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

Broken Warriors + Chapter 33
Cramped Quarters

Quatre twisted the hot water tap in the shower. Nothing happened. He tried the cold tap. That worked, but only if you counted a tepid trickle that alternately hissed and spat as a shower. Banging noises under his feet told him there was air in the pipes again.

"Damn!" Bad enough that the tiny bathroom was hardly large enough to turn around in, or that the mildew colony behind the toilet was regrouping just days after Trowa had nearly asphyxiated himself bleaching it to oblivion. Again. Now even Trowa's usual lightning fast evening wash had fucked up the water supply.

"Trowa!" It was only frustration that made him raise his voice. He knew his mate was stretched out naked on the platform bed a few scant yards away, on the other side of the tie-dyed curtain that served as a door between the two rooms.

"Oy, mi corazon?" That was Trowa's sex voice. He could roll the endearments of a dozen languages around on his tongue like fine wine when he was feeling sexy, which for Trowa was most of the time. Not that this was a problem between them, of course. Not usually.

Quatre sighed, caught between the usual instant arousal and frustration. They really needed to talk about Duo and the Heero thing, but Trowa tended not to pay attention too well in this mood. When Trowa got all multi-lingual on him, a fun night was in the offing. He was broadcasting lust, too, and Quatre had to focus on the mundane problem in front of him to keep himself from just surrendering and racing for the bed.

"Trowa, the plumbing's fucked up again!"

"I'll fix it in the morning, mon amor."

"No way. You fixed it last time and now I'm taking a cold shower. I'm calling a plumber."

"That's fine. Come to bed, Quatrito!"

Still that lazy come and get it tone. He was probably stroking himself now . . . Don't think about long fingers around hard flesh. Don't think about how the gold wedding ring lifted from that flat chest when the nipple it pierced went hard under his fingers or tongue. Don't think about the way those black armband tattoos moved over flexing muscle . . .

Yeah, he'd stop thinking those thoughts, right after he punctured both eardrums with an ice pick. No, think about something else, distract the crafty, naked, tattooed man stalking him with that voice. "The mildew is growing back. It's really disgusting."

"Vene, bellllla!" There was just no such thing as a mood breaker with Trowa when he was like this.

Think plumbing. Think faulty atmospherics and the fact that they could smell the lion cages from the grimy little kitchen window at the front of the trailer. Quatre stepped under what spray there was to wash off the coating of depilatory gel he'd unwisely smeared all over himself before checking the state of the water pressure. "I want a real house, Trowa!" he called out. "With real walls and actual doors you can close and plumbing that works. And a tub. A really, really big tub. Room for six, minimum, Trowa!"

"We'll get a house, mon petit chou. Tomorrow I'll get you a house. We'll bathe elephants together in the tub. But tonight, mon petit--l'amour!" He drew the r out like warm taffy.

"Don't tease!"

"Sweetie, liebchen, boychik, I've told you a million times, if you want a house we'll get a house! Parakolo, meli, come to bed and we'll talk about it."

Yeah, right. That sexy purr and all the pet names told him Trowa's mind was definitely not on their housing arrangements. He could ask Trowa to conquer Antigua for him right now and the answer would be yes. He'd never met anyone so incredibly intelligent who also spent so much time thinking with his dick.

All the same, Quatre knew Trowa meant it when he said they could move any time. Trowa didn't care where he lived, so long as he could work. Trowa was a true bohemian, a natural gypsy. Growing up with the mercenaries, never staying in one place or putting down any roots, owning no more than he could carry and losing most of it on a regular basis with the shift of battle, he never developed a need for possessions or security; just for the people he let into his walled-off heart, and the art that let him express it. He could probably live just as happily stark naked in a cardboard box, so long as Quatre was with him and he was in walking distance of the workshop and practice ring. He loved Quatre, his friends, and the circus. Anything beyond that was gravy, as far as Trowa Barton was concerned.

'Do I really want a house?' Quatre wondered, lathering up with the water off with true colonial efficiency. He hadn't thought so for a long time, not since he'd left home, really. And mostly he'd loved living here in this doublewide tin can beside the circus training complex. The funny thing was, cramped as it was, the place seemed kind of empty these past few weeks, without Duo around.

They missed that braided head case, missed having him in their bed and in their lives, crowded as it had been on both accounts with him around. He'd only lived full time with them this past six months or so, but he'd been a frequent, if erratic guest before that: buddy, confidant, their partner in mischief.

And their responsibility, too. How many times had they bailed him out or checked him in to some hospital? How many nights had they stayed up, comforting him, binding his wounds, holding his head while he puked his guts and his misery out after some binge? Quatre hadn't dared examine too closely the relief he'd felt a week ago, reading that letter informing them that Duo had added Heero as official next of kin, but not taken them off that list. So legally, and in Duo's mind apparently, they'd gained a family member, not lost one. And that sort of begged the housing question. Not that he really thought Duo would move back in here with them, but there was still a connection.

