see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
A-N/ Summary: Right, so this
chapter is totally chopped up. The narrative is all over the place and
out of order. The sequence isn't difficult to figure out, I don't think,
and even if it is, the important thing is that it all happens in one night,
a few days after the last chapter. I was having trouble with this chapter
so I hacked it apart to make it more interesting. This is Quatre's bit
of self-discovery. Lemon and Blood!! (though once again not at the same
the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 28
Scrape your knee; it's only skin
Makes the sound of violins
- "Only Skin" Joanna Newsom
Quatre perched motionless on the rooftop, eyes trained on a small square
of light across the street, insides seething. It was Wednesday, and that
meant he was working, tracking this girl who did in fact look a lot like
him, planning her seizure and potentially her death. It was Wednesday,
which meant Heero had not contacted Trowa to tell them to get the hell
out of their apartment, to head for the police and then the airport. It
meant they were off dicking around somewhere while he and Trowa remained
with their heads between the lion's jaws.
He tried to calm the bitter resentment roiling in his belly; he tried
to keep his head on the job, but he couldn't shake it. He thought of Trowa
wishing him luck, standing in the doorway watching him go, finally turning
away to pack his own things for work. It was fucking Wednesday and their
three flat mates had been gone for four days. Trowa told him that Gael's
search for the missing hustlers was still in full, rabid swing. The police
as well as dozens of the boss's henchmen were combing the streets of the
city, looking everywhere. Until Gael changed strategies or gave up or
at least backed off a bit, it was too dangerous for Heero to even try
to get to the police station. Quatre believed what Trowa said – he knew
that Heero was putting his life on the line for all of them – but... fucking
hell, it wasn't fair! He swallowed hard and then shivered in the chill
The girl he watched looked nice – incredibly dangerous, but nice. Quatre
could recognize the potential power coiled in those lean muscles even
from this distance. She moved about her flat, pulling on tight-fitting
black clothing as she went from her bedroom to her bathroom and back.
He watched her slide a knife into her boot and he almost shuddered. She
pulled her bright hair into a spiky knot at the back of her head. When
she strapped on a katana similar to Wufei's, Quatre gave in and let a
quiver of admiration and apprehension work it's way up his spine. He already
knew from the photos he'd seen as well as the small bit of reconnaissance
he'd already done that she was a fearsome creature, but the thought of
actually engaging her in a fight, the thought of subduing her... he had
a sinking feeling he was out of his league.
She made no attempt to conceal her weapon, probably because no one would
see her, let alone it. She opened her window and climbed out onto
her fire escape, gloved fingers clutching the metal railing. Pale eyes
swept the cityscape and then the ground as she swiftly descended the metal
staircase. Quatre slid from the shadows and began the climb down as well.
"Quatre, I think you should take this with you." He turned in his preparation
to see Trowa walking toward him, holding something heavy and solid wrapped
in gray cloth. He looked down at it and then up into Trowa's intense gaze.
Then he finished pulling his black turtleneck sweater down over the many
layers he'd stacked underneath it. He'd need every one of them tonight.
"What is that?" he asked quietly.
"It's mine. Was mine. I haven't used it in several years. My first employer
gave it to me."
Quatre hesitated and then reached out to take the gun. He left it wrapped
in the cloth and hefted it gently, testing its weight. He started to hand
it back to Trowa, shaking his head. "I don't want it. I've never shot
this gun before. I shouldn't-"
Trowa backed away, refusing to take it. "Please, Quatre. From the little
you've said about your job tonight... I think that you should have it."
Quatre raised his chin and took a breath. "What do you know about it?
Do you think I won't be able to handle her?"
Trowa smiled sadly at him and Quatre's bravado slipped a hair. "And I've
seen your surveillance photos."
He automatically puffed himself up. "You shouldn't be looking through
my things. The jobs that Gael sends me are strictly confidential; it's
not safe for you to know about them." But Trowa was still smiling at him
with that slightly infuriating, 'I've seen all this before and far more
frequently than you' look in his eyes. Quatre felt himself deflate.
