AUTHOR: Amet (amet)
FANDOM: Gundam Wing
SUMMARY: Trowa comes back, but that doesn't mean Quatre's ready to face him.
PAIRINGS: Quatre/Trowa, shades of Duo/Heero
WARNINGS: Boykissing. ♥
SPOILERS: Trowa lives! But you knew that. And if you didn't I scoff at you. Also, Titanic? The boat sinks.
ARCHIVED: Onion Girls
FEEDBACK: Yes please! ^.^
THANKS: To sephyelysian for reading this over as I was writing it. Beta-as-you-go is the best kind! XD
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I started this a couple of weeks ago, worked on it furiously for a few days and then got eaten by Re:CoM. Thanks to Sunhawk for putting out another looooong and awesome Gundam Wing fic, because it got me back in the headspace to play with these guys again. ^.^ Also, I apologize for the sap, because Quatre and Trowa always get it everywhere.
" Sometimes, when one person is missing,
the whole world seems depopulated. "
Quatre picks at his flight suit, absently fidgeting with snaps and zippers, unmindful of the tears now streaming silently across his cheeks. He studies the porthole in front of him, counting off each separate star to even his ragged breathing and force his shuddering to stop, clearing his chaotic mind long enough to catch up to the movements of his hands and wonder why he's removing his flight suit with his clothes folded neatly in a room down the hall. He ducked into the first room he’d come upon, slinking into the shadows for a few moments of desperately needed respite without a thought to the logistics of the move. Now he shivers, sobbing out his dawning horror among the plethora of supplies and metal scraps littering the storeroom floor.
Trowa is gone.
Not dead, as Quatre had long feared, not run away to some more satisfying existence. Simply gone, erased so thoroughly and efficiently from existence that except for Quatre’s memories it's as though he never existed. He's surprised how much that hurts, after months of shoring himself against the dull throb of mingling grief and regret, after weeks of convincing himself that one more chance would be enough, that if he could just find the other pilot he could apologize and Trowa—sweet, temperate Trowa—would forgive him, or extract his price so that perhaps restitution could be made and now that hope has faded away.
It is no comfort that Trowa—whatever is left of him—has followed him into space. He's just putting himself in more danger for Quatre's sake and Quatre can't begin to fathom why when Trowa has no recollection of the cause, of their mission and what's at stake. Trowa is without his Gundam, crippled, ignorant, and hopelessly naïve, with no real concept of what he's facing joining the motley crew of the Peacemillion in their aimless journey towards oblivion, where the wolves at the door grow in number by the hour. Quatre is unsure whether Trowa will even know them when they come, how much is left of the soldier beneath the frightened boy he'd found at the circus, quivering in his sister's arms. If Trowa is a viable asset or so much dead weight they can't afford to carry (and if so, he's failing the crew even as he fails Trowa again).
What an awful thought. What an awful person he is for entertaining it.
This is all his fault. If only he'd been stronger, hadn't taken the implications of the Zero System so lightly, had listened to Trowa when the other boy had thrown himself forward to stop him. If only, and he's getting sick of that phrase, the useless wishing that gets him nowhere, only seems to lead him further astray. But he clings to wishes all the same, frightened of the brittleness that sets in when he abandons them, as though trying to be strong only brings him closer to the horribly cold, calculating thing the Zero System had made of him. His followers seem to think he can move mountains, the golden scion of the Winner empire who will lead them to victory against the darkness that threatens to swallow the whole of the Earth Sphere, and he's tried—oh, he's tried to fit himself into that image, desperate that they should never discover that at his core he's just as scared, aimless, hopeless as he's always been.
And the boy he loves is gone.
It's the last proverbial straw, and Quatre finds his defenses crumbling, alone in a storage room full of metal scraps and bits of machinery the crew has been collecting, Sweepers to the last and maybe there's some irony in that, his newfound comrades who find beauty and functionality in the lost cause of other people's refuse. He tries not to ponder what that says about their faith in him. His tears sting, a bitter catharsis in knowing it's finally, irrevocably over, and he has no right to feel sorry for himself. There's no one to blame for this but himself.
