One year later…
Trowa didn’t know when exactly his hands had gone numb, but with Quatre’s beautiful, nude body moving above him, coupled with the rising crescendo of ecstasy crackling like static between them, his failing circulation was kicked all the way down to the bottom of his list of current priorities.
Or perhaps not, he mused. Most of his blood had been redirected to his groin, keeping his erection hard for both Quatre’s and his own pleasure while the rest did the important job of keeping his horny ass alive long enough to reap the benefits.
It was a little hard to breathe with Quatre’s hands braced on his chest, but the way the blond’s thighs were squeezing his hips between them more than made up for that mild inconvenience. His arms twitched sporadically and the clank of metal against metal was an arousing reminder of the way Quatre had shoved him down onto the bed and, with a wicked gleam in his eyes, produced a pair of handcuffs from behind his back.
He’d swung them from a teasing finger and pointed at the wrought iron headboard that was twisted this way and that to resemble an intricate tangle of ivy and morning glories. “Assume the position, my good man.”
They were both coated in sweat and the tepid breeze that blew gently through their open window did little to cool their heated flesh, but they were so close to the zenith now that Trowa imagined he could almost reach up and touch it. One second became two and then they were both pushed headlong into a bliss so powerful, he could have sworn his life passed before his eyes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile like that.”
“Like you’re a cat with a canary trapped between its paws. It’s a little creepy.”
“Well, it’s technically true. I mean, I am handcuffed to the bed of the world’s most desirable man with my dick going soft inside him after he rode it like Jesse James chasing a train full of loot. What could be better than that?”
Quatre laughed as he reached for the key on top of the nightstand and leaned down onto Trowa’s chest to unlock the cuffs. “And they say chivalry is dead.”
Trowa shook his arms out to encourage the blood to flow back into them. They were still slightly weak and shaky when he wrapped them around Quatre, stopping the blond’s attempt to roll off him. “No, stay here for a little longer.”
“Trowa, your jizz is starting to glue itself to my ass. I need to wipe it off.”
“Just one more minute. Please?”
Quatre huffed, but allowed his pouting boyfriend to pull him back down until they were chest to chest. He nestled his head into the crook of Trowa’s shoulder and resisted the urge to laugh when the other man purred. “Feel better?”
“Yes, very much. Thank you.”
For several minutes, they lay quiet and relaxed, comfortable enough in their closeness that words were not necessary. The bright afternoon sunlight, the soft swish of the curtains billowing in the breeze, and the melodious trills and chirrups of songbirds perched on the branches of their giant maple was a reflection of the mood just beyond the arched panes of glass a few feet away.
Though, despite the serenity of basking in the afterglow amid the warm, hazy enchantment of early summer, the niggling in the back of Trowa’s mind started elbowing its way to the front once again now that other matters had been taken care of. He shifted slightly beneath Quatre’s weight, nervous, but not wanting to alarm the snoozing blond who seemed to have forgotten about the mess Trowa had made of him.
He swallowed around a suddenly parched throat and tried not to tremble as he was gripped with a paralyzing sense of terror. His tongue felt thick and dry, stuck like petrified wood to the roof of his mouth. A question - the most important one he would ever ask - was struggling to free itself from behind his tightly pressed lips and he squeezed his eyes shut, unsure whether to pray for the courage to ask it, or the self-restraint to shove it back down his esophagus.
“Trowa, what are you doing?”
He opened his eyes to see Quatre staring suspiciously down at him. So much for subtly. “Huh?”
“Why do you look like you’re constipated?”
Trowa let out a shrill laugh that sounded panicky even to his own ears. Well, that blew his chance to play it cool. “I - I’m - I’m…”
“Trowa, just tell me what’s wrong.”
“There’s nothing wrong, baby, I’m just -” he took a deep breath and let it out slowly “- You know I love you, right? More than anything.”
Quatre squinted a cautious eye at him. “Yeah…?”
Fuck it. There was no sense beating around the bush. “Will you marry me?”
“Trowa…” Quatre moaned, exasperated, and rolled off to the other side of the bed where he flopped onto his belly and buried his face in the pillows. “We’ve only been living together for a month,” he said, his words muffled and nearly inaudible.
