Broken Jade

Part Nineteen: Outside The Gate

Trowa stopped the Jeep at the bottom of the driveway, and turned off the engine. For several minutes he stared at the gray world around him, the glittering snow under the overcast skies. Nothing felt real, and he slipped off his glove to touch the window. He shivered, dropping his hand and sinking forward until his forehead was against the steering wheel.

Leaving them is the stupidest thing I've ever done, he told himself. And the most selfish... but if I stay... He couldn't finish the thought, and started to turn the key in the ignition, then stopped.

No, he told himself firmly. Turn the Jeep around and head back up there. Heero's still too exhausted and shell-shocked, and Jade's... Trowa sighed, and shook his head. They're going to have to deal with it. I can't be there all the time. And I'm not up to dealing with Jade right now. I'm too shell-shocked, myself.

Trowa's palms itched, and his mouth was dry. He ran a hand over his forehead, pressing momentarily at his temples, and wondered if he had aspirin in his traveling case. Blindly he reached into the quick overnight bag he'd packed, digging around between the clothes, only to pull out his cell phone. He stared at it for several seconds, and punched in a number before he realized what he was doing. Putting the phone to his ear, he waited as the line rang. It was answered in a breathless tone, a baritone that made Trowa shiver again, but not from cold.


"Yeah, it's me," Trowa said simply. "I'm... " He couldn't finish the sentence. He couldn't find the words, and his throat wasn't working.

There was a short pause, and Trowa could hear Quatre's muffled voice as he spoke to someone else. Then he came back, his baritone firm and clear across the lines. "Where are you?"

"Sur la Croix," Trowa told him. "Will be in Courgenay in about an hour."

Quatre was silent again, for several minutes. Trowa didn't start the car, but stared out the window at a crow sitting on a fence post by the road. The black shape seemed to be mocking him, and he could hear the faint tap of computer keys in the background.

"I can be there in three hours," Quatre said. "I'll call when I get into town."

Trowa blinked. "That's really---"

"Yes, it is," Quatre interrupted, his voice amused and stern, at the same time. "You're my oldest friend, Trowa... and my first love. You have every right to impose, and no need to ask. I'm on my way."

He hung up, and Trowa was left staring at the phone, a little bemused. The surprise melted into a warm feeling of comfort, and Trowa tossed the phone into his bag before starting the Jeep and pulling out of the driveway.

Well, he thought. Bookstore browsing always was more fun with Quatre.


Trowa had been wandering in the history aisles when his phone rang. After giving Quatre directions to the bookstore, he made his way to the psychology section. Few titles seemed to have anything to apply, but he picked up a new translation of the Book of Five Rings. He wondered if Heero might like it, and Trowa hefted the small book in his hand before setting it atop the stack already in his arms.

He'd worked his way through to the science fiction section when Quatre found him. Trowa was on his knees with the stack in front of him, browsing several new stories by one of his favorite authors when he heard a low laugh. He looked up to see Quatre kneeling, bent over far enough that only his sky-blue eyes were visible above the top book.

"You sure this is going to be enough?" Quatre sat up, then, and regarded Trowa with open affection. "If your car has rear-wheel drive, buy a few more books and they'll make a great counterweight so you can get back up those mountain roads."

Trowa smirked and set three more books on the stack, deftly gathering the stack into his arms before standing. "I haven't been book-shopping in three months," he informed Quatre as the blond kissed him on both cheeks in the European manner of greeting. "I've got a lot of catching up to do."

"Three months in Kenya," Quatre read out loud as they moved to a nearby table. He bent over to read more of the spines. "America, New Mexico... Lost in the Forest... Stalking Mount Fuji... " Quatre straightened up with a light laugh. "I see you're still on the travelogue kick."

"Not entirely. There's more than just that."

"Yeah, half of the bookstore." The blond glanced around with a wide smile. "Think they'll complain if you take most of their stock?"

"It won't fit in the Jeep."

"Wouldn't be the first time you've tied boxes to the roof of a car to transport books." Quatre ducked out of the way of Trowa's absent-minded attempt at a swat, and laughed as they split the stack between them. "Come on, finish your browsing."

An hour later they left the bookstore, and Quatre made a point of pretending to drag the bags across the parking lot. Trowa shook his head and opened the trunk. Quatre continued teasing, counting as Trowa loaded the eight bags.