"She carries a sword similar to Wufei's. If you have to fight her – unless
you can hit her from a distance – you'll have to get close to take her
out with one of your knives. With that sword, she can keep you at a distance
which will make that very difficult for you. You need a blade of similar
length and since Wufei has his with him and you haven't trained with it
anyway, I think that you should take my gun."
Quatre examined his best friend closely, saw the man's thinly concealed
concern for him behind the flat words, saw the way green eyes rested on
the scar in the corner of his mouth, saw his careful, guarded posture.
Quatre turned away quickly and reached for a stick of licorice. He turned
back and, chewing it thoughtfully, he nodded once. "Okay."
Trowa breathed out in relief and then went to his closet to pull out a
weathered shoulder holster. He approached Quatre warily and then closed
the distance between them when the hunter gave him a small nod of permission.
He helped fit the holster to Quatre's smaller frame, adjusting the straps
and tightening a buckle, his voice soft in Quatre's ear. "The gun's not
registered, so keep your gloves on if you can. And wipe off the prints
if you have to touch it. If you have to ditch it, try to put it somewhere
no one will ever find it. I don't mind never seeing this gun again."
Quatre turned slightly amused eyes on his best friend. "Someday you'll
have to tell me more about what you did before you worked for Gael."
Trowa regarded him soberly. "I probably won't." Quatre blinked and then
looked away. "Just worry about yourself tonight. Do not at any point underestimate
your target. It'd be best for both of you if you didn't end up having
to kill her."
Quatre puffed himself back up a little. "Well, obviously. But hey, have
a little faith in the trained bounty hunter."
Trowa's expression remained blank.
His nostrils flared as he pressed his foot down on her chest and fired
three rounds. Her body jerked and went still. The smell of gun smoke and
blood assailed his nose and he snorted like a dog, trying to ride himself
of the harsh scent. His breath came in sharp gasps as he stood over her
body and swallowed the sick taste in his mouth. Her mouth was smiling
up at him, her beautiful face peaceful and bloody. She'd asked him to
end it and he'd said no. He'd said there were other ways to finish it.
She'd asked him again and he'd still said no. Then she'd tried to kill
him and he'd had to.
He removed his boot from her still chest and slid Trowa's gun into the
holster hugging his ribs. He dropped to his knees and felt for a pulse.
Her skin was hot and living, but the blood was slowing down. He felt pressure
on his fingers, once, twice and then nothing. He made a small sound in
the back of his throat as he pulled her up into a sitting position, ignoring
the blood dripping down from her hairline. He ran his fingers through
that bright hair, straightening it and removing street dirt. Then he pressed
his lips to her forehead and shut his eyes tight.
"I hope your journey is swift and that you do not look back," he said
He felt wetness on his cheeks and found with surprise and relief that
he was crying. These were the first tears he'd shed since he'd found out
about his illness, the first tears since he'd started his new job. This
girl was the third person he'd killed for Gael and the first for whom
he felt he could mourn. He tightened his grip on her and let a harsh sob
rip through him. It felt good and it eased some of the tightness in his
chest as his sorrow hiccuped through his lungs, finally jostled loose.
He clutched her shirt in gloved fingers and wiped his dripping nose on
Then he raised his head and reminded himself that he had to get home because
Trowa was waiting for him. He cast about, looking over his shoulder for
the materials he needed, spotting a stack of newspapers still tied together
against a wall. Beside that he saw a pile of weathered and broken pallets
and his mouth pressed into a tight smile. He gently pillowed her head
on his bag and went to fetch them, glad to find it all dry and brittle.
There hadn't been much snow this winter to dampen them. On his way back
to her side, he passed a man hunched in a doorway, drinking from a bottle
in a bag. Pausing, he offered the man all the money in his pockets in
exchange for the liquor and his silence. It was enough to get him a night
in a motel, so the man took the money with a grunt of thanks and fearful
look at the gun at his side, handing over the bottle and quickly shuffling
away. Quatre took it with a tight smile and took a sniff. He immediately
forced the air back out of his nose. Cheap 80 proof whiskey. He returned
to her body and knelt down beside her, preparing a pyre of brittle paper,
wood and liquor.
