Petals of chrysanthemum
Curve in their whiteness
Under the moon.
--- Hisajo Sugita
When Trowa got out of the shower, Heero had dinner on the table, and was calling Jade down to eat. Trowa flashed his lover a grateful smile, noting the warmed Italian bread and simple pasta dish, with a salad on the side. Heero joined him in the kitchen, and Jade seemed startled by the dinner already prepared.
"Jade, sit down," Trowa said automatically, pulling out a chair and steering the silent man into it. "Serve yourself."
Heero sat down opposite, pouring them water as Trowa waited for Jade to move. "Tro, he's in the chair. One thing at a time," Heero finally said. Trowa's brows went down, but he nodded silently and fixed a plate for Jade. The longhaired man ignored the utensils, and ate delicately with his fingers.
Trowa sighed and filled his own plate, taking several minutes to eat in silence.
"During the war... " Heero began, and then paused, setting down his fork. "Cathy found you."
The auburn-haired man nodded, knowing what Heero was referring to, but uncertain of the reason.
"You didn't know her, though." The statement was flat, as though Heero knew the answer.
"She knew my name," Trowa replied. "I mean, I didn't, but she did. I guess that seemed to matter."
"Ah." Heero was silent for several heartbeats. "Did you feel safe with her?"
"Safe?" Trowa shrugged, a slight movement. "I'm not sure that word is the right one."
"Was there anything she said or did, that helped?"
Trowa took another bite and chewed slowly as he thought about it. He'd not really contemplated the war in years, and certainly had never found reason to dwell on the long months of darkness before his memory came back. Sorting through the recollections, he pushed away the memory of the cold, and deep space, and focused on the first week or two after Cathy had found him wandering in the rain. "Food," he finally said. "She made me soup. I remember that."
Heero chuckled, unexpectedly. "That would jar anyone."
"It didn't bring my memory back, if that's what you mean," Trowa said, bemused. "But I do recall feeling more safe, when she cooked for me." He took a sip of water, glancing over the rim of the glass at Jade, still picking methodically through the pasta sauce. "Are you saying that if we do all the cooking, it'll help Jade?"
"No, I'm saying that we need to give him the food that he used to like." Heero shrugged and helped himself to more pasta. "I don't know if it'll help, but it's worth a shot."
Trowa nodded, and the two were silent for the rest of dinner. When they finished, Trowa gave Jade permission to stand, and the longhaired man immediately began clearing the table. Trowa watched, dismayed, and Heero jerked his head towards the living room. Trowa nodded, standing, and followed Heero out of the kitchen.
"I'll start a fire," Heero told him. "If you want to get Jade in here, we can do something about his hair."
"I know what you're doing," Trowa said quietly, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "You and your plans of action."
Heero shot him a disgruntled look and grumbled, "am I really that predictable?"
"Yeah. Old age, set in your ways... "
"Twenty-six is not old age." Heero made a face and left the cabin.
Trowa grinned to himself and went to check on Jade. Most of the dishes were done. "Jade, leave those until later. I've got something for you."
Jade twisted in his spot, then immediately launched himself over to kneel at Trowa's feet, his entire body quivering. There was a small delighted smile on his face, and his chin was raised a little higher than usual, although his eyes were still downcast. Trowa couldn't help but smile, seeing shades of Maxwell's love of gifts lurking under Jade's silent skin.
"Come with me," he whispered, and didn't wait for Jade to rise, but headed to the living room, where he sat on the sofa, the brush and a hair band resting on the arm. The chime of the bells announced Jade's movement, and the young man hovered at Trowa's feet, uncertain. Trowa reached out, grabbing Jade's wrist loosely. "Turn around and have a seat."
Jade hesitated, then slowly turned around as Trowa guided him to sit on the sofa, between Trowa's knees. The front door came open, and Heero stomped in with a load of firewood. He raised an eyebrow at Trowa, who waved the brush at him, and Heero nodded with a smile. It took Trowa nearly fifteen minutes to undo two days of neglect on Jade's hair, while Heero busied himself setting up the fire and getting it going.
