Games We Play
He was exiting the store, attempting to replace his wallet and put his jacket on at the same time when he heard his name being called. Even as he looked around, his leg was grabbed by a warm young body.
Alarm to pleasure, Quatre knelt immediately and pulled the young girl close. "Angel!" Holding her back, he asked, "Where's your mother? You didn't run off and leave her, did you?"
The girl shook her head. "Nope! Unkl Twowa bwought me."
She had just begun to speak when Quatre could see a pair of legs stop behind her and as his eyes traveled upward, they confirmed her statement. His smile faltered and Quatre hastily looked away. "How was your holiday? Was Santa good to you?"
"Yes!" The girl jumped up and down, and grabbed his arms. "He bwought me a dolly, and a twuck and a new dwess and see!" She shoved her forearm in front of his face, pushing the coat sleeve back. "A bwacelet." Her eyes were gleaming, and Quatre gave her another hug.
"It sounds like he was very good to you." He took her hand as he rose to his feet, and finally looked Trowa in the face. "Trowa." He left he greeting simple, nodding to the man.
"Quatre." Trowa nodded back before glaring down at the girl. "Andrea Michelle, if you ever take off running in a parking lot again, I will put a leash on you."
He had a moment to study the man as the girl mumbled an excuse, an apology and something else Quatre didn't quite understand. Trowa hadn't changed, but it'd only been three months. Dropping his gaze to the baby Trowa held, his smile returned. The one-year-old held his arms out to Quatre, his little hands opening and closing in gimme fashion. After glancing back up at Trowa, Quatre reached for the boy. "Hey, big guy," he said, pulling the child to him. He ran a hand over the back of his head, and placed a kiss on the baby's cheek. "Where's Cathy?" he asked, giving in to the baby's demand to rub noses.
"She has to work today."
Quatre looked up, losing his smile instantly at the tone in Trowa's voice. "But I thought she'd have more time..."
"She doesn't." Trowa turned away, and looked deliberately at the store entrance. "I told her I'd watch the kids." He shrugged under his coat. "Needed to pick up a couple of things." Quatre caught his glance.
"I can shop with you," he offered. "To help with the kids, I mean." He hefted the baby a bit higher on his hip. "I'll even carry Marc."
Trowa watched him steadily, ignoring Andrea's pull on his hand before giving a nod and a shrug. "Suit yourself. It shouldn't take too long," he'd already turned away, leading the girl towards the automatic doors, "wouldn't want to hold you up from anything important."
His step nearly a stumble, Quatre followed slowly. It'd been months, long and lonelier than he ever remembered being, and looking at Trowa's back, he wondered for the thousandth time why. The baby pulled on his hair, and he smiled for him, picking up where they'd left off in peek-a-boo games.
They were in the toys and games section, Quatre entertained Marc with a fluffy rabbit he knew he'd have to buy before they were finished and Trowa with Andrea, finding a game more intriguing to a four year old. In a clarity that threatened to cut, Quatre could recall a good dozen or more such scenarios, visits to such discount stores, usually ending in the toys section. When Trowa packed his things and left, he'd lost more than a lover.
Telling Trowa he'd meet him at the front of the store, that he needed to get a drink, Quatre walked away, paid for the Gund, and found an empty bench to entertain his pseudo-nephew. If he closed his eyes, he could see the baby as he was just after birth. If he let himself, he could remember the night Cathy announced her first pregnancy, her husband's expression between pole-axed and male-proud.
Five years. Trowa's family was his family, as much as they were involved. Todd's cancer discovered in Andrea's second year, and Cathy's desperation to have one more. Quatre fluffed Marc's hair, stood him up and had him hold onto his knee.
Trowa had been a singer, a part-time actor, but after his refusal to sign to a record label and move with his band to Los Angeles, he lost the band - no hard feelings and all that. The timing was nearly perfect in that he was available to be with Cathy, Todd and Andrea as Todd's days became numbered and his health declined.
Scanning the checkout stands for any sign of his former lover, Quatre tried blocking the words as they came. The seeming endless arguments they'd had; over money - Trowa's worries at not having any, and refusing to let Quatre help, over family - Quatre insisting that while he understood Trowa's need to be with his family, also insisting that he needed Trowa as well, and over work - how necessary it was for Quatre to be gone three and four days a week three times a month for the duration of the merger.
