The Game of Hide and Seek (Epilogue)
Walking down busy hallways smelling of disinfectant, Trowa let himself think back to the trying three months that had passed. He'd gotten tired of the same room accessed by the same elevator on the same building where all but one cheery face greeted him everyday. Worse yet, that same cheery face had been hitting on him since day one. Nurse Greta, as she liked to be called, had the pleasure of seeing him everyday at exactly four thirty pm as he visited his soon-to-be-lover.
It had taken three months. To him, three months had gone by quickly, but he was sure that to Quatre it felt like an eternity. Thinking to months back, Trowa would never have imagined Quatre doing what he did to land himself in a hospital. All he could focus on back then was the fact that his dream date had kneed him in the stomach. It was something his mind told him was an impossibility. The lab's frequent thief had the reputation of leaving only him unscathed as he caused commotion within the normally orderly environment. Then again, he had reason to hit him. He didn't exactly give Quatre the chance to explain.
Once he'd gotten past the semi-beating, Trowa was able to gather himself in time to witness his favorite blonde run recklessly in the middle of the hallway for all to see. He wondered what had gotten into him and wondered further if he'd finally been caught. He almost expected the authorities to be on his tail. Instead, he was lead outside with the rest of the company's employees as a safety precaution. That was when he found out that Quatre had caused a dangerous spill.
He had wrecked Dr. Quinn's lab. The reason for the strange behavior was later revealed when Duo caught up with him.
"I guess you really do leave an impact on people," Duo had said with a hand on his shoulder. "He annihilated the Q30ZO production lab like it was nothing to him. I guess this means that you get exactly what you want."
After the incident, it took him another week to realize that Quatre was no longer making appearances, not even in the orphanage he visited with Duo every Saturday. He'd gotten worried enough that he dropped by Quatre's sanctuary only to find the other laying sideways on his bed with the same black outfit he had been wearing that day. He was unmoving, like a corpse waiting to be found. Trowa had been frantic then and had called Heero for a ride to the hospital.
Now, it was months later and just two days ago, Quatre was finally able to move the tiniest bit. The first stage of his recovery had been anything but pleasant. When Trowa arrived at exactly four thirty pm yesterday, he found his future spouse in a heated argument with Nurse Greta. Gigantic busts jiggled with every movement of his most enthused admirer. This seemed to fuel Quatre's anger. Nurse Greta had been accused by Quatre of trying to seduce Trowa inappropriately. Quatre, in turn, was accused of being too skinny for Trowa to find the least bit attractive. Quatre had thrown a fit then. It had been ugly and Trowa was expecting a repeat of it today if not for the fact that Nurse Greta was off-duty. He sighed with relief. He'd wanted to spend some quality alone time with non-vegetative Quatre for a while now.
As he walked into the private room of his only love, Trowa found the usually affable blonde holding on tightly to a teddy bear's head.
"Quatre," he greeted with caution as he entered. Now that he was up and about, Quatre had become hot-tempered.
"What?" Quatre asked in irritation.
"You're not going to rip the head off that bear, are you?"
A furious look was immediately directed his way.
"I am not five Trowa!" Quatre said with much fury as he pointed at the abused teddy bear in his hand and all the others surrounding him. There were several, ones that Trowa had brought over the weeks. He couldn't help it. The first time he placed a bear next to Quatre the darn thing looked perfectly adorable. Due to an influx of cute, Trowa thought it necessary to add to the gloomy atmosphere. Before he knew it, there were at least 12 stuffed animals surrounding Quatre on his bed.
"But they're... adorable," Trowa explained, which earned him a bunny in the face.
Quatre turned away from him and crossed his arms. Trowa blinked in response. The mood swings were so unlike him. He was usually calm and his anger was controlled for the most part. Perhaps being immobile for so long had made him irritable to the point of anger. Trowa couldn't blame him. Duo's visit just a few days back was enough to provoke the usually mature Quatre. Their lively friend had commented about the stuffed animals in jest. He'd called Quatre a baby then and the blonde could do nothing but internally fume from where he was. Surely he'd wanted to punch Duo for a while now.