"I think you're putting him to sleep," Heero murmured, coming to sit on the sofa beside Trowa.
"I'm stalling," Trowa admitted. "I'm not sure how to braid hair."
"Jade, turn a little," Heero said, placing his hand on Jade's shoulder and guiding the young man to twist halfway around in his spot. Heero carefully divided the hair into three sections. "Maxwell didn't like people seeing his hair down, so I've only seen him braid it a few times," he explained to Trowa as he struggled to remember how Duo's hands had moved. "I think it goes something like this... " He caught the ends in his hands, and held up the braid for Trowa to see.
"That's the messiest looking braid I've ever seen," Trowa commented dryly.
"I don't see you doing it."
"You're the one who roomed with him at school. Thought you'd be more observant."
"I roomed with a sneaky bastard who protected his privacy like it was the secret to turning Gundamian into gold," Heero retorted. "He'd ask twenty questions, I'd answer ten in hopes he'd shut up, and afterwards I'd realize he'd never offered anything about himself. Maxwell talked a lot and rarely said anything."
Trowa raised an eyebrow, watching Heero's expression soften into a nostalgic melancholy. Something spasmed inside Trowa, but he did his best to ignore it. Taking the end of Jade's braid from Heero, Trowa wrapped the band around the end, snapping it into place. He let the braid drop onto Jade's back, and the young man didn't move for several seconds. When he did, it was in an explosive action.
Jade shrieked, coming to his feet and twisting around as he clawed at the braid. He backed blindly into the chair, his screams high-pitched and feverish, still twisting as though trying to attack the braid. His slim fingers pulled at the band, and yanked at his hair.
Trowa was on his feet instantly, seizing Jade's wrists. Heero leapt over the coffee table, getting behind Jade, wrapping his arms around Jade's chest.
"Jade! Jade!" Trowa shouted, and grunted at the effort of holding Jade's hands away from his scalp. "Fuck, Heero, he's---" Trowa couldn't finish the words, half-stunned by the strength hiding in Jade's body, and wincing from Jade's shrieking.
"Damn it, undo the braid!" Heero twisted Jade around, yanking him out of Trowa's grasp. He locked his arms around Jade's upper body as the shrieking young man twisted and wriggled in his grasp. Trowa furiously struggled to undo the braid, tugging harshly at points in his anxiety, and finally dropped his hands with a defeated look.
"It's out," he announced, and ran a hand down Jade's head. "Jade, it's gone," he whispered.
Jade moaned loudly and collapsed, nearly taking Heero with him as he began sobbing loudly. Heero went down to his knees, and Trowa knelt down to embrace Jade as well. The two men huddled over the third as the longhaired man cried in huge gasps of air between them.
"That was unexpected," Heero said, over Jade's head.
"No shit," Trowa replied, wincing as Jade's sobs started up again. "Maxwell's been wearing a braid for as long as we've known him. I don't understand why... "
"It should have been soup." Heero leaned his head against Jade's and sighed, his eyes closing. "But no soup."
"We need to find soup," Trowa agreed. Jade's sobs died down to sniffles.
Heero opened his eyes, and his lips quirked up at the edge, a crooked half-smile. "We're ignoring the best source of information," he said. Leaning back, he looked down at Jade, the tear-streaked face, and the red-ringed eyelids, and ran his thumb under Jade's eyes, wiping the last of the tears. "Jade, sit down on the sofa. We want to talk to you."
Trowa raised his eyebrows, puzzled, but followed Heero's directions until the three of them were on the sofa again, with Jade ensconced between them. The longhaired man kept fingering his hair, tugging a little at it as he hunched over. Every now and then he'd hiccup, and wipe his nose with the back of his hand. Heero sat with his back against the sofa arm, one leg pulled up under him, and Trowa mimicked the position on the other end.
"What are you planning?" Trowa looked at Heero's determined expression. "He won't talk."