Trowa turned onto his side and slid his hand down the silky expanse of Quatre’s back. “I know, but…we love each other, don’t we? We both know this is it, right?”
Quatre turned his head to look at him and Trowa was more than a little crushed by the hesitation in his eyes. “Look, I love you, you know that. And I know you love me, but I just - I don’t want to take things too fast. You can understand that, can’t you?”
Trowa scooted closer, needing to fill the space between them that suddenly felt like millions of light years; the vast emptiness of the cosmos that separated a world from its life-giving star. He pulled Quatre into his arms and pressed his face into the tousled blond hair that was damp with sweat, but still smelled like his favorite coconut mango styling mousse.
As much as he hated to admit it, he understood. Quatre needed time and reassurance that his heart wasn’t going to get broken again. For Trowa, it was a sacrifice he was willing to make to earn back Quatre’s trust, even if he himself was ready dive in head-first. “I do, Quat. I’m sorry for jumping the gun and making you uncomfortable. That’s the last thing I ever want to do.”
“I mean, I’m not saying ‘no’ because I don’t want to marry you. I do, so much that it hurts to say it, but I’m just not ready yet. I’m not saying ‘never’, okay? I’m just saying ‘not right now’. I don’t want to fuck up what we have, or null and void all the hurdles we’ve overcome to get to this point.”
Trowa nodded and held his boyfriend tighter. “You’re right. I was acting on my emotions instead thinking things through.”
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Quatre told him with a laugh. “If your emotions hadn’t driven you to crash my wedding, we wouldn’t be here in this house and in this bed that we bought together.”
“That could have gone badly, though,” Trowa pointed out.
“But it didn’t. Jesus, you sound like Wufei.”
Trowa cupped Quatre’s head and gently scratched his nails over the blond’s scalp. “You still have trust issues.”
“People get over them as long as they’re not let down. You had them when I first met you, remember?”
“Not with you. I trusted you from the get-go even though it confused the hell out of me.”
“Well, none of that matters now. I don’t want to dwell on the past, at least not after today.”
“Why dwell on it today?”
“You do know the date, right? Or did you forget again?”
“What, June twenty fourth?”
Quatre propped his chin on Trowa’s chest and grinned at him. “You catch on quick. I'm proud of you."
“Why do you want to dwell on this again?”
“Maybe ‘dwell’ isn’t the right word. A better one would be ‘celebrate’.”
“I thought this day brought back terrible memories.”
“So, let’s make it a good memory day.”
Trowa was lost. “Cake?”
“Yeah, wedding cake.”
Extremely lost. “What wedding cake?”
Quatre rolled his eyes. “The wedding cake from last year for the wedding that never happened?”
“Quat, you served it to the guests so it wouldn’t go to waste.”
“Not all of it. It’s actually a tradition for the wedding couple to save the smallest tier on the top and freeze it until their first anniversary.”
Lord, help me find my way home because I am lost, lost, lost… “Okay? But there’s no wedding couple and no first anniversary. You didn’t even save it anyway.”
“Yes, I did. It’s wrapped in an entire roll of foil all the way in the back of the extra freezer in the basement.”
“Why? I mean, why did you save it? You had already called the wedding off.”
“I don’t know. When I first decided to hang onto it, I was planning on opening it today and eating the whole thing in my pajamas while I moped around the house feeling lonely and pathetic, but now I have an even better reason to open it. It may not be our first anniversary, but it is the first anniversary of the day you finally admitted you loved me. It’s kind of symbolic, you know? A way to say goodbye to all the pain of the past and make a fresh start.”
“You sure about this, babe? It’s not exactly meant for that, traditionally.”
“Who cares, it’s cake! Now, get off your butt and fetch a wet rag so you can clean me up because I’m starving.“
Thirty minutes later, Trowa was perched on a kitchen stool in his pale green, terrycloth bathrobe while he fed his boyfriend bites of wedding cake with his fingers. Quatre was sitting on the counter, grinning like a loon with rich buttercream frosting smeared down the slope of his nose and across his forehead where Trowa had attempted to draw a smiley face. Quatre had scowled and retaliated by shoving a massive chunk of cake into Trowa’s laughing mouth.
“We should probably save some of this for later,” Quatre mused.