He ignores the oncoming tap-tapping of footsteps against the metal-grating hallway floor, turning away from the doorway, suddenly ashamed of himself and hoping that whoever it is will pass him by. If he can just hunch into the window far enough perhaps the dark material of his flight suit will camouflage him against the backdrop of cold space beyond.
He's not that lucky, the footsteps pausing in the doorway before his visitor huffs a longsuffering sigh. He doesn't have to turn to know it's Duo, recognizing the gesture, the gait, before the other pilot's husky, quiet voice breaks the silence.
"Think the insurance coverage on those mobile dolls covers Act of Gundam?" Duo asks, purposely nonchalant but Quatre can hear the strain in his voice, feels the empathetic frustration and sadness in his Heart.
"Well," Duo continues, pretending not to notice Quatre wiping surreptitiously at the wetness on his cheeks as he turns politely to face him. "More like Act of Gundam Pilot in this case, but still."
Quatre can feel his brow knitting, confused. This is what Duo does—his speech peppered with silly pop culture references, obscure slang and ridiculous non sequiturs, the cheerful babbling mask of a boy trying so hard not to look at the darkness of the world, in his own heart, trying harder still not to give it the satisfaction of eating away at one more second of his life. Quatre loves him for it, for the effort and the caring it takes to keep trying when he's been so wrapped up in his own self-pity he hasn't been able to return the favor. He knows how Duo hurts, feels his anguish each time another update comes from one front or another with no news of 01 or 05, the chaos of war increasing exponentially with the introduction of OZ's mobile doll units and they all wonder if they would know, were their comrades to be felled.
News passes so slowly between colonies, even now, with a frustrating inaccuracy that makes it impossible to trust anything they hear without confirming and reconfirming it again.
They have heard nothing of Heero or Wufei, and knowing that Heero is out there somewhere piloting the very same Gundam whose system drove Quatre to destroy two colonies, to hurt Trowa when Duo knows all too well how much he longs to see the other pilot when their encounters stretch too far apart, terrifies him. Duo knows what Zero can do, his own experiences with it scant in comparison to the time Heero has been on active duty with it installed in Wing's systems—hopefully deactivated, but they both know Heero will do whatever it takes to defend the colonies and damn the consequences—it makes no difference. One moment connected to that horrific system is enough to break anyone.
Outwardly that only means that Duo tries twice as hard to hide his feelings so Quatre doesn't ask and force him to find a way around answering without lying, which makes conversations with him twice as difficult to follow.
So the only thing he can say to his friend is an unintelligent, "What?"
Duo rolls his eyes, braid swinging behind him as he crosses his arms. "Trowa did pretty good out there for a guy who supposedly can't remember how to pilot."
Not many people believe that Duo has restraint in anything, but Quatre knows better, recognizing the gentle chiding there, grateful his friend didn't launch into the tirade he's more than asking for sulking like this. And he has a point, Trowa may not know who he is or why he's really out here, but even in a battered, refurbished Taurus Trowa is a force to be reckoned with, one they'd needed with Sandrock near-helpless in open space. There's some hope there if he's brave enough to let it take root, that Trowa may regain himself here among the stars, in the familiarity of battle.
'I've always been a soldier,' Trowa had told him once, head pillowed in his arms as they whiled away the hours in a small hotel room close by the New Edwards base, Quatre pressing him for details in an attempt to learn something, anything about his new friend. 'I'm a soldier now. I'll be a soldier until there are no more wars to fight, I suppose.'
He'd hoped—still hopes—that there would be no more wars. If they play their parts just right, can end this one on the right note, maneuver the right people into positions of power... perhaps Trowa will finally be free of the need to fight. Perhaps they will all be free.