When he finished his preparations, he pulled a book of matches from his
bag and leaned down to kiss her cheek, tasting the bitter liquid he'd
spread over her. He lit the pyre and disappeared into the shadows, her
sword strapped to his back along with his knives.
As he walked, her words flickered through his mind in short phrases, her
voice sharp and judgmental. Though they'd only known each other for a
scant few hours, she'd felt entitled to ridicule him, taunt him, comfort
him and advise him on his love life, or awkward lack thereof. Now as he
heard her voice in his head, he found his feet hitting the pavement faster
and faster. He was jogging and then he was running and then he was sprinting
toward home. He ran because Trowa was waiting for him. Quatre decided
he'd been waiting long enough.
A slender body flickered through the beam the flashlight cast and Quatre
found himself shoved awkwardly up against the fire escape, a fist in his
sweater, pressing against his throat, a knife – probably the one from
her boot, he thought uselessly – pressed against his ear. His neck bent
uncomfortably under the grated platform, but his right arm was still somewhat
mobile and he had his knife pressed firmly at her throat. He couldn't
see her face, but he could feel her breath and he knew she was staring
at him with wide blue eyes. He could feel her gaze even in the dark and
it made him very nervous.
"We could kill each other," he managed to wheeze around the fist in his
"Correction. I could stick this in your ear and you would die. I would
"Please don't do that."
"Why not," she said flatly. Her words were succinct and hard. She was
American he realized. Gael had failed to specify that in the dossier.
"I'm not here to hurt you." He'd used up all his breath and he couldn't
draw another, so he fell silent and hoped that was convincing enough.
"You couldn't hurt me, but I think you intended to."
He wanted to say something rude, but couldn't so he made a small gurgling
sound instead. He still had the knife pressed against her throat, though
she didn't seem to care. But he thought perhaps if he lowered it...
"Who are you?" she demanded.
He gurgled again, and even though he couldn't see much, his vision still
went noticeably screwy. He lowered his knife and then found himself on
the ground, sucking in a breath and looking up at the woman standing over
him. He blinked in the sudden brightness of the flashlight in his eyes.
She had her knife in the other hand, but held it in a fist now resting
on her hip. He could just barely make out her expression and it was one
of utter shock. Quatre rubbed his throat and croaked. "What."
"You," she said softly. "I know you. You're the Winner kid, and you're
not dead. You are very obviously not dead."
Quatre scratched his head through his hat. "Should I know you?"
She barked a laugh. "No, definitely, absolutely not. But you're famous,
at least to us poor folk who hope to make it rich some day. You're our
She was mocking him, clearly. "I do know something about you; you're name's
Olean. It's a pretty name."
"It's short for Oleander, and it's not my real name."
"Oh. What's your real name?"
"What do you call your lover when she gives you a BJ?"
"If we're getting personal."
He cocked his head to the side, eyes narrowed.
She grinned at him in the strange glow cast by the flashlight. Her teeth
flashed; one of them, a canine, was crooked, he noticed. "It's very interesting
that you're not dead, Quatre."
"... I guess."
"It's just that you've been missing for, like, almost a year. And my boss
thought about trying to find you just to pick up that reward money from
your big sisters. Seems you disappeared but good, though, 'cause he wasn't
ever successful. He, like the rest of the city, thought you were dead."
"I was pretty well hidden."
"Clearly. What've you been up to?"
He took a breath and decided to just tell her. Not like she'd believe
him. "Sex worker."
She regarded him soberly, blue eyes traveling up and down his frame. "Is'at
"That's a rough business." Maybe she did believe him.
"Yes. I didn't like it very much."
"Didn't like fucking dudes?"
"It wasn't that they were dudes that was problem." His mouth said the
word 'dudes,' and he almost laughed at the way it sounded coming from
"Ah," she said, nodding wisely. "I guess a more appropriate question would
have been, 'what do you call your lover when he gives you a BJ?'"
"I don't call him anything because we've never-" He shook his head sharply.
