|A NEW LIFE
"Tell me about Rashid."
"What do you want to know?"
"Would you consider him a friend?"
"Yes and no."
"What do you mean?"
Quatre sighed, looking out the window. They'd been at it for nearly three hours, and he felt tired already. He knew Corinne was tired; because when he'd gotten back to his rooms he'd found her asleep in the chair where he'd left her. She apologized profusely, but he'd only brushed it aside and gotten her something to snack on. He knew she was stressing. Empaths had a hard time working with people over long periods of time. Corinne had been pushing complete exhaustion, having spent over six hours total with him. But she said she was fine, and as long as she didn't fall flat on her face, Quatre would let the doctor dictate the time.
"He's more than a friend. So he's both, a friend and more than."
"Would you say he's been a father figure to you?"
Quatre thought about this a moment, "I've often wondered what it would have been like to have Rashid as my father. Is that what you mean?"
"Not quite but that's good too. Have you ever gone to him instead of to your father, when you normally would have sought your father out?"
"Yes, often. Maybe more than that."
"He's very special to you, isn't he?"
"What about the other men that travel with him, the Maganacs? Would you consider them your friends?"
"Yes, but they're more like brothers than friends. We fought together, died together. They're more than friends."
"Would you go so far as to say they're like family?"
"No. They're better than family."
"How about Rashid? Is he better than family as well?"
"Most friends are better than family. He's better than family."
"Are they better than family, or just better than yours?"
He paused, realizing the conversation was running away from him. He didn't know where it was heading; the topic a little too close to home.
"I don't know."
"Have you ever loved anyone more than your family?"
Again, "I don't know."
"Tell me about Koeran."
Koeran. The name stung and yet made his heart lighter to hear it. It had been so long since he'd heard that name, so long since he'd wondered if Koeran would approve of all he'd become.
"What do you want to know?"
"He was your first lover, wasn't he?"
"Why did you pick him?"
"I didn't; he picked me. I was still too afraid to pick him."
"Afraid of your father?"
"Afraid of everything."
"How did Koeran pick you? Did he approach you first?"
"He kissed me. It was nice. Better. Are you going to tell this to Trowa?" He didn't know how he felt about the idea, didn't know if it frightened him or not.
"Not if you don't want me too."
"I'd rather you didn't."
"Then I won't. How long were you and Koeran together?"
"Over a year."
"How old were you when you and he began your relationship?"
"How old was he?"
"Did that worry you, being so much younger than him?"
"No. He wanted me, and I wanted him. I wasn't worried. If it ended, then it would end."
"Were you ever afraid he'd leave you?"
"I wasn't afraid. I knew eventually we'd drift apart. We both wanted different things, and eventually those things would have caught up with us." Complete trust, that's what he and Koeran had had. They believed in each other, both desiring the same things and yet different things as well. They both gave and received. They were equals.
"You trusted him to stay with you?"
"Would you say your relationship with Koeran was stronger, than your relationship with Trowa?"
A choice, and one he definitely didn't like. He'd felt more comfortable with her this second round of questioning, but still, he harbored some fear of what she could do. He'd pushed the idea to the back of his mind,preferring to think of her as Trowa did, someone that could help him; but it didn't seem to be working.
"They're the same, only different. I won't choose."
"I don't want you to tell me who you love or loved more, I only want to know with whom did you have the stronger relationship?"
"I don't like the question."
"I don't care. Make a choice."
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Too many decisions.
"Do you not want me to know, or do you not want yourself to know?"
"Either." Too much information, she was taking too much control from him. He had to get some back; he had to stay on top. He'd wanted to trust in her a little more, believe she could help him. Finding her so vulnerable earlier had only made him want to be nicer to her; she might need someone to protect her.
"Fair enough. You have to tell me things, that's why I'm here, but if you're not ready to tell yourself, then we'll move on." He nodded his agreement, focusing only on the fact that the topic was now over.
"Why don't you love Trowa?"
What?! Where had that come from? What was she trying to do? Of course he loved Trowa! Trowa was his life; everything he was, is, was for Trowa.
