Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing the boys from Bandai/Sotsu/Sunrise for a little while. I promise I'll dust them off properly and place them back on the shelf for other writers when I'm done playing with them.

Warnings: This is a 3x4 AU piece with mention of past 2xFC (hang on folks, the 1+2 is in the sequel okay?), some 3x4 exploration of the very mild lime-ish variety, and a brief NCS scene in the second chapter (it's not all that explicit, but I know some people are very sensitive on that point). Some occasional bad language surfaces from time to time as well. This is also my first attempt at writing 3x4, so I'll apologize in advance for anything that reads as OOC to regular readers of that pairing.

Notes: This fic nearly didn't happen. I constructed a fairly elaborate outline and extensive character notes to establish the pre-existing 3x4 relationship in another fic titled Daydreams. While I was working through the review and development process for that fic, I made the mistake of mentioning the existence of said outline to a couple of people who, well, begged rather shamelessly for me to write an expanded version of it. So, here 'tis. Again, if my memories of Cambridge, MA are a little fuzzy, it's because it's been more than fourteen years since I lived there.

Summary: Trowa works construction and odd jobs, Quatre is a grad student. This is yet another hurt/comfort type of get-together fic (that and working AU were my themes for the summer). This fic takes place about three years prior to the events in 'Daydreams.'

Chapter Eight
by D.C. Logan

Trowa threw the deadbolt, edged the door open far enough to see out onto the exposed landing, and waited patiently for the people to either produce a bible or try to sell him something he couldn't afford.

"Is... Mr. Winner here?" The man was hesitant and sounded slightly annoyed.

Shit. Now that he was looking for it, the resemblance was striking. Quatre took more after his mother's side of the family though. This was not a turn of events he had even remotely considered.

"Uh," he looked behind him at their son, sprawled in languid curves under the blanket, obviously debauched and reeking of sex, "one second."

He shut the door and looked down at Quatre. Well, there was nothing for it. He walked over to the side of the sofa and shook him lightly by the shoulder. "Quatre. There's two people at the door. I don't know how, but it looks like your parents are here looking for you."

Quatre's eyes snapped open in alarm and he whispered a "holy fucking shit" just loud enough that Trowa could make out the words. He sat up suddenly, dislodging the blanket, and looked around the room in dismay. Last night's activities had left evidence all over the apartment. He groaned theatrically and dropped back to the sofa in resignation.

"What do you want me to do?" asked Trowa.

"Tell them I'll...," he paused to rectify, "_we'll_, meet them at Cesca's in half an hour. That should give us time to get cleaned up. They'd freak if they saw what we did to the living room." He paused, remembering the moment on the braided throw rug from yesterday. _That_ had been rather a lot of fun. He smiled, and looked over Trowa's nearly naked form. The sweatshirt wasn't hiding much... and he'd answered the door dressed like that... talked to his parents...

Ah well, they'd recover or they wouldn't, he wasn't going to give up Trowa. He couldn't believe that he felt this strongly about him within such a short period of time, but so be it. He'd allowed higher logic to rule his heart all of his life. He was long overdue for a change in direction, and it had taken Trowa a surprisingly short period of time to give him the confidence to follow his instincts. Hell, they hadn't done anything more than some mutual manual stimulation, and it had still been the most satisfying sexual experience of his lifetime, he couldn't wait to experience the rest of what they could offer each other.

"We?" Trowa wasn't so sure this was such a good idea. Especially if Quatre's parents hadn't any clue where Quatre's sexual interests were directed.

"Of course we."

To Trowa, there had been no 'of course' about it. Hopeful, yes, but they'd known each other an obscenely short amount of time to be making blanket statements of intent. Not that he minded though. No, not in the least. He just hoped to hell that Quatre knew what he was doing.

They'd both showered and shaved. Quatre was wearing borrowed clothes again, and Trowa had donned a nicer set than usual--since they'd decimated his clean laundry with their exploits the night before, he'd had to raid his closet. He'd had no luck disguising the remaining bruising around Quatre's eye or the many and varied reddened patches on his face from Trowa's stubble though. Quatre had much softer skin; Trowa wasn't nearly as marked in comparison. He sighed deeply at his reflection, there was simply no hiding what they'd been up to. Trowa hoped that Quatre's parents were an understanding sort.

They were not.

Quatre had confessed a hope that the public meeting place would keep his parents' baser comments under control, but Trowa was pretty sure that he'd never be able to poke his nose into Cesca's again. He'd had nightmares over the possibility of this event. It felt eerily anticlimactic to have it over and done with--the public declaration of his sexual orientation part anyway.

They'd entered the restaurant only to find Quatre's mother sitting stiffly erect with an oddly pinched look on her face and his father glaring at the door. Quatre had started by introducing Trowa as his friend, and his parents had jumped to (in this case) all the correct assumptions. Breakfast had not improved significantly from that point forward.