"And you are doing an excellent job of distracting me. I did not come
here to talk about my completely screwed up love life. I came to ask that
you come with me. My employer requests your presence at his mansion."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "Oh, well that sounds like lots of
fun." She paused. "Not."
Again, his eyes narrowed. "What are you, six?"
"What's with the personal questions, Q? The way I see it, you don't get
to ask me questions."
He scowled. "And why's that?"
The dim glow of the flashlight abruptly blinked out and he felt her weight
pressing on him, felt her very sharp blade pressed against his throat.
He felt his skin split, felt warmth dripping down the side of neck. He
gasped and panicked, his knee surging upward into her gut. It was a stupid
reaction and he knew it. She could have easily sliced him open completely;
however, she only grunted sharply and rolled away. Clutching his throat,
Quatre scrambled to his feet, knife out in front of him.
"I don't what to hurt you, but I have to take you to see my boss." He
couldn't see more than her dim silhouette in the dark alley. "I'm not
a sex worker anymore because I got sick and now I work as a hunter...
like you. That's what I'm here for. He wants to see you; I don't know
why, but if you don't come with me... Well, you just have to." She stayed
hunched on the ground. "I'm not afraid of you. You could kill me, and
I'm not afraid of that either."
"Well, that's a shame," she said quietly, voice a bit shaky. Had he really
hurt her with his knee?
"All of it. I don't want to meet your boss. The fact that he has someone
like you chasing after people with sharp objects leads me to believe that
he's not a very nice guy. And the fact that you aren't afraid to die.
You're just a kid. What would your lover say if you ended up dead?"
Quatre flinched because it was dark and she couldn't see him do it. "He
wouldn't say anything."
"But he would mourn your death. He would be sad."
Quatre swallowed. "Yes."
"So let's go out where there's more light and see what there is to see,
She stood in front of him, a large strong hand extended to touch his bloody
throat. He didn't flinch as her fingers ran along the cut. It'd already
clotted, but her fingers came away rusty. In the light of the street lamps
she looked like a rumpled pale child – probably very much like him. "You're
cute," she finally said with a crooked smile. "He's lucky to have you."
Quatre found himself blushing, even though he knew she was just stalling.
"He doesn't really... I turned him away. He should have someone better
than me, someone whole."
She withdrew her hand and waved it dismissively in front of her nose.
"Oh, pshh. Quit being so melodramatic. "
His brow twitched. Enough stalling
"So are you coming with me? We should really be going; it's cold out here."
Her casual air faltered slightly. "Maybe. I might go with you. What happens
if I don't? I have work to do. As I'm sure you know, I have a job tonight."
He considered his answer, arms loose and ready at his sides. "Well, I
see four options. Would you like to know the four options?"
"You come with me; I take you to my boss and we part ways. I never see
you again. That's the first one. The second is you refuse and I fight
you until you give up and agree to come with me."
She snorted, muttering, "Right."
"Third, we fight and I kill you and take your body to my boss. He informed
me that was an acceptable outcome, by the way."
Another snort. "As if you could." Then she tapped a finger against her
chin. "I don't like that option."
"Fourth. We fight and you kill me and go free, until he sends someone
else to bring you to him. You could kill that person too. He has lots
of people on the payroll."
She looked away and he thought he saw a subtle shudder slide along her
shoulders. "I like that one least of all," she murmured. The corner of
her mouth twitched. "I'm rooting for this lover of yours. I'd hate for
him to have a dead body on his hands. I'd hate for you to miss the opportunity
to take him back, to make him yours again."
He watched her warily, not at all sure how to interpret her strange comments.
"So, what do we do?" he asked finally.
She looked up at the sky, the clouds heavy with snow that didn't want
to fall. She stared up at them, their undersides eerily lit up by the
street lamps. When she looked back at him, she was grinning like a wolf.
It frightened him in its ferocity. "Well, options one and two are out."
His heart sank.
"Let's see where we get with three and four."