"He can still communicate," Heero replied evenly. "Jade, when you are scared, is there a place you feel safe?"
There was a pause, and Jade nodded emphatically.
Heero looked surprised, and Trowa cocked his head at the silent man. "Jade," Trowa asked softly. "Where do you feel safe?"
Jade made a little motion with his hands.
"Yes or no questions," Heero reminded Trowa. "Jade, are there several places you feel safe?"
Jade slowly raised his arm to point past them. Trowa nodded. "The pillow." Jade then turned towards Trowa, raising his hand but not quite pointing. It was more of a half-hearted reach, without touching. Trowa raised his hand and caught Jade's fingers in his grasp, squeezing gently. "And me," he added sadly. "Anywhere else?" Jade's fingers tightened in his grasp, and Trowa realized he was holding his breath. Very slowly, Jade nodded, and made a little motion in Heero's direction. Trowa glanced up to see Heero had noted the movement.
"When you do something bad, do you expect to be punished?" Heero's question was gentle, but firm.
Jade nodded immediately, several times.
"Do you have an idea of what these punishments are supposed to be?" Heero lowered his eyebrows at Trowa, noticing the auburn-haired man opening his mouth to protest. "Jade? Do you?"
Jade made a little shrugging motion, and dropped his head.
"Thought so," Heero murmured. Seeing Trowa's look, he made a rueful face. "The punishments should vary each time. And sometimes, they should come unexpectedly, just to reinforce that they can happen without warning, at the whim of the Master."
Trowa narrowed his eyes at the knowing tone in Heero's voice. "How do you... " He wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"Dr. J." Heero's deep blue eyes were steady. "I was trained."
The auburn-haired man felt the room swim a little, and shook his head. "Yes, but trained as in---"
"As in wiped of human emotion," Heero replied.
"You're not devoid of emotion."
"Which is why I believe that somewhere under Jade, we can find Maxwell." Heero studied the silent man between them. "We just have to know where to look, and the right things to say or do." He paused, and reached out for Jade's other hand, and the silent man flinched, then relaxed as Heero simply held it. The dark-haired man sighed, and began rubbing his thumb over the back of Jade's hand. "When you do something right, were you taught that you would be rewarded?"
Jade didn't move for a heartbeat, then nodded once.
"Did you do something right, yesterday?"
Jade's brows went down, the furrow marring his expression. Finally he nodded, several times.
"Cleaning the kitchen?"
"Organizing the kitchen?"
Jade nodded again.
"Did you get rewarded for any of this?"
There was a long pause, and Jade didn't move. Instead, he started to shiver. Trowa frowned, and looked over to see Heero opening his mouth for another question.
"Don't," Trowa hissed. "I can tell you already the answer is no."
Trowa ran his free hand over Jade's head, and down to cup Jade's chin. The silent man turned his head, nuzzling the open hand with his cheek, and Trowa could see a small smile appear on Jade's lips. "We don't train the big cats by beating them constantly," Trowa explained, irritation creeping into his voice. "We reward them lavishly. I've been trying so hard to not see Jade as... a voiceless, mindless pet... that I forgot that what I know still applies."
"Rewards aren't common in training," Heero retorted, but his voice was uncertain. "I don't recall... " He turned his head to stare at the fire, rather than finish the sentence.
"When you did something right, weren't you rewarded?"
Heero dropped his eyes. "Sure," he said, without a trace of irony. "I wasn't beaten."
Trowa grimaced. "Cessation of negative reinforcement is not the same as positive reinforcement," he said, but without rancor. "There have to be rewards. Negative reinforcement alone doesn't work. You broke past your training plenty of times, during both wars."
Heero grunted assent, his thumb still smoothing small circles on the back of Jade's hand. Trowa cocked his head at Jade, and considered his next question. "Jade... is food a reward?"
Jade nodded, once.
"Is physical touch?"
The silent man nodded a second time.
"What about sexual attention?" Trowa ignored Heero's sudden sharp glance, and focused on Jade.
