Marking it Down to Learning + Chapter 9 (cont)
This Endless, Aching Need

The only decoration that didn't seem to fit the theme was the poster hung over the vidscreen, the one that would be most easily visible from the bed. It was a framed reproduction of a photograph, and showed the interior of some large cathedral that Quatre was unable to identify. He knew it was a cathedral, though - the venerable stone, and the huge stained glass window were enough to prove that. The window wasn't the focus of the photograph, though; in fact it was only partially visible. The focus was on a worn, bare spot of stone floor. It wasn't attractive in and of itself, but it was made beautiful by the light, streaming through the window, etching delicate, translucent patterns on the dusty stone. All around that one spot of light was dusky shadow - only that one small area was illuminated by the light, the beams of color themselves visible, streaming through the center of the photographed area.

Quatre stared at the photo, and wanted to be there - wanted to feel the warmth of the stone beneath his feet, feel the light on his face, see the colors as they danced and glided and tinted everything they touched. He wanted to sit there, and see his skin dyed blue and scarlet and gold and green, wanted to be there so intensely that it hurt.

It was a simple photograph, but it was utterly, achingly beautiful. It was light and dark, color and shadow, age and youth, happiness and sorrow, sacred and profane. It was Duo.

And Trowa had found it for him.

"What are you doing?"

Quatre jumped as the sudden voice broke into his reverie, and turned to find Trowa standing in the door, another rolled-up poster in his hand, scowling fiercely at him.

The Arab stared at the taller man, and he knew that his eyes were filled with tears. He couldn't explain why the photo was affecting him so profoundly... it just was.

"What do you want?" Trowa demanded, and his voice was angry. It wasn't the same anger as a week ago, though, Quatre could feel the difference. The other man was angry, yes, but he was hurt, confused, a little embarrassed, and unsure... Lost. Trowa was lost.

He had to find him again, find him before it was too late.

"Where did you find that picture?" Quatre blurted, not answering either of Trowa's questions.

The other man didn't expect that - it startled him, and it showed on his face.

"It's perfect," Quatre told him. "It's perfect... it's beautiful, and it's wonderful and it's so... Duo... "

His voice broke on the last word, and the tears that had gathered in his eyes fell, rolling down his cheeks.

He closed his eyes tightly, trying to gather some control, and when he opened them, Trowa was gone.

Quatre frowned slightly, and hurried out of the room. The door to Trowa's room was still open, and he took that as invitation.

It wasn't, but he'd look at it that way.

He stepped in, and again looked around, marveling at the change. The walls in here were a vibrant forest green. The bed was covered with a green and brown bedspread that, though it didn't have any specific design, somehow suggested a forest. Pale green shades hung at windows surrounded by curtains matching the bedspread. A large stereo system sat within reach of the bed, which was positioned so that whoever was lying in it could see out the window. New pictures were on the walls here too - one a close-up of some jungle blossom, looking huge and alien from the closeness of the perspective. Another showed lions, resting on the grass beneath a single shade tree - males with their proud manes bristling, relaxed in repose, females resting, but gazing watchfully at cubs that tumbled and played around them. A third, the largest, showed a lightning storm over the ocean, the waves turned black with the fury of the storm, the sun a hovering, angry orange ball, the frightful, branched bolt of electricity outlined in an eerily glowing green.

Quatre stared from picture to picture to picture, trying to see the connection, trying to understand how they all merged together into one representation of Trowa.

That was what it was - what both rooms were. Trowa was trying to say something about him and Duo, trying to make some mark on the rooms that were their own, but that for some reason they had never altered before.

"What do you want, Quatre?" Trowa demanded angrily.

Quatre jumped - he hadn't even noticed the other man, he'd been so busy studying the room.

Slowly he looked over, and his eyes met Trowa's.

"I'm glad you decorated the rooms," he said softly. "I...expected you - both of you - to do it awhile ago."

That soft declaration somehow took the wind out of Trowa's sails. He seemed to deflate before Quatre's eyes, staring at him with the same lost confusion he'd glimpsed before.

"I probably shouldn't have bothered," he muttered, turning away and busying himself moving around articles on top of his desk. "I just wanted... the right colors."

"Why shouldn't you have bothered?" Quatre pressed, ignoring - for the moment - the extremely provocative 'colors' comment. "This is your room; it should look the way you want. And... "

Trowa snorted derisively, and Quatre stopped speaking. There was silence for a moment.