The blond answered by spreading his knees wider and trailed one sticky hand up the length of his inner thigh towards his groin which was hidden beneath the flap of his own bathrobe.
Trowa instantly got the picture. “Oh, you kinky little minx.”
“You like it.”
“I love it,” he corrected, leaning forward to claim a sugary kiss. “I bet it tastes so much better on you.”
“Only one way to find out.”
“Indeed.” Trowa bent down until his face was just an inch above Quatre’s frosting-smeared thigh and licked a wet swath just below the hem of his robe. “Mmm. Delicious. I can’t wait to find out how good it tastes when applied to…other places.”
He laughed dropped his head onto Quatre’s leg. “I don’t know how you do that.”
“How you’re just raring to go again right after we just did it. I don’t recover that quickly.”
“Sounds like you’re out of shape.”
Offended, Trowa lifted his head and curled his arms in to show off his defined - and very not out of shape - muscles. "Does this look like I'm out of shape?"
“There’s a difference between brawn and endurance, you silly man. You may be stronger than me, but I can outlast you in just about everything. Remember, you’re talking to the guy who walked thirty miles through the desert with no water and continued to fight even after being run clean-through with a sword.” Quatre looked smug as he leaned back on his hands. “Not even Heero can say that.”
He conceded with a chuckle. “Okay, you got me there, but you still have to wait.” He gave Quatre a stern look when the blond clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Hey, I had to wait five months just to get you to agree to go on a date with me. That was torture, by the way. I still think you were playing hard-to-get.”
“Maybe. Maybe I just wanted to find out how serious you were.”
“And because you got off on being chased,” Trowa added knowingly. “And don’t give me those innocent doe-eyes. They don’t work on me anymore.”
“Fine. So how do you want to spend a Saturday with no prior obligations? Are we supposed to do boring domestic stuff like laundry, or fixing a leaky sink? Oh, I know. You can mow the lawn while I go grocery shopping.”
“Tempting, but I was thinking more along the lines of a picnic, followed by a few lazy hours in the hammock, swaying back and forth in the warm breeze with your head resting on my chest until the late day sun glows in bright hues of red and orange. Then, we order some takeout and cuddle on the couch to watch that movie you’ve been wanting to see.”
“And then, I’ll put the rest of this cake to good use.”
Quatre grinned and scooted closer, wrapping his arms and legs around Trowa as he swiped his tongue across his boyfriend’s lips. “Oh, fuck yeah. I like the way you think, stud.”
Trowa held him close and smiled. “Not too shabby, eh?”
“You’re a genius. I should enter you as a contender for the Nobel Prize.”
“Well, I can’t take all the credit. That part was your idea.”
“True. So, what should we pack for our picnic?”
“Whatever you want. You know I’ll eat anything.”
“Alright, I’ll figure it out. Go take your shower. I should be done by the time you are. I need to wash this frosting off me, too. I’m all sticky.”
“I thought you liked being sticky.”
Quatre gave him a wry look. “Depends on the circumstances. Besides, I’ll be a bug magnet with all this sugar still clinging to my skin.”
“But it’s not the sugar that makes you so sweet,” Trowa told him, running his fingers through the blond’s tousled curls.
Quatre snorted and pushed his hand away. “That was corny.”
He shrugged and stood up. “Can’t expect a home run every time. I’ll be down in a few.”
“Leave me some hot water,” Quatre ordered, slapping his boyfriend on the ass as he turned to head back upstairs.
“Okay, boss man.”
It took Quatre a good fifteen minutes to remember where he’d put the picnic basket after they moved in, but eventually located it in the closet of the guestroom. He prepared a spring mix and spinach salad with grape tomatoes, slices of cucumber and strawberries, red onions, chickpeas, and diced olives. He tossed them in a plastic container and sprinkled feta cheese over the top before sealing it with a lid and placed it in the basket along with a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette.
The sandwiches were turkey and Swiss on pumpernickel bread with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Dijon mustard. He wrestled them into little plastic sandwich bags and sealed them while he absently hummed ‘It’s a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood’.