His father had done most of the talking after that, and it hadn't been anything that either of them really wanted to hear. He'd started politely, but quickly moved onto a public announcement that their only son was apparently "a fag who was being fucked over by a freak, and Trowa must therefore be drugging or otherwise manipulating their son into submission." It wasn't until Quatre sided with Trowa that his parents shut down the negotiation and essentially disowned him. They'd stood, set their chairs under the table with automatic precision, and delivered their ultimatum from the doorway of the restaurant. They hadn't looked back after that.

"I don't need the inheritance anyway." Quatre shrugged philosophically, "I doubt I would have lasted long in the company under my father's direction, and he's not ready to give up any control. I've got a few accounts and funds in my own name that they can't touch."

"You're that sure about all this?" Trowa felt vaguely appalled that he'd been the cause of the rift between Quatre, a formerly obedient son, and his family. They'd seemed decent enough people, uncompromising and bigoted, but otherwise normal.

"Yeah," he smiled bleakly at Trowa, looking sad but resolute, "I'm sure."

It was as strong an intention as Trowa could ever have wished for. Declarations of love had never done anything for him, but proof that Quatre cared for him this much, and the action he'd taken to show it, hit Trowa deep in his gut. This was really it, then. From single to partnered in a weekend. He wouldn't have believed it possible if it hadn't happened to him.

It wasn't everyday that you found someone willing to divorce himself from his family and willing to give up a fortune on the basis of a weekend's relationship. He couldn't find any words, but reached out and held Quatre's hand over the table. Quatre held him back in a surprisingly firm grip before relaxing his hand and smoothing his thumb over the back of Trowa's in unspoken appreciation for his support. The rest of the patrons returned to their meals and private conversations now that the public display was over, though a wary patron watched from a private table in the back.

Duo waited until the furor had died down somewhat before approaching the table. "Well, that was rather unexpected."

"Duo?" Quatre visibly flinched and looked briefly embarrassed before turning back to stare at Trowa again. It was one thing to be outed in front of a room of strangers, and something entirely different to have his private family affairs aired in front of people he now considered friends.

Duo appropriated a chair from a neighboring table, spun it around, and sat on it backwards to better rest his crossed arms across the seatback in his second favorite position. So, Quatre was pushing it all away--family, wealth, power, a place to call home, respect. He just felt that strongly about Trowa--it was a humbling thing to witness. Looking at their clasped hands, he felt a brief but painful pang of sadness. This was the separation point then, things would never again be the same between him and Trowa. Oh they'd remain friends, but Quatre was Trowa's primary focus now, and had been since he'd first noticed him. Duo wondered if they'd ever realize how very lucky they were to have found each other like this. Trowa, whether he realized it or not, was already deeply committed at this point, and there was no way Quatre would ever let Trowa go, even Duo could see that. They belonged with each other, they fit, and it was good to see them together, even under the current set of circumstances.

And damn if they weren't sharing one of those 'love and comfort time' looks between them... Well, given the morning they'd just had, they deserved a break. He was pretty sure that Trowa had enough details to puzzle out without worrying about what his co-workers were going to say to him tomorrow. (Unless Duo was mistaken, at least two of them were sitting near the kitchen door, completely agog at the revelation.) He shrugged for the benefit of his audience. Trowa and Quatre were oblivious.

"Guys?" They turned to him. "Hey, I'll take care of the bill, why don't you take off to some place a little less public. I'll catch up with you later, okay?" Quatre flashed him a grateful look and shifted his chair from the table without releasing Trowa's hand. Trowa seemed relieved as well and followed suit. Duo waved them off. He seemed to be picking up the tab for Trowa rather often lately. The realization came with a smile though, it had been worth it to see the two of them start off together. Really worth it.

(...a few months later)

"Hey Duo, how's business?"

Duo looked up from partially opened box between his feet with a broadening smile. He hadn't seen Trowa in weeks. "Not bad, growing slowly."

"I know I haven't stopped by recently--things have been busy with Quatre's course schedule and that new construction site they started down by the architecture school." He paused, feeling his way around the apology, "You want to go down to Quincy Market tonight? Quatre and I are going to eat at Faneuil hall and then go shopping for a housewarming gift for his sister."

"No, sorry, gotta work tonight." Duo shrugged, "You know how it is." Duo shifted a stack of new books from box to counter and turned to study Trowa's expression carefully. "How are things going between you and Quatre? Everything okay?"

"Yeah, better than okay, great really." He grew thoughtful. "He told me what you said about me, back when you were working so hard to get the two of us, uh, talking... were we really that obvious?"