He pounded through the front door of the building and headed straight
for the stairs, taking them two and three at a time. He thought of Trowa
sitting in his armchair, reading a book, hair flopped in his eyes, long
legs stretched out in front him, posture at once casual and capable of
swift and deadly motion. His mind jumped ahead a few frames as he pictured
himself coming through the door and trapping his lover in the chair, an
arm on either side of him, a knee between his legs, a soft whispered confession
of his sadness and love in Trowa's ear. "Forgive me, Trowa, for I have
sinned. Please accept me and what I have; it's yours."
He ran up the last flight of stairs, blind in his eagerness. He didn't
notice that the door wasn't locked. He didn't see Trowa's wide eyes and
alarmed expression for what they were. He shrugged off the girl's sword
and tossed his knives on the couch. He cornered Trowa in the chair, just
as he pictured it. He wrapped his arms around his lover's neck and begged
his forgiveness. "Forgive me, Trowa. I've been so stupid and frightened."
He thought that the feel of those strong arms coming up around his ribs
was probably the best thing he'd ever experienced; it might as well have
been his first embrace.
"Sshh," Trowa soothed him, rubbing small circles on his back. "Don't speak,"
he murmured. An odd request, but Quatre nodded, eyes closed. "You're alright?"
He nodded again. "The girl is dead isn't she." And again. "I'm sorry.
But I'm glad you're alive."
"She said you would be," Quatre whispered.
Trowa held him tightly, arms wrapped all the way around him, as though
someone were about to try to take him away. He turned his head to the
side, nose against Trowa's jaw, his senses finally picking up on the off-ness
in the room. "What's the matter?"
Trowa shook his head slightly.
"Did you hear from H-" Before he could finish, Trowa's eyes widened and
he wrenched him into a hard kiss that thoroughly silenced him. Trowa's
tongue was in his mouth, pressing insistently. Something was wrong. He
pulled away and glanced quickly around the flat. It felt off... someone
had been... He turned wide blue eyes on Trowa. "They're here, aren't they."
Trowa nodded and then cleared his throat. "There's been a change of plans.
Gael wants us to stay with him for awhile – draw the others out that way
instead of the police combing the city." At his words, several men emerged
from shadowy doorways, faces blank, but hands ready.
Quatre shook his head. "No, I don't want to go with them." His hand drifted
toward the gun still tucked under his arm, but Trowa grabbed his wrist
and shook his head quickly, no.
"It'll be okay. We'll be okay."
"You could come with us!" he shouted. "Olean, we don't have to do this;
you could run with us. Or you could just run."
She gave a wordless cry and came at him again. His strength was leaving
him; he was losing. He brought his blade up again and it felt heavy in
his hands. His fingers were numb from the many times she'd struck at him,
katana glinting and slicing at his throat, his chest, his gut, his back,
his hamstrings. He'd blocked them all. He'd tried to get her to stop,
but she was ruthless, and she was way out of his league. He should have
been dead by now, dead many times over. She was holding back just a little,
but striking with enough deadly intent to make him fight with everything
His tired muscles dodged automatically as the blade flicked forward, and
he dropped low and to the side, knife darting up into a space she left
wide open for him. It was only after the blade slid between her ribs that
he realized it.
"No!" he shouted, pulling the blade free and dropping it instantly. She
staggered and wrapped her arm around her side. "Pick it up," she said
firmly. He shook his head, dazed.
"I'll take you to a hospital and then I'll take you to the airport and
you can run."
"Pick it up. I'm not like you."
"Sure you are; you're just like me. Which is why I won't do this;
I'm not going to do this." She came at him again, sword glinting in the
It went on like this until she collapsed and he shouted his helpless anger
at her. "Idiot! Throwing your life away! There are other options!"
She shook her head, breathing labored. "I'm not like you. This is all
I've ever had, and your boss wants to take it away from me? He can go
"My sentiments exactly! We can help each other."
She smiled up at him. "Take my sword and give it to him. He knows I'd
never give it up. It'll be your proof."
He dropped to his knees beside her and pressed his hand to the wound in
her side. "Olean... "
"My name's Louise," she blurted and then winced, some instinctive fear
of death taking hold. Panic crept briefly into her eyes before Quatre
saw it resolutely smothered.