For dessert, he packed a box of his favorite strawberry-filled shortbread cookies and a can of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting which he used as a dip for the cookies. The first time he ate them in front of Trowa, the other man had looked at him like he’d just scarfed down a dog turd soaked in varnish. During the subsequent debate over his supposedly less-than-stellar snack choices, he dunked a cookie and shoved it between Trowa’s lips to shut him up.
Now it was Trowa who wheedled him into going to the store when their cookie and frosting supply was running low.
The phone rang just as he was sliding a bottle of white zinfandel into the basket along with two plastic cups, forks, and a stack of napkins. Too preoccupied with securing the gingham ties over the lid to keep the food from falling out, he didn’t bother to check the caller ID before picking up the phone.
Static crackled on the other end of the line before he heard a faint, “Quatre?”
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“Don’t hang up, okay? It’s me, Stephen.”
The clatter of the receiver as it slipped from his hand and bounced on the counter caused a flurry of startled sparrows that were loitering just outside the kitchen window to take flight. For a few seconds, he grappled with it, surprise making his fingers clumsy. Once his hand-eye coordination finally kicked back in, he brought it cautiously back up to his ear. “How did you get this number?”
Stephen paused, hesitant, but he must have sensed Quatre’s intention to disconnect the call if his question wasn’t promptly answered. “I have a friend who owed me a favor.”
He set his jaw and stared at the ticking second hand of the clock above the stove. “So you asked him to illegally obtain my personal information.”
“I’m sorry, Quatre, but I -”
“You should be.”
“I know, but I just needed to talk to you.”
“We have nothing to talk about.”
“Well…maybe you don’t have anything to say, but I do.”
“Good for you. I don’t care.”
“Damn it, will you just listen to me? I just wanted to say I’m sorry and that…I don’t blame you for hitting me. I deserved it.”
“Finally, something we agree on.”
“And I, uh…I was wondering if I could maybe talk to you in person.”
“I’m not going to start anything, I promise. I just want to be able to apologize face to face. It seems more appropriate that way and -”
“Fucking Christ, Quatre! Why do you have to be so stubborn? I’m trying to make amends.”
“No, you’re trying to weasel your way back into my life and it’s not going to work.”
“Quat...I still love you.”
Stephen’s voice turned uncharacteristically meek and that was proverbial smoking gun. In all the time Quatre had known him, he’d never once exhibited even an ounce of docility. Stephen was the antithesis of passivity. He demanded submission from those around him and Quatre was no exception.
It was hard not to look back and see all the red flags that he’d been blind to while they were together. At first, it wasn’t a big deal. It had primarily been confined to the bedroom which was fine with Quatre because he loved men who were sexually aggressive.
Unfortunately, that behavior began to bleed into other areas of their relationship, but it had happened so slowly and gradually, he never noticed it. It was only during the confrontation on their wedding day that he was able to see the disaster he was getting himself into and when Stephen attempted to physically force his compliance, that was final nail in the coffin.
“You don’t love me, Stephen. You love yourself. You love being in control and that’s what I gave you because I did love you. I allowed you to dictate my life because I was vulnerable and you knew it. I was easy to manipulate, easy to intimidate. I learned that the hard way, but the lesson was well worth it because now I know I can do better and I have.”
“You call shacking up with that clown ‘doing better’? If you think I’m scum, then how can you possibly believe he is not?”
“Because unlike you, he became a better person. Unlike you, he truly does love me. He always has.”
“And how do you know I haven’t become a better person?”
Quatre burst out laughing and it took him a few minutes to regain his composure. “You’re joking, right?”
“If he gets a second chance, why can’t I?”
“He earned a second chance and he proved himself worthy of it. You can’t even see past your own nose most of the time. I doubt you’re even capable of grasping what you did wrong. For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always been a schmoozer. You talk a good game, but none of it is genuine. Sorry, but I’m not buying your crap anymore.”
“It’s not crap, Quatre. I’m trying to -”
“Lose my number, Stephen.”
“Lose my number. Burn it, delete it, erase it from your memory banks. It’s over. I don’t want to see you, or speak to you. You’re not going to change my mind so let it go. Move on with your life and let me move on with mine. If you bother me again, you will regret it.”
It was silent for several moments and Quatre was beginning to think he’d hung up until, “Are you going to marry him?”
He snorted. “Goodbye, Stephen.”
