Actions

Work Header

Holiday Inn

Work Text:

The first time Wufei laid eyes on him, he’d scoffed. Not loud enough to be heard by his fellow pilots, or Sally, or Noin. It wasn’t even deliberate. More a knee-jerk reaction to seeing something that didn’t fit into the neat little box containing all the things he believed was right and just. His rigid upbringing which focused primarily on pacifism, self-discipline, philosophy, spiritual enlightenment, and procreation as the fundamental parts of mankind’s true purpose had taught him to view the world in absolutes. There was simply no room for shades of gray.

He’d grown up believing he knew all there was to know about life and the meaning of it. Materialism was the expression of human greed and the acts committed in order to achieve it reflected the antipathy towards the suffering of others. It was the corruption of oneself, tainting the heart for a brief moment of instant gratification and just like a drug, once you got a taste, you would become trapped in the endless cycle of chasing the next high.

War was an expensive, bloody, and unnecessary waste of time, resources, and lives. And the battlefield was certainly no place for a woman, much less a young girl. He remembered how furious he’d been when his wife, Meilan, decided to fight for the colonies by piloting the deadliest war machine ever built.

Though she’d been raised as a pacifist like him, she believed it was the only way to stop the tyranny and she would not budge once her mind was made up. Wufei had tried everything short of tying her up and locking her in a closet until she came to her senses.

When she left for the last time, he'd been too stubborn and proud to see her off. Later, he would come to realize that it was the biggest mistake of his life. That she died believing he despised her would haunt him until his final breath.

Though he wasn’t sure if he could ever redeem himself, he did the only thing that came close and hoped it was enough for her to forgive him.

But despite earning his utmost respect, Meilan’s death only cemented his belief that women did not belong in war. He was convinced she’d still be alive if she had been a man and that was a bitter pill to swallow because it meant her death was on him. He hadn’t done his job. He didn’t put his foot down like a good husband would. He knew he should have ordered her to stay at home where she belonged, even if it meant having to throw away his teachings and beliefs to take her place.

It had been his duty to keep her safe and he’d failed. What kind of man allowed his woman to fight for him?

What kind of man allowed his woman to die for him?

Headstrong and tenacious, he’d clung to his preconceived notions until reality pried them from his white-knuckled fingers. So naturally, when he learned that the delicate looking boy with a head full of soft, blond curls and the kindest blue-green eyes he’d ever seen was one of his fellow Gundam pilots, his initial reaction was incredulity. Once the surprise wore off, it was more akin to disdain, especially after he found out who the kid was.

He doubted there was anyone, either on earth or in the colonies, who didn’t know who Quatre Winner was. The boy had become famous long before he understood the concept of it and unlike his father, his popularity lacked the political vitriol and social and economic criticism by sheer virtue of being a child.

As far as Wufei could tell, the media had been starstruck by the young Winner heir at first sight and they’d adoringly followed every aspect of his public life as if he were god’s gift to humanity. In reality, they knew next to nothing about him and that was probably part of the appeal. People were drawn to mystery. They preferred applying their own ideal traits to a pretty, but fairly empty canvas; molding it into what they envisioned was perfection.

Getting to know the child as a fellow human being was, in a sense, boring. When people needed idols, no mere mortal would do. Finding out that Quatre had flaws just like anyone else would shatter their illusions, taint the seraphic purity they’d created in their minds.

The boy unintentionally served as a foil to his father as well. Though Zayeed had been admired in his own right, he was still just a man. One with his own agency who made decisions that sometimes angered people. It was inevitable, given his powerful and influential position, but Quatre offered the public a way to forgive Zayeed for his transgressions and reaffirmed what they believed was the perfect family.

What Wufei didn't know at the time was that Quatre’s childhood had been anything but perfect. Back then, he’d only seen a rich kid who’d probably been handed every little thing his heart desired on a silver platter and wondered what he was even doing there. Whose brilliant idea was it to let him pilot a Gundam? War wasn’t a game. Wufei had been absolutely certain he wouldn’t make it past the first battle. He would either die, or run back home to his lavish life and forget about playing soldier.

