Dorothy walked down the hall of the courthouse with her usual, quick, efficient steps. The permanency hearing was only two days away and she'd been spending every moment of the last few days interviewing character witnesses and preparing her arguments. She glanced at her watch, her eyes filled with more than a hint of irritation. She still had a lot of work to do. What ever Judge Barton wanted to see her about, she hoped it wouldn't take too long.
The attorney turned the corner of the corridor leading to the judge's office and glanced towards his door. Her rapid steps hesitated briefly as she identified the slight, blond figure standing before the office with a raised hand poised to knock.
Quatre turned towards the sound of heels clicking sharply against the tiled floor and raised his brows curiously as he saw Dorothy approaching. He lowered his hand and turned towards her.
"Dorothy, how are you?" he greeted, wondering at the reason for her appearance.
"So," she said, dismissing the niceties of politeness, "he called you, too, hmm? Wonder what this is about?"
Quatre shrugged by way of reply and Dorothy pursed her lips. It wasn't often that the social worker didn't know what was going on, especially when it concerned Judge Barton. She made a gesture with her head, indicating with her chin that he should announce their presence.
A muted "Come in" answered Quatre's knock. They entered the office to find the young judge standing before his window, looking out onto the street, his hands clasped at the small of his back. Quatre opened his mouth to speak but paused, his aqua-colored eyes suddenly growing round. Dorothy quirked a manicured brow in his direction. She glanced towards the judge, seeing no cause for alarm. Dismissing the blond man's reaction, she stepped forward, feeling the pressure of every passing second.
"Your honor, why did you want to see us? I'm right in the middle of preparing the case. Couldn't this have been done over the phone?"
Trowa turned away from the window, his face dressed with its typical neutrality. "No," he replied, his voice as calm as his expression, "I'm afraid it couldn't."
Quatre tensed. "Trowa, what's happened? What's wrong?" His voice was high and pinched with concern. Dorothy narrowed her eyes in confusion at his unprovoked anxiety but looked back at the judge when he chuckled softly.
"I never could fool you, could I?" he murmured, his words barely audible. Trowa took a deep breath, squaring his broad shoulders. "As of this morning, I am no longer the presiding judge over Laura's case."
Dorothy felt her jaw go slack from shock. "What?!" she shouted, wincing at the shrill tone of her voice.
The social worker fair complexion became completely pale, his eyes growing, if possible, even larger. He shook his head, unable to make any verbal response to the astonishing pronouncement.
The judge leaned against the window sill and crossed his arms, looking for all the world as if he were just announcing the weather. "I received the call this morning from my superiors and thought that I should be the one to tell you. Apparently, some concern was raised as to whether I could be objective enough to officiate over the permanency hearing since I'd already heard the testimony against Laura's mother at the CINA adjudication proceedings."
"But, that's a load of crap!" Quatre sputtered through bloodless lips.
Dorothy swallowed in a effort to clear her throat and regain her bearing. "Was that the only reason given for your being taken off of the case? Because, if so, I think I can make some good arguments for a reversal. I've never heard of such grounds for removing a presiding judge..."
"Don't bother," Trowa interrupted. "The decision came down from the Family Court Board of Commissioners and is irreversible."
The attorney blinked. The Commissioners? They were the ruling body over all cases that came through DYFS. It was rare that they made decisions about who could hear a certain case, but Trowa was right, their decision was beyond contestation. (1)
"Well," she continued, still reeling from the unexpected change of circumstance, "who will be the new judge?"
Trowa chuckled again, though this time there was not even a sliver of amusement in the sound. He shot her a sharp, emerald glance. "Judge Hervé." (2)
Dorothy felt the blood drain from her face as her jaw dropped once more. "Miles Hervé?" she whispered. She closed her eyes at the tall man's confirming nod.
Quatre looked at them, turning his head from one to the other, his eyes narrowed in confusion at the attorney's unaccustomed fluster. "I don't understand. Who is Judge Hervé?"
"Only the most unrepentant bigot ever to sit on the bench," Dorothy interjected, her voice tight with anger.
Trowa glanced at the small blond man, his gaze loosing its sharpness. "Did you watch any of the government hearings about the Gay Family Rights bill?"
The social worker nodded. "Yes, but..."