It didn't stop there either. Heero's visits had been anything but pleasant. The seasoned photographer kept on taking shot after shot of him, threatening that he'd sell the pictures to the newspapers. It was only upon Trowa's request that Heero agreed to keep the pictures to himself for blackmail purposes and nothing more. It wasn't exactly a great compromise, but it was a compromise all the same.
"About everyone who came to visit," Trowa started in his attempt to make Quatre feel better. "They were just kidding, love."
If it was even possible, Quatre crossed his arms tighter.
"I'm pretty sure Wufei wasn't kidding," he replied as his face scrunched up in a frown.
That was true. Wufei's sermon, which lasted for hours (and he counted), was tiring. It came to a point where he had actually left the room with the excuse that he was picking up some food at the hospital's cafeteria despite his distaste for the variety they served. Wufei, when allowed to talk, could go on forever.
"You don't know what it feels like not being able to defend yourself," Quatre continued with a bit of a pout.
Suddenly, it dawned on him. Trowa sat beside the patient with caution. He positioned himself so that he was facing Quatre's pouting face. With all the guts he could muster against a professional combatant in his own right, Trowa put his arms around him. He felt thin, thinner that he had been long before he was incapable of feeding himself. Three months had really taken a toll on him.
"I promise that you could beat them up all you want later," he said in consolation. "I'll even drop you off at their places and pick you up once they're a bloody pulp."
Quatre placed his head on Trowa's shoulder and sniffed. Trowa's eyes grew wide in response. No. He wasn't crying, but was Quatre letting himself be babied? This was a new and exciting discovery.
"I'll kick your ass if you tell anyone about this," he warned as he grabbed the front of Trowa's shirt and held on. "Besides, you owe me an ass-kicking anyway for letting that nurse pinch your ass right in front of me when I couldn't even protest."
Trowa smiled, delighted that Quatre was no longer incensed enough to start screaming again. It was taking a lot to calm him down nowadays. It seemed like the childish part of him that had been repressed all his life was starting to break free. All he needed, Trowa understood, was someone to take care of him the way he took care of everyone else. He'd taken the initiative to do it himself. After all, he was looking forward to a long, lasting relationship; never mind the fact that Quatre had not agreed to any sort of relationship with him. It was a little detail he postponed discussing. From the moment he laid eyes on Quatre, he'd already planned the romantic dinners and walks on the beach. It was only a matter of getting him to comply with those daydreams.
"I'm sorry I let her pinch me," Trowa said, not knowing what else to say. "I'll make it up to you alright?"
Quatre nodded with his head still buried in his neck.
"But first, we have to get you out of here."
It was true. Trowa was sick of the room and he had something special planned for them, something he invested his time and money on. He couldn't wait to get started.
"What did you do - tie him to the seat?"
Trowa shook his head. Was getting Quatre to sit in a car and stay there such a rare phenomenon that it required incredulous questioning?
"He's wearing his seatbelt?" Trowa said in a half-stating, half-questioning tone of voice.
"And he didn't struggle to get out of the seat? He just sat there and complied?"
"Man Quatre, you are one whipped son of a--"
"Duo!" Trowa scolded. This was not the time to provoke Quatre. It was hard enough to get him to calm down from earlier.
Trowa turned to check on how Quatre was doing inside the car. His current ward was giving Duo a nasty look from where he sat but made no move to get out. Had he been at full capacity, it would have been ugly.
"Look," Trowa said, trying to explain his piece as fast and as pain-free as possible. "I need a couple of days off. Can you do that for me?"
"You're asking for a couple of days off to spend with him when he's not hyperactive and he's incapacitated enough that he'll be submissive and weak? Are you kidding me? That's a wet dream come true. There's no way I'm rigging the system for you."
From the car, Quatre gave Duo a very heartfelt middle finger.
"But," Duo added as he entwined his fingers behind his head. "I'll do it for you because I do not want to be on Blondie's hit list."
Trowa figured that it was best not to tell Duo that he was already on that list for the teasing he'd done in the hospital.
"Thank you," Trowa said with relief. He'd already packed Quatre and all their necessities for the next few days. If Duo didn't give in to his request, he would have to spend the rest of the day putting everything back to where it came from - including Quatre who still wasn't supposed to be out of the hospital. He lost mobility from time to time and was supposed to be under observation. Q30ZO was not a drug you picked up in the streets and was therefore more difficult to predict. Trowa had convinced the medical staff that he'd performed studies of the drug himself and was perfectly capable of predicting the outcomes. In truth, he didn't get past observing the substance's withdrawal effects, but Quatre gave him a look. The look said that he better get him out of there or there was no future for them.