"You're planning to leave, aren't you?" Quatre asked directly. A good offense was the best way to deal with Trowa. He'd dance around an issue forever, if you let him.

Trowa's back stiffened at the pointed question. He stood very still for a moment, then resumed his motions, not answering the question.

"Trowa?" Quatre pressed, moving a little closer to him. "Answer me. Are you planning to leave us?"

"And what if I am?" Trowa asked distantly. "It's not like we ever had anything official. Anything permanent."

Quatre winced. He was right - nothing had ever been said. He'd just always felt... like they'd all be there, together, forever.

"I... thought we did," he said carefully. "It felt like we did. I... would like to."

Trowa was silent again. "Why?" he asked, his voice as emotionless and distant as though he weren't asking what was possibly the most important question of his life.

Quatre hesitated before answering. He had to answer this question exactly right - too much and he'd be perceived as insincere, too little and he'd seem uncaring.

"Because... it's right," he said slowly. Trowa didn't move, and Quatre bit back an impatient sigh. Apparently he was required to elaborate.

"Because, we're right, together," he rephrased. "All of us, alone, aren't happy. Even combined in twos or threes we don't have enough to understand or complete each other. Only when all five of us are together, do we really have all the pieces that we need to understand all of us, to give all of us all of what we need, to really... be whole."

Trowa snorted, and Quatre's shoulders sagged. He'd gotten it wrong, somehow. "Is that how you feel, Quatre?" the taller man asked bitterly. "Do you feel understood? Completed? Whole? Because that's not how I feel," he finished, and Quatre heard the frustrated hurt in his voice.

"Do I feel that way right now?" the Arab reflected thoughtfully. "No. I don't. But have I felt it, many times, over the course of the last three years? Yes, Trowa, I have," he vowed, his voice deepened with his intensity. "Not every moment, but I have felt it. And I'd never felt it before I was with all of you."

"But you don't now," Trowa pointed out. "You don't, and I don't, and Duo obviously didn't... "

Quatre sighed. "Trowa," he began delicately. "We... we haven't really... worked very hard at it," he pointed out. "We've just... been. We've taken what we've gotten, when we could get it. We never... none of us ever discussed with the others what we wanted from this. I don't know about you, but I never even really thought about it myself," he admitted. The other man didn't reply, but his silence was answer enough.

"That's the kind of thing you need to work on, Trowa," he insisted. "And we have all the pieces... we just need to work together to put them together and keep them there. That's what relationships are," he reminded the other man softly. "Everything doesn't just work out... you have to make it do that."

Trowa still stood, his back to Quatre, staring down at his desk.

Quatre moved closer to the other man, so close that he was almost touching him. "I want to make it work, Trowa," he whispered. "So does Wufei, and so does Heero... " Trowa flinched at the other man's name, but Quatre plowed on. "Duo was afraid that we didn't, and that's why he left. It was a mistake, Trowa, a mistake he made because he didn't talk to us... "

"Can you blame him?" Trowa asked, his voice still hanging on to the remoteness that Quatre now realized was protection. Trowa was trying desperately to distance himself from this whole mess of frightening emotions, to push it away, to make it unreal. "Can you really blame him, Quatre? To get that reaction, when he trusted Heero to... "

"I understand, and I don't blame him," Quatre said softly. "But it wasn't the reaction he thought it was... "

"Bullshit, it wasn't," Trowa snarled, with the beginnings of rising anger.

"It wasn't," Quatre insisted calmly. "Heero handled it badly, but only because he cares so much about Duo. He does," he repeated over Trowa's sound of derision. He was silent for a moment. "Which is the same reason," he revealed, very gently, "why we all handled what you told us so badly."

Trowa immediately tensed again, all his muscles pulling so tightly that he was practically vibrating. Quatre reached out and laid a gentle hand on that taut back.

"We did handle it wrong," he continued, ignoring Trowa's obvious discomfort. "And I'm - we're - sorry. It doesn't matter to us in the way you think it does," he pressed on. "It doesn't make a damn bit of difference in the way we feel about you. You're still Trowa, we still like you and want you and need you the same way we always did." He paused, considering how to continue. Trowa wouldn't respond well to pity. "We... were just angry, that you were hurt. Guilty that we never knew, or tried to know." He hesitated. "Sorry that you had to bear that... "

"I don't need your pity," Trowa flared, right on cue.