"What do you mean? I love Trowa." His voice was strong; his eyes however, were cast to the window.
"Alright, then why doesn't Trowa love you?"
In a flash he was looking at her, pain and fear suffusing his entire being. Trowa loved him, he knew he did. He had to love him!
"Trowa loves me." But his voice wasn't strong; it was weak, weak like he was.
"How do you know? Are you sure?"
Was he sure? Did he know for certain that Trowa loved him, wanted to stay with him? Trowa often told him he did, but so had Koeran, so had Cijen. So many people promised to love him, and so many ended up not. How could hebelieve that Trowa loved him completely? He couldn't, not even all of his empathic abilities allowed him to know for certain. The sand he'd thought he'd been standing on had more than once before turned to quicksand; what was to prevent the same thing happening with Trowa?
"I don't know."
"You don't even know if your own lover loves you? Don't you think that's a little pathetic?"
More and more sand.
Where had her hateful words come from? Had Trowa told her something? Said that he didn't love him anymore? Was Trowa using the doctor to make his leaving him easier to bear? Was his Trowa no longer really his? But no! Trowa had been with him only that afternoon, laughing and joking with the rest of them. Trowa had told him he loved him.hadn't he? Or was it all just another lie? Could Trowa be playing with his heart? Was Trowa going to hurt him, betray him?"
He felt his breathing accelerate, watched the room bounce with his quick gasps of panic.
"Shhh, Quatre, calm down. I'm only pushing you. Calm down, it's all right. Trowa loves you, he's told me so himself, and I believe him a hundred percent. That's right, Trowa told me, and I used my abilities to probe him; he's telling the truth. Trowa loves you; he won't betray or abandon you."
Her words continued, but the sound of relief rushing in his ears muffled her voice. Trowa did love him; he always would. Trowa would be there for him. Trowa could take care of him. Trowa wouldn't betray him. Trowa wouldn't leave him. Trowa loved him. Trowa.
"That's right, Quatre. Trowa loves you. He loves you. He'll never leave you, he'll never abandon you. Trowa loves you. He loves you."
For a moment, the world got dizzy, like earlier, before when Trowa had returned, but this time when he opened his eyes it wasn't because of the pass code being entered, it was because Corinne was sitting in front of him weeping.
Large tears and painful sobs racked her body, shaking her to the core. Her arms were wrapped about herself, and she was rocking back and forth in the chair. Her head was moving in a sideways motion that reminded Quatre of those dolls with springs in their necks. She looked as broken as he felt.
"Corinne? Corinne, are you alright?"
She shook her head no, and started to cry harder. He moved to her side, touching her arm gently. "Corinne, tell me what's wrong. Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?"
Again she shook her head no, but continued to sob.
What could he do? What should he do? Standing, he moved quickly to the com unit, and punched in Trowa's code.
"Trowa, it's Quatre." His voice held currents of concern, and fear.
"Quatre, what's wrong, are you alright?" His fear and concern were matched. Trowa understood. Trowa loved him. Trowa would never betray him. Trowa would never leave him. Trowa could take care of him. Towa loved him, always had, always would. He could trust Trowa.
"Something's happened to Corinne. I don't know what. I closed my eyes, and then when I opened them, she was curled into a ball on the chair. Trowa, send a med. team down here right away. I don't know what's going on."
"Quatre, don't worry. I'm coming, all right, I'm on my way. Don't worry."
"Hurry Trowa, I'm really scared."
Closing the communication channel, he turned back around to Corinne, and his eyes widened in surprise.
Feet planted on the floor, body still and relaxed, she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue from the carton next to the lamp. But the thing that stunned him the most wasn't any of those things, but instead was the huge smile on her face. He didn't understand.
"I know I scared you Quatre, but don't worry. Come here, and I'll explain." His feet move of their own accord, and his mind raced withemotions he didn't understand. He made it to the couch and sat down, just as she shifted back into her normal position, eyes dry and a healthy glow in her cheeks.