The memory is warm, remembering the soft expression on the other pilot's face as he spoke. He'd caught the barest hint of a rueful smile that there wasn't more to tell, shifting closer when Trowa reached out a hand...
They'd kissed for the first time that night.
He's surprised to find himself smiling a little, eyes still red and raw and he probably looks ridiculous.
"I think," he told Duo, "That he might just remember some of how it's done."
Duo snorted, picking up a magazine from the pile of knickknacks and refuse to his left, leafing through it idly. "Yeah. Remind me never to bitch about the Taurus being useless again, it's clearly pilot error that makes 'em so easy to mow down." He scratched awkwardly at the back of his neck and muttered, "Christ, that's sad."
Quatre doesn't want to answer that, to deal with the implications because he's destroyed hundreds, thousands of suits just like the one Trowa had come to them in, each with its own hapless, under-trained OZ pilot. Each with a soul inside, and he mourns them still, the sacrifices of this endless, senseless war. The mobile dolls have reduced casualties on enemy lines, but they make a mockery of those sacrifices, implying that they were never really needed at all.
The idea of a war without a human face is terrifying. A war without consequences can never end.
"What are you doing here, Duo?" he asks, changing the subject. "Surely you have better things to do than babysitting me."
"You're not fooling me, Q," Duo says lazily, moving to lean against the window frame beside him, studying the room for a moment before he continues. "You don't wanna be alone right now. You're just too damn self-flagellating to say so, but lucky for you I'm a perceptive guy."
He's caught in the glare of a trademark Duo grin, feeling his lips pull upward despite himself. Duo has that affect on people. Quatre's heard Sally call him a walking anti-depressant, shaking her head in wonder. He can understand her bemusement, having met Heero and Wufei first she's still marveling at the contrast they make, the stern, taciturn image she has in her head of what a Gundam Pilot is clashing with everything Duo presents.
02, brash and murderous as he is, is an elfin, flamboyant boy with impractical hair hanging past his hips, with a boyish, heart-shaped face that makes him look sometimes even younger than his fifteen years, starvation skinny beneath his faux priest garb. He can still break guys twice his size, but you have to look closely enough to see the strength in the leanness of his body, the ruthless watchfulness in his eyes. He doesn't look like much of a soldier, and that is all too deliberate.
Duo is shrugging at him, adding, "Also, Trowa pretty much promised me that if I didn't find you he would, and I figured you could use the warning."
"Why?" Quatre asks, startled. He's having such trouble remembering that Trowa is really with them, that with his memories or not he's able to move and speak and influence events in Quatre's everyday life again, a thought that is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.
"He's looking for you," Duo repeats, slowly, just in case Quatre wanted to be deliberately obtuse, "Has this crazy idea in his head that you're his friend and that maybe he should be worried about you running off like that three seconds after we land. Kinda gives the impression that he did something wrong when you leave in tears."
Quatre sighs, rubbing a tired hand over his eyes, stopping only when he realizes he's probably making himself look worse, "I don't know why I'm such a bloody wuss today."
"You ever gonna tell me what's up with that?" Duo says, watching him carefully.
"What is there to talk about?" Quatre snaps. "He trusted me and I hurt him. I don't deserve to be around him if it's going to be like that."
The worst part is that he's too selfish to tell Trowa to go, to run as fast as he can, as far as he can from this place. He wants too badly to keep the other boy near, clinging to the specter of what was and can never be again.
Duo considers this, carefully folding his magazine onto the table in front of him. After a moment he says, "Nav system in my Gundam's on the fritz again. You wanna take responsibility for that too?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Howard's gonna have a heifer when he notices," Duo continues nonchalantly, "He's convinced I'm doing something to set it off." He turns, pinning Quatre with a heavy stare. "I don't mind sharing the misery if it'll get you that verbal lashing you've been hoping for. Then everybody's happy."
