(Getting) Physical (in) Geology + Part 4 (cont)

+

Trowa fell in beside Quatre as he was leaving class the next morning; Duo, citing unfinished homework, had run ahead, and his bouncing braid was just disappearing over the hill. "So about tomorrow night."

"Tomorrow night?"

"Milly. The play." Trowa shrugged. "You know, one mentioned in the posters all over campus? Sana Kurata's got a big roll, so it's a big deal. It's called The Actor's Nightmare, but she seems really thrilled to have a part. She's the stage manager, but apparently she goes on."

Quatre smiled. "Christopher Durang."

"Who?"

"The playwright. It's an enjoyable play."

"So we're on."

And Quatre realized what he'd just said. "Oh, but I've seen it. You should really go with someone who hasn't. Um, maybe... ." But he wasn't entirely sure of who Trowa's friends were, and trailed off into an uncomfortable silence.

Trowa did nothing to relieve it for a long moment; he just stared at the shorter boy, his face blank.

"I don't want to go with anyone else," he said, finally. "I want to go with you. I want to hold your hand and make out with you in the back row, and exchange smiles with you, faintly embarrassed but not at all regretful, when we lie and tell Milly that her performance was riveting. I want to take you out for ice cream, or coffee, or a fucking glass of water. I don't really care."

He was scared. "You just want people to see you with me, is that it?"

Trowa's lips tightened, his eyes widened with the hit and then narrowed in anger. Most people wouldn't have seen any change in him. "Yeah. That's it. I want people to stare at us. I do love being gawked at. And I want everyone to know that I'm playing more than footsie with the class quarterback. Football president. Whatever the hell you are. As a matter of fact, let's just arrange a play of our own, and fuck with the whole school watching?"

Quatre felt like a layer of liquid ice was separating him from his skin, inside, but he wasn't cold. He didn't know what to say, so he watched the other boy's mouth move.

Trowa made a visible -- to Quatre, at least -- attempt to calm himself down. "I'm sorry," the other boy said, his accent thicker again. "I am. Sorry. Forget the play. Forget it. But I want something from you, Quatre. I want a kiss. In public. Just a little one. Just enough to let me know that you don't want to fuck me raw in private and walk past me every time we meet if someone else is looking. That I'm not your newly immigrated toy."

They had long since stopped dead in the middle of the path; annoyed and curious students were brushing past them. Quatre saw some he knew; there was Utena, and Anthy, and Yuuhi and Shuro, and Duo's favorite professor, Wolfwood, with some extraordinarily attractive blond man. They seemed to be walking a cat.

"One kiss, Quatre."

And there was his friend Maron, who headed towards him but seemed to sense that something was wrong -- she shot them a curious look and walked by.

And he could feel the looks coming, from everyone, as they made their way around the pair on the sidewalk -- the weight of their curiosity made it hard to breathe. Or maybe it was just the look in Trowa's eyes as he stepped a bit closer.

"Just one... kiss."

And Quatre only took time to blurt, "I can't," before running away.

+

After extracting himself from Maron, who he had actually run straight into, Quatre headed back to his room. He was in no mood to be social. He had a feeling, deep and low in his gut, that he'd just done something amazingly stupid. Which is why part of him was actually glad to find Duo there. He took one look at his roommate and slugged the bastard.

Duo put a hand to his bleeding mouth. "What the hell was that for?" He stood, a trifle unsteadily.

Quatre was pacing. "You started this, you bastard."

Duo shrugged. "Yeah, sort of. I think I mostly just... helped it along."

"Well, thank you. Thank you so much. You have helped me right into the biggest fucking mess!" He turned and saw Duo's smile, and went for his stomach this time.

Duo blocked him. "Nope. First one was free... second one I might give you... but no more, Quatre. "What the hell's the problem?"

The blonde gave a strangled scream and sank to the floor. "Why the hell did you do this to me?"

"Assuming for the sake of argument that I did, indeed, do something to you," Duo began, and then shrugged. And smiled. "I just... wanted you to be happy."

"Because I'm happy now," Quatre growled.

"You sure seemed to be happy yesterday," the braided one said, and then, seeing the look on his roommate's face, took a different tack. Pulling out a desk chair, he sat down backwards in it, facing his friend. "Quatre, you've been out on three dates in the year and a half since we got here," Duo said. "Two of those were with me, and one of those was with my friend Yohji, and that was just an attempt to make Ran jealous."

"It worked," Quatre pointed out.

"Did you go on any dates in high school?" Duo asked.

"I went out," Quatre said defensively.

"You took a girl to prom."

"She was a friend," Quatre said. "I had a good time."

"But you're gay," Duo said, and then shook his head at Quatre's automatic withdrawal.

"I never kept it a secret," Quatre defended himself. "I just... my father's conservative. He accepted that I was attracted to men. I chose to not rub it in his face."

"And your father lives how many hours away?" Duo asked.

"And the football team. I'm sure it's weird for them. I don't want to make them uncomfortable."

"Even though they let you on knowing that you were gay? Even though they tease you, rather crudely I might add, in a friendly sort of way?"

"And the student government. It might be off putting to prospective students to come to a school where -- "

"A school known for its liberal politics and homosexual population?"

"Argh! This isn't the point!" Furious, Quatre turned and stared directly at his roommate, who, he noted, was still rubbing his head. He pushed down all worry. "The point is -- "

"Do you know how you look at him?" Duo interrupted, quietly. He was staring at the carpet; he looked exhausted. "Do you know what your eyes are like when you see him? It's like," he searched for the words. "It's like the way my aunt -- the nun -- looked after the Pope blessed her and commended her for her work. Sort of exalted, like she understood things on some level that the rest of us just couldn't get. Sort of peaceful, like she was suddenly assured that the world was going to be all right. And sort of scared, like she didn't know if she was really worthy, really ready to be imbued with the holy spirit."

"Once."

"Huh?"

"One date. I had one date with a boy in high school. We went to a school dance together -- not just because we both knew we were gay and we wanted to live it. To be ourselves, and to be proud of it. Because I was crazy about him." He gave a half smile. "I was crazy about him. He had blue eyes that sparkled and a smile that made you want to either kiss him or worship him."

Duo watched him warily. "And?"

"And a teacher who had offered me support before asked me not to slow dance with him. And friends who hadn't minded having an unattached gay friend started to avoid me. And the guys in the locker room stopped feeling comfortable when I was around. And the administration very gently asked me to not bring a male "friend" as a date to any more school functions. And my father couldn't think of anything beyond hello and goodbye to say to me, and one of my sisters asked me to please never bring my "friends" around her children." He sighed. "And his eyes stopped sparking when he looked at me, and he stopped smiling."

"Quatre, if college and all things after were like high school, half of us would have killed ourselves long ago."

"Huh?"

Duo arched an eyebrow. "You gonna spend the rest of your life introducing Trowa as your roommate? Your good friend?"

"The rest of my life," Quatre repeated softly.

Duo rolled his eyes. "That would be my guess. And the magic eight ball," he said, reaching to grab the thing from his dresser, "confirms."

Quatre nodded. "You're right. I still haven't forgiven you, but you're right."

"I know," Duo said, flipping his braid over his shoulder.

"But he hates me now. He's got to. He thinks I think I'm too good for him -- that I was just using him."

Duo leaned back and bestowed a sage smile upon his roommate. "Quatre... that's what I'm here for."

"Duo... that's what I'm afraid of."

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