"Well, you don't have it," Quatre snapped back. "There's a difference between being sorry that someone suffered and pitying them, and you know it."

"There is not any difference... "

"Sorry means that you regret that they had to deal with it. Pity means that you feel distress for someone who can't handle something. You can handle what happened - you obviously did. You'd handle it better if you'd share it with someone," Quatre couldn't resist adding, "but you're too strong for your own damn good, and you won't let anyone fucking help you!"

Trowa finally turned to look at him, surprise lightening his green eyes. "Quatre, I... I don't need... "

"You don't need what?" Quatre demanded, feeling suddenly rather angry himself. "You don't need us? You don't need me? You don't need my help? Just like Duo didn't need any of us?" He suddenly felt tears pricking behind his eyelids again. This was ridiculous. He hadn't cried this much in years. "Well, here's some news for you, Trowa. I need you! I need all of you. And I think it... it... it just sucks that you'll push me away because you think it's weak that you need me too!" he yelled.

"Quatre... "

"I know we screwed up, Trowa," Quatre continued, almost desperately. "We've all screwed up - all five of us - and we've been doing it for years. But we need to fix it, Trowa, not give up on it... please don't just forget it, please just... "

"Quatre." Trowa was suddenly facing him, and his hands were wrapped around Quatre's. Trowa was only a few inches taller than him, but Quatre still had to tilt his head up to look in the other man's eyes. "Quatre, stop. Please, don't... "

"Tell me something, Trowa," Quatre interrupted. "Why'd you change Duo's room?"

Trowa looked away. "I don't know. It doesn't matter," he mumbled.

"Please just tell me that," Quatre asked him, his voice trembling. "Answer me, Trowa - tell me the truth. Why'd you decorate the room for him?"

Trowa was still looking away. He made a move as though he were going to retreat, but Quatre grabbed hold of his hands and refused to let him move. "Tell me, Trowa," he commanded. "Why did you do it?"

Trowa sighed. "I... If he comes back, if we find him... I wanted him to feel like... like he belonged," he managed, with obvious difficulty.

Quatre pressed Trowa's hands harder, trying to push back the surge of emotion the other man's words brought forward. "Allah," he murmured. "Trowa, how could you think... Trowa, you belong with us," he said very slowly. "You do," he insisted as the other man turned diffident green eyes toward him. "Both of you do," he promised. "I swear. We aren't - any of us - complete without all of us. We need you, Trowa. All of us need you. All of us."

"Quatre," the other man managed, his voice thick. He stared into Quatre's eyes, his gaze pleading.

"We need you, Trowa," Quatre vowed.

"You... you... "

"Need you... "

"Show me," Trowa demanded suddenly.

Quatre blinked, caught a bit off-guard by the unexpectedness of the demand. But... that was the only way they'd communicated at all over the course of the last three years. It was the only language they had. They'd build more, eventually, but Trowa needed reassurance right now, and this was the best - possibly the only - way to give it to him.

He stared up at the other man, whose face now showed his own belief that he'd be rejected. He grasped Trowa's hands even more firmly, and pressed his bare chest to the front of Trowa's shirt. Trowa gasped softly, and Quatre cut off any words he may have been planning to speak with his mouth. His fingers moved up to twine in the other man's hair, pulling Trowa's head down so he could kiss him more thoroughly. His lips moved slowly over the taller man's, feeling their texture, their softness, feeling them yield beneath his caress, feeling them part to give him access to the mouth beyond...

They stood there for a long time, just kissing. The pace of sex in this household was generally very fast, very frenzied and driven and passionate. There was no lack of passion here, but neither was there any rush - Quatre wanted to show Trowa exactly what he meant to him, exactly how much he cared about him, wanted him, needed him...

Trowa moaned softly in his throat, and Quatre ran a hand down his chest, feeling the hardness of the muscles through the material of Trowa's shirt. He continued to kiss the other man as he slowly undid the buttons, and carefully eased the material away.

He pressed his chest against Trowa's again, groaning as the two hard surfaces met. Neither yielded, and it seemed as though somehow they didn't fit together, then Quatre finally moved just right and they were perfect, made precisely for each other, bare skin rubbing against bare skin in exactly the right way. Quatre groaned into Trowa's pliant mouth as his sensitive nipples were teased by Trowa's bare skin, and he felt Trowa's hard nubs burning against his own chest.

