes as flat as my own. "Why?" he asks bluntly. "What can you find there?"

I don't know. But…well, it's far from here. I don't really want to think about anything else. What does he mean, what will I find there?

"You're not going to outer space today," Quatre says decisively. "You're staying here."

I am not. Quatre anticipates my denial and speaks even more firmly. "It will take time to arrange transport to L3. They don't have hourly flights," he points out wryly. "You'll stay in the guestroom for a day or two, then you can go if you still think you want to."

I think about arguing, but suddenly I'm tired. Very, very tired. Too tired to fight with Quatre about so small a thing. He's right, anyway. I don't really want to sit around a spaceport for hours or days, waiting for a shuttle to take off.

"If I won't be intruding…" I say tonelessly.

"Don't be silly!" Quatre assures me. He stands up, and looks soberly down at me. "Let's get your bag, and settle you in, Trowa-kun," he says gently.

I nod, and follow him. Just a day or two here, and then…then I'll be back in space, back on L3, back where I started. Maybe there, I can find something for which to begin again.

I heard him come in. He didn't make any noise, and I was pulling my shirt over my head, but I knew he was there. He's always been able to sense the presence of others, but he's the only one I've ever really been that attuned to.

Well, except for Treize. But that was nothing like this…That was the reflection of this - everything was backwards, opposite to what it should be. Wrong.

The thought of Treize makes me scowl, as usual. He, immersed in worry over our unexpected guest, for once misinterprets the expression.

"I'm worried about him, Wufei," he says, his concern throbbing in his voice. "Did you see his face?"

I nod. He doesn't need to expand; I know exactly what about Barton's face bothered him. The closed-off expression. An expression noone as young as he should ever have had to develop, an expression that we thought he would never have to wear again.

All of us had similar faces. Yuy's was almost as implacable as Barton's. Mine was a face of anger, Quatre's was one of sorrow and remorse. Even Maxwell's frequently infuriating mirth and exuberance was a mask that shielded him, prevented others from knowing him. When the war was over, we were all able to finally stop wearing these created facades, and show our true faces to the world.

It wasn't easy. We had to find them ourselves, first. It's a process that I don't think we've completed, even now, five years after Mariemaya's rebellion, six years after the death of Treize.

If there were any true justice in the world, none of us would ever have to rely on those guises again.

But Trowa is. And, worst of all, it was Maxwell who forced him to don it.

That may not be forgivable.


Quatre's voice jars me from my reverie. I shake my head, startled, and meet his steady blue gaze.

"We don't know Duo's side of the story," he reminds me. "There may be more to it than we - or even Trowa - realize."

Being so intimately involved with a psychic will take some getting used to.

"I'm not really a psychic," he tells me earnestly. A mischievous grin crosses his face as I start in surprise at his words, which so precisely answer my thoughts. "You're just very easy to read," he tells me, his eyes warm with amusement.

"Only for you," I mutter gruffly. He reaches out and touches my cheek lightly, smiling at me, realizing the affection I was trying to express with that somewhat sterile remark. I had been troubled by the thought that I could not be demonstrative enough for someone as expressive as Quatre. But he's right - he can read me quite easily.

"Duo is probably terribly upset," Quatre frets.

I grunt. In my opinion, Maxwell deserves to be terribly upset. Yuy as well. It was dishonorable of them both to play Barton false and doubly so to do it in his own home.

"Wufei…would you go talk to him? See what happened?"

I stare at Quatre in amazement. He wants me to what?

"Please," he entreats earnestly, his blue eyes pleading. "I really don't want to leave Trowa. He won't ask me for anything, but I want to be here if he needs me."

I scowl. "I have nothing to say to Maxwell," I protest.

"Someone needs to be with him too," Quatre insists. "I'll go if you'd rather, but…"

I sigh. I've lost this argument. I'd rather face Maxwell at his most manic than try to deal with the silent, rigidly contained mass of despair that is Trowa Barton.

"I don't know that he'll be pleased to see me," I grumble, making my way out of the bedroom and to the door of the apartment. Quatre follows me and opens the door for me, reaching out to touch my cheek again as I leave.

"That's fine," he murmurs, before closing the door softly behind me.

I stare at the closed panel in surprise for a moment. A small smile tugs momentarily at my lips. It is so easy to underestimate Quatre. All that sweetness and light softens a very firm will and a sense of right and wrong that is as strong as my own. He is probably no more pleased with Duo Maxwell than I am.

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