The longhaired man between them flushed slightly, dropping his head even further as he nodded again. He was starting to quiver, a sign that Trowa was figuring out meant anticipation. Trowa closed his eyes tightly, took a deep breath, and opened them to see Heero glaring at him.
"I am not having sex with something that has no free will," Heero ground out.
"I didn't say you had to," Trowa replied.
"Don't tell me you're considering it!"
"I didn't say that either." Trowa closed his eyes again, unwilling to match Heero's icy expression. "We have to find a substitute for sex."
"Something that involves physical touch," Trowa explained patiently. "But it's got to be connected to doing something right."
Heero frowned. "I don't know... that I like that."
Trowa raised an eyebrow as he glanced at Heero, and then went back to studying Jade's face.
"It's... too mercenary," Heero said quietly. "It's like saying, if you do something right, that pleases me, then I'll reward you. You told me yourself that makes us no better than the people who did this to Jade."
"Do you remember our discussion after you woke up, during the war?" Trowa waited until Heero's face indicated agreement, and continued. "I told you that you could walk away. No more orders. And yet... "
"I went back," Heero replied softly, his voice low enough to be speaking only to himself. "I didn't know anything else."
"Exactly. The cats I've trained... when they're used to a routine, they'll do everything they can to continue that. If you change it too fast, it only unbalances them."
"Jade has been trained that pleasing his Master is the greatest reward... " Trowa paused, reflecting on his conclusions. "And physical touch is the best of those rewards. So we just need... " Suddenly he stopped, an idea occurring to him, and he couldn't help but smile. "Jade? Do you know how to give a backrub?"
There was silence for a moment, and then Jade nodded enthusiastically. Heero snorted, and Trowa grinned outright.
"Good, because my back is killing me after chopping that wood." Trowa glanced at Heero. "And while I love your touch, you are hell on muscles."
"That's the way I was taught to relieve muscle strains."
"Tenderizing works on meat. I am not a slab of steak to be slammed into submission." He winced at the involuntary double meaning, and received a sympathetic glance from Heero. Trowa shook his head and focused on Jade. "I have an idea, Jade. I'm going to braid your hair, and if you can keep it in for three minutes, then there's a backrub as a treat."
Heero frowned. "You're giving him one, or he gives you one?"
Trowa shrugged. "It's up to Jade. It's his reward."
"Giving you a backrub doesn't sound like a reward to me." The fire cracked, and a log fell over in the fireplace, punctuating Heero's petulant tone.
Trowa raised an eyebrow, sensing a thread of jealousy through the words. "Don't worry. Either way, I promise to be putty in your paws later."
Heero stood up and headed to the fireplace to add more wood, as Jade slowly turned to present his back to Trowa. The silent man's head was down, and his hands were white-knuckled on the sofa cushion as Trowa attempted to duplicate the motions he'd observed Heero follow in creating the braid.
"Start timing," Trowa said.
Heero nodded and glanced down at his watch, as Trowa ran his hands up and down Jade's arms.
"Shh, Jade, it's okay," he whispered in Jade's ear. "We're right here. Nothing bad is going to happen to you." The young man began making a soft keening sound under his voice, and his hands clutched convulsively at the cushions. "Relax, Jade, relax," Trowa urged gently. "Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Focus on your breathing," he coaxed, watching as Jade attempted to follow his directions.
"One minute," Heero said.
Trowa nodded and continued running his hands up and down Jade's arms. The keening was growing louder, and the longhaired man's body was beginning to shake. "Just a little longer, Jade, you can do this... " Jade gave a great shudder and exhaled roughly, but his hands remained down. His entire body was taut, and Trowa winced at the muscles, hard from tension, shaking under his palms. "Breathe, Jade, breathe," he repeated.
"You're doing really well," Trowa whispered, his voice dropping to barely above a breath. "I'm so proud of you," he said, watching as Jade seemed to quiver at the phrase. Trowa repeated it, never stopping his motion of running his palms up and down Jade's arms. "Only a little more," he said, wincing as Jade began to sob helplessly, his fingers splayed against the sofa, his body hunched over and shaking.
