Trowa saw realization dawn on Wufei and sank back against the wall. All the fight went out of him. He slid slowly to the floor and sat down with a little bump, staring numbly down at his feet. Suddenly he was sick of arguing with the other boy, sick of trying to hide. He didn't look up as Wufei hesitantly crouched before him, peering at him.
"Barton," Wufei said after an uncomfortable silence. He didn't seem to know how to ask the question.
Trowa saved him the trouble. "When the real Trowa Barton and his mechanics picked me up," he said wearily, voice hollow, "I was still very young. They showed me how to do little things to help them out, bringing them tools, rags, water..."
Wufei remained silent, waiting for him to continue.
"When I was twelve I had learned how to fix a lot of things, so they used to let me help them out more. I looked up to them. I was still... quiet. I didn't smile very often. Not after my parents..." he trailed off, then dropped that obviously painful subject. His voice and face were blank, carefully devoid of any sign of emotion. "I was just a kid. I didn't think it was weird that they all were very friendly to me, and I didn't understand the jokes they made. When they would touch me on my arm or my back or my leg I didn't think anything was wrong with it because no one else seemed to think it wasn't right."
Wufei felt his fists clench on his knees. A part of him was frantically telling him to get up and leave, to tell Trowa to stop now. He didn't want to hear anymore. But his mouth seemed glued shut, and his stomach felt cold.
"Do you want to know what I learned about emotions, Wufei?" Trowa asked woodenly. Wufei stared at him numbly. "I learned that emotions are big hands on you where you don't want them, eyes following you wherever you go, stinking breath and beards on your face and in your mouth." Trowa had gone stiff again, and was shaking minutely, though he didn't seem to be aware of it. "They wanted me to do things for them, things I didn't want to do. Every day, every night, someone- sometimes more than one -would come after me and touch me, or tell me to do things. Sometimes I ran, but unless I hid somewhere they couldn't fit, they'd catch me. I did some of the things they wanted because I thought then they would leave me alone... but instead they just came after me more." His voice was very low, and Wufei had to strain to hear it. "Then one day one of them left a gun out... and when one of them came up to me to ask me to do the one thing I wouldn't do.. asked me to let him use me, I snapped." Trowa's eyes were hidden by his bangs, face in shadow so that Wufei couldn't see his expression, if there was one. "I grabbed the gun and I shot him. Then I ran away and locked myself in a room. No one followed me. They were afraid of me. After that I always carried the gun on me, and no one bothered me until the day I was selected to be the pilot for Heavyarms." He gave the faintest suggestion of a shrug. "How can someone like me," he murmured, "have anything to offer Quatre?"
Wufei couldn't move. He felt physically sick as he stared in open horror at the boy huddled on the ground before him.
Jesus christ, Trowa had been.. sexually abused as a child?
Hot fury warred with the sick feeling inside of him. How could anyone *do* that to a child?? A *child*! How had Trowa been able to live with himself? No wonder he shyed away from anyone that showed any affection-- no, make that any *man*. Catherine's affections didn't seem to bother him. Had he been frightened of Quatre's obvious interest in him? Guilt rose in the back of his throat like bile, and he swallowed thickly, unable to speak.
"Are you happy now, Wufei?" Trowa asked in a dead voice. "Now you have your precious information. That is why I ignored Quatre for so long. It wasn't until you had him that I realized Quatre was nothing like those men, that not everyone is like that. You're not like that." He shifted a little, giving a quiet snort of almost-laughter. "You couldn't be like them," he murmured. "I've seen the way you are with Quatre. I hated you at first because.. I thought you would act towards Quatre the way those men acted towards me. But now I'm..." he shrugged slightly.
"Jealous," Wufei finished for him hoarsely.
Trowa didn't respond.
"But you do have emotions," Wufei murmured, staring at him. "You want Quatre back. Ever since you've been with us you've figured it out, haven't you? Not everyone is like those men."
Trowa was very still.
"And you had to have realized you do have emotions," Wufei said slowly, "because you liked someone. Before Quatre." He hesitated, unsure if he should ask. "Who was it?"
He saw teeth gleam in a brief, self-depreciating smile. "What does it matter now?"
"Why shouldn't it?" Wufei demanded, bristling. It isn't fair, something in him insisted. The part of him that always sought out justice was twisting with pity for the other boy. It isn't fair. Why shouldn't Trowa feel like anybody else? He felt a rush, suddenly, of unexpected anger towards a nonexistant force. He felt like punching a wall. The fierce protectiveness for his team mates that he had always refused to acknowledge rose up in him, scaring him.