Duo gave up on stacking the books and walked around the counter to take a seat in the customer waiting area before answering. "Pretty much right from the start, yeah." He waved for Trowa to sit as well, but Trowa paced instead--too keyed up to sit down, and pleased to have an audience for his favorite topic of discussion.

"He's wonderful, I didn't know how much I was missing--thought that being with someone just meant that you shared everything, but it's different than I though, it intensifies the effect--magnifies it." He stopped and leaned against the counter, and looked up at the lights, pulling difficult thoughts together and trying to fit them to words to help Duo understand. "It's like holding fabric up against strong sunlight, and you get to see how the light fills in all the thin parts and makes them brighter... He's... my sunlight." He shifted his attention back to Duo, an expression of wonder still on his face. "This summer was just so unexpected. I thought I wasn't ready to settle down or find someone..." Trowa paused and the moment trailed off into silence.

"You told me that you never wanted to get that attached to anyone, remember?"

"This is different, somehow, and it scares me a little because everything seems so perfect now. Yeah, we've had some arguments and all, but we don't really fight. We just, I don't know, get along really well, know what I mean? I just never wanted my life to be 'perfect,' because it always seemed that when peoples' lives get perfect, that's when things fall apart or fate steps in and all the shit descends like a firestorm. So yeah, I guess I never wanted to try to make things better because I didn't't want to risk reaching that too-perfect life. Does that make any sense?"

"So why him then?" asked Duo, honestly curious. "What was it about him? How did you know?"

"I don't know if I could explain it. I can't remember what triggered it exactly, but we were sitting in my kitchen that morning--all three of us--and I knew that he was staying and that it would be okay. Part of it was that he managed to spin me through all those emotions over that night and day, and that helped me understand that this was "the" guy. Fear, anger, lust, pity, concern, affection, respect, humor--it was all was there and waiting patiently in one package--an attractively wrapped one at that." Trowa chuckled, dark and satisfied.

Duo thought very hard about the people he'd had in his past, the lovers he'd known in his life. "I've never had a moment like that with anyone. I think I envy you."

"You think it'll last?"

"Why not? You both seem to have a talent for working past your difficulties, and you get along well..."

"By difficulties, you mean his parents outing me to the world in the most crowded café in town?"

Duo chuckled, "Well, next time choose a quieter place."

"There won't be a next time. This is really it." Trowa scratched his arm and leaned against a display rack. "You know, the guys on the crew took the news a helluva lot better than I expected them to, I have to give them credit for that. Of course now they think Quatre needs to be protected from my 'wicked desires' as they put it. Rachid actually threatened me the other day, said he'd thump me good if I didn't take Quatre out to dinner. And Quatre has started to treat the crew almost like an extended family, and they just dote on him. I never saw that one coming. Whole bunch of mother hens--the lot of them. He's got them so tightly wrapped around his fingers that all he has to do is crook his little finger and they run to do his bidding."

Duo studied his friend. The fondness was evident in the tone of his voice when he spoke of Quatre, also a deep level of respect that he had for his chosen partner and the way he'd adjusted to his new lifestyle. The construction crew weren't the only victims snared by the clever blond. Hell, thought Duo, Trowa still didn't see how much his life had changed, it took an outside perspective to see that--and it was a wonderful thing to see in him. Damn, he felt proud.

Trowa shifted quickly again from thought to action, "Okay, so dinner tonight is out. You up for breakfast at Cesca's tomorrow?"

Duo grinned, "Sure, that I can do."

Offering acepted, Trowa rushed up the stairs to the door, but stopped and turned to Duo before leaving. "You know, you could use someone in your life. You really could."

Ah, the sign of a truly happy man. Having discovered happiness in his own life, he was now eager and willing to encourage his friends to do likewise. Any doubts Duo might have harbored about Trowa's relationship evaporated in that moment. _This_ relationship was going to last. He flashed a quick smile back at his friend.

"I've given up on all that, remember? It's just me and my Daydreams now." He made a waving gesture with his hand, "You and Quatre go run off and be happy with each other okay? Have a nice time at the market."

Trowa looked thoughtful, and perhaps a little sad, but left Duo to his work--trusting that Duo knew what he was talking about. Still, he was oddly hesitant to enjoy his own happiness while leaving Duo to glean what joy he could in his solitary life. No, he wasn't sure that he'd be happy to leave it at that. Somewhere, someplace, was the perfect someone for Duo as well. Somehow they just had to find each other first. And with any luck, he might be able to return the favor he owed. No... that would take some doing, at this point he accepted that he'd be in Duo's debt for the rest of his life--and Quatre was worth ten times more than he could ever return.

How had he suddenly become so lucky? He wasn't altogether certain what the specifics were, but he was damn sure that Quatre had a lot to do with it.


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