"Three minutes," Heero reported.
Trowa quickly and efficiently undid the braid, unsurprised as Jade twisted in place to collapse against him, sobbing loudly. He sighed and leaned back in the corner of the sofa, shifting Jade until their legs were entwined on the sofa. Heero sat back on his heels by the fire, watching as Trowa began running his hands up and down Jade's back, still whispering in his ear.
Finally, Trowa pulled away, pushing Jade to an upright position. Trowa pulled up his shirt, wiping the longhaired man's face with the hem. "Now, Jade, it's your choice. What do you want? You can decide."
Trowa watched as Jade's head tilted to the side, his mouth open a little. He hiccupped once more, and then licked his lips as if coming to a decision. The auburn-haired man smiled encouragingly, as Jade leaned forward. His next thoughts were less pleased, however, when Jade's lips came in contact with his, and a tongue poked at his lips, trying to get into his mouth. Trowa's eyes shot wide open, and it took him a second to keep from throwing Jade backwards on the sofa. Blinking at Heero's equally stunned reaction that was swiftly changing to fury, Trowa gently pulled his head back at the same time he pried Jade off him.
"Jade," Trowa choked out, steadily ignoring Heero's livid expression. "I... that wasn't on the list." He sighed, and sat up a little better, as Jade's shoulders slumped and the longhaired man curled in on himself. "No, Jade, you didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't clear enough. Jade... the only person I want to kiss is Heero. Is that clear?"
Slowly Jade nodded, pulling back in on himself even farther. When Trowa reached for him, Jade cringed.
"It's okay," Trowa whispered. "That wasn't your mistake. It was mine. Now, turn around and lie down. I'll give you a backrub, instead. Is that good? Would you like that?"
Jade seemed to hover on the edge of agreeing, his fingers tightening and loosening against the sofa cushion by his knees. His head was down, and he chewed at his lips. Trowa was pleased to see the indecisiveness, because at least that meant Jade was thinking, rather than just following set rules.
At least, he thought, I hope that's what it means.
"He's trying to figure out what will please you the most," Heero said quietly. His anger had banked itself, and he sat on the hearth, his back to the fire as he studied Jade's forlorn figure. "I'll go get the blankets from upstairs, and we can put him on the sofa until we get a second bed for him."
Twenty minutes later, Heero was sitting in one of the chairs, his feet on the coffee table as he watched Trowa crouched over Jade, patiently working at the shorter man's shoulders. Trowa glanced up to see Heero's eyes on him, and smiled before ducking his head to concentrate on Jade's muscles. The longhaired man's reticence had quickly melted into willingness, and now Jade was breathing peacefully, with soft moans as Trowa dug patiently at the more difficult knots. Trowa sat back on his haunches, keeping his weight off Jade, and moved backwards until he was straddling Jade's knees. Leaning over to dip his fingers in the bowl of oil, Trowa noticed Heero was staring at the empty shelves. When he caught Heero's eyes again, he jerked his head towards the shelves and raised an eyebrow.
Heero smirked, knowing what Trowa meant. "I was wondering how much it'd cost to ship your books here."
"All of them?" Trowa sat back and shook out his hands. Jade stirred under him, and he immediately dropped a hand to the small of Jade's back with a reassuring pat. Jade quieted, and Trowa smiled at Heero. "It might be cheaper just to buy more books."
"If we're going to be here awhile, we might as well have something to read," Heero said. "And we need a hammock."
"A hammock." The auburn-haired man paused over Jade's bare back, and gave Heero a surprised look. "What brought that on?"
Heero shrugged. "I just think we need one. Before it gets too cold," he added with a sly smile. "I hear they're good for being lazy."
"I didn't know you even knew that word existed."
"Even I have room for improvement." Heero leaned back with a smirk.