"If you'll recall, there was one particular man, a judge, who was vociferously against passage of the bill. He and I were called to testify for and against the proposal and the session got a bit heated. Do you remember?"
Quatre nodded, "Yes, I remember. You mean that older man with the thick gray hair and the strange nose?" Trowa nodded and the blond man grimaced. "He was a right bastard. He didn't even seem embarrassed to admit that he was a homophobe..."
The social worker paused, his pale brows suddenly shooting skyward. "That man is going to be hearing Laura's case?!" he shouted.
Dorothy's fingernails dug into her palms as she clenched her fists. "I can't believe this! How in the world did he get assigned to this case? What could the Commission have been thinking? They have to know what he is."
"They know," Trowa replied, "but Judge Hervé has been sitting on the bench for nearly forty years and he has the respect of many of the Commissioners. Besides..." The young judge paused, abandoning his relaxed pose and turning his attention back towards the sunlight sky. "He requested this case."
The blond attorney blinked, feeling as though the blows would never end. "Requested? But, why? I would think he wouldn't want anything to do with a case like this?"
"Normally, he wouldn't," Trowa answered without looking around. "But, I suppose this case had some special meaning for him." His tone was noncommittal, but Quatre heard the undertones as clearly as if the other man had shouted.
Dorothy growled softly, her long hair whipping around her as she turned abruptly towards the door. "Well, this is just terrific." She paused with her hand on the doorknob. "Your honor, I appreciate you telling me this in person but, as you're well aware, my job just got a lot harder. I'd better go and get back to work." She shook her head, her silent though-why-should-I-bother understood by both men.
"Dorothy," Trowa said before she could leave. "What will you tell Duo and Heero?"
Quatre winced, selfishly grateful that he wasn't in the attorney's position. He could well imagine what their reaction would be.
She sighed, her eyes never leaving the door. "I'm not going to tell them." The two men looked at her with blue surprise and emerald resignation. "After all, what's the point?" she continued. "They'll find out anyway in a couple of days. No point in spoiling whatever peace of mind they have left." With that, she walked out, the echoing click of her heels fading down the hall.
Quatre looked at the long, straight line of the judge's back. "Trowa," he began, pausing as he swallowed against the lump of dread clogging his throat. "This can't be that bad, can it? I mean, the man is still a judge. He'll give this case a fair hearing. Right?" His trepidation grew as Trowa stood silently at the window.
The tall man exhaled slowly, Quatre recognizing his attempt to keep his habitual center of calm. Trowa finally turned from the window and Quatre felt a pain in his chest at the shadows in his friend's eyes.
"No, Quatre. Duo and Heero have no chance. Laura will be returned to her mother, or will become a permanent ward of the colony. And God help her," he whispered.
Quatre stood in the middle of the floor, floored by Trowa's bleak assessment. He did remember the cantankerous, old judge from the government hearings. He remembered the patently offensive remarks he made about gay people in general and their rights to form families in particular. But, he still couldn't believe that a judge, a member of the bench, could put his personal views before his duty to act as an objective arbitrator.
"Trowa, surely you're overreacting." Quatre ignored the ridiculousness of his words. When had he know the taller man to ever overreact to anything? "You're claiming that Judge Hervé will willfully ignore the facts and rule against Duo and Heero just because they're gay. I can't accept that a judge could be capable of such a malicious act. He doesn't know Duo or Heero from Adam. What would be his motivation for shirking his obligation to justice in such a manner?"
"Because, he hates me."
Trowa's words were spoken so quietly that Quatre barely heard them. But he did and his reaction was swift.
"Hates you?! Why would he possibly hate you? Just because what happened at the hearings?"
Trowa smiled at the incredulity in the smaller man's voice. Would that everyone could be blessed with so loyal a friend. "Yes, because of the hearings and because I'm a gay judge. He hates me for what I am and because I have the gall to advocate my own perversion." He moved closer to the blond social worker.
"Quatre this has nothing to do with Duo and Heero. This is between him and me. When Hervé discovered that I was presiding over this case, he went to the Commission personally and asked that I be removed. He argued that, because of my support for the Act, that I would be compelled by principle to grant Duo and Heero custody, no matter what the best thing for Laura would be."
