by Maldoror


Chapter Twenty: Indiscretions -- Lost In The Woods

Trowa's gun was drawn. He'd seen Quatre tearing out towards the trees from a distance as he came back from a perimeter check. He ran after him but lost him in the woods, and he wasn't sure which hot spot his lover was running to. Frustrated, worried but practical, he walked back to the house slowly, covering every step professionally looking for danger. He'd check the monitors to see if a sensor alarm had been tripped. He knew Quatre could take care of himself, would not have taken off like that without backup if he had been unable to cope with the consequences. Quatre was the tactician of the team after all.

He heard a quick ragged step behind him and was crouched with gun pointed before it fully registered.

"Quatre." He said with relief.

The blonde almost fell over when he saw Trowa.

The pilot of Heavyarms stared at his lover for a few confused seconds. Quatre was red on every inch of visible skin, more than even exertion could explain. His eyes were wide, his hair tangled and full of leaves, his clothes- Trowa blinked, his clothes were ruffled and the knees covered with dead leaves, water stains, little twigs... his hands too, he saw, before the blonde started to wring them

"Status?" He fell back on the mercenary routine by force of habit and sheer confusion.

Quatre opened and closed his mouth a few times. The red started to drain from his cheeks, his eyes looked a little less wild.

"I- er I-"

Well it couldn't be a real danger. Quatre might look as dangerous as a toy rabbit to the untrained eye but he could be just as lethal and efficient as Trowa when the need called for it. He wouldn't be stuttering and stumbling about if there had been an immediate danger.

"I thought I saw something on the monitors near the Gu-Gundams and checked but it wasn't anything." The words were quick, too quick. Trowa was a master of infiltration, he knew all about lying, the pauses and natural tones that entailed. No, Quatre wasn't exactly lying, he thought -he didn't need a space heart for this- but he'd stopped short of the whole truth. Which was very strange-

A crackling of quick steps across the forest floor warned them of another arrival. Trowa put his gun away, recognizing the muttered commentary going with the steps as coming from Duo 'Motor-mouth' Maxwell. But his mind stuttered in surprise as he saw Quatre's face. It had gone pink and horribly guilty and embarrassed, though the blonde was visibly trying to hide it from him.

"Hey you guys, whatcha doing here?" Duo appeared.

Trowa was the essence of an impartial observer.

So he merely noted that Duo also appeared to have a few leaves on his clothes. And he appeared to be hastily straightening them at the sight of the other pilots. And he was giving them a wary eye. And...

"N-nothing." Quatre blushed.

Duo hadn't stopped, merely slowed. He seemed to be wanting to avoid them, Trowa noted again, sending that extra thought spiralling down to the little mass of confusion that was wandering around his chest, looking for a place to do some damage.

Duo took one look at Quatre's face, then smirked, but it lacked his usual buzz (noted). He glanced almost acidly at Trowa (noted) then shrugged (noted) before passing them, instead of sticking around to chat as he would usually do (noted).

Trowa didn't want to but he couldn't help also noting the slight mutter that drifted back to him on a treacherous breeze: "Well maybe *you'll* get lucky."

Trowa and a red-faced Quatre were left alone in the woods, unable to speak for a few moments...

Trowa thought in straight lines and simple forms. He didn't deal well in conflicted thoughts and emotions.

Now nothing had actually '*happened* -happened' because Quatre had only been out of his sight for five minutes if that.

But all the notes he'd made were telling him that during those five minutes, something might have very *nearly* happened, something that had put both Duo and Quatre in very strange emotional states.

He'd thought of Duo as a bit strange but a harmless baka (as Yuy put it) on first meeting him. Well, no, not harmless, no more than any other homicidal teenage terrorist. But not, well, untrustworthy.

He'd even thought of him -tentatively, touching hesitantly onto this new emotion- as a friend.

A friend who knew about his relation to Quatre.

But from those premises, he wasn't good at drawing conclusions about how other people would behave and react; he left that to Quatre.

And Quatre, he knew for certain now, was going to lie to him. He could see it in his eyes, in the faint flush of his cheeks, the slightly unhappy droop of his mouth.

So he wouldn't ask.

Trowa didn't know what to think so he fell back on absolutes.

He trusted himself and Quatre with everything in the universe.

He trusted Duo (and the others) with his and Quatre's lives and Gundams.

Nothing else would be able to touch that, so he was just going to have to take a cold calm analytical view of all this and work from there. And wait. And watch. And observe.

"Shall we get back? Someone should stay near the monitors." Trowa said in his calm voice, his soul like a pool of roiling water caught under ice. He could feel his lover's eyes on him, puzzled and slightly relieved at feeling nothing untoward from him, even with Quatre's empathy. Calm and collected he lead the way back to the safe-house.


On to chapter Twenty-one

Back to chapter nineteen

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