"Sixty-four books," Quatre concluded. "Well, that should keep you for about three days. Have you eaten?"

"Heero said there was a restaurant downstairs from the bookstore." Trowa shut the trunk and turned around, looking at the bookstore, a little puzzled.

"Probably enter the basement on the next street over." Quatre laughed at Trowa's expression. "Mountain town, what do you expect? Come on. Watching you peruse every damn section is hungry work."

"You mean keeping up a running commentary about my every damn *selection* is hungry work," Trowa pretended to grumble. He fell in step beside Quatre, once again surprised at how Quatre's stride nearly matched his. Trowa leaned back to stare across the top of Quatre's head, the blond hair still tousled as it had been when they were kids. "I think you've grown."

"It's the platform shoes," Quatre shot back. "You're not *that* tall, y'know."

"You were always short." Trowa hid a grin in the collar of his jacket as Quatre shook his head in disgust.

"You were five-four when we met. I'd hardly call that an impressive height."

"*You* were five-two."

"I'm six-one now," Quatre retorted. "I'm gaining on you."

"Still shorter."

Quatre snorted, about to say something when his phone rang. Glancing at the screen, he mouthed 'Emmy,' and answered the phone. The entire conversation was in rapid French, with the liquid lilt Quatre had picked up after two years in Morocco. The dialect was just enough different that Trowa's Parisian French did him no good, so he waited patiently. Quatre grinned at Trowa several times, which was indication enough to Trowa that he was being discussed, and he shrugged as Quatre finished the conversation. When the blond hung up, he was grinning from ear to ear.

"Laylah has decided that you're the one she's going to marry," Quatre told him smugly. "I hear she's got the dress all picked out."

"I'm gay," Trowa replied.

"Ah, don't be breaking my daughter's heart before she's even hit double digits." Quatre glanced up at the restaurant's awning, and latched onto Trowa's arm, tugging him through the door. "Inside, now, before I freeze to death."


Trowa was relieved that Quatre kept the conversation light, although the blond didn't chatter nearly as much as he once had, to Trowa's relief. Years of friendship, he supposed, and Quatre knew now when to speak and when to be silent. Trowa was stirring the cream into his coffee when Quatre finally glanced around the restaurant and leaned forward across the table, resting his elbows on the table as he gave Trowa a pointed look.

"Day off," Quatre said. He studied Trowa's face for several long seconds. "Or more?"

"Day and night." Trowa shrugged and sipped his coffee, then added a bit more cream as Quatre watched. "Time for a break."

"For whom?"

"All of us." Trowa stared down into the soft brown liquid, and stirred it idly a few more times. "I nearly broke up with Heero."

Quatre nodded, to show he was listening, but didn't say anything.

"After Wufei's visit... Jade started talking, but only to me," Trowa explained. He took a deep breath, and began explaining the weeks that followed: Heero's withdrawal, the silence in the house, and the isolation. He didn't mention the long nights he'd lain awake, listening to the other two men breathing and wondering why he felt so empty. He knew Quatre would know, even without the specifics. "I couldn't take it anymore."

"Happens," Quatre said. He sipped his own coffee, his blue eyes settling on Trowa's hand as it straightened the spoon against the dessert fork.

Trowa swallowed hard, and took a deep breath before telling Quatre about Heero's explosion, the discovery in the trunk, and Jade's unexpected reactions. "He said... " Trowa glanced away, unable to meet Quatre's eyes. "He's angry at me for... *touching* him." He glanced up to see Quatre's brows drawn together.

"What kind of touching?"

"What?" Trowa gave him a baffled look, and shrugged. "The touching kind, I guess."

"There are different kinds of touch," Quatre said patiently, with no hint of patronizing that a lesser diplomat might show. "I've already had the bad touch conversation with my daughters. And there are different kinds of touch. Sexual, non-sexual... " He cocked his head, looking thoughtful. "And non-physical."

"That's not touching." Trowa finished off his coffee and set the china cup down, wishing the French believed in larger mugs.

"It can be. You've not indicated that Jade's being very... specific in his complaints. He sounds like he's trying to tell you something without coming right out and saying it."

Trowa shook his head. "Duo always---"

"Not Duo," Quatre said, his tone firm, but sad. "*Jade*. And nothing you've told me of the latest development is Duo, either. However much you want it to be."

"I want it to be over," Trowa whispered. "I'm so exhausted, Quatre. I can't... I feel like... " He waved a hand vaguely, unable to put the feeling into words.