"I'm not hoping for a—"
"The Zero System is some heavy shit, Quatre. It drove me nuts inside of five minutes, and if you think 'Ro's out there screwing around with it you're deluded. It scares him, Q, do you get that? Heero. Is afraid. Of it."
"Because it made me a monster."
"Because it'll make anyone a monster, ya idiot! What makes you so special?"
He watches Duo throw up his hands, huffing audibly, breathing hard in the silence that descends in the wake of his outburst. He's waiting—for an answer, an apology, who knows? Quatre isn't sure what he's supposed to say, why he needs to say anything, because the answer seems crystal clear to him.
"You didn't kill someone you love with it," he replies quietly, a stony calm in his voice.
It should say something about him that he's not sorry for the colonies he destroyed when his personal trauma hits so much closer to home. He's not worried about the homes he vaporized—not lives, because even insane he'd made sure to give ample warning so evacuation procedures could lurch into motion—half of the outlying orbit points of L4 emptied of their inhabitants. He's ruined livelihoods, separated families, and what does it matter? Time marches on regardless, to the heavy beat of the war that seems to stretch out into its future forever, a war that it will weather like so many before. The world mocks his pain with its insistence that there are things that must be attended to now, because despite his loss he's got a company to run, a faltering wartime economy to save, and can they ask just one more question, Mr. Winner?
Beside him Duo sighs, drawing him from his thoughts as his friend says, "That's the thing you keep forgetting here. Neither did you."
"Because Trowa's too stubborn to die," Quatre corrects him, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. "It doesn't change what I did to him. I have no right to ask for his forgiveness knowing what I put him through."
He looks away. His voice isn't shaking, that's a good sign. Perhaps if he concentrates hard enough on distancing himself from the conversation he can keep the tears at bay long enough to get his clothes and get back to his room before he breaks down again. He can feel Trowa's presence in his Heart, the carefully banked nervousness at his new surroundings. It's cowardly, but he doesn't know if he can face him again just yet, when he's already asked so much more of the other boy than he deserves. He could comfort Trowa, but he'd only be taking what he needs from that closeness, and he's overstepped his bounds there enough for one day.
"So you're going to avoid him forever?" Duo asks incredulously, reading his face, "Or is this you picking a fight?" He shakes his head. "He's not going to punish you, Quatre. He's not like that."
"What do you mean, not like that?" Quatre scowls, because it's time to let it go, already, and why can't Duo leave well enough alone? "How do you know? You never even met him outside of a comm link."
The words are out of his mouth before he thinks about them, about how far below the belt he's hitting and how unfair he's being—and this is what the Zero System has made of him, residual cruelties ruining the civilized mask he's always worn so well. The silence that follows is deafening, Quatre finding himself suddenly fascinated with the grating at his feet, his anger flash-burning away into nothing.
"I—" he begins, faltering before he manages, "I'm sorry, Duo, that was uncalled for."
He can feel Duo's eyes on him for a long moment before his friend speaks, murmuring like he's talking to a spooked horse. "He nursed 'Ro back to health. He brought you back from the brink of us having to take you out. I know enough."
Duo straightens away from the window, braid swinging behind him as he starts toward the door, waving a parting hand. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think that's my cue. I've got comm frequencies to scour for signs of those other guys who like to give me a hard time while I try to help them out."
The breath leaves Quatre's chest when he looks up, catches the confused look in emerald green eyes as Duo claps a hand on Trowa's shoulder—in the doorway, and just how long has he been standing there?—muttering something about stubborn idiots and Trowa standing a better chance of getting through to him.
Trowa spares the other boy a cursory glance, then turns back to meet Quatre's gaze, throwing him the barest hint of a smile to match the hesitance that's creeped into his stance since his return. Quatre manages a small smile in return, terrified and thrilled at once, a traitorous hopefulness rising as Trowa ducks into the room beneath the doorframe, holding a bundle of clothing in his hands.
"I brought your clothes," Trowa says, holding them up in case he missed them. "Though now that seems stupid, bringing them to you when there's no privacy to change here."