Knock it off, Wufei, his mind hissed frantically. Don't get so worked up. This is Trowa you're talking about. You argue with him on a daily basis. You two have knocked heads for months. Just chill the fuck out. You're acting like it's *Quatre* that's been hurt for god's sake...
Wufei went very still.
Why do you hate him so much, Wufei? something in him demanded, firing his own question right back at him: What are you so afraid of?
Shut up, he thought desperately. I love Quatre.
Who were you jealous of when Quatre was pining after Trowa? the little voice asked snidely. Trowa?
But his body was already acting without his consent, and he watched numbly as his hand reached out, falling hesitantly on Trowa's shoulder.
Trowa stiffened immediately at the contact, looking up at him quickly, lips pressed together tightly, his eyes darker than Wufei had ever seen them, a deep jungle green, clouded with buried emotions.
Wufei swallowed hard, unable to tear his gaze away. He leaned forward slowly, pressing his mouth to Trowa's.
A fine tremor went through the other boy, his fingers twitching. He didn't respond to the chaste kiss, staring dumbly up at his partner as Wufei pulled away a moment later.
"Oi," Wufei said quietly, "get up. We've got to figure out how to get Quatre back."
Trowa's eyes were back to their normal cool jade color, though something about him was still painfully vulnerable. He nodded slowly, collecting his wits. "Aa," he murmured, and allowed Wufei to help him to his feet.
Duo was pacing restlessly as Heero finished telling what had occured in the hospital. Gable was sitting at the table, hands clasped before him as he listened, glancing over towards Duo every now and then.
Heero was standing in the center of the bare kitchen- the only furniture seemed to be the rusted card table and two fold-up chairs. Wufei and Trowa were both standing by the counter, and Duo felt relief at the sight.
They weren't at each other's throats, glaring at each other from opposite sides of the room anymore. It looked like they'd finally made up and had decided to team up to get Quatre back.
It was nice, Duo thought, pausing briefly, to be all together again. If only Quatre was here to complete their team.
Heero looked towards Gable. "Well?" he demanded. "Are Wiccans that powerful? He insinuated that they weren't really your kind."
Gable frowned, staring down at his hands thoughtfully as he shook his head. "Iie. I don't know any Wiccan with the power to throw people or stop bullets with their minds. Ours is a religion based around earth and spells, not the extreme psychic abilities Neo displayed."
Duo shook his head. "I still can't believe that Atreusio was in on it," he said unhappily. "He was so nice.."
Heero cut him off with a glare. "He is. Deal with it. And Neo said the same thing Dr. J did- that one of us is going to betray Quatre."
They all stared at each other silently, unwilling to accept it.
"This Davarius.." Wufei said after a moment, shifting. "What role is he playing in all this, anyway? First we hear from Dr. J and Duo that he's after Quatre, then we find out he's behind the mobile dolls... What the hell is he trying to accomplish, anyway? And what's so damn important about Quatre to everyone?"
Gable lifted his hands in a helpless gesture to show his ignorance.
Heero flicked a glance from Gable to Duo, and Duo shook his head, knowing Heero's silent question. "I asked Gable- turns out Atreusio was right. Things like cancer that have developed in the body for some time, eating it... Wiccans can help the pain for a little while sometimes, but they can't kill the disease."
Heero nodded silently, glancing away.
Gable nibbled his bottom lip, looking at both of them.
Trowa shifted, breaking the tense silence. "So what's next?" he asked quietly. "How are we going to find Quatre?"
"No one wants to help us," Wufei agreed. "They're all too busy protecting him from *us*." He sneered.
Duo shook his head in helpless frustration. "That's such a pack of horse shit," he said fiercely. Betray Quatre? How could they betray Quatre? They were team mates.
Just hang on, old buddy, he thought, wishing Quatre could somehow hear him. We'll get you back.
Trowa flicked a glance at him, and Duo jumped a little, startled.
Had Trowa heard him?
This was weirding him out. He considered bringing it up, but hesitated. Trowa could always deny it, and the others would label Duo as an idiot. Plus Trowa himself hadn't said anything about it to the others, so he must be struggling with the idea as well. Something occured to him, and he turned to Gable quickly. "Gable," he said, getting the boy's attention. "When we went to the place they'd first taken Quatre, me and Heero tried to get into the basement where he'd been held."
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Trowa stiffen and Wufei look at him curiously, alerted by his reaction. He bulled on, "Both of us bounced off of the air as if there was a wall there. A barrier. Then we saw some kind of symbol on the wall."