Trowa rolled his eyes and got off the sofa. "Jade, you'll sleep here until we get you a bed." Carefully he pulled the blanket down from the back of the sofa and covered Jade, tucking the blanket in around the long-haired man's neck, and pulling his hair gently out of the way. Standing, Trowa nodded to Heero and picked up one of the hurricane lamps. Heero turned the knob on the second one, and followed Trowa to the bedroom.
Trowa stripped off his shirt, tossing it over the bedpost, undid his jeans, and sat on the edge of the bed as he pulled them off. Heero entered behind him, shutting the door softly. Trowa counted silently, and smiled as Heero took the shirt and stuffed it into a spare pillowcase without saying a word.
He's designated a dirty clothes hamper, already, Trowa thought, amused despite his exhaustion. Folding his jeans, he tossed them onto the wooden chair by the window and crawled under the covers, lying on his back. A rustle of fabric and soon Heero had slid in next to him, rolling on his side, his head propped up on his fist.
"Heero... " Trowa slowly closed his eyes, trying to forget what he wanted to say. He could feel the heat of Heero's body alongside his, and the touch of Heero's hand on his ribcage, slowly sliding up to rest on his shoulder. "I owe you an apology," he said, and sighed. "I've... not really been very forgiving or patient with you." He turned his head to stare at his lover, and wondered if he looked as lost as he felt. "I don't mean to blame this on you... but I'm used to you knowing what to do." He attempted a smile, and failed.
Heero brushed Trowa's bangs out of his face, and nodded.
"It's frightening, to see you so lost," Trowa confessed. He took a deep breath to fight off the ache in his chest. "And I feel like I'm intruding, every time he reacts like I'm the center of his universe. Like it's adding insult to injury for you. It makes me angry, and frustrated. I want to fix it. I can't."
"I understand," Heero said gently. "I'm sorry I kept losing my temper with... Jade. I put you on the spot each time."
Trowa's voice dropped to barely audible as he forced out the words. "It was hard enough competing with his ghost. It's harder when the ghost is right in front of me."
"You never had to compete," Heero chided, a slight line between his brows. "He's my friend. You're my lover. There's a difference."
"I know, in my head. My heart isn't doing so well right now." Trowa closed his eyes.
Heero was quiet for several minutes, and his hand slipped off Trowa's shoulder. The skin burned in the absence, and Trowa could feel tears slowly gathering in the corners of his eyes. Heero sighed next to him, and the bed sheets rustled as Heero changed position. "You can feel that way, but I'll keep telling you there's no reason."
Trowa contemplated several answers before nodding. "Just remind me often," he whispered.
"I will." Heero's gentle tone was tempered with amusement. He moved again next to Trowa, and drew in breath through his teeth. A finger touched Trowa's temple, where a tear had run its course. "Trowa? What's---"
"I don't know," Trowa whispered. "I feel like I'm off balance and there's no safety net this time." He felt another tear run down the side of his face. He ignored it. "I can handle... animals," he added in a miserable tone. "But to really train and teach the big cats... you have to love them." He turned watery eyes on Heero. "And I've never loved Duo."
Heero raised an eyebrow. "You told me once that you cried when you destroyed Deathscythe."
Trowa's answer was barely a sigh: "yes."
"I suppose... I knew what it meant to him. I knew what it would do to me, if someone had destroyed Heavyarms. And I knew Du---Maxwell would be... I knew Deathscythe *mattered* to him. More than anything."
"Empathy, Quatre told me once, is a cruel thing." Heero drew his finger down Trowa's nose, tracing his lips, and then his jaw. "I know you're fond of him, at least."
Trowa snorted despite himself. "Don't blame me for that. Maxwell gets under your skin. No two ways about it."
"I'm not asking you to love him," Heero whispered, his voice sad. "I'm just asking you to let me... and help me... love him. And to not see that love as detracting in any way for what I feel for you. Loving him is necessary. That's what my gut is telling me it's going to take, to get him back."
Trowa nodded, turning to face Heero with a crooked smile. "I can do that," he replied.