Upon introductions, he had glanced at the boy’s hands and even though he could feel the calluses on his palms, the tops of the blond's hands were baby soft with long, tapered fingers and meticulously trimmed nails. In a word, Quatre’s hands were elegant. The result of what Wufei presumed to be a pretty pampered lifestyle.

Which made the presence of calluses on his palms all the more curious.

And while Quatre was the same height he was, Wufei was a solid five kilograms heavier, all muscle. The kid looked like he had to drop anchor whenever there was a slight breeze. But he’d smiled cheerfully at Wufei who was taken aback at how much it was reflected in the boy’s eyes. Quatre’s delight over meeting him was not an act. He wasn’t just being polite, or putting on airs. His emotions were written all over his face, unhindered by a need to pretend, or be someone he wasn’t. He’d seen Wufei as an equal, right from the start. It didn’t even seem to occur to him that he could be anything less. His distinct lack of arrogance was exceedingly rare to see among the wealthy, at least in Wufei’s personal experience.

Despite his better judgement, he was drawn to the boy. It was no wonder the public loved him so. Quatre was an enigma, but unlike most, Wufei wasn’t interested in keeping him on a pedestal. He wanted to know everything about him. What his flaws were, his strengths, what made him laugh, what made him angry. What did he do when he felt sad? Was he ticklish? What was his favorite food, book, song? What position did he like to sleep in? What were his quirks? What were his pet peeves?

What did his lips taste like? How would he look after being kissed? Would he blush? Had he ever been kissed before? By whom? Did he like it?

The war came and went. They survived and went their own ways, but Wufei's questions remained unanswered.

 

***

 

He slammed back his fifth tequila and blinked dazedly down at the gold wedding band on his finger, wondering what he was going to fidget with now that he was divorced. Six months after the Eve War, he was diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder, partly characterized by an intense restlessness. His limbs were almost always in a state of movement, whether it was tapping his heels on the floor, or rubbing the pads of his fingers together until they became red and chaffed.

When he got married a few years later, he’d found that spinning the gold band around and around his finger helped him curb his restlessness. It was a good outlet for the pent-up energy that had become a constant and unwelcome companion, much like a freeloading in-law who refused to move out.

He tossed a handful of peanuts into his mouth and chased them down with a swig of lager. It was still dinner hour so most of the hotel’s guests were in the adjacent dining room that was separated by a tiered, glass block partition. A grand piano stood just on the other side, its soft, gentle notes providing a pleasant atmosphere for the diners and the handful of booze hounds who were getting a head start at the bar.

He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. How had his life become such a pitiful mess? Where and when did he unwittingly venture off the beaten path and how far had he gone because he’d been trying - and failing - to find his way back ever since.

At the tender age of thirty, he was a widower and a divorcee. Talk about being unlucky in love. In the wake of the Eve War, he’d joined the Preventers and became Sally Po’s partner. For the first four years, things were great. The high demands and risks of his occupation served as a good distraction from his demons, especially after they’d kept him up all night.

The attraction between Sally and himself hung in the air like a cloud of pheromones and it wasn't long before they started flirting. Soon after, they were frantically eking out discreet places to make love whenever the opportunity presented itself. It was the best way to let off steam after a long, hard day. They dated for three months before they realized it wasn’t going to work. They had different plans, different goals in life. In addition to the complications that go hand-in-hand with workplace romance, he wanted children and she did not. Whereas she wanted to travel and work with the Peace Corps, he was content right where he was and neither of them were willing to compromise.

They simply weren’t compatible for the long term and mutually agreed that it would be best to end the relationship. They parted on amicable terms which strengthened their friendship. Wufei was surprised and relieved that it hadn’t turned awkward and for another year, they continued on as partners until he was injured in the line of duty and forced to go into early retirement.

For five months, his mental health steadily declined while his wound continued to heal. He felt wretched, hopeless, and worst of all, useless. If it hadn’t been for Sally’s unique brand of tough love, he might have fallen past the point of no return.