He took a steadying breath, finally seeing the plain truth before him.
"Okay." He smiled reassuringly, running his hand through her hair. "Louise,
his name is Trowa."
"Trowa," she said carefully, tasting the name. "That's nice."
"And if he ever gives me a-" She cleared her throat and cocked her head
to the side, giving him a look. Quatre forced a laugh. "When he
gives me a blow job, I think I'll call him Sparky because he'll look at
me while he's doing it and his eyes will-"
"Okay, okay, whoa, that's enough," she said weakly.
"Okay." He rose to his feet and quickly drew Trowa's gun. Then he took
a step forward, placing his foot firmly on her chest. She closed her eyes
and managed to smile.
The heavy silence and the unfamiliar setting lent their lovemaking an
air of urgency. The door had no lock; the walls were probably thin; there
were men guarding their room. They had to be swift and quiet. Quatre braced
himself against the wall and pushed back as Trowa drove quickly into him.
They were both sweating, though the room was cool. He felt it trickling
from under his arms and along his spine. Trowa leaned forward, kissing
him, biting his lip. He tasted it on his lover's tongue.
This wasn't how he originally pictured it happening – rushed and secretive
and him still stinking of death. But Trowa hadn't said no, hadn't said
anything really, just nodded and pushed Quatre back into the shadows,
pushed him down into the space between dresser and bed, sheltered just
a bit from the unlocked door. It wasn't how he pictured it between them,
but it was still nearly perfect.
One leg wrapped around his lover's waist, the other bent, his foot flat
on the floor, Quatre ruthlessly pushed down his panic and his fear. The
condom wouldn't break. Even if it did, the disease was only transferred
by blood. And there'd have to be a lot of blood. And there wouldn't be
because this wouldn't be like the last time. This was Trowa and Trowa
would never ever hurt him. This was safe.
He almost laughed. They was not safe. They were in Gael's compound, under
guard. They were bait for Heero and the others. They were not safe at
But they were safe with each other. Trowa knew sex better than anyone.
They both knew how to be safe. This was good; they'd be fine if-
"Stay with me, mon petite." Trowa murmured, hand wrapping firmly around
Quatre's erection. The boy gasped and swallowed a groan. "Focus on how
this feels. Don't be afraid. We're safe."
His soft words continued, whispered assurances in his ear. Quatre clung
to them and repeated them until they drowned out the fearful buzzing in
his head, until all he could see and feel and hear was Trowa. In the dark
room, there was nothing else.
"I'm sorry I made you, made us, wait for this. I've wanted to, but I was
frightened of what could happen. I trusted you, I swear, but-"
Another kiss silenced him. His words were meaningless anyway. He did what
Trowa told him and focused on the way it felt. Trowa inside him, solid
and real and careful and sure. A warm smooth palm touching him, bringing
his pleasure out of him in small gasps and moans. An aching, fluttering
pressure growing in his belly, threatening to blind him when Trowa pressed...
"Trowa, I'm... "
The Frenchman swore softly in his native language and Quatre couldn't
quite catch what he said, but he suddenly felt his lover tense, hips jerking
forward. He realized what was happening and the sight of his lover – eyes
open wide and staring, hair pushed aside, sweaty, grip tightening on his
thigh – tossed him right over the edge. He wrapped his fingers around
the back of Trowa's neck and dragged him down into a sloppy open-mouthed
kiss. He moaned, the sound high-pitched and breathless in his ears.
Then it was over and they lay together, winded and sticking to each other.
Quatre ran his fingers through Trowa's hair, ran his knuckles along his
cheekbones, and brushed his thumbs over his temples.
They didn't speak as they cleaned up in their small bathroom, but Quatre
shivered as Trowa gently wiped away the mess on his stomach with a warm
washcloth. They hadn't turned on the light, so he could only just make
out their silhouettes in the mirror.
Exhausted, they pulled all the blankets off the beds and piled them on
the floor. Then they wrapped themselves inside until they were tangled
up in a nest of fabric and limbs. They fell asleep with Quatre's knives
in easy reach.
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