Quatre nodded. "Perhaps the problem is that Jade loves you."

Trowa nearly bit his tongue to keep from the bitter chuckle threatening to overwhelm him. "No, I doubt that. Jade made it perfectly clear that if I died tomorrow, he'd have his dancing shoes ready."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that." Quatre leaned back, his eyes hooded as he turned to watch the restaurant employees busy themselves. "You said he was upset when Heero told him he'd not get any more affection. Says to me that what Jade meant by touch, and what you thought he meant, are two different things."

"I don't see why he couldn't---"

Quatre laughed, gently, his even white teeth flashing in the restaurant's late afternoon light. "Once you've dealt with a two-year old... or several... Jade's actions might make more sense."

"Figures." Trowa stared morosely into his empty coffee cup. "Heero thinks of his own training. I think of dealing with the lions. You think of toddlers."

"We each apply what we can, from our own experience." Quatre's smile was suddenly gone, his eyes serious as he regarded Trowa. "Children want guidance. They seek it, and at the same time, they want to discover the world on their own. You can set limits too closely, and watch them rebel. Or you can be too loose, and watch them recoil from what seems to be an unsafe world. The trick is to be clear and consistent."

"Sounds like training an animal," Trowa said, one eyebrow raised. "That didn't get me very far."

"Trowa, I pity the day you have a child of your own," Quatre retorted. "That child will see you as the center of his or her universe, and your days will be filled with this little person following you around and worshipping you simply because you exist. Then, one day," Quatre leaned forward, his eyes narrowed, "the kid is going to discover there's more to the world than your apron strings. And believe me, the pain you're feeling right now is right up there with hearing a small child scream at you in a supermarket that she *hates* you, and wishes you were dead."

Trowa gaped. "Kids do that?"

"Hell, yeah," Quatre replied, wearily. "Laylah threw a fit when I refused to let her have the double-layer cookies with the cartoon character on the package. She doesn't even *like* peanut butter. But telling her 'no' was tantamount to the greatest betrayal she'd ever known." Quatre canted his head at Trowa, his eyebrows raised. "Ever occur to you that without his memories, Jade is essentially a newborn child? He's existed for... nine months now? Maybe a little more? And if you think in those terms, it's about time he developed language skills - even if his are more fluent than the average newborn."

"He's a newborn, perhaps, but one that's been through something I wouldn't even wish on Dekim Barton," Trowa replied grimly.

Quatre shook his head. "He's still dependent. It's just that now he might be resenting that dependence. Doesn't mean he's not still dependent, however. Maybe he just needs you to reassure him that he can still come back to you, even if he wants to explore."

"He can't explore," Trowa said stubbornly. "It's two miles down the---"

"Stop being so literal," Quatre said, cutting him off with an annoyed look. "I know there's an intuitive brain in there somewhere, if you'd pick yourself out of your rut long enough to take an objective view. Jade is exploring who he is, and that means he's going to have to question who he is in relation to you. Everything he is, right now, is as an extension of you. So when he starts to push away at himself, you're part of what gets pushed."

Trowa leaned forward on the table to cover his face with his hands. He kept his face covered for a long minute, before moving his hands up to run through his hair, feeling it flop back down over his forehead as he gave Quatre an unhappy look. "I feel like... I shouldn't have left," he whispered. "I feel like I've done the worst thing possible. Leaving Jade, alone with Heero, after all Heero's done in the past month... "

"Emmy warned me you might say that."

"Emmy?" Trowa groaned and sat back, fiddling with the coffee spoon before dropping it on the table. "How much did you tell her?"

"Only that you needed a break. She told me to remind you about her first day back at work after Laylah was born." Quatre grinned ruefully. "Laylah wasn't too happy about daycare, and had a major temper tantrum. Spent fifteen minutes on the floor kicking and screaming about Emmy was leaving her, but every time Emmy tried to hug Laylah goodbye, the brat launched into how she hated Emmy and never wanted to see her again." Quatre laughed, shaking his head. "I think that's time number two that Emmy's ever cried."

"What was time number one?" Trowa raised his head, mildly curious.

"When she was six, and her pony died," Quatre replied, amusement bubbling up in his laugh. He sobered, his eyes dropping. The waitress appeared, refilling their cups and leaving the check. Quatre waited until she walked away. "Trowa," he said, gently. "You can't raise a child on your own."