In the end, Trowa discovered himself to be a very convincing speaker despite the lack of alcohol. The doctors - all three who were attending to him - signed the release papers. It was now time for step two.
"You owe me," Duo said as he walked down the steps to the car parked below. "I want videos."
Trowa followed close behind just in case Quatre lost his cool. Duo was really not helping with the teasing. It was almost like he wanted to provoke him or maybe he just wanted Quatre to gouge his eyes out.
"Duo," Trowa warned again as his co-worker got closer. Right now, Quatre was a wild animal. It was best to observe him from afar.
"Are you going to be back by Saturday or what? The kids are wondering where you are," Duo said while leaning into Quatre's open window.
"Yeah," Quatre answered. His voice was hoarse from a combination of months of disuse and hours of screaming.
"Great. Now behave for Trowa alright?" Duo added before pushing back against the side of the car. "This guy learned how to drive for you, so you might as well cut him some slack for cavorting with the nurse while you were out."
"I did not--" Trowa defended before he felt the magnified frown coming from Quatre. Duo was quite the character. He could never tell if the guy was in his side or not.
"So," Duo said, prolonging the monosyllabic word. "The two of you should head on out before I change my mind."
Trowa took that as his cue to leave. Any more time around Duo and he was afraid that he was going to be in deeper trouble. In fact, he was pretty sure of it with the way the guy was smirking at him.
"We should go," he said as he entered the vehicle. He hoped that the winding roads to their destination wouldn't be a problem. He'd just gotten his driver's license just two weeks ago.
"How long do I have to wear this blindfold?"
The question was simple, but the way it was delivered was rather half-hearted. Trowa could not tell if he was irritated or simply bored out of his mind from sitting on the passenger seat for almost an hour. Quatre was the driver, the doer, the same guy who scrubbed his bathroom tiles until they were whiter than celebrity teeth. For him to let Trowa do as he wished was a miracle, an impossibility in and of itself. It made him resolute to deal with the mood swings because he knew that Quatre was behaving for him. Then again, perhaps Duo's earlier advice had something to do with it.
"We'll be there soon," Trowa replied without taking his eyes off the road. That was a cardinal rule, especially since he'd only started getting the hang of driving curved roads. It was only regrettable that he didn't get to stare at Quatre as much as he wanted to. Now was the perfect opportunity to observe him and think silly thoughts to himself. His eyes unconsciously strayed sideways.
"Stop daydreaming and watch where you're going," Quatre said, interrupting his thoughts.
Trowa blinked before turning the car a sharp right to avoid the jagged cliffs below. How Quatre knew that they were going to fly off the steep mountain with a blindfold on was beyond him; unless, of course, he already knew where they were going. That thought made him frown. A surprise just wasn't a surprise when the recipient already knew what the intended surprise was.
"Your disappointment is radiating in waves," Quatre said while lounging with a blasé kind of posture on his seat. "Trust me. I don't know exactly what you have planned for me. I just have a pretty good guess. That's all."
Trowa nodded. Needless to say, he was still disappointed. He continued to keep quiet and keep his eyes on the road. About a minute ticked by when he felt long, skinny fingers brush against his hand.
It was all he could say as those same fingers crawled up his arm.
"I pretty much sound like an ungrateful prick, huh?" Quatre said. The same hand withdrew its not quite hold.
"You're just... bored," Trowa reasoned for him. Just as he said it, their destination came into full view. He couldn't help but feel excited at the thought of coming back to this place.
"It's not boredom per say," Quatre continued without realizing that they've stopped. "It's more like concern. If you're going to put me in a convalescent home, you might as well not have picked something in the middle of nowhere. I mean, how am I going to plan my escape from a place this far out?" His voice seemed to pick up with every word.
"Wait," Trowa said, pausing midway through getting out of the car. "Convalescent home? Like a rehabilitation center?"
He began to laugh. That was the most absurd thing that he could have ever thought of.
"Hey," Quatre said with a start. "That isn't funny! You better not have enrolled me in a mental institution instead."