He doesn't offer to leave, Quatre notes, watching the other boy shift nervously, a movement that's so very un-Trowa he doesn't know what to do with it. "No, it's okay," he tells the other boy hastily, "I'm sure you didn't expect to find me hiding in a storeroom. Thank you, Trowa, that was kind of you."
He doesn't trust himself to move, fighting the urge to throw himself forward... again, to make a fool of himself and make Trowa uncomfortable... again. He's every kind of idiot for even thinking such things, but in this moment, after losing himself, in the wake of what he'd done while fallen prey to the Zero System, after watching his father let himself die just to prove a point—Trowa is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. It's just Trowa, the tan skin and the sharp features, the fall of bangs that hide half his face, lips pressed in a thin line of discomfort. Quatre's kissed them softer, clutched that body to himself, remembers the puzzle of rearranging themselves for the first time so that the sharp jut of Trowa's hip wasn't digging into his stomach, the laughing, mock-argument that followed because he'd make a better pillow if he'd let Quatre feed him. So many memories, scattered flashes of happiness amidst the misery of war—happiness that Trowa can't remember.
He supposes he'll have to remember for them both, then.
"So," Trowa says awkwardly, "You and Duo. Were?"
"Talking," Quatre replies immediately, with more vehemence than he'd have liked, watching Trowa's visible eyebrow raise in as close an expression of surprise as Trowa gets. "I'm going to have to apologize," he adds mournfully.
Another glance, heavier this time, and Trowa takes a step forward. "You seem to do a lot of that."
Quatre manages a shaky laugh, trying to buck his initial impulse to back away as the other boy approaches. "So I'm told." His breath catches again when Trowa crosses into his personal space, ostensibly to hand him his clothes, but he can feel a wellspring of yearning wash over him when their hands all-too-casually brush.
He clutches the clothing to him, trying to calm the fluttering of emotion in his Heart and stammers, "Trowa, I'm—"
He stops himself, less from the sheer blandness of the look Trowa throws him than his own realization that he was about to do it again, swallowing the obligatory sorry with a frustrated huff. They both know he's sorry. Everyone knows how damn sorry he is, and it doesn't make a bit of difference in the end, does it?
He just wishes he could think of something else to say.
"Quatre," Trowa murmurs, reaching out, fingers skimming hesitantly over the line of his jaw, hooking under his chin to help him look up. Trowa looks a little sick as Quatre meets his eyes, worried he's taking too many liberties. His emotions are a storm of confusion and longing so deep it's painful to feel even the echo of it. It's humbling, finding himself on the other end of that need, and damn him if Quatre doesn't find himself responding, leaning into the touch before he's really thinking about the consequences of his actions.
"Quatre," Trowa says again, speaking his name like he's rediscovering it, like it's something precious he can't believe he's lost. His thumbs move to trace over the half-dried dampness of his cheeks. "Please don’t cry. I hate it when you cry."
He knows Trowa, knows this is the part where the other boy cuts off and declares himself not worth the effort of Quatre's worry, and that's ironic, all things considered.
He moves a hand to cover Trowa's where it rests on his skin, tracing comforting circles on the back of the other boy's palm. "Trowa. You don't even know me."
It's meant to be a gentle chiding, Quatre looking up at him with a soft, wistful smile, but Trowa's expression shutters, hardens, and his hand moves to the back of Quatre's neck, pressing into the short hairs there in a way that's always made Quatre dissolve into a pile of incoherent mush. It would be a cheap trick if he had any idea that Trowa was moving on anything other than instinct, but he supposes instinct is really all Trowa has anymore.
"I know you," Trowa insists, looking truly pained, "I don’t remember why or how, but I know you. I look at you, and—I think I know you better than I know myself right now. You're more real to me than anyone."