In spite of the emotional circumstances, it had been really nice when they'd stayed in his grandmother's spacious cottage on Cape Cod last spring, enjoying the elbow room and the views and the privacy--especially the privacy! He really would like a big bed and a big tub to share every night, with whoever they wanted, not just on special occasions. And, on a more personal level, he wanted to be able to have sex any old way he and Trowa wanted to, without Duo or Cathy or the dog act lady in the trailer next door snickering at them the next day. He wanted--he bumped his hip on the soap dish for the millionth time as he bent to rinse his hair. Fuck, he wanted a shower where that didn't happen every damn time! He was getting a permanent bruise.

There were some nice houses in the Greek Division over on Farside. He wondered if Tro would mind taking the tube to work. There were places with balconies and roof gardens over there, and a real park with grass and a pond and flowers. You could almost pretend you were Earth-side over there, if you didn't look up. Here in Industrial level 3, it was all warehouses and stransteel and exposed ducts and panels.

Finished at last, he dried off and padded back to the bed. "Do you ever miss being on Earth, Tro?" he asked, surrendering at last, letting Trowa pull him down and climb on top of him. To his surprise, a spark of interest surfaced in those lust-clouded green eyes looking down at him. Trowa actually paused in his groping and considered the question.

"Yeah, I do. Want a house there, meu querido?"

"How will we work?"

Trowa gave him a grin and a shrug, like always. "We'll figure something out, mio dolce. Maybe in New Orleans? You're gonna love the place I rented for us in the French Quarter! Genuine pre-colony Creole. No prefab or faux anything. A real garden court with high walls and cast iron fences and a mossy old fountain." His voice had gradually dropped a full octave, right down to 'irresistibly hot' as he nuzzled his way down Quatre's neck and chest to flick the wedding ring with his tongue. "I am going to feed you oysters on the half shell and file gumbo and absinthe and pralines and candied pecans-"

Quatre couldn't suppress a giggle as Trowa's tongue and busy lips tickled across his stomach.

Trowa paused long enough in his lustful plans to envelop Quatre's erection with his mouth and gave it a languorous tongue bath. "Mmmmmm, yes, more oysters and more absinthe, and then, when you're just too full and sleepy to get away, I'm going to ravish you under a bougainvillea arbor, sweet morsel mine. And maybe right out in the middle of Bourbon Street, too, during the Halloween parades."

Quatre gasped, beyond commenting at the moment. None of those were idle threats, a fact he was incredibly glad of.

"But I digress." Trowa paused with a wicked, teasing grin. "Houses, right? Heading back Earth-side got you thinking?"

Focus, 04! Seize the moment!

Quatre ran his fingers along the fine contours of Trowa's throat and chest with his fingers and traced those black armbands. "Guess so. I dunno. Thinking about Duo, too. And-well, you know."

The temperature in the stuffy little bedroom seemed to drop several degrees as Trowa rolled off onto his back and threw an arm across his eyes. "I told you, Kat, it's not a problem!" That flat guarded tone it had taken Quatre so long to get past back in the war days.

Abort mission. Moment lost. He could almost hear the doors slamming shut in Trowa's head. "Trowa?"

Nothing.

"Baby? Lover?"

Still nothing.

Quatre sat up and looked at his husband sadly for a moment, then reached out tentatively with his mind and heart.

//SadnessfearshameDuolustsadlongingHeeroSHAMEangersad . . .//

"Stop it, Quatre."

"Then talk to me, baby."

"There's nothing to say. They're together, the way they should be. Both of them. It's not their fault I happen to be a little fucked in the head. It's not anyone's fault except-"

Quatre placed two gentle, ink-stained fingers across those full, down turned lips. "Not your fault, either, mi corazon. The heart's got a mind of its own."

Trowa shook his head slowly, arm still across his face. "Maybe we shouldn't go. Maybe we should just meet them in New Orleans. Or you could go, on your own."

"The fittings."

"They could fly in a few days early."

"With all Duo's equipment? Look at me, baby. C'mon, come out."

Trowa grudgingly lowered his arm, letting Quatre see the misery in his eyes. Reaching for Quatre's hand, he pressed it over his heart. "Take it away, will you?" he whispered. "Just take it out so I don't have to feel it."

Quatre pulled him up into his arms, pressing Trowa's ear to his chest, letting him hear his heartbeat. "You know it doesn't work that way. I can't fix this. I would if I could, because I don't want this up on the wire with you."

Quatre stopped before his own fears could come spilling out. It was hard enough to hold onto the mindset that let him watch his lover up there in the air every day, throwing himself against gravity with no net below. On a good day it took an effort. He'd seen what emotional distractions could do to Trowa. If he thought avoiding the issue, and their friends, would keep Trowa safe, then maybe he'd consider it, but he already knew better. Those dark feelings and confused longings were always going to be there, until Trowa and Heero and maybe Duo worked things out.

Trowa's arms encircled his waist, holding him. Holding on tight. "I love you!"

"I know that. I just wish you could read me back, so you could feel how much I understand."

"Me, too, mi corazon. Me, too." And then he was pressing Quatre back on the bed and kissing him all over and driving away all the dark thoughts with the caresses only Trowa could give him. And when he took him a little while later, still prone on the bed, Quatre wrapped his legs around him, and his arms, blindly tracing the tattoo on his lover's back and the Arabic lettering Trowa had had threaded into the colorful design, the words only the two of them knew how to find in the pattern.

Quatre, my lover, my own, read this. My heart is yours forever.

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