With his blindfold still on and his near frantic way of talking, Trowa almost lost it. This must have been the reason why he was cranky. Even when Quatre's prediction did make some sense, Trowa was a bit horrified at the thought of leaving him alone with strangers after his trying ordeal. He deserved better and better was what he revealed as he pulled the blindfold out of Quatre's head.
"I promise I'll be good," Quatre pleaded like a child.
"I think you'll like this better," Trowa said. He stepped out of the vehicle and helped Quatre out and just when he looked like he was ready to make a run for it, he stopped with his eyes twinkling in pure delight.
"No way!" he said with disbelief.
Before Trowa could confirm that it was, indeed, the vacation home they visited months back, Quatre was already running to the inside of the house. Trowa followed with a spring in his step. He did plan it out right after all. Even Quatre's father gave him an approving look from the too-lifelike picture hanging in the corridor.
"Don't get too excited," Trowa warned as he carried their luggage inside their temporary shelter. "You might get an episode."
He'd been worried that Quatre's paralysis would strike again just like it did before they left the hospital. When Quatre got too excited, his body shut down and just like that, he was unable to move. It mostly looked like he had passed out with his eyes open. It was a bit unnerving.
"Uh huh," Quatre's voice resounded from the other end of the house.
Trowa raised a brow. Quatre was quick to go out back.
"Oh no," he whispered to himself as he realized just why.
Running outside to stop the eager blonde, Trowa arrived just in time to see Quatre run and strip down to nothing in five seconds flat. He bypassed the pool only to find his way to the edge of the steep elevation. He must have expected sea water to greet him down below. Indeed, Quatre's sexy behind made a quick exhibition before disappearing into the edge he had jumped off from. Luckily, Trowa had thought about his penchant for danger beforehand.
"What the hell?" Quatre screamed.
Trowa heard the sound of rope stretching. He followed the source of the distressed question at a slow pace. He rather liked what he did with the place while Quatre was out. He snuck a peek down below to check the status of his successful catch when he suddenly fell backwards and landed on his own behind. This was not what he expected. Quatre was down there alright - in the net he had installed that was meant to cover most of the cove. It had taken hours of labor and a bit of cash to get the net strong enough to withstand their body masses and to attach it to the mountains surrounding it. What he didn't expect was to find Quatre's naked body caught in the middle of the web. It didn't help either that the subject of his favorite dreams was crossing his arms in annoyance, leaving the rest of him bare for the entire world to see.
"And how would you like to explain this?" Quatre demanded from where he lay.
Trowa could not speak as he stared at his very angry prey.
"I, ah," he said.
Somebody sure was horny. He slapped himself once. Now was not the time to think about that. For the first time ever, Quatre was weak. There was no way they were going to do that without landing him in the hospital again.
With reluctance and great effort, Trowa retrieved a pair of pajamas and threw it down to where Quatre was.
"Wear it," he said in haste. "You don't want to get sick," he added as an afterthought before he ran to one of the rooms to grab some pillows and a blanket.
"Fine!" Quatre screamed from below. "But you might as well join me," he said, this time more subdued. "The view is great from down here."
Trowa threw their beddings for the night into the net below.
"The view was much better up here," he muttered to himself.
Careful that he wouldn't fall on Quatre as he made his descent, Trowa climbed down the rope ladder he'd installed together with the net. He was surprised when Quatre greeted him with a warm embrace. His back felt nice against the now clothed chest.
"Thank you," Quatre said before giving his neck a very brief kiss. "It's just what I wanted."
Delighted with the positive response, Trowa nodded in affirmation. He looked back to find that their makeshift bed was ready. With the sun dimming in the background, Trowa thought that this, above anything else, was the perfect setting. Jumping down the last step, he fell backwards into the net. The act caused Quatre to fall right next to him. It was just the right spot so that he was able to put his arm around the other's stomach and curl into his body. Quatre did not protest, only complied with the position he was placed in and sighed.
"And this is just what I wanted," Trowa said as he, too, kissed Quatre on the neck.
While he did love the exhilaration of the chase, he couldn't deny that a quiet evening with a non-protesting Quatre in his arms was satisfying. He declared mission accomplished. The game, for now, was won by him.