Then Trowa's hands were gliding across his back, and Quatre couldn't contain another moan, couldn't stop himself from running his hands down to cup Trowa's backside, pushing their lower bodies intimately together.

Trowa gasped again, tearing his mouth away from Quatre's, the tendons in his neck working in ecstasy. Quatre leaned back, moving his hands between their bodies to fumble with the button on the faded old jeans Trowa wore.

Quatre managed to quickly divest both himself and Trowa of the rest of their clothes, and they were standing there together, naked, arms wrapped around each other, bodies pressing together, kissing again, and still... Quatre couldn't get enough of the other man's taste - it was clean and warm and there was a deepness to it that was indescribable.

Finally, Trowa pulled away again. "I... Please, Quatre," he ground out. "Please, I need... "

"I need you," Quatre whispered, reaching down to carefully grasp Trowa's hardness in his hand. "I need you, Trowa... I want you... "

"I want you," he gasped. "Please... "

Quatre pulled back, and looked around the freshly painted room. He took Trowa's hand, and started to tug him toward the doorway.

Trowa resisted, digging his heels into the carpet. "Where are you going?" he gasped. "Don't you want to... "

"Oh, I want to," Quatre assured him. "But this is your room."

Trowa stared at him, some of the haze of lust clearing out of his eyes. "So?" he asked slowly.

Quatre managed to smile, though he was near to screaming with frustrated desire. "So, this is for you. Just you. I don't want to intrude here."

Trowa shook his head slowly. "You're not intruding... " he began.

Quatre shook his head. "It's your space. Not mine. I'm not barging in and making myself... "

"You're not," Trowa interrupted. "I'm... inviting you. That's different. Right?" he asked a trifle nervously when Quatre stared intently at him.

Quatre smiled widely. "You're right," he agreed softly. "You're absolutely right."

He allowed Trowa to pull him toward the bed, and watched as the taller man hastily pulled down the coverings, revealing pale green sheets beneath.

Trowa crawled into the bed and lay on his back, looking up almost shyly at Quatre.

The blond smiled back, aware of a strange pain in his chest. He moved on top of Trowa, and leaned down to kiss the other man yet again, his hands framing Trowa's face, holding it still as he tried to pour all of his confused emotions in the kiss, trying to get it right...

Trowa moaned, arching his hips up toward Quatre's. The blond reached down and ran his hand over Trowa's straining arousal, gathering the moisture he found there. He reached beneath the taller man and carefully stretched him, using his own fluids to prepare him. Trowa moaned and twisted beneath him as he quickly rubbed his own erection, lubricating it as best he could with the early signs of his own excitement.

Then he was positioned over Trowa, and he braced himself, preparing to move inside the other man.

At that exact instant, Trowa opened his eyes, staring intently up at him.

Quatre stared back, frozen in the moment, forgetting even his own intense need as he just gazed into Trowa's eyes.

The other man moved slightly, breaking the spell, and Quatre remembered, and slowly eased himself into Trowa's tight passage. He didn't look away, though, and neither did Trowa - they stared deep into each other's eyes as Quatre claimed him, took him... showed him how much he needed him.

They continued to watch each other as Quatre slowly moved back and forth, set up a rhythm, moved in and out of Trowa with slowly-deepening strokes...

Eventually, it was too much, and Quatre's eyes closed, able to focus only on the exquisite friction as he moved in and out of his lover. Trowa's arms moved around him, and his legs rose and wrapped around Quatre's waist, and the blond moved faster and faster, gentleness forgotten in his own desperation.

His fulfillment dangled in front of him, and he moved wildly to reach it. He felt Trowa tense beneath him, heard him cry out and tighten around him, felt his seed spray hot between their bodies, and it was finally enough. Quatre moaned as hot pleasure took him, and he thrust deep inside Trowa one more time as he found his release.

He collapsed heavily on Trowa, his head pillowed on the other man's chest, still lost in the world of sensation. Nothing mattered now, nothing but him and Trowa and the truth they'd finally found between them.

He needed Trowa.

Trowa needed him.

And that's just the way it was. Nothing could ever change it.

[part 8] [back] [part 10] [back to Shoori's fic]