The door to their rooms flew open, and Trowa, Heero, Duo, and Wufei all came rushing in, only to stop by the door and stare at both himself and Corinne.
"Who did you call, Quatre?"
"What?" He turned his attention back to her, still trying to figure out what was going on.
"When you thought something was wrong with me that you couldn't fix, didn't have any control, who did you call?"
He didn't understand, "Trowa."
"That's right, and why did you call him?"
The four pilots moved as one, to stand behind the table that started the boundary of the sitting area. They were silent, listening to Corinne explain and Quatre answer. "I didn't know who else to call."
"But you did. You told Trowa to call a med. team, didn't you? Why didn't you just call the med. team yourself? Why did you call Trowa?"
"I-I don't know."
"Yes you do, tell me why Quatre."
"I-I didn't want to be alone."
"If Trowa isn't here, it's hard to face things, isn't it? If you can't feel his presence through the link, it's hard to take comfort isn't it?"
"I don't know, I don't understand." His hands were fisted in his hair on either sides of his head. This was too much; he didn't understand what was going on. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Trowa take a step forward, only to have Corinne gesture for him to stay back.
"Yes you do, Quatre. Tell me how come you're not alone when Trowa's with you. Tell me why you called for him."
"Stop it! I don't know the answer!"
"Who's love is stronger, yours and Trowas', or yours and Koerans'?"
The question caused a shocked gasp to come from the opposite side of the room, but Quatre barely heard it. He didn't know the answer, didn't want to know the answer. What if it wasn't Trowa.
"I don't know."
"Yes you do! Is your love for Trowa stronger, or is your love for him dim compared to what you had with Koeran? Who do you trust more?"
"I DON'T KNOW!!!"
"Then tell me Quatre, who do you want to trust more?!"
A sob escaped his lips, and he shook with emotion. There was no escape, no way out.
"I don't know." His voice was defeated, just as he was, just as he'd always been.
"Koeran is dead, Quatre. Now who do you want to trust more?"
The silence was deafening, and Quatre's sobs were the only sound in the room. He cried in frustration, he cried in fear, but most of all he cried out of love, both lost and found. Finally, he found his voice.
"Why? Why him? Why not Trowa?"
"Koeran? Koeran is dead?" He nodded, "Yes, he is. Is that why you want to trust him? Because he's dead?" He nodded. "I don't understand, Quatre. Explain."
"He never betrayed me."
"Has Trowa betrayed you?"
"How do you know that Quatre? You've never even let him get close enough to try. You've kept him away from everything that's hurt you, just so he'd never know. Isn't that right? You've pushed him away from all of your pain so he'd never see, never know how to betray you."
No hesitation, "Yes."
"Is Trowa strong enough now not to leave you? Is he strong enough to stay by your side?"
"Then why did you call Trowa when you should have called the med. team?"
"I can trust Trowa. He'd never leave me. He'll never betray me. I love him."
"Do you really trust him, Quatre?"
"Yes-no-yes," His voice got very small, very weak, weaker than he ever remembered being, "But I don't want to."
"Why? Quatre tell me why you don't want to trust Trowa."
"He's still alive."
"What does him being alive have to do with it?"
"He can still betray me later."
He didn't see Heero reach out a hand to steady Trowa, didn't see him holding the taller man up. He wouldn't have been able to stop, even if he had.
"Do you think Trowa will betray you? Do you think he'll leave you later?"
"Then why are you fighting against him?"
"I don't want to be wrong again. I don't want to have made the wrong choice again."
"Do you want to die Quatre?"
It was a question from nowhere and a question that took an answer to nowhere. It was one of those questions psychiatrists always asked their patients, knowing the answer would always be no. Knowing that no one in his right mind would ever say yes to someone that could lock him up for his own good. It was a trick question. Quatre didn't notice.
"Why haven't you killed yourself yet then? Why are you still here, even after the war, so long after the war has finished?"
"I owe him."
"Owe him? Who do you owe?"