The other man gasped and Trowa placed a calming hand on his shoulder. "I know that's preposterous and you know it, but, he was able to convince the Commission that his point had some merit. So, they took this case away from me and gave it to him. His actions were motivated completely by spite and, now, because of me, a family will be destroy before it even had a real chance to begin.
"Don't you see, Quatre, this is all my fault." His voice was soft but the surge of guilt radiating from the taller man hit the blond like a slap. He found himself stumbling under the impact as Trowa turned away from him again.
Quatre felt a sudden rush of anger towards the man who was causing his dear friend so much anguish. He reached forward and took hold of the other man's arm, turning him around with a steady strength belied by his small frame.
"Trowa, please, you can't think that this is your fault. It isn't, any more than it's Duo's fault for having to grow up on the streets as a prostitute. There is no blame to be placed, or, if there is, it belongs solely at the feet of the woman who abused and abandoned her little girl for so many years." He looked deeply into the taller man's emerald eyes.
"I know that it's going to be rough going. It would have been difficult even if you were still hearing the case and I know that Hervé is an added complication that we just don't need. But, Trowa, I have to believe that he'll do the right thing. I have to believe that there is justice to be found within the system and that justice will be done. Otherwise, why else are we here? Why should we bother?" Quatre tightened his grip, his imploring gaze speaking the intensity of his emotions.
"No, Trowa, I won't give up hope. I refuse!"
Trowa looked down at the other man, feeling the sincerity in the pressure on his arm and in the beautiful eyes fixed on his. For a moment, he felt the weight of remorse lift from his shoulders. His lips turned up in a slight smile as he raised a hand and traced a gentle line down the side of he shorter man's face with his finger, judiciously ignoring the resultant hitch in the other man's breath.
"Quatre, your spirit is as beautiful as you are," he murmured. He grasped the hand clenching his arm and, releasing its hold, brought it to his lips. He pressed a kiss against the smooth flesh before looking back into the blonde's surprised visage. "I'm glad you have faith in justice, little one," he said. Then he released the other man's hand and stepped away, turning his face back towards the sunlit window. "But, I just can't."
After a long moment, Trowa heard Quatre move away and waited sadly for the sound of the opening door. But, instead of the sound of the his friend leaving him with his self-reproach, he heard the soft snick of an engaging lock. Curious, he turned towards the door and inhaled with surprise as he saw the blond man approaching, slowly unfastening the buttons of his pale blue shirt.
Quatre stopped right in front of the taller man, his hands freeing the last button. His shirt gaped open, exposing the pale, smooth skin of his bare chest. "Then," he said, stepping closer until the space between them was negligible, "I guess I'll have to have enough hope for the both of us."
The young judge blinked in shock, hardly recognizing the unfamiliar emotion. "Quatre," he breathed, his ability to speak vanishing at the sight of the smaller man's bared flesh. "We can't..."
"Shhh." The blond placed a preemptory finger against his friend's full lips, stopping his protest. "I don't care, Trowa. I don't care if this is unethical. I don't care if we never work together on another case." He picked up the other man's nerveless hand in a reverse echo of Trowa's earlier motion and pressed it against his own lips. "But, I will prove to you that hope exists. I love you, Trowa," he said, looking up into the taller man's widening eyes. "I love you, and you are all that matters to me..."
The blond lifted himself on his toes until their lips were level. Then, without waiting for permission or inviting refusal, he closed the distance between them. Quatre felt the warm flood of feelings long repressed, scarcely able to believe that this was really happening.
He'd loved the other man for so long but had stood firm to his own unflappable code of ethics. As a social worker, it was completely inappropriate for him to have any sort of personal relationship with a family court judge. Not only his career but Trowa's could also be jeopardized.
Quatre had tried to deny his feelings, thinking it would be enough to just share a friendship with Trowa, that just being able to see him day-by-day would be enough. But, now, with the heat from the other man's firm body seeping into him, Quatre knew that he could never again fool himself. They might never again be able share their professional lives with each other, but this was so much more important.
He held the kiss, not pressing closer but not pulling away, waiting, praying for some reaction from the taller man. But, Trowa remained unmoving, and doubt crept into Quatre's heart. Fear that he would be pushed away rose within him as long moments passed and the other man still did nothing. A flush of shame crept into the skin stretched over his delicate cheekbones. He knew that Trowa felt affection for him, but, clearly, the depth of emotion that beat so strongly in his own heart was not returned in the way he longed for it to be.