It's a wonder that Trowa can sound so sure of himself and so utterly lost at the same time. That's the crux of it now—he's disturbed the restless, relative peace of the other boy's life in hiding and now that Trowa's seen him—amnesia or no, Trowa Barton has always been an intelligent boy. More than that, he's tenacious, and when he senses something that might be important to his former self, that might help him piece together the shattered remnants of the life he can't forget... well. Arguing with him when his mind's made up is just this side of futile.
"You've always been so stubborn," Quatre admonishes, though his voice is warm.
'I missed that,' his mind finishes for him, and he knows somehow, that Trowa hears, face smoothing into a relieved almost-smile, reaching forward to pull Quatre close, hiding his face in Quatre's hair.
Quatre has a crazy moment to worry that he's wrinkling his clothes, squished between them, before he sighs and relaxes into the embrace. They'll probably both be sorry later—Quatre for taking this liberty and Trowa for letting him—but right now he's just tired of watching more hurt flicker across the other boy's face because he's too stubborn to admit how deliriously glad he is to see him again.
I missed you...
"I'm here," Trowa says, voice a warm puff of air against his temple, "I wish I could've been here weeks ago."
Some part of him is whining its childish agreement, but Quatre's not so sure that would've been a good idea. Coming home to find him slightly sniffly is one thing, but the hysterical mess he'd been in the wake of his father's death would've thrown himself at Trowa and bled him dry until he had nothing left to give. Trowa deserves better than that. He deserves a chance to learn about himself without the weight of someone else's turmoil crushing him into the grating at their feet.
"You missed some excitement, I'm afraid," is what he manages to say when he marshals his wits, an incoherent sound of protest catching in his throat as Trowa's arms tighten around him.
"The day your father died," Trowa murmurs into his hair, resolutely not letting Quatre pull away to get a look at him, "I spent the whole damn day crying, and I couldn't figure out why. But I—" A pause, and Quatre can feel him pulling himself together. "I'm here now."
'Too late,' he's thinking, and Quatre wants to laugh at that. These days it's never too late to find him a mess in need of comfort.
"Your sister must have been beside herself," he says without thinking, visions of Trowa's erstwhile 'protector' making him smile. He couldn't blame the girl for her distrust. Maybe if their roles had been reversed he wouldn't have trusted him either, coming into their lives just when she thought she had Trowa where she could keep him safe and blowing it all to hell.
"She was," Trowa agrees, and there's laughter in his voice for a moment before it hardens. "Do you see? You can run from me, you can send me away, but you won't be sparing me anything. I'll still feel your pain, I just won't be close enough to help you."
He lets Quatre pull away enough to look at him, horrified. Quatre's never particularly resented his empathy, his Heart had always allowed him glimpses into the emotions of people around him and mostly it's been something to be grateful for, knowing when to push and when to let things lie with the people he loves, when to throw Sandrock to a total stop and come out of the cockpit with his hands up because he's fighting someone who will be his greatest ally if he lets it happen. He's not used to the connection working both ways, a nervous apprehension in the thought that Trowa knows what he's feeling when even he can't make sense of the jumbled mass of contradictions in his head. And he never, ever wants to cause Trowa pain, even though he can't seem to stop, and he can't fathom why Trowa doesn't seem to mind at all, keeps coming back for more like this is some kind of privilege wading through his emotional refuse.
He's crying again.
It's shaming, this weakness, but there's not much he can do about it now. And if his arms are too tight around Trowa's shoulders, if he's leaning his weight too heavily against the other boy, leeching solid strength from Trowa's body, Trowa doesn't say. He just holds on tight, crooning incoherent comfort into Quatre's hair, lips pressing against the side of his face in an almost-kiss, in a wave of tenderness that makes him fall apart all the more, because he's needed this for so long.
"Shh. It's okay."
"You spend far too much time reassuring me, Trowa," Quatre says, wiping at his eyes, movements clumsy because Trowa's really not letting him go. He bites back the reflexive urge to ask Trowa if he knows what he's talking about, instead adding, "I don't deserve it."