"You owe Trowa. What do you owe him, Quatre, what do you owe him that won't allow you to just kill yourself? To put the past behind you, to leave the rejection and constant pain of your sisters, to find relief from the crowds of people that haunt your dreams, from the thousands of people you killed in the war. What could you possibly owe Trowa that would make you withstand all of that?"
No hesitation, no emotion. The truth hurt enough.
"My life. My life for his. I killed him, now my life belongs to him. I'll stay until he tells me to go. I live until he tells me to die. I belong to him. I'll suffer as long as he wants me to."
"Because of the ZERO system? Is that why?" He nodded, "But Trowa didn't die. He's right here, Quatre. He's right beside you-" The insistent shaking of his head brought her words to a stand still.
"He's here, but for a time he wasn't. He did die. He broke the link; it died. I killed him. I did. I loved him and killed him. I betrayed him first! Just like I betrayed Cijen first! He'll leave me eventually; he'll betray me someday! He has to; everyone does! But I can't do anything about it! I have to stay with him until he does. I want to stay with him. I love him more than anything in the universe! I'd die a thousand deaths, I'd live a thousand lifetimes to be with him. But he'll betray me, because I betrayed him first, because everyone eventually betrays me."
"Koeran died for me. I betrayed him first, before he got the chance."
"Who do you want to trust more?"
The same question, a different answer. "Trowa."
"I want to trust him so badly, believe that he'll stay with me."
"Then believe it Quatre. He loves you, trusts you, believes in you. You know it's true, you've been inside his emotions, you know he'd do anything for you." He nodded his head
"You don't think he'll betray you, do you Quatre? You want him to betray you, you want him to leave you. You know once he's gone, once he's let you go, it'll be over. You'll end your life, and all the pain, fear, and rage will go away, won't it?"
He nodded his head.
"That's not going to happen, Quatre!" Strong arms encircled him, and he felt the reassuring presence of Trowa. His arms, so safe and secure. He could die here and be happy, he could even live here and be happy. "I'm not going to let you go, do you hear me, Quatre? I'm not ever leaving you! I'll stay by your side always, and you'll stay by mine. I'll protect you, just like you protected me, even from yourself. I won't let you go, and I won't betray you! I love you, and I'm always going to be in love with you! You can trust me, Quatre, you can trust me completely, I won't betray you."
Quatre felt light kisses pressed into his hair. Words came back, things he'd heard, once upon a time. 'I trust you, Quatre.' Trust, it was such a strong word, it meant life or death, happiness or betrayal. But could Trowa
mean it? Mean it for the future, a time he couldn't see right now? He didn't know.
Suddenly the link flared to life, and a great glow of emotions spiraled around him. Love, trust, acceptance, everything he'd been searching for so desperately, all floating around in his mind like leaves on the breeze;
beautiful and delicate. With his mind, Quatre reached for the trust, grasping it, and holding it close. This is what he wanted most of all, what he needed to feel. Trowa trusted him, loved and accepted him, for all of
his faults and all of his accomplishments. Trowa loved him. He'd never leave him. He'd never betray him. Trowa loved him.
And then it all clicked into place. Trowa did love him. Trowa would never, ever leave him. Trowa would never, ever betray him. Trowa loved him; and would never betray him. Trowa. Trowa could be trusted.with
His mind grew dark and through the haze he could hear Corinne's voice, "You did well, Quatre. You did well. Rest now, Quatre. It's ok to rest now." And then there was silence.
* * *
Duo had Corinne pressed into the chair as Quatre's body slumped into his arms, unmoving.
"What the hell did you do to him!?" Duo's rage at his friends' pain was undeniable. One hand moved dangerously close to Corinne's throat.
"Quatre?! Quatre?! Please answer me, Quatre?!" Trowa was shaking him, begging with mind and body for his love to wake up. It had all happened so suddenly. They'd burst into the room after receiving a frantic com call from Quatre. When they'd gotten there, Corinne had just started in on Quatre, not allowing any mercy. Then in the heat of a heart wrenching confession, Quatre had blacked out, and now lay slumped against him, barely breathing. "Quatre!?"