"I'm not," Trowa replied, indignant. "Heero---"

"Hasn't been doing much," Quatre interjected smoothly, then raised a hand, forestalling Trowa's response. "Which is not a reflection on his intentions, but merely a statement of fact. Some things aren't easily shared. But you've gotten to the point where it's time for the other person to take over. Gives you a break," he added, with a quick smile. "But it also allows the child to start relating to someone different, without always focusing on you... and your expectations."

"Still seems like a rather callous way to do it," Trowa muttered. "I feel like I let Jade get thrown into the deep end."

"If you don't return to find Jade waiting anxiously for you, I'll treat you to three hours in a bookstore of your choice."

Trowa considered that for several seconds, his eyes narrowed. "And if Jade is waiting?"

Quatre leaned forward; his eyes were piercing, and his smile wicked. "You watch the girls the next time Emmy and I celebrate an anniversary."

The auburn-haired man contemplated an evening of listening to Laylah explain wedding plans, and winced. Shifting uncomfortably, Trowa gave Quatre a pained look. "Is there an alternate option?"

The blond grinned and shook his head. "Have you found a place to stay tonight?"

Trowa couldn't help but tease. "Are you going to tell me now that it's better if we fight this together?"

"No point. You never listened, then. Doubt you'll start now."

"Like you expect me to believe that," Trowa said, a smile playing at the edge of his lips despite his attempts to look skeptical. "You're too stubborn to give up that easily."

"Oh, I figure I can take a hint after at least a decade." Quatre stood up, and gave Trowa a teasing bow before pulling on his coat. He dug his gloves out of his pocket, giving a melodramatic sigh. "Barton, you always were the only one who could resist my charms."


The truth was, Trowa thought, that he was the only one who could never resist Quatre's charms. The other man knew it, too, but at least after so many years the truth didn't hurt like it once did. Trowa stared through the window, down the narrow city streets towards the mountains, and listened to the shower running in the bathroom his room shared with Quatre's. The auburn-haired man turned, taking in the overly frilly room, the fluffy duvet with large pink and green flowers, the lace on the windows and the canopy. A basket of dried flowers sat in the fireplace, and Trowa suddenly felt homesick. Crossing the room quickly, he sat down on the loveseat facing the bed. Before he could second-guess himself, he pulled out the cell phone from his bag, and punched in the number for the cabin. Heero answered on the third ring.

"Hey," Trowa said, keeping his voice low as he listened to the water being shut off.

"Hey, yourself," Heero replied, his tone delighted. He paused, and when he spoke again, his voice was lower and more distant. "Are you... doing okay?"

"Better." Trowa stared at an old print on the wall, barely registering the image of ladies in impossibly large skirts picnicking in an Alpine field. "Quatre's here. We had lunch."

"That's good."

The line was silent for several seconds, and Trowa tried not to sigh into the mouthpiece. He wasn't sure what to say, and realized his fingers were tugging repeatedly at the zipper on his bag. He pushed the bag away. "How is... everything there?"

"We got some of the gypsum board up, but quit when it got dark."

Not what I meant and you know it, Trowa thought, with a flash of irritation. He chewed his lower lip, and considered whether Heero was trying to tell him something. His stomach twisted, and he took a breath to steady himself. "How is Jade doing?"

"Taking a bath right now," Heero said, his voice unexpectedly amused at something. "We've reached an understanding. Tentative, but it's progress."

"Oh." Trowa stared at the print some more, and wondered absently if there were rooms in small inns that weren't decorated to feminine tastes. The frills on the bed were giving him the creeps. "What kind of understanding?"

"He does what I tell him to," Heero said flatly. "Or he suffers the consequences."

"Consequences," Trowa repeated, feeling cold.

"He ate dinner by himself in the barn, for purposefully hitting the wallboard instead of the nail," Heero explained. "And tomorrow he'll have to spackle all the hammer-marks."

"I see." Trowa frowned, as the logic of it dawned on him. However intuitively, they'd followed Quatre's experience: Trowa had provided unconditional attention, and now Heero was setting the limits. "How are *you* doing?"

There was a long pause. Heero's voice echoed on the line, sounding forlorn. "I miss you."

"Yeah," Trowa replied, knowing that was all he had to say.


Trowa leaned against the doorjamb as Quatre pulled a sweater over his head. They had decided on a late dinner, since neither had eaten much for lunch. "How fast did you have to pack?"