He realized he had to relearn how to live as a civilian and that terrified him because he was not the same person he was the last time he’d been one. Back then, he’d been rather sheltered and as a result, blissfully ignorant of the harsh realities of the world. Growing up was the loss of innocence, but for himself and the other four boys who’d fought alongside him, having the vicious brutality of war rip it out of them was unforgivable.

He waved his hand to get the bartender’s attention and then pointed to his empty shot glass. What the hell, he wasn’t driving. He was just glad he’d accumulated enough wealth to stay at a decent hotel until he could find an apartment, or condo nearby.

God. A condo. I’ve become a fully fledged suburbanite. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

He had his now ex-wife to thank for domesticating him. Daiyu had been his physical therapist while he was recovering from his injury, helping to reawaken his damaged nerves and muscles after a .38 caliber slug had carved a decent sized hole out of his leg. She was a sweet girl, pretty in a girl-next-door sort of way, and they’d hit it off almost immediately.

On his last day of therapy, he had offered to take her to dinner and the way her face lit up warmed places inside him that had been cold and dead for years. They tied the knot nine months later and five months after that, they were expecting their first child.

For a while, he was happy. They were happy, but eventually the stress of work, bills, and children began to put a strain on their marriage. The increased stress triggered the symptoms of his disorder. He became irritable, easily frustrated, even waspish at times. He began to suffer from chronic headaches and insomnia and started sleeping on the sofa in his study so he wouldn’t disturb Daiyu with his tossing and turning.

He saw a therapist regularly at Daiyu's behest and was even prescribed medication at one point. He turned to martial arts and started meditating again, but nothing seemed to be working. In a last ditch effort to quiet his perpetually chaotic mind and body, he turned to drink which only exacerbated their already turbulent marriage. He began to withdraw, finding comfort in the bottle. It became his best friend, the only thing left in the world he could trust. It was always there for him. Instead of getting angry and shouting at him, it cloaked him in liquid warmth; soothing the tension in his muscles and alleviating the dull ache in his leg.

And in his heart.

Daiyu stayed as long as she could, but ultimately, it was just too much. Wufei didn’t blame her for leaving him. He insisted she keep the house, either to live in or sell at her discretion. Their children would stay at home with her during the week and he would have them on the weekends under the strict condition that he control his alcohol intake which he found wasn’t too difficult. When his choices were to abstain, or lose his kids, it was a no brainer. His children always came first.

“Bartender? Gimme another Casa Noble when you get a minute,” he said, rifling through his wallet and slapping a tenner onto the counter.

“I’ll have a highball, Raoul. And add his drink to my tab. Put your money away.”

The last part was whispered in Wufei’s ear, but his brain was on a ten second delay. When it finally caught up to the present, his mouth dropped open and his head swiveled dizzily to his left, a litany of very unflattering words on the tip of his tongue.

The first thing he noticed was the beautiful blue-green of the other man’s eyes, uncannily familiar, though his booze-addled mind was drawing blanks. He dropped his gaze a little lower and was almost blinded by a gleaming row of white teeth.

His breath suddenly got stuck in his chest as the pieces started to click into place. He knew that smile. The smile that sometimes haunted his deepest, most intimate dreams. The smile that sometimes made him ache with regret. The smile that had always been so painfully genuine and apparently still hadn't changed. The one that made those gorgeous blue-green eyes shine like crystals in the sun.

The one that assured him he was wanted, valued, and respected no matter how many times he disgraced himself.

“You have got to be shitting me.”

The other man laughed, not offended by Wufei’s less-than-enthusiastic greeting in the slightest. “Hello to you, too, Chang. Long time no see.”

Wufei finally found the mental command to close his gaping mouth and for a minute, he was too stunned to say anything. The Quatre Winner was perched on the stool beside him, in the lounge of some three and a half star hotel that he couldn’t be assed to remember the name of at the moment, gracing him with the full wattage of his trademark smile.

Would wonders never cease?

“I’ll be damned. What the hell are you doing here?”

Quatre jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Working. Got a gig here a few months back. I play the piano three nights a week.” He shrugged and sipped his drink. “Along with my other two gigs, it adds up to a decent paycheck. What about you?”

Impressed, he glanced over at the partially obscured piano, finally noticing that the music had stopped. “I didn’t know that was you playing. You’re really good.”