"Trowa, stop! Don't try to wake him. He needs to rest now. Just let him rest." Her voice was tired, and she barely acknowledged Duo's looming presence over her.
"What do you mean?! Lady are you crazy or something?! What the hell did you think you were doing to him?!"
"Duo," Heero's voice cut through the confusion, level headed as always, "Move away from her. Trowa, do as she says until we find a reason not to. Lady," he addressed Corinne, "You have about one minute to explain."
Corinne gave a weak nod of her head before trying to sit up, only to allow exhaustion to push her back into her seat. "A glass of water, please."
Wufei retrieved the desired liquid and then sat with the others. Trowa held Quatre's body close, tears tracking down his face without shame; he barely noticed them.
Corinne's soft voice, almost painful, called his attention, "He's alright, Trowa. Better than alright in fact. The suggestion partially took. I think he's going to be ok."
He turned his face to her and watched her flinch at his obvious pain. "What are you talking about? He wants to kill himself! He wants to die." His voice fell though. Quatre was his strength, if anything happened to him-anything-he would join him, he'd be with Quatre forever.
"Yes, that's true, and it hasn't changed either. Quatre will still want to die when he wakes up, but the desire won't be as strong, and the supporting needs won't be there; at least not all of them."
"Look Lady, I'm about ready to issue you a lot of physical pain, so I suggest you hurry up with the explanation!" Heero's arm around Duo's wrist held the braided man in place, but death danced in his eyes, and once that look entered Shinigami, there was no looking back.
But it was Trowa's desperate voice that was the last call, his mournful cry echoed in the room and everyone felt the full impact of his pain, "Please Corinne!"
"Trowa, listen carefully to me. I gave Quatre a suggestion earlier this afternoon. I told him that you loved him, that you'd never leave him; that you could protect him, and that he could trust you. These were only
suggestions and Quatre had to want to believe them before they'd take. That 's why I pretended to be hurt, so Quatre would be forced to make a decision; he made the right one, Trowa. He called you, he was hurt, scared, confused, and worried, and he called you. That's exactly what we wanted him to do, admit that he needed you, and that you'd be there for him.
"The rest. You heard him; he didn't know why he'd called you. I needed him to come to a conscious conclusion that he needed your help, that he could trust you to come when he needed you. That's why the relentless questions, that's why the painful topics. He was fighting it. That's why he kept saying he didn't know; he did know, he just didn't want to admit it to himself.
"Right before he passed out, I opened the link, right after you took him into your arms. He felt all your love and trust though the link. And it was enough. The suggestion I planted took root; he believes it. Do you
understand, Trowa? He now believes he can trust you; that you love him and won't ever betray him. He crossed the desert and you were standing right there, waiting to carry him the rest of the way home. He believes now; hiswhole being believes now. Quatre's a strong empath thankfully it didn't take as much coaxing as it usually does." She trailed off then, and Trowa could feel the dawning of her words on his being.
"Quatre trusts me now?"
She smiled, "Yes Trowa, Quatre trusts you now. He'll come to you from now on."
Trowa couldn't help it; he tightened his grip around Quatre's fallen frame and buried his face in the blond sunshine he found there. Tears of relief fell from his eyes.
Heero's voice eventually caused him to look up.
"If that's true, then why did you say Quatre still wants to die?"
She sighed, a deep sigh that reached into her soul for both comfort and strength. "Quatre may trust in Trowa now, but that wasn't his only problem, his only issue. He's a very, very disturbed young man; very hurt, and very unstable right now."
"What do you mean, woman; you just said you cured him?" A dangerous tone entered Wufei's voice, belying the turbulence inside of him.
"No, I said he now trusted Trowa, at least partially, but that doesn't mean he's fixed; that doesn't mean his slate gets wiped clean." She reached for a notebook that had fallen beside the chair. Flipping through the pages, she examined some things and then looked back to the group, but her eyes met Trowa's.