The sting of rejection was sharp and Quatre began to move away, an apology fumbling on his tongue. But, in the next instant, he was being crushed against the taller man's chest and his lips were being blissfully devoured in an all-consuming kiss.
Powerful hands clasped tightly around Quatre's waist, digging into his sides with an almost bruising force, but the blond was beyond caring. He was lost in the intensity of the kiss. He buried one hand in the thick, brown of the taller man's hair as the other hand grasped a strong shoulder with equal fervor.
Trowa moved jerkily, the clatter of his chair filling the quiet room as he clumsily kicked it away from the desk. He lifted the smaller man onto the solid surface and moaned softly as a pair of legs immediately wrapped his hips, pulling him close.
Quatre had dreamed of this for so long and the consuming sweetness of lips pressed against his own, the raggedness of the breath in his ear, was all he could have wished.
"Trowa," he breathed when his lips were suddenly freed. The gasp became a moan as the burning softness of the other man's mouth fastened onto the pale column of his throat. Ragged words drifted up to his ear and at first, he could make no sense of them. He was fully engrossed in the incredible realization that every touch, every sound, every sensation was real and not just another desperate fantasy. But, finally, he heard them and he melted, tears springing to his eyes as his heart clenched with fulfilled yearning.
"Quatre, I love you." Trowa's voice was harsh, washing over the other man in a tingling wave. "I've loved you ever since I first saw you, standing in my courtroom, daring me with those incredible eyes to rule against you. The longer I've known you, known how wonderful you are, the more I've loved you. The more I've wanted you."
The blond closed his eyes, a single tear coursing down his cheek. He dared not move, not even to breath, lest he wake up.
But, the thumb that slid over his face, banishing the tear, was solid and he could feel the pulse of the other man's heart beating just below the surface of the wandering digit. Finally, he found the courage to look into the wondrous depths of emerald that were shouting out a message of devotion, drawing him in like a siren's call.
"Trowa," he whispered once more, unable speak past the fullness in his heart. But, Trowa understood his reply and a rare and beautiful smile spread slowly across his face. Words were no longer necessary as they reclaimed each others lips, their moans echoing their declarations of love.
Clothing vanished quickly, leaving no more barriers between them. Quatre's hands followed his worshipful gaze as he absorbed the beauty of Trowa's brown skin, flowing smoothly over tight, well-defined muscles. Even with all of the times he'd hugged the other man, holding him as closely as his own scruples would allow, he'd never imagined the stunning reality of Trowa's form.
He looked up into the other man's face only to find emerald eyes raking over him with equal thoroughness. A fleeting sense of self-consciousness fluttered through him only to pass just as swiftly. He could feel the searching gaze like a physical presence, touching him all over and making him ache with need.
"Beautiful," Trowa mouthed, his voice failing in his awe.
Quatre seized his lips once more, wanting no more words. In the four years they had known each other, too many words had passed between them as they'd struggled to mask their true feelings. Now, he would be satisfied with nothing less than everything.
Trowa growled low in his throat, the sexy sound sending shivers of anticipating through Quatre as he felt himself being lowered onto the desktop. For a second, the absurd, romance novel setting of the situation struck him - ravaged on an office desk by the smoldering, dark hero - and a nervous giggle threatened to erupt. But, any lingering shreds of embarrassment or hesitation were obliterated as a pair of firm lips fastened around his puckered nipple, surrounding the sensitive flesh with moist heat.
Quatre frantically swallowed a loud, passionate cry, nearly forgetting that he had to keep his voice low. Only a thin door separated them from the rest of the disapproving world but he was finding it difficult to care. All that mattered were the sensations chasing themselves through him and leading straight to his arousal as Trowa loved him with lips and hands.
He writhed beneath the solid form hovering over him, showing his appreciation with grasping fingers and shuddering breath. But, when he, at last, could take no more, he whispered his need.
"Please, Trowa! I-I can't wait any more..."
The taller man claimed his lover's soft lips, silently shouting his own desperate need, and Quatre responded with all the ardor he possessed. The blond barely heard a drawer being opened and slammed shut after the hurried sound of fumbled searching. The muted scent of hand lotion wafted past his nose, raising a vague question in his mind.