"And I owe you an apology, too. I wasn't the biggest help yesterday, or today, I think. The shock... I hate feeling helpless," Heero added, a little viciously.
"You'll be fine once you have a plan," Trowa murmured. A second later there were lips on his. He drew his head away from the kiss, staring into Heero's eyes, shadowed in the darkness. "You're probably as tired as I am. You don't... "
The auburn-haired man frowned. "What?"
"You talk too much."
Trowa sighed, a sleepy smile on his face, and stretched lazily as Heero got up from the bed. He could hear the other man's faint curse as he bumped into something in the bathroom. A few minutes later Heero returned with a towel, and draped it across Trowa's midsection.
"Next time, you do the honors," Heero complained, crawling back under the sheets.
Trowa grinned, finished wiping himself, and threw the towel on the floor. "Notice, Yuy, there is an object on the floor," he announced in a sated tone. "And I am not getting up to put it in the dirty clothes pile." He could feel Heero shift beside him, and immediately reached out, latching onto Heero's wrist with a practiced move. "And you're staying put."
Heero grunted, but only moved closer, throwing one leg over Trowa's legs. His hand came to rest lightly on Trowa's hip, as he curled on his side facing Trowa. The moonlight through the window shone down on Heero's face, and the taller man watched his lover's expression melt into a pleased, relaxed smile.
Trowa lay there for a while, listening to Heero's breathing even off into the beginning of sleep. The auburn-haired man frowned, and slowly sat up, careful not to disturb Heero. He listened closely. Next to him, Heero stirred.
"What is it," the dark-haired man mumbled, rubbing his face against the pillow.
"Jade," Trowa whispered. "I just want to make sure he's okay"
Heero opened his eyes, and gave a deep sigh. "Stay here. I'll go make sure he's okay."
"You don't have to," Trowa replied, amused.
"I got up once. Not like I'll get any rest, now that you've mentioned it." Heero rolled over, pushing the bed sheets off him as he got to his feet. He disappeared into the dark living room, and was back in a second. "He's not on the sofa."
"Upstairs?" Trowa scooted across the bed, getting off on Heero's side as he dashed into the dark living room. The last of the embers were dying, barely lighting the empty sofa, and the rumpled blankets. Baffled, Trowa looked around the living room, trying to figure out what he was missing.
"Not up here," Heero reported anxiously as he came quickly down the steps. "I'll check the porch."
"Kitchen," Trowa acknowledged, making a circuit around the kitchen table. He even checked under the table and in the bathroom, for good measure. Heero met him at the bedroom door.
"Not on the porch."
"Fuck," Trowa whispered. "Okay. Get dressed, and get the lanterns lit, and I guess we go looking."
"What the hell would prompt him to run away?" Heero shook his head, leading the way into the bedroom. A second later there was a thump and Heero cursed. "Shit! I just... what the---"
"What?" Trowa stepped forward, looking over his lover's shoulder. There, on the floor at the foot of the bed, lay Jade, curled up, naked, on his pillow. Trowa kneeled down to look, and realized in the moonlight that Jade was smiling. Trowa sat back on his haunches and looked up at Heero with a bemused expression. "He's sound asleep."
Heero leaned against the bedpost and ran a hand through his mussed hair. "What the hell... "
"Wants to be near us, I suppose." Trowa stood up. "I guess we should cover him."
"I'll get the blanket from the sofa." Soon Heero was back, and they laid the blanket gently across Jade's sleeping form. Then the two men returned to bed, trying to relax from the sudden adrenaline burst. The room was silent, until Trowa started chuckling softly.
"What's so funny?" Heero's voice was heavy with sleep, and mildly grouchy.
"You," Trowa replied amiably. "I just had a vision of you, stark naked, out on the porch. Moon-bathing."
"You should talk. I saw you check under the kitchen table." Heero poked Trowa in the hip. "Now be quiet. I'm trying to get back to the post-coital bliss I was feeling before you so rudely kicked me out of bed and made me get a towel."
"You talk too much."
End Part 6
On to Chapter seven
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