“And you’re avoiding my question,” Quatre teased, eyes twinkling over the rim of his glass.

“Huh? Oh. No, it’s not a secret, or anything. I just got divorced. I’m staying here until I can secure a place to live,” he told him, knocking back his tequila. “S’harder than I’d anticipated.”

“This is a popular area,” Quatre agreed with a nod. “Lots of people want to live here. I’m sorry to hear about your divorce.”

There was a pang in his chest, but he shook it off and tried to play it casual. “It’s fine. It was a long time coming.”

“You still get to see your kids though, right?” When Wufei gave him a surprised look, he added, “Noin told me you had children. She talks to Sally fairly regularly. How old are they now?”

“Chen’s the oldest. She’s eight. Méi is six and Li Wei is three.” He reached into his wallet and pulled out a family photo. “This was taken two years ago so they’re a little younger here.”

“Adorable. You have a beautiful family, Wufei.”

He snorted. “Had. Past tense.”

“Your kids are your family. You still have them.”

“Yeah. I suppose you’re right. I just think they deserve better than a broken family.”

“It's only broken if you allow it to be.”

He put the photo back into his wallet and rubbed his hands over his face. “I guess. I don’t know. I guess I’m just - wait. Hang on. Why the hell are you working here? Aren’t you supposed to be on L4 running your father's company?"

Quatre laughed, but it was laced with bitterness. “Have you been living in a cave for the past twelve years?” He tipped back half of his drink and for a few seconds, only stared down at the glass in his hand with a pained look on his face and Wufei realized he’d missed something vital.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“No, it’s alright. As it stands, I think you might be the only person in the world who doesn’t know. I don’t know if you remember, but my father disowned me when he found out that Instructor H was training me to pilot a Gundam. At the time, H had been a close friend of the family so naturally, my father was livid about him going behind his back to train me for something our family was notorious for opposing.”

“War,” Wufei said.

“Yeah. It was extremely difficult trying to keep the media from finding out where I was and what I was doing, especially when everyone wanted to know who was piloting the five Gundams. I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it must have been for my father’s PR team to explain my sudden disappearance. Anyway, even though he verbally disowned me, I was still legally his heir. Turned out that he didn’t completely remove me from his will like I thought. Instead he added an amendment, appointing twelve of my sisters to the board of directors and authorizing them to seize control of WEI and its assets if my identity as a Gundam pilot was ever exposed.”

Wufei busied himself with peeling the label on his beer bottle. He already knew this part, but for some reason, waiting to hear it from the horse’s mouth was setting off his anxiety. “I remember you were outed. Did you ever find out who did it?”

“No.” Quatre flagged the bartender and held his glass up, shaking it a little to let him know he wanted another. He glanced at Wufei. “Another round for you?”

He could barely feel his own face so he shook his head. “No, but thank you for the offer and for buying my last one.”

“Don’t mention it. Okay, so...where was I?”

“I asked if you ever found out who outed you and you said no.”

“Right. Yeah, unfortunately I never did though not for lack of trying. I think someone with access to that information was paid a significant amount of money for it.”

“But how many people had access to that information and why didn’t they expose the rest of us?”

“I honestly don’t know. I suspect one of my sisters tipped off the press after making them sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep her own name out of the papers. I’ve always had the feeling that it was personal, but there was never any way for me to prove it. Whoever did it knew how to cover their tracks.”

“So one of your sisters sold you out to the press in order to take control of your father’s company?"

“Maybe more than one, but yes. It’s the most logical conclusion,” Quatre said, running a finger down the condensation on the side of his glass. “Anyway, they took the company and my inheritance. Any rightful claims I’d had on WEI’s assets became null and void. They shut me out completely, told the press that as far as they were concerned, I was gone and best forgotten.”

“Jesus, Quatre. I had no idea.”

