Still in Saigon
I found him in a dive off thirty-fifth and Doral street. Slumped over a dingy table in the corner, two steps from the Men's, he looked as if he'd been there for some time. He clutched the glass tightly in one hand, his eyes boring holes into table. Even as I approached, he tossed back the amber liquid. He spotted me as he lowered the glass, his tongue drawing the liquor residue from his lips.
"Duo," he didn't so much say as slurred. The precision he took setting the glass down confirmed what I knew already.
"Quatre," I acknowledged. "Mind if I have a seat?" It didn't matter if he did, I was sitting anyway. The bench cushion had a hole, its stuffing peeked through.
"Want a drink?" he waved his glass before him, his other hand reaching for the half-filled bottle. I grabbed it before it toppled over.
"Not right now." I watched as he steadied the bottle's lip to the glass rim. He overfilled the glass and leaned forward to slurp up the spillage. "Don't you think you've had enough?"
He sat back and blinked at me, the slightest hint of a frown puckered between his brows. His head cocked to the side, a gesture I remembered from when we were kids. "Don't think so." His fingers closed around the glass and he raised it to his mouth once again. "Down the hatch," he toasted me with a slightest hint of a grin.
"Are you going to tell me why the sudden interest in pickling your liver?" His eyes were lined red and watering From the scotch, or whatever demon haunted him, I wasn't sure.
"Doesn't matter." He jerked his head in a negative movement. "You weren't there. Wouldn't understand." He reached for the bottle again and I closed my hand over his, stopping the motion.
"I was there, remember. Frater meus vitam meam est, and all that?" I had thought Viet Nam was the problem.
"Then take my life, brother." He stared hard at me for a moment. "Please," he added in a whisper.
For someone not deliberately trying to piss me off, he was doing a damned good job at it. "What the fuck, Quatre. We didn't get out of that hellhole just so you could off yourself the slow way. Shit happened. We get over it and move on. So stop trying to tell me I wasn't there."
Quatre averted his face, but he laced his fingers with mine. "I meant, you weren't there." When he turned back my way, he was blinking rapidly. "Sometimes, you know, it's hard to drown out their voices."
Fuck. Every man jack one of us was messed up in some way from that place. I knew Heero had a set of nightmares and have heard Trowa talk about his. Mine, I kept to myself. But Quatre's… it didn't take much to imagine what he went through as a prisoner, but it was more than I wanted to think about. I squeezed his fingers. "It wasn't your fault."
"You don't know that. You don't know what happened." He dropped his gaze to the table, avoiding my eyes.
"No, I don't because you've never told me." He let go of the shot glass, and pushed hair from his face. The distance was back in his eyes, the one that told me he wasn't with me any more. I tightened my fingers. "But I know you, and I believe in you."
He watched me for a long moment. Something flickered in his eyes and he pulled his hand away. "Everybody has to believe in something, I believe I'll have another drink," he announced, reaching for the bottle again.
I snatched it from his hand before he could pour. "Not tonight, you're not." Already standing, I shoved the bottle at a passing customer. "Compliments of the house."
"Hey!" Quatre shouted, struggling to slide out of the booth. He nearly fell getting to his feet and I grabbed his arms. He sagged against me, suddenly boneless.
"Come on, man. Let me take you home," I whispered, brushing the hair from his face. "I promise to stay until the voices go away, okay?"
Quatre nodded against my shirt and made an effort to stand upright. "That'd be nice."
As I helped him into my car, I noticed how light it was outside and looked up. The moon was full, bright and reminded me of a night more than a handful of years ago. The smell of the jungle burning almost caught me by surprise, but I clamped down on those memories. Instead, I buckled up my sleepy passenger and shut his door. My demons would be slayed. Quatre still worked to put his to rest.
"Frater meus vitam meam est," I mumbled to the night sliding behind the wheel. My brother is my life. And Quatre always would be.