“No, wait -”
He pressed the ‘disconnect’ button and placed the receiver back into the charging port with a sigh. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t wondered about the possibility of Stephen contacting him and how such a confrontation would play out. He was still a little rattled from the call. He knew it might happen, but the reality was a little unnerving.
The soft sound of Trowa’s bare feet padding across the laminate floor alerted him to his boyfriend’s presence, but to his relief, he didn’t sense any anger. As Trowa’s arms closed around him, he sagged against his sturdy chest, still warm and slightly damp from his shower. The comfort and safety of his lover’s strong embrace drained the tension from his body, lulling him back into his previously relaxed state.
No one had ever been able to soothe him the way Trowa could. The taller man’s aura was like a luxurious blanket of serenity and protection, one that Quatre loved to wrap himself in every chance he got.
“You okay, baby?”
He closed his eyes and shivered as the gentle baritone vibrated against his ear. “Yeah. I think so.” Turning his head slightly, he asked, “You know who that was, don’t you?”
“How much did you hear?”
“I came down just as you were telling him that I’d become a better person and I stuck around for the rest.” Trowa paused and Quatre knew what he was going to ask. “Is that true?”
“Of course it is!” Quatre turned around in the circle of his boyfriend’s arms and stared up into stormy green eyes. “Do you honestly think I would say that if it wasn’t?”
Trowa’s shoulder lifted in a faint gesture of a shrug. “I suppose not. I just worry.”
“That I’m still doing something wrong. Like maybe I’m not doing enough to make you happy.”
Quatre reached up and cupped his beautifully sculpted face. “Trowa, you have gone above and beyond ‘enough’.”
“I’m just - I feel like this is all too good to be true. I’m afraid I’m going to wake up and realize this was all a dream. That I’m still a fuck-up who ruined everythi - ouch!”
He cackled as Trowa jumped back and rubbed his cheek. “Still think it’s a dream?”
“You pinched me, you little shit!”
“More of a love squeeze, really.”
“Love squeeze? I’ll show you a love squeeze!”
Quatre shrieked and bolted for the stairs, though Trowa was hot on his heels in no time at all. “No fair, your legs are longer than mine!”
“Sounds like a you problem.”
“What about the picnic?”
“It can wait.”
They reached the top of the landing and Quatre sprinted down the hall, trying to put enough distance between them so he could successfully barricade himself in the bedroom. “I’m sorry I pinched you, okay?”
“You will be once I get my hands on you.”
“Tro - wah!” There was a loud *thud* as the taller man made a lunge for the blond’s ankles, tackling him like an NFL linebacker preventing the rival team’s quarterback from scoring a touchdown. They both hit the floor hard, though their fall was mercifully cushioned by the piled plush carpeting.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Trowa hissed, grabbing the belt of Quatre’s robe before he could squirm his way out from beneath him. He flipped the smaller man onto his back and pinned Quatre’s slender wrists on either side of his head, grinning wolfishly down at his prey. “Now, where were we?”
“Uh, love squeeze?”
Trowa held both his boyfriend’s wrists in one hand and trailed the backs of his fingers down one of the blond’s soft, porcelain cheeks with a tenderness Quatre didn’t quite trust. “You mean like this?”
He yelped as Trowa’s fingers gripped the flesh of cheek and squeezed hard. “Ow! You jerk! I didn’t pinch you that hard!”
“I did not!”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
“I’m calling you a liar liar, pants on fire.”
“Your nose is longer than a telephone wire,” the blond continued in a sing-song voice.
“Okay, now you’re skating on thin ice, kitten.”
“Ask me, baby, why I’m sad…”
“Dangerously thin ice.”
“You pinched me, pinched me, baby, ‘cause I’m so bad.”
Trowa halted and gave him a weird look. “Those aren’t the right words.”
“I know, but my version fits better.”
“You’re a goof.”
“Does that mean I’ve been properly disciplined now?”
He stroked his chin, contemplating. “No, I don’t think so. Not yet.” He reached between them and untied the belt of Quatre’s bathrobe, parting the terrycloth to bare his love’s ravishing body. “And I’m afraid I have no other choice but to dole out your punishment until I’m satisfied that you’ve learned your lesson.”