Gable blinked, nodding. "Someone put up a powerful shield," he mumured thoughtfully. "To keep people out. That's the strongest one I've ever heard of, though.. one where you literally run into it. Usually the way they work is you feel discomfort, or something enocourages you to go somewhere else."
"Right," Duo said excitedly, leaning his hands on the table and looking at Gable intently. Heero was looking towards Trowa. "Well Trowa got there before us. And he said he walked *right into the basement* with no trouble except a little pressure."
Gable glanced towards Trowa, looking mildly surprised.
"How did he do that?" Duo demanded. "Why could Trowa get in when Heero and I couldn't?"
Gable frowned, thinking for a moment. Then he turned towards Trowa. "Do you..feel strongly about Quatre-kun?" he asked. "I don't mean the same way Duo and Heero-kun feel. Is he your brother? Or do you look at him romantically?"
Trowa's jaw was set, and he looked ready to say in denial.
Wufei cut in hastily. "Quatre is very important to him," he affirmed. "He feels stronger about him than either Duo or Heero."
Trowa flicked a glance at him, looking a little surprised that Wufei would admit this aloud. Duo and Heero exchanged a quick look.
Gable spread his hands in triumph. "That's it, then. You broke that barrier with your willpower, with your strong desire to find him."
"His willpower?" Duo repeated incredulously.
"His will to get to Quatre-kun was stronger than either yours or Heero's," Gable explained. All eyes were on him, now. "The most powerful thing about magick is one's willpower. You have to *believe* in something, really believe that it will work, for it to work. In his mind, Trowa-kun was going to get to Quatre-kun, period, and nothing was going to stop him. His strong desire to get to him overrode the barrier."
"Would it also help," Duo asked on impulse, "if the person maybe had a little magick themself?"
Trowa had gone very still now, and was glaring at Duo warningly. Duo ignored him. He wasn't planning on giving his secret away, anyway. He just wanted to know for himself.
Gable frowned slightly, perplexed, then his face cleared. "Ah," he said in understanding. "You mean how Trowa heard your mental scream when you were with Davarius."
Heero shot a look towards Trowa, and Duo winced.
Well that hadn't been what he'd been trying to accomplish, he thought in dismay. Damn Gable's lack of forethought. He glanced nervously over his shoulder at Trowa.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Wufei demanded, standing up straight. He had moved so that he was slightly more in front of Trowa, fists tightened by his sides as he flicked a glare from Duo to Gable. He looked unconsciously protective, and Duo wondered at the sudden attitude change. "Duo, what bullshit are you two babbling about?"
Heero was staring hard at Trowa, who was looking at nobody, eyes fixed firmly to a wall, arms crossed tightly over his chest. His jaw twitched.
Heero's eyes narrowed.
If Duo wouldn't tell Heero about what had happened to him, if he refused to talk about it with anybody, then how would Trowa have known? he thought with dawning realization. Yet Trowa seemed to have already known when he told me.
'Yeah, then Trowa showed up out of nowhere and helped me out,' he heard Duo's glib voice from earlier. 'He happened to be in the area...'
Happened to be in the area my ass.
That was another lie for Duo.
But if that was true...
How the hell could Trowa have heard Duo??
"That's ridiculous," Wufei snapped. "That would make Trowa some kind of-"
"Psychic," Gable finished for him.
"Then why doesn't he ever hear Quatre?" Duo demanded suddenly, unthinkingly. "Only me."
Trowa turned on his heel and stalked out of the room.
Wufei didn't try to stop him. He already knew the answer to Duo's question.
It's because you and Trowa are linked by a common pain, now, he thought vaguely, struck with sick realization as he stared across at the braided pilot. The same fear.
He stared at Duo's bruised face and thought of the way he had gone impossibly pale at the very sound of Davarius's voice. Oh christ.
That meant Davarius had....
Duo caught Wufei looking at his bruises and turned stiffly away.
Gable rose hastily, looking flustered. "I'm sorry," he said quickly. "I wasn't trying to upset anyone." He came around the table and put his arm comfortingly around Duo, murmuring something to him. Wufei caught movement out of the corner of his eye and stared as Heero took a step towards the two, eyes flashing.
But Gable was already turning, leading Duo from the room, saying something about Duo needing his rest, that he would be fine in a minute. Heero hesitated, looking as if he couldn't decide whether to pursue them or not, his face a tightly controlled picture of supressed rage.
Wufei felt a flicker of dull amusement despite himself. Heero was jealous of Gable?? Now that was interesting.
He turned and hurried out of the room to find Trowa, leaving the Perfect Soldier behind with his dark thoughts.
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