"I didn't," Quatre replied, smiling as he slipped his feet into his boots and knelt to lace them up. "I always keep a change of clothes in the car." He shrugged. "Never know what you'll be in for, on a jobsite."


They were quiet, as Quatre led the way to the restaurant suggested by the innkeeper. The interior was dark, but quiet, and the host huffed at Quatre's request but showed them to a table tucked in at the back. Trowa gave Quatre a puzzled look.

"I prefer eating in peace," Quatre said, his grin mischievous. "We sit out in the open, and I'll have to tolerate every waitress coming by to make eyes at you."

"Hardly," Trowa replied, unfolding the napkin and dropping it into his lap before he flipped open the menu. "Bottle of wine?"

"Sure." Quatre was quiet while he perused the menu, only asking Trowa to translate some of the German terms once or twice. Quatre made a face. "We're too near the border. I bet we're going to get sausages with everything."

Trowa smiled. Giving his order to the waiter, he sat back and watched Quatre, his smile widening as Quatre rearranged the wine glass, the water glass, and the silverware. Quatre looked up with a slight frown.


"You still do that." Trowa nodded to the silverware and the glasses.

The blond exhaled sharply, blowing his bangs out of his eyes as he pretended to glare. "I just can't believe in a good restaurant they wouldn't know how to set the table."

Trowa rolled his eyes. "You are so a product of your upbringing."

"Says the born mechanic."

"You don't see me deconstructing your car, do you?"

"I'm sure your fingers are itching this very moment." Quatre leaned over, and laughed as though he could see Trowa's hands under the table. "I was right. Besides, that list of everything you've done with Une's cabin... it's like listening to you fuss about the balance on Heavyarms all over again."

"I just think things should be done properly, and sometimes that requires tweaking." Trowa gave his friend a bored look, but it was ruined when the corners of his lips twitched, just a little.

"Well, excuse me while I tweak the place settings," Quatre announced, reaching forward to switch Trowa's wine glass and water glass. "Much better," he announced, leaning back with a smug grin.

Trowa rolled his eyes and poured more wine for both. When he set down the bottle, his mood had shifted suddenly, although he wasn't certain what had prompted the thought. "I don't know if your analogy goes any further than my experiences or Heero's," he said abruptly.

"Oh?" Quatre gave him an intrigued look from over the rim of his wine glass.

"It's... " Trowa stared down at the tablecloth before dragging his gaze up to meet Quatre's. "It's... " He pursed his lips, and exhaled in a fast breath. "When Jade talked about touch... there's been sexual touch."

The other man didn't blink. His face was calm, and his eyes were steady.

Trowa ducked his head, letting his hair fall across his face. "Jade... every touch was sexual." He shrugged, with one shoulder, unable to complete the motion. "The first time, it was Heero's decision to manually stimulate Jade to orgasm." Trowa could keep his voice neutral only by avoiding the shocked gaze he was certain would soon appear on Quatre's face. "The second time... we finally got him to talk, and I asked him what reward he wanted. He wanted, and I let him... he gave me... " Trowa couldn't finish, ashamed.

The table was silent for several minutes, and Trowa could see, out of the corner of his eyes, Quatre setting the wine glass down. The blond nudged it with a finger until it was back in its proper place. Then Quatre cleared his throat and leaned forward.

"He's a *slave*," Quatre said. "Jade was trained to please you in any way possible. I've read the documentation. Jade was trained to please you, whether that be by cleaning the house or licking your boots every morning until they shine. If he can share your bed, that's one of the greatest rewards you could give him. If he can touch you, that's a better one." Quatre frowned, and tilted his head, a thoughtful look crossing his features. "And if you touch him in return, then that's possibly one of the greatest rewards of all."

Trowa blinked slowly, as the words sank in. Raising his head, he gave Quatre a puzzled look. "I've hugged Jade. And I kiss him, platonically. I try to be very affectionate."

"How'd you react when he gave you a blowjob?'

"Ah," Trowa said, wincing, both at the bluntness and at the memory. "I thought I was going to be sick. I told him to go to bed." He pushed the fork across the table until it bumped against the base of Quatre's wine glass. "Heero's the one who knew that couldn't be enough. So he... " Trowa shrugged, and smiled ruefully. "I'm not normally this coy about sexual things."