“I was left penniless and homeless. I lived on the streets for over a year, survived by doing odd jobs for local businesses, if one can call it surviving. I usually had to work four, or five until I'd earned enough to buy a meal, but it was hard just to get people to agree to give you one on any given day. When it got so bad that I was seriously considering slapping a price tag on my ass, I knew I’d hit rock bottom so I finally swallowed my pride and asked for help. There was a boys’ home not too far away and they took me in even though I was just a few months shy of my eighteenth birthday. Gave me three square meals a day and a warm place to sleep. Helped me find gainful employment and the opportunity to open a bank account so I could save my earnings. If it hadn’t been for them, I probably would have become a prostitute, or a drug addict, or both. I probably would have died in a gutter somewhere, who knows.”

“Holy shit, I’m - I’m so sorry, Quatre. I never knew. Maybe if I’d known, I could have -”

“No one knew, Wufei. Once I was on my own, I cut off contact with everyone. I didn’t want to be found.”

“Why? Christ, Quatre! We could have helped you!”

“Because I was ashamed. And I didn’t want to be a burden.”

He groaned and dropped his head onto the bar with a dull thud. “I’d forgotten what a masochist you were.”

“Says the guy who’s been crying into his beer mug all afternoon.”

"Touché. Well gosh, it's always so great catching up with you guys. If nothing else, it helps to remind me that I’m not the only head case around here.”

Quatre chuckled and lifted his glass. “I’ll drink to that.”

“I think I surpassed my alcohol quota for now. How about a peanut?”

“Can’t. Allergic.”

“Ain’t that a bitch,” he snorted. Figures. He popped a few into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “How long has that been a thing?”

“Since birth.”

“Really? Jeez, you think you know someone.”

“To be fair, you were usually in your own little world so I’m sure watching me read food labels and steer clear of anything that had even been in contact with a peanut weren’t exactly riveting things to observe.”

Wufei’s cheeks flushed with heat, though it seemed to have more to do with how good Quatre smelled and how his neatly-styled hair was just as sunny gold as he’d remembered. His body was still slender, if a bit on the willowy side. Wufei was mesmerized by the way his white dress shirt and black trousers were cut to flatter his shape and size, but he was even more fascinated by the swan-like neck and enticing dip of his throat between the shirt’s opened collar.

He wanted to cover every inch of that creamy flesh with soft, wet kisses. Feel the racing pulse beneath his mouth and taste the sweetness of Quatre’s skin. He wanted to hear his name on the blond's lips. Spoken in a breathy whisper, begging him not to stop.

“...fei. Wufei? Hello? Earth to Chang, come in, Chang!”

He flinched reflexively when hands clapped an inch from his face. “Huh? Sorry, what?"

Though Quatre was laughing, he didn’t miss the uneasy crease between his brows and felt bad for making him uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, Quatre. I guess I spaced out. What were you saying?”

“I was asking how long you’ve been staying here.”

“Oh. Uh, three days I think? Yeah. I checked in Tuesday morning and today’s Thursday so...three days.” He hesitated and cleared his throat, hoping this wouldn’t seem weird. “Where do you live?”

“Well, since I'm always bouncing from one hotel to the next, it’s more convenient to just stay in whichever one I'm working at that night.”

“You don’t have an apartment, or anything?”

“Nope. Maybe one day.”

Oh, god. I can’t believe I’m about to ask him this. I must be out of my freaking mind. “So, uh...can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.”

“Are you and Noin...you know. Together?”

For a long time, Quatre just stared at him with the blankest look on his face and Wufei wondered if he’d broken the poor guy’s brain. Then the corner of his mouth ticked upward a second before his lips pressed together and Wufei scowled when he realized the blond was trying to contain his laughter.

“Are me and Noin...oh my god!” Quatre lost the battle and doubled over with a loud cackle.

“I fail to see what’s so funny about that question,” he muttered, folding his arms across his chest.

Quatre got himself under control and straightened up, brushing away the tears that had rolled down his cheeks with the back of his hand. “Sorry, Wufei. I just...thought you knew. Everyone else does.”

“Knew what?”

“Well, for one thing, Noin has been married to Zechs for the last six years. They had twins not too long ago. But aside from that, Noin is not my type.”

“Why is she not your type?”

“Because she’s a woman."

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Wrong gender.”