But, Quatre finally understood when cool fingers were suddenly probing at his sensitive opening. His body spasmed with surprise, and not a little trepidation. It had been a long time for him, since before he'd met Trowa, and he felt his body clench with a virgin's fear.
Trowa heard the betraying hitch in Quatre's breath and paused in his preparations. He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the other man's pale brow. Quatre looked up into his dark gaze, willing away any hint of reticence.
"Don't stop," he quietly urged and moaned as Trowa continued, distracting the smaller man with his roving mouth.
Quatre's moans turned into crescendoing pleas, his patience wearing thin under the unrelenting thoroughness of the taller man's long fingers. Heeding nothing but the demands of his body, Quatre reached out and took hold of the heated shaft pressing teasingly against his quivering flesh.
Trowa's eyes slid shut, head falling bonelessly forward, as his arousal was caressed by a small, diligent hand. The long, slow strokes broke through the last of his self-control. Trowa silently cursing his own weakness. He was afraid that Quatre wasn't truly ready, but, the blonde's sexy moans of anticipation mirrored his own need. At last, he, too, could wait no longer. It was with a mixture of relief and reluctance that he disengaged the hand massaging his hardness and threatening to drive him mad. He poised himself at the smaller man's opening, taking a moment to meet his lover's aqua gaze and eased forward into heaven.
Quatre's breath stilled in his throat, inextricable sensations of pleasure and pain vying for prominence. For a moment, he regretted his own impatience, struggling to hold back a whimper as his body was relentlessly stretched. Quatre bit his lip as the sweet pain brought tears to his eyes. But, finally, Trowa was in him, filling him completely and he heard the unbelievable words once again.
"I love you, Quatre."
His heart filled and the pain faded away like a trivial memory, leaving only ecstasy in its wake. Quatre cried out as words of love were torn from him. He was right where he longed to be, where he knew he'd belonged: pressed tightly against this man who held his soul in his capable hands, their heats beating in time.
The ancient rhythm began with slow, subtle movements, allowing them to grow accustomed to its demands. Quatre felt like he was floating, realizing only later that Trowa had lifted him from the desk. They settled together in the over-stuffed, leather chair, the smaller man perched comfortably astride the pulsing flesh that filled him so perfectly.
They paused briefly, content just to enjoy the closeness, but the urgency of completion hounded their bodies and their thoughts and, soon, they were moving together, once more, towards their shining goal.
Stifling the impropriety of their blissful shouts and moans with each other's lips, they erased the frustration and denial of their past. This moment, this togetherness, had been inevitable, written in the stars. Their own stubbornness had been their only obstacle. But, now that they had finally found each other, nothing would ever part them again.
Quatre cried out against Trowa's lips, the blazing shaft pounding into him consuming his entire being. His body clenched helplessly against the invasion, reluctant to let his lover go even for those brief moments of separation before Trowa returned to claim him with deep, powerful thrusts.
Suddenly, their lips parted, unable to restrain their exclamations of joy as they found mutual fulfillment. Quatre moaned breathlessly as liquid heat flooded him even as he released his own passion onto the smooth plane of Trowa's stomach. They collapsed against each other, struggling for air and awed by the wonder of the moments just past.
Trowa buried his face in Quatre's neck, holding the slight body to him with a strength born of possessive obsession. At last, he understood. If this could happen, if they could truly be together, even with all of the strictures against them, then anything was possible.
Quatre shivered as his lover's breath caressed him. He moved back just enough to place a soft kiss on the sweat-covered skin of the other man's brow. As he succumbed to the inexorable drowsiness of completion, his thoughts turned to his charge and the two men who wanted her so desperately. He closed his eyes as he rested against Trowa, determined that his friends would know the happiness that he had found at long last.
(1) Anyone see "A Knight's Tale?" If you did, then you'll recognize the quote.
(2) Hervé = Prof. H, Trowa's trainer. Get it? ^_^
AN: Thanks to my faithful reader, Klingonpoo, for her comments, which were the direct inspiration for this little plot twist, although she has no idea how she was responsible. ^_^ Thanks to her, also, for saying that, no, she wouldn't mind reading a gratuitous 3x4 lemon. After all, Duo and Heero can't have ALL of the fun, now, can they? ^_~ (Sorry, Dians! She'll know why.)