"I know you're not," Quatre agreed. "But this is different." He leaned his elbow on the table, and rested his chin on his fist. "So you never touched Jade in a sexual manner, although you accepted his advances."

"Once," Trowa snapped quietly. "Only once."

"But did he make others?"

"Plenty of times." Trowa moved the fork until it was back to its original location. "To both of us, actually."

"Jade might have the emotional stability of a two-year old," Quatre mused, "but it sounds like he still has the same libido as Duo."

Trowa snorted. "I met his boyfriend, and heard the guy's complaints. I doubt Jade's even half the voracious lover Duo was."

"Just a random thought," Quatre said, his tone hesitant. "But maybe Jade's mad about being touched because you never let him reciprocate? Or perhaps because you accepted his touch, but didn't respond to it?" He shrugged, smiling briefly as their dinners were set before them. "For most adults, attention and affection is a two-way street. Doesn't sound like that's what you had with Jade."

"I don't *want* a sexual relationship with him," Trowa hissed, suddenly angry.

Quatre dropped his knife and fork with a clatter and leaned forward to point at Trowa, his finger stabbing with his words. "You don't have a choice, Barton. He is a sexual being, and has needs. You, and to some extent Heero, are parent, friend, *and* lover, all rolled into one. You can't pick and choose what you will and won't do."

"What about setting limits?" Trowa picked up his fork and stabbed at the venison. He knew he was seething, but he didn't care.

After a minute, he frowned, realizing that Quatre hadn't responded. Curious, Trowa glanced up to see the other man regarding him sadly. Quatre noticed Trowa's raised eyebrows, and dropped his gaze. Picking up his knife and fork, Quatre began slicing his steak. He put a piece in his mouth, chewed slowly, swallowed, and took a sip of wine before looking at Trowa again.

"I don't know, Trowa," Quatre whispered. "I don't have the answers. I can only tell you what works if you're coming at it from a parent's point of view. And I'm willing to raise questions and help you see things from a different perspective. But I don't have the answers." He dropped his eyes, and stared at his plate, playing absently with his potato. "I can only tell you that limits on behavior, expectations... those are important. But you can't set limits on love. And you certainly can't make love the reward for good behavior. Love exists separately from that, and doesn't falter, despite the behavior."

Trowa frowned.

"Shit," Quatre said, rolling his eyes as he set his fork down. "Seems to me that you forgave Heero for some atrociously selfish behavior this past month. And you did it damn quickly, too." Quatre's eyes were appraising as he took another swallow of wine.

"That's different." Trowa lowered his brows, and took another bite of venison.

"Looks an awful lot alike from where I sit."

"I didn't say I forgave him," Trowa qualified, a bit tentatively. "Not completely."

"But you still love him."

Trowa nodded, a little reluctantly. Seeing Quatre's smug look, he sighed and nodded more emphatically.

"I rest my case." Quatre smiled, a small, secret expression. "I never forgave you for leaving after the wars to go back to the circus. But I never stopped loving you, either." He took another bite of steak and grinned around the fork in his mouth. Swallowing, he grinned again. "However, I am not *in* love with you, any longer. Please clarify that to Heero so he doesn't come kick my ass."

"Make me baby-sit your daughters and I might forget to add that last detail," Trowa teased, his good mood returning at Quatre's brilliant smile.

"Do that, and I'll sic my wife on you."

"Can't scare me. I've got years of dealing with Catherine."

Quatre laughed, a full-throated sound, throwing his head back. When he settled down, he grinned amiably at Trowa, and shook his head a little. "All I'm saying is that when you love someone, their behavior won't change your feelings. Not deep down, where it counts. You might not forgive them, and you might write them off... " His voice stumbled, and he dropped his eyes before continuing. "But you still love them. The end of love moves on a completely different schedule."

Trowa nodded slowly, considering Quatre's words carefully as he pondered how he felt about them. It made sense, on a logical level, but it also made sense on a gut level. Somehow, the two together made him feel a little less despair about the situation at home. But it still left one question unanswered, and he sighed, figuring Quatre might not know, but he'd have a good suggestion anyway.

"So," Trowa said, and attempted a smile. "What do I do now? Jade doesn't want me to touch him, and he doesn't want me near him... "

"Do what you do best," Quatre replied gently. "Wait and see... and continue to love him. But love him as he is, not for who he was or who you hope he'll become. Love him as we love all those that matter to us... for the good, *and* the bad."


End Part 19

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