"Any one of these would have made me recommend that Quatre seek professional help. These are all things I've identified as things that Quatre needs to work out, to find conclusion to. Listen to this list, really listen, Trowa, because these are the things you're going to have to work with Quatre to fix. These are the things that will take years, but I know you're capable and willing to help him." She cleared her throat and then took a drink from her water glass. "These are all things that Quatre must work through. He doesn't know if Trowa can keep him safe; he's afraid he'll hurt Trowa; he wants to keep things from Trowa to protect him; he's taking refuge in Trowa's mind/emotions instead of talking out his problems; he thinks that Trowa cannot help him, even if Trowa knew what was really going on; the spontaneous link; he feels as if he has no control; he has to stay in control around Trowa to keep Trowa from figuring out how much he's hurting; the betrayal of his sisters, most importantly the betrayal of Cijen; the Will and the child; his fears of becoming like his father; long standing issues about Koeran's death; working out his anger and grief for the damage he did with the ZERO; deciding whether or not to kill himself, and lastly his sexual preferences. These are only the ones I found from reading his journals and talking with him today! There could be more, hundreds more! I won't know until we really start working together. But do you see what I'm talking about? I can't cure Quatre of all these things in one day; I'm not even sure a year will be enough time. He's so very young, and to know that most of his has happened to him in the last five years of his life, you can understand how traumatic it has all been for him."
"But," Duo's voice cut through the silence that followed Corinne's declaration, "Why did this all happen in the last few months? Why didn't it happen a long time ago? Why now?"
"It has been happening for a long time. It's been building since Quatre was only eight years old, the first time his father beat him and told him his choices were unacceptable. They escalated when he wasn't able to
protect Koeran, and then shot through the roof when he thought he'd killed Trowa. Things settled down again then, once he and Trowa were together, but the thing with his sisters, the pain of the Will, it brought all of his past choices and decisions into question, and Quatre just caved under the pressure. To be honest, I'm surprised he's still breathing. I'm not sure how much longer his notion of owing Trowa his life was going to keep him alive. The pain he is experiencing, it's debilitating, and more importantly deadly."
"Will he be alright now?" His voice sounded small, fearful, and he was. His lover lay broken and yet fixed in his arms; who was to know the answer?
"He has a good base now. He'll trust you enough that he'll come to you about most things from this point on. The really terrible things he might not, and those you'll just have to allow for. But for the most part, Quatre will come to you, and be able to work out most of the things bothering him from this point on. He may not come to you about things in his past yet, that will take time; but be patient, take it one step at a time, and know that while you're working on the current problems, I'll be working on the past ones."
He nodded his head, not quite sure what she was talking about, but willing to trust her for now. She had given Quatre back to him, or more accurately, given him back to Quatre. He only hoped he would see the change when his little lover woke up.
"Trowa?" He looked at her. "He needs to rest some more, he'll be exhausted from the strain of today. I-I need to do some more dusting, do you remember?" He nodded his head. "Good. The bad news is I'm completely wiped. I'll be able to perform the sweep, but I'll be out of commission when I'm done. Someone will have to help me back to my room-if I'm conscious at all." Duo volunteered, satisfied with her answers to his questions and Trowa's. "Alright, don't be alarmed if he says or does anything. Sometimes a sweep can be hard, and with all the mistrust floating around in Quatre's mind, he could get upset that I'm even attempting to touch it. Just put him to bed, and I'll see him the day after tomorrow. Don't try to push him too hard; he's still going to be a little shaky on his feet for a while, and I don't mean that literally." Again he nodded and then she closed her eyes; and didn't open them again.
When it became clear that nearly an hour later she'd passed out, Duo and Heero carried her to her room, and Wufei helped Trowa carry Quatre to the bed. During the entire time, no one said a word. There were too many uncertainties. Too many things they didn't know yet. Would Quatre be alright? Would he be like is old self, and if he was, did they want him that way, a mask of a broken boy? Trowa didn't know the answers.
With great difficulty, Trowa finally managed to find sleep, with Quatre safely tucked into him. Ten days. That was all it'd taken for his and Quatre's world to dissolve; in just ten days and a lifetime. He didn't know
where they would go from this point on; but he did know one thing: they'd get there together. Love and trust blended to become one.