“Oh,” he repeated, not comprehending at first. The cogs in his brain squeaked as they struggled to catch up and then his eyes lit up with understanding. “Ohhhhhhhh!”

"You're a quick one, aren't you?"

"Shut up. So like, have you been with a...you know?"

"A man? It's okay, Wufei. You can say it."

"Right. Sorry. Have you been with men before?"

Quatre nodded. “I’ve dated off and on, had a few trysts here and there, but nothing serious.”

“I see,” he said, still trying to process the information and what it meant. “Is that by choice?”

“Mmm...yes and no. For a long time, I was focused on getting a good job and becoming financially stable enough to support myself. I didn’t really have time for that kind of commitment and I sure as hell didn’t have the resources.”

Wufei’s heart skipped a beat. “So it’s different now?”

“I suppose, though I’m usually so busy, I barely have time to think about it. But yeah, I wouldn’t mind settling down sometime in the near future as long as it’s with the right person.”

Heart thudding like a base drum against his rib cage, he humored his reticence for only a minute before deciding to throw all caution to the wind. “This is probably absurdly inappropriate and I’m sure this is mainly due to the liquid courage running through my veins right now, but have I mentioned how insanely fuckable you look?”

Quatre’s mouth dropped open, gobsmacked by the inquiry. Even more so by the person who said it. “Why, Chang Wufei! Are you - are you hitting on me?”

“Maybe? I don’t - ha um...well, I guess you could interpret it that - ugh, damn it! You know what - okay, yes. Yes, I am hitting on you.”

Quatre’s right eyebrow was halfway up his forehead. “How long have you been batting for our team?”

He shrugged. “Since birth? I’m bisexual, Quatre. I always have been.”

“Huh. You think you know someone.”

“I never told anyone this, but when I first met you, I thought you were a spoiled brat who just wanted to play soldier.”

“That was a pretty accurate observation actually.”

“No, it wasn’t. I had you pegged all wrong. I thought the moment things got tough, you’d run back to Daddy and forget all about us. I judged you without knowing a single thing about you and I know I have no right to ask your forgiveness -”

“You’re forgiven.”

“- I - what?”

“I said you’re forgiven.”

His mouth worked to form words that never came to fruition. “What? Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“But, Quatre -”

“Wufei, I don’t care what you thought of me when we were fifteen. We were kids, for Christ’s sake. What matters is that you understand your mistake. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all water under the bridge. You don’t need to apologize for something that happened fifteen years ago.”

He ducked his head, cheeks flushed with a mix of shame and gratitude. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I just have one other thing I need to confess.”

“You’re not going to tell me you used my toothbrush to clean the head, or anything, are you?”

He let out a bark of laughter. “What? No! No, nothing like that. I just want you to know that on that first day, I really wanted to kiss you.”

“You did?”

“Yeah,” he admitted, smiling sheepishly. “I know it’s silly, but when you shook my hand and said how great it was to meet me, I could tell how much you meant it. I know I didn’t show it, but I did have a bit of a crush on you.”

“Aww, Wu-bear,” Quatre squealed, forcing Wufei to remember the arsenal of appalling pet names Duo had at his disposal whenever he wanted to piss off his hot tempered co-pilot.

“Oh god, no. Don’t -”

“That’s so sweet,” the blond gushed, clasping his hands beneath his chin and batting his eyelashes. ”You liked me. You really liked me!”

“You’re a jerk,” he told him, though he was laughing so hard, he could feel the tug of stitches in his side.

“Okay, but in all seriousness, that really is sweet. It’s just too bad you didn’t tell me at the time.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Better late than never.”

“Except it’s too late now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Wufei, that was fifteen years ago. You’re not actually going to tell me you’ve had a crush on me for fifteen years, are you?”

“Well, maybe I haven’t thought about it for a long time, but seeing you again just brought it all back, you know? You being here is making me feel things that I didn’t even know still existed. Why else do I feel this overwhelming need to find out what your lips taste like? Why else would I have this aching desire to spend the rest of my life making you feel happy and loved?"