"I don't have much more than instinct to go on," Trowa replies, and the sigh that escapes him as he leans his forehead against Quatre's is more tired than frustrated, "So I have to trust it. And my gut says that you do, you're just too self-sacrificing to let me without feeling guilty."
Quatre can't help it, he laughs at that, his tired, overtaxed mind imagining organs having a mind of their own. "Your 'gut' isn't supposed to have that much of a say unless you're hungry."
"It got me here, though, so I guess I'll have to listen to it anyway," Trowa says, smiling a little at the memory. "Piloting... it's all body memory and instinct. Or maybe the way I fly."
"You've been doing it for a long time," he murmurs in response, almost kicking himself when Trowa tenses slightly, wondering if that's something the other boy would rather not remember. It must be hard to imagine, wanting to remember his former life so badly, never suspecting that it might have been filled with violence and pain. He wishes he could tell Trowa something heartening about himself, and it grieves him to admit that he just doesn't know enough beyond his own relationship with Trowa and pushing that—well, that would just be selfish.
But it's not that.
"God, I—" Trowa half sighs, swallowing heavily. "This is all so surreal. I watched the crowds like I expected an attack every night. My doctors told me it was just hyper-vigilance, paranoia, a side effect of the trauma, and all this time there really were enemies at every door."
There are, and there's nothing either of them can do about it. There's some comfort to be found however, because Quatre knows he can be the protector Catherine couldn't, a sick swelling of pride in that because the strength he would use to do it is the same strength that hurt Trowa in the first place. It's not for him to wallow in it any longer, not now, with the boy in his arms so blindly trusting, not now when he has the power to lessen the shadows in those eyes. It's time to stop feeling sorry for himself and do something about it.
"Every door save the one you chose," Quatre chides gently, smoothing a hand over the fall of hair in Trowa's face. "No one will harm you here, Trowa, I swear it."
And he means it. With all his heart, with all the warmth that keeps the calculating monster he's seen himself so easily at bay, so easily given because it's always been for Trowa, because of Trowa.
He doesn't see the next volley coming as Trowa stills, throwing him a shrewd look. "Then what are you so afraid of?"
"Isn't it obvious?" he says petulantly, "You're like this because I—"
"Don't," Trowa says, grit in the quiet command and Quatre finds his mouth snapping shut. "Don't tell me. I need to remember it on my own, and it's only going to panic you again. One game of hide and seek on this behemoth is enough for one day."
Quatre laughs, pleased when Trowa rolls his eyes, pulling him closer.
"And when you do?" he can't stop himself from asking, "You'll hate me in the morning."
Trowa doesn't pause to think about it, just shakes his head and insists, "No, I won't."
There's a weight of conviction in his voice, a certainty that throws him, fear jolting away into that odd place where he feels like he should damn well be grateful for the faith Trowa has in him, for the unwavering affection he certainly hasn't earned. He has no right to refuse Trowa anything that's asked of him, more than that he doesn't want to, guilty conscience or no. Whatever Trowa might think when he finally regains his memories—and it is when, not if—Quatre can't bear hurting him now, watching him curl into himself in uncertainty when his instinct tells him Quatre should be reacting to his presence in an entirely different way. One that doesn't involve tears and fleeing the scene like a criminal caught in the act.
So he stops thinking and lets the moment go where it will, where Trowa wills it, dropping the clothes in his hands once and for all to wrap his arms around the other pilot's shoulders. When Trowa's nuzzling into his hair turns to kisses trailing over the side of his face, he tips his head obligingly to meet Trowa's lips, turning a slow, languid kiss into something deeper, wrapping himself around the boy in his arms as best he can. He can give Trowa this, the calm before the storm he's led the other boy so blindly into and if Trowa were whole he's sure there would be some quiet comment about the blind leading the blind murmured against his skin.
He can give himself this, because these quiet moments are what keep him going in the chaos of this unceasing war.
'You'll hate me when you realize...'
'No, I won't.'