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.'

by D.C. Logan

"Hey, Trowa right? It'll be just a sec, so just take a seat, okay?"

He took one. Like most of the available seating in the room, his chair was so covered with duct tape that it was impossible to tell its original color. He sat, legs apart, elbows braced on knees, and scanned the flash art on the opposite wall.

The decor was vintage basement deco, and the room carried the taint of stale cigarette smoke and something a bit deeper, sweeter, and entirely illegal. It was all a false front though, a carryover from the previous owner that Cal found useful to maintain. It was so much easier to turn away business when it left on its own, at least that was the story Cal used, and it fit his trade.

Though new to the East Coast, Cal had brought along his reputation and a core following of enthusiasts to his shop. Trowa had been asked to provide references, two of them, and an idea worthy of Cal's attention and time.

A fifty-something woman walked out from the back room, still shrugging into her coat. Cal appeared at the door, absently pulling his gloves off while rolling his head to stretch the tense muscle groups along his upper back. He nodded at Trowa. "Good day to you, Mr. Barton."

Trowa stood and followed Cal into the back room. It was pristine, as clean as the operating theatre it was designed after, all done up in stainless steel and light gray linoleum. The stereo system mounted on the far wall was a full-featured McIntosh, top of the line. Cal didn't mess around with second class anything. He was an artist of all forms, and appreciative of those that he didn't practice himself.

Cal pulled up Trowa's file in his system and motioned him over to his computer. "This is similar to what you had in mind, right? I took the additional sketches you gave me and applied it to the image."

Trowa moved closer to the screen, reevaluating the design in his mind, trying to fit the parts of Cal's creation to what he'd requested. He pointed to the image. "I'd like this spiral darker, broader."

Cal looked at him, considering, "It's going to require more coverage, and will take longer, but yes, I can do that. Anything else? You've left some open space..."

Yes, and that had been intentional. His life, Cal's collaboration and design... Trowa planned on taking a long time to complete this pattern: potential, actual, and the nebulous future. Things needed to happen before any final design decisions could be made.

He needed this, something permanent, something uniquely his that he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

"I'm ready."

"Good, let's start then."

on to chapter one

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