And then it was over.
Ironically, a week later, Trowa found steady work for an ad agency doing mostly voice-overs and writing jingles. It gave him the time needed to help Cathy and the kids, and an income to be independent. Ironically, the merger contract and conversion was finalized and delivered. The company vacation resort spot offered for his hard work was turned down; the only one he would have wanted to spend it with, wasn't there any longer.
"We're ready to go."
Quatre looked up and Trowa stood in front of him. His eyes narrowed then widened. Trowa's expression wasn't the hardened mask he'd presented at their every meeting. Looking away, Quatre put Marc back into his coat, picked up his purchases, and rose, lifting the baby with him.
"I'll walk you to your car," he said, nodding his head at the multiple bags in both Trowa's hands. "Looks like you've bought the place out." He offered a fleeting smile.
Trowa grunted, but gave a short smile in return. "Talk to the munchkin. You know how she is." He turned towards the door, and herded Andrea away from the quarter machines with a leg. "Let's go. No gumballs and no quarters."
The air had gotten cooler while they'd been in the store, and Quatre hugged the baby close. The tug to say something, anything, was strong and he pressed his lips tightly together. It was long past when things should have been said and hadn't. Watching Trowa steer Andrea to the correct aisle, seeing the little girl's curls bounce as her head nodded solemnly when he warned her about a truck backing up, Quatre closed his eyes against the sting.
The low beep and click as car doors were unlocked and the truck popped startled him. He hadn't realized they were that close. Seeing the carseat, Quatre went to buckle Marc in, while Trowa dumped bags in the trunk, and Andrea worked her way into her own booster. Quatre kept an eye on her as she click her seatbelt, and then leaned in close to give her a kiss.
"See you later, alligator." He laughed at her growl and snapping jaws.
"Play a game with me." She became serious, fast.
Inhaling sharply, Quatre shook his head. "I don't think I can make it today, Angel." Suddenly, giving Trowa a hand wasn't such a good idea. He backed out, gave a quick kiss and a caress to the baby's head. "Be good." And then he was closing the door.
Trowa waited, leaning against the trunk. "Thanks," Trowa said. His once over wasn't missed. "You didn't have to. I know how busy you are."
Words died on Quatre's lips and he closed his eyes against the sudden seething. "Don't mention it. I wasn't busy." He rounded the fender, ready to walk away without another word. Trowa's hand closed over his wrist.
He stopped, but didn't turn. "Don't what? Don't get mad because you're doing it again? Don't ever show up at the same place as you again? Don't dare talk back?"
Trowa hadn't released his arm and Quatre heard the ragged breath he drew. "Don't walk away from me. Please?"
Quatre turned then, and almost closed his eyes against the pain he saw. "Trowa..."
"I made a mistake." Trowa's mouth was moving, but Quatre couldn't be sure he was hearing him. "I- we should talk."
For a moment, the sharp jabbing in his chest was overwhelming. He shook his head and pulled his arm free. "We did enough talking to last a couple lifetimes." His hand gripped his plastic bag tighter.
Trowa was nodding. "And if it makes a difference, I'll talk enough for another. Quatre," he stepped closer, the gap between them became nonexistent, "I should never have left. I should never have said some of the things I did." His fingers were warm, almost hot against Quatre's cheek.
"No..." Quatre shook his head. "You shouldn't have left." Suddenly, he was smiling. "You weren't the only one who made a mistake." He leaned forward, placed a darting kiss on lips chilled from the cold. "But maybe a lifetime of talking will fix it?"
His hand was in Trowa's again, and Trowa's kiss was longer; his lips were no longer cold when Trowa pulled away. "And a lifetime of not talking."
"So," Quatre started, looking over Trowa's shoulder and seeing Andrea on her knees watching them. "You inviting me over for lunch and a killer game of Chutes and Ladders?"
Trowa glanced back and laughed softly. "Lunch," he turned back and tugged, "naptime," his arms went around Quatre's waist, "and games sound pretty good to me."