He laughed, sounding on the verge of hysteria, and clenched his fists in his hair. “Jesus, you must think I’m nuts and I’m in full agreement with you, but I want to know everything there is to know about you. I want to know what it feels like to hold you in my arms. I want to know what your hands feel like on my skin. God help me, I’m making an absolute ass out of myself, but it’s all true. I’m exposing my weaknesses - yes, I am weak - and I admit it, I’m a total basket case. I drink too much, I fidget too much, and sometimes I’m a real bitch, but I...I can’t deny how alive you make me feel, Quatre! It’s like - it’s like I just woke up from a twelve year coma.”

He was quickly running out of steam - and courage - but he resisted the urge to ask the bartender for another drink. “I don’t really know what I’m saying, or what I’m asking, if anything. I guess I just needed you to know all this. Needed to get it off my chest. Seeing you again brought back so many things, so many feelings that I was suppressing and -”

“Wufei?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

He stuttered, unsure if he heard that right, or if it was just wishful thinking. But Quatre was leaning towards him, an expectant look on his face and Wufei realized he'd been waiting fifteen years for his question to be answered.

They met halfway, mouths hot and wet and hungry. Wufei’s teeth sunk into the blond’s bottom lip and he briefly sucked on it, savoring the hitch in Quatre’s breath. The first thing he tasted was the gin from the highball and then the frosty bite of Quatre's mouthwash. Their hands moved on their own accord, carding fingers through silky black hair and cupping soft, rosy cheeks. Wufei groaned and deepened the kiss, drunk off the sensual slide of tongues and the sweet taste of Quatre's passion.

They both jumped and broke apart when the bartender discreetly cleared his throat and heat flooded Wufei’s face as he noticed they’d drawn a small audience. Quatre laughed, but it was light and airy, not a care in the world and Wufei couldn’t help but laugh, too. “Sorry, I guess I got carried away.”

“You’re only as much to blame as I am,” Quatre pointed out.

“Hey, uh...I know this is probably too forward, but -”

“Say no more,” Quatre told him, leaning over the bar to swipe one of Raoul’s pens from a mug that read ‘Bartenders Do It Better’. He scribbled something on a fresh cocktail napkin, folded it in half, and slipped it into Wufei’s hand. “It’s my private number. I’m pretty sure you don't want to listen to my sales pitch if you decide to call.”

“Quatre…”

“Just please promise me that it won't end up in anyone else’s possession. You can tear it into pieces, set it on fire, flush it down the toilet if you want, but all I ask is that you -”

Wufei grabbed the back of the blond’s neck and silenced him with a kiss. “I’m not going to rip it, burn it, or flush it. I’m going to keep it in a safe place until it’s permanently tattooed onto my brain.”

Quatre smiled and Wufei could feel his body relax beneath his touch. “Oh, and here.” He reached into his back pocket for his wallet and sifted through the contents before pulling out a plastic card. “This is a copy of my room key. I always stay in the same room when I’m here.” Turning Wufei’s other hand over to place the card in his palm, he closed his fingers over it and added, “No pressure. No strings attached. If you don’t want it, you can just drop it off at the front desk. No questions asked.”

An unfamiliar giddiness filled the empty spaces in Wufei’s chest and for the first time in years, he felt like he could breathe. “Thank you, Quatre. I don't know what to say.”

“I know you’re going through a difficult time so I don’t want you to feel like you have to do anything. I don’t want to drag you into a relationship you’re not ready for. Just know that if you need someone to talk to, you can call me anytime. Or if you want to go to lunch, get a coffee, see a movie, or even just hang out and watch reruns, that’s fine by me.”

“What if I want more?” Wufei asked him, reaching up to brush his knuckles over the blond’s smooth cheekbone.

“Do you?”

“Yes. I already said that.” He held up the key card Quatre had given him. “Would you be angry if I decided to let myself into your room at three in the morning and slid into bed with you?”

“Do you really think I’d give you my key if that was going to make me angry?”

“I suppose not,” he said, smiling as he slid the card into his wallet. “I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. Maybe you can change that.”

Quatre gave him a saucy wink. “Anything's possible at the Holiday Inn.”

"That's the corniest thing anyone's ever said to me, but I couldn't agree more."